Home Life Parenting

8 Hacks to Simplify Daily Life

This post was created in partnership with SearchRx

What is it about life hacks that are so appealing? I am basically incapable of not clicking on a post that promises parenting hacks, life hacks, work hacks, workout hacks. Any hack at all.

Over the years, I’ve picked up some that have worked well for me. They simplify my life, save money, and keep me from losing my mind when I can’t find things I need on a daily basis.

  1. Get a carabiner for your keys and then clip them to your purse strap or handle.  This is definitely in the top 5 best things I ever did for my daily sanity. Invariably, my keys sink to the bottom of my bag and I’m standing around in the parking lot trying to corral small children, keep my cart from rolling away, or just not linger in a dark lot and I can’t find my dang keys. At my request, Bart bought me a fun floral one for Christmas about four years ago, and I’ve probably saved at least ten hours of my life since then because I always know just where my keys are.
  2. Use SearchRx to save money on prescriptions. SearchRx is a free service (it’s an app too, both for the iPhone and Android!) that helps you save up to 75% on medications. I pretty much didn’t go to the pharmacy ever for six years, but then I got pregnant and had kids and there’s basically no way to avoid at least sometimes having to pick up drops for pink eye (blah!) or baby iron supplements or an antibiotic. I’ve never liked that you have no idea how much the right price is for a prescription and you just end up paying whatever they tell you to pay when you go to pick it up. SearchRx lets you type in the name of your prescription and it tells you the price for all the pharmacies near you, plus lets you know if there is a coupon available for that product. Brilliant! And easy. Basically my two favorite things. You can save up to 75% and there are more than 62,000 pharmacies that participate. Plus, there’s no fees or signing up for an account (which is good because the last thing I need right now is ANOTHER account for something). And if you want more savings (and who doesn’t), check out SingleCare, where you can find similar discounts on dental, vision, and on-demand virtual doctor visits. Doesn’t a virtual doctor visit sound like the best thing on earth?
  3. Invest in a sound machine. I say invest, but guys, these things are less than $20. We currently own four, I think, and all of our children sleep with one now. Ella resisted one for about two years (she didn’t like that she couldn’t hear what we were up to after she went to bed . . . which is exactly why we wanted her to have one, so she couldn’t hear the television or us going around closing doors or unloading the dishwasher before bed) but now she’s back on the wagon, which is a lifesaver since she’s our lightest sleeper. Now she’s not up at the crack of dawn when Bart or I go for a run (er, walk, in my case) before they wake up. Plus, for all our kids, it seems to have helped them sleep when we’re moving, on vacation, or otherwise out of their usual routine. Best $20 you could spend, in my opinion.
  4. Use two laundry hampers so you don’t have to sort your clothing before you wash it. We started doing this in Boston and I’ll never go back. I hate sorting dirty laundry (who wants to go through a bunch of dirty clothing?!) so having two laundry baskets in our closet, one for darks and one for whites/lights, saves me so much time. It also makes me a thousand times more likely to get the laundry started right away on Monday mornings because I can just grab one of the baskets and throw everything straight in the washing machine, no pre-work required.
  5. Listen to story collections on CD in the car. We’re just starting to get into the phase where my girls are old enough to listen to chapter books on audio in the car while we run errands, but until now, story collections have been lifesavers. They keep my girls interested and engaged while we’re getting gas, picking up groceries, or going to doctor appointments (which we are doing a lot of right now). We can usually get through a full story or two between each trip, and I love that they’re getting familiar with a wide variety of classic stories. I’m particularly partial to the Rabbit Ears collections, which our library has lots of. It just makes errands and short car rides a thousand times more pleasant for everyone.
  6. Charge your phone on airplane mode. You know when you need to leave the house in 15 minutes and your phone is practically dead? I don’t either, of course. A friend told me a few years ago that if you turn your phone on airplane mode, it’ll charge 2-3 times as fast, and it’s true! Such a quick way to give your battery a boost when you don’t have time for a full charge.
  7. Leave your sunglasses in the car. There’s nothing I hate more than being outside without my sunglasses, especially in super sunny Arizona. But after getting stuck on a million drives without them, I’ve just started leaving them in the car so that they are always there when I head out (and I keep a second pair in the house for when we’re going to the park or on a walk and not taking the car).
  8. Use kitchen shears for everything. I have two pairs of kitchen shears and I use them CONSTANTLY. I use them to cut pizza instead of a pizza cutter, I cut bagels and sandwiches into small pieces for Star (and sometimes the other girls who want to eat their bagel with a fork. . . ), I use them to cut up green onions or fresh basil or bacon. I open food packages with them and separate bunches of grapes into more manageable sizes. They’re probably my most-used kitchen tool.

What are your best hacks?

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  • Reply Aleta February 7, 2017 at 8:17 am

    I have no hacks, which is why my life is constantly in shambles. Ha! I’m only half kidding. One tiny hack I have is taking my little kids to the public library on the same day my daughter has library day at school. This is the one way I can remember to send her school library books back to school on the right day.

    I also give my two little ones their bath in the mornings right after breakfast. While they bathe, I either fold a load of laundry and set it on the counter or put it back in the basket or clean the bathroom while they play. Taking their bath during the day frees up time for my husband to just be able to play with them in the evenings since his time with them is limited after he’s done with work.

