I usually hate when people say, It’s SO BUSY! Because I often feel like the busy is of their own doing, and yes, it’s busy, but you just need to focus on prioritizing.

But it’s Thursday, and I haven’t managed to post on this blog since Monday.

Seriously, how did that even HAPPEN?

Work. Deadlines. School. Commute. Running. Sleep.



Yesterday morning it struck me: I have so many damn plates in the air right now that I feel like I’m shortcutting my way thought life to make sure that they don’t drop.

In that vein, I have two shortcuts I want to confess to you today.

My Laundry Confession

Between needing to wash workout clothes for both Jeff and I , the fact that on a lot of days, our son goes through a number of clothing changes, and we have a smaller-than-average washer, leftover from our just out of college days when we didn’t NEED a big washer… I am always, always, ALWAYS doing laundry.

That is not hyperbole. I am a walking Laundry Do-er. It will be in my obituary someday. “Karen Aalto, dearly departed,  survived by her son and husband and dog. Remembered fondly for always doing laundry.”

Usually, I will put the load into the washer either first thing in the morning or a half hour before bed and transfer it to the dryer once it’s clean. I will fold our now clean laundry whenever I have time.

If I’m being honest, my catalyst for folding the laundry is when I need the dryer again. So in the half hour I run a new load of laundry in the washer, I’ll fold the old stuff from the dryer, after a quick fluff, so that the dryer will be empty when the washer’s done.

When I get really busy, sometimes that means the dry clothes stay in the dryer for a while, maybe a day or two.  No big deal, right?

Sometimes, like yesterday, when I have zero time to fold laundry but really need to get another load of laundry washed and dried… it means that I add the fresh wet clothes to the DRY clothes in the dryer and run the whole damn thing all over again.

Yep. I totally threw the wet clothes from the washer ON TOP of the dry stuff in the dryer, added a dryer sheet, and started it all again yesterday, before I left for work.

My Coffee Confession

Once upon a time, I could go without coffee in the mornings. In fact, during my busy seasons, I’d go completely caffeine-free, smugly reveling in my ability to kick the stuff that I might rely on. I was self-sufficient, dammit!

Oh, how blissfully ignorant I was.

Because then I had a kid. One who didn’t sleep through the night until he was a year and a half old. And then I started running, and commuting to Boston. 4am wakeups are our norm now.

So you can imagine that coffee is very, very important to us.

We have this coffeemaker that my mom gave us a bunch of years ago. It’s got a thermos bottom and a grinder built into the top of it, which sounds like a damn airplane going off in our kitchen. It was so loud that it made O cry as a baby, and as a toddler he’d clap his hands over his ears and sprint to the living room, saying, Too YOWD, Mommy! TOO YOWD!

Not only is it loud, but it’s a pain in the ass to clean.

The thing has 7 different parts we need to wash every time we make coffee: two parts to the grinder, the basket for the grounds, the container and cover, and the thermal pot and cover.

I have wanted to throw the thing in the trash for a while now and get a coffee maker that has maybe two parts.

But Jeff LOVES this coffeemaker. He believes, perhaps rightly so, it makes better coffee than any we can buy. He loves the specific type – the Kona whole bean coffee we get from BJ’s Wholesale.

I have to grudgingly admit he’s PROBABLY right about the coffee maker. Which is the only reason why I haven’t tossed it yet.

Initially we worked it out that we only had to wash it every couple of days – we’d make a full pot and use the leftovers as iced coffee the second day. But even that is a pain in the ass, too. It’s a 10 minute project, washing coffee parts, every other day.

So now? I just rinse everything. I don’t bother with a sponge or soap. I’ve gotten it down to a 3 minute process to dump the grounds and rinse everything, leaving it to dry for the next time we need to make it.


Ahh, I feel so much better having gotten that off my chest. And I KNOW I’m not the only one who has these shortcuts – my friend D has a general rule that when she is reponsible for making dinner, it can’t use more than 5 ingredients. Bonus points if it’s in only one pot.

I want to hear from you!

(No seriously. I want to hear the kind of stuff you do. Not for the validation, though I do like to hear I’m not alone. Really, I want IDEAS. There’s got to be more out there that I’m missing out on. So spill in the comments… PLEASE?:) )

What life hacks/shortcuts do you employ to make your days easier?

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9 Responses to Confessions.

  1. Turia says:

    Where are you at with meal planning? Q. and I make a weekly menu, and then build the grocery list out from that. We usually just plan dinners and then weekend breakfasts and lunches. I think next year when E. goes to JK I will need to get better about planning lunch options.

    1. We make ONE trip to the grocery store (and one to the farmers’ market because I am fussy about where my meat comes from) and we don’t buy anything that isn’t on the list. (Ok, sometimes I end up going back to the grocery store because 4L of milk doesn’t get us through a whole week, but generally we’re pretty good.)
    2. We don’t waste time wondering what we should make for supper- the menu is on the fridge.
    3. We plan dinners according to the week- so something really easy on days where we’re getting home late, something more elaborate on the weekend that can go for two nights or more, etc.

    Making steel-cut oats in the slow cooker overnight is a good one. I make up two cups, which makes breakfast for all three of us for three mornings. The other two mornings you just zap them in the microwave.

