motherhood simple living

20 Things You Can Do to Reduce Friction in Your Home Life

Shoes on the stairs, misplaced phone chargers, lost homework folders—these everyday annoyances add up, keeping us from living the calm, present lives we’re all chasing. (There’s some irony in chasing a calm life. But sometimes that’s just how it feels, right?)

When we moved to our new home, all I cared about was setting up systems that would eliminate some of the friction from my life.

A place for everything. Decent habits from the get-go.

Fewer of the irritants that prevent me from living this beautiful string of moments with my family.

To get your wheels turning, I thought I’d share 20 things you could do to reduce friction in your home life and help you live more fully.

20 things you can do to reduce friction in your home life and live more fully with the people you love!

Reducing Friction to Live More Fully 

1. Designate two to three spaces where you are allowed to set down your devices. At our new place, I chose a spot on each floor where I keep my phone. It is saving me the oh-too-frequent insanity of “Where did I put my phone??”

2. Hang hooks in your entry. It’s the simplest change that makes a HUGE impact, especially if you have little ones.

3. Get a really good doormat, and help your kids get in the habit of swiping their feet twice before they enter. I’m considering buying this doormat, but I’m not sure if the word Dr. in it is influencing me. I think it may be but I don’t even care! Anything to reduce the amount of dirt that comes into the house.

4. When you make sandwiches for your kids’ lunches, make enough for at least two days. For me, it’s the sandwich that is the stumbling block. Making them ahead = problem solved.

5. Keep phone chargers where you need them, such as by your bed, in the kitchen, in the car, or at the computer. Buy an extra one or two and save yourself some headache!

6. Use the subscribe and save feature on Amazon for items that you need on a regular basis but somehow never remember to put on your list. (I use it for dishwashing and laundry detergent.)

7. Consider using hanging closet organizers for the kids, instead of dressers. Setting clothing inside cubbies is easier for kids (and busy moms!) than folding and putting away in drawers.

8. Have hanging file folders in the kitchen, or wherever you sort through the kids’ papers.

9. Rework your car storage. Think: diapers and wipes, a change of clothes your potty-training toddler, jumper cables, emergency snacks.

10. If your kids tend to get crazy sandy/wet at the park, keep baby powder in the car. A dusting of it on their legs and feet instantly will dry the sand out and allow you to brush it right off, which means…a cleaner car!

11. Buy hooks for your car—to hold purses, backpacks, reusable grocery bags. Hooks of any kind are my best friend. These are next on my wish list.

12. Set up the world’s easiest chore system for your kids, rather than feeling guilty over the fancy system you never remember to follow through with. (Been there!)

13. Use the timer feature on your iPhone / iPad when your kids use your devices. A timer telling them time’s up seems to spare us a lot of whining / arguing, compared to me telling them time’s up.

14. Choose ONE thing on this list to let go of for a season.

15. Have multiple laundry hampers (lights and darks) so that laundry is sorted before you even head to the washer.

16. Reduce the number of bathroom towels you own. One set per bathroom / family member will do. Having fewer motivates you to wash them and hang them back up promptly, instead of getting backlogged.

17. Make this DIY after-shower cleaner to prevent hard water buildup and extend the time between deep cleanings.

18. Avoid power struggles with your kids by not engaging in any discussion AFTER you’ve given the directions. It’s like quicksand. The more you struggle, the faster you sink! Read more in this great post.

19. Have family meetings! I know you’ve heard me say this before, but a quick meeting where we discuss what went well last week and what we can do better at the following week gives us such a warm and productive forum to broach behavior issues with our kids, and they can bring up issues with us too(!), which helps them feel like they have a voice in the family.

20. Every night when you’re in bed, think through what you’re going to wear the next morning. It’s amazing how twenty seconds of thought can save you minutes of hassle in the morning!

Reducing Friction to Live More Fully

I hope this list gave you some new ideas, but when it comes down to it, it’s not really about what you do; it’s just about doing it. It’s about removing obstacles, setting up systems that make life a little more effortless, and ultimately, connecting more with the people we love.

So let’s hear it—What is a point of friction in your life right now, or one that you recently alleviated?

Photo credit: My incredibly talented, SF-based friend Jen, at Jen J Photo

  • Rachel T.
    February 10, 2015 at 6:59 am

    I’m obsessed with home organization lately and de-cluttering. It does make life easier! I like your idea of hooks by the door. I need to get some of those. Thanks for the great ideas!

    • Erica Layne
      February 10, 2015 at 11:41 am

      Sure thing, sista! Wish I could see all your organized glory! Perhaps a post on your blog? 🙂

  • Missy Robinson
    February 10, 2015 at 7:09 am

    Hooks are wonderful for SO many reasons. Have you embraced the glory of command hooks?

    I’m all about simple solutions to make the rhythms of everyday flow with ease. Thank you for sharing your ideas.

    • Erica Layne
      February 10, 2015 at 11:40 am

      I certainly have! Command hooks could have been a point of their own! 🙂 Thanks, Missy!

