Life Hacks for a Busy Family

Rushing around, carting kids from school to activities to appointments to home, making a mad grocery dash in spare moments- it’s no wonder that parents are exhausted and looking for any possible way to simplify home life while not sacrificing the precious time they have with their kiddos. Below are some tried-and-true life hacks to simplify your home life and allow you room to breathe and relax!

 

Prep, prep, prep!

The biggest time sucker for busy families seems to be meal planning and preparation. One way I’ve found to save precious time is by meal planning for two weeks at a time. Find recipes you love and keep them together in a binder or utilize Pinterest by categorizing recipes for easy retrieval. Make your menu, and try to use the same ingredients more than once. For instance, say you need two tablespoons of cilantro for your tacos. Instead of wasting the rest of the bunch, make some enchiladas or a Thai recipe that allows you to use that fresh produce instead of tossing it! Make one big grocery trip for your two weeks and save lots of time running to the store for all those little items.

 

Consider doubling a batch of whatever you’re making and throwing one entire meal in the freezer for those long days. Find some slow cooker recipes and have everything thrown in there, so all you need to do is plug it in before you leave in the morning. A little time spent in preparation honestly does pay off!

 

Purchase a horizontal shoe stacker for your closet. Take all of your kid’s clothes, put them together in full outfits, including socks, underwear, headbands, bows, etc., and slide each outfit into one of the slots. This saves a surprising amount of time since your kids can become (or work on becoming) independent by getting themselves ready.

 

Do you pack lunches every evening? Keep lunchboxes, baggies, containers, plastic wrap, and whatever else you may need together in one big basket or drawer to cut down on searching for that elusive lid for that one container that’s perfect for the sliced peaches your daughter has to have! You can also use a weekend afternoon to prep produce and sandwiches for lunches. Slice your favorite veggies into sticks and put in snack-size bags, chop fruit and rinse with lemon juice to prevent browning and then throw them into small individual-sized containers, and premake sandwiches. Store these all in a basket in your fridge so you or your kids can grab what looks good and voila! Lunch is served!

 

Spot clean

Doing small things- washing the dishes while your meal is cooking, picking up a room during a commercial break, or folding a load of laundry while watching TV-, saves a lot of time. If possible, deep clean one area each night, or every other night. Scrub a bathroom, wash a window or two, and in no time, you’ll have a sparkling home. This is definitely easier than cleaning your entire home in one evening or spending your weekend tackling a huge job.

 

Hopefully you can use some of these tips to help your family life feel less rushed and more peaceful!

6 Life Hacks for Avoiding the Cold Season

The cold and flu season is upon us!  The general population is so busy and stressed that immune systems fail to keep up with the pace, and people end up needed to take sick days more often than is necessary.  If you take the time to prepare your home and your body correctly, you can combat the season with a bravado that dares those germs to come your way!  Below are six life hacks you can partake in to meet those germs and colds head on!

 

 

  • Get your rest!  The average adult needs at least 6-8 hours of sleep a day.  Many of us defeat our immune systems by not giving them the power-up in needs every night to function properly.  We self-inflict ourselves with weak defenses against the might of a germ army that imposes itself upon us every day during this time of year.

 

 

 

  • Wash, wash, wash!  Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly every time you get ready to eat, blow or scratch your nose, and after you use the restroom.  You never know what people at work, home, or in line at the grocery store around you are carrying germs on their person from someone else or are sick themselves yet without visible symptoms at home.  Protect yourself by keeping those germs at bay and washing them down the sink with soap!

 

 

 

  • Open those windows!  If the weather hasn’t become too unbearably cold, open up your home or office and let in the fresh air!  Fresh air tends to make a room or house feel new and clean.  Add to the crisp and clean feeling by actually cleaning!  Those bad germs will get the boot with the fresh, circulating outside air and a little elbow grease.

 

 

 

  • Vamp up your vitamin intake!  We all know our vitamin and nutrient intake of the last several decades has taken a rapid decline with the advent of processed foods and a departure from those homegrown food-filled tables to which our grandparents and great-grandparents were accustomed.  Because of this decrease, our bodies are lacking in sufficient vitamins and nutrients.  Take a quick trip to your local grocery or drug store to pick up some multi-vitamins and vitamin C, A, D, and B12 to boost your immune system and give you that boost of energy that is often lacking during the gray months of winter.

 

 

 

  • Eat Clean!  Besides being a super fantastic way to manage body weight and feel like a rock star, eating clean helps keep the germs at bay.  Do your body and immune system a favor by ridding it of harmful toxins ingested in less than stellar foods and sugars that inhibit five-star bodily function.

