There’s been a lot of talk lately about the “invisible workload” that drags women down. How we’re usually the only ones who remember it’s Aunt Patty’s birthday, notice that there’s no toilet paper in the bathroom and actually SEE the overflowing basket of dirty laundry. Not only are we the ones who notice these things, but we’re usually the ones who also get to buy the birthday card for Aunt Patty, load everyone up in the car to head to the store to purchase the toilet paper and spend quality Real Housewives time folding the laundry. All of this in addition to, you know, being a mom and WORKING. And when you’re busy getting your work hustle on, there’s not always the luxury of running out on your lunch break (what’s that again?). So in the spirit of sisterhood, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite services that will make your life easier as we get back to school.
NOTE: We’ll admit that we haven’t tried everything on this list. But if we have, we’ve linked to our reviews of the service with our mantra that we’ll always be brutally honest, because #mamadontlie.
Looking for even more ways to make your life easier? Check out our favorite Parenting Life Hacks for Busy Working Moms
Women’s Clothes – to Buy
Shopping for ourselves should be a luxury, but let’s face it, browsing the mall with kids in tow isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. Quite frankly, we’re lucky if we get to swing by the Women’s Section during our weekly Target outing. So here’s a list of our favorite services that will do the shopping for you and send everything right to your front door.
Stitch Fix was the first to the home try-on party, and their business model has stayed roughly the same: you pay a $20 styling fee (which will be credited back to you should you purchase anything), and they’ll send 5 on-trend pieces directly to your door step. You get three days to try everything on and mix and match with what you already have in your closet. Keep what you like and they’ll charge your credit card on file; send back what you don’t. If you keep all five pieces, you’ll get 25% off your total.
Stitch Fix has been a long-time favorite of The Mamanistas, and has recently expanded their sizing to carry both plus sizes and maternity sizes. However, we have noticed that as they’ve grown over the years, the personalization, requests and even the quality hasn’t grown with them. That being said, it’s still a tried-and-true favorite service for a busy working mom who needs a quick and easy seasonal wardrobe refresh.
Read our previous reviews on Stitch Fix
Trendsend calls itself the “subscription service for the style-obsessed, time-pressed mom.” TrendSend by Evereve is another home try-on clothing service, but with an interesting twist: whereas Stitch Fix sends you individual pieces to mix in with your existing wardrobe, TrendSend by Evereve will send you fully stylized outfits, including accessories. This makes getting dressed literally idiot-proof, no matter how many tired you are because the dang baby woke up five times in one night and your husband pretended like he didn’t hear. One word of caution is that TrendSend can be a bit pricey, with the average price point being around $75/item and no price break for keeping multiple items, so budget-concious mamas may need to look elsewhere for their style fix.
Amazon’s latest foray into conquering the entire universe is a Stitch Fix-like service called Amazon Prime Wardrobe. The company has recently just rolled out the service to select Prime members (and some of us are still anxiously awaiting our invitation to the party!). Amazon’s unique twist on the home try-on program allows YOU, not an anonymous stylist, to select which items you want to try and have delivered to your door.
Prime Wardrobe allows Prime members to try up to 15 Prime Wardrobe eligible items before you buy. You get 7 days to try the items at home and will only be charged for what you keep at the end of the trial period. They even come shipped in a super convenient resealable box and returns can be handled through your orders section on your regular Amazon account.
Read our review of Prime Wardrobe.
Similar Services We Have Tried, and You Might Want to Skip: Trunk Club
Women’s Clothes – to Rent
Clothing rental services are an interesting alternative (or addition, hey, we don’t judge around here) to the home try-on services of the world. Instead of keeping whatever you like, you’re get to rent selected items and send ‘em back when you’re done. Bonus: no laundry!
Le Tote is a monthly clothing rental service where you pay a small fee to have “totes” styled and sent to you. Monthly pricing varies based on how many pieces you want in each tote, with the lower end subscription being $39. You can wear each piece as much or as little as you want, for as long as you want, and have the option to buy any pieces you love – at a discounted price – and send back the rest. You can also wear and send back as many totes as you want within a month.
A “stylist” (let’s face it: probably an algorithm) will pull items from your closet to build your totes, so click that little heart as much as you want. Once your tote is styled, you receive an email with photos of your items. You have 48 hours to swap their picks for something else, or approve your tote as-is. Each tote includes a pre-paid envelope to make return shipping as easy as possible. It’s also fast – as soon as the post office scans your return package, another tote is immediately styled and shipped to you. And bonus points for NOT having to launder the items before returning them; Le Tote takes care of that for you!
