How many times have you heard the adage that kids don’t come with an operating manual? Doesn’t it seem like no matter how many baby books we parents read, or how many developmental authorities we follow — or, let’s be honest, how many insta-moms we emulate — at the end of the day we are all really just kinda winging it? (Please tell me it’s not just me?!)
Luckily, most of the skills needed for being an effective parent can be learned. Over time, we somehow acquire the ability to catch falling glasses of milk mid-air and to creep out of a sleeping toddler’s room with all the stealth of a trained ninja. We can braid hair, brush teeth, pack lunches, fix boo-boos, and wipe bums without blinking.
Then there’s other stuff that you pick up from other parents: little tricks and tips, remedies and resolutions that are so simple that they make you go “now why didn’t I think of that?”.
What follows are ten of my biggest “a-ha!” moments:
1 – Hair spray to remove temporary tattoos – a few months ago, my oldest son was starting to resemble David Beckham with nearly a full sleeve of (temporary) tattoos. Try as I might, those winking Lightening McQueens and swinging Spidermen would NOT come off with soap and scrubbing. Then I saw online another parent say they use a little hairspray to remove an old temporary tattoo with a single swipe. I was skeptical (of course) but would you believe the trick actually worked !
2 – Cornstarch for sandy feet – I saw a parent at the park use this little gem to remove sand quickly and painlessly from her daughter’s feet. Given my sons’ predeliction for showering in sand, this was quite the game-changer!
3 – Marshmallows for ice packs – another internet-find, I think the min-marshmallows work best (and stay fresh too!).
4 – Press and seal wrap makes every cup a sippy cup – they even advertise this, but we all know kids’ products don’t always work as advertised (anyone else buy a ridiculously expensive baby swing only to find it made the baby vomit?). The press wrap actually does work. Not only does it mean you don’t need to keep track of all those valves from sippy cups, it lets you get away with carrying around slightly fewer changes of the clothes for those juice-related explosions.
5 – Painting smocks are better than bibs for children who like to wriggle when they eat. If your child sits still at the table and rarely drops a morsel then please tell me your secret!!! But if your kids are like mine who manage to get clumps of banana and chocolate sauce between their shoulder blades on a regular basis, this little upgrade is handy.
6 – Old, black bananas are awesome – My kids love bananas, but we often don’t get through a whole bunch before they are brown, spotty and plagued by fruit flies (where do those little horrors come from?). But if you freeze old bananas, they can be made into ice cream, banana bread, and smoothies, to name but a few whenever you like.
7 – Shadow boxes display kids’ art – but let you change it up frequently (and get it off the fridge). And heaven forbid you should be caught recycling that “special” craft, the single crayon line on an otherwise blank page!
8 – Put a sheet on a big-kid bed sideways to keep it from falling off (and the kids from falling out). You can also use a pool noodle.
10 – Basket coffee filters in the potty make poopy clean-up a LOT easier – I discovered this right at the end of potty training my eldest and boy would it have saved a lot of yucky moments! It almost makes me look forward to / not live in fear of training the next one … almost.
What’s your favourite “a-ha!” parenting trick?
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