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6 Shortcuts for busy moms

Gina LaGuardia, formerly editor-in-chief of CollegeBound Teen Magazine, now serves as the editorial director for The CollegeBound Network, which provides advice and assistance to potential college students of all ages. She also frequentl...

Parenting shortcuts

Sometimes you are so busy that you can't even think straight. Busy moms need a break but often there is no time. That's when you need some help-me-stay-sane shortcuts. It's your lucky day. We've got six parenting shortcuts that not only will work for you but also benefit your child.

Happily ever after

Jennifer Karin is no stranger to feeling too fried at the end of the day to think of a bedtime story, either, which is why she began creating "starters" instead. These story beginnings served as inspiration for her kids to take over the narrative, launched Karin's publishing career (she compiled a book of her best beginnings), and "ended up [forging] a deeper connection with my kids." Not to mention all the studies that support storytelling as a viable method for stimulating children's imaginations, ultimately leading to their higher cognitive development.

Toys that transition

For moms, toy frustration isn't new. That's when your mind is boggled that the toy you spent good money on -- the same one your child wouldn't let go of in the store -- quickly falls by the wayside.

"It's normal for your child to become intensely interested in a new plaything for several weeks and then lose interest," says Robin Goldstein, Ph.D. The shortcut around that is to look for toys that evolve with your child. Ones that go from crib to lap or transforms from floor to upright are perfect as your DD/DS switches from easy infant to play-finicky toddler.

Large calendar

From hotties to handling it all

When you become a parent, you traded in your fireman-of-the-month calendar for a more functional one, we know. Organize your always-evolving schedule with a family-friendly calendar that consists of super-sized daily squares that ensure a big-picture view of everyone's schedule. Even more important is to get in the habit of documenting milestones like baby's first step, your toddler's favorite toy, and the A your six-year-old got on his math quiz. Taking a simple minute each evening to jot down memories of the day will make for a valued treasure once your li'l ones are no longer so little.
 

"Make believe you're mommy..."

Every busy mom needs a few minutes to herself -- without the guilt -- so ditch the TV remote and encourage your child to role-play. Toys that present her with opportunities to duplicate the actions of grown-ups ("play house," "cook dinner," "wash the baby") can boost her critical thinking skills as she commands a real leadership role in a pretend situation. And you'll be able to command some non-mommy time nearby to take care of other things. (Quiet cup of coffee, anyone?!)

Get up and go

The saving grace for Jenna McCarthy, author of The Parent Trip: From High Heels and Parties to Highchairs and Potties, and mom to two daughters, is her always-ready "day trip" bag.

"Ours has nonperishable snacks like raisins, nuts, fruit leathers, etc., water, sun block, sunglasses, light jackets, and a stash of bandages," says McCarthy. Books and crayons are also must-include items! When the nothing-to-do doldrums rear their ugly heads, you'll be prepared.

Make delays work for you

Instead of losing your cool in a traffic jam, take a mindful minute, advises Sharon Darling, president and founder of the National Center for Family Literacy. "A minute can be used to increase vocabulary, expand reading skills, and add an extra dose of fun to an otherwise routine day."

That bumper-to-bumper standstill can be turned into a positive when you stimulate your child's learning capabilities by taking turns using words to describe the view from the car. ("A... yellow... convertible... with... a... golden... retriever... in... the... back... seat... is... next... to... our... car.")  Consider this one shortcut that'll keep you driving on easy street -- and boosting your child's brainpower!

Timesavers and advice for busy moms:

 

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