Parenting Hacks That Will Actually Make Life Easier

Calling all parents—your life is about to get a whole lot easier.

March 13, 2017
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Parenting definitely isn’t easy, and each stage of your child’s life will come with its own individual challenges. Don’t let it get you down, though. There are plenty of hacks that’ll help you lead your children through some of life’s most difficult times.

Teething

No matter who you are, it’s a guarantee that your baby will begin to teethe at some point in time, and your chances for having an easy experience are slim. It’s not only a slow and painful process for them, but it can also be frustrating and heartbreaking to find something that’ll give your babe the relief they need. However, you can always try the following.

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Jozef Polc

Rub their gums. Putting pressure on a baby’s gums while teething might seem counterintuitive, but the light pressure can actually help with the discomfort. You can either do this using clean fingers, or a cotton or gauze pad that’s been soaked in water.

Try hard foods. Giving your baby something to gnaw on is a great idea if they’re at an age where they can eat solids. Try giving them a chunk of cucumber or carrot straight from the fridge, but make sure it’s big enough that they can’t attempt to swallow it whole. You could also try using frozen yogurt tubes, which will melt as they eat.

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Ditch the drool. Drooling is obviously just a natural part of the teething process, but did you know it can be super irritating for your baby’s skin? When drool sits on the skin long enough, it can actually irritate it, adding to your baby’s discomfort and pain. Make sure you wipe up any leaks as you see them happening, and try applying a moisturizer to their chin to act as a barrier.

Picky Eating

Most kids will inevitably go through a stage where they complain about at least one thing on their dinner plates, and they sometimes won’t eat anything other than a few select items. It can be a frustrating experience, but there are a few things that can help.

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Jozef Polc

Have fun. Your kids won’t want to try anything new if they’re picking up from you that it won’t be a good experience for them. To make it a little more exciting, try cutting foods into fun shapes, using foods that are brightly colored, and serving things with tasty dips or sauces.

Let them help. Obviously, you can’t let your kid do the grocery shopping for you—it’s likely that you’d just come back with cookies, cereal, and fruit snacks. What you can do, however, is let them help you pick things out. When you’re looking at veggies, try asking them what looks good that they might want to try.

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Get sneaky. When all else fails, why not sneak veggies into dishes where you kids probably won’t notice them? You can add chopped up spinach to spaghetti sauce, or put pureed fruit into their yogurt.

Check out a few of our favorite recipes chock full of hidden veggies:

Like these sneaky veggie pizza spirals.

And this creamy mac n’ cheese with vegetables in the sauce.

Potty Training

Potty training seems to be something that’s both anticipated and dreaded by parents everywhere, and for good reason. Don’t make it harder than it has to be, though.

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Go naked. Yeah, it sounds weird, but one reason why kids have trouble with potty training is because it requires some coordination to get their clothes off. Encourage them to try using the potty both before and after their bath when they don’t have clothes on, as it might seem a little easier to them. Once they master that, then start trying it with clothes on.

Stick it to ‘em. Some parents use sticker rewards for good behavior—why not for potty training? Each time they go on the potty instead of in their pants, give them a sticker as a fun and cheap reward.

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Bribes help. If you’re at your wits’ end, throw your kid a nice bribe and see if that helps. Offer them a small piece of candy for going on the potty, two pieces of candy if they’ll wipe up themselves, and a cookie if they do everything on their own.

Pacifier Weaning

Taking away a child’s paci is something that tends to go either really well or completely terrible. Here’s what you can do to make the separation a little easier.

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Don’t ask. No kid will want to give up their pacifier on their own, and asking them if they’re alright with it won’t make them change their mind. When it comes time to ditch it, tell them; don’t seek permission.

Ruin it for them. You know how parents use awful tasting but non-toxic substances to get kids to stop sucking their thumbs? Look into buying something similar for your child’s binky.

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Recruit outside help. Kids always want to know the reasons behind things, so you might need to give them one. Take a note from other parents and tell them that someone like Santa or the Tooth Fairy collect binkies from kids who don’t need them so they can pass them along to kids who do.

Sleeping Alone

Lots of kids get used to sleeping in their parents bed, but the adults in this equation know it’s one that can’t go on forever. So, how do you get them back in their own beds permanently?

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Talk about fears. Young kids have real fears about sleeping in their own bed and room, and it’s important not to downplay them—take the time to really listen to them and reassure them. Do what you can to eliminate their fears with things like night lights or sound machines.

Plan ahead. If you try to kick your child out of your bed in the middle of the night, it won’t go over well. Make sure they know the change is coming so you can talk it out ahead of time.

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Give rewards. For every night your child sleeps in their own bed, you can give out something small like a sticker, and then give them something bigger like a new pair of pajamas after a certain number of days.

Listening

We all know that kids have a way of tuning out anything they don’t want to hear, but that can’t and shouldn’t fly. Did you know there are ways you can teach them to listen, even when they don’t want to?

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Be consistent. If you tell your child that there is a consequence for ignoring you or acting a certain way, follow through. If you don’t, they won’t learn that your words are to be taken seriously.

Give choices. Kids often get upset when they don’t get their way, but that’s because it’s easy to just blurt out a “no” and go on our way. Next time, take the time to compromise—”we can’t go to the park now, but what about after lunch?”

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Be specific. Instead of telling your child what not to do, tell them specifically what you’d like them to do. Instead of “stop running,” tell them, “please walk in the house.”

Sharing

Some kids take to sharing quickly, while others hold onto their toys like they’re the last toys on Earth. If your little one falls into the latter category, you may be able to make sharing a little less painful.

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Don’t force it. When you make your kid share with others, they won’t truly learn anything because it wasn’t their decision. Start by talking to them about what they feel comfortable sharing, and then go from there.

Get a timer. If you have to, use a timer to prove to your kid that sharing doesn’t mean they lose a toy for good. Let each kid who’s playing have some time with the toy, and tell them there’s no arguing when their time is up.

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Ask them to help. If you have an older child who has trouble sharing, turn it around by asking them to help you teach their younger sibling about sharing. They’ll take pride in helping and won’t think as much about giving up a toy.

Chores

Most parents can’t wait for the day that their kids are old enough to start helping with chores—if only they’d be as eager to help. Give these tricks a try, and we bet they’ll be a little more willing.

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Play games. Adults don’t even like to do most chores, so you can’t really expect your kids to take to something so tedious and dull. Next time, try having fun with it— try pretending to be robots while you and your kids load the dishwasher or put clothes in the washer.

Make it challenging. Kids get bored with monotony, too, and a challenge here or there can help spice up their chore routine. See if they can do one particular chore faster, or add on another task that’s a little harder than what they normally do.

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Switch things up. If you have more than one child, make sure you switch up chores so each of them have the chance to do something they might enjoy. For example, let one child help plan dinner one week, and then switch to the other child the next.

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