I remember those early days of new motherhood quite well and am often reminded of them when I get texts and phone calls from friends who are just beginning down this path themselves. The thing I remember most about those first months (ok, the first year, ) was feeling like a big 'ol hot mess... pretty much all the time.
Now that I've been at this parenting thing for awhile, I'll admit that the feeling of being a hot mess never really goes away although it does get a whole lot better. In my parenting fantasies I imagined that I would finally reach this point where I would have it all together, but I'm beginning to believe that most of us probably never do. Despite that, over the years I've figured out some pretty helpful ways to "fake it 'til I make it" that probably trick people into thinking I have it more "together" than I actually do.
1. Dry shampoo and lipstick.
I'm not gonna lie, my beauty routine has definitely suffered since becoming a parent. The process of getting ready in the morning has been whittled down from 30 steps to about three. The trick to not looking like a total hot mess lies in choosing those three brief steps wisely. For me those steps are: get dressed, use dry shampoo, swipe on some lipstick. Greasy hair is a telltale sign that your life is headed off-the-rails, but it's cool, because dry shampoo will soak that grease right up and no one will be the wiser. I regularly go 7-10 days between hair washing as a result of dry shampoo and alternating hairstyles. Switching between wearing your hair up and down while giving it a brush-through helps redistribute the oils and makes everything look more polished again.
Once my dry shampoo does it's job I swipe on some bright lipstick (usually red.) I can vouch for the fact that nothing tricks people into thinking you have your crap together quite like a bold lip. The thing about lipstick is that most people reserve it for special occasions and not just a trip to the grocery store with their two little hellions, so when you do wear it on a mundane Tuesday people ignore the spit-up on your sweater and the fact that you're still wearing maternity jeans six months postpartum, because they're too busy checking out that fierce lip color. Trust me, it works like a charm.
Filling your purse with well considered items will go a long way toward making people think you've got it together and it might actually help you get it together more in the process! This should not be confused with shoving your bag full of endless amounts of "stuff"— think of it more as being well-curated.
Some things that help are dividing your bag up with a few different pouches to organize various items. In one of my pouches I keep my personal belongings such as lip gloss, a small organizer for receipts and various miscellaneous items like band-aids and a stain remover pen. Nothing is quite so impressive as swooping in with a way to save the day when someone is having a mini crisis (i.e. spilled coffee on their shirt.) I have a separate pouch that is filled with crayons, notepads and small toys to act as distractions for times when I need my children to not act like banshees in public. In another pouch I keep snacks, because having snacks keeps me and my family from exploding with "hangry" outbursts that are decidedly "un" put together. Also, never leave home without at least one diaper or change of children's underwear if you have young children And baby wipes... ALL the baby wipes.
Nothing screams"my life is a hot mess"quite like opening the door of your car and having garbage and junk spill out.
3. Keeping extra kid items in the car.
As I mentioned above, having your purse set-up to be a one-stop-shop does not mean keeping it packed full of junk. In order to avoid the overload of stuff in my purse, I keep any extra items I may need in my car. Instead of bringing the kids' coats in the house, I just keep them in the car. I also keep extra diapers, wipes, snacks and changes of clothes in there, because you never know when you (or a friend's kid) will need those extras. My extra stash has also saved me on multiple occasions when I've forgotten to repack essential items before rushing out the door. Be sure to consider seasonal needs when choosing these extra items for your stash—for example, during the summer we always keep swimsuits and towels in the car, just in case we decide to take an impromptu trip to a water fountain. Preparation encourages spontaneity.
4. Simplify your closet
Having a ton of choices, does not a good wardrobe make. Sometimes, the opposite is true. I know that I've spent far too much time staring into an overwhelming closet, only to give up and choose leggings and an oversized t-shirt yet again. In order to remedy this, get in your closet and get rid of everything you don't truly love. Show no mercy. Figure out what your "mom uniform" is and embrace it. People will be super impressed that you are wearing real outfits and not yoga pants every day. Also wear a watch... and glasses if you've got 'em. Responsible people wear such things.
Simplification should not end with your closet—extend the principle into the rest of your home as well. I am an obsessive purger. Every three months or so I go through closets or cabinets or bins and get rid of things that are no longer serving us. As such, cleaning my house has become a quick and painless process. Everything has a place and even my kids know where those places are, which means they are far more likely to pitch in. Less crap = less mess = guests who drop by unexpectedly will marvel at your cleanliness. It's science.
6. Clean your car
Nothing screams "my life is a hot mess" quite like opening the door of your car and having garbage and junk spill out. I'll admit, I'm not very good at actually washing or vacuuming my car, but I keep things tidy and I don't let things accumulate. I keep a bin for toys and books and one for trash, but mostly I just take all of our stuff out of the car every time we get home. It's much easier to create a habit of tidiness than to take the time to deep clean your car every few months. Also, we don't eat in our car, which helps a whole lot. It's a hard rule to stick by, but not having goldfish crumbs all over the place is worth it to me. If eating in the car is your jam though, keeping a dust buster in the car can work wonders. Your clean car will have people thinking you've got it together in no time!
What's your secret for making people think you have it together? Share in the comments so we can all benefit from your brilliant life hacks!