Parenting is the single most beautiful and wondrous experience in life. It is also one of the most challenging, grueling, and exhausting jobs a human will ever take on. While the good days are pure heaven, the rough days will take the wind out of even the most patient or seasoned parent's sails. To better navigate parenthood, use all the best mom hacks you can get your hands on. These 15 tips and tricks are among the very best around.
Make Monster Spray
Do you have kiddos who hate bedtime because they are afraid of those supposed monsters living under their bed or in the closet? Well, you're in luck. Pick up a spray bottle from the store (often found in the dollar bin section) and throw in some fragrant essential oils and water. Label the bottle "Monster Spray" and let your little ones spray the mist around their room before bedtime to banish all beasts. For an added bedtime bonus, choose essential oils that are known to help reduce stress and promote relaxation, to get your kids to hit the sheets sooner.
Conquer Laundry Time
Laundry is the bane of existence for so many moms, and one of the more mundane chores a parent faces. Laundry almost always takes longer than it should, and sorting clothing can become a maddening puzzle of whose shirt is whose, and where did all the socks go? Label everything! If you have several children close in age, label the tags on their shirts, pants, and undergarments. Labels will make sorting a cinch.
Socks. Where do all of those socks even go? (Hint: check behind the inner rubber ring at the top/front of the washing machine). The socks go into the washing machine and then supposedly into the dryer, but they never come out in a pair. Disappearing socks really are one of life's greatest mysteries. To stop socks from going rogue during the laundry cycle, place them in a pillowcase. Tie the pillowcase with a hairband and toss it in the washing machine. When it's time to dry, throw the entire thing into the dryer. Imagine the amount of money you are about to save on socks alone!
Streamline School Lunches
For this one to work, you need to take a section of your fridge and dedicate it to your family's lunches. Every Sunday night, make enough sandwiches for each kid for every day of the week. Place sandwiches in Tupperware. Now grab a couple more Tupperware containers and add in cut-up fruits and veggies. Next, dole out desserts, chips and snacks in individual plastic baggies. Set aside juice boxes or bottles of water. With some savvy preparation and organization, lunches are completely made for the week! Depending on the age of your kids, you can either go through each morning and easily "make" their lunch in about ten seconds or, if your kids are old enough, leave the task of lunch making entirely up to them.
Elevate Your Extra Sheets
Bed sheets can be used for so much more than creating a soft place for your child to lay their head at night. For toddlers and small kids, sheets can be tied around a table to create a fun little under-hammock to spend the day playing in. Crib sheets can get popped onto a pack-and-play during outdoor time to keep flying critters far from your baby's head. Fitted sheets make great beach blankets. Arrange the fitted sheet upside down on the sand, and tuck larger beach items (cooler, etc.) into the sheet's built-in corners to create a sand-free play zone for all.
Clean Toys in a Snap
Okay, so you know those LEGO and action figures that pretty much either live on the floor or in your kid's mouth? Yeah, those are dirty. But have you ever thought to seriously wash them? Probably not. Here's a super-easy way to get it done: take a mesh laundry/bra bag and place the toys inside. Pop that bag inside your washing machine and head out to run errands (it's going to be loud). When you get home, your kids have clean toys! Everyone wins. This hack works well with hard plastic toys, but throwing Barbies, dolls, or toys with super tiny pieces in the washer isn't advised.
Surefire Way to Get Kids to Do Chores
Having trouble getting your kids to do their chores? If so, make chores worth your children's time. Each morning, change your Wi-Fi password, and then print out a list of chores that must be completed to get access to it. Common tasks to be completed might include:
- Make your beds
- Put away your clothes
- Rake the yard
Once all of the assigned chores are completed, kids are granted the coveted Wi-Fi password. This really is the most beneficial during the summer and on the weekends, but it's a great tip, nonetheless.
Create a "You Got Grounded" Get Out of Jail Free System
So your kids misbehaved, and now they're in trouble. But grounding them for two weeks? No, thank you! That is going to end up far harder on you than it will be on them. When kids land themselves in a pickle, create a "get out of jail" map for the little monsters. The map/note should say something like the following: "Surprise! You're grounded. To gain your freedom back, you need a total of 500 points. Points are as follows: dusting the whole house = 100 points, washing my car = 75 points, etc." With this savvy system, you get some free help around the house, your kid actually has to work to get out of trouble, and you don't have to stare at them as they play video games for two weeks straight.
