The top 7 apps & websites making a working mom’s life easier

Moms are busy. Really busy.

Add a JOB to the mix and it’s a wonder we get anything accomplished each day. {Ignore that pile of laundry in the corner.}

I’m always looking out for the best resources for working moms that make my life just a little bit easier. That means fewer to-dos, and more time back in my day for the things I really care about.

I’ve rounded up the top seven apps and websites that all working moms need to know about to rock it at work and at home all from your smart phone.

theSkimm

online resources for working moms theskimm

As someone with an interest in current events, but very little time to actually stay current, I rely on theSkimm. Their tagline promises to “make it easier to be smarter” and it does just that. In the time it takes me to nurse Audrey in my bed in the morning, I get briefed – and entertained – on the latest happenings around the globe. If time allows, I can dive in deeper to the news stories via the links theSkimm provides. If I have a hungry toddler begging for breakfast or a pressing work issue, I can come back to it later or wait until the next day.

Target

online resources for working moms target

There’s a reason moms are known for loving Target. Affordable prices, cute items, a Starbucks by the front door? Yes, please. But as much as I love the store, going there with all three kids in tow is pretty stressful. So I’ve turned to the Target & Cartwheel app. After I had Audrey, I was feeling a little down about not fitting in my usual clothes. Using the Target app I was able to skip the store, order a variety of items in a variety of sizes and try them on in my own home. Read: without the unforgiving lighting of a department store dressing room! I scored free shipping, and an easy in-store return that I completed with only one baby and no toddlers {and picked up my latte on the way out}.

Amazon

online resources for working moms amazon

When I went on bedrest with Audrey I knew I was going to need help when it came to errands. It was right before the holidays and I needed to do all of the Christmas shopping for our family. I quickly turned to online shopping and fell in love with the convenience of Amazon Prime. I was officially converted into an online shopper.  The real game changer was when my husband gave me the Amazon Echo Dot a few months later. This product tells me the weather so I don’t have to track down my phone, confirms my calendar appointments, adds things to my shopping and to-do lists, and even orders stuff through my Amazon Prime account all with simple voice commands. Plus, Daphne has learned how to ask for some pretty fun family dance parties. “Alexa, play the Trolls soundtrack…”

InstaCart

online resources for working moms instacart

The other thing I had to figure out while I was on bedrest was the groceries. Luckily, I found the InstaCart app. It’s like the Uber of groceries. Pick your local store, select your food items, and schedule a delivery time that works for you. The app even has great features that allows messaging back and forth, like if you have really picky eaters who only eat a certain ripeness of banana {Henry}, or if the store is out of an item. It’s so simple and convenient, that I was able to order groceries for my family while still in the hospital after giving birth. Someone took care of the shopping, and delivered the groceries my husband at home with our older two.

76th & Newbury

We didn’t find out the gender with our last baby, which made setting up a nursery a bit of a challenge. I knew our new bundle would be in our room for the first few months, so I didn’t worry…until she was born! I realized I was crazy to think I would be able to go out and shop for her room with three kids. And I was already feeling badly that she didn’t have a beautiful room to come home to like the others did. Luckily, 76th & Newbury provides completely custom artwork for the home without leaving the house. I was able to create prints just for Audrey that matched her bedding perfectly. I was super impressed with their customer service. Through my many rounds of edits to make sure it was just right, they always made me feel like the project wasn’t done until I was completely happy.

Poshmark

online resources for working moms poshmark

My husband discovered this app after cleaning out his closet and uncovering a bunch of hardly worn clothes and accessories. Poshmark keeps the clutter at bay while earning a few bucks! Since becoming a mom, I’ve always been into shopping at Consignment events like Just Between Friends. But now that I’m on the other side with some of our items, the cleaning, sorting, tagging, dropping off, etc. overwhelms me. In the Poshmark app, you snap a pic from your phone, add a description and price. Once the items sells, you simply print the shipping label and drop it off at a nearby UPS and wait to collect your cash. My husband has sold random things from jerseys to watches, and I’ve already had great luck in the maternity and children’s sections!

