Why Cozi is the Only Family Calendar App You’ll Need

Why Cozi is the Only Family Calendar App You’ll Need

You’re in the middle of one of a thousand significant things you do each day – changing the laundry loads, prepping dinner, writing that piece that’s due tomorrow, finally having a chance to get to the bathroom – and someone interrupts with a quick question.

What are we doing Thursday?  Your mind goes blank as you try and remember everyone’s schedules and plans.  Nothing pops to mind, so you say nothing only to discover on Thursday that you double booked.  Oops! You did it. Again!

Sound familiar?

Maybe it’s time for you to use a family calendar app.

Where to start?

Google “family calendar app” and you will find a ton of options. It can be overwhelming!  Finding a simple effective solution can be hard to do with this shot gun method.  You find an app that is promising so you download it and just as quickly abandon it because it’s not quite what you thought it would be.  Somedays it feels like it would be faster and easier to design your own app!  How hard can it be to track a family calendar?

Why do so many apps fall short?

  • Not intuitive. You find an app full of promise.  It says it will do everything that you want it to do.  These apps, while well-designed by engineers, stop short of having simple and intuitive design that is natural for the average person to figure out.  You end up spending too much time trying to figure out how to use it so you just stop trying.
  • Too basic. Some apps strive for simplicity and do so at the cost of usefulness.  I remember downloading an app and it didn’t allow for an event to be repeated.  I contacted them to see what I was missing and they suggested that if I needed to do something each week – like attend a regularly scheduled meeting – that I should just manually enter it each week. By trying to keep things simple, they made it more difficult.
  • Too many things. And then you have the Swiss Army knives of apps that promise to do it all!  Calendar, task list, chore tracker, meal planner, shopping list, budget tracker, weight loss tracker, etc.  They do it all, and they often do it all poorly.  Rarely do these provide the help we’re looking for.

So what is the solution?

Choose apps that do one thing very well instead of looking for one to do everything.  At the end of the day, using a handful of excellent apps will prove more efficient than using one mediocre app. 

For example, I use Plan to Eat for all things food (recipes, menus, shopping), Undebt.it for tracking and paying off our debt faster, and Swift To-Do to manage all my lists, tasks, and projects.

And for our family calendar app I use Cozi.

What is Cozi?

Cozi is a cloud-based calendar app that allows for multiple individual calendars to be maintained and viewed at the same time.  It is a free app with the option to upgrade to a Gold subscription which unlocks some additional features.

Where Cozi shines as a family calendar app…

  1. Easy to add all your family members.

Each family member is assigned his or her own name and color.  Each person essentially has their own calendar under the umbrella of the family account.  This means that you can schedule a commitment and tag all the family members who need to be aware and it is automatically added to their personal calendar.

Bonus: if you upgrade to a gold account you can have family members notified when something they need to be aware of is added or rescheduled.  No more needing to remember to tell them about something (which means no more comlaining that they were never told).

Additionally, if your spouse or kids want to know what is going on, they are able to see for themselves.  Cozi takes the idea of the central family calendar and removes the bottleneck of the calendar having limited access – often because we hang them in the kitchen — to only being available if you happen to be home.  You will now answer those questions with “What does it say on Cozi?”

  1. Easy to put in most recurring events.

Isn’t it frustrating when there is something that happens regularly and people forget because it wasn’t on their calendar?  Setting up a recurring appointment is very easy and makes sure that it is on the calendar.

Junior has speech every Monday at 3:00 – it shows up every Monday at 3:00.  Committee meeting the first Tuesday of the month?  It’s already there.

You can set recurring events to have an end date (useful for school year events) or let it go indefinately.

  1. Both app based and web based.

This is a strength for sure.  Your calendar data is stored in the cloud, so anyone in your family group can see it updated on their phone app or logged into via a web browser.  This means hubby can check the family calendar from his desk at work and you can check while out running errands.  Everyone can be on the same page all the time.

