My Favourite Life Hacks
Ever since we bought our first apartment, I have loved discovering life hacks from friends, family and online and seeing if they work for us.
I have taken the time to list out my favourites for you. These are all things that make our home life calmer and easier to manage. They are mostly oriented towards having kids, but there’s something for everyone.
Keep in mind that we have implemented these hacks slowly over many years. I would love to hear if you choose to implement any of them and if they help you at all.
Each person has a laundry basket in their room for their dirty clothes. Once that bin is full, they are responsible for putting it in the washer and dryer on their own. My husband’s family did this and it’s brilliant. When the kids were younger I would have them drag the bin to the laundry room and place it in and I would press the buttons. Now that they are older, they do it on their own with a little reminding.
We use a laundry ball so that the kids don’t have to measure detergent – and I don’t need to worry about them using too much soap. Plus it’s $50 and lasts an entire year! We also use wool dryer balls to keep things nice and fluffy.
The bonus of everyone having their own bin is that there is no need to sort laundry. Once the clothes are done drying, they get dumped on their bed or the floor, folded and put away immediately. If we’re feeling generous, we help with the folding. It’s a good time for a chat.
Another laundry hack is that each person has two towels and each person gets a different colour. A friend told me that this is what her family did growing up and I thought it was super smart. Our kids are close in age and share a bathroom, so there are no fights about one kid using the other’s towel and I know who to remind to pick their towels up off the floor. I wash the towels once a week and rotate in the clean ones. We do the same thing with our sheets and the extra sets are stored in each of our rooms.
Lastly we keep a small bin under our kitchen sink for dirty kitchen laundry. Our laundry is upstairs and it is much more convenient than constantly running the dirty cloths and drying towels up to the laundry room. I empty it once a week and add it to the towel load.
Technology plays a big role in meal planning and grocery shopping in our home. We keep a running shopping list for groceries. We use Microsoft To Do, but really any app that you can share with other adults in the home is handy. Anytime something is running low, we add it to the list.
We plan our meals for the next week on Saturday. All of all favourite meals are on a meal list and we put them in order for the week. Every once in a while we try a new recipe and if it gets the thumbs up, we add it in the queue. Once the meal list has been decided, any ingredients that are needed are added to the main grocery list.
The grocery list is then used to do our online grocery order. Either one of us can do this chore, and we rarely miss items that are needed.
Before we had kids, I got really into budgeting and I kept track of every penny for a couple of years to save up for the down payment for our second house and pay off my student loan. Once that was accomplished and the kids came along, we stopped doing that and did what I call the head-in-the-sand budget. It was not successful!
Two years ago I decided I was ready to try budgeting again and discovered a program called YNAB. The way it works really clicked with me, and I love how it’s taken all our stress about money away. It’s life changing. If you are interested in learning more, their website is full of great webinars and articles.
Our kitchen island used to be always covered in paperwork. It had become the drop zone for everything. A few years ago, over the Christmas holidays I decided to tackle it. I read a tip that helped a ton: put everything in your drop zone into categories, and then find better homes for everything.
Our categories were bills, kids’ school work, and receipts.
- For the bills, I switched everything I could to paperless and put them on autopay. Anything left over is filed in a file box we keep in a cabinet in our living room. We chose this location as it’s close to the original drop zone (the island).
- For the kids’ school work, I hung a pretty file holder on the wall in our living room and gave each kid a folder. The folders are emptied twice a year into either their memory folders or the recycling bin.
- For the receipts, I found a cute receipt box with 12 sections – one for each month. We keep this on our bookshelf so that it’s very easy. Receipts are stored in their respective months and emptied once a year.
I’m happy to say that this has been working great, and the island rarely has anything on it.
5 Toys and other items that accumulate
We go through all of our stuff often. The kids know when we are doing a purge day, and they love discovering things that may have gotten lost and enjoying them again. I’m hoping it’s teaching them good habits for when they are on their own.
Kids go through so many phases. When they were really young we would rotate their toys. Now that they are older, we are happy to pass on toys that we know are no longer loved in our home. We like to do this in October or November, so that others can gift them for Christmas.
Kid clothes are gone through seasonally. Anything worn out gets placed in a bag of textiles to be recycled, and anything outgrown gets placed in a bag to pass down to younger cousins. We love getting hand-me-downs too, but some of those items don’t become favourites. I watch for those and take note of anything that has not been worn at all, and they are taken out of the rotation. This helps to create more room in their drawers, making it easier to put their clothes away and to figure out what to wear in the morning.
I just did the same with my own clothes. I love having a small wardrobe – it makes it so easy to get dressed in the morning, and helps me avoid impulse purchases.
We are big fans of our local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook. It’s a great place to pass on gently used items, and you know they are going directly to folks who will use them.
This year we are focusing on reducing household waste. I’ve started with silicone baking cups and reusable freezer bags. I’ll add one thing to replace every couple of months. Let me know if you have any tips!
Design and organization go hand in hand. I’m a big believer that our homes should be beautiful and functional for how we live every day. All households are different and the questions I ask during the first consultation enable me to understand the solutions that will help you the most.