They’ve done it. The computers. They’ve gotten smarter than us and answered our prayers. It’s now legal to have a sister wife. She costs about $180, and goes by the name “Alexa”.
Amazon’s Echo has oft been referred to as a “glorified speaker”, but I’m here to show you the ways it can be so much more. By activating certain “skills”, she can take some of the load off in the responsibility department and make your day-to-day rituals that much more enjoyable. Thanks to her, I’ve got (just a little) more left in me after 8pm. She doesn’t do dishes yet, but some of her other capabilities might surprise you. Click tabs below for the top 10 ways Alexa helps me mom better.
From the minute you open that one eyelid, the barrage begins. Maybe you have a few minutes until they wake. Maybe they’re already banging on the table demanding breakfast. Either way, steal ONE MINUTE and find your zen.
“1-Minute Mindfulness” can take you, and even your kids, on a quick and dirty guided meditation. If you’ve never meditated before – don’t laugh yet. It may not be what you think! All that “clear your mind of all thoughts” business is near impossible for us. But finding a single moment to take some deep breaths and decide what kind of day you’re going to have can make a WORLD of difference. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.
About 83% of U.S. adults drink coffee. Extrapolate the mom segment from that research and you’re likely nearing that nice round 1-0-0. Yeah, yeah, there’s an app for that. But what if I told you that you could just holler your order whilst feeding the bigs before school AND changing the baby’s diaper? Enter the Starbucks Reorder skill.
You’ve just broken a sweat getting all the bodies and backpacks into the car. You have 11 minutes to get to school, but it’s only 8 minutes away. No need to wait, your drink is ready and waiting. You’re instantly mainlining the caffeine to get you through the next couple of hours. All you have to say is your name, which for most people is about 20 words shorter than their Starbucks order. Bottoms up.
For the love of all that is holy, PUT ON YOUR JACKET. Or gloves, or shoes, or whatever item we are fighting about on this particular day. I’ve lived a lot of places, but Michigan seems to be the least predictable when it comes to weather. This confusion leads to frustration for all as we try and figure out what kids need for the day and then how to implement it. Even if you’ve come to a conclusion, they don’t want to listen to you, kids will never listen to their own parents. But they’ll listen to somebody else! Enter, Alexa.
“Alexa, what’s the forecast today?” “Currently in Birmingham it is 41 degrees with a chance of light rain. Today, you can expect blazing sun, with intermittent clouds and possibly some sleet with a high of 90 degrees.” Well kids, she just told you. If you don’t believe me, believe her. Now put on your flip flops, toss a scarf in your backpack, and let’s get on our merry way.
I know I said it is MORE than a glorified speaker, but it is also a glorified speaker! I don’t know about you, but a dance party solves a whole heap of issues in our house. Gotta kill 20 minutes before dinner’s on the table? Dance party. Little sister is crying because there’s only pink Playdoh left? Dance party. We’ve been inside for almost 3 days now because it’s winter in Michigan? Dance party.
Amazon Music, Prime Music, Spotify Premium, Pandora, TuneIn, IHeartRadio or Audible accounts are all supported directly through the Alexa app. Have all your goodies stored on iTunes or Google Play Music? Not a problem – you can upload your personal music collection to your music library on Amazon and then stream your music through your Alexa device.
It’s helpful even when the house is quiet. Laundry loads go by way quicker with a little help from Biggie Smalls.
“What do hippos eat?”
“How far away is Texas?”
“What makes electricity?”
You know the questions. Things that make you go, “Uhhhhh. . .” They all have them. And while my first line of defense is usually to suggest we find a book at the library, it doesn’t always satisfy the immediate need to know ALL THE THINGZ. I know, I know, Siri and Google have been delivering via voice for years now, but as we all try and move away from our phones while parenting, how nice is it to have a wealth of knowledge just a holler away?
There are nearly 2,000 skills in the Education & Reference category. Space facts, dog facts, history facts, famous birthdays, even ramen facts. Lie to me and tell me you don’t need ramen facts on the tip of your tongue.
Some of the brain games and quiz questions keep even the toddlers entertained for good stretches of time. They learn something, you get to pee alone. You’re welcome.
Manners are huge in our house. Table manners, social graces and how we treat guests were always important when I grew up and we decided early on to continue that legacy. As a result, we even say “please” and “thank you” when we talk to Alexa. The best part? She acknowledges it.
