Parenting is tough. Don’t get me wrong. It’s awesome, and my kids are rock stars — adorable and all that — but if I am honest, some days can be long and hard.
Mama friends are good. Mama friends who text at all hours or show up with wine are better. Parenting hacks that allow us to have fun whilst making life a tad easier are worth their weight in gold.
Some hacks have been found out of desperation, some are funny, some are ridiculous and most have been tried so we can share ways to make the long days a bit shorter and the crazy days a bit more lighthearted.
As my husband and I navigate this thing called child rearing — we lost our how-to book somewhere along the way — we have come up with our list of nine tried-and-true parenting hacks.
1. Avoid the grocery store with a Starbucks run
Get milk in the Starbucks drive-through. Kids get their milk — you get your caffeine fix. And you don’t have to lug screaming kids through the grocery store. Trust me, those extra pennies are well worth it.
2. Furniture rearranging keeps the mess under control
Husbands fuss about how we are always rearranging furniture. Little do they know that we are doing this to contain our littles to one room — not because we have an overwhelming urge to haul furniture four times the size of us. I know kids can climb furniture, but when I sprawl across said sofa, they tend to stay away. The mess is contained, I can relax and the kids can play. #winning
3. Don’t forget refrigerator locks
Many products out there serve as refrigerator locks. We have just started using them to keep little hands out of the fridge, and I wish I had used them years ago. Considering it takes me a solid 10 minutes to remove some of them, it not only keeps the fridge kid-proof, but serves as an accountability partner by making me ask, “How bad do I really need — or want — that snack?” Baby weight be gone!
4. Plan fast food date nights
Find the most healthy fast food restaurant with a play place, and plan to spend your Friday night there. An inexpensive dinner and free sitting — or playing — while you and your hubby chat it up and get some alone time. We like to choose the most clean and least busy place, and thanks to the thick glass that surrounds the play area, its almost like we are alone… almost.
5. Invest in cookie cutters
Want to move into Pinterest mom territory? Start building a killer cookie cutter collection. You can be the least creative parent on the block, and a quick dinosaur stamp in a kids lunch or a few princess crown cheese slices at a party make you look like you have on your A game. It takes two seconds to pull out the $2 cookie cutter, and they take up little storage room. The kids ooh and ahh, parents think you are über creative and you pat yourself on the back for the quick, cheap and easy store fix.
6. Employ the car claw on road trips
Remember the claw-like thing that people use to get cans down from their pantry shelves? You squeeze the handle and the claw clasps? Well, that thing is pure genius for handing kids items in the car, especially on road trips. Kids are in the way back and starving? Pass their food with the claw! Baby drops the blanket? Claw to the rescue.
7. Use the bathroom as a bedroom
My husband and I travel with our children often. We like our kids to behave — relatively speaking — on road trips and for all of us to actually sleep in hotel rooms. We found it challenging to keep kids asleep while we moved around, until the most ingenious idea of putting the baby’s Pack ‘n Play or child cot near or in the bathroom. Most places have a separate dressing area and 90 percent of the time, the Pack ‘n Play slides right in with room to spare. It’s almost like you’ve rented two hotel rooms!
8. Order oodles of replacement valves
Does anyone else’s dishwasher eat the little rubber valves that go in certain sippy cups? It’s like we have a cabinet full of cups and tops and no valves. One day, I ranted on social media in regards to all things sippy cup related. A dear, dear friend quickly clued me in that there was no need to buy entire new cups as these replacement valves could be found on Amazon — life changing!
9. Get creative when shopping during nap times
Now, I have not officially tried this yet, but it’s in my arsenal. I am waiting for the perfect moment. Some of my friends swear by it, so I am giving it to you on their word. We’ve all been in Target during nap times or needed to do a grocery store run while pushing bedtime, right? The thought of an overtired child makes you cringe, but not after this hack. Upon entering Target, grab your cart and head straight for the pet section. Snag the appropriately sized pet bed for your child and place it in said cart. Lay your child down and let him snooze whilst you wheel him around. It requires a bit of finagling to get all items in the cart but think of it as a real-life game of Tetris.
Do you have hacks for me? Tried-and-true parenting solutions? Leave them in the comments!
Follow Lauren and her family as they celebrate life big, parent their three kids, love their friends and home well and do it in a fun and festive way!