My home life has been even busier than usual recently as my family was adjusting to some big changes. About four months ago, we changed our childcare arrangements from full-time nanny and part-time preschool to full-time preschool only for both of my kids. When my boys were babies, we had always used nannies because we liked the individualized attention and convenience. Now that they are older (2.5 and 4.5), we decided that a preschool setting will provide a higher level of social development and enrichment. Aside from the initial drama of adjusting to a new school for my younger son, I’m happy to say that both boys have adjusted amazingly well and are thriving and learning.
Without a nanny, we quickly realized that certain things we took for granted before were no longer available to us. For example, we needed a way to let our house cleaners into the house when we were at work. We also needed to keep our house and delivered packages safe from theft. Of course, it would be nice if somehow our floors and carpets got vacuumed while we were away. I don’t have a magic wand to make everything perfect, but the following four products we use have made our lives a little bit easier.
The August smart lock allows you to provide access to your home to the people you want (dog walker, house cleaners, babysitter, etc.) without having to give them your house key. You can open the door for a guest remotely with your phone, or give them the ability to unlock the door during a certain day/time using the app on their phones. I did a lot of research before deciding on this particular lock and so far it’s been working without any hiccups. The installation was easy and we haven’t had any problems with it.
The Arlo home security system comes with wireless, battery-powered cameras that you can mount indoors or outdoors without any wiring. We have a total of eight cameras: six outdoor and two indoors. The camera mounted near our front door lets us know when our packages get delivered or when the house cleaners show up. We used the indoor cameras in the living room and playroom areas as nanny cams.
The cameras are activated by motion or sound and will record video clips that you can watch from your computer or any mobile device. My husband gets a notification on his phone whenever there is motion detected. As expected, there are false alerts from falling leaves or flying bugs, but luckily the sensitivity level can be adjusted. With the Arlo App, you can also watch real-time activity from any of your cameras at any time.
We have had the previous generation for over a year and I recently purchased the newest pro version for my mom’s house. The newest Arlo Pro is pricier but better because the cameras come with two-way audio, which means you can listen in or talk back and the batteries for the cameras are rechargeable.
I have to admit that our floors didn’t get vacuumed nearly as much as they should be, prior to our iRobot friend coming to live with us. We have house cleaners that come every other week, but we needed help to keep our floors clean in between. The Roomba isn’t perfect. It gets lost and can’t find its way back to the dock to recharge. The dust bin is small, so you have to empty it everyday if you use it daily like we do. It cleans one room incompletely before moving on to the next room. If you’re obsessive like me and my husband, it’s random zigzag cleaning pattern is mind boggling and frustrating. Given all of it’s shortcomings, we still use it and would recommend it to our family and friends. The most satisfying part of owning a robot vacuum for me is when I get to empty the bin with all the dust bunnies, cat litter, and food crumbs.
The version that we purchased was the slightly less expensive 805 series from Costco, but had I known that it was not compatible with the virtual wall lighthouse, I would have purchased the 890 series instead. The lighthouse serves two functions. It helps to contain the Roomba in one room until the room is completely vacuumed before it directs the Roomba to clean the next room. It also blocks off-limit areas in your home.
4. Echo Dot
I got this as a Christmas gift and it is one of those things that you didn’t know you needed until you got one (like the iPad). If you have an Amazon Prime membership like I do, you can listen to music from the Amazon music library for free, ask the assistant, Alexa, to tell you the weather, order more toilet paper, or tell you jokes or stories. My boys think Alexa is hilarious. If you have other smart home devices, you can ask Alexa to dim the lights or set the thermostat to a certain temperature. I have the Echo dot set up in the kitchen and I like to listen to music when I cook or clean. It came in handy the other night when I needed to know the proper internal temperature of salmon. It is so much easier to just ask Alexa than to open up my iPad to look up the information.
If you don’t have Amazon Prime, I would highly recommend it. You get unlimited free 2 day shipping, access to Kindle books, and stream unlimited video and TV episodes (including Paw Patrol, Daniel Tiger, Dora the Explorer, Downtown Abbey). I’ve been a prime member for eight years now and just the video streaming alone is worth the $99 annual membership fee in my opinion. Also, the convenience of having access to fast shipping for diapers and other household necessities is awesome. Here’s an Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial.
Do you own any of these four household products? What has your experience been? I’m always on the lookout for good products to try so please let me know if you have any recommendations.
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The post, 4 high tech products for the home to make your life easier, first appeared on Happy Chic Mom.
Photo by Alex Knight
*This page contains affiliate links. I personally use and recommend all these products and have paid for them with my own money.