Keeping the Peace: Life Hacks From Our Big Family

Five kids. Two full-time working adults. Several pets. One house.

The list could go on, I just want to quickly get to the point that our family has a lot going on and we make every effort to employ some life hacks to be as efficient with our time and energy as possible. There’s no time even for long introductions; I need to finish writing this post before my toddler is done with her nap!

Siblings tend to find silly reasons to argue and we’d rather spend our time doing other things than breaking up fights.

There also aren’t enough hours in the day, so inefficiencies don’t work with our crew. Over the years we have developed some routines and shortcuts that have provided structure, cost-savings, and a reduction in arguments among the children. Here are just a few life hacks from our family to yours:

Keeping the Peace: Life Hacks from a Big Family

Labeling All Belongings

Each time a child receives something new, even on holidays or birthdays, one of us immediately labels that item. It eliminates any confusion, especially when those items somehow migrate to different parts of the house.

Assigned Colors

I was amazed at how many things could be purchased in Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow. The four older girls each received an assigned color– meaning their tablet cover was that color, organizational drawers or baskets are that color, etc. There is less labeling to do and it’s easier to identify the item’s owner.

We have found that many items come in those colors like Frisbees, water toys, towels, chairs, and more.

Individual Laundry Baskets

The kids’ baskets are labeled and each child is expected to keep it empty. That way when the laundry finishes, we can place their clean clothes in the basket for folding and putting away in their drawers. These are smaller baskets with handles and are easy for them to carry and store.

Water Bottles

As part of their evening routine, or before leaving to go somewhere, each girl fills up their water bottle. No more repeated requests for a drink at bedtime. They only had to go thirsty once or twice before they learned to get that done.

Lanyard with their Masks attached

We purchased an inexpensive package of lanyards that are Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow and attached a mask to each one. If we have to go somewhere, they put on their lanyard/mask and can then easily put it on and take it off. This rule reduced the number of lost masks to replace while giving us an ease mind of knowing they have them when needed.

Table Buckets

We implemented this during lockdown as I was working AND homeschooling and the kids needed to do some things independently. This has opened our kids’ eyes as to the sheer prep it takes for each meal and keeping up with the dishes.

After a meal, they each clean up their spot, dishes, and cutlery and prep their assigned color bucket for the next meal including silverware, a cup, a plate/bowl, and a napkin. When it’s time to eat they’re able to quickly set their place.

Keeping the Peace: Life Hacks from a Big Family

Neutral Dining Ware

While Disney or themed plates, cups, bowls, and silverware are cute, with multiple kids there used to be a daily fit over who got which plate, bowl, cup, etc.  Keeping track of who had what wasn’t a good use of our time and we got tired of breaking up tearful arguments over the Princess fork. I went to Target and got neutral-colored everything and the favored items “disappeared”. It didn’t take them long to get over it and we haven’t heard a peep since about who has what plate. Worth it!

Rotating Seats at the Table or Counter

When the youngest girls were in booster seats, the group had assigned spots at the table. Now that they’re older, we have them rotate so that they each are able to have a new seat buddy daily.

Everyone Completes (at least) one Chore a Day

Including each child in maintaining the household gives them a sense of ownership and pride. While inconvenienced by the age-appropriate chore assignment, they also are excited to show us their accomplishment of the task each day. The reward is more free time for us as parents to play and engage with them in the evening rather than running ourselves ragged to keep up with the house.

The teamwork has brought us all even closer together and taught some valuable life skills to the children.

Hand Me Downs

With five girls, we have plenty of clothing and have made it as fun as possible when an item or even a whole size batch of clothing goes to the next girl. We take care of the clothes as best we can to get as many miles out of them as possible. We replace what we must due to wear and tear or staining. I prefer to pre-buy clothes on deep clearance such as winter gear and end of season items.

Whether your family has one child or a whole baseball team, hopefully, these family life hacks or shortcuts are helpful in some way.

Feeling like we’re thriving even a little more than just surviving has helped us find more enjoyment as a family.

Do you have any life hacks to share that make your family life easier or help to save money?

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Christa lives in Fairfax but spent her formative years in Seattle, WA and Dubuque, IA. She is living out her dream of motherhood in a house full of 5 amazing girls (ages ranging from toddler to 5th grader) that she shares with her wonderful husband as well as several rescue pets. Christa is also a proud working mom who juggles the family's needs while also maintaining a full-time career. Her favorite activities are cooking, coaching, writing, recreational sports, and finding creative ways to build memories with her family.