Do you know those moms that always have it together? They accomplish fifteen things before drop off, their kids have morning and evening chores that actually get done, and they invite you over for an impromptu visit with a spotless home and fresh gourmet gluten-free muffins. I’m not one of those moms.

Maybe you are, which makes me so envious. I’ve had to develop life survival hacks just to stay afloat. There are a few things I trained myself to do consistently that keep our lives (relatively) on track. If you’re like me—queen of the last minute, never quite sure what day it is, and almost always late—you might appreciate these simple ideas to help control the chaos.

Out the Door

Installing a long row of hooks right by the door has saved me an infinite amount of time and stress. When you come into our house, right across from the fairly standard key hooks, you find a long row of larger hooks. This is where my purse goes immediately as I enter, along with the kids’ backpacks, and anything that needs to go out to the car. Giving those things a space of their own was a big help, but then I upped the efficiency. Need it or not, both kids have a sports bag that hangs on the hooks permanently. Anytime we find a random soccer cleat or kickboxing glove on the floor, they go directly into the corresponding bag. Even the ever-wandering water bottles find their homes in the bags, which saves my sanity when we need to run out the door in five minutes to get to practice.

Feeding Bottomless Pits

Most moms, except maybe those who are super on the ball, dread the feeding frenzy right after school. Even if I wanted to actually prepare an involved snack-that’s-basically-a-meal, there’s no way I could meet everyone’s preferences and needs. Not to mention, I most likely can’t remember what is actually in the fridge! I found a way to cut out the middleman and save my patience. I instated a small magnetic whiteboard onto our fridge. The top is a shopping list, but the bottom is a list of all of the potential snacks available. I stashed away a few non-perishables that can wait for the kids to be in the mood and then add on leftovers as they go into the fridge. The night before trash day, I throw out anything past date and refresh the list accordingly. To this day, years later, I smile when I can answer the inevitable, “What is there to eat?” with “Check the list!”

So Much Paper

Paperwork like ads, school work, and mail, maintains a near guarantee to intimidate and distract me. How does mere paper manage to show up everywhere?! My newest life-saving hack has taken a lot of the burden off processing through the mess that ends up on my desk each week. First, it all goes into a single container. Second, I’ve simplified the sorting process.

I’ve eliminated filing for all but the most critical paperwork like birth certificates, medical records, and tax info. Everything else gets filed into a tub. In the unlikely event that you need to access a particular bill or receipt, they will be in chronological order and you can shift through the pile relatively easily. Papers that require more action go into a special holder that sits above my desk, coupons and gift card go directly to the hooks by the door to be put in the car (because there’s a zero percent chance I’ll remember that I have them until I’m sitting in front of the store/restaurant), and keepsakes/school work goes into their own tub to be sorted at the end of the school year when I’m less sentimentally attached to them.

Even if you’re not the lost cause to organization that I am, you might be able to use these methods to buy yourself some extra time or just a little more brainpower to exert somewhere else. If you feel a bit like parenting is a tornado and you’re just trying to make it through, hopefully, these ideas will help you find a handhold in the storm!