We all love a good parenting hack, don’t we?
A parenting or life hack is really just a fancy phrase for any strategy, technique, trick, shortcut or tool adopted to manage your time in a more efficient way. While I have written a whole book on Life Hacks, here you will find 150 of my best parenting hacks that will make your life easier and save your time, money and some stress too.
Oh and for the record don’t assume a hack is ridiculous or stupid until you have actually tried it out. The value of these life hacks will not be revealed while you are lying down on your bed, reading it. Rather it will become apparent when you get up and actually test out the hack. You need to GIVE IT A GO.
- Have children who are always fighting? Make the kids a special “get-along” shirt – an oversized t-shirt that they both must wear together, one-armhole each whenever they are in trouble. It’s the perfect method to force them to get along.
- Have a spare big box lying around? Place your child inside it with some colouring pens and let them go to work on it.
- Add a strip of Velcro to your wall to store soft toys neatly when your child has finished playing with them.
- Magazines can serve as an art palette as the glossy paper won’t absorb the paint. Just flip over to a new page when you are done and the page is dry.
- To prevent a child from rolling out of bed, place a pool noodle along the edge under the fitted sheet.
- Not camping but your kids feel like having some s’mores? Then use a skewer or chop stick to prick your marshmallow and melt over a candle or light flame on a stove top, under adult supervision. Place within two biscuits and a square of chocolate and you’re done!
- Paint old cookie sheet trays and turn them into magnet boards.
- Want to rid your child’s night-time cough? Then add Vicks vapour rub to the bottom of their feet before bedtime, put socks on top and their cough should ease after their sleep.
- Use baby powder to easily remove sand from your skin.
- Does your kid hate shopping for shoes? That’s okay. Just trace their feet on a piece of paper and take that with you to the shops instead.
- Visit the zoo when it’s cooler as the animals will be more active in an attempt to stay warm.
- Do your kids have a tendency to run straight into glass sliding doors? Minimise the risk of this happening by applying stickers to the glass.
- A pool noodle cut short and open on one side serves as a great door stopper. Just slip it over the door frame and no more worrying about the door slamming on your kiddie’s fingers.
- Kids need low seats to sit on and milk crates are the perfect size. Simply spray paint them with your favourite colour and secure a bright square seat cushion to the top with a ribbon.
- Rather than keeping all your supplies at the change table, place your diapers, wipes and creams in a basket so you can tote it around with you room to room, to do impromptu nappy changes elsewhere.
- Baby clothes are tiny so if you are strapped for space consider using a shoe organiser to store socks, singlets, hats, shoes, little shorts and tops.
- Poke your Popsicle stick through an upright muffin case liner, to catch any accidental spillage.
- As soon as your kids are born, reserve for them an appropriate email address. You can use it yourself to send them messages and photos so they will get a nice surprise with they eventually receive the password on their 18th
- Cover your trampoline springs with fit-to-size pool noodles to prevent injuries caused by landing on these springs.
- Instead of a playpen, kids can play quite happily in an inflatable pool filled with toys instead of water.
- Have a kid who loves to be close to you all the time? Then don’t throw out your old sweaters when you are done with them. Instead repurpose them to make a cover for a cushion, so your child can always feel close to you.
- Take a photo of your children as soon as you enter a fun park or crowded spot so you can show people exactly what they look like and what are wearing in the instance they get lost.
- Kids always losing the dice while playing a board-game? Then put them in a small clear container and get them to shake it that way.
- If your child ever spills some glitter, simply pick it up with some play dough.
- Make a beaded bracelet for your child with your phone number on it, in case your child ever gets lost in a public place.
- Use a barrette at the back to hold together the straps of a loose tank top.
- To soothe teething pain, freeze a pacifier pointing down into an ice-cube tray. You can choose to fill it with water, juice, milk or formula.
- To remove frozen ice-cream more easily from a container, heat up your spoon or knife beforehand.
- Use an old DVD case to store colouring pencils on one side and bits of blank paper on the other side.
- Hide your birthday or Christmas presents in a locked suitcase until you need to wrap them.
- A pizza cutter can cut up bits of food for picky eaters, just as well as a knife.
- Bake your cupcakes by inserting the batter into ice-cones for an interesting twist. You can then finish it off with real ice-cream or chocolate topping.
- Store cupcake and muffin cases in a mason jar so you can see exactly what you have in stock in your pantry.
- Empty soap bottles are perfect for filling up water balloons.
- Make sure to blow some air in when filling up water balloons as this will make it pop rather than just bouncing off someone when it hits them.
- Holding up the flaps on the side of a juice box prevents kids from squeezing it too much and messy spillage.