Make Frozen Marshmallows for the Win
No matter the age of your kids, everyone experiences an "ouchie" every now and again. The problem with traditional ice packs is that they're hard... and they leak. So, what's a mom to do? Freeze marshmallows, of course! Place a bunch of large marshmallows in a Ziploc bag and freeze them. It's as easy as that. Next time your child gets hurt, simply grab the bag and prepare yourself for an easy, no-mess booboo fixer. You may also opt to steal away to a bathroom and shovel some of those bad boys into your mouth on extra stressful days.
Tuck a Trash Can in the Car
When you're a mom, your car tends to look like a war zone. From school drop-offs to sports practice, it seems like you and the kids are always in the car. Living in your family vehicle will create quite the mess in no time flat. To avoid sitting amongst McDonalds cups and granola bar wrappers, take a plastic cereal container, plop a plastic grocery bag into it, and name that the car's SOLE trash area. Every few days, toss away the old bag and pop in a new one. Instant mess saver!
Use a Shoe Holder as the Ultimate Organizer
Kids love toys with teeny tiny parts. This is a fact. Those parts end up everywhere. You step on them, you spend 2 hours looking for a specific head of a LEGO doll, and you are going to have major back problems someday from bending over to constantly clean those bits and pieces up. Tiny toys are part of the parenting game, and they aren't going anywhere, so the best you can do is keep them all sorted.
For a few dollars, moms can achieve tiny toy organizational nirvana. Hanging plastic shoe rack organizers with pouches are perfect for storing small toys neatly. One pocket gets toy cars, another gets small action figures and another houses some other miniature toy collection that your kid can't do without. LEGO of every color? Use one of these shoe organizers to sort them as well. Does your teenage daughter have more hair and makeup supplies than the local Ulta store? Get her a shoe organizer STAT.
Differentiate Your Kids' Shoes
Little kids shoes are so small that it can oftentimes be difficult to tell the right shoe from the left shoe. Plus, once kids start tying their own shoes, they get fiercely independent about the task at hand... or rather at foot. To make things so much easier and avoid temper tantrums and blisters alike, simply grab a Sharpie and write a small but easy-to-read "L" and "R" on the soles of your kids' shoes. Problem solved.
Another key to solving the shoe conundrum is through stickers. Stickers are a mom's best friend and they are useful for much more than rewarding good behavior. Rip a sticker in half and place one half on the inner sole of one shoe and the other half on the inner sole of the other shoe. When the shoes are put together, the stickers should look as if they are rejoined, like solving a puzzle.
Stock Up on Coffee Cup Lids
When summer strikes, parents head out to Costco and buy mass amounts of popsicles. Kids will do almost anything for a simple popsicle. It is one of their favorite forms of currency and one of mom's go-to means of bribery. While you can get your child to pick up toys, simmer the 'tude down or complete a workbook page with a small sugary treat, popsicles are known for being more trouble to mom than they are worth by the time they are gone. They are one of the stickiest, messiest foods that your kid can eat. To reduce mess, and work for you, pop a disposable coffee cup lid on the bottom of the popsicle to catch all the drips. In a pinch, you can substitute a cupcake liner for a disposable lid.
Wrangle Wanderers & Waterproof Your Bath Toys
Bath time is a parenting mission all unto itself. It doesn't have to be one of the more trying times of the day, however, thanks to some simple hacks. To prevent bath toys with holes in them from accumulating mold, plop a couple dabs of hot glue in the holes. If your water wanderer has a tendency to reach out for floating toys and go crashing into bathtub walls, place a laundry basket in the tub, with your baby and their bath toys inside the basket. Everything will stay snug in the basket, making bath-time easier and safer.
Use Beverage Holders in the Car to Eliminate Messes
Sometimes mowing down fast food in the family car is unavoidable. A family of starving children tossing back mass quantities of french fries will result in some level of mess and destruction. In order to combat this, ask for a drink tray for every one of your children, and then place their meals on the drink trays. This keeps the mess contained while allowing kids to access items in their car meal more easily. It's really a win-win.
Make Bracelets Featuring Your Phone Number
Even in our digital age, most kids don't have a cellphone until middle school. But what to do about those little ones who are too young for a cellphone yet old enough for playdates? Make them a bracelet using letter and number charms that list out your phone number. This way, if they ever want to come home early or ask to spend the night, they can easily jump on the phone and get ahold of you. You can also purchase stretching wrist bands and write your personal details on the inside of the band using a fine-tipped Sharpie marker.
The goal of parenting is to raise good little human beings. This is going to take a boatload of endurance, love, and patience on your part and you'll have to keep it all up for a solid couple of decades at least. Make your parenting journey smarter, not harder, with some of the best mom hacks known to mankind.