Parenting is simultaneously one of the hardest and most rewarding things you’ll do this year. It gets even trickier when you add to that all of your other responsibilities and resolutions (this. is. the. year. you. finally. give. up. chocolate. NOT!). To make your job a little easier we’ve compiled enough hacks to get you through the next 365 days. Happy New Year!
Get healthy. It's at the top of many new year's resolutions lists. Writing something on paper, though, is a lot different from actually doing it ... with kids in tow. Here are a few hacks, specifically for moms and pops, to help you reach your health and fitness goals ASAP.
Include your kids. If your kids are old enough, have them work out with you. Show them the move and have them try it out. Whittle your waistline while being a fitness role model for your littles? It's a win-win!
Weigh yourself down. Wear a weighted vest (or carry your toddler in a carrier) as you go about your daily routine and cleaning.
Watch while you workout. It’s no secret you’re addicted to Netflix. When watching your favorite show, make it into a game. Every time your fave character’s name is said out loud, do 10 lunges or jumping jacks.
Don't give yourself a second chance to work out. It's a mind game, really. If you say you're going to work out at 8 am, but you don't, then you are not allowed to workout that day. It's a guilt trip that you take yourself on that just might get you up and at'em.
Include your kids. If your kids are old enough, have them work out with you. Show them the move and have them try it out. Whittle your waistline while being a fitness role model for your littles? It's a win-win!
Walk it out. If you take public transportation to work, get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way.
Treat yo' self. Give yourself a dollar every time you work out instead of splurging for that fancy gym membership. Use that money at the end of the month to buy something for yourself. You deserve it!
Skiing with kids is much different from the ski trips you took with friends back in the day. But, it can be just as fun! Here are some of the best tips for getting your little ones out on the slopes.
Pick the right resort. The biggest and most popular resort might not be the best for your beginning skier. A beginner slope with a tow rope or “magic carpet” lift is great for kids as they don’t have to learn how to negotiate the chairlift. Many resorts offer other non-skiing amenities like tubing, hot tubs and campfire s’mores that bump up the fun level for your ski vacation.
Make your own “bunny hill” first. Ski gear is bulky and unfamiliar. Get it ready in advance, and let the kids try it out in your living room first. If you are staying at a ski resort or house with a small snow hill outside, use that for some practice “runs” before you spend the big bucks on the lift tickets.
Don’t plan a full first day. A good rule of thumb for kids is that most can tolerate one hour of skiing per year of their age (so three hours max for your three-year-old). If you keep this rule in mind, you won’t exhaust them and turn them off skiing for the rest of your trip.
Ditch the poles. Kids learning to ski need to develop basic skills like creating a wedge to stop and learning how to turn. Poles are often more of a distraction for kids so ditch ’em for the newbies. If you’re going to teach your kids to ski there are tethers you can use that attach to the tips of the skis to help your kids keep the pizza pie shape as they ski down the hill.
Get up crumbs with slime. Have your kids become obsessed with slime? Turns out, it’s not just fun to play with, you can also clean with it! You can use slime to pick up tiny crumbs or dust from keyboards, counters and more.
Store LEGO on a magnetic strip. LEGO storage might be ultimate organization challenge, but all you really need is a few key items from IKEA and sticky glue to create these amazing magnetic strips to store all of those itsy bitsy bricks. Head over to Kojo Designs for all the details.
Clean dusty fans with a pillowcase. Instead of using paper towels or a Swiffer (dust will get everywhere), use an old pillowcase. The dust will be captured inside! See more of this genius hack over at Homemaker Chic.
Use a coffee pod carousel to organize play dough. Who doesn’t love play dough? But, storing all of those little canisters so your fam can play with any color, any time is just really complicated. Not anymore! The Extreme Couponing Mom’s got you covered. Her idea to use a coffee carousel for play dough storage is nothing short of pure genius.
Organize under the sink with a shower rod. Shower rods aren’t just for your bathroom, they can be a game changer in the kitchen too! Take it from Crystal at Little Bit Funky. Use her brilliant idea to create hanging storage for all of those pesky spray bottles with a rod under your sink. See how it's done by clicking here.
