Parenting is hard work. We have to make sure our children are eating healthily, comfort them when they are sad, do lots of laundry, teach them their ABCs, rock them to sleep at 3am, do lots of laundry, manage school runs with work commutes and after school clubs, cope with temper tantrums, and, did we mention the laundry? It’s a 24/7, 365 day a year job, with no respite, and a never ending pile of clothes to fold, which is why we have compiled a list of 101 of our favourite parenting tips and hacks that will hopefully make things just a little bit easier for you.
Around The Home
Unless you’re a Certified Domestic Goddess, then you probably find household chores a bit of burden, especially when spending the afternoon spraying the children with a hosepipe in the garden is infinitely more fun. These tips and hacks can make housework a little less time consuming.
Getting The Kids Involved
1. Get your children to help out with chores by offering them a small amount of pocket money in return. This teaches them about earning money and you get to put your feet up for a bit.
2. In the same vein, hold a competition amongst your children to see who can tidy away their toys the quickest.
3. Remove whiteboard pen marks with vodka. Or just drink the vodka and you won’t care about the pen marks.
4. You can remove sticker residue from clothes, etc. by blasting the area for a few moments with a hairdryer. You can also smear peanut butter on the item and this will have the same effect.
5. You don’t need a fancy weaning mat to protect your floor from your baby’s mess. You can pick up a shower curtain for a couple of pounds and this will do the same job.
6. Remove fingerprint stains from walls by gently rubbing them with bread. We do not recommend eating the bread after.
7. Pen and crayon marks can be removed with hairspray, but if using on your wall we would recommend doing a test area in case the paint is removed as well.
8. Protect your sofa during potty training by placing puppy training mats on the cushions with a blanket or throw on top.
9. Keep a nappy or two to hand for mopping up spills. They are very absorbent!
10. Use a laundry mesh bag for washing bibs with Velcro fastenings to prevent the Velcro snagging other clothes. You can also use the bag for baby socks which can get lost in the machine.
11. Baby poop stains! Prevent this by rinsing off the offending poop, rubbing a little bit of washing up liquid on the poop covered area, and then washing as normal.
12. Sunshine is also a great stain remover, as it bleaches out the stain. Of course, you would need to actually get some sun for this to work.
13. If you need to remove blood stains from clothes, you can soak them in full fat milk for about 15 minutes before rinsing and then washing as normal. The enzymes in milk break down the blood.
14. Reduce the amount of time it takes to dry a load of washing in the tumble drier by adding a dry towel to the load.
15. For children who still have accidents at night time, or babies with lots of spit up, layer up your sheets: Mattress, waterproof sheet, cotton sheet, waterproof sheet, cotton sheet. That way if you do need to do a night time change you can simply whip off the top two layers and have a clean bed once more.
16. Keep matching duvet covers, sheets, pillow cases etc. in one of the pillowcases from that set. That way you don’t have to hunt around for matching items every time you change the bed.
17. If your child thought it would be a good idea to jump in a puddle with his leather shoes, you can dry them out faster by putting crumpled up newspaper inside each shoe and it will absorb the moisture. Change the newspaper every hour or so.
Home & Garden Chic
18. Don’t spend a fortune decorating your child’s room with wallpaper. Use removable wall stickers instead. Your child’s tastes with change on an almost weekly basis and suddenly that dinosaur themed room you went all out on no longer appeals.
19. Recycle that old baby bath. Drill holes in the bottom, fill with soil, and voila, a quirky planter that’s good for growing flowers or certain fruits and vegetables.
If you thought bicarbonate of soda was something that only Mary Berry and her merry band of Bake Off contestants use, then think again. This humble substance has so many uses around the home, you’ll want to invest in a sack full.
20. Stubborn splinter in your child’s finger? Make a thick paste by mixing bicarbonate of soda with water, apply to the affected area and cover with a bandage. Remove the bandage 24 hours later and the splinter should be poking out and can be completely removed with tweezers.
21. Bicarbonate of soda is a great odour neutraliser. If your child has been sick in the car clean the area with soap and then sprinkle bicarbonate of soda and leave overnight. Hoover up the next day.
22. This also works for carpets when your potty training child (or pet) has urinated on the floor. Wash with carpet cleaner, then sprinkle over the bicarbonate of soda. Leave overnight before hoovering. You could add lavender or tea tree oil to the bicarbonate of soda for fragrant smelling carpet.