- When ordering ice-cream, always ask for a single scoop but when the server has finished, say “actually I would like a second scoop”. This is because the single scoop will always be bigger than the first scoop of a double cone.
- Use an old muffin tin as a pallet for kids while they paint.
- Useful trick for removing splinters- make a paste of baking soda and water, add to the splinter area and wait several minutes for the splinter to pop out of the skin.
- When sending a banana to school for your kid’s lunch, you can write messages into the peel using a knife or pen. The words will turn brown and stand out by the time he or she gets to eat it.
- Label kids drawers with what is inside them (for example, underwear and socks in first drawer, shirts in second drawer and pants in third.) This will help prevent everything been pulled out when they are searching for an item. .
- Worried that baby wipes contain too many chemicals for your babies and may irritate their skin? Then wipe them down with just water and a cotton ball or cotton cosmetic pad.
- Hate putting your baby down on those potentially dirty change tables in public restrooms? Then carry a spare pillowcase which is big enough to slip over the change pad or simply place it under them.
- Save the wrapping from your child’s gift and use it to line their dresser drawers. It is a beautiful way to preserve the memories of gifts from special friends.
- Want to make a string of balloons to hang up and decorate the walls at a party? Then run a needle and thread through the ends of balloons to hang them up easily.
- Trampolines make a perfect cubby house when covered with a fitted bed sheet.
- When throwing a Frisbee, use the same arm motion that you would when whipping a towel to ensure a straight throw.
- Use a laundry basket in a bathtub for older babies to keep toys close by and reduce slipping.
- Cut up apples ahead of time and then wrap a rubber band around the slices in the original shape of the apple. This will keep them from turning brown.
- For a drip-free popsicle, fill up the popsicle melds with Jell-O.
- Transform a normal water bottle into a Sippy cup by puncturing a hole through the lid and inserting a straw.
- Use a dot system to keep track of hand-me-down clothes in your household. Once your elder child is done with a piece of clothing, mark the label with a dot so you know it now belongs to the younger child.
- Instead of a bib use a bandanna to keep your child dry. They are economical and look adorable too.
- Create a sick bucket (including an old towel and cleaning spray) and keep it near the bedroom in case your child gets sick at night. This will save you from having to hunt stuff down in the middle of the night.
- Create a drawer or box in the pantry with healthy snacks that your child can pick from. Not only does it foster independence, it saves you from constantly having prep more food for your child while you are busy breastfeeding or tending to errands.
- When your child sees something they want at the shops, have them take a picture of it instead so it can either be added to their birthday or Christmas wish-list. This will help prevent tantrums or constant begging for new stuff.
- Stick a plastic hook on the back of your high chair to hang and store bibs easily.
- An ice-cube tray is great for serving lots of different little snacks to kids with a fussy appetite. Snack ideas include: grapes, berries, sultanas, pretzels, carrots and cubes of cheese.
- If you constantly forget which breast you last fed your baby from, leave a pillow or pillowcase on the side of the chair you just nursed from to help jog your memory.
- To help remember the time of your last nursing hang a non-working clock on the wall and after each feeding move the hands to the right time. That way you can remember the time of the last feeding.
- When your baby starts crawling, slip a pair of your own socks over their feet as this will cover their knees and protect their legs while crawling.
- If you are worried about falling asleep while feeding, set a timer next to you for 10 minutes so it wakes you in case you doze off. This will give you peace of mind during those late night feedings when you are feeling exhausted and sleep-deprived.
- If your kids aren’t keen on healthy greens or fruit smoothies then turn it into a Popsicle treat by freezing it in an ice pop mold.
- When you aren’t sure whether a baby is a boy or girl, ask the parent for his or her name. This will usually solve your guessing game, instead of making a gender faux pas.
- If your kids are scared of monsters, make a special monster spray to keep them at bay. Your child can spray a fine mist of water to chase away whatever is scaring her.
- To wrap up birthday presents when you are out of wrapping paper, simply use comics from a newspaper as an inventive alternative.
- Use heat-proof cookie cutters to make pikelets or eggs more interesting.
- Paint an old coffee table with chalkboard paint so your kids can entertain themselves for hours, doing drawings, working out homework problems and playing hang-man.
- Chalkboard paint is also great for the walls. You can paint one of your walls in the kitchen or playroom and use it to keep the kids occupied while you are cooking or attending to other tasks.
- Push your child on a swing from afar by using a string or rope. This is most useful if you feel like sitting down to do the job.
- When playing a video game and a toddler wants to join in, give them a spare controller so they feel like they are joining in too.
- If you have a child that insists on being patted to sleep, place a glove filled securely with beans on her back until she has drifted off. Make sure to remove later, to prevent injury.