Greetabl

Greetabl calls itself “the total gifting experience made easy.” And I’m totally obsessed. I’ve sent it for every reason you can imagine – babies, birthdays, losses, and just because. I love it for those times when a full blown gift may be a little much, but a card doesn’t seem to say quite enough. With each box I’ve sent, I was able to customize with photos and patterns, and add a small gift -such as chocolate or handmade soap – with just a few clicks from my phone. It’s the perfect gesture for letting friends and family know I’m thinking about them even when life gets in the way.

Best Resources for Working Moms

What are your favorite online resources? How do they help you keep your life organized and simplified as a working mom? Tell me in the comments!


The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Leap Day: 24 things you should do with your extra 24 hours

Leap Day too busy

How often do you claim to be too busy to take on a new project at work, join another committee, meet up with a friend, indulge in a pedicure, or even just finish simple household chores?

I know I’m guilty of dropping the “I don’t have enough time” excuse more often than I’d care to admit.

But that’s exactly what it is: an excuse. The reality is that we do make time for the things that we value the most at the moment.

What we really mean when we say “I don’t have enough time” is that the thing we’re too busy to do simply isn’t a priority.

We’ve all wished for just a few more hours in the day, but have you ever thought about how you’d spend that time if you actually had it?

Well, every four years we get our wish on February 29. Leap Day quite literally boosts our year with an extra twenty-four hours. Are you making the most of your bonus day?

Here are 24 things I’m going to do today that in a typical 365-day calendar year would probably fall off of my to-do list. {Hint: saying, “I don’t have enough time” isn’t one of them.}

1. Wake up early

If I’ve got an extra 24 hours to get things done, I’m certainly not going to waste it sleeping. As my husband would say, “Carpe Diem.”

2. Meditate

If you know me, being still and quiet takes some serious focus. It means clearing some time in my schedule when I can be by myself. While I rarely create time and space for this, the reality is that it leaves me more calm and more creative.

3. Research a house project

Neither my husband nor myself are super handy when it comes to housework, plus it would take us triple the time it would take a professional. So for today, I’m going to prioritize which project needs to come next {likely freshening up our exterior paint job} and start researching the man {or woman} for the job.

4. Listen to a podcast

I love Podcasts. I think it’s a great way to sneak in some professional development. If I’m honest, I actually do this most days anyway, but I’m typically multitasking while I listen {either cooking dinner or jumping on the elliptical}. Today I’m going to sit back and relax while I check out this new podcast a friend recommended.

5. Read a book

My husband loves to read. He works much longer hours than I do outside of our home. Then he has to pay bills, take out the trash, help with bath time, play with the kids, fix the broken toys, etc. when he gets home. But he always makes time to read. Because for him, it’s a priority. I, on the other hand, am the worst at making a date with a good book. I’m going to snuggle up with a new read {it was a Christmas present I have yet to begin} with my extra 24 hours today.

6. Go out for lunch

I’ve always been guilty of eating lunch at my desk. While this is a habit I will likely return to tomorrow for productivity’s sake, today I’m heading out to a restaurant and fully intend to enjoy my time away from my computer.

7. Put laundry away

Based on conversations with other moms, I’m doing okay in this category. Regardless, my lag time from dryer to laundry basket to dresser drawers is still about 1.8 days. Some families do just fine ditching the drawers altogether, but this mom is going to set aside some time to put the laundry away while the kids are at school.

8. Enjoy a cup of coffee outside

If you live in Kansas City, you know the weather has been absolutely gorgeous lately. With another cold front on the way; however, this morning I’m going to soak up the sunshine with a cup o’ joe on my back deck.

9. Take a bath

I love to take baths, yet I probably only do it a handful of times a year. Maybe it’s because our children use our bathtub and so it’s filled with toys and God knows what else, but today I’m going to light a candle, grab a glass of wine and relax with some bubble bath.

