As an expat mother who lived in Singapore for nearly six years, I never actually had to worry about cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning and keeping the house organized. As part of the Singaporean expat culture, most families like us hired full time, live in, domestic help. So when we learned, early in 2011, that we would be moving to Northern Europe and domestic help was no longer a possibility, I had to figure out what I was going to do! I had never been a mom without the help!
Moving to a new country with a five and six year old is challenging enough, but to have never been a mom without domestic help, well, that took my learning curve to a whole new level. Morning routines, cooking, cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping, all the while holding down a full time job….needless to say, I was overwhelmed.
Enter the world of apps. As an educator, I know the power technology offers in the form of educational apps, but as a mom, I quickly took advantage of how it could help me every day.
Morning and evening routines: Chore Pad (US$2.99) is a brilliant, user friendly app that we use every day to get ready in the morning and before we go to bed at night. I entered in each child’s responsibilities and assigned a number of points they could earn for completing it. They LOVE the sounds after they “tick” off a task as complete. In addition, I can enter rewards they can “purchase” with the points they earn. Weekly they have to pay points towards their offering in church or when they want to buy something in the store, they can choose to use their points as currency.
Getting ANYTHING done in a timely manner: Time Timer (US$1.99) is an app that is well worth the money! The visual timer allows for the children to see exactly how much time is left…and helps them learn the value of time, too! (Next time they say, “Can I just watch TV for 5 more minutes?!?” you can say, “Sure!” and set the time timer for 5 minutes….they can see just how short that time is!). We use the time timer for morning routines such as how long until we have to leave for the bus stop or for doing homework, how much quiet reading they can do in bed, etc.
Leveled reading: Learning A-Z (Language Technologies, LAZ Readers) (US$6.99 for a library of books at each level) has libraries of leveled books from A-Z (visit their website at www.readinga-z.com to best determine what level you think your child is at). A great tool for supplementing reading activities with your child and you know they are reading books at their appropriate level. In addition, with all the traveling expat kids do, I can have all their books on the iPad instead of in their carry-ons. Often while I am preparing dinner, I open up a book for them to read to me!
Meal planning: Meal Board (US$1.99) – I can’t express enough, for a person who has never cooked in her life, the importance of planning meals in advance. Dinner never sneaks up on me anymore because I know what I am going to cook! Meal Board allows you to enter in your meals, ingredients and recipes and sync them to your grocery list! I have downloaded about a half dozen of apps like this and I find this one to be the most useful, by far. This one is on my iphone which I take to the grocery store with me and tick things off my list as I put them in my cart.
Household duties organized: An app that thinks like a mom! HomeRoutines (US$3.99) has helped me to figure out how to get it all done during the week! I truly dislike housework but I love checking things off my list. This app helps you plan your housework throughout the week to make sure it all gets done….I also love the “speed cleaning” challenge where you can push yourself to clean a bathroom in record time!
Housework is never fun, but motherhood is incredible. Using these apps has helped me focus less on the housework so I can be a more organized and efficient home-maker. This in turn, helps me to be the best mom and wife I can be!
Carrie Lupoli, a US-certified and experienced educator and school administrator, has been living and working internationally since 2005. Originally an expat wife herself, she saw the discriminatory practices against children with special needs and knew she had both the experience and knowledge to help. Although starting Live and Learn meant giving up her “expat coffee mornings,” Carrie has never looked back and continues to oversee the company remotely from her newest expat assignment, in Northern Europe, while taking on all those household responsibilities!
Though Carrie is now working remotely, she remains very active with Live and Learn, consulting with European and Asian schools, and writing while parenting two beautiful daughters with her husband, Peter. To learn more about Carrie and Live and Learn, please visit www.liveandlearnasia.com. You can also follow Carrie on Twitter at @CarrieLupoli or her daughters who tweet about being expat kids at @elementaryexpat
We developed an app (Morning Kids) to help us in the mornings and it works fantastic. It combines play with structure and tasks in a way that just makes our mornings easier. You can read more about our story at http://www.godoitkids.com
I remember early in my career as domestic engineer thinking, where is the handbook for this job? I grew up in a household with a cleaning lady, so I guess I didn’t really have to learn to do the deep cleaning jobs. My struggle has always been waiting to clean until the grime is visible. My breakthrough was when I found a routine, in my case Flylady, to teach me the value of staying on top of things. Makes it much so easier! I often fall away from it, but I always come back to a routine eventually. I think I will try the app this time as i prepare for the next move.Thanks Carrie!