Being a parent is amazing.
It’s also a constant battle to get stuff done, stay informed and do it all without losing your mind.
But as well as all the usual parenting tips and strategies that get passed down from generation to generation, there are plenty of clever tricks that can make a real difference to the daily life of anyone with kids, whether they’re babies, toddlers or teens.
Check out our top ten to get you started.
1. Always take a plastic bag with you
Like all of us, you’ve no doubt got a whole collection of plastic shopping bags taking up space in a drawer. But don’t just chuck them. Take one with you every time you head out of the house and you’ll have a ready made solution for countless child-related events.
Used nappy? Put it in the plastic bag. Stained clothing after lunch? Put it in the plastic bag. Empty wrappers and containers from snacks on the go? Put them in the plastic bag.
You’ll also earn points for being eco-friendly too.
2. Only buy white socks
How pairs of socks get separated while in the wash is one of those mysteries we’ll never get to the bottom of.
Where do they go? Well, it really won’t matter if you only buy your children white socks. Then even when some inevitably go missing, it’s no big deal. All the socks match all the other socks anyway.
This isn’t just a parenting hack, it’s a life hack!
Why didn’t we think of that? Only buying white socks will save so much time. (Matalan Unisex 5 Pack Socks, £3)
3. Hide valuables in the last place a thief will want to look
Let’s say you’re on holiday on the beach or by the pool. You all want to go in the water together but you don’t want to leave your wallet, keys and jewellery behind. Simply pop them in a nappy and put the nappy in your bag.
No thief will want to delve too deeply into that little package.
4. Scare those monsters away
If your little one is scared of monsters under their bed then get on their level and instead of trying to rationalise with them, find a solution they’ll be able to get on board with.
Simply buy a spray bottle and fill it with water. Label it ‘Anti-Monster Spray’ and each night as you’re tucking them in, spritz it around their bedroom.
Extra tip: Scent the water with lavender which will encourage a good night’s sleep.
5. Glitter be gone
Arts and crafts are fun… until glitter gets everywhere
Are your children at the arts and crafts stage? You know what it’s like. Glitter, scraps of paper and beads get everywhere and are impossible to clean up.
To make it easier either sweep a lint roller across all your messy surfaces or wrap double sided tape around your hand and do the same thing.
6. Hide vegetables in more appetising food
After a certain age children start to realise there are other foods out there than the ones being fed to them at home.
And who wouldn’t want to eat some chocolate instead of a plate of carrots and broccoli? So if your mini-me is becoming a fussy eater, start adding stealth veggies to the meals they love.
From blitzing veg into sauces to giving their favourite super sweet smoothies some extra fibre with spinach and avocado, there are tonnes of easy recipes that’ll make mealtimes a breeze.
Matalan’s Sectioned Food Tray (£6) will make eating fruit and vegetables more fun, especially if you’ve hidden all the goodness in something they love to eat
7. Laughter is the best medicine
Does your toddler like to throw tantrums at the most inopportune moments? Look them in the eye and tell them not to laugh at any cost. Say: “You’re very upset so do not laugh”.
After a few repetitions they’ll be giggling once more.
8. Streamline babysitting
If you have a few different babysitters, create a form listing all the essential information they’ll need and which can be reused every time you go out.
If you’re really clever, leave some lines blank, laminate the paper and then you can use non-permanent markers to fill in the details that change each time.
So include things like your mobile numbers, where you’ll be, what time you’ll be back, bedtimes, allowed snacks, suggested activities and any special instructions to make their evening more straightforward.
9. Father Christmas is watching…
If you can’t be bothered to enter into the world of Elf on the Shelf then here’s a great trick that has the same effect without all the effort.
In the run up to Christmas explain to your kids that the alarm sensors in the corners of the ceiling are actually cameras connected straight to Santa’s workshop in the North Pole.
If Father Christmas sees them misbehaving, then there’ll be no presents this year.
10. Learn online acronyms
Don’t let your tween or teen become more internet savvy than you
This will become more and more important the older your child gets so if you’re not familiar with online acronyms then start learning what they mean.
It will help you translate what your tween or teen is talking about on social media.
A few of the less worrying ones to get you started:
ROFL – Rolling on floor laughing
LMK – Let me know
ILY – I love you
YOLO – You only live once
SMH – Shaking my head
IKR – I know, right
TYSM – Thank you so much