Alright, I'm just going to preface by saying that these mom hacks may not blow your mind or change your life. Because, to be honest, I feel like I always expect hacks to be something effortless that completely changes my life. So, I'm not going to promise you that. And, I can't promise that they will work for you because that's just parenthood…different things work for different kids and different families. BUT, these parenting hacks have made my life easier (even if it's not in a giant capacity) so I hope they can help make things easier for you too, even if it's just a bit.
Let's get into it…
Don't buy everything
This goes back to what I said earlier, that different things work for different babies. We got the mamaRoo because it was supposed to be the best thing ever and both of our babies HATED it. So, it ended up being a waste of money. That's why I usually say to stick to the essentials for your baby shower/other gifts, or ask for money. That way you can figure out what works for your baby and buy it when you need it.
I did a whole blog on the actual essentials for a newborn. Because it can feel super overwhelming and like you need a million things right away. But you don't. You need a few key things and the rest can come later.
Talk to the baby about the toddler
The baby isn't going to understand who the toddler is, but if you're bringing another baby home, the toddler will likely feel like a lot of your attention is now taken away from them. That can be magnified when we are always telling the toddler things like “okay I'm going to put the baby down for a nap” or “I'm going to feed the baby now”. So, when your toddler hears you say things to the baby like “I'm going to get your sister a snack” or “I'm going to play with your sister while you nap”. They hear about themselves too and it makes them feel more included.
This one was a game changer for us. I talk to the baby like she understands (even though she doesn't) and it helps keep things seeming more fair/equal in the eyes of my toddler.
Wow, wow, wow! This one has been HUGE for me. I'm an external processor and I need to talk things out. My husband gets very burnt out talking about the same things over and over. Plus, it can be super beneficial to have someone who isn't emotionally involved (aka the therapist) to talk to and get a different perspective/advice from.
There are also postpartum specific therapists. I already had a therapist that I love so I stuck with them, but if I didn't, I definitely would have found one that specializes in postpartum because that was an absolutely gnarly time for me, both go arounds. Better Help is a great resource for this and you can even filter by postpartum therapists. And, you can filter by a bunch of other stuff too (gender, religion, etc. of your therapist), so you can get paired with the right therapist that will make you feel the most comfortable/supported. And using Better Help is all virtual, making it much easier and more doable for busy parents.
Socks by the front door
I saw this on a TikTok or something, but you keep your kids socks by the front door (or in the laundry room) where the kid's shoes are so you no longer have to go running back to their bedroom to frantically grab a pair of socks while trying to get out the door.
I did this, it's an amazing hack, and now I need to put my own socks by the door too.
Carry extra water
When my first daughter was three months old, we did 75 Hard. After I had my second, we tried to do it again. And failed.
With 75 Hard, you have to drink a gallon of water a day. I have a half gallon water bottle that I take with me everywhere now. Do I track it and try to get a gallon every day? Nope! But, the thing holds a lot of water and having it with me all the time means my kids can drink from it if I forget their water bottles, or I can use it to refill theirs when I do bring them.
I also use it for dirty hands, dirty feet, dirty shirts…all of the things.
Include your children in tasks
When I read Hunt, Gather, Parent, my motherhood parent changed drastically because I had been wondering how I could possibly get everything done (the laundry, the dishes, the cooking, the errands…the list goes on) and still play attention to my kids and play with them. I felt a ton of guilt about not playing with them when I was trying to do all of the household things. The book tells you that more than a kid needs toys, they need to learn how to live. So include them in your tasks. You get to do stuff together while teaching them to do things.
And yes, when you're unloading the dishwasher and ask them to hand you the fork, it might end up on the ground. Ya throw that back in the dishwasher, rewash that thing, and it's all good! The whole point it to let them do it their own way and they'll get better each time.
Check YOUR screen time
We get so worried about our kids' screen times. What about YOUR screen time?!
You need to figure out something sustainable and doable. For me, this is why I invested in an Apple watch. I really need texts, calls, maps, and music. So there are certain times of the day I try to leave my phone in the kitchen so I have access to those 4 things I need on my watch, but it prevent me from doing the mindless scrolling on Instagram.
I scroll when I'm bored, I scroll in front of my kids, I scroll when I'm breastfeeding…I don't want to do that. I don't why my kids to thing it's more important that whatever we are actively doing. And of course, I haven't eliminated scrolling completely, but I have made leaps and bounds.
And get more comfortable sitting with your thoughts for a bit. You think that your phone is giving you a release, but it's not. Lowering my screen time has done a lot for my mood and overall happiness
Acknowledge your child's experience
I learned this one in How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen.