Where Cozi falls short as a family calendar app…

  1. You can’t copy an existing event. This means that you have to re-enter it manually.  Examples where this is nice would be leaving the dentist and scheduling your next cleaning.  It would be great to simply tap on that days appointment and copy it over into a new appointment without needing to re-enter all the other details.
  2. It doesn’t adapt to your time zone. If you are traveling and had previously scheduled a phone call for 9 am Eastern, a trip to the west coast will not adjust this time to 6 am Pacific but will still show 9 am.  So if you forget to mentally account for the time change you’ll either be late or miss it altogether.
  3. While you can filter to see only one persons calendar, it doesn’t allow you to filter to include more than one specific calendar (or exclude specific calendars). Because some families have students at college, this is a feature that many would benefit from having available.
  4. Printing is super basic and very limited. It would be nice to have more options for layout and size.  There are times when it is nice to be able to print out the schedule for the week and the options to do this well just aren’t there.

Strong non-calendar features

  1. Family Journal

This is an absolutely amazing feature.  As our family has grown (both in age and size) it has been harder and harder to connect with friends and family who don’t live nearby.  Add to that mix that many older relatives aren’t on social media and it can be very challenging to keep everyone current on what is going on.

Enter the family journal.

Here you can add a picture and/or text to share things that happened that day.  It could be something you did, a picture of real life, or a sweet story about the kids.  You can have one entry per day or many entries.  When you add your photo, you pick the date which means that it is very easy to add several days worth at one time.  Personally, it is my goal to add something each day, but I find that I often do this once a week while watching we’re watching tv as a family.

 

Decide who you want included on this monthly email and add their email addresses.  (The people you choose have the option to unsbuscribe without you being alerted, so you don’t have to worry about spamming someone.) Then, early in the morning on the first of each month those people will receive an email with the pictures and stories from the previous month.

We’ve be doing this for well over a year now and each month I receive email responses thanking me for the pictures and stories.  The family journal is something that our older relatives really look forward to each month.

  1. Birthday Calendar

Different than simply showing a name on a date, the birthday calendar gives you the option to set reminders about upcoming birthdays.  This can be particularly useful for birthdays that creep up on you because they are early in the month or follow a major event.

Weak non-calendar features

  1. To-do or task list

This is simply a short list of things to do.  It doesn’t allow for a task to recur or be duplicated, be assigned a due date, or have notes of explanation added to it.  This would be a great place to assign family members weekly chores but without those capabilities it’s not practical.  This feature is simply too basic to be of much practical use.

  1. Shopping List

Similar to the to-do or task list, this is just that.  A basic list.  It would be great to have the option for staples or things which are purchased regularly.  A good application for this spot would be to keep a running list of things that you are on the look-out to purchase.  Things like winter boots for next season or a basket of a particular size to be used in a specific space.

  1. Meals

If you are just looking for a place to write down the menu, this could work.  However, if you are looking for something to help you streamline your meal planning, shopping, and cooking, this is not it.  

Go ahead, give it a shot

At the end of the day, the right app is the difference between something being overwhelming or under-control.  For your family calendar app, Cozi is that app.  Why don’t you go ahead and give it a try?  Click here to download it: Cozi.

Rubbermaid Produce Saver Review

Rubbermaid Produce Saver Review

You stand at the refrigerator looking for things to pull out for lunch.  Reaching for that pint of blueberries you purchased a few days ago your face drops.  They’re shriveled and beginning to mold.  Into the garbage they go.

Somedays it feels like it would be faster to just throw the money directly into the garbage can.

Over the past 18-months the amount of produce coming through our kitchen has increased.  (Check out Creating a Healthy Food Kitchen for more on that.) I prefer not to do fresh shopping everyday as stocking up for the week is a better fit.  To make that work with produce, I needed out to figure out how to make that produce stay fresh longer.  Throwing away money every time I cleared out the fridge was getting old!

In my search I stumbled across Rubbermaid FreshWorks Produce Saver Food Storage Containers and thought I would give it a try.  I ordered a set of three containers to give them a shot.

(BTW, this Rubbermaid produce saver review is my opinion — Rubbermaid did not contact me or provide the produce savers to me for purposes of a review.)

Rubbermaid Produce Saver Review

Each container has three pieces – the clear container, a green tray that helps air circulate, and a white lid with a built-in filter system.  (It’s important to note that you should never open this or remove it.  It’s permanent, not refillable.)

