10 Embarrassing Parenting Hacks

by Juliet Acquavito
parenting hacks
mgorthand / iStock

Creating a spray to keep monsters out of a toddler’s bedroom? Genius! Life-changing! But what about those tricks we do throughout our day that we hesitate to share with the parents on the playground? I’m finally spilling the beans.

1. Put Food on the Floor

Germophobes may want to stop reading here. How many of you have a baby who tosses everything off the high chair tray with glee? Adding insult to injury, he eats all the food off the floor as soon as he is let free. It is maddening! Sometimes it’s easier to cut out the middle man. Find a relatively clean spot on the floor and put the food there. Google articles on how germs are good for the system to make yourself feel better.

2. Commando Mornings

With all the morning juggling, the last thing I want to do is wrangle a preschooler who swears he doesn’t need to use the bathroom into taking off pajama pants and putting on underwear. But keeping him in a pull-up once he is awake will derail potty-training progress, and it doesn’t seem sanitary. So pants get pulled to knees, pull-up gets ripped off, and pants go back up. We will deal with getting the underwear on after Mom has her coffee.

3. Me or the Doctor?

Sometimes I feel a little bad about this one because I don’t like to use empty threats on my kids, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The preschooler doesn’t want me to brush his teeth? He gets the choice of me or the doctor. Doesn’t want to get his hair washed? “Do you want Mommy to wash it or the doctor?” Sometimes I have to pretend to call his bluff and pick up the phone for the pediatrician. He always changes his mind at the last second.

4. Race to the Potty

Scenario: Kid doesn’t want to use the potty even though he is doing the pee-pee dance like he is auditioning for a music video. Solution: Challenge him to a race. Say you will go pee-pee before he does—and be serious about it. Even beat him in the race a few times and try to sit on the potty first; it will get his competitive juices flowing for the next time.

5. Feed Like a Bird

Okay, pre-parenting, I would have seriously judged this one. But if my baby isn’t eating and thinks it’s funny for me to put the food in my teeth and fly like a bird to his high chair? Whatever. At least he ate the meatball.

6. Short-on-Time Bath

Those days the kids are super dirty and you don’t have the time, energy or willpower for the full bath experience? Squeeze soap into the bath as you fill it up. Dunk the kids in the soapy mixture for approximately 15 seconds each. Done.

7. Enhance the Culinary Experience

Food is exponentially more appealing when doused in ketchup, garnished with sprinkles, or mixed with chocolate chips. Is it better for the kids to have no oatmeal or chocolate chip oatmeal with a side of ketchup? I choose the latter. Good thing I have a strong stomach.

8. Take the Meal Outside

Don’t feel like cleaning up the kitchen for the seventh time that day? Tell yourself you are going to treat your children to a nice picnic. What a lovely bonding experience! Reality: Try to shove a granola bar in their mouth as they fight over a soccer ball. At least the broom stays in the closet.

9. Road Trip

Can’t handle another mess or fight? Tired of being your daredevil toddler’s bodyguard? Get them in the car. Tell them they are going on an adventure to look for trucks, or trains, or unicorns—it doesn’t really matter. Load up a podcast or good Pandora station, get drive-thru coffee, and enjoy the temporary freedom of having your children strapped in car seats.

10. Trick Them Into Sharing

Have only one banana left and two kids want it? Tell the older kid (or each kid separately) that you have to break the part with the bruise off for them. This works for every food. Teach sharing and kindness another day.

Sometimes you do what you have to do to get through a tough day. I realize I’m not winning Mom of the Year for these parenting tips and tricks, but I’m confident my kids will be fine. So the next time the witching hour hits hard, don’t fear. Bring the kids outside, give them some food with a bottle of ketchup, and end the night with a 15-second dunk bath. I won’t tell.