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.

The New Normal

The other day I went out to lunch with an old friend. She’s currently on maternity leave after having her second child. While I think she looks fabulous, you can still tell she is a tad tired in that I’ve-got-a-newborn-who-isn’t-sleeping-through-the-night-yet sort of way.

I asked her how she was adjusting to life with two children. She said they were still trying to figure it all out, and asked how I had done with the transition to two kids.

I tried to think back to when my son was born. He’s only two, yet it’s hard to imagine our family before he was in it. {Not to mention the extremely permanent “mommy brain” I’ve suffered as a result of having children altogether.}

It was exhausting.

Why did it seem so different the second time around?

Would things ever go back to normal?

On the one hand, I wasn’t faced with the newness of each mom-task like I was when my daughter was born. You can read a million books and Google your heart out, but nothing truly prepares you for parenthood.

With my daughter I was able to make her the sole focus of my attention. This time, as my husband left for work each morning and I realized I would spend my maternity leave outnumbered, I went into survival mode.

I nursed my son while simultaneously helping my newly potty-trained daughter use the toilet.

I let my son fuss a little bit longer than usual in his swing to finish making my daughter’s snack.

I woke my son up from his nap – on more than one occasion – to pick up my daughter from a friend’s house {something I wouldn’t have dared with my firstborn}.

I could definitely relate to my tired friend. The transition to two children is exhausting. But it is also fleeting.

As hectic as those early days were chasing a toddler after a sleepless night with a newborn, they soon mellowed thanks to new routines, better communication, and a little bit more patience.

We settled into our new normal.

I encouraged my friend to hang in there. Just six weeks post-partum and she looked like a rock star. She too will find her new normal soon enough.the new normal2

Our conversation really got me thinking about all of life’s changes. Our inability to control them – or even predict some of them. And our ability to decide how we choose to handle them.

My family went through a lot of changes this summer and we’ll encounter another big one in a few short months.

While change can be exciting, it can also be a little intimidating. {And in the case of an infant….or moving…exhausting.}

Maybe it’s a new job. Or a layoff.

Maybe it’s a new city. Or returning to live with your parents.

Maybe it’s a new school. Or leaving your kids for the first time.

{Shout out to my grieving back-to-school mommy friends. One sent her sweet first-born off to Kindergarten. The other sent her “baby” away to college. They’ve had five and eighteen years to prepare for this moment, but how do you really get yourself ready for such a milestone besides loading up on tissue boxes?}

Change, whether predictable or completely unexpected, is a part of life. It turns our regular routine on its head and alters the version of “normal” that we’ve become accustomed to.

Without change, there’s no growth.

All of our stories are a work in progress. Embrace the changes that life throws at you. Sometimes it’s how we overcome those changes that make our stories worth telling.

You will find your new normal soon enough.

3 reasons why you should always respond

why you should always respond

I’m a firm believer that you should go after what you want, because the worst anyone can tell you is no. But what happens when that person you’re reaching out to isn’t saying no, they aren’t getting back to you at all?

It can be frustrating if you’re on the receiving end of the phone that doesn’t ring or the email that never gets answered. Maybe you’re even guilty of being the one failing to respond from time to time.

I’ve written about why I think it’s important to care about what other people think before, but I think it’s even more relevant in the workplace, especially if you own a business. By failing to respond, you may be doing some permanent damage to your reputation.

How do you resist the urge to ignore? It can be tough. For one thing, sales calls can be extremely irritating. If you’re like me, you may not pick up when an unknown number calls. For two months straight I received a call at the exact same time every day on my cell phone. I complained about it to anyone that would listen. Why wouldn’t they take a hint? When would they stop calling? The nerve!

Then one day I answered. It was a very nice salesperson. Person. There was actually someone being paid to harass me everyday at the exact same time. I kindly told him that I wasn’t interested and could he please remove my phone number from the list. I never received another call. The worst he heard was no.

We live and work in a highly distracting world full of social media networks and open office floor plans. Achieving efficiency is hard enough, and now you’re supposed to carve out a part of your day just to get back to people? Yup.

While not every group email requires a reply all, it’s important to consider whether any damage could be done {to you or the initiator} by not getting back to the people who reach out to you.

Here’s three reasons why I think you should always respond when people contact you.

Responding makes you reliable

I used to work with someone who was notorious for not responding to emails. I’m not sure if he never read them or actively chose not to reply. Either way, he quickly earned a reputation for not being a very reliable employee. People began questioning his ability to do his job and stopped soliciting his contributions to projects.

On the flip side, Facebook actually rewards businesses with a badge when they have an impressive response rate. Who wouldn’t want to work with a business that’s been endorsed for their dedication to customer service?

Responding builds relationships

We all know the saying, “treat others how you want to be treated.” I’m not sure why, but most people don’t seem to be applying the golden rule when a phone or computer come into the picture. Do you like being ignored? Me neither!

The truth is, communication builds relationships, and these days a large majority of our communicating isn’t taking place face to face. Get comfortable on the phone, learn email etiquette, and understand what is {and isn’t} appropriate to put on the internet. Then take the time to respond and engage and watch your relationships flourish.

Responding creates opportunities

There is a lot of junk mail out there, so I understand the temptation to send to spam. About a year ago I received a pretty generic sales pitch on LinkedIn about bringing a women’s organization to Kansas City. Other than my name, nothing about the message was customized. And it was sent from a complete stranger from halfway across the country. I almost deleted it. I think about my decision to respond all the time. The messages turned into phone calls which grew into an amazing community for local professional women and business owners and has contributed to my personal and professional growth one hundred times over. Imagine the opportunities missed by not getting back to someone!

I’m not saying you need to chime in at the end of an unnecessarily long email chain that lost it’s productivity nine emails ago. In fact, please don’t. But before you decide to leave someone hanging, I do encourage you to ask yourself if turning a blind eye could come back to bite you.

Do you ever think it’s appropriate not to get back to someone? Tell me in the comments.

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!