Clean plastic toys in your washing machine. Let your washing machine do double-duty: Toss all your grimy plastic toys into a mesh bag and throw it all into the wash with some towels or blankets (to prevent the toys from banging into the washer wall). Your toy supply will be squeaky clean!
De-gunk the humidifier with a bottle brush. Even if your kids have graduated to sippy cups, hold on to the bottle brush. It's perfect for cleaning hard-to-reach places in your humidifier.
From cutting costs here and there, saving money takes baby steps. Hit your money-saving stride a little quicker with these hacks and tried-and-true techniques.
Time big purchases. Save all of your big purchases for the end of the month to get the best deals. If a salesperson is trying to make month-end goals, she might be willing to work with you on the price.
Go meatless. Consider adding a Meatless Monday to your recipe rotation. A study published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition found that vegetarians save up to $750 a year by going meatless.
Open a travel credit card. Many credit cards (especially airline cards) offer extra points and incentives if you spend a certain amount of money within the first few months of opening an account. Some even offer double points for travel-related expenses, so take advantage of this perk and charge away.
Take advantage of visitor center perks. Those off-the-highway visitor centers are more than just a place to stop and let your toddler use the potty. Andrea Everhart, of Kids Theme Dinners, says (of visitor centers), “They often have coupons and great tips for places to visit because the folks that work there, live there.” Everhart also notes, “Maps are generally free, so it’s a great way to plan hikes and site-seeing as well.”
Make your own fabric softener. Skip the overpriced fabric softeners and dryer sheets (which can actually mess with your dryer) and just add one cup of white vinegar to your rinse compartment to keep clothes soft and static free.
Organize a babysitter swap. If you have a friend whose kids are friends with your kids, organize a monthly babysitting swap. How it works: She watches your kids for a few hours. Then you watch hers. No money is exchanged.
Avoid temptations. Help prevent yourself from making impulse buys by unsubscribing from email newsletters of companies that are extra tempting and by un-following social media advertisers that just know how to make you click "purchase".
Plan around the sales. Planning meals? Start by finding out what will be on sale for the upcoming week. Choose meals around those sale items to save a ton of money.
If you feel like you've exhausted every indoor/outdoor activity on your "what to do with kids" list, think again. Here are some of the best playtime hacks to shut down their cabin fever.
Secure the hallway with lasers. String yarn back and forth between a hallway or trees and let the kids try to step through without springing the alarm stepping on a piece of yarn.
Send them off on a treasure hunt. The best part about this game is that you don’t have to participate. Hand them a map or some clues (you do have to plant these ahead of time) and let them explore. Bonus points if you can convince them to swab the deck.
Hang an outside fort. Forts can be fun outside, too. Just grab a shower curtain and hook the rings onto a hula-hoop. Suspend it from a tree and there you have it: a clean, cool place to read, play with action figures or use as home base.
Throw a clothesline art show. If your child fancies himself an artist, throw him an outdoor art show. Just display his work on a clothesline for all to see. Turn the activity into a lesson in marketing by making invitations for your neighbors and using an upside-down cardboard box as a ticket booth.
Construct a two-second tent. Get a duvet cover or sheet, secure either side to the ground with tape and turn on a fan for the perfect play spot.
Fly a newspaper kite. The toy store kite will inevitably break or wind up a tangled mess, so why not save yourself some money and make your own? All you need is bamboo sticks and newspaper for a cool, easy-to-make version. Get the tutorial on Living Well Spending Less.
Throw some “dart” sponges. Turn the classic bar game into a kid-friendly competition. Use sidewalk chalk to draw a bull’s eye and target. Then put sponges into a bucket full of water to soak and have the kids take turns to see if they can hit the center circle.
There are all sorts of head-scratching issues when it comes to camping: puzzling sleep situations, food prep problems, and dealing with So. Much. Gear. Thankfully, with these clever camping hacks, fresh air adventures with your pint-sized explorers can be relaxing and fun (we swear!).
Bring duct tape.
If there’s one thing that can get you out of the woods, it’s duct tape. Use it as an emergency band-aid, tent patch, flashlight holder and much more.
Fake a lantern effect. Don't worry if you can't find your camping lantern. Just put your phone on a table or flat surface, screen up, and place a plastic water bottle on top—the screen light will illuminate the water and cast light around the bottle. Turn your auto-lock off in settings for hours of brightness.
