"We degrade Providence too much by attributing our ideas to it out of annoyance at being unable to understand it."

- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Lifehacks from Thinklings Readers

I have noticed that sometimes the best way to do something is with something that was made for another purpose, and thereby I have discovered a few ways to make things work better or to save money. But these things aren't always obvious, so what tips might you have to make my life and that of our readers easier? There will be many more in comments, I'm sure, but I'll start with a few of my own to get the ball rolling:


Use an ice-tea spoon to get jelly out of the jelly jar. The long handle keeps your hands from getting all yucky especially when the jar is almost empty. And the skinny spoon is perfect for getting a yummy glob of jelly. A knife just doesn't cut it. The jelly just slides right off.

Use horse bedding for guinea pigs and rabbits. When you buy things in small packages for small animals it is much more expensive. But when you buy a huge package of pine chips designed for horse bedding, it is significantly cheaper and works great for guinea pigs and rabbits.

Use one pound handweights for catfishing. When you buy weights for catfish bouys at a sporting goods store they are very expensive. But a one pound handweight (used for exercising) is much cheaper.

A hoe works great for chopping the heads off snakes.

If you use tylenol pm to get help sleeping, (which I wouldn't recommend on a regular basis) just take a generic benadryl (diphenhydramine) instead. (which I still wouldn't recommend on a regular basis.) It's much cheaper than tylenol PM and you don't need the tylenol. (PS - benadryl is what they put in the tylenol to make it a sleep-aid.) In fact, the difference between drowsy and non-drowsy in cold and allergy medications is always the antihistamine. It's the antihistamine that makes you drowsy.

Use a sharpie to write family members names on plastic waterbottles then refill it several times before throwing it away.

If you have more than one small child (under 13) assign a cartoon character or superhero to each child. Then buy toothbrushes, underwear, towels, sheets etc... with each child's character on it. Then there will be no doubt about whose is whose. (Get sticker sheets with those characters as well, and then just put a sticker on each item so that there is no confusing whose flashlight is whose or whatever.)

Always keep plenty of Sharpie's (thin permanent markers) around. They are very useful.

Keep an emergency bag filled with a spare change of clothes in the car. No, not for you, for kids. Believe me, your kids or a friend's kid will need it at some point when you are out, and you are a hero when you can say, "Hey I got an extra t-shirt or pair of socks in the car." If you have more than one child just put the size of the largest child (as long as the difference isn't too much.) a shirt or shorts that's a little big will at least get them home.

Always keep a pair of scissors in the car. If you are a parent, just trust me. You will use them.

Put a small hole in the bottom of the trash can that has liners. Then when you pull on it bag to take it out the whole can won't hang on.

Don't scroll down on a browser window. Just use the space bar.

When in trying to have a conversation with a small child you don't know well, don't ask about school. Talk about animals. Ask what his/her favorite animal is. Play a game where you both pretend to be different animals and the other has to guess. Every kid is an animal expert and you will have a new best friend.

When trying to get to know a teenager's life situation, ask it this way: "So who all lives at your house?" It works way better than "so does your dad live at home? or "do you have brothers or sisters?" or "Is your grandma living with you?" or "is that guy your dad or just your mom's boyfriend" or whatever. "Who lives at your house?" is just one non-awkward question, and it saves you from asking 20 questions to get a sense of that person's family and home-life which is really what you are asking anyway.

What about you? What things have you found different uses for that makes your life far easier?

What life tips do you have? what "tricks" have you discovered or invented?


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Comments on "Lifehacks from Thinklings Readers":
1. NHE - 07/02/2014 7:56 pm CDT

If you have more than one small child (under 13) assign a cartoon character or superhero to each child.

I like this one, but for different reasons. Give them a superhero trait that corresponds to what you as a parent see in their "giftedness"....good stuff.

...and I like this one

When in trying to have a conversation with a small child you don't know well, don't ask about school.


Only one I'd add...

If you're a Thinkling, post more often than once a month!


2. Shrode - 07/03/2014 11:17 am CDT

Thanks NHE!

Another new one:

Check out Audio Books from the library - they are FREE!You can even do it digitally now. It is good for so many reasons.

1. Better for you than listening to talk radio.
2. Catch up on your reading if you are busy.
3. Listen to juvenile fiction. That way you can recommend or screen books for your kids.
4. Your kids can listen to it with you in the car.
5. The kids can listen to them when they go to sleep at night. Great for winding down.

3. Flyaway - 07/03/2014 2:30 pm CDT

I will use your advice on talking to children. I had never thought of that approach. Here are some suggestions from me:

If you receive an electrical shock every time you open the door of a Prius put some cloth between your hand and the handle or do a quick tap of the door before opening the door.

If you have muscle spasm put a tennis ball or 2 in a sock and press on the spasm.

If you need to know how to peel an avocado, pineapple or how to roast a turkey look on you tube for a demonstration.

4. Bird - 07/03/2014 2:54 pm CDT

Razor blades can last a very, very long time. If I told you how long I'd been using mine, you'd get grossed out.


5. Tony - 07/04/2014 8:39 am CDT

These are awesome tips! Thank you for sharing.

I cheated a bit and quick Internet search. These are really "hacky" but interesting. Speaking of interesting, this is right up pinterest alley. My daughter probably have pages of lifehacks within pinterest.


I think I'm going to try #50 right now :)

6. Tony - 07/04/2014 8:42 am CDT

Bird, I do the same thing - I use a single disposable razor approx 60 times before discarding. Just rinse and dry your razor after each use. It is moisture that degrades metal.

7. Milly - 07/07/2014 6:49 pm CDT

Why are we chopping the heads off of snakes? They eat pests. #snakesaresoawesome!!!!!!!!!!!

8. Shrode - 07/08/2014 2:05 pm CDT

I don't normally chop the heads off snakes...my wife does though. She hates them all...I did do it when we had a nest of baby birds learning to fly in my garage and THREE different snakes came in the same night to eat baby birds.

Also my father -in - law has chickens and he lives nearby and we sometimes have to kill chicken-snakes.

Normally, I agree with you, but there are still times...

9. Milly - 07/08/2014 11:45 pm CDT

Okay I'll give you that. We did shoot the copperheads in the yard.

10. Weekend Fisher - 07/15/2014 8:14 pm CDT

If some book has a smudgy little glue-spot on the cover where the sticker didn't come off cleanly, *and if it is a glossy-cover book*, you can get off the rest of the glue by putting liquid dish soap on a tissue, and rubbing the glue spot til it's gone. The trick: don't use any water, just the liquid soap.

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