Image Credit: Jason Leung
When you have kids there never seems to be enough time – for anything.
From the moment that you have your first baby, through the toddler years and right up to when they are teenagers, you always wish you had a bit more time so that you could improve your work/life balance.
Here are my ten favourite time saving hacks, starting with a couple of baby hacks that I used (and one I really wish I had known – it would have saved so much time and hassle) some great toddler hacks and some parent hacks that you will still find useful when your children are teenagers – and maybe even beyond!
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Before you had kids you probably loved ice cube trays; you could always have ice on hand for cold drinks, cocktails or a nice gin and tonic. Parenthood will give you a whole new appreciation of this humble item.
Firstly, if you breast feed your baby, freezing is a brilliant way to store excess breast milk. Once the cubes have frozen you can put them in a freezer bag or a reusable container.
Later when it comes time to wean your baby you can freeze pureed vegetables in tiny toddler-sized individual portions in your trusty ice cube tray. When you are done you can defrost just a couple of cubes for baby’s lunch.
Finally after all that, you might just need a gin and tonic – you did remember to make some ice cubes, didn’t you?
Any type of ice cube tray is fine, but I always found silicone ice cube trays the easiest to use.
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Coconut oil has become very popular in the last few years, because it is brilliant for both cooking and has many uses as a beauty product, including conditioning your hair and as a skin moisturizer.
However this hack will convince you to share your coconut oil with baby, if they are suffering from Cradle Cap.
Cradle cap is when yellow scaly patches appear on the scalps of young babies. It is very common, harmless and it doesn't itch or cause discomfort and usually clears up by itself, and it will bother you more than it will baby.
It is often recommended that you should use emollient to soften up the patches such as baby oil or petroleum jelly, but if you love coconut oil you can also use this as well, and it has the benefit that it is harmless if it goes in baby’s mouth.
This tip will be useful whether you are a new parent with a baby, have a toddler or even have kids who are older.
You will be amazed just how many things you can safely put in the dishwasher! Check out many of the plastic toys that your kid owns – lots of them might very well say “dishwasher safe” on them.
(Side note: did you know that here is no universal symbol to tell you that an item is dishwasher safe? That glass and fork symbol just means that the item is suitable for food use.)
So what about plastic toys that do not say that they are dishwasher safe? Well if you try this with for example LEGO, it can cause them to warp. Toys that have stickers on them will probably lose the stickers in the dishwasher and painted designs may very well fade.
My rule of thumb is, if the toy is so nasty that the only other solution is to throw it away, you might as well put it in the dishwasher, if it is destroyed you are no worse off.
Bonus tip: If you have a plastic dish drainer it can probably go in the dishwasher and the dishwasher will, in my experience, do a much better job than cleaning it by hand.
Image Credit: Tom
Do your kids have a tendency to open bags of snacks then abandon them, open and half eaten?
You don’t want the snacks to go stale, so what to do? You can buy lots of gadgets and clips especially for snack bags, but you don’t need to go to all that expense for some pretty plastic ones, clothes pegs are just as good, and vastly less expensive.
Just fold the open end of the bag over a couple of times and pop on a peg. Your snacks will be fresh whenever the kids are ready to finish them.
You can get a bag of wooden clothes pegs very cheaply online or at a pound/dollar store. And you could even use them to put the washing on the line too….
I am totally stealing this idea from Life Hacks for Parents: Practical Hints for Making Life with Kids Easier, which is a brilliant idea for keeping sand off everything when you go to the beach.
When you go to the linen cupboard to find your beach towels, grab a fitted sheet as well; when you get to the beach put heavy items such as your bags, a cooler box or water bottles into the four corners of the sheet and you will have a sand-free space all of your own for lunch, or for the kids to play in!
No indeed it is not, it is in fact a genius solution for storing practically anything. Each of those little pouches can hold toys, clothes, stationary, books – almost anything.
Pick a clear hanging shoe tidy such as the one shown above so that you can see what is in each section, or go for a fabric hanging shoe tidy if you want to be able to pop it in the washing machine once in a while - do check the instructions, not all of them are washable.
Image Credit: freestocks-photos
I was so grateful to discover this tip when I had my second child. Once your second baby is out of babygros and into normal clothes, you will discover that you will forget whose clothes are whose, especially when they have been handed down to sprog No. 2.
You think that you will remember, but you won’t, I promise – nappy brain!
Here is the tip; find the label in the clothes that kiddo number 2 is wearing and use a laundry marker to put a dot on the label. Then you will know that the one with the dot is the younger kid’child's.
Why a dot and not an initial for example? Well, if you go on to have another child, and want to hand clothes down again, you can add another dot to the label so that you can tell all three kids clothes apart!
Image Credit: ilker
This is a hack just for the parents of boys. I have two boys so this is such a useful idea, as you will pretty soon get tired of wiping the seats and floor of your bathroom once you start to toilet train.
Add a toilet target to the inside of the toilet bowl for your boys to aim at. They are available in all sorts of fun designs with targets, animals and even glow-in-the-dark designs!
Image Credit: Aitor Romero
Sleep is a pretty precious commodity when you are a new parent, and you will try anything to get your kid off to sleep so that you can get some shuteye yourself!
One way that works really well for lots of babies is using a white noise generator. The idea is that white noise is similar to the sound that babies hear in the womb, and so they find it comforting. There are lots of products that are available to create white noise to help baby get off to sleep.
You can buy a standalone white noise generator, which usually cost upwards of £30, which are aimed more at people who will use them long-term (lots of adults find that they help them get off to sleep too).
There are also lots of toys which include a white noise generator, such as Ewan the Dream Sheep. These toys often include a night light and may play restful music and womb noises as well.
If you don’t mind leaving your phone in baby’s room, there are lots of apps, many of them which are free to download, which will play white noise. Search your favourite app store.
However if you still have an old-fashioned radio somewhere in your house, hidden at the back of a cupboard, just de-tune it so that it is not actually on a station. The static sound is white noise. Ta-da, a free white noise generator!
I only discovered this trick once my kids were out of nappies, and I am completely gutted that I did not know this. You know how the shoulders of a onsie are made so that they cross over one another? This is in fact a brilliant hack and one I SO wish that someone had told me!
Those crossed over shoulders mean that you can make the neck part of the onesie large enough to take it off down a baby’s body rather than over its head. So if your kid does a truly nuclear nappy, you don’t have to somehow manoeuvre the dirty part of the onesie over baby’s face.
If that isn’t genius I don’t know what is!
About eParenting: eParenting was started by Jacqui O'Brien in 2004. At the time her kids were 1 and 4 and kept her nice and busy. Now they are teenagers and still keeping her pretty busy!