We’ve found Le Tote works best for business casual environments – you’re not going to find many formal pieces here. Plus-size selections are also very limited.
Read our LeTote Reviews here
Every mamanista knows that accessories can make an outfit. The addition of a scarf, belt or necklace can completely change the look of your outfit – so accessories are a great way to help extend your wardrobe. For $21/month, Rocks Box will let you rent three designer pieces of jewelry at a time. Wear each piece as much or as little as you want, and then send it back for a fresh box of bling. If you really love a piece, you can keep it – your $21 monthly fee is applied as a credit to your purchase.
Similar Services We Have Tried, and You Might Want to Skip: We have yet to find one we don’t like!
Similar Services We Haven’t Tried, But You Might Want to: Rent the Runway
Health & Beauty
There’s something to be said for leisurely browsing the aisles of Sephora or Ulta searching for the latest must-have beauty products! It’s like being a little girl digging in your moms makeup box but with a credit card to actually buy what you want! Enter kids… suddenly this peaceful world of colors, lotions, perfumes and life-changing creams becomes a stress-filled exercise in keeping your toddler away from the eye shadow samples with one hand and searching for you next beauty must-haves with your other hand! This is where monthly beauty boxes and subscription services come into play.
BirchBox is the O.G. of beauty subscription boxes. For $10/month you’ll receive five samples of hair and beauty products from well-know brands, still up-and-coming brands and the occasional drugstore brand. In its prime, this subscription box was filled with samples of cool, new products. Lately, makeup samples seem to be fewer and far between, as Sarah reported receiving box after box of shampoo and conditioner samples. But she has also discovered some of her favorite beauty products through Birchbox, like Marcelle BB Cream, Xtension Plus Mascara and quad-pack eyeshadow and Beauty Protector Shampoo and Conditioner. Bonus: Birchbox members also receive a discount on full-size products purchased through Birchbox!
For $21/month, you’ll receive 4-5 full-size beauty products from both well-known and up-and-coming brands each month. The retail value for these products is at least $100, and items range from beauty tools, makeup and skincare. We love Boxy Charm as a way to pamper yourself and keep up with the latest beauty trends. Bonus: your tween daughter is going to think you are the coolest mom ever.
Read our Boxy Charm reviews here.
For $10 a month, Sephora will deliver five luxury beauty brand samples and a perfume sampler. Samples are curated from Sephora’s newest and best-selling beauty, skincare, haircare and fragrances, customized to your profile and shipped to your doorstep with tips and tutorials about how to use each product. The Play! Box is an easy, inexpensive way for busy mamas to sample products to help them look their best. Bonus: Extra 50 Beauty Insider points when you purchase a full-size product.
Read our Play! By Sephora review here.
Warby Parker Home Try-On for Eye Glasses and Sunglasses
For most of us, the one item that is nearly impossible to purchase without trying on is a pair of glasses. With Warby Parker’s Home Try-on program, you pick five frames to test out for five days, and they’ll ship them to your front door for free. That means you can try on the different pairs and ask your mother, brother, best friend, co-workers and whomever else for their opinion, and then send them back in the same packaging with the included pre-paid return label. Next, go online and buy the pair – or pairs – you loved, and Warby Parker sends you a fresh, clean pair with your prescription, if needed. Both sunglasses and prescription lenses are available for the home try-on program.
Read our Warby Parker review here.
Similar Services We Have Tried, and You Might Want to Skip: ipsy
Similar Services We Haven’t Tried, But You Might Want to: N/A
Food Delivery and Meal Planning
In between lacrosse practice, picking up dry cleaning, homework and staying late at the office to finish that project, grocery shopping and meal planning seem to always fall last on the list. Especially when you hate doing both! Well, a wise woman once wrote, “If you hate doing something, outsource it.” Well, I hate meal planning AND going to the grocery store, so the trend of meal kits getting delivered right to my door is something that I can definitely get behind.
Blue Apron offers a variety of meal-servings and kits per week from $58 and up depending on option. You can choose from a 2-person or Family meal plan and each kit includes three meals per week. Blue Apron includes a variety of choices each week and has an easy-to-follow app. The downside to Blue Apron is that the meals tend to be a little bit fancier but somehow the recipes are also a little more complicated to follow and more time-consuming to make. The ingredients for all of the meals are in one box together so you have to sort through to find exactly what you need for tonight’s meal. Plus, some of the recipes require some experience in the kitchen.
