Confessions of a Short Cut Mom

How Do You Do It All?

I have to be a short cut mom. I have five busy kids, I work full-time from my home, I teach fitness classes, my husband travels every week for work,  we both serve at our church… I guess it might look like an impressive list.  Still, I know some of you out there are thinking, “I could totally top that!”  You are the reason the phrase, “I don’t know how you do it all.” was invented.

When a friend who had 3 children but was contemplating whether to have more asked me, “How do you do it all?”  I didn’t have any genius answer for her. I just laughed and said, “I don’t know.”  She continued, “I’m mean, I can’t imagine making 6 beds every morning and folding and putting away clothes for 7 people.”  Then I understood.  She assumed that I truly “did it all.”  I didn’t have any problem setting the record straight.

“I’ll tell you how I do it all… I don’t!! I don’t make my kids beds for them, I don’t always fold their laundry.  I could do all that if that is how I wanted to spend almost ALL of my time, but I choose not to.”

Her eyes got big as if it never occurred to her that she could cut corners like that. “So, there are some things that you just decide to let go of?”

My reply…”You pretty much HAVE to if you want anything other than, Here Lies a Good Housekeeper, on your gravestone.”

I told her about the time I decided I was going to be a “good mom” and keep the house completely clean and have homemade dinners on the table every day.  It lasted 1 week, maybe less than that.  I felt like all I did the entire week was cook, clean, and sleep.  Yes, it was nice to have a clean house and meals every night but the tradeoff wasn’t worth it. I wanted to accomplish more than keeping a clean house.

Perfect Imperfectness

Now, it’s not like I let everything go to pot but I had to decide what I could let go of and still feel like I was doing alright. I had to find my “good mom sweet spot.”  A sink deep enough to hide dishes in it and at least one clean bathroom for guests may not be someone else’s idea of ideal, but if it was acceptable to me.. then it was MY”perfect.”

Admittedly it took practice to become happy and guilt-free with my perfect imperfectness.  Thankfully, I learned a lot of my short-cuts from other moms.  At first I would start judging when I would observe a mom take a short cut I never thought of, but in the next moment I would realize how smart she was.  Seeing other moms let go gave me permission to not have such high and unrealistic expectations for myself.

Oh the freedom!  If I accomplish nothing else by writing this I hope it gives you permission to give yourself a little break and realize that a perfect mom is one who knows what doesn’t need to be perfect and feels no guilt about it!

I didn’t quite confess all my shortcuts to my friend because I didn’t know if her heart could take much more. But since you can gasp as you read this and I’ll never know; I’ll go ahead and tell you.

My Favorite “Short Cut Mom” Hacks

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  • I’ve been known to count a trip to the swimming pool or a run through the sprinklers as my children’s  “bath time.”  They’re basically clean right?  I mean if they went to the pool they’ve even been disinfected by all the chlorine! Perfect!
  • When the kids were younger I would spend time folding all their clothes and putting them away only for them to completely empty their drawers and unfold everything within hours. I finally gave up and would sort their clothes and place them in their drawers unfolded. Why do something that was going to be completely undone?
  • Next I created this super efficient, unheard of laundry system where the clothes just stayed in laundry baskets until I needed the baskets for dirty clothes and I was forced to empty them.   I wonder if anyone else has copied my system?  Who needs dressers anyway right?
  • When my first child wet her bed at night I would bathe her, strip down the bed and put on fresh sheets and after about an hour finally get back to bed. By kid #5  I would cover the wet spot with a towel, wipe them down with some wet wipes and have them sleep on the opposite side off the bed until morning.
  • I hate sewing.  I’ve been known to staple badges onto Boy Scout uniforms last minute. If something needed to be stitched up it would sit in my laundry room taunting me for about a year and then I would get rid of it justifying that it wouldn’t fit anyone anymore.
  • Sometimes… I pretend the little shower my lettuce gets at the grocery store actually cleans it.  Don’t judge or lecture me on pesticides and cancer. I’ve only done it a few times and only when I’m cooking for my family because of course I would only risk their lives.
  • The kids playroom had labeled boxes with pictures of exactly was supposed to go in them.  I thought I was a genius mom, even my kids that couldn’t read could look at the pictures and put things away in the right spot.  It didn’t work because I’m positive there were no pictures of apple cores, dirty socks, or used spoons on any of those boxes, yet that is what I would find in them.  Giving up on an organized playroom was a major moment of victory for me.  It would only get an overhaul when I ran out of socks and spoons.
  • I used to plan and prep for potlucks so I could bring a delicious dish and relish in all the “oooooh and aaaaaah” and “can I have your recipe?”  Now I’m happy to give Costco all the credit.
  • I’ll never have a garden and make my children work pulling out weeds so that we can preserve our harvest and live from the bounty of the earth.  Sounds so wonderful mom-ish, BLAH!  I canned applesauce ONCE and it was the messiest experience of my life. At the end of the day I wished I would have just bought some from the grocery store during the case lot sale.
  • Should I confess this next one?  I pretty much don’t chop or wash anything when I cook dinner. Before you shudder in horror… I don’t HAVE to chop or wash anything because I use freeze dried food called Thrive in nearly all my cooking. This is probably one of my favorite mom short cuts of all because it makes me feel pretty smart and spoiled.  Yep, I’m a stuck up chef. I pity the moms that have to stand at a chopping board and stove for more than 5 minutes. I scoop everything I need  already chopped washed and cooked and add them into my recipes. Dinner is done in 1/4 of the time and is just as delicious. This is probably the only reason we have family dinner most nights of the week.
  • If Thrive didn’t already make things easy enough I quite often double my recipes so that my kids can have a quick lunch the next day or we can have a leftovers night. Yeah, I know #lazymom or is it #smartmom?
  • And for the grand finale… I DON’T OWN AN IRONING BOARD.  I do have a Iron in case of emergencies but my ironing board broke years ago and I’ve never replaced it.  You can pick your jaw up now. I do have a solution to no ironing. First, when I’m buying clothes they have to past 1 test… are they wrinkle resistant? If they aren’t, I don’t buy them. Second, I’ve bought stock in a bottle full of magic called Downy Wrinkle Releaser. Third, I like contribute to a healthy economy and give back to local businesses… dry cleaning businesses to be exact.

