Family home life can be very chaotic. Sometimes it could feel like there is no way to make things run easier or smoother, no matter how hard we try. And while there is really no secret recipe for simplicity, there are certain products that can make a huge impact on our daily lives.
I wouldn’t claim to have all the answers to all of your problems, but I want to share with you what are the products that are most critical to help me and my family function. Just like with any other machine, all parts are important for its proper functioning. And family life is no exception. Read on to find out which products I simply can’t (or won’t) live without, and why I recommend them.
Must Have Products that Will Make Your Home Life Better
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In this day and age most people live their online lives on mobile. I get it. A smartphone or tablet is easy, small and portable. However, there are some advantages to a computer that a teeny tiny device can’t compete with. And contrary to a desktop, a laptop is somewhat mobile.
Truly, I don’t know what I would do without my laptop. We have several computers here, including a few desktops, and a few laptops. It’s the curse of having a computer nerd for a husband. However, my laptop is where I go when I need to use a computer. It is a bit old, and my husband has been trying to convince me to upgrade for some time now. I am just not ready to let it go yet.
I use my laptop for everything. It’s where I work on this blog 😉 and where I do my online shopping, or manage my tiny Ebay selling gig. I also do all my banking on my laptop, never on my phone (too many security risks), which is an absolute time saver. Who has the time to go the bank anyway?
We have 3 printers here, but this is the one I love and use. Another dinosaur, but what can I say? I don’t believe in fixing what’s not broken, and this little old printer does everything I need it to do. And I can buy the ink in bulk on Ebay for a steal!
Ms Emma and I have dived into the whole American Girl doll craze lately, and this is the printer I use to print all the cute little projects that I find on Pinterest. It’s not the fastest printer but it does the job very well, and fits our needs.
We have a couple of these around the house. One is in the kitchen on what I call the Family Command Center, and another one is next to my desk. My oldest daughter also has one in her college apartment.
A cork board is a very convenient tool. That’s where you can pin all the important things like, party invites, the garbage pick up schedule, the school lunch menu, and more. Our cork boards are small, but they fit our needs, and work fine, as long as we remember to remove the old stuff to keep it uncluttered.
Large wall calendar
We used to have just a regular wall calendar, but have switched to a bigger version and I couldn’t be happier. The space on each day’s square is bigger, which means I can actually write stuff there. AND be able to read it later.
Choose yours depending on your family’s needs. If you have several children at home, a special needs child (they have TONS of doctor’s appointments!), or your family lives a very active social life, then get the biggest one you can fit in the wall space you have.
Erasable wall calendar
This one a more recent addition to my home office space. I have been struggling with finding a system that would allow me to prepare and organize my editorial calendar for this blog. I was hesitant to use an erasable wall calendar mainly because I felt it would be messy. However, my digital calendar was not working, and my regular planner wasn’t cutting it either, so I gave it a shot.
I am using sticky notes with it, and it works. But I also have the option of using erasable markers if I run out of sticky note pads. I use this specifically for blog/work because I don’t want to add work stuff to my family’s calendar.
We moved into an apartment when we first got here from Illinois many years ago, and ran into a problem. We could not make holes in the walls for artwork, or family pictures. I hated the bare walls so much, and was determined to find a solution.
Thumb tacks were a total life-saver. The tiny holes left behind by them were barely noticeable, and easily masked by rubbing a white bar of soap to fill them. We also use them to hold posters, and on our cork boards, and even to hold the tiebacks for our curtains in our bedroom.
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Even if you are not a crafter by any means, a glue gun and glue sticks are a must have. Hot glue is one of the best or the best type of glue there is. You can use it on pretty much anything.
I obviously use it for crafts, but hot glue is handy for little projects around the house as well. One example is that you can apply hot glue dots to the bottom of your rugs to prevent slipping. Simple, affordable and genius!
It takes some getting used to the pain when a single drop of glue touches your skin (Kidding! You never truly get used to it!), so make sure you are as careful as you can be. And always, always, keep it out of reach of children while it’s plugged in or still hot from recent use.
Small accordion file for coupons
When I first started couponing, I needed a huge binder to carry all my coupons with me. Those days are long gone now, but I still use paper coupons on occasion and needed a system that was not as big and obnoxious as my 3-in zippered binder.
That’s when I found this little gem. It’s small, compact, and can even fit in your purse. It has many pockets so you can split your coupons by categories, expiration date, or however else works for you.
For anyone who wishes to organize crafting materials, school supplies, or even the pantry, having a label maker is a must.
There are obviously other options, like simple blank labels (like these) that you can write on. But if your handwriting is not as clear or pretty as you’d like, then using a label maker will definitely be an improvement. These are very handy, and some are small enough to fit in a desk drawer. Just make sure to pick up the AC adapter, or you’ll be buying batteries left and right.
There are so many uses for a set of drawers like this one. We have ours next to my husband’s desk and use it for office supplies like our stapler, staples, tape, pens, envelopes, etc. But these drawers can be used for school paperwork (homeschoolers tend to have a ton of it), craft supplies, small tools (in the garage), LEGOs, slime making supplies, and much more.
Ours doubles up as a printer table, and it’s where our b/w Dell printer sits. The drawers are plastic, and very easy to clean. You can even place a neat little label made with the label maker 😉
Nothing, I repeat, nothing made my life easier than my paper cutter when I was an avid couponer. Before I bought it, I used to painstakingly cut my coupons by hand, using scissors, which took me ages.
By been able to cut several pages at a time, I cut the time I spent getting ready significantly. I honestly don’t know how I managed to clip so many coupons without it! Plus, a paper cutter is fabulous for paper crafts, since you can cut straight lines with it, without much effort.