This meal service comes in 2-, 3- or 4-person meal options 2, 3 or 4 nights a week ranging from $47 and up depending on specific options. Plated offers a wide variety of options each week to accommodate multiple diets including vegetarian and kid-friendly options. You can download the Plated app to easily make changes to your weekly menu or skip a week. Each meal comes labeled and sorted by recipe so you know which ingredients go with which meal. Recipe cards include lots of helpful pictures and easy to follow instructions that make you feel like a Top Chef. The drawback is that most meals take about an hour of prep and cook time so this isn’t always a sports-practice night friendly option. The ingredients are fresh and many organic. Plus the chef tips included within each recipe will make you feel like you’re learning something new along the way too.
Sun Basket is probably the fanciest meal service on this list, and also the most expensive. With Sun Basket, you receive three meals each week, made of high-quality ingredients. We’re talking all the buzz words: fresh, organic, non-GMO produce; humanely raised, antibiotic and hormone-free meat; sustainable fishing and farming methods; 100% compostable and recyclable packaging. And the meals are identified with health-conscious categories, like paleo, vegetarian, soy-free, dairy-free, lean and clean, etc. Sun Basket is great for the busy mom who also wants a healthier diet and more excitement on her weekly menus. And there is a family plan with family-friendly recipes, though we have yet to see anything on the menu that our kids would eagerly consume. Also, the portion sizes are definitely not going to satisfy hungry, growing children (looking at you, moms with boys!).
Bottom line: Perfect for the family with refined palettes or the mom who cooks separate meals for the kids.
Similar Services We Have Tried, and You Might Want to Skip: anybody who delivers meals to our door is alright by us
Quick Home Delivery
There are many work nights where the mere thought of driving 15 minutes to Target to pick up dog food or paper towels is just too much to bear. It becomes a creative game of how can I cross this off my “to do” list but not actually leave the house? We’ve found a few secrets to play super mom from the comfort of your own home so you can get what you need done without have to change into actual pants.
If you don’t have Amazon Prime yet, sign up now! This service is a serious life saver for busy mamas. Running low on dog food on Monday? Just add to cart and Amazon Prime it and you’ll have it by Wednesday at the latest. Need a dress for an upcoming presentation at work but not sure if you need a size 10 or 12? Prime them both and with Free Returns you can send back the one that doesn’t work. Prime membership also includes a selection of free music and movies to stream to any device and a few free Kindle downloads each month as well.
You know what’s worse than being the only one to remember to buy toilet paper? Realizing it’s time to buy toilet paper when you’re sitting on the toilet, staring at the empty roll, thinking to yourself, “What kind of monster does this?!” That’s where Amazon’s Dash Buttons are a game-changer. The Dash Button is a WiFi-connected device that orders your essentials at the press of a button. There are hundreds of Dash Buttons available – everything from paper products to dog food to dish and laundry detergent to beauty products.
The cost for a dash button is $4.99, and that serves as a credit to your first Dash Button purchase. Once it arrives, you’ll follow a simple set-up process and link it to your favorite product. So, when you realize you are running low on toilet paper, just press the dash button and Amazon will have a box of quilted squares at your doorstep with the speed of Prime shipping. And don’t worry about your kids accidentally ordering 1,000 boxes of toilet paper. Once you press the button to re-order, another order can’t be placed until after the product has been delivered.
Tip: Use Command hooks to hang Dash Buttons out of reach of little ones and next to the product that it replenishes.
If your kids will only eat a certain kind of locally-produced organic peanut butter that’s not available on Amazon, Instacart will be your new best friend. Shop online from more than 1,000 different products, add to your cart, and then sit back and watch Bravo while someone else battles the traffic and lines to buy your items and deliver them to your door. Most products have same-day delivery, and Instacart offers exclusive deals and savings to keep their prices competitive. One drawback is that Instacart isn’t available in all zip codes, so those of us way out in suburbia will need to look elsewhere or wait until the expand their delivery zones.
Summer seemed to go by in the blink of an eye – it really seemed like just yesterday that I was at my daughter’s kindergarten graduation and I’m already getting school supplies lists for the first grade. Between summer vacations and the busiest season at work, finding time to go back to school shopping for the littles has been difficult. Luckily, there’s services like the below, which function like Stitch Fix for little people.
