My Life hacks

A lot of Flemish bloggers were taking part in a #boostyourpositivity blogging challenge and 1 of the assignments was to blog about their life hacks.

Initially that assignment annoyed me.  We don't need more people that show off their perfectly organised life,  giving pressure & guilt to others who don't seem to pull of the same order in their life.  We are all trying to keep enough balls in the air, let's not add any more pressure. Not quite a positivity boost.  I in the first place do not strive for perfection as I don't think it'll make me happy.

But when I was reading many of the participants's posts in my feed, I realised that   a) they don't necessarily run a perfect life, neither do they all strive to do so   b) I also have a lot of "life hacks" to that we use in some way to keep our lives running more smoothly.   So here are mine.

a) Google calendar: 
Jan, Kabouter, I, ...we all have an own google calendar that we each can view and edit and sync to our mobile devices.  If we all keep it up to date (key word is "if") then it's easy to keep track of who's where, when will there be potential conflicts and when do we need a babysit booked or so.  It can be updated and consulted at any moment , any place.

I check the calendar quite regularly so I usually have it well memorised in my mind. For that reason I do get quite frustrated when there's all of a sudden surprises that had not been put in the agenda.

b) Wunderlist shopping list
After trying out a chalk board in our kitchen many years ago, we suffered from memory loss once in the store (and we were too lazy to copy the board on a piece of paper each time...that's so inefficient).   On top of that, you seem to realize that you need to buy something, mostly when you are not near the chalk board.
Since x years we now use the app "Wunderlist".  It has a list on which we type all our shopping list items as soon as we think of something...and once in the store we walk through the isles with our phone open on the app and we cross off what we take. Once again, easy since synchronization happens on any mobile device instantaneously and we share the same lists.
When I'm home and Jan crosses of my things, I get notifications so I can sometimes follow in real-time how he's walking through the isles  (and then I'm tempted to quickly add some new things to the shopping list :p).   But in reality he often phones me after work "I'm going to the store now, if you still think of something we need, add it quickly to Wunderlist".

We also have a to do list on there that is less used, but also functions quite well and can be added with reminder notifications before a deadline.   We had a good "after birth" list with the to do's like getting the announcement cards confirmed at the printer,  confirming the first appointment for maternity help at home, etc... as I assumed that our minds would be blurred with emotion and fatigue. It worked like a charm.

c) Cleaning lady
Like many Belgians we have a cleaning lady with "service cheques" (subsidized by the government) who comes every 2 weeks. That's not nearly enough but it's good enough.   In the first 2 years we kept getting new cleaners and one was more unreliable than the other. For years now we have the same Maroccan sweet lady and I don't want to loose her. But she can only come every 2nd week, so it stays as it is.

Other than that I don't strive to have a floor on which you can eat.

d) Grocery shopping for multiple days
A lot of people seem to work with week menu's.  It sounds so rigid to me and so pressuring on Saturday or Sunday to define the entire menu for the week.  ugh, goodness no.....but then again, who am I to complain when I hardly do any cooking at all (Jan's the cook at home).   When I still lived in my apartment in Ghent, I did intentionally cook plenty on Saturday and Sunday to ensure left-overs for Monday, Tuesday and potentially also Wednesday.  Other than that I loved to have a stacked freezer in which I could "shop" for what I felt like eating in the 2nd half of the week.

If Jan is traveling a lot and I need to provide for my own food in the week, I tend to slip back to such a rhythm. I don't plan a "week menu" at all, but I try to go to the store beforehand and I pack up lots of easy quick things that can still be kept for a few days in the fridge:  schnitzels and some sausages to bake, a lasagna to heat,  a piece of meat to bake in the oven (on the evening before I might want to eat it: those things take too much time for a quick meal),   lots of tomatoes, cucumber and salad, a broccoli that steams quickly, ... Key is that I choose easy and quick things without much fantasy.  Good sauces and sophisticated menu's is not something I'll do (after a working day). So I stack up several things in the fridge to try to avoid last minute shopping.  The final choice what I eat is at the moment itself though.

Since this year we are experimenting with several pick-up grocery services where we order online and just drive by to pick up the prepared groceries.  That's easier now that we have to meet a day-care closure deadline each day.   Experience is that for a new webshop, it takes a lot of time to select and choose all items: the entire process doesn't make you win time. But you can "shop" more flexibly at a convenient moment.  Once you repeat the process, you can copy typical grocery lists which speeds up the process a lot. It's harder to get inspiration for food though while staring at a screen.

e) Multiple laundry baskets
I've always seen my mom sorting laundry each Saturday when I grew up: we all piled our dirty laundry in one or 2 laundry baskets and those got sorted to different loads of laundry runs.  When our closets got designed at home, Jan and I made room for 3 laundry baskets in the closets next to the bathroom:  30°, 40° and 60/90°  (and specialties like wool are thrown next to the basket into that closet).  That way nobody has the task to resort all the items anymore: it has to be thrown right away in the correct basket and that's your own responsibility.   Now it's easy: when a basket is full, it can be taken downstairs and thrown in the laundry machine and afterwards in the drier.  No fixed laundry depends on the state of the baskets  (although 1/2 basket of 30° and 1/2 basket of 40°  just before a trip will get combined in 1 load of 30°).

f) each irons his/her own clothes
After clothes have been in the drier, they are piled up in the basement on 2 piles: one for my clothes and one for Jans clothes.  And we both are responsible to iron our own clothes.  Since we were both travelling a lot for work,  I don't think it would have been fair if either one of us had the burden to do this chore for the other in the precious time home.  When just living together I was frustrated to see Jan's pile grow big so often,...but got over that when I was travelling more as well and having mine pile up just as much.  And then it was also a choice to not use the precious time home together, to be ironing.

But now and then 1 or 2 hours of speed ironing can fix a lot!

g) don't strive for perfection, it doesn't make you happy
it's ok if some dirty dishes are still in the sink now and then or the windows really should be washed. It's ok if you intended to cook a new meal but you didn't manage to go to the store and then you have to eat one evening some bread with cheese or go for some take-out fries (yeaay ;) ).

If I should wash the windows but it's a really lovely day and we'd feel to go for a walk...I'll do the latter.  I can wash the windows later too, right? It's important to take time for yourself and your family.  That's maybe the most important life hack.


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