  • Reply Paige February 7, 2017 at 8:24 am

    I’ve never owned kitchen shears and find three reasons everyday why I need them. Maybe I’ll stop being lazy and order some eventually…

  • Reply Rachel February 7, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Funny timing…I just purchased a multi-pack of small caribiners to give to my girlfriends at our Favorite Things party ($5 and under) this weekend. I have used a caribiner as my keychain for years and it makes life so much easier, especially when your hands and mind are full with babies, groceries, to-do lists, etc.! This is probably super dorky, but I even clip my keys to my belt loop sometimes. Not sure if this hack is replicable for every home, but one simple change I made recently was to move the kids’ washcloths from the hall linen closet to a drawer in the bathroom. We always seem to get the kids in the tub before we remember to grab washcloths and now they are just an arm’s length away. When my husband commented, “why did we not do this sooner,” I knew this small change equaled life hack status for us.

  • Reply Mikayla February 7, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Years ago my parents bought rolling laundry carts with three hanging bags from Costco, and since then we’ve always used them to sort our clothes like you’ve described. The bags are pretty handy because they have handles and hang on the cart by hooks, so you just grab the handles and take the bag to the laundry room. The fact that the carts have wheels would also be super helpful in houses where the laundry room is on the same floor as the bedrooms, because you can just take the whole cart to get all the loads done if you’re the type of person who likes to just set aside one day of the week for laundry.

  • Reply Kristen February 7, 2017 at 9:33 am

    I used to live in the Phoenix area and I can’t tell you how many pairs of sunglasses melted in the oven that is the car. They would get all warped and bubbly so that I couldn’t wear them anymore.

    It was a pain because I think I have vampire eyes, like I can’t even walk outside on a semi- bright day without needing sunglasses.

    I’m downloading the Search RX app right now… because 5 kids… that’s a lot of prescriptions!

  • Reply Bethany February 7, 2017 at 9:37 am

    I have two life hacks I’ve come up with. They both have to do with pumping breast milk. The first one is to take a really tight sports bra and snip extremely tiny slits around where the stem of the pump shield would need to go through to create a pumping bra. Hands free pumping for way cheaper than a real pumping bra! The second one is when you’re done pumping, instead of washing everything each time just stick the tubing, bottles and shields in the fridge. Keeping it cold keeps it sanitary. I don’t know what other people would think about this hack, but I’ve done it with two babies and told lots of friends the idea and none of us have had any problems! It saves so much time!

  • Reply Sherry February 7, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    I actually use three laundry baskets for me and Eric: one for whites, one for delicate colors, and one for regular colors. It kind of ends up that the delicate colors are mine and the regular colors are his, but whatever. Then each kid has his/her own laundry basket as well. NO SORTING LAUNDRY. I don’t believe it. When I tell people this and they say, “Well, we sort by room anyway,” my response is like, “Yeah, this is by room and by person so you don’t have to figure out which item belongs to which kid. They just put their clothes in their drawers.”

    And I have FINALLY moved my meal plan and grocery list to a Google doc. The meal plan goes at the top, with hyperlinks to the meals, or references to the cookbooks where recipe is found. Then either Eric or I can add to the grocery list throughout the week when we realize we are out of something. Lately I try to go shopping on Friday mornings, but if life (or, more likely, work) gets in the way, I can send Eric to the store. He’s got the list from the shared Google doc. Then when shopping is done we delete everything in the grocery list so we can start adding to it again.

    Also, I use Amazon Subscribe and Save. I don’t think it’s as cost-effective as shopping at Wal-Mart, but I don’t care. Stuff arrives at my door without much thought on my part. If I happen to be at Wal-Mart or Target and the prices are better there, I’ll go ahead and pick up the item and delay my next Amazon delivery of that item.

  • Reply Linda Abegg February 7, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    I love the airplane mode hack! I pack my kids’ lunch for basically any outing because they eat way better when they are strapped in their seats and then I can shuttle them straight to nap time when we get home. This isn’t really a hack, but putting every, and I mean every, thing I schedule in my phone calendar or as a reminder has made me much more sane (and reliable).

  • Reply Jodi February 7, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Kitchen shears for the win. I love using them. My brother in law gave me a disapproving look once for “scissoring” my food. Psh. I know I have some good hacks, but I’m way too tired to think of them at the moment!

  • Reply Taryn February 8, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Funny because I’ve always done a few of your life hacks (sorting laundry, sunglasses), but never thought of them as hacks! Yes to kitchen shears and also pizza cutters. We use that to cut quesadillas, pancakes, etc. I also got each of my older girls a box/bin to keep in their room to store all of their drawings, school assignments, random papers they insist on keeping. That way they don’t go crazy when I throw something away, and I don’t go crazy having papers and projects littered through my house. If it fits in their box, they can happily keep it!

  • Reply Mandy February 9, 2017 at 2:12 am

    My life hacks are frozen slow cooker/dinner kits (I make them straight after shopping and anything that needs to marinate is done by the time it’s defrosted! 🙌) Pressure cooker porridge in winter (preset the night before to cook fresh and not mushy etc or bircher premade for me in summer) and using my phone alarms for the kids to know when we leave – every day before school they get a ten minutes from leaving alarm and an alarm at time to go. No more nagging! “Hurry up we need to go” x1000 just made me a nagging mum. Works for church etc too and they know what each alarm means!
    Oh, and bandaids/plaisters in my wallet cures almost anything! And balloons. Uninflated, blow them up when you end up stuck waiting somewhere. Mess free, mostly quiet, endless game options and still a treat.
    Ok that’s enough from me!

  • Reply Trisha Millward February 9, 2017 at 8:42 am

    #8 is a great idea! With a one and two year old, I’m constantly cutting things into little bites.

  • Reply Lilly February 10, 2017 at 11:41 am

    I have two kids and work full time. My son is the SLOOOOWEST person in the morning, so I’ve ended up putting both kids to sleep in their next-day clothing. I buy clothes that are roomy and comfortable, and that way in the morning, I don’t have to deal with the decisions on what they want to wear. It’s just bathroom, breakfast and school time. Life saver!

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