23. It even works in your teenager’s smelly trainers! Again, leave some overnight in the shoes to get rid of that cheesy smell.
24. Bicarbonate of soda is also an effective washing machine cleaner. Chuck some directly in the drum with white vinegar. Run the machine empty on the hottest wash available and your machine will be sparkly clean.
25. Lots of Mums swear by bicarbonate of soda as a nappy rash treatment. You can either add some to a bowl of warm water and gently wipe the area with a cloth dipped in the solution, or alternatively, add a handful to the bath.
Feeding, Weaning, Cooking.
When we become parents we are committing ourselves to spending a significant proportion of our lives feeding another human being, whether it be milk for a baby, healthy snacks for a toddler, or a five course meal for a growing teenager who seems to have developed hollow legs. Anything that makes this endless meal preparation a little easier is surely welcome.
26. Make formula preparation quicker, by keeping a flask of cooled, boiled water in the kitchen. Boil the kettle and fill your bottle with approximately 50ml of the freshly boiled water. Add in the full amount of powder and this will sterilise the powder. You can then top up with the cooled water, for a ready to feed bottle. Alternatively, invest in a Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine that does the same thing for you.
27. If you have some electric scales and some formula powder dispenser pots, you can save time by weighing out the formula you need for each day in the pots. For example, if your baby takes a 7 oz bottle you can measure how much 7 scoops weighs and use that measurement to fill your powder dispensers. This saves counting out the scoops each time.
28. Use pre-mixed formula cartons for long journeys and days out to avoid carrying around cool bags etc. If your child likes their bottles warm, you can invest in one of these bottle warmers.
29. Save a fortune on baby purees by making your own. There are plenty of recipes online and you can freeze purees in batches in ice cube trays or you can purchase special weaning pots such as these available from Kiddicare.
30. There is no need to spend money on special baby cereal if you have a blender. You can put dry oats into a blender to grind them up into a fine powder that you can then use to make porridge for your baby.
31. Put a self-adhesive hook on the back of your high chair and use it to hang a selection of bibs on so they are easy to access when you need them.
32. Two ingredient pancakes make for a delicious and healthy breakfast. Mash one large banana with a fork, beat two eggs, and mix together. Cook as you would any other pancake. If you find the mixture difficult to handle in the frying pan, you can add a spoonful of plain flour.
33. If your kids love pancakes, then try this cheesy alternative with hidden vegetables. Finely grate half a carrot, and the same volume of courgette, butternut squash, and cheese. Squeeze out excess juice from the vegetables, add one beaten egg and a spoonful of flour. Fry in a pan.
34. If you want to slice an apple or pear for a snack on the go, prevent browning by soaking the slices in a salt water solution for a few minutes. Rinse the solution off thoroughly, then pack and go.
35. You can hide all sorts of vegetables in pasta sauces for fussy eaters, including carrots, courgettes, aubergines, spinach, and butternut squash. Mix in a blender. Spinach is also undetectable when blended with fruits in a smoothie.
36. Get a fussy eater to eat their veggies by offering to race them to see who can eat the fastest.
37. Make lunch boxes more fun by leaving a hidden message in a banana skin. Use a needle or pin to put tiny dots in the banana, creating either a message or a picture. The dots will turn brown in a few hours and your pattern will be revealed.
38. You can make juicy ice lollies with small cartons of fruit juice, simply by unfolding the sides of the carton to make a flattened rectangle shape. Freeze, then cut the top off to create a push up lolly.
39. You can also freeze yogurt tubes for a healthy alternative to ice cream.
40. Got a toasted sandwich maker lurking in the cupboard from your student days? You can use them to quickly cook pancakes, eggs, and even sponge cake!
41. Invest in a slow cooker. You can use it to cook joints of meats or one pot meals, with very little effort.
Growing children go through a lot of clothes. A new-born baby will grow an average of 2 centimetres every month, whilst older children will grow around 5 centimetres every year. Growth spurts mean that your child will frequently surprise you as you find they become too big for their clothes seemingly overnight. Get more out of your child’s clothing with these tips.