Use your six-pack.
After stashing your bottles in the ice chest, save that six-pack holder to use as a utensil organizer. It folds up and packs away with ease, and you can even get crafty and cover with a fun pattern to add a little decor to your campsite. Find the tutorial over at Home Confetti.
Tell bugs to buzz off.
Toss a little bundle of sage into the campfire. It’ll keep the mosquitos at bay.
Make clean up easy.
Make single-use soap leaves by running a vegetable peeler along a bar of antibacterial soap. Bonus: In a pinch, you can also rub one of the soap leaves on a mosquito bite to relieve the itchiness.
Keep TP dry.
Simply slip a roll into an empty and clean coffee can with a lid. It’s so genius—we can’t believe we didn’t think of this first.
From bee stings and ice cream coated faces, summer is the wild ride that we all love to hop on. Keep your kids entertained and safe all summer long with these hot-weather hacks.
Treat rashes naturally. Whether it’s poison ivy, swim trunks or an allergic reaction, rashes can really put a damper on your summertime adventures. Create a paste with oatmeal or coconut oil and spread it over the itchy area. Both of these products are natural anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory ingredients that will neutralize the itch.
Nix the sting of a bee sting. All you need is baking soda and water. This homemade paste will neutralize bee venom and control swelling. The paste will dry and flake off, and you can always apply more if your little ones need it.
Catch popsicle drips with a cupcake liner. Popsicles are a childhood fave, but they can turn into a bit of a sticky mess. Prevent all of that dripping by slipping cupcake liners onto the bottom of your kids' popsicles. Slide the liner up so that it cups the bottom of the popsicle to make sure it catches all of those little drips.
Keep post-beach cleaning materials in your trunk. Stash a single-use aluminum cake pan and a bottle of water in your trunk. before sandy-footed kids hop in the car, have them splash their feet around in the cake pan filled with water. Dry tootsies with a towel and in they go!
Turn Capri Suns into popsicles. If you're looking for an easy way to create popsicles for your kiddos to munch on this summer, just stick your Capri Suns in the freezer. When you take them out, rip them open from the top or bottom for that traditional popsicle effect.
Packing an entire brood and sitting on a plane, train or automobile for x-amount of hours can seem daunting. But, guess what? You don't need travel fairy godmothers to sprinkle magic pixie dust on your plans for a perfect vacay. These travel hacks will make your next journey hiccup free.
Zip Lock Bags All Around!
Zip Lock bags are a must-have in your carry-on (and checked!) luggage. They're good for everything from separating your children's spare clothes for the plane or car ride (because mark our words, they will spill something on themselves) to holding all your diaper supplies so that your trip to the bathroom is as easy as possible.
Sit apart on the plane.
Sounds counterproductive, but hear us out. If mom and dad sit in separate aisle seats far apart, they can take turns watching kiddo and resting/napping each hour. Everyone is happy–and your little ones get a cool change of parental scenery throughout the flight.
Have necessities delivered.
Why waste suitcase space with extra diapers, wipes and other daily needs when you can have them delivered to your hotel? Many cities now offer grocery-store deliveries through regional services like InstaCart and Peapod. If you’re traveling to a location that doesn’t, put that Amazon Prime membership to good use.
Create a kitchen.
If your hotel room doesn’t include a kitchen, you can easily set up a makeshift command center to handle everything from warming bottles to making oatmeal. The in-room coffee machine can steam veggies or boil eggs for your little one. And if your room doesn’t have a refrigerator, bring a collapsible cooler to keep your child’s food fresh.
Fill Easter Eggs With Small Toys To Keep Kids Busy
There's a reason Hatchimals and L.O.L. Dolls are so popular: Kids love surprises! So gather up tiny toys and hide them inside plastic Easter eggs (or wrap them up in colorful wrapping paper) to gift yourself a good chunk of busy-time for your kiddo.
Pack Dark Denim
Making versatile packing decisions can be difficult—you want to look cute in all of those photos—but you need something that you can wear for multiple days. An easy fix? Break out your dark denim! This stylish option can be dressy and even if you have small spills, no one will be able to tell.