Serving newborns through size 14, KidBox will send your kid a seasonal box of clothing with 6-7 items in it from top brands like Kensie, Adidas, bebe, Puma and more. If your little hates denim and will only wear “soft pants” (the struggle is real!), you can let them know that. You can also personalize your kid’s box towards the colors they will and won’t wear, as well as their interests and hobbies. Boxes are sent each season to coordinate with the times parent’s are most likely to buy new clothes for their kids: spring, summer, back to school, fall and holiday. Most boxes will include age-appropriate surprises.
There is no “styling fee” for the box, and you get seven days to try the items before your ard is charged. The pricing is a little complicated: keep every single item in the box for $98, which averages about $14 an item. However, if you choose to return anything, your total can quickly skyrocket to more than $150. Size exchanges are free.
Similar to KidBox, Rockets of Awesome will send your child 8-12 outfit-ready items at an average price point of $12–$36 per item. The big difference here is that Rockets of Awesome designs their own clothing; there’s no third-party labels here. Rockets of Awesome delivers a box four times a year, and there’s no styling, membership or shipping fees. Keep what you love and send back the rest. Rockets of Awesome currently styles boys and girls between the sizes of 2-14.
Similar Services We Have Tried, and You Might Want to Skip: N/A
Similar Services We Haven’t Tried, But You Might Want to: Mac and Mia
Let’s face it: sometimes the only way to get the laundry done is to stick your kids in front of the TV or throw – I mean, gently hand – them an iPad. Here’s the best services for them to get their entertainment on while you get your laundry/drink on.
Amazon Free Time gives your kids unlimited access to 13,000 kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, games and more for the low price of $2.99 a month. Parents can pre-select which content they want to allow their child to interact with, set time limits and show only age-appropriate content. The drawback is the service is only available on Amazon Kindle devices like the Fire Tablet. Note that it is nearly impossible to cancel your subscription through your Amazon profile – your best bet is to save your sanity and just go through customer service.
It goes without saying that Netflix has knocked it out of the park when it comes to redefining television and movie services by creating Netflix-only television series that have us hooked! Binge watching Orange is the New Black or Stranger Things after the kids go to bed? Yes, please. Plus, you no longer have to wait for a DVD in the mail (kids, ask you parents about that one). You can now stream Netflix to any wifi enabled device with your login and password. Netflix also recently released a new feature that allows you to download select contact to your personal device so you can view offline, like on the family roundtrip to Grandma’s house. We’ll take eight hours of Calliou over hearing “Mooom, I’m boooooored!” any day. Plans range from $7.99 – $11.99 a month.
One day our dreams will come true and there will be wine on Amazon’s 1-hour delivery service; until then, check these out:
Like their big brother meal service, Blue Apron Wine can also be scheduled, reschedule or skipped through Blue Apron’s handy app. You can schedule your wine delivery monthly, bi-monthly or skip a few to spread your boxes out. Each month, your box features 3 whites and 3 reds in cute little half bottle sizes that are perfect for two to share over dinner or for one mama having “one of those days.” Each bottle comes with a tasting sheet that gives you information on the wine, the region where the grapes are grown and pairing notes. It’s like a sommelier lesson in a bottle and it’s spectacular!
Some of the wines are Blue Apron exclusive and some you can find at your local wine stores but either way, it’s a great opportunity to sample 6 different wines a month! If you have a choice between the Blue Apron meal service or Blue Apron wine service, pick the wine! The only downside is that delivery requires a signature by someone over the age of 21 so chances are you’ll have to have this one delivered to the office if you don’t work from home on your scheduled delivery day!
Men’s Clothing Services
Because we know they can’t dress themselves. Take one more item off your to-do list and outsource it with one of these services.
This “manned up” version of Stitch Fix offers all of the things we love about Stitch Fix: outfit suggestions, try on at home convenience, and personal styling but with a few features geared specifically for the man in your life. The descriptions of clothing and the style cards and letters that come with the box are definitely in “man speak” and the packaging plays on traditional Stitch Fix turquoise with a very manly dark green. If you don’t know about this yet for your favorite guy, check it out here.
Read our Stitch Fix Men reviews here
Similar Services We Have Tried, and You Might Want to Skip: N/A
Looking for even more ways to make your life easier?
Check out our favorite Parenting Life Hacks for Busy Working Moms