The lid snaps on easily and is equally easy to remove.  Depending on the sizes you have, they can next nest neatly for easy storage (though this may not always hold true as some containers are rectangular and others re square).

The largest container is perfect for lettuce as it holds quite a bit.  After using it for a while, the biggest difference I noticed was that the lettuce no longer developed that bitter taste which tends to creep in after a week in the fridge.  The lettuce also remained crispy and we actually finished off all the lettuce in the container rather than tossing it out because it had turned.

That was encouraging.  But what about something more fragile, like blueberries?

For this one, I actually did a comparison test.  I took a package of blueberries and split it in half.  Half I kept in the original container and half in the small Rubbermaid FreshWorks Produce Saver Food Storage Container.  Placing both containers in the back of the fridge, I pulled them out and checked every few days.

The test of time

Three weeks later (yes, you read that correctly) blueberries in the Rubbermaid FreshWorks Produce Saver Food Storage Container were amazing.  They were still plump, juicy, and tasted fresh while the berries in the original packaging were dried out and shriveled up.

The containers are easy to care for and are top-rack dishwasher safe.  They stack nicely in the refrigerator and because they are clear it’s easy to see what’s inside.  If you wanted to have one permanently reserved for something (like lettuce) it would be easy enough to label.

I’m looking forward to trying out some other sizes for other produce – like green onions – that often don’t last long, let alone store well, in the fridge.

The verdict

It’s a bit of an investment up front, but with consistent use over time, with all the food these containers will save they’ll more than pay for themselves.

Click here to for Your FREE Copy
The Simplest Storage Solution Ever

The Simplest Storage Solution Ever

Simplicity is not only something to be valued, but is often the secret to success.  Today I’m sharing with you the simplest storage solution and it will transform your basement, attic, and crawl space.

I think we can all relate to this from our childhood.  Mom needs the tablecloths and gravy bowls that she uses every Thanksgiving, so she asks Dad to go to the basement to get them.  He returns with the box marked Thanksgiving, but finds it filled with camping gear.  Mom doesn’t know why this is the case until she remembers buying some other cute Thanksgiving serving pieces.  So now the Thanksgiving box wasn’t big enough, and she ended up putting them in a new box.  Only she doesn’t remember which one or where it is.  So all the boxes are pulled out and opened, old treasures are rediscovered, but no Thanksgiving items are found.  Surrounded by a mess of open boxes, she suddenly remembers storing them in the back of her closet so they would be easily ound.  And dad shoves everything back into boxes and onto shelves until the next time something is needed.

It is chaotic and overwhelming.

One common solution frequently offered is labeling the outside of the box with the contents so that you can see at a glance what is inside the box.  But what happens when, like in the example above, the contents change?  Or there is more than one label is on the box?

When our 3rd child was just 2-months old we were in the process of moving.  I was still nursing so much of my time was committed to the baby, so several friends helped us pack our house.  Additionally, our moving boxes were used and had writing from (other peoples) previous moves.  Writing listing the contents or denoting which room the box needed to be placed in at the new location.  So as we were moving into our new house, no one knew where anything really needed to go.  And since other people had done the labeling, we didn’t always recognize handwriting.  In many cases we just had to guess which label was new and which was old.

Unpacking was already going slowly because of the baby, but it was even slower because of the chaos of finding master bedroom stuff in the kitchen, garage items in the master bedroom, and kitchen items in the garage.

So labels are not quite enough.  We need something simpler.

So what then?

This is the simplest storage solution.  Ever.

Numbers.

Yep.  A simple number on the outside of each box, tote, or other container that you want to know the contents of without opening the lid.

So how does it work?

The idea is simple.  Start by putting a number on the outside of the bin and finish by keeping a master list to track the bins and contents.  Personally, we keep our in Google Keep, but you could have a spreadsheet, or just a piece of paper.  The list should have three columns.

  • Box Number
  • Contents
  • Location

So it might look like this:

So now, not only do you know which container, but you also know where to look.

