Growing up as the oldest of 12 kids, I watched my mom creatively hack her way through life. She had a gaggle of little kids, and our house had tile floors that needed regular cleaning. So she would pour soapy water on the floor and give us rags and we would go to town, playing and cleaning. It sounds crazy today, but this was the OG mom hack.
Today, as the mom of seven kids of my own, I’ll admit I’ve never done that one. Still, I rely on so many hacks to make this crazy life a little easier, and so do so many other moms and dads. Below, we’ve rounded up some tips and tricks from parents all over the country on how they save time, money and sanity. Whether it’s freezing a month’s worth of lunches or dressing kids in chartreuse, we’re spilling their secrets for how they get shit done — and sometimes even make it look easy.
“I make a month’s worth of school lunch sandwiches, bag them and freeze them. Each morning, I throw them in lunchboxes. They defrost by lunch while keeping everything else cold.” — Vanessa Hunt, Wanderlust Crew
“Freeze your kids’ leftover Halloween or Easter chocolate… and chop it up to use when baking.” — Jordan Page, Fun Cheap or Free
“I save all babysitters in my phone with ‘babysitter’ in front of their name, so I just open my phone and search ‘babysitter’ when needed.” — Allyson Downey, founder of weeSpring and author of Here’s the Plan
More: 16 Parent Hacks You Need in Your Life
“Fill a rimmed cookie sheet with rice, cars and little dump trucks — it keeps toddlers entertained for hours.” — Sarah Banks
“Bring little sticky notes on flights. Your baby can stick them all over the tray in front of the seat and then pull them off.” — Brittany Hayward
“Keep baby powder in the car when you’re headed to the beach. At the end of the day, rub baby powder on your kids’ sandy skin and watch the sand just fall away — no scrubbing (or tears) required.” — Christine Munns
“Put kids in neon clothes when you travel and are on vacation — neon hats for snowy climates, neon T-shirts for the beach. It makes it much easier to spot kids in crowded places.” — Melanie
Bath time hack
“Instead of giving my little ones baths, I put them in the shower with me in their Bumbo Floor Seat — cleaning the Bumbo and the baby at the same time.” — Kimmy Crosby
“I hooked up Philips Hue lightbulbs in the nursery and set them on a dim, glorious color. Instead of being greeted by stark white light at 3 a.m., I was able to feed my son under gentle spa-like lights that eased me (and him) right back to sleep.” — Shala Burroughs
“We stopped using that pesky top sheet — now we just pull up the comforter or quilt and the bed is made.” — Shanda Munns