Each year, millions of people gather around the table for a Thanksgiving feast and give thanks for the big things in life: a happy, healthy family, the love of their children, a new job, even a beloved pet. But what moms of youngsters are secretly giving thanks for are a list of hacks that contribute to their sanity on a daily basis. So, here are a few often underappreciated things that make parenting just a little bit easier.
1. Fruit/Vegetable Squeeze Pouches
So your kid won’t eat peas? Doesn’t like the texture of pears? No need to worry about not hitting all the food groups when your child slams squeezable fruit pouches like a college kid who’s just turned 21. Sure, they’re stupid expensive, but guess what: You can’t put a price on your kid’s nutrition.
2. Binkie Lanyard
Whoever thought of this simple, yet genius, device deserves a hearty round of applause. If I had a dollar for every time a binkie fell on the floor before I discovered this product, I’d be a rich woman. Not only does it keep binkies from ending up amongst the dust bunnies on the floor or in the dirt outside, but hook it to the car seat strap, and voila, baby can actually find her own binkie on a long car ride. Best $3 purchase I’ve ever made.
3. Singing Greeting Cards
What elaborate or sentimental gift did I get for my 1-year-old to mark her first year on earth? A Hallmark card. But not just any card, a singing card. Who would have known that a card that sings “Celebrate Good Times” would be the most entertaining gift I’ve ever given. Warning: Be prepared for a meltdown when your child’s favorite gift’s batteries run out.
4. Anything Disposable
Diapers, changing pad covers, bibs. Anything that gets covered in lavish amounts of food, spit-up or human feces has no place in my washing machine. Kudos to those moms dedicated to using cloth diapers, but for me, I count disposable products as something that I’m grateful for on a daily (er, hourly) basis.
5. Stickers and Band-Aids
Like magic, they make anything better. When you hear whining for the 87th time that your toddler’s third finger hurts or that her cheek got a boo-boo, simply place a Band-Aid on the “injury” and watch a miraculous recovery unfold before your eyes. If by chance you open the medicine cabinet and find no Band-Aids (first, question your competency as a parent for allowing that to happen), stickers are surprisingly good alternatives that often have the same healing powers.
6. Nap Time
A small window of quiet. Enough said.
7. Label Makers
If you have OCD tendencies like me, you’ve probably started using a label maker long before you had kids. But not until little ones come along do you realize a label maker’s full potential. Organization is key to a mom’s sanity. Add a second or third child to the mix, and labeling becomes an effective means of preventing sibling fights. Once a child knows how to spell, even just the first letter of her name, she can recognize when something belongs to her. No more “That’s mine!” Does it have your name on it? Then it’s yours.
8. Daniel Tiger, Elmo and Dora
As cringe-worthy as their high-pitched, overly happy voices are, these three are imparting important knowledge to kids every day. From life lessons (“If you have to go potty, stop! And go right away!”), to learning to read (“C is for cookie”), and even a foreign language (“We did it! Yay! Lo hicimos!”), these shows are like crack for kids—the minute they start, they’re hooked and can’t tear their eyes away. What does that mean for mom? Thirty minutes of freedom.
9. Sound Machine
How many parents have practically hyperventilated from shushing their newborns for hours on end? Never again. The Baby Shusher saved my life. A small, portable noise maker that imitates the repetitive shushing sound of mom or dad—freaking genius. Yes, it’s $35, but trust me, it’s so worth it.
No one will ever fully understand kids’ love affair with ketchup, but if dipping everything in ketchup is what gets your toddler to eat a variety of food, then so be it. It’s made from tomatoes, right? So, basically ketchup is a vegetable.
For us, not the kids. Pick your poison: coffee, chocolate—whatever gives you that little boost of energy to keep up with the boundless supply your little ones possess. If you find yourself actually verbalizing your love to your caffeine product of choice (a long, drawn-out sip paired with a moan of satisfaction), chances are it’s something you’re pretty darn thankful for.