So, I’ve had this idea for a while of creating a series of tips for making life a little easier. Specifically easier for mamas. (And, let’s face it, easier for our families too, since the fewer cases of the crazies we get, the better off the people we live with).

It’s certainly nothing earth-shattering. There are entire sites dedicated to tips on motherhood. But I wasn’t looking for something that involved. I don’t need field tests or research projects. All I need is time-tested tricks, shortcuts, and why-didn’t-I-think-of that ideas from mamas (just like you) that I can post here, so the rest of us poor schmucks brilliant women can benefit too!

I’ve been jotting down ideas in my phone as they occurred to me or came to my attention for the last several months, but, with Christmas and Theo’s birth and starting back to school, the concept had just sort of slipped to the back of my mind…where it lay quietly biding its time until I got mastitis last weekend and decided to start swallowing raw garlic.


Say what?

Um, maybe I should back up a bit. So, Saturday night, I started feeling soreness in my left breast. I mentioned it to Shaun as we were going to bed but (stupidly) chalked it up to an especially enthusiastic toddler tackle.

By the next morning, I knew exactly what it was. I’d only had mastitis one other time (soon after the twins were born, right around the time I got shingles; if only I had a time machine to go back and repeat that month…I’d smash that hunk of junk to bits). And that episode had been relatively mild. But I still recognized the now-considerably-more-acute pain and–yup–sure enough, angry red streaks across my skin.

My other symptoms were mild, so we proceeded as usual with our Sunday morning. Shoot, we even managed to go grocery shopping before church! But I digress.

At church, I asked my friend, Shanna, who is an essential oils guru, what I might use to keep the infection from getting worse, and she recommended several things and then said, “But you know, I cured full-blown mastitis with nothing but raw garlic.”

I had definitely read about the medicinal qualities of raw garlic but had completely forgotten about them until Shanna mentioned them. Still, I figured I’d keep that idea in my back pocket as a “last resort.”

Not too surprisingly, that last resort came to fruition–at 3 AM, no less. Now granted, my first attempt at raw garlic consumption was less than pleasant. I chopped a very large clove up pretty fine and ended up having to take it in two rounds, which produced a fair amount of gagging (mostly from texture), a copious amount of water-gulping, and my personal best in the speed-eating of a banana to chase it all down.

Suffice it to say that I was less than eager for a repeat. But I couldn’t deny that my symptoms felt considerably less severe about an hour later.

Stubborn human that I am, I spent Monday morning suffering on the couch, until a new round of shakes and crumminess convinced me to give the garlic another go. This time, though, I chopped the clove into pill-sized pieces, downed them in one round, and chased them with a gulp of water and a Clementine. No gagging. No shuddering.

Within an hour, my worst symptoms had abated, and by evening, only the soreness and a lingering headache remained. (And this, after the mere thought of moving had been far from bueno for a solid 24 hours).

I posted this pic to Instagram and Facebook on Tuesday as proof of how much better I felt.


I fully expected the chatter to be about Theo in his cute hat, but instead it was either, “Preach it, sister! Garlic works!” or, “Wait, HOW does this garlic thing work??”

Which brings me to this post, which is the first in a series that I’m calling…

Mama Life Hacks: Making Motherhood More Manageable One Simple Hack at a Time.


So, how does this raw garlic thing work? Well, garlic has long been used for medicinal purposes, mostly due to the efficacy of the chemical allicin, which gives garlic its potency and its pungent odor. Garlic, in various forms, can be used to treat or alleviate a number of conditions from mastitis to yeast infections to the common cold and more.


I encourage you to do your own research, of course, since my advice is purely anecdotal and I am no doctor, but, barring an allergic reaction or a complete and total inability to tolerate smelling like salami for a while, what have you got to lose?

For the raw garlic method, all you need to do is chop up a clove of garlic into pill-sized pieces, down it with water or juice, then follow it up with something yummy if you feel the need.


You can do this up to 4-5 times a day, but I kid you not that each of the two times I took it, I could feel a difference in my symptoms within an hour.

A few people on our Facebook page suggested dousing the pieces of garlic in honey or maple syrup, which would be great if you just couldn’t stand the idea of raw garlic straight up.


There are even more ways to get your dose of healing garlic (I’m especially interested to try my friend Gwen’s much more kid-friendly garlic press technique for sore throats, earaches, colds, etc.)

But for now, I’m submitting swallowing raw garlic as a super-cheap, effective, don’t-have-to-leave-the-house-or-get-a-prescription way of fighting off your next infection.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I kept breastfeeding Theo as usual, and he didn’t seem to mind his garlic milkshakes a bit.

So…here’s where YOU come in!

I searched Instagram and discovered that–miraculously–I am the only person who has ever used the hashtag #mamalifehacks.

So, for now, it’s all ours (muhahahaha…feeeeel the power…ahem).

I’d love it if, any time you guys post about something simple you do as a mama that makes your life easier/better/fuller on social media, you’d use that hashtag.

