Tried & True Back-to-School Timesaving and Self-Care Hacks From Real-Life Moms

The start of the school year has meant an entirely new life, routine, and schedule for me and my four kids. With all four children attending school 30 minutes from our house, I have had to adjust to learning to get all of them up, ready, and out the door on my own, while also figuring out how to fit in work, exercise, groceries, cleaning, and all of the ten million other things that moms juggle each and every day. 

I'm not going to lie to you: On the very first day of school, I felt like I had run a marathon. I was so tired I wanted to cry. But I pushed through the first week and I'm actually feeling pretty proud of myself. I volunteered to coach my daughter's basketball team, I have a few new clients for work, and I've been putting more time into taking care of myself. 

But it was only week one, so I know I'm going to need all the help I can get in the weeks ahead, so I'm arming myself with tried-and-true timesaving hacks from other real-life moms to keep my crazy schedule working. Here are some of the best ones I've implemented so far!

Image via Unsplash/ IN BOSSMODE

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When I found out about this app, I truly thought it was too good to be true. I still think that, actually. I am a huge book lover, but my season of life right now just doesn't leave me a lot of time for books. I'm also spending tons of time in the car driving my kids back and forth to school and sports and while they are blasting their ridiculous kid movies in the back of the minivan, I find myself wishing I could do something more productive with my time. I listen to podcasts sometimes, but often want something “meatier.” 

Enter Hoopla. Hoopla is an app that lets you rent four books from the library every single month, including audiobooks. All you do is log in with your library card number and the books are totally free. It's amazing and I love it and I'm currently listening to the famous “Girl Wash Your Face” that I can't even rent at my library in real life because it's so popular, so double win! 

Oh, and you can also borrow movies and TV shows if you're trying to save money on entertainment or need to entertain the kids real quick at the grocery store. No judgment here, mama! 

Workout on Amazon Prime

I already use Amazon Prime for pretty much my entire life, but I had no idea that Amazon Prime also has workouts. You can stream pretty much every type of workout, from HIIT to yoga to dance workouts, all included in your Prime membership. Score!

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Grow out your lashes with castor oil

Last year, I experimented with lash extensions, which, if you have the disposable income, enjoy the upkeep of having them done every month, and don't have any issues with sensitivity, I highly recommend because they are awesome and never wearing make-up is life-changing. However, the cost of keeping them up for me got to be a little too much and I decided to give a few other options for improving my lash game. 

First up? A friend turned me onto the magic of castor oil. Castor oil apparently is used for a lot of hair growth elixirs, including growing out your lashes. I wanted the look of longer lashes, so I gave it a try. I picked up a vial of castor oil from my local grocery store for a few bucks, then applied it with a Q-tip to my lash line every night before bed. After a month of use, I definitely saw a difference and my friend, who has used it religiously for months and months, has incredible lashes now. Way cheaper than extensions!

Use good mascara (it's SO worth it)

In my lash quest, I also put a call-out to my mom friends on Facebook for a mascara that would rock my world. I have literally only purchased mascara from a drugstore, right alongside my groceries and diapers, so I was curious to see if a good mascara would actually make a difference. Turns out, the answer is 100% yes. 

One very stylish and smart mama (thanks Kim!) recommended I try Lancome mascara and although the almost $30 price tag shocked me at first (remember, I've spent about $4 for mascara my entire life), I can say with absolute certainty that it's worth it. In my past life, I hated wearing makeup just because it seemed like a waste. It would all flake off and rub off and I couldn't even get through the day looking remotely put-together, so why even bother? Lancome's mascara, however, doesn't budge and it truly makes my lashes look way better than any other mascara. I tried this version first and the wand is a little tricky for me to use on my left eye, so I'm going to go with a more straight brush next time. I got mine at Ulta and I plan on trying my hand at good eyeliner next if anyone has any recommendations!

Stop folding clothes

I came across this hack from a mom on Facebook who says it's a game-changer. She simply sorts her kids' clothes into types, like shirts, bottoms, socks/underwear, and pajamas, and then puts each one in a cube or laundry basket that then gets taken to the kids' room. She slides hers under the kids' bed, but you could do a storage cube or hide them away in the closet. I mean, what's the worst that could happen if you stopped folding clothes, a few wrinkles?? #worthit


Make your kids do it all

OK, so this is another Facebook mom hack and I have to say I was completely shocked when I first read it, but it goes something like this: If you're doing things for your kids, just stop. That means if your kid is constantly making you late to school by not keeping track of his shoes, don't find them for him. If your kid won't get out of bed, don't keep pestering him. If your kid forgets his lunch, her homework, or whatever else you're running to school for her, just stop doing it. 

I know, right? Can you imagine? But the mom I know who implemented it is a wonderful mother and she knows what she's doing, so I trust that you can make a version of this work for you. I've tried it in baby steps with my children and started making them pack their own lunches for school, or at the very least, helping me pack them. 

Use an app to stop you from using an app

I mean, I realize how ridiculous this sounds, but my #1 time-waster in life is social media. And I am weak around it. I will vow I'm not going to use it, then two seconds later, my fingers are inadvertently clicking over to scroll my life away. It's pathetic and I miss the days when I used to be able to focus without distraction. Enter an app to help us control our addiction to apps. There are a lot of apps that you can try that will either literally block you from using Instagram or Facebook or your phone, or notify you when you've reached your pre-set limit, but the one I've been using is Moment because it's free and simple to use. 

So, there you have it, my new top secrets to living a better life this fall. Apps to help control myself, castor oil to save my sad eyelashes, and audio books to make me productive even while driving.

And now, let's hear from you: What are your #1 time-saving tips for this fall? 

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Tried & True Back-to-School Timesaving and Self-Care Hacks From Real-Life Moms

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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