The dog next door that barks almost constantly sounds like my kids when they cry. That means we are constantly muting the television and asking, "Is that a kid crying?"
The easiest way to clean high chairs and booster seats is in the shower. Use a dish brush and give it a good scrub. No more trying to get in those crevices with a paper towel. This method also works well with trash cans. If you really want to impress your friends, use a little bleach too.
At the end of summer, fill a kiddie wading pool with water. Then add some Ivory dish soap. Give your kids a whisk or egg beater or whatever and let them make bubbles. Then, throw all of the outside toys in there too. Happy kids and clean toys. Win, win.
Popsicle sticks make great "knives" for small hands. Kids can learn to butter bread, make their own sandwiches, or stir frosting. Empowering the youth and saving fingers at the same time.
I can fit into clothes I haven't been able to wear for the last 2 years. Yay for me.
Lexi likes to sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Allelujah! (the chorus to a song that we can't remember the name of right now)" when she plays with the nativity sets. It's pretty charming.
Frozen celery makes for a great teether.
"Tea" parties are an awesome and stress free way to teach proper etiquette. You can easily show them how "princesses" or "proper ladies and gents" behave at the table. They love serving their guests first, keeping elbows off the table, where to put silverware, and buttering bread one bite at a time kind of stuff. Make sure to add some yummy treats to disguise all of the learning. The kids think it's fun and you can start to change the little beasts into civilized creatures.
For restaurant quality bacon, don't fry it in a skillet. Bake it in the oven. Lay it out on some cookie sheets and bake it for 20 or so minutes at 400 degrees (I sometimes bake it hotter if the oven is on the cool side or if I'm in a hurry). Let it sit for a minute on the cookie sheet and then drain on paper towels. You can cook more than one sheet at a time, too. This is great for crowds. Also, if you need bacon for a recipe, cut it up before you cook it. You can pop it in the freezer and get it really cold and then cut as needed. Fry it up and don't get your hands all nasty. Cooks faster, too.
Laundry is a great way to teach math. Sure, it takes longer, but it's so worth it. We count the number of articles we have, determine how many hangers we need and then one of the girls gets the hangers. Of course, when they are small, they don't get the right amount. That is the perfect opportunity to do addition and subtraction. We also discuss how to coordinate outfits and respect for personal belongings. In the beginning, I made sure to choose a time when I wouldn't feel rushed so it would be a positive experience. Now, Lexi can put all of her own clothes away and choose outfits that actually match (most of the time). Plus, we had quality time together doing something that could have been just another chore.
The dishwasher makes a squeaky noise while it's washing. This, also, sounds like one of my kids crying. That means most nights we're watching TV on mute, with our ears straining toward the bedrooms while trying to hear if the kids are crying or if the dog is barking or if the dishes are washing. Or if it's all three.