Do you ever give bad advice? I swear I do it so often it’s almost a bad joke. I had a moment of clarity today in church, which was led by our youth group of all people. We had four youth speak from the book of Job, which is a bit heavy for anyone, but our youth handled it exceptionally well. One young lady in particular really spoke to me. She mentioned Job’s friends. The ones with the best of intentions, but who gave him poor advice, because they were speaking on an issue about which they knew very little. Not that the friends didn’t know or understand suffering, but that they didn’t understand Job’s suffering. And they understood even less about God.
Friends, that’s me. The management professional in me hears about a problem and wants to fix it. I offer solutions before I understand the problem, like I want the world to be on some achievable action plan rife with checkpoints so that everyone can be equally footed on the road to Utopia, as if I know what or where that is. Yikes. The funny part is, I also hate when other people do this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to my husband, “Stop trying to fix this!!! Can’t you for once just validate my feelings and agree that this sucks???” Oh man. Life is so ironic.
So today, I will not bombard you with 25 helpful hints to overcome whatever is impeding your road to Valhalla or wherever it is that you’ll find domestic bliss. I freely admit that I don’t know your struggle any better than you know mine. That’s the beauty of life’s irony right? We’re all struggling, but in our own ways, and we all need different approaches to get to whatever’s next for us. In the spirit of the different struggles we have, I want to share the top tools that I lean on to help me in those moments when I’m below average- you may not have the same moments, but you know what I mean. When your grocery list blows across the Publix parking lot before you even enter the store, when you get to the checkout and realize that your coupons are all expired and everyone behind you in line doesn’t care about you saving 29 cents on plastic wrap, when you can’t remember how long your baby is going in between feeds because your other three kids are getting an endless buffet of snacks, or when you head to an important appointment and choose the route with the absolute WORST traffic ever. (Was that a vent? Not sure. But it’s definitely accurate.) As a millennial mom I turn to technology to solve all my problems. Maybe you use some of these apps- or maybe you have some that will do this better than what I have listed. Let me know if I’m missing out!
Best overall home organization: Cozi
I know lots of moms who use Cozi, and I swear by it. I’ve tried a zillion grocery list apps, and this one is my absolute favorite. Not only can I share the list with my husband (so we can add things to the list over the course of the week and check off as we go- with whoever is closest to the store getting what’s left on the list), it also lets us share multiple to-do lists, keep track of the menu for the week, and have a coordinated calendar to track who is doing what activity with which kid. When you have 4 kids with doctor’s appointments, school schedules, clubs/practices, and therapy schedules, it helps to know who is responsible for picking up and dropping off. Added bonus: it’s a shared account, so I can add grandparents or babysitters as needed to let them see where to be and when. This is the one app I splurge on and spend $39.99 a year. The free version is fine, but I like the expanded benefits of the paid version (called Cozi Gold, which also sounds fancy, and I like fancy).
Best document storage: Evernote
I never really bought into the whole idea of Evernote until we moved. Having all our papers in storage when we were trying to buy a house and enroll kids in school meant tracking down divorce decrees, marriage licenses, shot records, diagnoses, and the list goes on and on. Almost everyone now accepts PDF forms of even certified information, so scanning all that info into Evernote became tremendously time-saving. Now I can use keyword searches to find things needed at doctor’s offices right on my phone, without batting an eye. I also use this to scan in kids’ artwork, with separate notebooks for each of them, so I’m not sitting on 9,000 pages of tissue-paper tributes to Johnny Appleseed. Our entire family can access important documents this way as well (not possible when everything is scanned into our home computer), which is an added bonus. I used the paid version of this app when I was working so I could keep more info at hand, but now we have no need for that much storage, and happily use the free version.
Best app for new baby routines: Eat Sleep Lite.
I have the free version of this app. I don’t need anything particularly fancy, but I do need to have some general idea of how much liquid intake my wee baby is getting and how long he’s sleeping. There’s nothing worse than when a babysitter asks “what time does he get a bottle?” or “what time does he go down for a nap/bedtime?” and having no answer. I am notorious for saying “he’ll let you know,” meaning “you’re going to have a baby, who you don’t really know very well, scream like hell at you until you figure it out.” Not exactly fair to a seventeen-year old who’s helping us get some R and R. So Eat Sleep helps me get some understanding of that. It’s also super-handy in tracking diaper changes, which helped us numerous times identify potential dehydration that mandated a visit to the doc.
Best app for savings: Target Cartwheel and Ibotta
I’ll give you two on this one: if you shop at Target, Cartwheel is amazing and lets you choose the savings right there on your phone. I will clip coupons and leave them at home till they expire on a regular basis. Cartwheel actually shows up in my Passbook, so I can have everything right in front of me. I’ve saved over $500 using Cartwheel, so I’m a true believer. The other one, Ibotta, introduced to me by my genius friend Ruth Ann, is a rebate app. This one you use once you get home from the store, and get savings in the form of Amazon gift cards. I search the app for rebates on what I typically buy, add those items to my shopping list, and when I get home I scan the item and scan my receipt. Easy peasy. My favorite rebates are on Blue Moon beer, Plum Organics baby food, and Physician’s Formula makeup, which I happen to love. Both apps are free and easy to use.
Best app for health/weight loss: Lose It!
I used Lose It! in both of my postpartum weight loss periods. I loved that it allowed me to input foods that I ate (and actually recognized food from the grocery store, since I wasn’t eating out and didn’t have the luxury of just inputting calories) and compared calories to exercise to help me see what I should be doing. I really struggled in the beginning with not seeing how all my little snacks added up, how little water I was actually drinking, and how few calories my preferred method of activity was actually burning. I need brutal honesty when it comes to fitness, and seeing everything in front of me (including giving me prospective timelines to weight-loss based on my own habits and current trends) helped. Yep- it was unrealistic that I’d be back to my old size in time for my high school reunion. But 8 months down the road, I’m finally there. And you don’t have to splurge on this one either- I used the free version all along and it was fine.
Best app for reproductive health: Kindara
Full disclosure here: I stopped using Kindara once I invested in the daysy fertility computer, which has its own awesome app and is an AMAZING alternative to hormonal birth control. But if you don’t want to spend $375 on a fertility computer and are more interested in a free way to track your reproductive health, Kindara is an awesome option. Here you can track menstruation, spotting, cervical fluid, cervical position, ovulation prediction, pregnancy prediction, intercourse, and even enter your own symptoms for tracking, in addition to basal body temps. It’s truly a one-stop shop. Even if you aren’t interested in fertility awareness for birth control, it’s an awesome way to track symptoms if you’re facing challenges with your reproductive health and want to track trends. If you don’t mind spending the $375 on daysy, the daysyview app is stellar, and provides you the same benefits, but also predicts your fertility for you, so there’s no guess work in terms of interpreting the signs.
Did I just give out advice in the form of recommended apps? Probably. I’ll never apologize for having good intentions or for wanting to share those things that have made my life easier. But I absolutely will apologize for speaking about things I don’t understand, for intervening where no intervention was requested, and for stepping in where I have no business. Please know this friends- we’re all there. We all try and fail at so many things. We want things to be easier for ourselves and those around us, sometimes at the expense of one another’s feelings. Here’s hoping you find what’s easier for you, without feeling pressure from me or anyone else to do so 🙂