- Store playing cards in a soap box container to prevent them from getting lost. You can also use a soap box to store crayons or beads.
- Have a spare bean bag cover? It’s perfect for storing stuffed toys.
- Instead of telling your child what to do, give them two options with the same outcome so that they feel like they have control over what they are doing.
- When you put your baby in the backseat, toss your wallet and phone on the backseat as well so that when you reach your destination, you don’t forget your child if they are sleeping soundly behind you. This life hack has the potential to save a life.
- If you are doing art or craft in the house, protect your floor and surfaces with an old shower curtain.
- Young kids often get confused when putting on their shoes so cut a sticker in half and put the left side on the inside of their left shoe and right side in their right shoe.
- When your child is becoming more independent, create a special space in the cabinet for her with colouring books, toys and games to keep her occupied when you are busy attending to other chores.
- To apply nappy rash ointment, use a clean makeup sponge as the ointment will go on faster and more evenly and there’s less chance of scratching their delicate area with your nails.
- Take a photo of an item before you lend it out to someone so you don’t forget it’s missing.
- Make it a rule of thumb that children can only touch your baby on areas covered with clothing, and not their bare skin to decrease the chance of spreading germs if they haven’t properly washed their hands.
- Q-tips (ear cleaners) are perfect for cleaning the hard to reach spots in a Sippy cup or drink bottle.
- To ease a coughing baby, take them to the bathroom, close the door and run a hot shower. The steam will help clear their congestion.
- If you have unpacked a toy or product but have no idea how to put everything back inside the way it was originally packed, just watch an unpacking video for that product. Alternatively take a photo of the inside before unpacking so you know exactly where to put things back.
- Lemon juice is perfect for making invisible ink. Have your kids write secret notes to each other by dipping a Q-tip (cotton bud) into lemon juice. Once its dry, you can iron the sheet of paper to reveal the message.
- Run out of paint and paintbrushes? Simply add a few drops of food colouring to a small amount of water and give your children Q-tips (cotton buds) to paint away. You can use an ice cube tray or old egg container to hold the different colours and both can be freely tossed away after use.
- If your child hates taking medicine, let them suck on an ice-cube first as this will help numb their tongue and the bitterness of the medicine won’t be so obvious.
- Mouthwash can be used to sooth inflammation and itchiness caused by bug bites. Simply apply to the bite using a cotton ball.
- Kids have lice? Then consider removing some of the live nits from their hair with a vacuum and appropriate nozzle. Obviously diligent attention must be later made to remove the actual eggs but this may help catch some live lice in their tracks before applying a proper solution.
- Frozen soy-sauce packets make great mini-icepacks for children’s boo-boos.
- To prevent goggles from fogging up, fill a squirt bottle with one part baby shampoo and two parts water. After you have applied it to the goggles, don’t forget to rinse.
- Cutlery trays are perfect for use in your bathroom drawer for storing individual toothbrushes and toothpaste when you have multiple kids sharing a single bathroom.
- Need a drink stirrer at your party? Then use a lollipop instead of a traditional drink stirrer, to help make things more fun for kids.
- Labelling kid’s stuff can be expensive but there’s no reason why you can’t just use an ordinary address label in the place of a name label. While it isn’t waterproof, it’s great for labelling books and folders. For labelling smaller items like pencils, print your child’s name out multiple times on paper in a small font, cut it out and use clear contact to cover.
- To help make sure your child is eating enough vegetables, sneak them into all the foods they love. One cup of vegetables can be added for every 500 grams of meat in a meat loaf or minced dish like Spaghetti Bolognese. Veggies can also be generously added to lasagne and pizza.
- Even sweets can be made to be healthier. Stir finely chopped spinach into a box of brownies and they won’t even know the difference. Vegetables like carrots and celery can also easily be added to a fresh fruit juice without being too noticeable.
- We can spend hours searching for that perfect birthday present, especially for our kid’s friends we aren’t that familiar with. When in doubt, just buy a gift card to their favourite store. You can never go wrong with that.
- If you have a tendency to forget the last time you took your medicine or anti-biotics then use a permanent market to note the day and time on the bottle itself.
- You can quickly sanitise plastic toys by putting them in the dishwasher, washing it on normal and then letting them air dry.
- Do your kids often say they are bored? Then get them to write up a list of all the fun things they can do to keep busy at home. Some examples include: playing with Lego, building a cubby house out of sheets, enjoying a game of soccer outside, drawing, painting or reading a book. Whenever they whinge or moan about having nothing to do, send them to look at the list.
- Same goes for family outings and day trips- being prepared is half the victory! Have a list of ideas ready to go, PRINT IT OUT and keep it on the fridge.