It’ll work for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…whatever.

And then, I can search that hashtag and discover all kinds of nifty tips from y’all and feature them here!

I’m excited to see what awesomeness y’all have to share!

Speaking of which, do you have a Mama Life Hack to brag about today? Do tell!

Have you ever used garlic to cure an ailment? Did you smell like an Italian restaurant for two straight days? My husband assured me that I was, um, fragrant from several feet away. At-trac-tive.


  1. I definitely use garlic to fight the common cold. I have a pretty strong immune system but lately I’ve been working long hours, getting too little sleep, and eating junk food because my willpower goes down the drain when I’m stressed out. I had one or two nasty colds this fall that I don’t want to repeat, so I went to the store and stocked up on garlic. With the flu and cold viruses going around this winter, I’ve had several times I felt a sore throat or earache coming on. I combat the germs with minced garlic swallowed raw. I usually take it at night to help alleviate the garlic breath, but I still try to give my coworkers a few feet distance until the smell has worn off. I think it works wonders. I haven’t fallen sick even after being exposed to friends and family members who have been sick.

  2. I wish I had known about this two months ago when I had mastitis pretty bad. I will keep this in the back of my mind for any other ailments. Great post!

  3. I’m not a mama – but I do have a fantastic home remedy that I’ve used on myself!

    As a child I dealt with ear aches. The worst came when I was at the age that I was to old to have tubes put in, so it was something that was dealt with by using prescription ear drops, cotton balls, heating pads/water bottles, and time.

    A few years ago, I developed an awful cold and full blown ear infection a few months after I started a new job, so I didn’t have health insurance yet. No insurance + minimum wage = no doctor visit. I could deal with the cough, the runny nose, the general awful feeling. But the earache was debilitating.

    I started researching home remedies online and the most common cure I found (not just for earaches, but general other ailments as well) was onion/onion juice. And I seemingly remember a book that I read when I was younger, where stewed onions were used to cure an ailment. So, I had nothing to use. Following the directions online, I grated a little bit of onion into a bowl and warmed it in the microwave for a few seconds. I put a few drops in my ear and, honestly, I felt IMMEDIATE relief of a lot of the pain. I did this every morning and every night for a could of days, and my ear infection started healing SO quickly. (Some of my other research that I employed during this ear infection was sleeping with my head and neck elevated so the fluid could drain, I took Ibuprofen to help with swelling, and made sure to drink Nighttime Theraflu tea packets right before I went to bed to help with the other symptoms and put me into a restful sleep).

    From a chemical stand point, what I read suggests that the acid from the onion neutralizes the infection in the ear, which is a base. I have no idea if this is true or not, so take that for what it’s work. I only know that I’ve time I’ve used the onion-juice-in-the-ear on myself a few times and it works like gold every single time. I’ve offered it to friends over the years dealing with children who have ear ache’s and no one ever believes me. Which is unfortunate, because it really truly does work.

    1. I don’t have earaches very often, but I’m definitely filing this one away to try on myself in the future! Thanks for the tip!

    2. Yes! My kids all claim immediate relief with onion juice too! I just have to get it in there before the eardrum ruptures (after which you’re kinda stuck), and it ends the pain, eases any pressure (no more ruptures!!!), and generally makes us happy… other than that strange onion aroma… : )

  4. I’m a HUGE fan of garlic for infection fighting! So glad you’re feeling better. 🙂 I always suggest a cut clove right over the infection site for mastitis. Thanks for the link! ♥

  5. Duct taping the kids to the wall is about as life hacked as I feel right now! I’m going to go eat garlic and hope I feel better

  6. I use raw garlic all the time and made garlic oil (like she mentioned above) for my kids ear infections. I always just chew it and swallow it and yea, that fragrance-whew! But my older two kids who can swallow a pill will swallow it like you did. It really does help!

  7. Garlic was our household cure all when I was growing up. Minced up in olive oil, it became a salve for wounds or drops for an ear infection. We’d eat it any time we got sick, and my step dad even used it to get rid of warts (just apply a thin slice and cover with a bandaid)

  8. I’m so glad that you mentioned my suggestion of honey. I put my garlic in my Ninja (I absolutely LOVE my Ninja) which gets it pretty fine. I scoop it out, pour honey in my spoon and swallow. Of course I still chase with a lot of water to get it all down, but the water helps the garlic work anyway. I use garlic for EVERYTHING. I am type 1 diabetic so I get infections all the time, usually UTI’s. Raw garlic and apple cider vinegar cure me every time. Try this: sauté some raw garlic and red onion at a very low temperature for about an hour and let it sit (covered) overnight. Repeat in the morning, let the mixture sit in the oil until it’s cool and then save ONLY the oil. Use it for rashes, drop into ears for ear infections, etc. Oh and raw garlic will take warts off, too! Cut a clove in half and rub it on the wart. There are endless possibilities. 🙂 SO GLAD it worked for you!!

I love hearing from you guys!