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How to be your own personal assistant

Wouldn't it be fabulous to have a personal assistant? I'm not that busy, nor that important, but sometimes I fantasize about someone to pick up coffee, groceries, help me remember not to schedule a weekend away on the weekend we're supposed to have our house painted. But especially the picking up coffee bit :)

Since getting married & having two kids, I've found some tips to make you feel like you have an assistant, but on a budget. These are the biggies for me, but I'd love to hear yours on making life easier & more fun! (And what about iPhone apps? Favorites?)

Online grocery shopping. I use our Piggly Wiggly down the street, but a lot of stores offer this service now. I pay about $17/month plus a pick up fee each time. I order online, get a phone call when it's ready (plus I can add things to my order I might have forgotten) & then pop by the store where they load it up for me. They even bring the credit card machine outside. It's...brilliant and beyond worth the money (plus I'm not tempted by impulse buys :) (I've been happy so far with their produce choices, by the way, except for one bad batch of asparagus which they happily refunded).

Emeals. This dovetails nicely with online grocery shopping. Emeals is $5/month and sends (or I can visit website) me a weekly menu plan, grocery list & short recipes for each dinner. I usually open my grocery list on my computer and put it next to my online shopping cart and knock the whole thing out in about twenty minutes (it does require a little quiet time though). I keep a running list in our kitchen of staples we need and add that to the dinner ingredients list. Bam. A week of meals are planned and a week of groceries bought. (We do like the meals they choose but it's easy enough to skip one (have a leftover or pizza night) or add/subtract ingredients as you would like. You can even customize the plan (low-fat, low-carb) or grocery store (so you will automatically shop sales).

Hire a designer. I know, this one sounds a little chichi, but it's surprisingly affordable and so worth it. I asked our real estate agent for a recommendation and she hooked me up with Joe. I met him for an initial consultation and explained what I was looking for + our budget. Getting a budget on the table and making sure you really click with the designer are two huge components. Sure, some people spend ten thousand dollars on a silk rug, but then there are the rest of us & you'd be amazed the difference curtains, rugs and wallpaper can make. 

Budget for childcare. I'm a stay at home parent so this can strike some people as crazy but I am ten times as productive when I can get away for a short time and get my ducks in a row (and write!). It also helps me to come home refreshed and ready for another game of matching. We live near a university which is a great resource - our current babysitter just got her major in early childhood education!

Ask for help. You'd be amazed what people will do for you if you ask. As a recovering shy person, it took me awhile to realize this. People are happy to grab a door, (even hold a child - happened at Panera!) or help you hunt things down at the library. Think about it - don't you love to wave someone across the street from your car? I feel all benevolent for that moment. It's the same thing in reverse. It helps that we live in an incredibly friendly little city & I'm always thrilled to return the favor, especially when I'm child-free. 

Get your clothes altered. I love the way designer clothes fit & can't tell you the number of times I've brought home a super cute - on the rack, inexpensive - piece of clothing only to be disappointed by the way it fits. Find someone - a lot of dry cleaners have alteration services - who will help you for a reasonable amount and get the-perfect-not-so-perfect-fit shirt fixed.

And then there are a million other little things: dry cleaners who will pick your clothes up from your house (my parents use this), lugless (have you heard of this cool service?) and lots and lots of other online resources.

I'd love to pick your brain. How do you maximize fun and minimize the mundane?


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This reminds me of when I found out there was a patch for birth control. Huh? SINCE WHEN?

The grocery store pick-up has changed my life. My girlfriend Kathleen turned me on to it.

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About Me

My Photo Hi! I'm Hope. Welcome to my website all about: style, food, travel & parenting. I live in Columbia, SC with my husband and two bebes.