I’m busy. We’re all busy. And I know we all have our own life hacks that get us through the week without completely losing our minds or starving our children. Right?
I work from home, which makes me a lucky, lucky lady, but it can also be a little limiting. Sometimes when my husband does school drop off, I find myself still at my desk in my pajamas at 1pm, nursing a cold cup of coffee and wondering why my stomach is growling. Were it not for a rigorous gym schedule, this would happen much more frequently – although in those cases, you can replace “pajamas” with “sweaty gym clothes” and you’d have the same situation. My husband also regularly uses our car to commute to NYC, so I generally navigate my errands and kid shuttling on foot and SEPTA (always a thrill).
In a perfect world, I would get all my professional work done, accomplish errands, keep my children fed and clothed, maybe even take a shower myself occasionally, and always have plenty of toilet paper in the house. But, alas, this daily struggle continues. Over the years, I have picked up and ditched lots of short cuts and life assists to try to mitigate my inability to organize myself while raising my family in an urban environment. Many things I’ve tried have failed miserably and gone the way of my regular bikini wax and manicure, but a few have staying power. And so, I offer to you just a handful of my favorite life hacks and services that I whole-heartedly recommend for busy parents everywhere.
1. Stitch Fix
This is now a tried and true service for me. I previously eschewed these kind of styling services as frivolous and for those with a larger disposable income than my own. But, after seeing a few posts about the service on social media, I decided to give it a whirl. And. I. Am. Hooked. Essentially, you fill out a survey with your clothing sizes, fashion likes and dislikes and rate a few ensembles to give your online stylist some information with which to put together a box with five items to provide us some fashion happiness. There is no membership fee and you can change or cancel your “fix” anytime you like. Want a box of clothes and accessories every month? Every two weeks? Every other month? No problem! The only thing resembling a fee for this service is the $20 styling fee, which is automatically credited to anything you purchase in your shipment. Whatever you don’t want to keep goes into a mailer and can be dropped into the nearest postal box. If you decide to keep all five items, you’ll get 25% off your entire order. I haven’t yet hit that sweet spot of loving everything in the box, but we’re getting closer!
The coolest part about Stitch Fix is the way you are able to give feedback on each item and also send a longer note to your stylist giving them more information about what worked and didn’t work with each fix. Theoretically, your next shipment will address any style, size, or other things that didn’t work and your fix will get better every time. The interface is simple, website is gorgeous, and personal notes from your stylist add a nice touch of luxury to the service. And, its saving me from walking around in the same three maxi dresses that I picked up at Target last summer while on an emergency toilet paper and peanut butter run. Win/Win.
So, without a car and with limited time to accomplish normal errands in actual stores without two kids clinging to me and complaining about shopping with mommy, the majority of my shopping has converted to online “errands” accomplished in the pockets of my day. Really, if you’re going to do all your shopping online, why not benefit from it? That’s where Ebates comes in! Just visit their website, set up an account and start getting cash back every time you shop online. There’s even a fab plug in for your browser so you don’t miss a single cash back opportunity. With participating online retailers from Sephora to eBay to Old Navyand beyond, Ebates will pay you to shop. It doesn’t really get any better than that.
3. The Fresh 20
I posted about meal planning a few months ago and I’m still a true believer in the power of services like this. The one we use is The Fresh 20 and we love it. I modify the recipes all the time, but I do love the bones of the program. You can select from Classic, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Paleo, Meals for One, Kids’ Lunches and more. It’s a great way to organize yourself, save money at the grocery store, and get everyone gathered around the table more regularly. Free trials are available and there are several subscription plans to choose from.
FreshDirect. I love my FreshDirect. And it folds right into my use of The Fresh 20’s meal planning service! I’ve been a FreshDirect user since my single days in NYC. What better way to plan for a party than to organize your grocery list on FreshDirect? Now that I’m planning meals for a family of four and using a meal planning service, FreshDirect makes even more sense! I can organize my grocery cart online (their site is really awesome and user-friendly and they even have an app for your phone), add additional items for school lunches and snacks, and adjust the recipes as needed without roaming a grocery store with two wee ones begging for bananas and fruit snacks.
If you have kids, chances are you have an inordinate amount of art work coming home from school or being created at your kitchen table during downtime at home. It can be overwhelming, right? Not to mention all the clutter on the refrigerator. We have an “art wall” in our kitchen to help stem the tide and display our favorites, but there are just too many to keep track of and preserve properly. I’m guilty of “recycling” a significant amount of what comes home (and hoping my kids don’t notice!). Well, ArtKive has a solution! Just download the app, enter your kids names and ages for “artkive-ing” purposes, take pictures of the artwork you want to include, tag your kids and share easily with families and friends. Artkive also has some wonderful collections of art books that you can create. It’s really amazing and will definitely save your fridge and walls from clutter and make you feel a lot less guilty for having a recycling bin filled with your child’s creations. Get the app ASAP. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Mollie Michel is a South Philly resident and a Philadelphia public school parent. A recovering non-profit professional, Mollie is also an experienced birth doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, and the mom of two awesome girls and a sweet pit bull named Princess Cleopatra. In her spare time, she is usually trying to figure out how Pinterest works, training for a(nother) half-marathon with her dog at her side, or simply trying to keep up with her increasingly wily daughters.