Yes, I am blessed. Yes, I adore my achingly adorable, healthy, smart, well-rounded offspring. Yes, I shouldn’t complain, but I’m going to anyway because momming is hard freaking work, and I have peanut butter on my wall as I write this. There’s the screaming, fighting, and foul smelling feet. There’s overflowing hampers, constantly dirty toilets, and since puberty has hit– the occasional bird flip. The noise, the dirt, the whining can all become too much for me to handle. Throw in a full time job, perpetual single status, another mess on the floor to clean up, and I feel like some days I just may crack.

But crack I don’t. Because all these years of hard momming, I’ve picked up a few tricks to throw into my oh so heavy pale blue, on sale Juicy Couture handbag. Some things were passed on to me by other weary, in the trenches moms. Other things I’ve learned on my own, often through trial and error. Each item exists in my life because it somehow has profoundly made my mom life just a bit easier.

1) My crock pot – Hate to cook? No? Lucky you. But if you’re anything like me and a bit of a slacker in the kitchen, then I implore you to dust off that crock pot, crack open Betty Crocker’s Slow Cooker Meals and rejoice in a ten minute prep meal with minimal cleanup. From braised pot roast to apricot smothered hams, I’ve managed to trick even my own mother into thinking I could cook. And she’s Italian. 

  2) Paper Plates – Growing up, my folks always used nice dishes, cutlery, and even cloth napkins. It all looked very pretty, set for dinner at our dining room table, and as a family of girls, I think we appreciated the aesthetics of a well dressed table. But still, someone had to wash that stuff, or at least load it into the dishwasher. In my family of boys, a Pottery Barn inspired table just doesn’t make sense. Someone is going to chip the Pfaltzgraff and then I’m going to yell. It’s much easier to rely on paper plates, because it’s one less thing I have to clean. It may not look so hot, but if it saves my sanity, I consider it a win.

3) Gel Manicures- A mom friend tipped me off to these years ago when I was still sporting a baby sling. Constantly donning chipped nails, I adored a glossy manicure but could never get it to last more than two days with all that scraping of dried snot and all.The gel mani became my go to splurge. I could have my greying tendrils in a frayed ponytail and circles of breast milk stained on my top, but I always felt pulled together when my nails looked neat. 

4) Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Soundtrack – Fleetwood Mac, Sam Cooke, and Looking Glass all on the same album, and my kids think it’s cool! Could life be any sweeter? Since this gem was released I have gotten a break from the crapolla played on the radio, and a trip down memory lane to boot! And watching my son belt out “Bring It On Home To Me” is the most heartwarming thing ever, it makes up for that one time he dyed the cat blue. This soundtrack makes a jaunt to the local Walmart all the more enjoyable. 

5) Dark Colored Pants – This was one of those trial and error discoveries. In my early days of mommyhood I wore a fabulous pair of white slacks to a birthday party only to have them ruined by ten little fingers covered in cheese doodle dust. The stains never came out. Since then I’ve learned to turn to dark colors when it comes to pant fashions. The black pant is an essential part of my wardrobe since it hides stains, jiggly thighs, and pairs beautifully with my slightly wrinkled shirts. Tears and boogers are no match for a pair of well fitting, inky black slacks. Trust me on this.

6) Starbucks “The Pink Drink”- Four dollars and change for a drink? If it’s creamy, zingy, contains caffeine AND is pink, well then yes please! I had the pleasure of being introduced to this drink this past year, and I’m not kidding when I say it has made me a better person. The soft, ballet pink color of this delectable drink is enough to bring me to my happy place. One sip of the strawberry acai accented with a splash of coconut milk is like yoga for your tastebuds. I could be trapped in my french fry littered SUV while my sons call each other idiots, but with a Pink Drink in my paw, I feel as if I’m lounging on a hammock in Belize, listening to Fleetwood Mac, sporting my best pair of black slacks, rocking a punchy red manicure while someone else cleans out the crock pot.

Armed with my six essential things that make life easier, I feel like I so got this Mom thing down. Mommying is hard ladies. What’s in your bag of tricks? 

Claudia Caramiello

Claudia Caramiello is a certified pharmacy technician by day, freelance writer by night, mother of two teen sons both day and night. Hailing from New Jersey, she survives single motherhood on caffeine, humor, and listening to Twenty One Pilots. Her articles have been featured on Scarymommy, Bluntmoms, Sammiches and psych meds, Elephant Journal, and Moms & Stories. You can find her on Facebook at Espresso & Adderall and read more from Claudia on her blog,