Sometimes I long for what seems like “simpler days.” I get this way whenever I visit an old homestead and wander through its log house and gardens, thinking about how people used to live off the land, and it was so much quieter. At least, I think it must have been quieter without televisions or cars or leaf blowers.
In reality, the past wasn’t simple at all, and it was much worse for many people. While we’re still working out some major “kinks” in the name of progress, and sometimes it feels like we’re taking a step backwards, the present does offer many gadgets that make our lives a little easier. Perhaps I could live without them, but frankly, I don’t want to.
Here’s a list of my favorite gadgets besides my computer. (A computer is just a given, right?) These have become indispensable while staying home full-time to homeschool my boys.
Roku Box :: Every day my family watches documentaries on Netflix, PBS, Amazon Prime or YouTube. The Roku Box gives us easy access to them on our television, and I think we have all become so much smarter by watching TV! We also have fun watching shows like Star Trek or Chopped. Despite the claims that television makes you disconnect, I would argue that we interact and converse over our family TV time just as much as any other part of the day.
Google Home :: This is a new gadget that I got for Christmas. To tell the truth, I wasn’t sure I’d use it very much, but every morning, it tells me the weather, my appointments for the day and the news. Right now as I’m writing this, I asked it to play me some Miles Davis, and wow, the speakers are great. Earlier today, my seven-year-old asked it what the circumference of the Earth is and then asked what the population of the Earth is as well as several countries. Now when my boys ask me questions, if my arms are elbow deep in dishwater, I can say, “Go ask Google” instead of “Just a minute!” and risk losing their enthusiasm for the question. Indeed, this Google Home has increased our enthusiasm for asking questions. There are many other things it can do too, but if all it does is answer little boys’ questions and bring more jazz into my life, I’d say that it was a well spent hundred bucks.
Crock Pot :: I still have a lot to learn about slow cooking (I’d sure appreciate some more good recipes), but this gadget makes life so much easier. Fill it up with food in the morning, and then bam! Dinner is ready at five. Here’s a couple of good dishes we’ve found so far: a Mississippi Roast and Mexican Lasagna.
Mr. Robot :: We call it “Mr. Robot,” but it’s actually an Anker RoboVac 10. It’s a robotic vacuum cleaner, and yes, it works! In fact, this is my #1 can’t-live-without-gadget. It works great, and when I first began using it, I suddenly knew how housewives must have felt when they received the first washing machine or dishwasher. I tell everyone I know that they won’t regret buying a robotic vacuum, and I especially think that homeschooling moms should have one. You can turn it on while you’re homeschooling. As someone who has pets, two little boys, a (ahem) not-so-neat husband, and we’re all home 24/7, my house needs a lot of sweeping, so I’m extremely grateful for the robotic vacuum. (A bonus feature of the robotic vacuum is that it motivates little boys to pick up their toys!)
These are my must have gadgets. What are yours? And, as an added tip – keep an eye out for sales around the holidays or Mother’s Day. You may find good discounts on these products. Never pay full price!
Note: Unfortunately, Shelli was not paid any money for her glowing reviews of these products.
SHELLI BOND PABIS is home | school | life magazine’s senior editor. She writes about her family’s homeschooling journey at www.mamaofletters.com.