The first few years of parenthood are filled with screaming and tears — and not just your baby’s. Is your toddler inching closer and closer to the electrical socket? Did you just endure yet another last-minute dash to the store for a forgotten birthday present? Has your child exhausted every source of entertainment, and it’s only noon?
After that first month of parenting, you’ll be desperate for ways to make even the smallest of tasks a little easier. It’s time to take back your house! All you need is a little creativity, a little confidence, and this list to survive early parenthood.
1. It’s 3 AM and you and your baby hasn’t stopped crying. Spotify to the rescue! You can stream a bunch of white noise sound effects which may calm your baby enough to lull them to sleep…and hopefully calm you down, too.
Esther Anderson/Story of This Life
2. You know what gets old really fast? Literally every noise that comes from your kid’s toy box. Save your ears (and your sanity) by sneakily putting scotch tape over the toys’ little speakers. It should muffle the sound without muting it completely.
3. Bet you never thought your kid could reach THAT cabinet, huh? In a hurry, wrapping a rubber band or hair tie around cabinet handles should bind them together until you’re able to get an actual child-proof lock.
4. Have your pediatrician show you the wiggle trick that’s been taking the parenting world by storm! It’s a combination of gently rocking your baby while holding them upright, and apparently it’s a real-life miracle.
Robert C. Hamilton, M.D./YouTube
5. The first thing you learn as a parent? Many products don’t need to be used the way they were intended. For example, mount that shower caddy to your kitchen wall for easy-access to your many baby bottles!
6. Kids will get bored with their toy box and tablet sooner than you think. The solution? Painter’s tape! Make a track for race cars or an indoor hop-scotch game, or whatever design you can come up with.
Our Scribbled Walls
7. If you’re not into the whole painter’s tape idea, then grab some oak tag and stickers. Kids can go wild with all the potential designs they can create. They’ll even practice their colors and shapes without knowing it. Parenting win!
8. Remember how creativity is the key to smooth parenting? Get another dish rack, but not for the kitchen. Store your child’s coloring books and art supplies in these racks, and you’ll never trip over a stray crayon ever again…probably.
9. For whatever weird reason, kids are obsessed with electrical outlets. Placing band-aids over those tempting sockets until you buy plug protectors should stop your kid’s dangerous curiosity right in its tracks.
10. The only thing more disgusting than your tot’s diapers are their bathroom toys. These suckers get real moldy real fast, so combat this mold by putting a small dot of hot glue right on the air holes. Goodbye, dirty rubber duck!
11. Make meal time with your kids less stressful by storing their kiddie plates on a dish rack. Storing these racks in a kitchen drawer can save you room and teach your kids that “everything has its place.”
12. If Robert Jr. refuses to wear anything other than his Sesame Street socks, then you must protect them at all costs. Wash those tiny socks in a mesh bag so they can’t escape into Washing Machine Wonderland.
13. We all love getting super-personalized gifts, but let’s be real: all a kid really needs is something that beeps or lights up. Avoid the crazy birthday gift search by buying toys in bulk, perhaps on Black Friday!
14. You know what never gets old? Eating food in new and inventive ways. Maximize your kid’s health and minimize the clean-up by cutting watermelon into sticks instead of slices. No more drips, no more sticky cheeks — no more mess!
15. You know those little flaps on either side of a juice box? If you lift them up, they’re the perfect size for your kid to hold so they don’t squeeze all the juice out of the box. Less mess is always a blessing!
16. We know you have baby wipes hidden throughout your house. Transform an empty wipes box into a snack box for your car! You’ll probably be able to fit an ice pack in there as well, perfect for juice boxes.
17. The little pajamas with the hundreds of snap buttons are cute, but you’ll be cursing yourself when you realize all the time and tears you could’ve saved with just one zip. Saved time is always a parenting win!
18. You know what’s boring? Altoids. You know what isn’t boring? Convenient crayon storage when the restaurant you’re in is inevitably out of crayons for your child to doodle with! Empty out an old Altoids container for a pocket-sized crayon case.
