I love spending time with my children and my husband. I also love spending time by myself (haha – those were the days!). But between work, errands, household chores and trying to spend quality moments with my loved ones, there isn’t a lot of extra hours (or minutes for that matter) during the day to get much else in. Here is a list of a few smartphone apps that save me a lot of time, money, sanity and energy!
Keeping a record of poopy diapers is not for everyone. But it is definitely for us. It’s not the long term data that we care about, but the short-term and immediate need it fills. The BabyTracker apps allows me hand-off the little one to my husband or our au pair/babysitter without having to say a word. I don’t have to spend even a minute telling someone else when the baby will be hungry, or that he needs a diaper change. I don’t have to explain that the reason he is cranky is because he barely slept last night, I don’t even have to mention he is ready for a bottle or a nap. They just look at the app and they know. They can see he needs more milk, that he will be ready for a nap within the hour, or that he must be gearing up for a big poop. We can even make notes about the bad night or fuzzy nap in the app. Keeping track of his patterns helps us anticipate his needs with little to no brain power, memory space or extra thought. It easily shows us his patterns without having to think it through. A quick rundown of information to someone else might only take one or two minutes, but for us, that would be multiple times a day leading to more than ten hours a year talking about (or thinking about) dirty diapers.
The amount of love and joy our friends and family have shown us with our two babies coming into the world has been humbling and truly appreciated. Gifts for our little one come wrapped in the most adorable cute giraffe paper, flowers for our return home from the hospital blossom on our dining room table, even months later – lasagnas show up for us parents pushing through sleepless nights.
All of these gestures require thank you’s.
Postable is now my best friend. Without having to step in a Papyrus or a post office I can send cute, thoughtful, and appreciative notes of gratitude from the comfort of my couch (or from the glider in the middle of the night). I feel powerful in my ability to be thoughtful – sending anniversary cards, birthday cards and even just ‘thinking of you’ notes to friends and family near and far by scheduling them on postable weeks and months ahead of time. You might not think to send cards all the time, but the amount of time it takes to travel to a store, read and purchase cards, write, stamp and mail at a post-office is likely eight or more hours saved over the course of the year. Game changer, time saver.
YouTube Red / Netflix (Hulu…Amazon Prime Video…)
One word: downloadable. We were totally against the whole screen time thing. We weren’t high and mighty about it, it was just the decision we made at the beginning, for the time-being. Then our son got older… and then came the long car rides, marathon meltdowns and the cross-country plane trips and we were all over the Disney songs on Youtube. The best part about these apps? You can download the videos to be played offline for flights or car rides – and no data usage wasted. It’s not only a timesaver to have these videos stored offline, but a meltdown saver as well. Downloading ahead of time might only save me 30 seconds of searching and loading, but that is likely one to two hours of time saved over the year.
Alexa or Google Home
I didn’t really want Alexa or a Google Home. I didn’t think we needed it in our life. However, our device now lives in our kitchen and has become our little digital buddy. We hooked it up to everything you can possibly could – maps, calendars, contacts, audible, etc. Our Google can sing the Wheels on the Bus, play Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” for an impromptu mommy-baby dance party, or read me the rest of my audible book while I am cooking. Google Home tells us the traffic report before we strap our little one in for a car ride, and can even give us the rundown of the day’s news or how to dress for the weather. It can even turn off the T.V. in another room. It can set timers and calls out reminders. It might only save me two or three minutes a day in total (of running to another room, writing down reminders, finding the song myself on Youtube, pulling up my calendar, etc.), but that is likely about twelve to twenty hours a year of small tasks and actions.
Subscription Delivery Services
We all know how amazing Amazon Prime is. Need a toothbrush, a stick of gum, and a weird looking stuffed animal bird in a seersucker suit? No problem, 2-day shipping. Though, let us not forget about the amazement that is subscription services. Target and Amazon both have subscription services. You literally never have to think about picking up toothpaste, diaper rash cream, diaper genie refills, sponges, or laundry detergent again. It takes a little brainpower and fine-tuning to get the right shopping list together and delivery dates right, but when you are set, things are golden. Deodorant, baby wipes, eye cream and hand soap magically start showing up at your door at just the right time. The timed saved over the course of the year is beyond twenty hours of thought and action time.
I love reading but having a baby and commuting really cut down on my long lost leisure time. Audible is a life changer – I can download books and listen to them on long stroller walks or in the car. I look forward to a good “book on tape” these days – from mysteries and fiction novels to self-help and biographies. Listening to books doesn’t make my life more productive but definitely makes me feel more productive (and it makes ‘reading’ more efficient). As my little one gets older, I plan to download some great children’s books for us both to enjoy on long car rides! Instead of time saved, this is more hours of time more enjoyed over the year!
Ebates and Honey
These two do not make life that much easier (unless you are a “couponer” already), but they do make it cheaper! I am the online version of a coupon-lady and Ebates and Honey are my go-to. I installed both as extensions on my Chrome browser because that is definitely the easiest and most effective way to use them.
