I love my family dearly. But having a family can be hectic and stressful at times. So when I get any little tips and tricks to help me make family life a bit easier, I am going to jump on it. And yes, there are an abundance of tips out there, but which ones really help make parenting easier? I have gathered some of my favorite family hacks over the years and combined them here for you to enjoy.
1. Use this handy hook on the back of a high chair for all your baby bibs. Seriously, how do babies go through so many? At least with the hook, you always know where they are and they are within reach when feeding baby.
2. Speaking of high chairs, invest in a travel high chair. Here is a hook-on high chair that turns basically any chair into a high chair (which is awesome for restaurants and friends’ houses), and it folds up so you can put it away. Or get the high chair shown for $68 from Tinkle Tinkle Toot.
3. Avoid committing a gender faux pas by asking the baby’s name. Lean down and ask the baby directly. The parents will of course answer for them. Although, if it is a name that can go for both genders, you may still be out of luck (thanks Taylor’s and Jordan’s).
4. Save old cell phones and let kids use them as play phones. Or even keep it charged and let them use it for camera practice. You gotta start young to get the perfect selfie, right?
4. A pool noodle will be your best friend. It has several handy uses around the house. First, use it when transitioning your toddler to a “big kid” bed to prevent falling out.
6. Then use your pool noodle as a guard rail for your car in the garage. How many times do your kiddos open the door as wide as possible? Well this will help protect your car without stifling your child’s independence.
7. Use a pool noodle as a door block as well. Cover drafts in the house or use as a toddler proof door stop. Of course, you can always use the pool noodle in the pool as well.
8. Discipline your children by taking an XL man’s shirt and having your children wear it together. You will be surprised how quickly they will get along after that.
10. Spending time on the monkey bars will help with handwriting. Plus, what kid doesn’t love to monkey around. Read more about why certain activities can help strengthen the upper body and the fine motor skills that can lead to better handwriting.
11. Use a laundry basket when bathing babies so that their toys stay within reach.
12. Use different colored baskets for each child and put in living room or on stairs. At the end of the day, any toys or clutter still out gets thrown into the baskets. The kids can sort it out later and you don’t have to worry about the mess at night.
13. Use glue and glitter to add a little fairy dust sparkle to tooth fairy money. FYI: My kids will be disappointed if $5 is the going rate right now. Not going to happen at my house.
14. Have your child sit on an exercise or stability ball while doing homework. It helps with balance and concentration. This is good for adults as well. Read more about it here.
15. Invest in some cargo pants or capris. Since you stopped caring about fashion the second that baby popped out of you, it’s time to start wearing cargo pants every day, preferably a pair with many pockets. You can keep pretty much anything you need in there such as wipes, diapers, plastic bags, and bottles.
16. Put a few sprinkles on everything. They will turn any healthy smoothie or juice into a fun-filled endeavor.
17. Trace your child’s feet before going shoe shopping. Then you don’t have to take them along. This alone is worth it! It’ll also let you take advantage of any shoe sales you happen to stumble upon. Get more information about how a mom uses this method.
18. Need an easy way to tell twins apart? These shirts and onesies are especially nice if your twins go to daycare or preschool. Get them here.
19. Start chore practice early with this easy chore hack. Put tape in a square design on the floor and watch them have fun with this game. They won’t even know they are doing chores!
20. Keep pacifiers clean with these sauce to-go containers. Just ask for a couple extra next time you go out to eat.
21. Use a barrette to fix a loose tank top or swimsuit. Just snap on the back where needed.
22. To stop nighttime coughing, rub some vapor rub on your little one’s feet and put socks over them. Read why this works here.
23. To battle monster woes, make a fake spray. Decorate an old spray bottle and fill with water. Just spray where monsters may lurk.
24. A Capri Sun in the freezer becomes a fun and easy slushy. Great for these hot summer days. Just freeze for several hours, cut the top open, and scoop out with a spoon!
25. Speaking of freezing, freeze a pacifier in an ice cube tray with juice, milk, formula, or water to sooth a teething baby’s gums.
26. Provide a visual for how much toilet paper to use. My kids apparently think an entire roll is necessary each time they go, so this comes in handy. The less we parents have to plunge, the better.
27. This is one of my personal favorites. Cut a hole in the tip of a pacifier and stick a dropper through it to administer medicine. Administering medicine will go much smoother with babies and toddlers.
28. Glue guns are a must when parenting. Use a glue gun to prevent shoes from slipping. This works on slippery dress shoes or dress-up shoes.
29. Another use for your glue gun: plug up those holes in your bath toys so they don’t get all moldy.
30. Dance shoes can get expensive, but use the penny trick here and glue to a pair of shoes for instant tap shoes. Broadway, here they come.
31. A small spray bottle with 2 tablespoons of fabric softener and water = “Doll Detangler.”
32. Transform a DVD case into a travel kit. I usually put in art supplies because they fit so nicely. This is also one of my personal favorites. Not only does it travel well, it easily slips into your purse for waiting at the doctor’s office or other appointments.
33. Use a shoe caddy to store games and snacks on a long road trip. This one tends to get messy quickly so only use if you are the type of parent who cleans the car weekly.
34. To keep your little ones safe with sparklers, use a plastic cup as a shield.
35. Cut a sticker in half and place in shoes so your little one can put on shoes by himself. This little sticker trick may even help you get out the door faster.
36. Turn an old lotion bottle into a faucet extender so the little ones can reach. This is perfect for preschool teachers and daycares too.
37. If you are a gamer parent with small ones, this hack is for you. Give your kids controllers that are not hooked up. They will feel like they are doing the game with you. This will only work for the first couple years though.
38. Put temporary tattoos on your kids in case they get lost. This is great for traveling, being in a crowded place such as a theme park, or for kids on the autism spectrum that tend to wonder. These are by a company called Tottoos.
39. Cover a play table in oil cloth to create a water-resistant outdoor picnic table for the kids. Plus, this usually looks more stylish anyway. Get the directions and tons more examples here.
Hopefully these family hacks will help you in your parenting endeavors. Parenting is a tough job and every tip that helps keeps a parent sane just a little bit longer is worth it. But we sure wouldn’t trade these messy, sleep-deprived days for anything else. Happy parenting!
Laura Thompson is a guest writer who has 3 kids ages 14, 9, and 5 and has her own blog called Pursuing Life. In her free time (is there such a thing?) she teaches preschool and writes content for other websites. She also coaches cheerleading and photographs EVERYTHING. During the writing of this blog she broke up two fights and saved a Barbie crown from the eminent doom of the vacuum.