When we need to change out the kids clothes, I pull up the list on my phone, know which bin needs to come upstairs, and then update the list to reflect that the bin is now empty or with it’s new contents.

It’s that simple.

Here are some ways to customize this a bit:

  • Use descriptors with the numbers. When I started this system, I was only using white cardboard bankers boxes with lids.  So when I see a plain number, I know it’ a white box.  But then we added blue totes and clear totes, so those boxes will say “Blue 4” or “Clear 4” which helps narrow things down even further, especially when the majority of your storage is in the same place.  (And to further clarify, yes, I do have multiple boxes labeled 4, but only one of each bin type.)
  • Use specific numbers for correlated contents. I use the number 25 for all things Christmas, so I have a 25A, 25B, etc.  This makes it easy to know that any box numbered 25 needs to come up for decorating for Christmas.  15 is for Tax Day so that is where I keep older financial records we have to store.
  • Use plastic sleeves like these for the label if you don’t like the idea of writing on your tubs and totes.

So there you have it.  The simplest storage solution. And it’s one you can start implementing today.

5 Steps to Get Kids Helping with Chores

5 Steps to Get Kids Helping with Chores

You’re in the middle of cleaning up the kitchen, you pull out the broom to sweep breakfast up off the floor, and like sharks attracted to blood in the water, the sound of the broom hitting the floor has your toddler running into the kitchen. Honestly, the last thing you want is your toddler helping with chores.  You can do it so much faster (and better) without their help.

But fast forward to middle school.  For some crazy reason, the sound of the broom no longer calls to them.  In fact, the sound of your voice calling to them doesn’t always get a response!  But now you want them helping with chores around the house – they just don’t want to do it.

 

Why is helping with chores important?

Doing chores is a life skill that our kids need. 

More than just a task, doing chores can be highly relational.  When your kids are helping with chores, they’re engaged in an activity that impacts someone else.  Picking up their toys helps with getting ready for Grandma’s visit.  Cleaning up the dinner dishes provides the time and space for the family game night.  Doing chores together provides opportunity to learn negotiating skills and hone cooperation, things that I want my kids to be able to do well with anyone.

More than that, the countries longest running longitudinal study, the Grant and Glueck Study out of Harvard has found a correlation between helping with chores as a kid and being successful as an adult.

When it feels easier to just “do it myself”, it’s important to remember the long view impact that helping with chores can have on kids.

What can they help with?

It’s important to keep chores age appropriate.  Google chores for kids and you will find an endless array of lists of chores broken out by age.  As you use these lists, remember that you can scale chores up and down.  Don’t expect your three-year old to be able to move furniture around for vacuuming, but expect them to learn to vacuum.  As they get older, you can scale this chore to include steps for a more thorough cleaning.

Learning to do Chores

While all these things are true, helpful, and important, there is often a huge disconnect between assigning a chore and the chore being completed.  Why?  Because too often we do a poor job of teaching how to do chores.  We go straight from telling them to do something to expecting them to do it.

Think about when someone gives you an instruction.  At some point you needed to be taught how to do it.  As adults we don’t notice the process as much because we have greater life experience from which to draw from.  We’ve also learned how to ask clarifying questions.  So when someone asks us to vacuum the living room, we might need to ask where the vacuum is kept but we don’t need to ask them what a vacuum cleaner is and how to use it – we’ve already been taught that.

5 Steps for Teaching How to do Chores

Teaching our kids how to do the chores we assign them does take a bit of effort, but it isn’t difficult.  And the good news is that this process can work for children of all ages.

1.     Tell them

 

 You always want to start by telling them what it is you want.  This is an important step to laying out expectations.  Be specific while remembering their age.  Remember that toddler who wants to help sweep?  Maybe you tell them they can sweep the middle of the kitchen while you do the edges and under the table.  Telling them what you expect keeps you from tripping over each other and let’s your child help in a meaningful way.

Laying out the expectations not only helps our kid know what we want, it helps us not to expect things we didn’t ask them to do.  You want your 4-year old to be putting their toys away, so you tell them to put their toys away in the bins on the shelves.  This provides the expectation of what they should do, and what they shouldn’t do.  So when they pick up their toys but don’t shelve their books on the bookcase, go back to what you told them to do to make sure they met the stated expectations.

