5 everyday things that make every day easier
So, on thinking what to blog about next, one thing I was sure of was it definitely didn't need to be COVID-19 related. I think everyone is beyond fed up of hearing and reading "COVID this... COVID that". As I move into a very exciting new chapter of my life with now having my own place(!) I have been thinking practically about how I could possibly make some of the 'everyday things' I struggle with that little bit easier.
As I was having a brainstorm, I thought a blog post on the everyday things I currently use to make my life easier would be maybe helpful! Obviously everyone is different in their difficulties & needs, so this post might not be very helpful to some at all (sorry!), but you never know!
By 'everyday things' I mean mainstream, off the shelf items - i.e. not disability specific and definitely not especially made. Growing up I was majorly against having anything disability specific - I was definitely more a 'I'd rather cut my nose off despite my face' kinda girl than a 'oh look, look at this helpful disability gadget that is going to make my life so much easier' girl! Nowadays I'm very 'well, if it works, it works', but there is still that element of excitement when I find something that can genuinely help me off a mainstream shelf!
So, here are my 5 everyday things that make my everyday easier...
1. DYSON HAIR WRAP Dear James Dyson, you are a god. Yours sincerely, a girl with CP and untameable hair who has wanted to style her own hair for 25 years. Haha! Despite the hefty price tag, my Dyson Hair Wrap is probably the biggest off the shelf game changer for me. Born with the bushiest, curliest hair and having no way to sort it myself has probably been one of the most annoying things for me. Over the years, my sister (with varying levels of cooperation, haha) has been my residential hair dresser, meaning that I haven't had to face the world too many times 'au natural'! But, practically every girl in the world knows that hair doesn't always stay put once done and it's these many times I've been left stuck with an interesting look and no way to sort it - female nightmare! This all changed when I received a Dyson Hair Wrap for Christmas in 2019. Its air wrap technology not only allows me to straighten my hair in an 'Ellie-friendly way' (it's literally just like brushing my hair!) and without any risk of burning, it also allows me to curl my hair too! As I curled my hair for Christmas last Christmas Day I literally couldn't believe it! I had perfect curls, but more importantly - I had done it! My sister was also quite appreciative to Mr Dyson to enable her partial retirement, haha! My sister still gives it a quick 'go over' with the straighteners when I wash my hair, but I blow dry it and straighten it with the Dyson first and I am then free to straighten it as needed until the next wash! I highly recommend saving up for one!
My hair, by me, Christmas Day 2019!
2. TASSIMO COFFEE MACHINE As a coffee lover who is very partial to a stop off at Starbucks, it was also frustrating for me not to be able to make myself a coffee when at home. Admittedly not as frustrating as once not being able to tame the bed head, but still frustrating! I really struggle with pouring drinks, let alone hot drinks. It's a trip to A&E waiting to happen! My sister got a Tassimo Coffee Machine when she moved to Uni. When she moved back, I soon cottoned on that it was in fact a 'one-touch' coffee machine. It does everything for you (coffee, milk, flavouring etc.) from one capsule by simply pressing one button, i.e. no pouring involved. And, you don't even need to move your hot drink if you can't/don't want to - I just stick a straw in it and drink it where it is. You can buy a massive variety of capsules - caramel latte, hot chocolate, chai latte and mocha, just to name my favourites. You need to be able to put your capsules in the machine, but I find this quite easy with it being a large 'insert area' and large capsules. The only thing I do find slightly tricky is filling the water bath for the machine, but it's literally a 30 second job if your hands work - I find once someone has done this for me, I get 5/6 hot drinks out of it at my leisure! I can actually fill the water bath up too myself if needs be, I just tend to wait until I'm home alone so no one gets annoyed at the water trail and puddles, haha!
3. NIKE FLYEASE Shoe laces have also been another one of life's little inconveniences for me! Of course, when you get beyond around 12-years-old there seems to be an unwritten rule that velcro on shoes is now unacceptable until further notice, i.e. until your 80th birthday! I have found myself in so many situations where my shoe laces have come undone and I've had to frantically try and push them down the side of my foot into my shoe because no one has been on hand to help. I've also been in situations where I've wanted to wear a certain pair of shoes, but I know I can't get them on without untying and then retying the laces so I've aborted! Nike have produced a stylish range of trainers specifically with people with disabilities in mind. The Flyease range look like they have laces - but they don't! A zip with a big 'puller' opens the back of the shoe making it a lot easier to get your feet into the shoes (and especially helpful for orthotic insoles, AFO's etc.). The zip then velcros securely around the front of the shoe/foot where there are fake/elasticated laces. As an athlete the Nike Flyease have made my life so much easier, especially when changing shoes at the track and popping to the gym. I'd love to see other shoe brands get on board with similar designs, e.g. Converse, especially as not everyone necessarily wants such a sporty look as Nike.
4. JEGGINGS Jeans that fit perfectly are usually hard to find at the best of times, but when you need jeans that you can literally just pull up and down it can become extra difficult to find that 'perfect' pair. I can't do up buttons, so if jeans can't stretch enough to be pulled up without undoing the button they're no good for me! Let me introduce you to jeggings... you've probably already heard of them, or even own a pair or two. They're essentially jeans that are stretchy enough to just pull up and down yet fit perfectly - well personally I've found them to fit me perfectly. Some come with fake buttons and some come with actual buttons, but because they stretch I've found that I never need to undo the buttons. I think the best thing about jeggings for me is that they're practical yet fashionable, which are two words that hardly go together - growing up with Cerebral Palsy I am only too aware of how rare it is for practical and fashionable to exist in harmony... we can all remember how mortifyingly uncool Peidro boots were right?! Jeggings are on the shelf in all sizes, styles and denim shades in all well-known, popular high street shops - Topshop, New Look, H&M etc.
5. MICROWAVE BOWLS Probably the oddest of the lot, but microwave bowls have really helped me be more independent. They're 'cheap as chips' from Amazon and are predominately used in catering and for take away meals. For me the design is perfect. Firstly, food doesn't fall out because of the rims, and if I need to 'transport' (e.g. from the counter to the kitchen table) my food myself I can pop the lid on for extra 'security'! Secondly, someone can prepare my evening meal at a convenient time for them, put it in a microwave bowl with the lid on, leave it in the fridge or freezer and then I can microwave it when needed completely safely with it having a secure yet easily removable lid, i.e. I can't burn myself by pouring very hot food down myself, but I'm not fighting to remove the lid either. I think my new freezer is going to be full of pre-prepared home cooked meals from my Mum in these dishes! They're also dishwasher proof and can obviously be re-used.
The joys of discovering wonderful little hacks on mainstream shelves! I do really feel that occasionally disability specific products can be over engineered and don't necessarily help. Don't get me wrong, I've had some really good disability specific products over the years, but I do have to say that some of the best things that have aided me have been the few and far between little gems found on the high street!