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It Is Time To Let Go And Take Pride In Being a Short Cut Mom

Have I confessed too much?  Is your heart ok, or are you thinking of short cuts I’ve totally missed?  My list could go on a lot more but there are some secrets I must keep.  My work isn’t done if you haven’t decided that there are some things you can let go of.

Is there something that causes you guilt?

Is there something you only do or care about because of someone else?

Do you HAVE to go to bed with an empty sink because that is how your mom did it, or you have a friend that “always” has her daughter’s hair in the cutest Pinterest up-dos and you should be a better mom like her?  Are there things that cause you stress and frustration and if you REALLY thought about it, you don’t TRULY care about them?  Or maybe caring about them isn’t worth the cost?

I can’t tell you how joyful and liberating being a short cut mom can be! Now, If you truly love all that stuff that I love taking short cuts on, by all means keep doing it!!!  More power to ya, and I raise my broom to you!  But if you have a bad day or life throws you a curve ball don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet some imaginary Facebook/Pinterest standard. Life is more forgiving than you might think:)

Every now and then I look around at my mostly kinda clean, imperfect but perfect for me house and start going down the “I should do better road.”  When I do that I think of something someone told me once.  It was a friend who stopped by my new house and wanted a little tour. I had to warn her that the boys’ domain would be a mess. I found myself getting a little nervous and making excuses and her reply was, “Oh, Amber, you have way to much talent to be spending your time cleaning boys’ bedrooms.”

Why yes, yes I do!  And so do YOU!  Short cut moms unite and lets start being proud of our perfect imperfectness!

Read some more stories about motherhood here.

I’d love to know your favorite mom short cuts! Have you been inspired to let go of something?  Leave a comment below!


Mom Short Cuts | Mom Hacks | Encouragement for Moms | Motherhood


  1. Sherry | 16th May 17

    Love, love, LOVE this!!! 🙂

    • Amber | 16th May 17

      Love, love, love YOU. So glad we are sisters in short cuts!

  2. Ilene | 16th May 17

    Amber, I LOVE and already use, or have used, all your mom hacks!! Aren’t they fabulous and liberating?! My favorite one is cooking with THRIVE. Best mom short cut EVER! But, I even go a step further and serve our meals on Paper plates. My kids begged me to do this for years but I was too cheap. I told them “we aren’t that lazy!” HA! I was a fool! Do you know you can buy 1200 paper plates at Costco for about $10? That’s less than a penny a piece. What a bargain! Not lazy, very smart!!

    • Amber | 16th May 17

      Ha! I used all paper products for a whole year while I lived in a house with 10 people and no dishwasher! I love that you’ve done the math!

  3. Rachel DeBuck | 16th May 17

    My favorite mom short cut came from you Amber : during the crazy, stressful before school/morning time, go back in your room and go back to sleep or take a shower. The kids don’t get ready any faster with moms yelling at them. They are just as unprepared either way. And at least I feel peaceful and clean!

  4. Kathy Kuehn | 16th May 17

    We had to live in a camper trailer, at one point, with no iron or ironing board. I filled a spray bottle with water laid the garment on the bed, sprayed it and smoothed it out with my hands. Then I did the other side. They looked a lot better!
    I even hacked on this one. After my little boys got dressed I would spray them down and smooth the wrinkles out on their bodies! Worked great! It wasnt their favorite way. Just a little cold! Over time they would bring me the bottle and ask me to spray them!

  5. Jessica Salgado-Riley | 19th May 17

    What a liberating post! I know we sometimes put each other on pedestals and imagine everyone is doing it better than I am. Maybe they are but not in the way I think. Thanks for making me think about what really matters!

  6. Terri | 19th May 17

    I felt a lot of mom guilt while my kids were growing up. I worked full time and wasn’t at home making beds, baking cookies for after school snacks or a lot of other things. I made a chore chart. Everyone was responsible for cleaning their own rooms, making their beds, and we split up the rest of the house and rotated responsibility. My kids were laundry partners and had to work out who washed, dried, folded, etc. each week. Each kid was responsible for making dinner one night a week. It was all about survival for me. But when my son was grown up and out on his own, he thanked me for teaching him how to do all those things. He had a roommate who didn’t know how to do any of those things. I then realized I had raised responsible adults and the guilt melted away.

    • Amber | 19th May 17

      Such a great thought Terri! I should make my kids do more!!!

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