 

Clean your home.  Though this may seem like a completely “duh” thing to say, cleaning your home regularly – whether you do it yourself or hire someone to do it (or let’s be real…get your kids to do it) – makes it hard for germs to find a favorable host environment in which to thrive.

 

12 Simple Life Hacks for Organization

12 Simple Life Hacks for Organization

  1. Find a place for everything. A logical place. A logical place that is close to where you’ll use it. A logical place that you’ll remember and is close to where you’ll use it… You get the idea. Shoving a handful of unsharpened pencils in a kitchen drawer WILL get them out of the way, but you’ll find them weeks later and think, “Why didn’t I put these in the office?”
  2. Devote a few minutes every day to tidying. No deep cleaning required here. Five to ten minutes worth of straightening and asking kids to take belongings to their rooms will not only make the actual cleaning go faster, but it will also get them in the habit of putting things where they go.
  3. Overcome the inner pack rat. “I might use this one day,” is the reason most of us have 90% of the junk which has accumulated in our homes. There’s just as great a chance that you’ll never use it. Pass it along to someone who will or throw it out.
  4. Don’t take on everything yourself. Furthermore, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Delegating responsibilities to others in your life (spouse, kids, coworkers) will keep you on track with tasks that you must complete.
  5. Train your family (and yourself) to put things away – immediately. Ask kids to clean up one game before they start another. This will save mess and money; you won’t have to buy the same toys again because they’ve lost pieces.
  6. Make short-term bucket lists. This could include movies you want to see, places you want to eat, or weekend activities. No more endless Netflix searching. Make a short list (3-4 items) of these things will help you narrow it down when it’s actually time to choose.
  7. Make mornings smoother. First, get up on time. It’s hard not to hit the snooze, but it’s worth it. Pack lunches, press clothes and gather the next day’s supplies in one area. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow.
  8. Store documents and pictures electronically. Scanning documents and photos is a great way to keep them without the clutter. Sorting through those high school English papers might just make you wonder why you were keeping them in the first place.
  9. Give yourself more time than you need. Being in a rush always makes us feel unorganized. Plan for things to take longer than they “should.” That way, road work or an important – but interrupting – phone call doesn’t destroy your daily agenda.
  10. Say no. It’s really ok. If you know something will overload you timewise, moneywise, spacewise…whatever…just say no, politely, of course.
  11. Don’t multitask. Doing two or more things at once ensures that you are not 100% focused on any of them. Slow down. Give your undivided attention to the task at hand, and clean up after yourself when you’re done.
  12. Keep a folder/binder/calendar/app. Whatever your important information is will determine which method works best for you. The key is sticking to your system until it becomes a part of your daily routine. Color coding, sticky notes or tabs may be a good idea, too.

BONUS HACK!  Christmas is over and many of us have Christmas trees to get rid of, or have called the local tree service Wichita KS to have them come out and trim up our evergreens before the Spring comes along.  Gather up some fresh pine needles, bundle them together with some of the dried pine needles and drop them carefully into a sachet bag.  Tie it up and hang it from your rearview mirror in your car – VOILA!  You can now throw out the cardboard pine tree air freshener as you now have the real thing!

15 Simple Life Hacks for Your Kids

15 Simple Life Hacks for Your Kids

  1. Get scratches out of a DVD with toothpaste. Gently rub a small amount onto the disk with a dry cloth. Elsa’s back!
  2. Give younger kids a remote without batteries. Sure, you’re shamelessly tricking them, but, hey… The older kids (or dad) get to play Mortal Deathkill City 5 and the little ones think they’re in the game.
  3. Take stains out of furniture. With kids come stains…on everything. Equal parts dish detergent and water mixed together very well, like with a whisk or handheld mixer, work as a great upholstery stain remover. Rub it into the stain and then wipe away with a wet cloth.
  4. Infants are soothed by low, humming sounds. When all else fails, calm your baby by turning on the bathroom sink and fan.
  5. Have children close their eyes for drops. Whoever said you have to pry their eyes open and drip cold liquid directly onto the eyeball? Tell them to tilt their head back and close their eyes. Put the drops in the inside corners of their eyes, and have them blink while their head is still tilted back.
  6. Create scavenger hunts. You’ll be amazed how creative your kids can be with open-ended topics such as “Find something small/brown/fuzzy….” Give a small prize for the most creative items.
  7. Bathe small children inside a laundry basket in the tub. They are at a lower risk for slipping and sliding, plus their toys don’t float away.
  8. Invest in products you know you’ll get a lot of use out of… Several companies offer a portable high chair (think fold-up bag chair) for around $60, a great investment if you camp or attend sporting events often.
  9. …but don’t buy everything on the market. Following the trend of making your own baby food flourishing, baby food processors have hit the market. Be smart about long-term purchases. These are no different from regular food processors or, better yet, the space-saving Magic Bullet.
  10. Vapor rub on the bottoms of kids’ feet really does keep them from coughing. It works for adults, too!) Slather it on and slip on a pair of socks. We’re not exactly sure why it works, just that it does.
  11. Use a cupcake wrapper to keep Popsicle off the furniture. Cut a small slit in the middle of the (unused, of course) wrapper, and slide the stick through.
  12. There’s a “kid mode” for iPads with iOS6 or higher. Why didn’t this happen before now? No more kiddies changing your settings or background without your knowledge.
  13. Ask kids (even infants) their names to save yourself the embarrassment of calling a boy a girl (or vice versa). When they don’t – or can’t – answer, mom or dad will proudly say, “His/her name is…” Not foolproof, a great tip, nonetheless.
  14. Remember campouts? How about picnics? Plan days in advance to camp in the yard or even in the living room floor. Let kids help decide the menu and games. It will most likely be a treasured memory, and it won’t cost a dime!
  15. Backyard fun?!  Get your fence repairs taken care of and then hang an outdoor chalkboard on your fence for the kids to play on throughout the day!