- Ideas include: trips to the museum, beach or fun-park, bushwalking, ferry or train rides and picnic at the park. That way you don’t waste any time thinking about what you could be doing instead of just doing it.
- To help prevent ice-cream from leaking out of the bottom of a cone, place a tiny marshmallow at the bottom before adding the ice-cream.
- To ease the discomfort of cleaning scrapes and cuts, use a small spray bottle filled with water to wash away the dirt first. This will make it easier for you to clean the wound.
- To make cuts and the sight of blood less scary to deal with, use a red washcloth to apply pressure instead of a white cloth. Keep it in the freezer so it’s handy and cold in the case of an emergency.
- Want to save your child’s life or any loved one in the case of an emergency? Then take a first aid course which will teach you CPR, the Heimlich Manoeuvre and rescue breathing. If you can’t get to a class then at least become knowledgeable about these lifesaving skills. There are plenty of online videos which provide you with instructions on what to do in the case of an emergency.
- Instead of probing your child’s skin with a needle to pull the end of a splinter out of the skin, place a piece of Scotch tape over it and pull the tape off. It should make it easier to then remove the splinter with tweezers.
- If you see a poster for a lost animal or pet and you think there is a chance you may be able to help, take a photo of the information so you have it on hand if you need it later.
- Instead of throwing away baby teething rings when they are no longer needed, put them into the freezer for an instant, fun-to-hold kids ice pack, to help soothe bumps and bruises.
- You can actually make many small ice packs by cutting a clean sponge into several different smaller sizes, dipping each piece into water and storing them in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer.
- If you need to tend to a head injury but find it hard to keep an ice pack on your child’s head then use an adult’s cooling eye mask with an adjustable strap to keep it secure over their bump.
- Baby teething gel or ice can help diminish pain while removing a splinter as it numbs the skin.
- Better to be safe than sorry! Keep an emergency contact list on your fridge and always provide your child’s babysitter, care-providers, family and friends with this information if you are leaving the child in their care. Photocopy this information so you always have it on hand in case of a medical emergency.
- Want to know where your young child is roaming to around your home? Then hang bells on the doors of your home as the ringing will alert you if they are opening a door. This is especially important to have on the front and back door and any doors which leads to stairs.
- Even better, hang a bell to your crawling child or to the shoes of your toddler so you can hear them as they explore their home safely.
- To stop children from getting their fingers jammed in a door, throw a towel over the top of the door, near the hinges, as this will prevent the door from closing on them. This will help stop them from getting locked in the bathroom too.
- Park your car rear-end to the garage, in order to help prevent one of the most common driveway accidents with children – a driver backing out over a small child. You will still need to check both your rear-view and side-view mirrors before moving forward and continue checking as you slowly exit your driveway.
- Bring an inflatable pool to the beach and fill it with water, under a shade umbrella for younger child to enjoy under adult supervision.
- A playpen isn’t just for babies! If you have an older child that wants to play with toys that present a choking risk to babies, then the playpen is a safe place for them to play with their small toys and out of reach from their younger siblings.
- To test if a toy is a choking hazard for a baby, test it out with a toilet paper roll. If the toy fits through the roll, it is too small for a young child to play with.
- Is your child scared of visiting a doctor? Then get him or her to bring along their doll that also isn’t feeling well and have the doctor examine it first in order to take away some of their fear.
- Set a timer to go off every two hours when you are at the pool or beach so you remember to reapply your children’s sunscreen. Having just one case of bad sunburn in your childhood doubles your risk of developing skin cancer later in life.
- Want to take your playpen outside so your child gets some fresh air but don’t have a sun canopy? Then use a fitted sheet instead to protect your child with harmful UV rays.
- It isn’t enough for your child to hold their toothbrush in their mouth for a few seconds. To properly clean their teeth they will need to brush all their teeth for at least two minutes. To make sure this happens, buy a two-minute egg timer (or get them to flip it over one more time, if you only have a one-minute timer).
- For a simple backyard sandpit, set up a small tent and fill the bottom with sand. This is the perfect setup as it is always covered, prevents grass from growing through and you can close it up at night to keep the animals out.
- Easily remove the concert wristbands by turning it inside out and pulling on the excess tab.
- Use black-out shades in order to keep your child’s room dark and prevent early morning wake-ups, due to the sun shining in and waking him or her up early.
- To get boys excited about potty-training put a few drops of food colouring into the toilet bowl and encourage him to go so he can see it change colour.
- To encourage young children to write thank you notes, keep some spare photos of your children in a box. Have them glue it onto some construction paper and sign their name and you can finish it off with a short thank you note.
For more life hacks, please feel free to check out my book LIFE HACKS – 1001 Clever Ideas To Save You Time, Stress and Money
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