Here's an example… let's say you're at Starbucks and your kid is asking for a cake pop at 7 am and you say no. (I'll be honest some days I say okay to this…what the heck! But, let's say this is a day you say no). I'll say something like “we're not going to get a cake pop today, but show me the one that you like. I see a brown one, a pink one, a white one”. And my daughter says “I like the pink one”. I say “ooo the pink one with sparkles? I think that's my favorite too”. And then we move on.
And I'm telling you, most of the time, it does the trick. Like MIRACULOUSLY. It's crazy.
We do something very European of us occasionally and walk to our grocery store. I think it's about a half mile and if you are European you're like “why do you seem proud?”. Well because it's way faster to drive so that's what us Americans would do is just drive. Well, on our way to the grocery store is a park. So, I will tell my toddler “we are going to walk to the grocery store but we are not going to go to the park”. And then when we get to the park, I acknowledge the park by saying something like “say hi to the park. We're not coming to you today, we'll see you soon”.
When you say something, mean it. This has helped our kids to know that we say what we mean AND it sets the expectation up front so there isn't a meltdown when we pass the park and don't go.
Be firm AND kind
There are two things parents need to be…firm and kind.
My older daughter loves getting stickers when we go to Target. But, I want her to learn to ask for things for herself. So, I always tell her “if you want a sticker, you need to go ask the lady for one”. And at first she'll say no and be like “I don't want to ask”. And I tell her “okay, that's fine. If you're okay not getting a sticker, don't ask. But if you want a sticker, then you can go ask her if you can please have a sticker”. I'm not being mean, but I am being firm. And because we have stuck to this, she knows I'm not going to give in and do it for her so her only two options are to ask herself and get a sticker or not ask, and not get one.
It teaches them that they have a choice, and their choices have consequences, but it also teaches them that I mean what I say and I'm not just going to give in if they keep asking.
A house reset
Good golly! My husband works shift work so sometimes our house literally falls apart until his rotation is over. But, I try very hard during transitional times or right before bath time to set a 15 minute timer where they get to watch tv and I pick up all the things and “reset” the house (and my mind). Or, even better, we pick up together. I on a whim created a “toy monster” and told the girls they better pick up the toys before the toy monster gets them. And then I created this elaborate story this night about how they are small and can't really jump on things, they're nice and scared of people, and they live outside most of the time, but they love toys so we need to pick them up so they don't take them.
Just getting toys and things picked up sounds small, and it is, but it makes a huggeeee difference for me and my sanity.
I think this is a very important skill for women to learn, and children especially. There's a little bit of a nudity factor which freaks me out at times, so make sure there's no one around, but you hold their little thighs, and their back goes against your torso, you squat and hold them out, and they can pee. That way you don't get anything on you, no pee gets on their feet, etc. They can just pee real quick and get back to playing.
We've used this on walks, camping, etc. It's a handy little trick.
Ask yourself “did they feel loved”
When I start to get the mom guilt, I ask myself “did they feel loved?”.
We went on a staycation which was a little bit disastrous. Mostly because my husband was coming off a shift change and was just all around exhausted. So, one of the days, the girls were watching tv pretty much all day, and afterwards I was like wow, I am the worst mom ever. But they I thought did they feel loved? Did they feel like they had a good day?, were they fed?, did they get a chill day?, did they get to snuggle with mom and dad?, did they get to go outside a bit?. YES to all of that! And that's what matters, so that absolves a lot of the guilt for me.
Okay, this seems like a strange one, but I have learned so many amazing parenting things from books and it's just a way better way for me (and my mental health) to consume the information, compared to TikTok and Instagram. Two of them I've already mentioned, but these are my top 3 recommendations…
The author travels and learns about all these other cultures and shares the best insights on things they're doing in other countries that we can implement. And, it gives you the freedom to be like okay I don't have to do things a certain way just because it seems like that is what everyone around me is doing. You learn everyone is doing it different across the world and it's all fine. Whatever works best for you and your family is the best option.
This teaches you how to communicate with your toddler appropriately and really work as a unit instead of constantly feeling like you're nagging your kid to do something.
This one is very interesting.
According to her, there. are 4 types of children and when you figure out which one yours is, she gives you tips on how to best manage them. I could honestly tell both of my kids' personality types before their first birthdays and her tips have really helped with both of them.
Again, when you come up with these literally parenting hacks, it can make you feel like a bit of a genius. So please shares yours with me (and those around you). And I hope at lease a couple of these tips can help make your life a bit easier, like they have for me.