Scrubbing Bubbles toilet cleaning gel
Scrubbing toilets is a job that literally no one likes. Luckily, that is one of my son’s assigned chores, so I don’t have to deal with it. However, since he really can’t do it daily because he has classes to go to, and a job, we needed an in-between solution to help keep it clean-ish.
These little gems have been a game changer for us. My son puts one of the gel flowers in the bowl right after he cleans the toilet. The gel somehow keeps the inside of the bowl surprisingly clean, and smell-free. They are a fairly inexpensive commodity that we strongly depend on.
Indoor drying rack
Washington State might very well be the wettest place in the continental U.S. and that is where we live. Therefore, the use of a clothesline is very limited for us. We do have a dryer in our home, and use it shamelessly. The problem is that, some things you simply cannot put in the dryer. Like bath rugs, and hand wash only clothes.
I used to just hang things on our shower curtain rod, but it would get cluttered fast. That’s why we invested in this simple indoor drying rack. My husband installed it in the laundry area. It’s reasonably priced, and sturdier than I first thought it would be, which is a plus.
Harry Potter Marauder’s Map Tumbler
Even though we have about a million cups in this house, this one is my go-to cup. Always (said in Snape’s voice for all my fellow Potterheads). I love this cup so much! It’s very well made, and big, so I can fit a ton of ice, and pop, or water.
The lid is a total lifesaver. It’s got a slide in/out lip that has saved me tons of time of clean up when someone has knocked down my cup because if it’s closed, it doesn’t spill! This tumbler is also good for hot drinks. I bought my husband this one with the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) logo on it, and he uses it all the time. He loves it.
We literally take our cups everywhere. Camping, on long car drives, to work (husband), and also use them at home. Very convenient.
I will admit that I don’t use my Crock Pot nearly as much as I would love to. The reason for this is that we don’t always want to eat saucy, stewy, soupy meals. However, our Crock Pot is our go to whenever we want uncomplicated meals, especially on the weekends.
A Crock Pot is the go-to kitchen gadget for many busy families. And the reason for that is that you can add all the ingredients for your meal in there and turn it on in the morning, and let it cook slowly all day long. It certainly makes dinner time very easy!
I also use mine to make my amazing Peanut Clusters, which is a family favorite. Just remember that, if you want to make the clean up a real treat, you will need Crock Pot lining bags.
Let’s face it, most refrigerators have incredibly small freezers. I’m not talking about the fancy schmancy newer refrigerators, of course. I mean the normal kind, the ones that have freezer on the top, and fridge on the bottom.
Having an extra freezer is highly convenient. The extra space allows you to make freezer meals, buy meat in bulk, and even stock up on things like milk, and even fruit. We have 2 extra freezers. One is a deep freezer, and the other one is a stand up freezer (like this one), which I love.
Because of this, when there is an amazing deal on milk, frozen pizzas, cheese, ground beef or chicken, I am able to by a bit extra. Everything keeps very well (fat-free milk, not so much). It saves us money too, because we can take full advantage of sales, and never overpay for anything.
I have intentionally left this one for last for a good reason: if you don’t shop online regularly, then Amazon Prime is not really a must-have. However, I can tell you that it’s so worth it for us!
I became an Amazon Prime member many years ago, during my couponing era. Like many other retailers, they offer screaming deals on diapers, and we were in need. Our Ms Emma was difficult to potty train, and I was willing to do almost anything to save on diapers, and wipes.
So I joined Amazon. I barely used any of the other membership benefits at first. I did most of my shopping in store, using coupons. And I was already saving a ton of money doing that.
However, there is one thing that I was not saving on: time. I spent a significant amount of time, either preparing for a shopping trip, or shopping.
As I got better (or crazier) at my couponing trips, Ms Emma grew more impatient. She was often sick and tired of shopping carts, and of things that were begging for her to touch them (NOT!), and not been allowed to.
She couldn’t take it anymore, and neither could I. I scaled down on my shopping trips, and started window shopping online, before going to any stores. Online shopping turned out to be very convenient, and less stressful.
Is it worth it?
In short, yes. Just a few short months ago, my husband asked me if it was worth paying the yearly membership to keep Amazon Prime. My answer: absolutely! (He had to ask, because I do all the online shopping. He just sees things magically appear when we need them 😉 )
See, for me, the biggest pull is, and always has been the free 2-day shipping feature. No matter the cost of what you buy, if the product offers Amazon Prime shipping, then shipping is completely free. As someone who shops for Christmas presents year round, this is a must. Otherwise, you have a threshold to meet before your purchase can qualify for free shipping.
Amazon’s prices are fairly comparable with other retailers. A little thing I do is, when I am very interested in something but don’t need it right away, I add it to my cart anyway. That gives me valuable information on the product, like if it goes out of stock or the price changes. Trust me, been able to watch something closely, and jump in when the price is right, has allowed me to save tons of money on my shopping, especially for Christmas.
And there’s more!
But the Amazon Prime membership is so much more! As an Amazon Prime member, you get early access to great deals during high sale volume days like Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. You also get access to a TON of music. AND you can stream movies, and TV series as well.
There is just so much good about Amazon! Even their customer service has been superb on the rare occasions that I have needed help. Not convinced yet? Go check their website, and see how having an Amazon Prime membership can only add convenience to your life. They even have a 30-Day free trial!
We all have certain products that we love, and use frequently. The ones included here are all extremely important for our family to plug along, and I truly can’t imagine what I would do if I didn’t have them.
Now, what are those products that your family needs? Do you use any of the above to help simplify things? Please, share with us in the comments section below. Inquiring minds want to know 🙂