As an avid Redditor, one of my favorite threads on the site is r/lifehacks. Yes, most of the life hacks are kind of lame, but sifting through the thread is like shopping at the Goodwill. You’ve got to sort through a lot of crap to find the treasure, and it’s truly golden when you’ve found an excellent life hack that’s perfectly tailored to you. A hack that you can apply to increase your efficiency, save time and money, or simply up the whimsy level in your daily life.
As parents, we can especially benefit from the use of life hacks, and this article from Bored Panda compiles some of the most clever and easy hacks for parents to utilize. For example, when your child loses a tooth, you can glue glitter to a dollar bill and call it magic dust from the tooth fairy. Have a large empty box from a recent appliance purchase? Give your child some crayons, put them inside the box, and let them go to town! Another use for that same box? Cut it up and use the cardboard as back seat dividers to prevent sibling squabbles on long road trips.
The best life hacks are the ones that make you say: Why the HELL didn’t I think of that?! I can’t compete with some of the genius hacks I’ve discovered recently, but I have acquired a few of my own through personal experience. Here they are…
1. Be the Queen of Etiquette, Thanks to the Dollar Store!
Did you know that you can get wrapping paper, gift bags, and greeting cards at the dollar store? Never again spend $6 for a card from Target. And as a bonus, the cards at the dollar store are overstock from other vendors, which means the price printed on the back of the card will be the original price. This will protect your super secret “Mama Penny Pincher” identity.
While you’re at it, put the dollar store down as your first stop the next time you’re hosting your child’s birthday party. You can get an array of items here for a steal: party favors, plates, cups, snacks and soda, mylar balloons, you name it…
2. Baby Wipes can be used for Pretty Much Everything
I always buy the scentless baby wipes from Target because they have so many uses beyond their original intent. I use them to clean my daughter’s hands and face as well as my own hands and face when I need some refreshing. I use them to dust pretty much every surface in my house. They are gentle yet effective, and cheaper than Clorox wipes without all the chemicals. I also used them recently to clean the dashboard of my car and they worked like a charm. And I’m not alone! According to this article, there are at least 39 unexpected uses for baby wipes. You can use them to freshen a leather sofa, clean carpet spills, and even remove pesky deodorant stains from your shirt!
3. The Home Depot Baby Tub
What do you do when you’ve got a toddler and no bathtub in your home? The kitchen sink is too small, as are all of the baby baths available on Amazon. My answer is this jumbo Sterilite tub from The Home Depot. It’s large enough to comfortably fit a three-year-old and it sits in the base of your shower for easy bathing. Just replace your shower head with the detachable variety, fill the tub with toys, and you’ve got yourself a safe and easy bath routine that’s perfect for a growing child. Hang it up on a hook next to the shower when you’re done… No bathtub necessary!
4. The Bottom Cabinet in the Kitchen = A Cubby of Fun!
When my daughter was a baby, instead of dealing with those annoying plastic cabinet locks that are maddening to use and nearly impossible to install, my mom suggested that I make the bottom cabinets baby-friendly instead. This was a wonderful piece of advise that I like to pass on to other parents when I can. Everything is a toy to a baby, so why not make your Tupperware, plastic stacking bowls, and other safe kitchen items available to play with? As a mom who loves to cook, this made it possible for me to enjoy the hobby for hours at a time with my daughter in sight and fully entertained by her kitchen “toys.”
5. Tin Foil as a Scouring Pad
My child’s father lived on a boat for two years and he reminded me that the best life hacks are the ones that include multiple uses for the same item or tool. This is part of the boating lifestyle. (Along with brilliant storage solutions and minimalism as a way of life). Recently, I was struggling to clean some egg that had cemented to my cast iron pan. He jumped in with a ball of tin foil and took care of that job without breaking a sweat. Scouring pads have now become obsolete in my life.
6. The 411 Plan for Organization & Goal Achievement
My last life hack is something you can keep as a supplement to your family calendar. The 411 Plan is a productivity tool that I learned about when working for Keller Williams Realty. The plan makes yearly goals and resolutions achievable by breaking them down into small, systematic increments. It’s most often used for business purposes, but can be a great tool for staying on track with our personal goals as they relate to parenting, relationships, and health. Check it out! It’s a pretty basic yet brilliant way to achieve resolutions and what makes it better than your typical “To Do” list is that it’s proactive rather than reactive.
…This post almost makes me want to reopen the Comments section since I’m sure that many parents reading this list have their own fantastic life hacks that they use on a regular basis. Feel free to hit me up on Facebook with your own.
>>>As an aside, my mother pointed out that before the days of the internet, there was a great woman named Heloise Bowles Cruse who had a wildly popular newspaper column called “Hints from Heloise.” She was the original O.G. life hack gangsta, and after a quick Amazon search, it’s nice to see that she’s still doing her thing. I’ve added this book to my shopping cart and will update Facebook with my review…