2.     Show them

This is where you can help them understand exactly what you want.

If you just want toys in bins and don’t care about keeping sets together, then show them that it doesn’t matter.  But if you want like items together, show them how to do that.  Side note: If you want to keep like items together, it can be helpful to print out pictures of container contents and tape those to the bin so that they know what goes where.

While you’re showing, talk about what you’re doing.  “Oh, this is a car, so I’m going to put it in the car bin.”  “These are blocks, so they go over here.”

Depending on the age, you may need to do this several days in a row.  It might feel like you’re doing it for them, but you’re not.  Showing them what to do is foundational to their ability to do the job on their own.

3.     Help them

 Now trade spots.  Have your child take the lead on the pick-up process with you helping them.  If they miss or forget something, you can gently remind them.  This is your opportunity to make sure that they fully understand what is expected of them.

4.     Watch them

After a few days and once you are comfortable that they “get it”, sit back and put your feet up in the same room as your kids.  For a few days to watch them handle this chore doling out very little direction and tons of praise and affirmation while you do it.  (Just remember to be commenting on their efforts and not their character.  Things like “Nice Job!” or “I love how you remembered to look under the couch” and not things like “Good boy” or “You’re so smart”.  Why, you ask?  Because it encourages kids to focus externally on process and outcome rather than internally on their self-worth.)

5.     Empower them

Once they have it down, you can officially make this their responsibility.  They now have the skills to be helping with chores so you can do something else.  Trust them to do their job, but verify that they are doing it well.  This means following through by checking that they did their chore.  Depending on the chore and the age, you might find it helpful to have a checklist of pictures or words to help your child remember the steps.  In either case, have them let you know when it’s done so that you can not only verify, but positively affirm their job.

When should your kids be helping with chores?

We’ve talked about being observers in our homes to see patterns of how things are done (see 7 Secrets of a Well Organized Home).  So far we’ve talked about this with regard to structuring space and storage, but it’s also true of time and schedule.  When chores should be done will depend on how your family functions.  If mom and dad both work full-time, then the weekends might be when chores are tackled, but if mom is home with the kids, then these chores might fit in best after breakfast or before dinner.

Regardless of how chores are structured into your home life, they are an important part of growing up.  Putting the effort into teaching kids to do chores well is giving them a life skill that will carry them far into adulthood.

Creating a Healthy Food Kitchen

Creating a Healthy Food Kitchen

Do you want a healthy food kitchen?  At the beginning of last year, my husband and I weighed 210 pounds more than we do now.  He is down over 160 lbs. and I am down over 50 lbs.  That excess weight I carried weighed me down in more ways than I knew.  I thought I was fine, however, because of the weight I had very little energy, faced several health issues, and had little emotional capacity to focus on my kids.  One day my husband asked me if we could try something together to lose weight and improve our health.  He had discovered something called Bright Line Eating. After he explained it to me we decided to do it.  It has transformed our family, our health, and our relationship with food.

Because I wanted to support my husband’s desire to lose weight and regain his health, I knew we had to transition to a healthy food kitchen.  So we got to work and made some changes.  While I expected the changes to help my husband succeed, I did not, however, expect these changes to make life in the kitchen so simple and easy.

With a few simple steps, you can create a healthy food kitchen, too.

Purging the Pantry for a Healthy Food Kitchen

It’s Thursday night and you open your pantry or cupboard only to be accosted by food packages falling out because of how full it is, and yet you still find nothing to eat?  Chances are you have an abundance of snacks and ingredients, but nothing outside of the blue and yellow box of pasta that counts as dinner.

Start by taking time to purge all the food from your pantry. Take everything out, give things to neighbors, donate to the food pantry, and toss things.  Then put back anything that makes the cut.  Things like canned veggies, beans, spices, rice, and unopened condiments.

Like us, you may be surprised at how much extra room you now have at your disposal.  You will now be able to see what you have available and use it without feeling like you’re playing Jenga!

