As you might imagine life gets increasingly more complicated with the addition of children; your budget blows out, the state of you house rapidly devolves into the set of Jurassic Park, and your sanity slowly ebbs away.
Never fear there are things that you can do to slow the fall into utter chaos, notice I say slow as preventing it would be an act beyond mere mortals like us.
Hopefully some of the things that I’ve discovered and “Hacked” in my own life with will help you negotiate the trials that occur with parenthood.
Undoubtably you will have and will discover other hacks, don’t be shy share that information, we’re all in this together.
One of the first things a child will do in a household is seek out the most full, rigorously packed box and proceed to unpack it. This was the case with our cord box. For the past 20 years we’ve been accumulating a massive amount of cords:
- Phone chargers
- Power cords for defunct devices
- Gaming controller cords
- Phone line
- Extension cords
- Power cords
- Printer adaptors and associated cords
- A set of computer speakers with at least 50ft of endless cord attached
Needless to say “A hell of a lot of cords”
Now these cords live in a box near the TV, just in case we decide to set up the strangely absent PS2 or Negative scanner. At times of great need I’ve forced my hand into this box, braved the whims of plastic coated copper and sought out that which I need. But to say the least its frustrating searching through a literal nest of wires and cables for a Micro USB charger cable.
On top of this frustration it became pretty evident that our 1 and 3 year old reveled in the spectacle of dad struggling to pack these away day after agonising day.
And then like a bolt of lighting from Zeus’ own hand I saw the answer on some long forgotten Youtube channel…
Now having children also means a boost in garbage, solid waste material that needs to be disposed of. One thing I’ve noticed I’ve been trashing often was the cardboard cores of toilet paper rolls. These increased in appearance when Katie (wife) brought home 3 new kittens, evidently they enjoy unravelling them like toddlers do.
With the excess toilet roll cores and the vague remembrance of the Youtube channel I started to collect cores covertly for fear of them being destroyed before I could use them.
Eventually I had enough and started my project; Cables rolled into 25cm – 30cm loops will almost certainly fit into the sleeve of a toilet roll core, resulting in a neatly stowed box of cabling thats easy to pack away, easy to search through, and a good deal less enticing than a jumbled nest that looks like a doctor surgery toy.
Organisation is the name of the game
I would like to see anyone, prophet, king or God, convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time.
― Neil Gaiman
It almost goes without saying that being as organised as possible will help a lot, believe me I’ve been on both sides of the coin many times, the one with neatly ticked boxes tends to be less stressful and far more streamlined.
That’s not to say that a little chaos isn’t welcome or needed.
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.
― Willy Wonka
But there are things you can do to dull down the chaos to an dull roar in the background.
Preplanning is one of the golden rules; make those sandwiches the night before, pack the bag when you do that, have the kids clothes ready before you insist they get dressed. I come from the Boy Scout tradition of Be Prepared. Theres a lot to be said for it.
If you like your technology there’s a couple of apps that I’ve used to help in this regard.
- Evernote: A simple enough app thats powerful for storing all kinds of things:
- Use it like a calendar for up and coming events
- Note taking in courses or at events when paper is missing
- Create checklists for things like: Shopping, outing packs, emergency kits etc.
- Habitica: If you like to gamify your life then this one’s for you, especially if your somewhat of a pencils and paper nerd (D&D, Shadowrun, any RPG [Role Playing Game] really)
- Create: Habits, Dailes, and Todos.
- Complete each task to gain levels for your character, in my case a Level 22 rouge with skeleton cactus mount and dragon pet.
- Join a party or group and work cooperatively to gain skills, wealth and rewards for your characters.
Perhaps thats not for you, a simple pen and notepad would suffice, I always carry one with me for random ideas that drop into my head, and sometimes manipulate a to do list in it also.
Every Sunday I cook pancakes, I do this for 2 reasons:
- To provide breakfast for my family, there’s nothing quite like hot, fresh pancakes with sugar and lemon juice along with a coffee.
- To supplement lunches for the coming week.
Thats right I cook an excess of pancakes with the express intention of packing some in the lunches of my kids through the week. This is not a new idea, people have always used leftovers in the following days, however I’m creating intentional leftovers.
Why stop with pancakes; cook more sausages than you’re going to eat, bake a cake and split it into their lunches, soaps, pasta’s, the list is limitless.
Choose things that freeze well, that way they’ll keep until expended, also wrap them into individual bags early on, otherwise they risk being devoured before they make the lunch box.
Click her for a Simple pancake recipe.
Shopping on a budget
Junk mail, catalogues, email alerts, etcetera, etcetera are all designed to draw you into the maze like confines of a shop and prevent you from leaving until you’ve parted with your hard earned dollars. Never fear, you can use these marketing ploys to your advantage.
I have to believe, deep down, that there is honest good intent behind brochures being sent out, other than the money hungry capitalist supermarkets grab for money.
Every catalog has bargains, and some of those bargains you need: apples, chunks of meat, beer, hygiene products, somewhere in those cheep pages are things that you always buy and perhaps spend to much on.
What I’m getting at here is read the things, amass a working knowledge of where these shops are, and design a routine and route to visit each one in succession to buy the bargains you need.
Suss out who has the cheapest apples, toilet paper, red meat, all the things you buy week to week. You need to do this when feeding an army.
There has to be an app somewhere, I’m to lazy to look, that can help you negotiate this hedge maze of shopping wonders. Use it and share it if you find it.
Socks, socks, and more socks.
We have a huge box full of socks, and let me put it lightly, they are not all matching pairs. I’ve always liked to exclaim that the left one has gone missing.
“Why do we have only right socks?”
A novel solution that I’ve heard on the grapevine, but not yet initiated in our house is; The batch system, this consists of doing a washing load of only socks and then sorting them as you hang them out. This way you can fold them into pairs as you ditch ’em into the return basket.
I will get around to trying this, the only motivational limiter is initiating the “sock wash cycle” to begin with. I’ll be honest, I’m really not that organised.
There’s a hell of a lot of other “life hacks” out there, you just have to look, but I’m not here to describe everyone in intimate detail, firstly I’m a little bit lazy, secondly you’d never read a post that long, so why bother.
Go out and try these and create your own, just remember:
- Keep your keys near the door
- Keep the remote near the TV
- Keep your valuables away from little fingers