I’ve learned a trick or two in my 33 years as a Mom. I’m going to share some of them!
1. Magic Potion: Vinegar! It’s amazing. My mother used it to clean glass. I use it in the washer, either for extra icky clothes (baby vomit, boys’ socks) or clothes/towels that are mildew-y. Throw in a cup of vinegar and your usual detergent, and voila! And the clothes won’t smell like vinegar afterward, I promise.
2. Technicolor Undies: Forget the tighty whities, ladies, unless you want to see things you would rather not see. Go for the dark colors – they hide a multitude of sins.
3. Secret Stash: Speaking of underwear, I would hide one pair of socks and one pair of undies, so that when a kid came to me at 10 pm and said, “I’m all out of underwear/socks!” I could whip out the secret stash and not have to start doing laundry in the wee hours.
4. Blind Taste Tests: Have fun and save money at the same time. My kids always wanted me to buy every name brand product, and I was all about store brand. So we would have blind taste tests, just like you see on TV for Coke and Pepsi, and we learned a lot. Sometimes the store brand was way better (those little individual cups of applesauce), sometimes not (pretzels). Same for things like ibuprofen, mucus-be-gone, etc. Generics/store brand work just fine.
Guess which one they liked better!
5. Medicine Calendar: Your 6-year-old doesn’t want to take the antibiotic for his ear infection. Draw spoons on the calendar representing the doses left to consume, and have him cross them off with a big black crayon each time he takes the medication. Something about seeing that this won’t last forever, plus being in control of crossing them off really helps. It’s also good to say cheerily, “Four down and only 16 to go! YAY!”
6. Slither: Can’t get those kiddie feet into snow boots? First put plastic bags on the child’s feet! This one’s old, but I recently learned that not everyone knows about it.
7. Prophylactic Knee Patches: I was tired of perfectly good pants being ruined in days by a blown-out knee. My oldest son had very sharp knee bones and they sliced through those cute little pants rather quickly. So before he ever even put them on, I would iron on a big denim patch inside the pants leg where the knee was likely to hit. No more holes!
Like this only much bigger (cover the whole knee area)!
8. Separate but Equal: One kid would consume all of the deli turkey, or the ice cream, etc. within hours of my bringing it home from the supermarket. The other kid wasn’t ready to eat it but resented its immediate disappearance. Solution: get two of the item and write one child’s name on one package and one on the other package. For example, instead of a pound of turkey, have the deli person wrap it in two half-pound packages.
EXACTLY the same amount for each kid
9. Chicago Rules: When my kids were 12 and 17, we drove to Chicago to visit an old law school friend of mine. It was a big adventure and lots of fun. We had very little spare money in those days, so my usual routine on big trips was to pack plastic bags with snacks from home, plus peanut butter, jelly and bread, cans of soda, and other portable food items to sustain the hungry boys during long periods in the car. For the Chicago trip, I decided to let them buy snacks and drinks at the rest stops. Even though it cost way more to buy a soda than to bring one from home, this turned out to be the high point of the trip! The Chicago White Sox and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame paled in comparison to the thrill of buying snacks and drinks rather than packing them. Known as “Chicago Rules” in our family, it remains a great family tradition fifteen years later.
The highlight of every trip!
10. First Day: It’s one kid’s birthday and the presents are flowing. The other kid is standing there turning green with envy and about to melt down. There is no avoiding this, unless you cleverly planned ahead and had twins. Invariably, the non-birthday kid will want to play with the new toys and the birthday kid will get upset. In our family, we instituted the rule called “First Day,” which meant that on the day the gift was received, the birthday child did not have to share it with his brother. After that, sharing was required, so the other child knew his chance would come. Would you believe that to this day, my 33 year old and almost 28 year old still yell, “First day! First day!” when opening their birthday presents?
I hope these help you on your journey through parenthood. Share some of your own!