In my experience as a Mum over the last six years raising three kids (and working on growing our fourth kid), I have scoured the web, highlighted books, and interviewed my family, friends, and other moms about a variety of parenting topics. The thing is there is no manual for raising kids and it's not because there is a lack of suggestions, but rather there is nothing that works for every kid and every family and every situation. It's all just a guessing game (hah, sorry kids) until you find something that works for your kid, for your family, and for your specific situation.
Along the way though in my personal journey of mommahood, there have been tips and tricks that have been helpful to me to adopt - things I've heard from the moms I admire, or pinterest, or blogs I read. I heard about the tip, I tried it, and miraculously it worked!
But sometimes, the trick has had to be adapted to suit us a little better but were definitely inspired by another momma's advice. It didn't work exactly the same for us, but with a little tweak or by a little inspiration, it has become something that is ours.
And, well, sometimes the tips and tricks simply are born out of trial and error or one of those rare eureka (!) moments.
Today, I'm sharing twenty of my favorite quick and practical tips for raising little kids. I'm being specific about the age of the kids, because that's where my experience so far has been contained. These are the quick tricks I use to stay above the daily overwhelming blur that comes with loving and raising and managing a house of wild little ones.
1. a pizza cutter is an excellent tool for plating kids' breakfast foods quickly: pancakes and waffles
2. setting 'screen free zones' is an easy way to stay consistent and vigilant to screen time hours. (our screen free zones are mornings, cars, and bedtime)
3. somehow kids whine less about eating the meal when it's divided up and put in weird little bowls bento-style, this works especially at lunchtime
4. having a 'hygiene day' (ours is Thursday) means that you at least know for sure the last time the kids' bodies and hair were washed and their nails were trimmed
5. an ice cream scoop is an excellent tool for quickly filling muffin and cupcake tins and filling it half way is a great way to put raw cookie dough to the pan for baking!
6. meal planning makes a difference in both the financial sense and the momma-emotional sense
7. the slow cooker is the best invention of all time
8. a bath can usually turn cranky kids into cheerful kids
9. always pack pajamas in the diaper bag
10. sleep begets sleep in children ...it also seems to work the other way around: not sleeping begets more not sleeping
11. the kids will always find the 'circle' in your house, you can use this to your advantage. babydoll strollers, cars and trucks, and when they get bigger in the winter, have them run 'laps' while you count them out. (our 'circle' is the hallway, past the kitchen, through the dining room, and back around through the foyer)
12. try baby.sign.language. even if it's only a few words (we taught our kids: more,all done, play, bath, sleepy, hot, please, thank you, and sorry).
13. nothing cures bad moods like being outside
14. when you go to the park or playground, PACK SNACKS
15. as hard as it can be to swallow, sometimes the quiet and play it brings can justify the mess it makes
16. when a kid hurts another kid, this is the phrase we use: "I'm sorry, how can I fix it?" and the hurt child can ask for a hug, high five, space to be alone, or a joke.
17. keep an extra toothbrush and toothpaste for the kids in a kitchen cupboard so they can brush after breakfast downstairs when you're running late
18. never underestimate the power of recalling memories with the kids, from when they were babies to even something that happened yesterday. this is particularly helpful at mealtimes, riding in the car, or passing time in a waiting room.
19. to learn to put on a coat independently when very young, have kids lay the jacket on the floor, stand above the hood, put their arms in the holes and flip it over their head
20. when you are unsure of how to answer your kids' questions, a good place to start is by asking them, 'hm, what do you think?' their answer will provide a framework of what they already know and what is appropriate for their current thought processes.
Maybe the most important tip to remember is that even if something works a million times, some days there are no rules or tricks, some days it's just hard and the best thing to remember on those days is that bedtime will come and then you'll get to try again tomorrow.
What are some of your tried and true tips and tricks as a momma? Please share in the comments, or on your own blog. We mommas need to stick together and share our best practices either to copy or to be inspired! xxoxx