If anyone has witnessed the struggle of a toddler trying to get Alexa to understand them, you know it is equal parts hilarious, endearing, and oh so sad. The frustration is very real when that microchip simply cannot process their high-pitched, squeely requests. So how cool when they finally nail it, and Alexa compliments them on their efforts?
“Alexa, please play Fireball by Pitbull featuring John Ryan”.
“That’s a very nice way of asking.”
Ooooh man. That response just makes their day, and reinforces that when you ask nicely, it is appreciated. And you get to hear Fireball. Again.
While going to the grocery store seems to be the bane of mothering existence for so many, I like to keep it old school and squeeze my own grapefruits. Traditionally, I handwrite a list each Monday so I know what we need to fill in for the week. Traditionally, I forget about things that ran out over the weekend, but if they don’t have to go in a school lunch or my coffee, they’re long gone. What if I told you Alexa could back you up on that?
Download the OurGroceries app to your iPhone or Android phone, then enable the skill on your Echo. This way, the next time you watch your husband pour the last of the milk into his fourth-meal cereal and toss the carton without flinching, call out “Alexa, please tell OurGroceries to add milk to shopping list.” Insert death stare and you have 1) milk the next day, and 2) a husband who got the message, no matter how passive aggressively. Voila! You’ll never forget olive oil again.
It’s 5:30pm. You’ve almost made it. Everyone is playing quietly, perhaps even with each other. You don’t want to disturb the peace, but realize that if you don’t make magic happen in the next 30 minutes, all hell will break lose, or your emergency supply of Goldfish will be completely depleted. You duck away, keeping a low profile as you scramble to the kitchen. You open the fridge. Suddenly, you’re on your own unexpected episode of Chopped.
Your box contains: broccoli, bacon, and chicken.
What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?!
Nobody panic. Electronic sister wife has got your back. Thanks to Allrecipes, all you need to do is let her know what you’ve got on hand, she’ll do the rest. Not sure you have the ingredients for slow cooker pulled pork? Just ask her. Know you’ve seen the recipe for some amazing white bean soup floating around the world wide web?? Beg her for it. Whether you feel ill-prepared or fully stocked, Alexa will come to your rescue with something from her bag of culinary tricks.
Just make sure you have garlic. It ALWAYS calls for garlic. As it should.
You are so close. They’ve brushed their teeth, they’ve only cried over pajamas thrice, and the DVR is beckoning you from downstairs. All they want now is ONE MORE STORY. You’ve read so many Sandra Boyntons that you rhyme when you talk to clients. You’ve told the story of The Little Mermaid over and over, but gotten it wrong every time, according to the 4-year old. Your dedication is not enough. They. Want. One. More.
Your mouth is dry from refereeing all day, or from the 5 o’clock chardonnay that rolled into a 7 o’clock chardonnay. Either way, you don’t have it in you to deliver. Let Alexa wash away the guilt with one of her famous Short Bedtime Stories. Not only does she take on the task of that final sleepy blow, but she does it with flair. Bedtime stories can be personalized so she “reads” them with your child’s name incorporated. There are so many stories, we have yet to hear the same thing twice, so you don’t have to worry about the skeptical kid who is sure they’re being bamboozled. No way, little Sally. This story is JUST for you and your brother. How lucky you are! How special this is! Theeeeee end.
Now get under the covers, because mom and dad are WAY behind on House of Cards, and this popcorn isn’t going to eat itself.
There are some nights when we have nothing left to give. All you need is a moment to yourself where you are not grabbed, wiped on, hugged, you name it. What better way to escape the reality than to get outta Dodge. Message a partner in crime, or shoot, plan to belly up to a bar solo. Imagine how good those parmesan fries will taste when nobody else can touch them? Slap on some makeup, bid your honey “adieu”, and take some time out for YOU.
Even if that 5 o’clock chardonnay just kicked in, there’s no need to cancel your plans on account of responsibility. Alexa knows the importance of “me time”, that’s why she’ll just call you an Uber. Enjoy those extra hands-free moments you get by not using the app and slap on some mascara. Go nuts, you’ve even got time for eye shadow. Even if you’re stone cold sober on your way out the door, doesn’t mean you will be on the way home. Even if you’re only in it for the fries, bathe in the simple luxury of having someone haul YOU around for a change.
You deserve it. Run away.
Just text me first, I’ll meet you there.
This is not a sponsored post, Christina is just genuinely obsessed with Alexa and the extra time it gives her to mess around on the world wide web, or avoid parenting duties in general.
Do you have an Echo? What’s your favorite skill or feature? How does it make your parenting life easier?