Dr. Jean Blog
19. In the rush of a the-baby-just-pooped-everywhere moment, many parents pull the onesie over the baby’s head. Don’t do this! Instead, pull the onesie down by gently tugging on the shoulder’s envelope folds. That’s what they’re there for!
20. Loud noises are no fun for little ears! If the toilet in a public restroom has a criminally-loud automatic flush, place a post-it note over the sensor. Now your tot can pee in peace!
21. The little openings in coffee lids are a perfect fit for a Popsicle stick! Turn the lid upside down and use it to cover your kids hand and catch any melting ice pop drops. It won’t protect you from your kid’s drool, though.
22. Do the kids keep fighting in the backseat? Are you sick of turning around and pulling them apart? Use poster board as seat dividers so you can drive (somewhat) peacefully!
23. When you’re out of paper, or simply need some time-out time, you can use an old empty moving or shipping box as an all-around empty canvas that doubles as a play pen and a creativity space. Think inside the box…
24. The ultimate dad move: taking off your shirt and using it to secure your baby. We don’t recommend doing this when it’s winter, when your in-laws are around, or when you’re frying up some bacon.
25. One mom told her son that she absolutely hated the sound and sight of a vacuum cleaner, so he started vacuuming the house anytime he was mad at her. It’s not very honest, but it is pretty clever!
26. Clinging plastic wrap does not just stick to food and containers — it sticks to fabrics as well! Stick it to your kid’s shirts/dresses/pants to let them eat and play without getting their clothes too dirty.
27. If your kid, like most kids, likes indiscriminately touching things they shoudn’t, consider putting a child’s playpen around a hot grill. That way, your kiddo can watch you cook and your heart rate can settle.
28. If you don’t have a regular bath tub, a kiddie pool inside the shower could make for a fun and easy bath time. They’re also easy to bring along on any travels, and of course, you can use them outdoors in the summertime!
29. Speaking of baths and showers, empty tubs with some toys in them make for great play pens if you want to take a shower and still need to watch your kid at the same time. Just make sure they don’t accidentally turn on the water!
30. Need to do a load of laundry and keep your child busy for a while? If your baby is amused by spinning colors, place her in front of the washer and enjoy hours of free, nearly silent entertainment.
31. Fill some rectangular Tupperware with water, freeze it, and stack the frozen bricks together to create an igloo or snowball-fight fort for your kids! Just a head’s up: this might take some time, and a whole lot of freezer space.
32. Ho ho ho! These window stickers are cheap and festive, they don’t take up much space, and they’re fun! Use them as seasonal decorations in your home, or bring them on long car and plane rides, for hours of child amusement.
33. Every day your stroller gets pushed through the mud, dirt, grass, and everything else that’s dirty outside. When you need to bring it inside, throw some shower caps over the wheels so the dirt stays on the stroller — not your carpet.
34. It happens: you’re eating at a restaurant and the kiddo decides that’s the perfect time for a little snooze. Just took your child beneath your bib to make sure the meal can go on — and your kid’s clothes stay clean!
35. Setting up an old tent in the backyard makes for a great sand pit, and when your child is done playing, you can zip it up to avoid finding any animal droppings in there the next day. It even adds extra warmth when playing outside in the fall or winter!
36. Write your child’s name, date of birth, your names, emergency contact info, or even blood types and any illnesses/medications the child has on a piece of paper and attach it to your car seat in case of a crash.
37. Yogurt mixed with some food coloring is a very safe way to let your child paint their heart out without you having to worry about them swallowing or inhaling any harsh chemicals. Plus it’s cheap and washes out fairly easily!
38. To make Lego-building time (and clean up time) easier on yourself and your kids, try sorting the bricks by colors or shapes in shoe organizers that you can hang up anywhere.
39. Gloves will keep your hands nice and toasty when they’re dry, but add a little snow and most knitted gloves will instantly become freezing cold. If you add a disposable plastic glove over your regular ones, your hands will be warm and dry so you and your kids can build snowmen all day long.
40. A fun and effective way to teach your kids multiplication is by placing tables on your steps. They’ll subconsciously memorize the numbers as they’re going up, and you can quiz them when they’re heading down!
