31 Clever Parenting Hacks That Really Work

Try these quick and easy hacks to to minimize the stress of common parenting challenges! You may even get a little downtime for yourself.

Published May 6, 2021
Mother testing if diaper is too tight after changing

Parenting is a rough business, and if you are going to make it through the entire eighteen years with your sanity intact, you will need some help. This is where parenting hacks are lifesavers. These clever parenting shortcuts for different ages help remind everyone that moms and dads really are geniuses. Try a few for yourself and see how some simple parenting tricks can save you time and cut back on the daily struggles!

Parenting Tricks for Newbie Parents

The wonderful world of parenting a newborn is packed full of new life lessons to be learned. The experience can be far simpler with easy and smart parenting hacks.

Layer the Changing Table

It's unbelievable how many changing pads are needed to get through a week's worth of diaper changes. For new parents, it seems as if there is always one in the laundry basket, soiled and in need of a wash. When Junior takes a tiny tinkle on the changing pad, don't stop life, rushing around searching for a new one. Instead, layer 3-4 thin changing pads on the changing table surface. When your infant soils one, toss it off, and Voila! Another one is waiting and ready in its place.

Changing baby's diaper

Take Tummy Time to a Personal Level

Babies are often not fans of tummy time, which poses a conundrum for parents because tummy time is crucial for infant development. What is a new parent to do? Hack it. Place the unruly infant on your chest so that they are chest to chest with you. They get the same strengthening exercise from this setup, and they will feel much more at ease being able to look at mom or dad and smell their nearby scent.

Prepare for the Diaper Change

Babies love to let their liquids fly during diaper changes. This isn't a highlight for most parents, but there is a way around the mess. Before changing your baby, swipe a wet wipe under your little guy's belly button. This will create the same reaction as taking the diaper off and exposing his baby body to the open air, which tells his little brain that it is time to tinkle. The baby gets their business done pre-diaper change, and you end up with far less laundry and mess to attend to.

Pad the Car Seat

Lugging around heavy car seats with babies can do a number on parents' arms. Literally, to ease the pain, cut a pool noodle into a small piece that will fit the fit over the car seat handle. Next time you drag the seat around, the soft noodle will buffer the crook of your arm against the hard plastic of the carrier.

Create Changing Stations All Over the Home

For parents who do not live in single-floor homes, having a changing station caddy on each floor is an essential timesaving trick. You can buy caddies cheaply at most stores. Look for ones with a primary purpose of shower accessories or diapering items and purchase one for each floor of your home. Fill each caddy with a couple of diapers, a package of wipes, a tube of baby diaper cream, and never run from floor to floor for one of the millions of daily diaper changes again.

Parenting Hacks for the Morning Hustle

Getting the kids up and ready for the school day can be a challenge. While it's not the highlight of most parents' days, it doesn't have to be the hardest part of their days either. These morning hacks make the early hours go by in a breeze.

Skip the Pajamas

If you have several young children, you know how much time it takes to dress them each morning. Imagine if you could skip this mundane chore? Depending on your school's dress policy and your own affinity for fashion, you might be able to. Consider putting kids in leggings or sweat pants before bed and letting them wear the outfit to school the next day. At best, they keep the clothes clean, and you don't have to fight them on daily outfit changes. At worst, they occasionally spill on their shirt, and you toss a new one on.

Make Getting Dressed Into a Game

If your kids are always up for a challenge, turn the morning routine into a game. Tell the kids the tasks they must complete in a given amount of time (get dressed, brush hair, brush teeth) and play one of their favorite songs. See who can race the song and get everything completed before the tune ends.

Invest in a Good Timer

Timers are a parent's best friend. If you have laggy kids, you need a timer. Similar to racing the song, set a timer and have the children see what they can complete before the buzzer goes off. Each week can be a new set of morning tasks. The key here is to make sure that you set clear expectations for morning chores and that whatever you list as a "to-do" is reasonable for the age and development of the child and the time that has been allotted.

Do Double Duty With a Hair Straightener

Hair straighteners often make an appearance in the morning to help tame adult and teen manes. Keep that puppy up and charged because it is handy for other uses too. Wrinkles in shirts and uniforms can easily be handled with a hair straightener. No need to dig the iron and ironing board out for a couple of creases.

Parenting Shortcuts for Happier Homework Time

Oof. Homework time. No parents look forward to an hour of math in the kitchen after a long day. Homework time can be grueling, and it is prime fight time for many tired and frustrated families. These shortcuts to homework completion lift the stress and pressure off of everyone.