10. Drink a glass of wine

See No. 9. {Sauvignon blanc, please.}

11. Light a candle

See No. 9. {I usually only light a candle when we have company coming over and I want our house to smell cleaner than it really is.}

12. Support a cause

I mailed a gift to a local charity that’s close to my heart. It wasn’t the hands on approach I wish I’d planned for today, but having worked for a not-for-profit, I know that every gift matters.

13. Call a friend

I got a jump start on this over the weekend, but plan to follow up today. If you have a friend who lives in a different city than you, it’s time to pick up the phone and call them. Leave a voicemail. Follow up with an email if you need to. Just remind them how important they are in your life with something a little more personal than an emoji text or Facebook post like.

14. Stretch

Whether I pop in a yoga video or just do some simple stretches, this activity brings me the same calming benefits as meditation while making my body feel stronger and more bendy. While stretching is something I know is good for my body, it almost always gets overlooked.

15. Throw a dance party

Kind of like the podcasts, this is something my family does almost everyday anyway. We love to turn up the music and just be silly together. It gets us moving, interacting with each other and having fun. Every family should throw a dance part every single day!

16. Give a compliment to a stranger

The great thing about making other people feel good about themselves is that it has the powerful ability to make you feel better, too. I plan to fill my extra 24 hours with a lot more warm and fuzzies.

17. Take a different route

Driving down the same road everyday is incredibly mundane. My children’s school, dance class and grandparent’s house are all down the exact same road. Today I’m going to switch it up, even if it takes a bit longer. Plus, it’s actually good for your brain to take different paths!

18. Paint my nails

I don’t typically splurge on pedicures. The problem is that I also rarely take the time to properly self groom. With spring just around the corner, I’m going to spend some time polishing my piggies before someone notices the same coat of paint from the last time I wore sandals.

19. Try something new

I’m not exactly sure where I’m going to squeeze this in today {maybe I’ll order something I’ve never had before at my lunch out today?!}, but getting this extra time seems like the perfect opportunity to try something new.

20. Plan a vacation

I have a jump start on this one. My husband and I are heading to California this May for a close friend’s wedding. The plane tickets have been bought, but that’s about it. Oh, and we’re flying out of a completely different state than we’re flying into. Road trip! Time to start working through some of those details…

21. Learn about my city

Kansas City is an amazing place to live. Because I’m from here, I’ve always told my coastal friends what a great city we have here in the “flyover states,” but the truth is that I’ve only experienced a fraction of what KC has to offer. I’m going to spend some time researching my hometown and plotting our next date night or family outing.

22. Get involved

That’s right. This blog post started with me saying how busy I am, but I’m going to get more involved. Let me explain. My husband and I joined the Kansas City Chamber last fall, and I’ve only been to one event. What a waste! As an overly involved individual, I should know first hand that you get out of any organization what you put into it. It’s time to get involved.

23. Get ahead

I love to-do lists. I’m going to pick something that I hadn’t planned to work on until later this week and tackle it today. Man it feels good to get ahead!

24. Reflect on the day

I’m excited to find out if any of these activities make such an impact today that they stop being something I’m too busy to do moving forward.

Well, I’ve got a lot on my plate so I better get started. I want to know, how do you plan to spend your extra 24 hours today?

Get more done by adopting this one habit

After a week at home for the holidays, my kiddos are finally out of the house. My coffee is hot. My desk is organized. The day is young. I finally sit down to work.

I know I need to write another blog post, but first I think I will open up Facebook and schedule a few social media posts I’ve planned for a few of my clients for the New Year.

Then my phone pings. Someone liked my most recent Insta post about working on my business goals and plans for 2016. It’s so exciting to see new followers {strangers even!} finding my blog and corresponding social pages.

Back to Facebook. Okay, one post scheduled.

I better check my Femfessionals email. I haven’t checked it since before Christmas and I really need to finish my plan for our community in 2016. I fire off a few emails to fellow Kansas City business owners about some event ideas.

