My Own Life-Hacker List
Ryan is forever following Lifehacker.com. He doesn’t always find something life changing, but every now and then they post about something that he decides to try out. Sometimes it’s a win; sometimes it’s a regretful Amazon purchase. Months ago he bought me a daylight alarm clock (https://www.amazon.com/Philips-Wake-up-Simulation-HF3500-60/dp/B00F0W1RIW/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1509503507&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=daylight+alarm+clock+phillips). This thing arrived in the mail and I was like, “You bought me an alarm clock? Gee. Thanks.” At least it wasn't a set of cookware. After a week of using it, I realized it was a game changer. I was waking up more gradually and (dare I admit it) in a much better mood. Life hack, indeed. Thank goodness for this wonderful website and my husband that is always looking for improvement.
Which brings me to today’s topic. Sometimes we just need to share things that are getting us through. I’ve been listening to a podcast lately of interviews of various women. At the end, the host always asks her guest, “What is getting you through right now?” Answers range from Netflix to coffee; from self care to wine.” So. Because you didn’t ask, here’s a list of things that are getting me through that I thought might be worth sharing.
Notebooks are must haves, especially if you have small children. Ryan continuously tries to get me to use Google Keep, but I remain a paper and pencil type of person. I keep some sort of notebook everywhere I am. I have one in the car, one in Ryan’s truck, one in my purse, one in each tote bag, and gobs of them in the house. I don’t only use them for making lists; sometimes I just need to write some crap down. One of my favorite uses of notebooks is for the kids to play with them when we’re out and about. Hannah and I made up the “Shape Game”. She makes some random scribble (with my eyes closed), and then I have to make some sort of actual picture out of it. I can make extra lines and draw whatever is needed, but I have to make something out of it. It’s her absolute favorite and it’s an amazing time passer while trapped in the doctor’s office waiting room. Notebooks. Don’t leave home without one.
Pump bottles are currently on my “must have” list. These are the shampoo, conditioner, soap, kids’ bath soap, lotion...anything liquid that I’m using frequently...it needs to be in a bottle with a pump. A couple of years ago I started buying some hair and skin care products from a friend selling Arbonne. After about a year, I started noticing that most of their products came in either a bottle with a pump or a container that stood up with the “lid” on the bottom. Granted, these are great products, but the icing on the cake was the fact that they came in great containers. They didn’t create huge messes, and I didn’t lose half the product when flipping the bottle upside down. Once I started buying other products in pump bottles, life started getting a tiny bit easier. The kids don’t run through their shampoo and body wash anywhere near as fast. One night they dropped the regular bottle of shampoo in the tub and half of it poured out before it got picked up. Stuff like this makes me want to scream. Thankfully, I don’t have to scream about that anymore (I get to save the screaming for other stuff). So...get a pump bottle. Even if you have to reuse it and pour your favorite shampoo into the bottle, get one.
We have three laundry hampers for the laundry room. One is for towels, sheets, underwear, and socks. Another is for darker clothes, jeans, and reds. The third is for lighter clothes and delicates. I don’t necessarily watch everything in the basket together, but the sorting helps save time when doing laundry. At first, however, I was the only one actually sorting correctly. So...I made labels with pictures, laminated them, and tied them to the fronts of the baskets. Then I sat down and explained the whole system with the kids and they now know (most of the time) which basket to put their clothes. The key is to add pictures. Hannah can’t read (didn’t even know letters when we started this), but she could look at the pictures and know which basket to put her clothes. You can also make these for their dresser drawers. You might even want to make some for your spouse. ;-)
I’m pretty sure our neighbors think we’ve mastered parenting solely based on our use of glow sticks. My SIL has a tracker app on her son’s phone so she can know where he is. (Don’t judge her; she put one on her phone so he can also track her if she’s running late...I think it’s brilliant.) Glow sticks are like a sort time, user-friendly, super cheap way to keep track of your kids. After Halloween I go to Walmart, Target, or wherever, and buy gobs of marked down glow sticks and then we use them all year long. We use them on camping trips, Fourth of July celebrations, and trick or treating. We were at a Fourth of July celebration on base with our neighbors and the kids still wanted to play in the water after the sun went down. She kept losing her daughter so I put a glow stick on her. My neighbor was so impressed I’m pretty sure she might have been considering nominating me for a Nobel Peace Prize. Basically, anytime you’re outside after dark (and don’t want to lose your kid), put a glow stick on ‘em and you’re pretty much good to go.
For those you of that have the “thigh gap” mastered, just skip this paragraph. For the rest of us that routinely celebrate Thunder Thigh Thursday, get some slip shorts. These little babies keep your thighs from rubbing together when you’re wearing dresses and skirts. For years I would wear regular tight shorts under my dresses, but you could always see the hem of the shorts and they were hot. Slip shorts are thinner, reach longer on your legs, and reach higher on your stomach. I have a pair in each color and wear them every time I wear a dress. In the summer, they’re a must.
So, this whole “wardrobe capsule” thing started, and while I loved the idea, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it. I’m becoming very minimalistic minded, but I also know my limitations. I’m busy. I sometimes don’t have time to do a load of laundry every night. If there’s a shirt that can be used for three outfits, I’m probably not going to have time to wash that shirt by the time it’s needed for the next outfit. While I love the idea of only having 25 clothing items, it’s just not practical for me. BUT, I have come up with my own sort of capsule. This past summer I bought four simply styled dresses and wore them all week. On Fridays, I usually wore jeans and a simple shirt. I did this all summer and it was wonderful. About two years ago I started doing my own version of a wardrobe capsule and fell in love with it. Granted, sometimes I want to wear something different, so I’ll throw in another shirt or skirt. Soon, though, I’ll go right back to my staple outfits. The key to this is that the clothes need to be things you really like, fit well, and are comfortable. One day I’ll have time to do proper clothing shopping and , but for now, I’m making it through with my own wardrobe capsule. I do the same with workout clothes and “weekend wear”.
Similar to the wardrobe capsule, we started a meal capsule. Some friends from work told us their new meal planning method that consisted of cooking the same meals each week. At first I wrinkled my nose and thought, “Wha? How boring!” Ryan was game, so I agreed to give it a shot. While we don’t do the same meals every single week, we basically have a list of meals that we love and we just cook those meals during the week. We try to keep all ingredients in the house at all times. This also makes for easy grocery shopping. We walk through the grocery store and basically buy the same things. For you foodies, I get it. You’re furrowing your brow and thinking, “These people don’t love food the way I do.” You’re right. While I love good food (my big butt confirms), I’m just not in a chapter of life that lends to experimental cooking or going to the grocery store every three days. I’m just not. We’re eating good food. We’re eating tasty food. We call it a win. Here are some of our current favorites:
- Egg Roll in a Bowl
- Taco Salad
- Chili (as soon as the weather cools back down)
- Cheeseburger Soup (this is a recent new addition): https://www.isavea2z.com/easy-bacon-cheeseburger-soup-keto-friendly-recipe/
- Rosemary Beef and Broccoli (we don’t do the bread): https://www.hellofresh.com/recipes/rosemary-beef-flatbread-55097d876ced6e6a598b4567?locale=en-US
- Fiery Pork Fajitas (we usually use chicken and omit tortillas): https://www.hellofresh.com/recipes/fiery-pork-fajitas-56ba670e4dab71c9438b4569?locale=en-US
- Pioneer Woman Sloppy Joes (we skip the bread and sub one tiny can of tomato paste and ¼ cup ketchup instead of the 1.5 cups of ketchup): http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/sloppy-joes/
So, that’s my list of lifehacks for right now. Feel free to share some of yours. I’m always up for trying something that makes life easier.