Our Thanksgiving guests come this weekend and then I feel like it’s full-throttle on to the holidays.
Last year, I was exhausted by my pregnancy, both physically and mentally, and I wasn’t at my best.
This year, though, I’m feeling much more on top of my life and I’m feeling less overwhelmed by the holidays and more just full of excitement about this fun time of year and spending it with my little family and extended family.
That doesn’t make it any less busy, though, and I’ve been paying attention to the little things that make my life feel way more manageable.
Here are five that are saving me on a frequent basis right now:
- A steam mop and vacuum. My sister, Landen, raved about the one her in-laws own and I had a gift card that had been sitting in my wallet for more than a year, so one afternoon, the girls and I took a quick trip to Bed Bath & Beyond, armed with one of those trusty 20% off coupons, and I bought myself one. The tile floor that covers most of our upstairs has been a problem pretty much since we moved into this house because with a bunch of little barefoot children (and me) running around all the time, it’s just constantly filthy. And I hate to mop. So Bart mopped it every month or so, but it embarrassed both of us that it usually just looked and felt dirty. This has been a LIFESAVER. I love that I don’t have to sweep beforehand since it’s a vacuum too, and my floors have never ever ever been cleaner. They no longer look dirty and, even better, they don’t FEEL dirty when I walk on them, which hasn’t happened in the last two plus years we’ve been in this house. I usually try to use it at least once a week, but it’s easy enough that I sometimes do it twice in a week. I love that I can pull it out to do just a quick steam around the table and in the main kitchen area or I can do a full lap of the kitchen, breakfast nook, out to the back door, through the hallway and into the bathroom. It also did an AMAZING job cleaning my family room carpet which I was pretty sure was permanently stained (I’d tried Windex, Zout and my other standbys and nothing got it out – now it looks almost brand-new after a few passes over it). It’s fairly pricy, but it’s been worth every penny so far. It’s also available from Target and there is another version that is less expensive and has good reviews.
- Grocery Pick-Up. In my pretend life, I love to grocery shop because I love looking at all the options, but in real-life, it is really hard for me to get to the grocery store right now with all my small children, so grocery pick-up is SAVING MY LIFE. Kroger stores have it at lots of locations (their system is called ClickList) and Walmart does it at many locations too. Just to be able to drive up, having someone load my groceries, and then drive away makes my life SO much easier.
- Moment App. I heard about this on The Alison Show when Eric mentioned how many hours he was saving on a weekly basis, and I downloaded it a few days later. I’ve been using it for about a week (I’m still using the free version, but plan to upgrade this week because I was cleaning out my desk this week and found an iTunes gift card). Basically, it just monitors and reports how much you’re using your phone and it can set times when your phone is off-limits, give you little reminders if you’re using your phone too much or too frequently, and shows you what apps you’re spending most of your time on. My use is pretty high because of my job, but just knowing I’ll be getting a daily report of how many hours I’m on my phone has significantly reduced how much time I spend on it.
- Christmas address spreadsheet. We took our family photos a few weeks ago and getting ready to order our Christmas cards, and every year, when I pull up our spreadsheet with all the names and addresses, I think that it was the best couple of hours we’ve ever spent putting that together. We keep ours in Google Drive so whenever we find out about someone moving, we can update it on the go from either of our phones or computers, or if we need to pull up an address, it’s always available. We put it together back in 2009, when we sent out Christmas cards for the first time, and it’s paid us back so much in time saved every year. A quick glance through it and we can see who we need to update, add new friends or family members, and then it’s ready to upload and have the addresses printed right on to our cards (which means when they arrive, it’s just stuff, seal, and stamp. So easy.
- Hawaii Five-0. This is totally dumb (as opposed to the great significance of steam mop . . .), but I really like it when Bart and I have a show to watch together that we’re really enjoying. I’m not a big movie watcher since it usually feels like too much of a commitment to watch, but one episode of a show is just about perfect. We’re pretty picky about what shows we watch, but this one has all the key elements for me – really good dynamics between the two main characters, a good mix of overarching plot lines with episodic stories, snappy dialogue, pretty clean (this has very little swearing or sex, but . . . kind of a lot of dead bodies and a surprising amount of heads and hands getting chopped off), and engaging enough that we want to keep watching but not so much so that you stay up too late every night watching more episodes. (Also, Bart got a Chromecast at a Google event four years ago and we finally pulled it out and plugged it in, which means we can now either voice operate our TV through the Google Home or with our phones. And as someone who was constantly perplexed by the three remotes and couldn’t remember what order you had to turn them on in to make everything work, this has made my life MUCH easier).
What’s making your life a little easier right now? I’d love to hear!
Photos by Christie Knight Photography