Ebates, which sounds like a scam, isn’t. Surprise, free money! You just turn it on when you are shopping online and you spend your money as normal, and a few months later, you get a check in the mail. Seriously. The cash back isn’t huge, but for sure worth it. Over the course of a few years I have gotten hundreds from Ebates for just spending the money I was going to spend anyway. Amazing.
Honey is awesome in it’s own right. While buying onesies at Carter’s and a new winter jacket for my little one at Baby Gap, honey works its magic at checkout. When it’s time to enter those pesky little promo codes you never seem to have, click on Honey and it scours the internet for you to find the best promo. Sometimes it comes up empty handed, and other times it makes it rain! Over the course of the year, I would be surprised if Honey hasn’t saved me five or more hours looking for codes and at least $500+ online shopping – from groceries, to gifts, household necessity and kid’s clothes.
This app is an infant and child development activities treasure trove. Although I don’t follow the weeks methodically, on a rainy day or quite morning it is the easiest resource for some fun tips, tricks and tidbits regarding activities and motor skill milestones. I love the ease of having these ideas at my fingertips rather than scouring the internet during any free time I may have. Each week saves me a few minutes, meaning over the course of the year, I’ve recovered two or three hours of time to actually enjoy with the kids instead of searching for ideas/activities to enjoy with them.
The Wonder Weeks
This app is “the stress-free” guide to your baby’s behavior. It isn’t going to save you any stress on their actual behavior but it does help save you some time and sanity in understanding it. The app makes it a one-stop-shop for milestone, regressions, upcoming leaps and more.
Anyone who knows me, knows I am a google-calendar girl. The ease of streamlining my emails and planner cannot be dismissed. If I make a flight or dinner reservation or book a doctor’s appointment, the e-mail confirmation that comes to my gmail gets directly added to my google calendar. Google even suggests adding appointments to my calendar from text message conversations. I have my personal calendar, work calendar, and share with my husband a “kid’s calendar” (doctor appointments, music classes, playdates…) and “childcare calendar” (babysitters, dad-duty time, etc.) that we can overlap and remove from view at the touch of a button. I invite friends, family, sitters and my hubby to applicable invites that get directly added to their calendar, put details (like confirmation numbers or ticket information) in the description for easy access, and add addresses and phone numbers as needed to avoid digging for those details later. Google calendar helps manage our busy lives in ways too broad and tangled to detail here. It saves us 100+ hours a year of communication, miscommunication, lost information, appointment confusion and more.
Instacart is a luxury, like almost every other delivery service. Also, it is not the only option. Plenty of other grocery store chains countrywide offer free delivery with purchases over certain amounts. The amount of time, energy and sanity saved getting groceries delivered to my house instead of hauling two kids to into the car, out of the car, into the store (and everything that entails) is amount undefinable. There are plenty of times I still need a quick run to the local deli counter or butcher for fresh things I want to pick myself, but that does not discount the enormous convenience delivery service offers me for things like toilet paper, boxed pasta, cereal, jugs of milk and nursery water, and dare I even say, wine and cheese for mom. I have never been so pleased with myself when I have scheduled grocery delivery perfectly timed for our return home after vacation with no food (or milk!) in the house. Grocery delivery saves me at least one hundred valuable hours of going to the grocery store each year.
The Starbucks app or any app that allows you to order your favorite breakfast, sandwich, coffee, smoothie, baked good or dessert ahead of time is my absolute favorite. Waiting in line to order my morning coffee with two energetic or fussy babies is not relaxing. I order ahead and enjoy the ease of picking up my ready-made latte without impatient kids begging to keep the day moving forward. Ordering ahead saves me twenty (plus) hours of wait time a year.
Connect Home Apps
Nest is a great example of connected homes but isn’t the only option as some of these things come a la carte from different companies (we use Ring for our doorbell and another app to open or unlock doors, for example). However, a connected home is a happy home or at least, an efficient one.
You can turn down the heat, turn on the air-conditioning, check baby monitors, flip on the home alarm, and lock the backdoor all from the ease of your phone while laying in bed. We often turn off the heat when going on vacation, but easily can switch it back on a few hours before arriving home while strolling through the airport. I check who rang the doorbell from my desk at work (and can even talk to them through the app), and open the garage door for a friend who came by to drop-off a package or a sitter who arrived early. Connected home apps save us at least twenty hours of time a year, and offer much more (sanity) in convenience.
- Alexa/Google Home
- Subscription Services
- Online Couponing
- The Wonder Weeks
- Google Calendar
- Instacart or other grocery delivery services
- Connected Home Apps
These digital delights are not the answer to everything and aren’t the only ones offering convenience, ease and time (or headache) savings, they are just some great ones that have helped our family be more productive, efficient and even save some cash! If you have more suggestions, I’d love to hear them!