I received a lot of wonderful advice when I was pregnant with my second child, but the one I found to be most helpful was to organize my pantry, refrigerator, and cabinets to be kid-friendly. It has made my life so much easier!
Well, when you are nursing a baby it’s not easy to get up and get a snack or drink for the 20th time for your toddler. Also, keeping the tupperware low gave me the 20-30 minutes to make dinner while he was trying to match lids or play drums.
Clean out the bottom draw or shelf. I started with the draw but found the shelf was easier because he would leave the draw open and then try to close the refrigerator.
I fill it with individual portions of snacks: carrot stick, cheese, apple slices, grapes, berries, cut oranges, cut veggies, etc. I also put filled sippy cups with water and juice. It makes finding a snack in the the refrigerator a no-brainer for me and my toddler! It does take about 30 minutes of prep once a week, but WAY worth the little bit of effort.
When I needed to pack lunches for my son I also put his homemade “lunchable” where he could reach it so he could pack his own lunch every morning. I HIGHLY recommend this. There are tons of fun and easy homemade lunchable ideas on Pinterest. This also took me about 30 minutes of prep a week. I would create 5 lunchables and stack them in the refrigerator.
Now that my kids have gotten older I also converted the freezer to be friendly. They love frozen squeeze yogurts, grapes, bananas… I also have their freezer packs easy to grab so they can put them in their lunch bags.
Clear the bottom shelf. I fill this with easy individual portions of snacks: sometimes I buy the individually packed bags of pirate booty, Annie’s bunnies, granola bars, etc. Other times I buy the big bags and portion them out myself. When I feel like really being Suzie Homemaker, I MAKE granola, granola bars, protein balls, oatmeal muffins, trail mix, almond cookies, etc. Whatever you choose, just make sure it’s easy to grab and organized on the bottom shelf.
Now that my kids are a little older they are in charge of packing their own snacks. I have their snack bags on the bottom of the pantry and I made it a rule that they can only choose one snack from the refrigerator and two from the pantry. The first time they packed their own snacks I think they stuffed half the pantry in their bags… They now know to grab a freezer pack, water, and three snacks when I ask them to pack their snack bag. It makes getting ready to leave the house much easier and they love the independence.
When my son was a baby I put the tupperware in a bottom cabinet with no child lock on it. Once he realized he could get into that cabinet (after he tried each one 1,000 times) he would sit for 20-30 minutes (that was a long time for him!) just playing with the tupperware. It was awesome. I actually had time to make lunch, dinner, or put away dishes.
The last thing I did (and wish I would have done sooner) was move their plastic cups, plates, bowls, and snack cups to a bottom cabinet. Now that they are older (4 & 7), they get their own cups of water during the day and for dinner. They fill their own bowls with snack from the big bag. And they even put the bananas, grapes, and other frozen treats into the freezer if they would like to have them that week. Really, I now do very little, my oldest even makes his own lunchables.
By taking the time when my children were toddlers to train them to be independent in the kitchen, I have now created a system that keeps me from ever hearing, “I’m hungry!” “I want a snack!” “I’m thirsty!” I even pour my daughter’s milk at night so in the morning she can grab it herself while I make coffee.
Have you put a similar system in place? What have you found made your life easier? I would love to see if it works for me!