Last Updated on December 5, 2019 by Corinne Schmitt
This post was sponsored by Amazon as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
My husband and I have been joking for months about needing a full-time staff to run our family. Life in a busy family is sometimes hard to stay on top of!
When we realized that the Echo Dot in our kitchen was eliminating some of our chaos, we decided a few more throughout the house could really make a difference.
Right now we have one in the kitchen, one in the master bathroom, one in the basement where the kids tend to hang out, plus a regular Amazon Echo in my mom’s room. My ultimate goal is to have one in each bedroom and my husband wants one for the garage.
Given that an Echo Dot costs less than one dinner at a restaurant for my family, I’m thinking my goal is pretty attainable. Plus, they come in a variety of neutral tones so it’s easy to find one that blends in with any room.
Even better, once we’ve bought them, they don’t cost us any extra, unlike the alternative of hiring someone or paying for ongoing services that do the same things!
What Can Amazon Echo Do?
We got our original Amazon Echo a couple of years ago for my mom so that she could stream music. She grew up with record players, then cassettes. She did not want a complicated speaker setup or to learn how to use a device to stream music.
But telling someone to do something for her? She’s been training for that her whole life! “Alexa, play Bette Midler songs” is just the new version of “Corinne, do the dishes.”
The Echo Dots throughout our house are used to stream music daily throughout our home. The one in the kitchen plays through a Bluetooth speaker while we’re making dinner and the one in the basement plays through the speaker system when the kids are hanging out down there or working on homework.
We just got a new one for our bathroom so we can play music while we’re in the shower. The new Echo Dots have an improved speaker that provides clearer sound than the earlier models so there’s no need to connect to a separate speaker. The sound that comes out of this compact device is amazing for the size and price.
Get Weather, Traffic, and News Reports
It’s super convenient to ask Alexa about the weather while I’m upstairs getting dressed for the day. Likewise, my kids check with our kitchen Alexa to help them decide whether they can wear a regular jacket or if they need to layer on a thick winter coat. Plus, they’re ALWAYS secretly hoping she’ll say we’re expecting a foot of snow.
My husband likes to check the traffic and news first thing in the morning to gauge how quickly he needs to be out the door and to head into the world informed about top events. I like to check the traffic report at the end of the day to get an idea of what time I can expect my husband to get home from work. Northern Virginia traffic is the worst and almost impossible to predict!
Set Timers and Reminders
I am the type of person who will walk downstairs to the kitchen and forget why before I get there. I’m also notorious for setting the oven timer but not hearing it when I’m tucked away in my office.
Within the Amazon Alexa app, I can set a timer to remind me to take dinner out of the oven, but have it announce the reminder in the room where I’ll likely be when time ends. So, unlike the oven timer, I actually hear it!
Alexa is also totally fine with nagging you to do the things you tell her you are supposed to do. And unlike my husband, she doesn’t get irritated with me when I growl at her for telling me I need to clean out the fridge or vacuum out the car.
You can also set timers and reminders for your kids. For example, I like to schedule a reminder to play on the basement Echo Dot to take out the garbage on Sunday nights since that’s usually where my teen sons are at that time. They supposedly have reminders set on their phones, but this is a handy backup.
We had our Amazon Echo and another Echo Dot for over a year before I discovered their ability to help us coordinate our family life. I had used the list function to easily add items to our grocery list, but Alexa is capable of so much more!
One feature that is really cool is that you can make announcements to all of your Echo devices. So, I can let everyone know dinner is ready or I can give them fair warning before I get home so they can do a quick clean up and pretend they had their chores done without a reminder.
Likewise, I can use the Drop-In feature to connect with any Echo device in my home from my phone. This is great when I’m driving and want to check in to see if anyone needs me to pick up something when I’m on the way home.
Alexa is my favorite kitchen companion. She finds me great recipes, answers all of my questions, and never gets in my way. She’s a whiz at figuring out recipe substitutions when I realize the dish I’m making calls for something I’ve run out of.
And like a true friend, Alexa doesn’t pass any judgment when you ruin dinner and ask her to order pizza instead.
I suppose it’s a stereotype that I like Alexa’s help in the kitchen and my husband wants her help in the garage, but that is exactly how we operate! He wants an Echo Dot in the garage so in addition to listening to music while he works out there, he can get help with his projects.
From ordering parts he needs from Amazon to getting answers to problems when he’s stumped as to why the lawn mower is making a funny noise, Alexa is the ideal helper.
Want to get more exercise? Say, “Alexa, open five-minute workout” or “Alexa, start quick workout” and she’ll happily comply.
The Amazon Echo Dot can also help you get smarter. Whether you want to do brain training, memory training, or improve your math skills, Alexa has skills to help.
Fellow introverts, rejoice! If you can’t quite muster up the energy to go out and socialize, Alexa is happy to fulfill your interaction needs in the calm, quiet space of your home.
Ask her to:
- Tell you a joke (“Alexa, tell me a joke”)
- Pay you a compliment (“Alexa, compliment me”)
- Cheer you up (“Alexa, cheer me up”)
- Motivate you (“Alexa, motivate me”)
- Put you in your place (“Alexa, ask Epic Burn for epic burn”)
If audiobooks are your thing, Echo is your new best friend. Since you can place an Echo Dot anywhere with a power outlet, you can listen to books anywhere in your home.
Even better, you can listen as a family since the reading will play through the speaker. No more sitting in the corner with headphones in, isolated from the other members of the family.
And the coolest thing about Alexa is that she can read books that AREN’T audiobooks. She’s so smart, she can read any book you own on Kindle, even if it’s not the audiobook version.
Family Game Night
Alexa has tons of skills you can use and our favorites are her game skills. Alexa can be your Bingo caller, the guesser in a guessing game (say “Alexa, open Akinator”), or game show host (“Alexa, play Jeopardy”).
There are dozens of Alexa games skills. You can play Heads Up!, Would You Rather, Escape the Room, or Choose Your Own Adventure games like The Magic Door. In the Alexa app, just navigate to “Skills & Games” then choose “Games & Trivia” to find plenty of family fun options.
Alexa can even help your family fall asleep. This is one of the reasons I’m eager to put one in my youngest daughter’s room!
Just say, “Alexa, open sleep sounds.” Then choose a soothing sound like “Rain” or “Forest Birds” to lull you (or the kids) to sleep.
Transport You to the Future
We haven’t made this leap yet, but I see it on our horizon in the near future. Alexa is designed to work with smart home features. So, once we finally make the switch to smart home appliances and fixtures, we’ll be living in a futuristic way I thought was reserved for sci-fi.
Back when I was watching “The Jetsons” as a kid, I thought it was so cool that appliances could turn themselves on and you control the lights, temperature of your home, and clean your home simply by uttering a few words or pressing a button. Well, with the right smart devices, you can ask Alexa to do all of those things.
Win an Amazon Echo Show or Echo Dot
Surely you see by now how helpful Amazon Echo products can be. It’s like having a full-service staff that you don’t have to pay!
Because Amazon is awesome, they want to give away some Amazon Echo products so that more families can enjoy all the benefits of these amazing gadgets.
The grand prize is an Echo Show and will be awarded to one winner. Ten second-place winners will each receive an Echo Dot.
To enter, simply click the link below and follow the instructions on the entry form:
I-C will randomly select winners from all program entries and Amazon will facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes of 11 Winners.