I return to the browser with my Facebook page open. I scroll through my news feed, just once, and an article called “21 Annoying Facebook Status Updates that Need to Stop” pops up. That looks interesting, and I definitely need to find out what those things are {to make sure I’m not an annoying Facebook status poster}, so I click on it.

I skim the article and go back to my news feed, fully confident that all of my friends totally are not annoyed with my posts. Cute pictures of my friend’s baby’s first Christmases rotate with puppies and snow and more click-worthy articles from Buzzfeed and the Huff Post.

And then I glance in the upper right corner and realize an hour has gone by already. And I haven’t even started this blog post yet.

I’m not much of a gambler, but I’m willing to bet some version of this has happened to you before. Our phones and computers have become major time sucks thanks in large part to social media. But it isn’t just mindless scrolling that can cause us to lose track of time and productivity. I didn’t have a plan. I sat down to accomplish one task, but immediately moved on to other things on my to-do list and then became distracted. While my email sending and social media managing still chipped away at my overall workload, I lost valuable time and creative energy bouncing between tasks. Not carving out specific time for particular projects prevents us from packing in a fully efficient work sesh. So what should I have done differently?

Start each day with not only a list of top work priorities, but a schedule for accomplishing them. This technique is called time blocking and it is a powerful tool that can truly help you get more done if you make it a habit. So how can you {we} become better at time blocking a get stuff done? Try these 4 tips to time block like a pro.

1. Block time to time block

You shouldn’t spend your freshest moments of a new day mapping out your time blocks, so plan them in advance. Carve out time on one of your least productive day, typically a Monday or Friday or even the weekend, to evaluate what you need to get done for the upcoming week. I use Google Calendar for everything, both work and personal, because it actually looks like little colorful blocks that can be shared with others so they know when you’re time blocking a.k.a unavailable.

2. The early block catches the worm

I’m a morning person. I’d say 80% of what I get done in a day happens before 1 p.m. Be sure to schedule your time blocks when you work your hardest so they don’t fizzle into a procrastination period. Just keep in mind that you should aim to get your highest priority work accomplished before you move on to things like meetings and emails. So if you’re a rare breed who perks up after lunch time, don’t over commit in the morning or meetings may intrude on your precious time block.

3. Tune out to block in

When it’s time to time block and you’re ready to dig in to that super top priority thing to do, eliminate distractions. No social media. No emails. No phone calls. No office visits. It’s go time.

4. Don’t over block

When you schedule out your time blocks, it’s important to keep windows in your day. Projects may come up that you weren’t anticipating and certain jobs make take longer to accomplish than you originally thought. No need to fret if you’ve left some holes in your day to work on these things, as well as catching up on any outstanding emails or phone calls {although I do recommend carving out an email time block if you receive a high volume of them}. Finish that important task before your time block was over?

Do you time block to reach maximum productivity during your work day and make sure important tasks get done first? What works or doesn’t work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Happy time blocking!

 

 

7 tips to help working moms become more efficient

Have you ever left a conversation with a friend, colleague or even someone you just met and wondered “how the heck does she do it?” As a young mom, entrepreneur, and generally energetic person, I must admit I get asked that a lot. I usually shrug it off with something like, “oh, I just like to keep busy!” But lately I’ve taken some time to think about how I should really answer the question. I think what I’m actually being asked is “how are you so efficient?” So, I’m going to let you in on my seven tips to improve your efficiency. Soon everyone will be asking you how you do it!

1. Multitask

Multitasking, in my opinion, is a bit of an art. You have to know which activities to clump together so that you don’t sacrifice quality. For example, scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed during family time or catching up on important work emails while watching last night’s Bachelor Pad is a no-no.

My favorite example is my morning routine. I am an early to bed and early to rise kind of gal, but not too early. My alarm goes off at 6 a.m., which gives me a happy balance of clocking enough Zs while successfully getting our 1 and 3 year olds out of the house by 7:15. Here’s a play by play of how we do it:

6:00AM – Alarm goes off – NO snooze! Hit the shower…most days.

