| Parenting Tips
- Classical Mornings - If your children are grouchy when you wake them up in the morning, buy them an alarm clock set to blast classical music every morning. They learn from a new responsibility and get exposure to classical music, and you don't have to struggle with groggy grumpiness!
- Clothes Every Day - When young children go off for a few days to visit grandparents or a non-custodial parent, bundle each day's clothes separately with a large rubber band. That way, the child will have clean clothes everyday and won't have to think about it.
- Dressing Timesaver - While you fold and put away laundry in your children's dressers, put their outfits together and place them this way inside. This way they can dress themselves with no crazy mismatches.
- Dryer Magic - If you do your laundry late at night and often fall asleep before folding, there's an easy way to banish early morning wrinkles. Simply toss a dampened towel into the dryer with the wrinkled clothes, drink your coffee, and run the dryer for five minutes. Those wrinkles will disappear.
- Family Garden - Divide part of the backyard into separate plots with wire and mark each with a stake with a child's name. Then bring your children to the nursery and let them choose their own flowers, herbs, or vegetables for planting and tending. You'll be amazed at how much your children will love helping when they have a sense of ownership.
- Family Phone Book - To avoid searching each time, or kids snooping through your phone book, keep one major phone list on the refrigerator or another central spot that everyone can reach. It should include the phone numbers for work, schools, the kids' friends, babysitters, doctors, neighbors, and popular numbers for takeout when you're coming home late.
- Award Night - Here's a nifty trick for getting the kids to clean out their backpacks. Have a contest and award a (gag) gift to the kid with the grossest thing in his or her backpack. After the award ceremony, turn packs inside out, hose down, and dry for a bright new beginning. Or toss in the washer on quick cycle.
- Babysitter Shortages - If lining up a babysitter for the weekend is becoming a weeklong chore, try arranging trades with friends, both yours and your children's. Not as complicated as a co-op, this is simply a tit for tat situation. If the reciprocating family's children are a lot younger or older, you might be amazed at the new friends your adaptable kid can make in a pinch.
- Backpack Survival - Put phone money in every zippered compartment of your children's backpack. Also, using see-through tape, tape into the backpack important phone numbers such as mom and dad's work, cell phones, and pagers. The number of a trusted babysitter could also be included.
- Bedtime Ritual - At night, before bedtime, make sure each child packs his or her backpack for the next day. Everyone's homework, consent forms, and whatever it takes to get through a school day (minus the food and drink) should be included so it's a no-brainer in the morning when the pressure's on and everyone's groggy. Stack the backpacks close to the door for quick exits.
- Bubbles of Fun - If your children want to play with bubbles, but it's too cold outside, let them use them in the tub, where the soap can only make a positive difference!
- Car Goodies - Keep non-perishable snacks in the glove compartment for when you're stuck in traffic or your child is saying she's too hungry to survive while you do a few errands. Also keep small maze and puzzle books, which you can dole out at difficult times.
- Chore Jar - Have children draw chores from pieces of paper in a jar. The element of chance always appeals, and children can trade if they mutually prefer the other task.
- Money Lessons - Encourage budgeting by helping kids "see" where their money goes. Give each child three clear containers €”one for saving, one for spending, and one for sharing. As allowance and gift money accumulate, they can decide where it goes. For incentive, the family may want to set a shared goal €”like a special outing or party €”with the money that everyone has set aside for sharing. Or perhaps they can make a family donation.
- Never Toss a Tin - Keep all those colorful gift tins that candies and cookies come in at holiday time. They can perk up children's desktops as pencil holders, places for collections of stickers, art supplies, trading cards, and more.
- No More Missing Pieces - For quicker cleanups, coat the backs of each of your jigsaw puzzles with a different brightly colored, thick-tipped marker or paintbrush. Then gather each puzzle's pieces into an individual resealable bag and store till the next cleanup.
- Off the Wall Organizer - Hang a soft, fabric shoe bag on your child's wall for storing small stuffed animals, collectibles, school and art supplies, and more. It's decorative as well as a great organizer!
- Paint Containers - Wash and dry small plastic yogurt containers and reuse for children's paints. They're just the right size for dipping small watercolor brushes into, or for transferring bulk paints from the teacher supply stores.
- Practice Supplies - When you take your child to a practice or game, bring your own pack of supplies in addition to the bag your child takes along since you'll be there for a couple of hours. Bring water, snacks, something to read, band-aids, hat, cushion, sunscreen, cell phone, etc.
- Quick Reminders - Keep packets of Post-it Notes all over the house so you can write reminders to yourself or your children when you think of them. Then you can stick one on your child's door, backpack, pillow, or even the bathroom mirror!
- Restaurant Fun - When dining at a restaurant that's not already kid-friendly, bring along a puzzle/activity book for your children to occupy themselves with quietly.
- Security Blanket Seconds - If an older child still wants the comfort of a security blanket on trips away from home, etc., just cut that grungy old favorite up into smaller squares that can fit snugly into a pocket, backpack, or suitcase. Get permission from the blanket's owner before cutting.
- Sock Saving Time - To save time sorting laundry and totally eliminate the dilemma of the single, unmatched sock, purchase only one color sweat socks. (This may be easier to pull off with boys than fashion-conscious girls.) You'll never have to worry about matching pairs or single socks again.
- Soft Clothing - After his evening bath, dress your preschooler is soft clothing (knits, elastic waistbands) that are suitable for both sleeping and going to preschool the next day. Saves precious morning time.
- Stop Seating Squabbles - For the car and/or the table, number the seats and assign them to each child, rotating every month, to avoid fights about who sits where.
- Supplies for the Office Visit - For children's visits to the office, keep a special basket, corner, or bookshelf of goodies. Stock it with toys, markers, crayons, activity books, videos if you have a player, and a few cool surprises. Who knows? It may even enable you to make one more phone call or attend a meeting.