I wear many different shoes throughout a day. I’m a mom, wife, daughter, full time physician, and food blogger all of which translates into a crazy, BUSY life. I’m willing to bet y’all are facing similar challenges. Feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Me too! Feel like you’re barely hanging on sometimes? I hear you loud and clear! Chaos abound in your house? Yep, mine too! So this Friday Five, let’s talk about making our lives just a little bit easier. Commit to taking the next 5 minutes for yourself, grab a cup of coffee (or glass of wine, no judgement here) and let’s see if we can help. I’m going to share a few of my favorite life hacks and hopefully you’ll be willing to share yours as well!
I’ve worked hard in my life and have been entrusted with a lot of really important tasks. I’m raising kids. I’m caring for patients. I’m trying to connect people around the table and get them into the kitchen. I’m trying to be a good partner to my husband. I’m trying to spread the word about our blog. I run three different book clubs and try hard to create villages to help each other out when things get tough. I have a fabulous life and I am grateful for every single day. But I’m not going to lie, my shoes are rarely all lined up in a row, and my life often follows suit. Frequently I’m being pulled in multiple directions and just hoping that I can keep it all together. Most of the time my life looks like pure chaos!
The oldest has an orchestra performance, and by the way she needs new shoes, did I order the new strings her violin teacher recommended several weeks ago, the youngest has to get to a piano lesson, did I remember to pay his teacher, do the kids have winter clothes that fit, I need to head to work for a late night shift, who is going to pick up the youngest from his after school program, there is a blog post due tomorrow, have you done your annual education for work, did I send out the invitation for the upcoming book club, time to update social media, have the kids gotten their flu shots, has the dog been fed today, has ANYONE been fed today?
Sound familiar? My brain is like a computer with a thousand windows open and running at the same time. A total run-on sentence devoid of punctuation. And I don’t think I’m alone. We were told we could do it all, and we are trying our darnest to actually DO IT ALL. I’m learning to embrace the chaos (goodness knows it isn’t going to go away any time soon), and in doing so, I have found some life hacks I’d love to share with you.
Life hacks are those things that save time, make life easier, make things flow more smoothly. Many of them I’ve mentioned before, some of them you might already do. Not all of my hacks will work for you, but hopefully some of you will find these hacks useful or maybe even life changing.
*none of these five life hacks are affiliate links (google, instacart, Libby, cozi, venmo). I get nothing if you decide to try out any of these, other than the satisfaction of making your life a little bit easier, however SOME OF THE OTHER LINKS IN THIS POST ARE AFFILIATE LINKS AND WE WILL RECEIVE A SMALL COMMISSION IF YOU MAKE A PURCHASE AFTER CLICKING ON OUR LINK. THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING OUR WORK HERE AT WITH TWO SPOONS!]
1. Google Calendar. I could also name this one “the hack that saved my marriage”. All of us these days have crazy schedules. I sometimes work days, sometimes evenings, sometimes overnights, plus throw in 2 kids and all of their activities. The “schedule” and constant access to it is crucial. Many years ago, I used to make a monthly calendar using colored pencils and my very best handwriting. It was a work of art, and I would feel so organized. Then I would start getting the phone calls from my husband. “Do you work today?” “Am I taking X kid to swimming tonight?”. On repeat. Turns out that that beautifully crafted schedule resided in the back seat of his car. Not useful. Even worse when something on our schedule changed! After getting really mad, I polled some of my colleagues. Google calendar to the rescue. Now everyone in our house has it on their laptops and phones, and any of us can access it at any time. Everyone has their own color and with a glance it is easy to figure out who needs to be where. Problem solved. And it’s free.
2. Instacart. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Anything that makes me able to do multiple tasks at once (successfully) makes me unbelievably happy. With Instacart, I can order my groceries online and they show up at my house at the time I’ve scheduled (usually 1-2 hours from the time I ordered). I can finish a grocery order, get the laundry folded, a blog post written, spend time with my kids, get a book club book read, you name it, I can get it done-WHILE SOMEONE ELSE IS DOING MY GROCERY SHOPPING. Brilliant. In my area, I can choose from many different stores and get their everyday prices. Even though I pay a yearly delivery fee, I actually save money by reducing my impulse buying. Win-win. Plus since I’m usually doing my order on my laptop at home I can make sure I’m not ordering things I already have in my pantry (and those of you know who know me well, know how real of a problem this is for me…6 bottles of ketchup indeed…).
3. Libby by Overdrive. We are a family of readers. I belong to three different in real life bookclubs, my kids read voraciously, and even my husband is usually in the midst of a good book. We would be BROKE if we bought all of the books we read. And luckily we don’t have to be. We have an amazing public library system where I live in Minneapolis. Each one of us in my house has a Kindle, and we download books from the library using the Libby app. I use it on my phone, my son uses it on his iPad. Bonus, we can also download audiobooks from this app which is great when driving to or from the cabin. Or when my son is trying to sleep at night. Or when I’m driving to work. We can each borrow up to 15 books apiece for up to 3 weeks. And since they are on our kindles, they are also easy to travel with, and most of the time I have mine with me, in my purse or car. I’m currently listening to Girl Wash Your Face on my phone, and on my kindle I’ve got Everything Here is Beautiful all ready to start reading. Both free from the library.
4. Cozi app. My friend Susan told me about this app one night while we were sipping wine and trying to help each other get organized. She had been using this app as both a list app and a calendar app. Although I’m not a fan of the calendar function (it’s just really hard to beat Google Calendar, see above!), I love the lists function. This is how my husband and I communicate when it comes to picking things up at the store. We have a shared list for Target, Amazon, the grocery store, and Costco. We have a shared list for what we are out of at the cabin. I have a list of dinner ideas and a list of books I want to read. Both my husband I have a linked Cozi account and both of us have the app on our phones. If we think of something we need, we add it to the appropriate list on our respective devices. Since the lists are synced, we can look to see what is needed when one of us has a chance to run to the store. No more losing paper lists (or forgetting them at home when you head to the store). No more getting mad when my husband goes to the store and forgets to ask me what I needed-its all right there. I have the free app and the functionality is perfect for my family.
5. Venmo. This is a mobile phone app by PayPal that allows you to transfer money to other people. Although I don’t use it for everything, it comes in handy when splitting the bill at a restaurant, sending money to the person that is buying a group gift, or paying the kids’ piano teacher. I rarely carry cash, I’m not even sure I still have a checkbook, and not everyone takes my MasterCard. Venmo solves this problem.
And a few bonus life hacks (because 5 hacks aren’t enough).
-If you have school aged kids, open an email address (gmail is free!) just for school emails. Make sure that you share access to this account with your partner. Make sure it is accessible on both of your phones. If you read an email first, feel it contains important information, and want to make sure your partner reads it, flag it. That way both of you have the SAME information from the school. You both have easy access to where the first grade music performance is being held, you both will have access to the emails sent by your children’s teachers, and both of you can be responsible for what the school lunch account balance is.
-Automate. Automate, Automate, Automate. I can’t stress this enough. Make sure your monthly bills (utilities, mortgage payments, insurance payments, credit card payments, car payments, student loan payments) are automatically paid. Set it up through the company themselves or your bank. Not having to think about these payments will keep them getting paid on time, keep you from paying extra in late fees, and keep your credit score high.