42. Cut the feet off baby sleepsuits to make them last a little longer.
43. You can also get vest extenders to attach to your baby’s vests making them longer.
44. Save a fortune on children’s clothing by buying second hand from eBay, local Facebook groups, and NCT sales.
45. Stop your baby from pulling off her socks with these cute Sock Ons, available here.
Caring For Your Child
Children are messy, and prone to accidents and illness. Babies are particularly hard work thanks to their tendency of creating poop bombs and the fact that there are very few over the counter remedies that can be given to a young baby. On the other hand, toddlers seem to be on a permanent mission to get themselves admitted to A&E. Thankfully we have some great tips used by Mums to share with you.
46. Baby vests have envelope folds in the shoulders so you can pull them down over your baby’s body rather than up and over their head. When the inevitable poop bomb happens that leaks out of the nappy, this will save your baby from getting poop in their hair.
47. As lovely as your changing station set up probably is (at least if this is your first baby anyway) you will find it a lot easier to keep a supply of nappies, wipes, bags, a clean vest, and a travel changing mat in the room where you spend most of your time at home.
48. Baby boys have a habit of weeing as soon as their nappy has been removed, making it highly likely you will get wee in your face. Loosen the nappy a little first, let the wee flow, then remove to change.
49. Buying the most expensive brand nappies? You might find that cheaper is actually better. As babies come in all shapes and sizes you might find that cheaper brands are less prone to leaks on your baby.
50. Use a handful of ground up oats in the bath for a natural and effective emollient for children with eczema.
51. Cradle cap can be treated with Olive Oil.
52. Lanolin, used for nipples when breastfeeding, can also be used as a barrier on your child’s chin to prevent dribble rash.
53. Use a make-up sponge to apply sun cream quickly and evenly without getting it all over your hands.
54. Verrucas can be removed by applying hand sanitiser followed by clear nail varnish. File down each day and then reapply.
55. If your baby has a cold he might be finding it difficult to feed due to his blocked nose. You can help him by sitting with him in your bathroom whilst you run the shower on maximum heat, filling the room with steam.
56. You can also apply a vapour rub to the feet on your baby’s sleepsuit.
57. If your child is frequently soiling her pants, or having loose, watery stools, it’s possible that she has constipation rather than diarrhoea as some small amounts of poo may be getting around a blockage. If you suspect this is the case then take her to the GP for a check-up.
58. If your child is constipated, she might find it helpful to blow bubbles as she sits on the potty or toilet to help with pushing.
59. If you are going to a large event or attraction, put a sticker with your mobile number written in it on your child, in case you get separated.
60. You can prevent your child from locking themselves in the bathroom, or shutting their fingers in the door, with a door stop, such as one of these from Lindam.
61. When lifting your child out of their car seat, put one of your feet into the car and face the car seat before lifting the child out, as this will help you to avoid injuring your back.
62. You can use a pool noodle under your child’s sheet on the edge of their bed when they are transitioning into an adult bed. This will help prevent your child from rolling out of bed.
63. Muslin Squares are great for mopping up spit up, but they also have a plethora of other uses, including being used as an emergency cloth nappy, draped over the pushchair as a sunshade, a comfort blanket, a clean surface to lie your baby on, and a bib. You can also get extra large muslin squares that can be used for swaddling or as a makeshift sling.
64. If you baby is hysterical try changing rooms with him. Often that is enough to distract him from whatever was making him cry, making it easier to calm him down.
65. Many babies find the sound of white noise soothing, and you can download a white noise app for your smart phone that may help your baby drift to sleep.
66. If you baby or toddler wriggles too much when you cut their nails, try doing it when they are asleep instead.
67. When washing your child’s hair, you can use a flannel to cover their eyes, preventing shampoo getting in.
Out And About
Whether you are taking a simple trip to the shops, or a long haul holiday, these tips will help you cope when out and about with your child.
68. Keep a bag of clothes, wipes, nappies, etc in the car in case you forget your changing bag or one of your children is sick.
69. A travel potty is also a useful addition to your boot, even if your child is fully toilet trained, for times when you get stuck in traffic.
70. If your child is prone to travel sickness, you can put a towel or potty training mat under the car seat to protect your car’s upholstery.
71. For older children, a car seat organiser will help to keep them occupied on long journeys, such as this one from Munchkin.
72. When going to the supermarket, park near the trolley return bay. You can lock your children in the car and return the trolley whilst keeping them in sight.
73. If your young child is a handful during shopping trips, give him a list with things to find, using pictures of common vegetables etc.