14 Simple Life Hacks for Your Home

For the 3rd post in our series, we have included 14 Simple Life Hacks for Your Home.  As there are thousands to mention, I am sure that we will come back to visit this theme many more times!

  1. Have a junk drop. Face it, there’s going to be one anyway. Wouldn’t you rather decide where it’s going to be? Designate an area where your family can (temporarily) drop their keys, book bags and shoes.
  2. Hide the thermostat by putting a hinged painting or photo over it. Especially when grouped with other pictures, guests will never notice this unsightly but accessible necessity.
  3. Line your trash can with newspaper. You can just line the can itself as protection against leaks, or place newspapers inside the garbage bag to catch any yucky liquids that ooze to the bottom before there’s a major issue.
  4. Keep a small amount of paint handy when you re-do a room. Use a cheap, re-sealable container (like those adorable dressing containers that come in Tupperware sets – who needs 7 of those?). Being able to grab a brush and take care of a small nick or straighten up a wobbly line will keep “touch up living room paint” off your perpetual to-do list.
  5. Use plastic wrap instead of painter’s tape. It’s cheap, and, chances are, you already have some anyway. It will readily adhere to porcelain, glass and finished wood, while the press-and-seal variety will work well on most other materials.
  6. Have a set cleaning schedule. Bathrooms Monday, vacuum on Tuesday, sweep every afternoon, empty the dishwasher every morning… If you aren’t used to a cleaning daily, a task every day can be overwhelming, but when you devote 15-20 minutes to daily chores, you’ll find you free up weekend days.
  7. Wrap a paper clip or small spring around the ends of phone chargers. The springs in used-up ink pens are the perfect size. If you’re planning to use a paper clip, well – it depends on how bad you want to protect your charger and how much time you have, but it can be done!
  8. Hanging shoe racks—don’t let the name fool you. These plastic gems can be used for storing anything from cleaning products to those oddly-shaped drinking bottles that constantly fall over in the cabinet.
  9. Put a pair of panty hose over the vacuum hose to find a small item like an eyeglass screw or an earring back. No more crawling around…on hands and knees… on the hardwood. You are welcome.
  10. Keep a running grocery list in the kitchen. This only counts as a life hack if you add items as soon as you run out of them. On second thought, keep it near the garbage can…
  11. Glue pool noodles to your garage walls. You can’t keep the kids from banging their car doors into the vehicle next to you at Target, but you can protect your doors in the safety of your own garage.
  12. Tape a dryer sheet over hidden vents to freshen the air.
  13. Freeze coffee in an ice tray. You can either cool down hot coffee quickly or make iced drinks…where has this been all our lives??
  14. Have an old safe?  Keep your important documents safe at all times by storing them here!  Safe is broken or you’ve lost the key or combination?  A simple internet search will return plenty of hardworking safe technicians out there who can restore and repair your old safes!  We searched safe repair in Springfield MO since we live up the road in Central Missouri and found a gentleman who does work all over the country.  So there!

