There are a few game-changing parenting hacks that have made a huge difference in our lives. We have four boys ages 12 to 4. Some of these hacks we’ve used for years and others we just recently implemented.

1. Draw a smiley face or put a sticker in shoes to identify left and right.
Our son’s Red Wagon Preschool teacher taught us this parenting hack. It is AMAZING!! Now Simon can put his shoes on by himself without asking us which way his shoes go. It’s magical.

Either use a marker and draw half of the face in one sole and half in another or cut a sticker in half and put each half in a side. 

Parenting hack: shoes with a smiley face drawn in the soles

2.  Learn address and phone number using a tune.
This parenting hack is called a pneumonic device. Your kid’s brain will have an easier time remembering the address and phone number when it’s associated with a song. Sing this example to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: 35, 35, East Main Street, Da-ven-port, I-o-wa.

3. Use a white noise machine. Get a portable one.
Drowning out noise for our kids has been really important for good sleep. It’s especially great when we are not at home. The comfort and normalcy of having a noise machine at someone else’s house or on vacation helps our kids fall asleep and sleep well. It’s especially great when we don’t have control over the sound in a place and the white noise can block it all out for naptime.

4. Take portable high chairs to the movies.
We absolutely did this parenting hack with our kids and it was AMAZING! Honestly, the portable high chair is one of our all time best kid items. We traveled with these everywhere. But…at the movies, these are great for toddlers. They are belted in and can’t run around, the seat doesn’t fold in half (in old school theatre seats) because the high chair is there, and there’s a tray for the popcorn and drink.

Also, for the movies – take sippy cups or toss-and go-cups with lids. I still do this and my kids are way older. I fill these kid friendly cups up with the large refillable drink of lemonade. 

parenting hacks: two high chairs

5. Teach babies the sign for more.
I’m not sure I could express what a game-changer this parenting hack was for our family. When each of our boys learned to sign “more” at dinnertime the frustration level for us deceased exponentially. Check out BABY SIGN LANGUAGE: 5 EASY SIGNS TO HELP YOUR BABY COMMUNICATE for how to teach your baby “more.”

6. Put coats on from the floor: overhead, upside down
When kids can dress themselves to leave the house, life changes forever! We highly recommend teaching your child to put their coat on the ground with the top closest to the kid’s feet, arms of the coat spread out. Then, have the child put their hands into the arm holes and swing the coat up above their head. Bring arms down to sides, and the coat will then slide on the kid like magic.

Now, I just need a great hack to teach our 4-year-old to zip his coat. Anyone have a hack for that?

Parenting hack: series of photos of boy putting on coat

7. Ask for a small cup and straw when eating fast food kids meals.
When we get Wendy’s (our fast food of choice) we ask for a small cup, lid, and straw to put the milk in. We spill so much less when we don’t use the milk container they give us because the lid helps just enough.

*Bonus parenting hack: If you’re using straws with child-sized cups at home: cut about an inch off the bottom to shorten the straw to be the same size as the cup. Otherwise, the straw has a tendency to tip out of the cup. We also like bendy straws best.

8. Buy 5-10 small kids scissors with rounded ends.
We have kids scissors in various locations around our house: in the bathroom upstairs, in the kitchen, and we carry one in our diaper bag and/or backpack. One of my favorite parenting hacks is carrying these in the diaper bag. You won’t believe how often you’ll use it, especially when it comes to cutting up food vs using a butter knife at a restaurant. 

9. Practice instruments in the morning before school.
We no longer have to ask/make our kids stop playing outside or schedule instrument practice like one more task after homework. Instead, practicing piano is part of their morning routine like eating breakfast, getting dressed and brushing their teeth. It’s great because they don’t argue about it, it makes their brains happy to play and it’s a win to have practicing done for the day.

6-year-old boy playing piano in the morning: Parenting hack

10. Color while sitting backwards on the potty.
I cannot vouch for this hack, however I wish I could go back and try it. You put your kid backwards on the toilet so they are facing the lifted up seat and their legs are wrapped around either side of the bowl sort of like a horse. Then, you give them dry erase markers and they can color while waiting to “go.” Of course, your toilet seat lid probably needs to be plastic for this to go well. But…it sounds like a great way for kids to sit on the potty and “try.”

What other parenting hacks have you used that have made a huge difference? Comment and share your best tips and tricks!

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A committed member of the boymom club, Meghan has five active, adventurous, crazy sweet men in her life she often calls her “favorite boys”. Charles is 10, Oliver is 8, Bennett is 5, Simon is 3 and her husband, Luke is a fun, patient, loving father to all these crazy characters. For 18 years, Meghan worked in higher education at a private college in recruitment, marketing, and social media. Now, working from home, she balances four boys, a great husband, freelance writing and social media consulting. Meghan grew up in St. Charles, IL (a western Chicago suburb), attended Augustana College, and is a true Quad City transplant - she loves living in this area! She likes to read, sing, plan adventures, travel and just be with her favorite boys.



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