Purging Containers 

Or maybe you feel like all you do is act as matchmaker for your containers and lids.  Some are a close fit, some are an obvious mismatch, but occasionally you find the perfect match. Ah!  That’s amore! So the next thing you will do is to pull out all your lids and containers.  Make sure that what you have is in good shape, has a lid, and can neatly nest. After purging, we decided to separate ours into tops and bottoms and put them inside larger

containers so that they would be better contained. (I love  good pun!)  I can tell you this system works very well at keeping the containers from becoming out of control.

Get rid of all the misfits, mismatches, and stray containers you have accumulated.  It’s very freeing.  This purge may result in even more space in your cabinets being free.

A Healthy Food Refrigerator

Just like you did with the pantry, pull everything out of your fridge so you can see what you have.  Remove items that no longer fit your food plan and put back things that do.  If, like us, you need more space just for produce, simply adding some containers for lettuce and other produce will help keep the shelves neat.

You might also label the shelves so that people will know where to find things, and where to return things.  The refrigerator is now a place to keep food until it is used, and no longer serves as cold storage for leftovers turned science experiment.

Purging Appliances and Gadgets for a Healthy Food Kitchen

Now that you have gained all this space on pantry shelves and in cabinets, pull out all your small appliances and gadgets.  Line them up and decide what makes the cut and what doesn’t.  As you clear out items for foods you no longer eat, even more space will be freed up.  Our gadget drawer now has distinct categories (like serving utensils and food prep tools) AND it opens and closes with ease.  The drawer no longer jams.

Maximizing Counter Space

Think long and hard about what you want to take up this prime real estate.  For us, it boiled down to things we use everyday. Specifically, our coffee maker, Instant Pot, food scales, and fruit baskets.  We drink more water now so need to corral our water glasses to keep the counters from being cluttered.  Simply adding a basket for these to reside in

solved that problem. By knowing what stays and what doesn’t, your counters are now clear and available for food prep.

Keeping Your Healthy Food Kitchen Clean

Another big change for us is that we now have 3 distinct meal times and no snacks.  With this approach, there is a clear start and end to a meal so we implement cleaning checklists to ensure our kitchen is neat, clean, and ready for the next time we prep food.  With this method, garbage is changed regularly, the dishwasher is run daily, and basic chores like unloading the dishwasher, reloading the dishwasher, and wiping down the surfaces are bite size jobs that we rotate among the family.  When you implement clear times for your kitchen to be open and closed it will help you keep it cleaner, also.

What did I discover?

These simple steps of purging, assessing, and rearranging are really all you need to do to create a healthy food kitchen and work toward your health goals.  When you purge all the places, you see and, therefore, use the things you have.  As cabinets empty, your small kitchen feels bigger.  And with regular clean-up, it stops feeling cluttered and chaotic and starts feeling calm and inviting.

In our home, all of these changes trickle down into simpler meal planning, easier grocery list making, and grocery shopping that feels more like an errand and less like an outing.  Food is fun again.  And the daily routine of checking the menu is easier to do than ever.  Our family reclaimed our kitchen and our health as our healthy food kitchen supported our significant weight loss.  (If you’re interested in knowing more about that, check out my husbands blog at nolongerchunky.com – be sure to check out his unique interview between his “fat self” and his “skinny self”.)

Are you ready to reclaim your kitchen and your health?  Which simple change will you start with?  Let me know in the comments below.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat
Laundry Tips and Tools (That Might Even Make Doing Laundry Fun!)

Laundry Tips and Tools (That Might Even Make Doing Laundry Fun!)

Doing laundry is a never-ending reality of life, so why not make it as simple and enjoyable as possible?  These laundry tips and tools will help you trick your family into thinking laundry is easy and fun.

Sorting

This laundry tip might be a new way of looking at things, but if you are doing laundry for the whole family, sorting actually happens at two stages of the game: before you wash and after the clean load comes out of the dryer.  Before I had this revelation, I had only thought of sorting in terms of dirty clothes, not clean clothes.

Hampers

The sorting that happens when we separate the clothes into distinct loads can occur in a variety of ways.  It can be into a single hamper for everyone, separate hampers for each room, or even sorting hampers.

