Parenting Hacks to Simplify Your Life

Moming is hard, especially for us first-timers.

I started reading parenting books, magazines, and guides the day I found out I was pregnant. Then Baby Bird arrived, and none of the crap I’d read applied — or my brain was so scrambled from exhaustion that I couldn’t remember anything I’d read.

A year into motherhood, I now depend on parenting hacks. Nothing expensive, nothing outrageous. Everything moms need to simplify our lives.

  • Baby Bird has figured out how to remove my outlet plug protectors. She’s a brilliant child, and I should’ve known she wouldn’t be deterred by those little plastic things. So how do you stop a smart, 21st-century baby? With an old-school solution: duct tape. Remove your outlet cover and attach the tape to it, wrapping a little onto the inside. Replace the cover, insert the plug protectors, then lay the tape over them, making sure to mold the tape to them. Make sure to cut the tape to match the outlet’s length. Now stand back and watch your kid struggle to get access to the outlets. (This obviously isn’t a permanent solution, but it’ll buy me — and you — some time. In the meantime, pick up some duct tape to match or coordinate with your baseboards.)

Meme: If it can't be fixed with Duct Tape, then you're not using enough Duct Tape

  • Stick some of that tape over the speaker of the loud toy that’s been driving you nuts. Any tape will mute the noise, but I’ve found that Duct tape (maybe because of its thickness?) does a better job than Scotch or painter’s tape.
  • Keep Little One’s closet organized by using clothespins to clip her pants onto the hanger with the coordinating shirt. This really works so much better than laying the pants across the hanger’s crossbar.
  • You know I live for a pool noodle project. Here’s another one for you: Slice open a pool noodle, then stick half onto baby’s bedroom door. Why? Well, if your little one is anything like mine, she’s developed a fondness for slamming doors. That newfound habit raises some serious concerns about smashed or broken fingers. Sticking the pool noodle on the door will stop it from closing and protect those little hands.Pool noodle on door
  • Take a photo of your baby before you enter a crowded space. If you two are accidentally separated, you’ll have the details of what she’s wearing and her hairstyle. You’re thinking, “I dressed her. I’ll remember what I put on her.” If lost Baby Bird, I’d be too frazzled to describe what she was wearing. I’d rather take the pic and be safe than not and be sorry.
  • Does your little one have lots of hair that she hates having washed? I feel your pain. Baby Bird will sit through the washing, but the rinsing is a struggle. I even considered buying one of those bath visors, which are designed to keep water out of baby’s face and ears. Then I realized I could just use a squirt bottle — in my case a hair dye bottle — to control the water’s flow. Having to fill and refill the bottle lengthens bath time, but it keeps Baby Bird’s tears at bay. You can buy a bottle for less than a buck from any beauty supply store.
  • Baby Bird’s food needs to be cut into little pieces (for her safety and my peace of mind). To save some time, I’ve started using a pizza cutter to do the slicing. With a quality cutter, this tactic works for PB&J, grilled cheese, pancakes, cheese sticks, fruit (not really grapes), and soft vegetables.
  • If your baby doesn’t need her food to be cut, you can use heat-resistant cookie cutters to make her eggs or pancakes more interesting. For pancakes, make sure to grease the inside of your cutter and only pour batter up to its middle. When you see bubbles, CAREFULLY remove the cutter and flip the pancake. Christmas in September, anyone?
  • Does your child refuse to drink milk but eat yogurt? Try my homemade whole milk yogurt. Unstrained, it’s like eating original Yoplait. Strained through cheesecloth, you’ll end up with a yogurt resembling the Greek variety.

Yogurt made using whole milk and a Dutch Oven

Happy hacking!

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9 Practical Parenting Hacks Every Toddler Mom Needs to Know
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