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? 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

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,

I Had to Learn to Say “I’m Sorry” to My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom hugs tween daughter

My two oldest kiddos are at the front end of their teen years. I remember that time in my own life. I was loud, somewhat dramatic, I let my hormones control me, and I never—ever—apologized. This last part was because no one ever really taught me the value of apology or relationship repair. Now, I could do some parent blaming here but let’s be real, if you were a kid whose formative years were scattered between the late ’80s and early ’90s, did you get apologies from your parents? If so, count that blessing! Most parents were still living with...

Keep Reading

5 Things Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher Wants You To Know

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child raising hand in kindergarten class

I am a teacher. I have committed my life to teaching children. Of course, before I began this career, I had visions of standing in front of a group of eager-eyed children and elaborating on history, science, and math lessons. I couldn’t wait to see the “lightbulb” moments when students finally understood a reading passage or wrote their first paper. And then I had my first day. Children are not cut out of a textbook (shocking, I know) but as a young 23-year-old, it knocked me right off my feet. I was thrown into the lion’s den, better known as...

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

You’re Almost Grown, But You’re Always Welcome Back Home

In: Kids, Motherhood
Teen in room studying with computer and smartphone

Dear child, In the days before you could walk or talk, there were times when you would wail—when my rocking and shushing and bouncing were seemingly futile—but it didn’t matter. Each day and night, multiple times, I always picked you up and welcomed you back into my arms. As a toddler and a preschooler, you had some pretty epic meltdowns. There were times when you would thrash and scream, and all I could do was stand by and wait for the storm to blow over. Eventually, you would run to me, and I would welcome you back with a warm embrace....

Keep Reading

No One Warned Me About the Last Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding newborn baby, black-and-white photo

No one warned me about the last baby. When I had my first, my second, and my third, those first years were blurry from sleep deprivation and chaos from juggling multiple itty-bitties. But the last baby? There’s a desperation in that newborn fog to soak it up because there won’t be another. No one warned me about the last baby. Selling the baby swing and donating old toys because we wouldn’t need them crushed me. I cried selling our double jogger and thought my heart would split in two when I dropped off newborn clothes. Throwing out pacifiers and bottles...

Keep Reading

Parents Are Terrible Salespeople for Parenting

In: Kids, Motherhood
Tired mother with coffee cup on table, child sitting next to her

As the years of fertility start to wane, many of my childless peers are confronted with the question, “Should I have kids?” With hesitation, they turn to us parents who, frankly, seem overwhelmingly unhappy. They ask sheepishly, “Is it worth it?” We lift our heads up, bedraggled, bags under our eyes, covered in boogers and sweat and spit up, we mutter, “Of course! It’s so fulfilling!” It’s like asking a hostage if they like their captor. Sure, it’s great. We love them. But our eyes are begging for liberation. Save me, please. I haven’t slept through the night in years....

Keep Reading

Soak in the Moments because Babies Don’t Keep

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Roller coaster photo, color photo

I love marking the moments, the ones that count—making a note and storing them for memory. But I often miss out on them when it comes to our oldest. ⁣ ⁣The day he wanted to be baptized, I was at home with another kiddo who was sick. He called me from church excitedly, emphasizing he was ready and didn’t want to wait. I couldn’t argue with that, so I watched him go underwater through videos my husband and sweet friends in the congregation took. ⁣ ⁣On the day of his fifth-grade graduation, we found ourselves at the pediatrician’s office. Instead...

Keep Reading

Sometimes a Kid Just Needs a Sick Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy outside, color photo

My middle son stayed home from school today. He said he was sick. I’m not sure that is the truth. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was an amazing caretaker, especially when you were sick. She pulled out all the stops. A cozy clean space to be, a thermos with ice cold juice by your side, Mrs. Grass’s soup, and Days of Our Lives on the screen while she tidied up the house. It was the best feeling in the world to be home and cozy with my mom when I was sick. It felt cozy and...

Keep Reading

Sometimes We Need Someone to Just Sit With Us in Our Struggle

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sad woman sits on floor, black and white image

Early this morning, I told (yelled is more accurate) my sons to get up with the same furious ferocity I use every morning when I realize they should be ready to go, but are still unconsciously snoozing away. One son lazily said, “I’m up, Mom” (even though he was very much not up). The other son, who typically has no problems getting up, had overslept and immediately freaked out, thinking he would be late to school. He proceeded to have a mini-meltdown from the dark recesses of his bedroom. That overflowed into the hallway where I found him lying face-down,...

Keep Reading

Daughter of Mine, Do Not Let the World Extinguish Your Fire

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter, color photo

Daughter of mine, I see the fire behind your eyes. Do not let it die. Daughter of mine who runs wildly and loves freely and whose anger is always whipping silently just under the surface like a pilot light, ready to ignite with one tiny spark. Do not let it die. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine Daughter of mine, one day you will become a woman, and the world will try to steal you and mold you and tell you who to become. Do not let it. It will try to fit you in...

Keep Reading