Parents don’t “hack” to be cool; they hack to get sh*t done, man. And we could all learn a thing or two.
In general, what the Internet refers to as “mom hacks” are becoming increasingly popular, especially as more millennials and digital natives become parents themselves. You’ll find YouTube channels dedicated to sharing ideas and thousands of Pinterest boards. A book called Parenting Hacks became recently became top-rated on Amazon.
“There are demands to think on our feet and come up with novel solutions to the challenges that seem to come from nowhere,” says Rachelle Doorley, a proud “hacking” mother of two and the author of TinkerLab, a blog dedicated to fun projects and ideas for little inventors. “Couple that with an understanding that the stages of childhood can pass quickly, and you have a need to find solutions that work, but don’t have to last for years and years.”
Doorley has tried all kinds of hacks and says it’s all about being productive. “Since hacks are shortcuts that make our lives easier, anything that helps keep things calm and eliminates some of the chaos of parenting is going to be a lifesaver.”
But in the search to make things easier, parents still don’t have time to scour the web for ideas…and compare themselves to moms and dads in the process.
“Begin with what’s challenging you the most. If it’s getting out the door on time in the mornings, look for ways to make the morning routine easier. If you have a new baby, look for ways to simplify your diaper bag,” Doorley suggests.
She shared some of her favorite and most effective hacks with us. We added our own, too.
1. Old wallets make surprisingly effective distractions.
“Carrying the old wallet in my purse was so easy, and a great way to keep my kids entertained when they were little and wanted to root through my purse at the doctor’s office,” says Doorley. She recommends filling it with play money and old cards so the little ones will be entertained with mommy’s things without actually damaging her stuff.
2. To-go emergency meds
“Mommy, I have a bellyache!” When you hear this one hour into a five-hour road trip, come prepared. Taking just a small amount of “just in case” meds can prevent emergency stops in the middle of Nowheresville.
3. Make snacking easy.
“Fill a basket with kid-approved, grab-and-go snacks such as seaweed, applesauce and crackers. Do the same thing for the fridge with whole fruit, yogurt and cheese sticks,” recommends Doorley. This way, kids will have easy access to healthy food, rather than having to search for things or ask for help every time.
4. Make-it-yourself pushpops.
We love the Modern Parents Messy Kids blog. Steph and her super cute kids post all kinds of creative parent solutions, like fun crafts and organizing tips. For instance, it can be hard for kids to understand why they can’t have the same treats as their friends or siblings, so give them a yummy alternative instead.
5. DIY sensory box
Sensory play is extremely important for early childhood development. This idea,= from Doorley’s blog was a “lifesaver.” “When my children were toddlers this came out almost every evening. I would switch out the objects inside to connect with the seasons or their interests.” She used sand and scoopers, dry wheat berries, funnels, cotton balls, snowy animal figurines, cloud dough and goop.
6. Keep track of medicine safely.
This simple idea from Lovezilla ensures accurate medication tracking, especially if you have more than one caregiver working different “shifts.”
7. Coloring fort
Step up the cardboard fort by letting your kids get creative with crayons. This fun, inexpensive toy will keep them occupied for a long time — and you can teach them about upcycling in the process.
8. Make socks slip-proof.
The What To Expect blog has some awesome inspiration for parents, and shares tips from moms like this one on its Instagram.
9. Temper tantrum hacks
Not all parenting hacks involve DIY treats or organizing solutions. They’re also an excellent way to share ideas for parenting skills. Kid Activities Blog, run by three moms and readers contributors, shares lots of ideas, like this great post about effective ways to handle a child’s tantrum. Check out resources on how to teach kids self-control or how to help a picky eater. It can be comforting to source ideas from those who have “been there.”
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