Make a Homework Tent

Some parents create reward systems for homework accomplishment, but other families find that reward systems don't quite cut it. Try fashioning a homework tent! This won't make the homework go away, but it will give kids a fun, new environment to tackle the task in. Make tents with sheets, couch cushions, or large cardboard boxes; really, anything will do. Making an interesting and unconventional space for work time might make all the difference for reluctant learners.

Girl at home reading book in children's room inside tent

Create a Homework Helper Box

How often has homework been halted because of a broken pencil, a missing eraser, or the wrong colored crayons? Probably lots. Buy a cheap, plastic caddy and fill it with whatever you can think of that might make homework go more smoothly. Get out stickers and markers and have kids personalize their own homework caddies.

Pair Homework Time With Snack Time

When kids put up a stink over getting their math done, try pairing it with food. Snacks are wonderful distractions for children who get hung up on not wanting to complete their assignments. Set the snack in front of them and then slide the homework right in front of them too. Tell them that by the time snack is over, the homework will probably be done as well.

Strategies for Getting Your Kids Involved in Chores

At some point, kids should get involved in the family chores. When it comes time to put your children to work, expect some pushback. Utilizing a couple of helpful parenting hacks can make chore time easy and maybe even fun!

Make a Jail

Toy jail...WiFi jail, whatever jail you can think of, will work here. When you find toys scattered about the floor, and you know that you have repeatedly asked your kids to deal with them, take those toys and put them into a large bin labeled "toy jail." It is here that the toys remain until a chore is completed to free a toy. This is an excellent way to keep the house tidy while teaching children the importance of caring for well-loved belongings.

Make Each Chore Into a Loyalty Program

Take a complex chore like cleaning your room and make it into a loyalty program. On a laminated card, print the tasks that go into cleaning a room. These can be jobs like making your bed, picking up your floor, putting laundry away, taking glasses and plates to the kitchen, and closing all dresser drawers. When kids complete all the card components, they get a hole punch or an "x." After 10 completion marks, they earn something.

Create a Work for Hire Chore Program

No one particularly enjoys working for free, and this includes children. Make a board with all the household chores listed in index cards. Each index card gets clipped to the board with a specific amount of money behind it. Mowing the lawn might pair with a $5 or $10 bill, while wiping bathroom sinks down might have a $1. Once a kid completes a chore, they remove the card from the board, and the money is theirs.

Mealtime Hacks

Feeding meals to kids will leave you feeling like an over-worked, unpaid line cook. Getting nutrients into your family becomes daunting, but genius mealtime hacks might make all the differences.

Reset Appetites With Water

Little tots often lose interest mid-meal. Sometimes they need a bit of a reset or a break. Give your reluctant feeder a sippy of water and wipe his/her face down, as they take a few minutes to remove themselves from the culinary stimulation. After some water and some time, they may be more than ready to return to the meal you created.

Cute baby drinking water

Disguise Breakfast as Dessert:

Ohhhhh, so smart! All kids love popsicles, so why not give them what they love? You can buy popsicle molds pretty much anywhere, and they cost next to nothing. Fill them up with ingredients like coconut or almond milk, protein powder, pureed fruit, honey, and vanilla. Pop them in the freezer, and you're done! Kids will never again complain about breakfast when they are dining on early morning popsicles.

Reward Trying New Foods

Trying new foods is something many kids are hesitant about. Create a chart where you and your child can reward tasting new bites. Every time they put on their brave face and attempt a new and exciting morsel, the food is written down on the chart. After so many new foods, give a reward, like an after-dinner dessert treat or a pizza night.

Replaces Knives With Scissors

Families with several small children know that cutting up foods takes up tons of time. One genius hack is to ditch the fork and the knife and use kitchen shears to make bite-sized bits. Hotdogs, cheese sticks, pancakes, sausage, and pretty much anything else can be chopped up in no time flat.

Hacking the Evening Bathroom Routine

Bathroom routines sometimes go unnoticed by parents, but many "to-do's" takes place in that tiny room. Moms and dads fight kids with toothbrushing, hair detangling, bathing, and more. It's amazing how much time you can save in the day by instilling bathroom hacks for busy families.

Pump up the Bathroom Jams

Is there anything that music can't fix? If your kids have the bathroom blues, put a shower radio in there or play music during bathroom time. Suddenly washing, brushing, and getting ready for school or bedtime will feel like a party and not a pain.

Individualize Shower Items

Kids might be more apt to hop in the shower and suds up if they have ownership and connection to something. Buy permanent markers and stickers and let them decorate their own shampoo and conditioner bottles. Knowing that there is a special bottle in the bathroom, just for them, can help shake the dread of evening washing.

