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February 20, 2014

5 ways a new mom uses Windows to stay sane

The most challenging part of being a new mom for me has been juggling all the new, extra details in my life. I still have to work and take care of myself—and I’d like to stay in touch with friends—but now I need to do all that while also caring for a tiny new person. Because I have Windows across all my devices, however, I’ve managed to retain my sanity. Here are 5 ways Windows has helped me do it:

1. Personal assistant

Really, I think every parent could use a personal assistant to keep track of things. Mine is called the calendar. I’ve become fastidious about putting appointments (like pediatrician visits) and reminders (like “buy bananas before you go home!”) into, because they find me wherever I am. If I set an appointment on my laptop, I’ll see it on my phone, and vice versa. That way, I have a comprehensive calendar wherever I am, helping me to keep everything straight, as well as plan ahead.

I also make sure I set a notification to remind me a few hours or days ahead of each item. (I set the reminder time depending on how much notice I need—from 15 minutes to 24 hours.) It all sounds really simple, but man, having an electronic personal assistant that prompts you just when you need it is nothing short of AMAZING when you’re trying to juggle work, grocery runs, home repairs, workouts, doctor appointments, and sleep! calendar showing reminders

2. Keeping in touch

I’ve connected my Facebook account with my Microsoft account, and that means all my Facebook friends’ birthdays show up on my calendar—in a separate color from my appointments, no less. Color-coding is underrated, in my opinion. It’s such a helpful, visual cue that lets me take in the info at a glance! So, I won’t be organizing any surprise parties for friends during this first year of motherhood, but at least I can send a happy birthday note via Facebook on the right day, and take a minute to catch up with that friend, thanks to the magic of my comprehensive calendar.

3. Driving directions

Finding an address is yet another small detail that can loom large once there’s a wiggly, possibly crying infant to wrangle. A new child also means you’ll be looking for a bunch of new-to-you businesses and services. The pediatrician’s office is just the start. There’s also new mom friends’ houses, kid consignment shops, and the local YMCA for fun, goofy “baby classes.” Luckily, my Windows Phone seems to be designed specifically to help me out: Web searches on my phone offer the option of “get directions,” and the addresses I put into my appointments are clickable on my phone or my PC, so I can immediately get driving directions. That means I can focus all my attention on getting the resistant infant into the car seat properly.

map of Seattle streets


4. Lists

Oh how I love lists, and therefore I adore OneNote. I use it to keep a running grocery list, and also a running to-do list pinned to my desktop on my laptop, and to my Start screen on my phone. The to-do list option in OneNote gives you satisfying little boxes to check next to each item. LOVE THAT. Also love that I can set up my grocery list to be a numbered list or a bulleted list. Turns out, sometimes it’s nice to have a tally of how many items I need to buy.

To-do list with check boxes

5. Kid-friendly phone

I find my Windows Phone’s design, feel, and features appealing, so I shouldn’t be surprised that so does my son. His favorite thing is to rearrange my tiles, and that is NOT my favorite thing. Luckily Windows Phone has a Kid’s Corner feature that keeps my little guy entertained—and keeps my stuff off limits to his chubby fingers. When I set up my phone’s Kid’s Corner, I included some music and games. But at his age (9 months), it’s mostly just nice to have a spot where he can poke around without accidentally dialing 911 or rearranging my Start screen.

Well, there you have it—a short list of a few of my survival techniques on this parental journey so far. I’d love to hear yours! Add your ideas and advice in the comments, please. I can use all the help I can get.