I need a cutesy name for my little tips…I welcome suggestions! Following on two recent posts with round one of life hacks and round two, here are a few more things that are making my life easier right now.
Chipotle mayo. Given my issues with dairy, it’s really hard to get creamy tastes that won’t cause a problem. But mayonnaise fits the bill. I buy this aioli and it makes any not-exciting food taste…good. It’s like my ketchup.
Wearing two sports bras. I’ve been doing this for so long that I forgot it is a non-obvious solution. Any folks reading this who happen to have a larger chest, and who enjoy running, probably know that you can go down quite an expensive path of attempting to find good sports bras that control all bouncing. I’ve bought some of these and then been annoyed when inevitably the hooks get bent or they are complicated to get on and off. Then I realized that if I simply wore two sports bras, I could wear relatively inexpensive ones and achieve a better level of support than many of the pricey ones were providing. So that is what I do!
Keeping lipstick on my desk. So sometimes you have a video call. Maybe you didn’t even know it was a video call. Or you’ve been doing other things and forgot. Before turning on the camera, just quick swipe on some lipstick and it looks like you tried.
The Zoom closet. There is a closet in my home office. Originally, I set it up just for recording. But I’ve realized that even if I’m just meeting with people, the backdrop is better (and less cluttered) in a small enclosed space, and household noise is slightly less likely to slip in. And if someone happens to burst into my office there is then a second door to deter them (it wouldn’t deter a toddler, but I’m thinking of older children who just might not have been thinking about it). So I often just take my laptop in there before dialing in. Speaking of laptops…
Two screens. Once Zoom stopped working on my old laptop (and there wasn’t really enough memory space to download the operating system that would support the new version) I bought a new laptop. However, the old one still worked, and had all my files. So rather than migrate everything, eventually I just wound up using both laptops each day. It’s kind of nice to be able to look at a file on one while talking on Zoom on the other. Obviously I could print but…now I don’t have to!
Wegmans Broccoli Crunch salad (and other ways to veggie up). I don’t particularly like salads most of the time, and for sure would not like this one on its own, but it’s good to eat more veggies. This chopped salad mix features shredded broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots — all veggies that can stand up to cooking, but are kind of inoffensive in thin sliver form. So I mix handfuls of this in with rice and leftover meat (or cut up chicken patties) to make a stir fry type lunch. (Sometimes I add the chipotle mayo on the side.) Handfuls of baby spinach can work too. Or frozen corn.
Microwave rice. Not as good as the fresh cooked version by any means, but ready in a minute, which covers up for a host of sins. Or you can always…
Order extra rice when ordering take-out. Now I’ve got a base for my next two lunches!
Hiring your kid to make your photo books. In case anyone missed this in my weekend round-up, I am in love with this idea. My daughter, for the competitive price of $25, went through my photo library, chose some good pictures from 2022, and then put in captions on Shutterfly (I think she did the automatic option where Shutterfly chooses layouts, but I am fine with this hack). She did the 2020 one a few months ago, and is now going to go back and do the 2021 book. This was never going to happen otherwise, so I’m thrilled with this arrangement.
New (well, dentist gift bag) toothbrushes for trips. Some family members use those circular toothbrushes that get advertised on social media, and others have electric ones for everyday use. So when we get regular plastic toothbrushes at the dentist, or when Santa puts them in stockings, I just throw any that aren’t immediately claimed in a drawer. Then, when we pack for a trip, I just pack five toothbrushes in different colors. Each child gets a color for the trip. Sometimes they keep using them for a while afterwards, but if not, oh well. Also, by packing enough toothbrushes myself, I don’t worry about whether the kids remembered to pack them. (An additional packing life hack: have boys, or at least boys who opt for shorter hair styles. We only need one hairbrush for my daughter!)
Expediting. I guess this is as much a PSA as a hack…When we’re talking relatively small amounts of money, it might be worth it to pay extra for speed. I paid to expedite the signing of my camp medical forms — I was enough ahead of time that I didn’t need to, but the upside is the pediatrician’s office just did it immediately and I got them back the same day and could complete the camp form projects as part of that week’s task list. It wasn’t then hanging over me. In a related but much more serious matter: please, please pay to expedite your passport renewal (or getting a new one). I know a few folks who’ve had massive stress/anxiety because they were traveling in 6 months, so assumed they didn’t need to expedite, then the 10-12 week window became 14-16 weeks or something like that…and a few weeks before their big international trip they still don’t have their passports. Everyone has gotten them before they had to leave for the airport, but do you want to be wondering during that last 30 day window what’s going on? If you can afford an international trip, you can likely afford the extra fee to expedite, and I feel like in the US at least the State department puts you in an entirely different work flow if you pay to expedite. We got the baby’s passport in 3 weeks in March 2020 when everything was shut down. I think current expedited processing times are longer than that, but they are shorter than the regular ones by a lot.
Cleaning half the house. Some parts of the house get dirtier than others. When we were getting bids for a cleaning service, shortly after moving, it soon became clear that the upstairs playroom really didn’t need to be cleaned as often as the kitchen. So we do a split where one week the service does the kitchen + first and third floor (the third floor is basically just the playroom, and then steps up to it) and then the next week they do the kitchen + second floor (the bedrooms). The kitchen stays cleaner, and the crew doesn’t have to be here as long so it’s more affordable.