Parenting is hard work. Which is why knowing a few tried-and-true shortcuts—a.k.a. hacks—is always welcome.
To help deliver a bunch of sage mother-to-mother advice all at once, Vanessa Quigley, the co-founder of Chatbooks and a mother of 7 (!), recently published Real Moms, Real Hacks: 107 Parent-Tested Tips and Tricks To Save You Time, Money, and Sanity. Below, we pulled some of our favorite hacks from the book. Read ‘em, and apply where needed.
“I used to be terrible at falling asleep with my makeup on. Then I realized I have to be in the bathroom to bathe my kids each night, so I wash my face while I am in there. Voilà, life changing.” – Jenny A.
“Switch out a regular light bulb for a disco one and any time becomes party time!” -Ashlee Chappell
“With two kids under 3 and a busy, demanding job, I’m always craving a little ‘me-time’ by the weekend! My husband and I each get a weekend afternoon ‘off-duty.’ From 1-5pm on Saturday, I can do whatever and he does the same the next day.” -Zhou Zhang
“I assign ‘categories’ to each day—Monday is library day, Tuesday is the pool, Wednesday is art day, etc. It cuts down on decision making and it helps me keep track of everything.” -Lisa Valentie Clark, actress and “Real Mom” of Chatbooks commercials
“Bring little sticky notes on flights: your baby can stick them all over the tray in front of the seat, then pull them off.” -Brittany Hayward
“Use muffin tins instead of plates to entice kids to eat: Simply put a different food in each cup. Our favorites: Grapes, berries, oranges, apple slices, cheese cubes, deli turkey, crackers, carrots or other veggie and dip, cubed avocado, yogurt, chocolate chips, popcorn, almonds, and raisins.” -Erika Peterson, @cleansimpleeats
“I save all babysitters in my phone with ‘Babysitter’ in front of their name, so I just open my phone and search ‘Babysitter’ when needed.” -Allyson Downey, founder of weeSpring
“I’ve stopped trying to multi-task. I found that instead of being able to do two things at once, I was doing everything poorly. I now try to do only one thing at a time: When I’m at work, I focus on work.
When I’m at home, I don’t work. Instead, I’m with my family and am fully engaged.” -Susan Peterson, CEO of Freshly Picked
“I take turns with my kids hiding (and then finding) a few toys in a room. We use binoculars and call it a safari. For my older kids, I pull out 8 to 10 items and they have to try to memorize them.
Then I take away one of the items and they have to identify what’s missing. Sometimes we turn the tables and I’m the one who has to figure out the missing item.” -Jennifer Beyer Toone
“To make bedtime easier, I do ‘sleepytime balls.’ If my kids go to sleep without getting up, crying, or stalling, then in the morning I give them one puffy pom pom ball that we put in a mason jar. When the jar fills up, there’s a prize. If they don’t go to sleep right away, I take one out.” -Heather Mildenstein
“Keep baby powder in the car when you’re headed to the beach. At the end of the day, rub baby powder on your kids’ sandy skin and watch the sand just fall away—no scrubbing (or tears) required.” -Christine Munns