41. Telling your twins apart is hard when they’re still at an early age. If you want to make your friends laugh, you could shave identifying numbers into their hair — although it isn’t the most glamorous trick. Giving them different, regular haircuts should do the trick as well.
42. Convincing your sick toddler to take their medicine is probably one of the most difficult aspects of parenting. Not anymore! Just slice off the tip of their pacifier and insert the medicine dropper into the hole on the other side. They’ll instinctively suck on their binky without realizing they’re getting well!
43. No child likes to get bath water into their eyes. It’s not only annoying, but it can burn, too. For an easy fix, try placing one of these nifty umbrella bands on their head. Now you can wash away the worry of it every happening again!
44. Going to the beach with a toddler in the summer can be pretty troublesome—they always just want to crawl away. But why not just make your very own beach play pen with a fitted bed sheet and some items to hold the corners up?
45. If your child fears monsters in the closet, there’s an easy way to put their minds at ease. Simply fill a clean spray bottle with “monster spray” (water) and spritz it around their bedroom. You’ll help put those fears—and your child—to bed in no time!
46. Learning to be organized is important. So why not introduce that notion to your children at an early age while also letting them have some fun? You’ll be so happy there’s no cleanup when playtime is over!
47. It can be pretty difficult for children to tell time on an analog clock these days. To make it easier for them to track their chores, try using a color coding system to block out each hour. Time management for the win!
48. Why not give this parent’s innovative medicine hack a try and let kids think they’re sipping from their favorite drink? The straw is really inside of the medicine, of course, but they just think they’re getting a treat!
49. Let’s face it: there’s no way children actually enjoy cleaning up…that is, unless you turn it into a game! Have your kid to sweep all of the crumbs and mess into the “square” and watch as your kitchen becomes spic and span.
50. You can never underestimate the power of a parent’s touch to help a fussy child fall asleep. A good way to comfort them is to fill a glove with dry beans and place it on their backs. In no time, they’ll soundly drift off without ever knowing you snuck away for some shuteye of your own!
51. It can be pretty tough to keep all your children’s belongings in order while in the car, but not anymore. All you have to do is attach a shoe organizer to the back of the front passenger seat to make a handy organizer!
52. Whether you’re on a long road trip or you’re running errands with the kids, every now and then, you’ll need to eat a meal on the go. To avoid spills and keep things tidy, try putting your food in a shower divider for easy and clean access.
53. Teaching your children proper hygiene is an absolute must, so why not place toothbrushes in a clothespin instead of letting them accumulate bacteria and dust inside a cup? Not to mention, they’ll also be easier to reach!
54. Every parent has watched their child struggle with figuring out which shoe goes on what foot. You want the kid to learn, but you also need to tackle your to-do list. Here’s a fun way to help: try cutting a sticker down the middle and placing a half in each shoe so they know which side is which!
55. Looking for a clever way to get your child moving in the morning without being distracted by toys? Try gluing some pennies to the bottom of their old shoes and let them tap dance around the house. They’ll have so much fun, and you’ll literally only spend a few cents!
56. Are you sick of cleaning up all the glitter following an arts and crafts session with your child? The easiest solution is sitting right inside your utility drawer right now: a lint roller. Voilà!
57. You can play outdoor dress-up by drawing characters on the ground with sidewalk chalk and using old clothes to dress and accessorize them!
58. Make fantastic pavement art with washable paint bombs! Mix cornstarch, food coloring, vinegar, and baking soda in a plastic baggie, seal it up tightly, and wait for the pressure to build. Eventually, the paint bomb will explode into a beautiful Pollock-esque work!
59. To make a DIY sun-catcher, fill the backside of a plastic lid with Elmer’s glue and add a couple of drops of food coloring on top. Use toothpicks to swirl the colors into crazy abstract patterns, let the glue dry overnight, and you’ve got super-cool hangable art!
60. Another easy art project is feet-painting, a close relative of finger-painting (a reliable classic). Simply wrap the kids’ feet in bubble-wrap, dab the bottoms of their feet in (washable) paint, and let them walk and stomp on parchment paper. It’s not only a bubble-popping good time, but the end product is crazy cool-looking!