Get the Bathroom Nice and Toasty

Many young kids aren't fans of getting uncozy and chilled when stepping into the bathroom and the shower. Hop in the shower first and get your cleaning out of the way, and then allow your kid to get their shower. The bathroom will be nice and toasty for them; no one will cry that they are cold, and everybody will be squeaky clean one after the other. Winning.

Set the Stage for Post-Bath Time

Being organized is a parent's go-to tool. Ensure that you are all set for any diapering and dressing right out of the gate following bath time. Set out clothes, diapers, creams, and whatever else is needed following your bath. No more rushing around with soaking children as you try to find all the post-bath necessities. Set yourself up for an easy, breezy post-bath-time experience.

Check Water Temps With the Right Part of Your Body

Before popping your tot into the bathtub, you need to check the water temperatures and make sure that they are just so. Most parents dip a finger or hand into the water to assess its warmth or coolness, but using an elbow or a wrist will give you a more accurate gauge as to how hot the water is. No ouchies with this hack!

Mother Pours Water Over Babies Head

Winning at Bedtime

Finally, bedtime! It is the magical hour that parents have been counting down to since they opened their eyes in the morning. All systems seem to be a go until your kids thwart your "evening me time" plans. Bedtime tricks and tips get the kids to slumberland more quickly so that parents can grab a moment of peace and quiet before they too turn in for the night.

Blackout Curtains for the Win

Kids open those beautiful, little eyes of theirs at first light. If you need your kids to sleep a bit longer than their bodies seem to be programmed to do, buy blackout curtains for their rooms. Blackout curtains keep the first rays of sunshine out so that the room stays darker, longer. These can be mighty helpful at nap time too!

Get Yourself a Red Light

It is pretty well known by now that blue light, given off by common electronics, can mess with sleep cycles. Red light, on the other hand, is best for sleep. This is especially helpful to know if your kiddo desperately needs a nightlight to nod off. When looking for soothing lights to use in evening hours, look for red lights above all.

Say Yes to Snacks

The worst thing a parent can hear after tucking the kids in is, "Can I have a snack?" Oh, how you will want to scream, "NOOOOO!" and run away. In truth, a bedtime snack is a genius hack, depending on what you choose and when you choose it. If your kids constantly ask for food before bedtime, give them a snack a half hour before they nod off. Bananas contain magnesium and potassium, which are natural muscle relaxers. They get a nibble of something healthy and the bonus of nutrients that naturally put them out.

Weigh in on a Weighted Blanket

When kids toss, turn, wake in the night and can't fall back asleep, and have bouts of anxiety, sleep seems to be the impossible, look into purchasing a weighted blanket. They aren't cheap, but isn't a good night's sleep priceless for the both of you? Cover up your kids in a heavy hug that enhances the snooze.

Expert Parenting Hacks From LovetoKnow Staff

The LoveToKnow Media Staff knows a lot about a lot, and their expertise clearly extends into the parenting realm. Check out these expert parenting hacks by staff that has been around the parenting block a time or two.

Look Forward to Fun

Everyone needs something fun to look forward to, and this includes children. Beth Wiggins, LoveToKnow Media Staff Digital Image Specialist, knows this all too well. This is why she created "Fun Fridays" for her children. When a particularly foul mood struck one of her kiddos, she redirected them to the upcoming Friday, discussing what they would do and how great it would be. It didn't take long for the moodiness to subside and the excitement over Fun Friday to take its place.

Have Handy Activities on Hand at All Times

Boredom makes parenting especially hard. So, WordFinder Editor Michael Kwan learned how to navigate around that issue. He and his daughter created a list of things she enjoys doing, such as coloring and card games, during downtime. When boredom strikes, Kwan can direct his child to the list she had a hand in creating. When kids contribute to making the "Boredom List," they have a greater sense of ownership, pride, and enjoyment with activities.

Get Creative With Truth Telling

Kids are sneaky little creatures, and it can be tough to determine when they are telling the truth and when they are throwing a big, old fat fib your way. WordFinder Senior Product Manager, Nate Irish, came up with a clever way to pull the truth from his daughter. He used to tell her that if she lied, a blue spot would suddenly appear on her tongue. When Nate suspected that his kid was yanking his chain, he would demand to see that tongue of hers. If she stuck it right out willingly, he could be sure he was getting the truth from her. If she showed a bit of reluctance, he knew she had something up her sleeve.

Parents: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Parents have a lot on their plates pretty much all the time. If they are going to make it through the day, the week, and the next eighteen years, then they have to learn to parent smarter, not harder. Use tips, tricks, and hacks wherever you can. Stealing ideas is fair game in the parenting universe. Find what makes your life easier and give it a whirl. Before long, you will start to notice that all those hacks are adding up to a far easier parenting journey!

31 Clever Parenting Hacks That Really Work