6:10AM – This is where it gets good. I read the news (I prefer theSkimm), while doing my hair and makeup, while nursing or pumping. My husband is all ready for the day and heading downstairs to make breakfast for the family…smell the bacon, eggs and coffee!

6:30AM – Divide and conquer! My husband gets one child up and dressed and I tackle the other one.

6:45AM – We all sit down and eat breakfast as a family.

7:00AM – Shoes on (kept in the laundry room), teeth brushed (a set of toothbrushes in the downstairs bathroom), and an impromptu dance party in the kitchen.

7:15AM – Load up and head out.

I’m particularly proud of that 6:10 window. Feeding another human and learning about world events while primping really gets me excited to take on the day.

2. Ask for help

Notice how earlier I said, “this is how we do it.” That’s because I don’t even pretend like mornings run this smoothly when my husband is traveling for work. One way to master efficiency is to know when to ask for help. Early on in our marriage, I told my husband it would really help both of us make it to work on time if he made breakfast. We woke up at the same time each day, but I took about 20 minutes longer to get ready than he did. About the same amount of time it takes to cook the full breakfast we’re both accustomed to. He totally got it and was willing to step up in the morning, something that became even more important when we added two toddlers to the routine.

Bottom line: if someone else can do something better or quicker than you can, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

3. Plan Ahead

Let’s go back to the morning routine again. Did you notice how I didn’t mention packing lunches or getting bags together? It’s because I do it all the night before. I’ve found it’s quickest to pack lunches either while making dinner or putting away any leftovers since you’re already in and out of the fridge and handling Tupperware. I lay out my kids’ outfits before bedtime. Heck, I still lay out my clothes. By planning ahead whenever you can, you eliminate unpleasant surprises (where is that library book?) and create the illusion of more time (dance party, anyone?).

4. Get Organized

I know this looks a little bit different for everyone. I’m a bit of a self proclaimed neat freak myself, and while I won’t project my tidy ways on you, I do urge you to get organized at home and at work if you want to improve your efficiency. The reality is, if you know where things are you will get to them faster. Keep your home and your office cleared of clutter. Pick up the toys on the floor before you go to bed; I promise you’ll feel better about it when you come downstairs the next morning! If this isn’t your strong suit, please refer to tip #2 and have someone help you file those papers.

5. Prioritize

I am a list-maker. Give me a post-it, some stationary, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s clean and I can write on it. Who doesn’t like to draw a giant check mark next to a completed task? Other than that fleeting sense of achievement, lists help you visualize the things you need to get done. I suggest separating work things from family things from errands or shopping lists since prerogatives change from a Monday to a Saturday.

When it comes to your business, make a list at the end of each work day for the following day. Write each task in the order they’ll need to be accomplished and then when it comes time to work on them, do not bounce around! Tackle them one by one and watch your efficiency improve and your to-dos decrease.

For my family and home, I have a giant to-do that includes long term projects like finally painting the outside of the house or getting around to our family photo album.

Make one list or ten, either way be sure to commit to getting things done and don’t procrastinate!

6. Move

Remember how you weren’t supposed to Facebook stalk or watch your guilty pleasure television shows while working or family time? You know the perfect time to do these things? While exercising! Not only will you benefit from shutting off your responsibilities for a bit, but you’ll have the added perk of those endorphins. So sneak away from the kiddos already to get in some quality me-time and get fit while you Netflix.

7. Slow down

This is really important to remember, especially for working moms.  While I pride myself in being incredibly efficient both in my business and at running my household, I sometimes have to remind myself to stop and smell the roses. Women are so incredibly hard on themselves and parents who work outside of the home are constantly on the go. So join me after the alarm sounds at 6 a.m. tomorrow in taking a deep breath and counting your blessings before tackling that to-do list.