    We have a clipboard on the door of our cleaning supplies cupboard (which is in the kitchen). As we run out of something, we write it down and that sheet of paper turns into the grocery list/menu for the week. Means we’re not sitting around saying to each other, “Did we run out of something this week? I feel like there was something we needed to put on the list.”

    Q. is really really good at doing things while doing things- when cooking he manages to clean up as he goes (instead of just staring at whatever is frying, which I tend to do), and he dumps the dishwasher while waiting for his coffee/toast (instead of staring at the kettle, which is what I tend to do). I am trying to be more like him, as it really does save a heap of time when you then don’t have to set aside actual time to do them.

    • Karen says:

      HA! We actually do the meal planning exactly that way too, and switch off weeks, which includes the food shopping and planning for lunches and breakfasts, too. I usually do the same thing with supplies – start a list as soon as we are out of something, otherwise I do not remember it. I have three lists: one for BJ’s (it’s a warehouse here where we get bulk products and supplies), one for Target (I prefer to go there for cleaning supplies and hand soap, toiletries, etc). I will clean as I’m cooking, which leaves extra time at the end, and often Jeff will do dishes while I put O to bed. Our evening routines are pretty good, actually – it’s the mornings that still tend to overwhelm me.

  2. Riz says:

    You have WAY too high expectations for yourself woman. Everyone does these things. I don’t have kids or a family and I do these things. Remember, we operate at 200%. The rest of the world operates at 85%. When we lay off our own expectations of ourselves we’re still operating at a higher level of personal expectation than most of the world!

  3. Deborah says:

    I don’t know if I really have shortcuts as much as I just don’t do things. Lately I’ve been working on cleaning as I go instead of letting things build up. Like, if I’m brushing my teeth and I notice the toilet is dirty, just clean the toilet, instead of waiting until the weekend to clean the whole bathroom.

    I’ve been focusing lately on keeping my house cleaner, so it’s actually taking me more time, not less. But it’s nice to not feel embarrassed by it.

  4. Katy says:

    We do our grocery shopping once per week and we make the list in a spreadsheet. I have a spreadsheet with all the aisles at our Market Basket so the grocery list can be sorted by aisle. Super nerdy and efficient.

  5. Kath says:

    I was a working mom once, for the first 6+ years of motherhood…. I don’t meal plan. I operate based on the ‘pantry principle’. I am always stocked up to cook a few meals. It works better for me than planning in advance.

    My best trick was to let the kids sleep in their fresh clothes at night. It started because my oldest has a hard time picking outfits that are ‘just right’. And because of her excema she has to bathe every night (talk about a time suck). So it is now normal in our house that the kids all bathe, and get dressed for the next day, and sleep in their outfits. Totally weird, yes. Never thought I’d do that 😛 But it works and since they wear mostly sweats and fleee or simple T-shirts, it works fine.
    Only exception I don’t let them sleep in jeans, those get laid out on the ground for morning.

  6. Kathy says:

    We just don’t fold laundry at all – it gets put into a laundry basket of clean clothes. At some point, someone might fold it and put it away. If not, we get dressed from the basket. Whatever

    We also do the running shopping list/meal planning thing.

    We save time in the morning by doing as much as we can the night before – packing lunches, etc. We should probably also be filling water bottles and cleaning random papers out of backpacks. One person tackles dishes while the other does next-day-prep, and whoever finishes first takes out the dog.

    I heard about people who do a laundry rotation (Mondays, darks; Tuesdays, whites; Wednesday, towels; etc.) which I like the idea of but have yet to implement – it seems like it might incentivize more regular laundry-doing (we just own too much clothing so we can postpone laundry-doing).

  7. Tracy says:

    OK… so being the Apple slaves we are, of course, we use an app for our grocery tracking. It’s called (wait for it) Our Groceries. And both E and I have the same list(s) on our phone… so if one of us notices we’re out of something, we add it to the same list that both of us have. And, then of course we both have the list of what we need no matter who does the shopping (even though it’s usually E because he says I spend too much money when I go lol… )

    Believe it or not, doing smaller loads of laundry more frequently is better for the life of your washer and dryer than running it all day (or all weekend) long. My poor machine hates me because we do marathon laundry day like every other weekend and put the poor thing through it’s paces. I am no help in this department.

    Saving time in the morning… I used to watch my Aunt Kim clean up her coffee from the morning while making her dinner at night. And then, she’d set the timer on her coffee machine and wake up to the smell of fresh coffee. But, as others said above, she would use the minutes while something was working on the stove to take care of the coffee duty for the next day.

  8. Chris says:

    I also make grocery lists on my phone. 🙂 That way I always have it so if I’m out and have time I can do grocery shopping. And it’s easy to cross things off as I go.

    And, a weird timesaver, that started out of necessity for me- I no longer use a flat sheet, just the fitted. I have one virtually useless hand due to a nerve disease, and it’s hard enough doing the fitted sheet- the flat one with the tucking gave me fits. I gave up and we don’t miss it. We use super soft blankets and I just wash them more frequently and rotate them. Saves time on bed making, and is extra soft and snuggly in the winter.

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