Being a parent is challenging to the core. It is simultaneously the best and hardest thing you’ll ever do. When I was a kid, I thought my parents had it together, knew what they were doing and knew everything. Now that I’m a mom to of two, I realize that none of us know what we’re doing and are making it up as we go!
Finding ways to make parenting easier is always a good thing. And easier parenting means happier parents which means we also can be better versions of ourselves. I find it a lot easier to speak and act with grace and love when things are running smoothly. With that in mind, I’ve gathered some parenting hacks for you. Some come from me and things I’ve learned through the years and some come from other mamas who were kind enough to give me tips.
Use the right cleaning products
A few years ago, my daughter fell on the playground at school and split her chin open. She was wearing a new shirt that day. I was ready to just toss it in the trash when a fellow mom told me to soak it in hydrogen peroxide. It was like a miracle. I’ve used that trick a few times since then. It works!
Another awesome thing I learned after the Easter Bunny brought silly putty a few years ago and some of it got lost, hidden and smushed into the carpet is that rubbing alcohol gets it out. It works crazy well. When my daughter recently got bright blue slime mixed into the fur of her new white leopard, rubbing alcohol saved the day yet again.
Jessica shared that CLR will get the urine build-up off the bottom of potty chairs for those times that urine gets left in them. She said to put water in the potty, add a cap of CLR and let sit overnight.
Smart dining out
Beth said her family has found a great and economical way to dine out at sit-down restaurants. Rather than getting a kid’s meal (which is almost always chicken nuggets, burgers or grilled cheese), talk to your child about what menu options sound good to her. Look at splitting a meal with your child, getting an additional side to make a meal more “shareable” or see if you can order something a la carte.
“At our local favorite Tex-Mex place, we will often add an appetizer or get a couple of a la carte items, then all share everything,” she said. “Your kid is getting a better meal and you are probably saving a few dollars.”
Another dining out tip is to bring along your own food sometimes. If you happen to have a particular eater like my youngest is, you know there are places where they just don’t find much they like to eat. Instead of avoiding these restaurants, I just bring things along for him. For example, he loves to go to Chick-Fil-A to play, but he will only eat the fruit cup. So I buy a fruit cup and bring along some peanut butter crackers or a large granola bar for him instead.
Less food mess
When my kids were toddlers, I decided to serve them pancakes and waffles with applesauce instead of syrup. They loved it! Not only is applesauce not as sticky as syrup, but it’s also healthier, especially if you get the unsweetened kind. Even now at 9 and 5, they still eat pancakes and waffles dipped in applesauce more often than not.
For the times I was serving ranch dip with veggies, I opted for ranch chip dip instead, which isn’t runny and doesn’t drip as much as salad dressing.
Movie popcorn sharing
Our family loves to go to movies. We also love popcorn. But since we spend an arm and a leg on the tickets and snacks, I’m not a big fan of buying multiple containers of popcorn. So I buy the bucket and bring along paper lunch sacks to share the popcorn in. Usually I cut off the top third to half so they aren’t as tall and are easier to reach into and munch on.
Cut it up
Beth shared that cutting up food into pieces helps encourage her kids to eat better and more. “Everything is better when either bite-sized or cut in sticks,” she said. “Toast soldiers are better than full pieces of toast, mini pancakes are gobbled up faster than their full sized counterparts, etc.”
Becky said that having different colored bath towels for each person in her family has made her life easier. “My children never put a towel on the floor again!” she said.
Don’t waste diaper cream — or a tissue
When my daughter was a baby, my mom was helping me with her one day. I finished changing her diaper and grabbed a wipe to clean the residual diaper cream off my finger. My mom’s tip was to just wipe the extra ointment onto the new, clean diaper where it’s going to go anyway. My sleep-deprived, new mom brain had never thought of that.
Buy quiet time
This isn’t an everyday thing, but I’ve found my kids are most likely to entertain themselves when they have new activities or toys. So when we are preparing for a long car trip or even a more somber occasion like a funeral, I hit up the Dollar Tree. Usually for $10 or less I can get a couple of small toys, new coloring books, notebooks, stickers, crayons or whatever to keep my kids entertained.
Be a jungle gym and rest
This doesn’t work now that my kids are bigger at 5 and 9, but toddlers love climbing on their parents. There were a few times I’d been up most of the night with a cranky little one and was exhausted. So, I’d lay on the floor and let them climb on me. It’s not super restful, but it works when you’re desperate and doesn’t involve much physical or mental activity.
Be prepared for messes & germs
Beth shared that carrying baby wipes is handy whether you have babies or not. “Never stop carrying baby wipes,” she said. “They will save your life weekly – washing off sticky faces and hands, wiping down tables at restaurants, cleaning your dashboard while waiting at a stoplight, etc.”
I also keep baby wipes in my kids’ bathroom so they can wipe toothpaste out of the sink in between bathroom cleanings. I’m a big fan of antibacterial hand wipes, as well, and keep a container in both of our cars at all times. When the kids get in after we are shopping or at school, they know the drill: Buckle up and clean your hands!
Simplify meal prep
Part of parenthood is making food all the time. My kids don’t always like the same things. My youngest is a particular eater. But, I maintain the same type of food. For example, for breakfast I serve up the same thing even if it’s different flavors. When I’m making lunches, I do the same thing even if it’s a variation. They both get a sandwich, fruit and chips or they both get a hot Thermos with soup or oatmeal with an applesauce pouch and granola bar. Keeping it mostly the same makes my life more sane. I know there are times everyone eats the same thing, but breakfasts and lunches don’t tend to work that way for my family.
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