74. Going on a long haul flight? Pick up some pocket money toys and hand them out to your children sporadically during the flight.
75. If you are trying to travel lightly with a baby, you can get some great small folding travel cots. This one from LittleLife comes in a rucksack.
76. Put a clean nappy in a nappy sack along with a pack of wet wipes at the top of your changing bag so you don’t have to take the whole bag in the changing room with you or you can grab what you need quickly if required.
77. Repack your changing bag after every outing, in case you have an unexpected emergency that requires you taking your baby out.
78. Small make up bags can be used for carrying first aid items with you, such as plasters, infant paracetamol sachets, antiseptic wipes etc.
79. Keep a sheet of paper and crayons or pens in your bag for entertaining your children when waiting in cafés for food etc.
80. And on a slightly more mischievous note, tell your child that the ice cream van music means that they have run out of ice cream.
Toys And Play
Children’s toys have some sort of supernatural property that allows them to inexplicably multiply exponentially, even as you go through the house tidying them away. These tips and hacks will help you to keep on top of the toys, and we have included a few ideas for play time.
81. Linkies can be used to attach toys to prams and pushchairs, preventing them from being lost.
82. A shower curtain provides a cheap cover for your table when your child is doing arts and crafts.
83. If your child has spilt glitter, roll playdoh in it to pick it up.
84. Make it easier to put Lego away by using a toy storage bag. This is a large circular piece of cloth with a drawstring that runs around the outside. Your child can use it as a play mat for Lego, and when they are finished you can pull the string to create a bag around the Lego. You can buy one online, or they are fairly simple to make with a sewing machine.
85. If your child gets a jigsaw set with multiple puzzles in one box, separate them out into sandwich bags so you don’t have to hunt through a large pile of pieces for each one.
86. At Christmas and on birthdays, put batteries in your child’s toys before wrapping them, so your child can play with them straight away.
87. If you give a sheet of stickers to your toddler, peeling off the borders first will enable your toddler to peel off the stickers without your help.
88. If your young child has a lot of toys, consider rotating them by storing some for a few months, and then swapping them around. That way if your child loses interest in their toys, you have some “new” replacements you can offer.
89. Noisy toy driving you crazy? Place sticky tape over the speaker, it will muffle the sound considerably.
90. A toy hammock, such as this one from Clippasafe is brilliant for creating extra storage space for all those soft toys your child owns.
91. For messy play, mix cornflour, water, and food colouring to make slime. This is definitely best used outdoors.
92. Men’s button up shirts that are no longer required due to age, size etc. make great aprons for protecting your child’s clothing when doing crafts.
93. Keep a supply of yogurt pots, drinks bottles etc. so that if your child spots something on a craft show you have the materials available to make it.
Watching our children grow and develop personalities is one of our greatest pleasures as parents. However, shaping those personalities can bring its challenges. These tips focus on your child’s development.
94. Fear of the imaginary is a normal and healthy part of your child’s development, and whilst it’s good to try and reassure children that monsters are not real, sometimes children need tools to help them combat those fears. Pick up a spray bottle, fill with water and lavender oil, decorate the bottle with stickers, and your child has “monster spray” to spread around their room before bed.
95. Reward charts with stickers and sweets work wonders for stubborn potty trainees.
96. If your little boy has problems using the toilet, a ping pong ball in the toilet bowl will give him something to aim at and won’t get flushed away.
97. Offer your young child two choices, both with outcomes that you want. For example, ask your child if they want milk or water, instead of asking what they would like to drink, preventing the inevitable request for that sugary drink that Nana introduced to them.
98. Young children find sudden change difficult to process, and will often throw a temper tantrum as a result. Giving your child a countdown, for example, “five minutes until we need to leave the park” will help them to prepare for that change and avoid public meltdowns.
99. Putting one half of a sticker in the sole of one of your child’s shoes, and the other half in the other shoe, will help your child get their shoes on the right way round, as they will be able to match up the two halves of the sticker.
100. If you need to lose the pacifier, try telling your child that it’s needed by the dummy fairy for poorly babies. Get your child to leave it somewhere for the fairy to collect, and the “fairy” could then leave a small amount of money or a toy behind.
101. Create an email account for your child. Send pictures, notes about funny things they have said, or information about activities you do, etc. This will provide them with a lovely account of their childhood when they are older.