As you choose a hamper to sort your laundry, tips as you make your choice would be to consider:

  • Open top or closed top? Lids might make things look neat, but only if they are used. Lids also make it harder to use something.  When it comes to encouraging our kids to keep dirty clothes in the hamper, open topped is often a better choice.
  • Removable sections, yay or nay? If you choose a sorting hamper, I recommend one where each individual section can be removed. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but trust me, it will be.  The option to just grab a section and dump it directly into the washing machine is a significantly time saving option.
  • Mobile or stationary? Many hamper styles come with wheels or handles so you can move them around.  Think about your laundry process and this may make a difference.  Two of our hampers stay put during laundry while another one is rolled out of the room where it lives.  Wheels may be an important choice.

Hampers could live in closets if the closet door doesn’t become a hinderance to it being used or accessed, but in general I encourage you to invest in something that is sturdy and aesthetically pleasing.

Here are some of my favorite options:

Baskets

Traditional laundry baskets are a great way to sort the clean clothes for easy distribution to the various family members or rooms where they belong. But where do you store them? This can become especially challenging if you have limited space to work with.  Nesting the empty laundry baskets on top of the dryer is one simple solution.  You can quickly see who put away their laundry and who didn’t based on the number of baskets stacked.  Or you can go the collapsible route.  Bonus: we found that the collapsible basket stores nicely underneath the laundry hamper, so it doesn’t take up any extra space at all.

Folding

This laundry tip for folding your clothes might even get your toddlers excited to help.  For many, many years my absolute favorite laundry tool has been a flip ‘n fold.

There are several variations of this on the market, but what this tool offers is consistency and speed.  I primarily use it on shirts and tops, and they come out uniform and neat in no time at all.  It’s so fun that each of our kids at various times have begged to fold the shirts.  It even comes in a kids size, if you want your kiddos to have their own.

Recently I have started using the KonMari method of folding clothes for some of our drawers.  It is very similar in principle to the Flip ‘n Fold.  I have had to tweak the folding based on the depth of the drawer that holds each item.  The benefit to this method has been how easy it is to match up clothing and find items without disheveling the rest of the drawer.  You could adapt the the KonMari folding method to utilize the flip ‘n fold for the beginning steps.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Hanging

Do you hang your clothes instead of putting them in drawers?  This works well, but the right hanger makes all the difference!

Over the years I have moved several times and as my closet space has increased or decreased it has determined how many items I hang.  I started out with wire hangers but my shirt ended up with puckers on the shoulders – stretched out spots that made it look like I was wearing a shirt that had been on a hanger.  Not good!  So I switched

to the thick, plastic hangers and discovered that not only did they take up a lot of space, but often my clothes slipped right off of them.  And then I landed on the velvet hangers.  It has truly been a perfect solution.  No more shoulders puckers, no more clothes falling off, and they are thin and compact.

If you are hanging kids clothing, be sure to use smaller kids hangers.  You can even get these in the velvet hanger style now as well.

Dryer Balls

My husband has skin sensitivities so we had to stop using dryer sheets years ago.  But we didn’t like how the clothes dried without them…until we discovered dryer balls.  They add the fluff back to the clothes and help reduce the time needed to dry clothes.  And if you want a scent, just add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil.

Make your own detergent

This is an interesting laundry tip that can really save you a lot of money and be better for your family.  Google “homemade laundry detergent” and you’ll find lots of options.  My favorite is a solid detergent from Budget 101. This recipe does require a blender to make it (I found one at a garage sale that I use exclusively for this) and to make this even easier, I pre-measured the ingredients into Ziploc baggies so that making a new batch was almost effortless. 

There are powder options as well, but I haven’t personally used any of those, so can’t speak to their cost or effectiveness.

Lint Brush

No, not the one for your clothes, the one for your dryer.  My kids argue over who gets to use it, it’s apparently just that fun!

Ironing

There are certain occasions when something just must be ironed, but frankly, keeping an ironing board around the house just isn’t practical.  This caught my eye as something that might make that ironing task a bit easier than wrestling with an ironing board.

At the end of your laundry day, you just want your family to have the clean clothes they need, so you may as well make it as simple as possible!

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