14 Simple Life Hacks for When You’re Traveling 

Our next post in our long series of simple life hacks, we present to you: 14 Simple Life Hacks for When You’re Traveling

  1. Leave on time (and by “on time,” we mean 2 hours early). This is a no-brainer for people who fly frequently, but not everyone realizes the time it will take to check backs, eek through security, and hike to their gate…assuming it doesn’t change at the last minute.
  2. Download a helpful app. FlightTrack will alert you if your flight is delayed, and Packing Pro will organize your bag for you. Both can be purchased for less than $5 each.
  3. Pack everything except essentials. We like to keep everything easily accessible, just in case we need to get to it quickly. We won’t. Pack everything except documents you’ll need to breeze through the airport or train station.
  4. Have a plan…This tip especially applies to road trips. Have an overall plan of how far you want to travel each day and which sites are must-see.
  5. …but be willing to abandon the plan. Your plane lands two hours late. You spent a little longer viewing the world’s biggest ketchup bottle (it’s a thing; check it out) than you meant to. It’s about the journey, so be willing to diverge from the plan to make an unforgettable memory.
  6. Plan around high-traffic times and areas. Sights like the Eiffel Tower or the Brooklyn Bridge won’t be as memorable if all you remember is other tourists pushing past or angry horns endlessly honking. Research best times to visit (or avoid) popular attractions.
  7. Leave room in your suitcase. You’re going to buy souvenirs or a sweater if the weather is chillier that expected. Leave room in your suitcase so you aren’t flying home with a “World’s Biggest Ketchup Bottle” replica in your lap.
  8. Carry cash. You never know when you’ll happen upon a toll road or need to tip someone for service. Everywhere takes cash.
  9. Be friendly. Befriending locals led you to off-the-beaten-path restaurants, hangouts and entertainment venues. Making friends with other travelers will (hopefully) safeguard your belongings when you run to the restroom.
  10. Use your time wisely. Train trips and long flights can be used to organize your carry-on or browse through travel brochures.
  11. Pack snacks. Road trips are best spent on the road, not at every other exit to grab snacks. Pack crackers, beef jerky or even sandwiches in a small cooler so you can keep the rubber on the road. Most trains allow you to bring your own food, which can save lots of money.
  12. Don’t buy big luggage. If you don’t buy a suitcase bigger than carry-on size, you can always carry it on. Duh…!
  13. Pack versatile clothes. Consider packing items than can be interchanged to make different outfits. Only take the shoes you’re traveling in, if possible. And think about carrying a little washing powder so you can wash clothes along the way. You could potentially make it on 2 outfits no matter how long you’ll be gone.
  14. Buy it there. Don’t stress about airline regulations. Buy travel-sized toiletries at your final destination and ditch them before you head home.

12 Simple Life Hacks for the Workplace

This is our first post in a long series of 686, 8 second hacks that we feel like will better your life!  Why 686 and 8?  Because those are our lucky numbers of course!  These hacks listed below will help you to be a better employee in your workplace, and walk away at the end of the work day feeling like a better person as well!

  1. Get enough sleep. In addition to feeling sluggish and unmotivated, a lack of sleep can be detrimental to your overall health. Your heart slows and your blood pressure reduces significantly while you sleep, allowing your body to repair and rejuvenate. Not getting enough sleep can lead to missed time at work due to fatigue-related illnesses.
  2. Exercise. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day is proven to improve both mood and energy level. Added benefits if you hit the gym first thing in the morning!
  3. Keep an extra outfit (at least shoes) at work. Take a tip from Mad Men’s Don Draper. You just never know…
  4. Make the boss happy… It’s perfectly ok to set out to please the boss man or woman. That’s who signs your paychecks and doles out promotions, after all.
  5. …but not too happy. There’s a fine line between being efficient enough to make the boss happy and being “teacher’s pet.” You may just earn his or her respect by standing your ground if you feel strongly about a work issue.
  6. Be on time… Being on time every day may not impress anyone, but being late often will definitely draw the wrong kind of attention.
  7. …or get there early. Notice what time your boss gets to work. What about other efficient co-workers? Chances are, they aren’t hanging up their coats and filling up their first cup of joe when it’s time to start working.
  8. Check your email first thing. Setting specific times of day to check your email can help you manage the steady influx of messages. Sort out which ones you can reply to right away (within a minute or two) and which ones will take longer. Set aside a time of day when you address more complex replies.
  9. Restrict yourself from social media at work. Just taking a moment to glance at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest…. can add up to several minutes each hour.
  10. Instead, take useful breaks. Having a small snack, stepping out to make a personal phone call, or just briskly walking down the hall (or outside, if possible) can boost your productivity throughout the day.
  11. Write daily to-do lists. Long-term goals are good, but writing them down knowing that you won’t get them done today can be daunting. Only write down a few things that you know you can accomplish quickly.
  12. Prioritize tasks based on who’s asking. Sadly, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you know someone is bound to complain—loudly—if you don’t fix an issue, move that task close to the top of your to-do list.

Take #5 seriously…  We ALL remember what Milton did when he got his favorite stapler taken away because he wouldn’t stand up for himself!