  • Evanthia
    February 11, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    These are great tips! We use a lot of these, but I’m happy to grab a few new ideas, too!

    One thing I do is use the timer feature on my phone to dictate how much time each of the girls gets with a really hot toy. Do you ever have one of those days where they just want to play with whatever silly thing the other kid is holding ALL DAY LONG? When we’re having that kind of day, I just pull out my phone and get it to keep track of each kid’s two-minute turn, and once the buzzer goes off, they know to swap–no argument!

    • Erica Layne
      February 11, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      Yes! Aren’t those days the best?? ha. Timers are a lifesaver with kids!

  • Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake
    February 11, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    A point of friction for me is (and pretty much always has been) dishes piling up. Not only does it mean more work later when I finally wash them, but it makes it hard to put away groceries, cook dinner, and do other things in the kitchen! So I have been “trying” to implement a new idea I learned from an older, experienced mother on YouTube: run the dishwasher and put away the clean dishes before you go to bed. I love that little nugget of wisdom! I usually run it at night, but I leave it to empty until the morning. And you know what mornings are like with kids, even if you don’t have to be anywhere! 🙂 If there’s a place to put dirty dishes, I’m much more likely to keep on top of them.

    I love this list! I’m always trying to make things run more smoothly in our household.

    • Erica Layne
      February 11, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      Yes! I’ve taken to running mine after breakfast, right as we leave for school dropoff. Then I can unload when I get home and am just cleaning / hanging with my two who are still home with me. Funny what a big difference such a small thing can make, but you’re right, the timing of running the dishwasher is HUGE!

  • Liz
    February 12, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Oh, I love this! We are getting ready to move, and I am on an organization mission. I want it to be as smooth as possible. These are great tips! Thanks so much for sharing, sweet lady xoxo

  • Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook
    February 12, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    This is a great list! (But your link in #18 is broken.) It’s funny how things that seem so small can make your whole life itch.

    For me, it’s always been important to have a “staging area” where I put all the stuff I’m going to take when I walk out the door. In this house, there’s very little room right next to the door, but the stairs go up two steps to a landing and then turn, so there’s some space in the outer corner of the landing, which is near the door. So when we moved in, I made that my staging area. Fast forward 12 years, and I now have a 4th grader, who takes swimming and clarinet in school, sharing the staging area, *and* I have to take my baby’s things as well as mine when we go out. The landing was too crowded! I started keeping my/baby’s gear next to her changing area instead. It makes sense because that’s where we keep everything for replenishing the diaper bag, and it’s next to the kitchen where I pack up the bottles. We have gained so much peace from this change! In fact, my son has stopped leaving clutter around his backpack, now that his things are the only things on the landing!

  • Katie @ Wonderfully Made
    February 13, 2015 at 6:11 am

    I’m all about efficiency and girl this list of ideas is awesome! Definitely going to try some of these!

  • Emily
    February 17, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    If you decide to be intentional about things in the home, it can save headaches in the end!! Some of it’s so simple (keeping your phone in the same spot, etc), but it saves time searching. 🙂 Great list.

    • Erica Layne
      February 17, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      Thanks so much, Emily! Yes, it’s ridiculous how my lightbulb moments can be over THE tiniest things. But it adds up! You have a great day!

  • Michelle Westbrook
    February 18, 2015 at 7:39 am

    I think my biggest point of friction at home is my family members leaving things where they used them last instead of returning them to their place. I’m still working that one out….

    Thanks for linking up another wonderful post to the Sparks of Happiness Linkup. I am sharing this one on Facebook and Pinterest 🙂

  • Literate For Life (Pamela Hall)
    February 18, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    #20 has saved my life. I also put everything by the door that needs to go out for the next day such as lunches, etc. If there is something in the refrigerator that needs to go, I put a post-it note on the door by all that is packed and ready to go. I like your Amazon tip. I never thought about doing that.
    I came here via Works For Me Wednesday link up. 🙂 Pamela – Literate For Life

  • Ashley
    February 27, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    What a great list! I love it!

  • Regina
    March 19, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    I love this list! I’ve been working to get my house reorganized since we remodeled and hopefully I can get done before we begin our addition. Anything to simplify is my bestfriend 🙂

  • Kim @ When Caterpillars Fly
    January 27, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    My husband simply cannot understand why I refuse to have extra sets of towels OR sheets. When we married, he had to have had at LEAST 100 towels! (He also had primary custody of his two kids, so it wasnt just him) I wash, dry and hang them back up and for some reason it annoys him, hahaha. I’ll have to make him read this post 😉

    • Erica Layne
      January 29, 2016 at 10:12 am

      Haha, good idea! Sometimes I do the same thing with my husband. 🙂 You know, casually leave something open on his laptop… 🙂

  • Erica Rawson
    February 4, 2016 at 5:46 am

    We have a “Things To Put Away” basket. As I find things I just put them there. The kids empty it in the evenings and they’ve learned to look there if they can’t find something.

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