Bring Plastic Wrap
Kids and those little airplane cups (and turbulence!) are not a good combo. Your solution? Pack a bunch of Glad Press 'n' Seal sheets to turn plastic cups into the spill-proof kind. This hack works great at restaurants, too.
When it comes to back-to-school, picking up where you left off is rarely the case. Armed with these tips and techniques, making the grade—and the bus on time—has never been so easy.
Get a jump start on school supplies. When it comes to school supplies, the earlier you shop the better. You’ll find more options and more savings.
Freeze your lunches. Prepped ahead portions of pasta, frozen veg, and leftover chicken can be pulled from the freezer on a weekday morning for an instant lunch. It’ll be freshly defrosted by midday and keeps everything else cool.
Preserve sliced apples. Apples are more likely to be eaten if they are cut up, and this rubber band trick will keep them from going brown. Or, use the Real Mom Nutrition suggestion of rubbing a combo of lemon juice and OJ or pineapple juice on the slices.
Set up a snack station. Plenty of moms, including Shannon Sargent at Clean Eats & Treats, swear by the idea of “snack stations” where kids can pick out what they want. Dedicate a space in the fridge or pantry using toy storage bins, and pack it with snacks or use this genius hack, which reuses a hanging shoe organizer with see-through pockets as a snack wall.
Write banana lunch notes. No Post-It note nearby? Scribble on a banana instead.
Print lunch notes for an entire month. If you want to give your kiddos a little extra encouragement without having to remember to write a note every morning try printing a bunch of them at the beginning of the month so you’ll have them on hand.
Halloween and hacks go together like tricks and treats. From reducing candy consumption to crafting cute costumes (in minutes), here are some of the best tips to getting through the spookiest season of the year alive.
Trade candy for non-candy treats. When your intrepid trick-or-treater scores way more candy than he'll ever eat (er, than you'll ever let him eat), make a game of trading candy for another treat, i.e., seven pieces of chocolate buy a later bedtime, an outing to the movies, etc.
Create no-bake Halloween class goodies. Slice off the top a large orange and pull out the fruit inside. Carve the orange as a Jack-o-Lantern and fill it with trail mix or fresh fruit.
Prolong the life of your jack-o-lantern. Add a few extra days to your carved pumpkin's existence by coating the cut edges with petroleum jelly—this will keep it from drying and shriveling up.
Bake with extra candy. Re-purpose excess candy into toppings and fillings for Christmas cookies. There are a ton of recipes—like these Leftover Candy Cookie Bars from Together as Family.
Make sure they say "thank you". Tell your kids that every time you have to remind them to say thank you after getting their treat, you will take away a piece of their candy at the end of the night. Works like a charm!
Use cookie cutters for easy pumpkin carving. Grab any cookie cutter and a rubber mallet. Once you’ve decided where you want the stencil to go, gently hammer the cookie-cutter shape into your pumpkin with the mallet. Hammer lightly for an outline that you can carve with a knife, or hammer it all the way through.
When it comes to getting meals on a table full of hungry kids, shortcuts are the way to go. From mess-free egg dishes to easy-peel potatoes, here are the cooking hacks you should try this month.
Use an apple corer to make french fries. An apple corer/slicer can instantly transform a plain potato into everyone's favorite side. That's right, you can make homemade fries in a snap with a utensil you may already have in your kitchen drawer. Grandma's Brief has all the delicious details.
Store partially chopped veggies in the freezer. Have you ever just chopped half a stalk of celery or bulb of cauliflower, and had to put it back in the fridge where it immediately starts to wilt? If you want to keep your partially chopped veggies fresh, we recommend putting them right in the freezer. This locks in the freshness, and they’ll be ready to jump into the frying pan after a little defrosting time.
Cook eggs in the oven. It is a literal Egg McMuffin. Nick of Macheesmo shows us how to make a breakfast sandwich even more amazing by simply baking the eggs in a muffin tin. Best part? You can add other ingredients to the eggs (think spinach, ham, cheese) and then freeze the whole thing for busy on-the-go mornings. Find the original recipe here and the updated version here.
Boil potatoes for an easy peel. From fries to mashed potatoes and chips, everybody LOVES potatoes. But, for a lot of recipes, peeling the potatoes is a must, and using a potato peeler or knife can be time-consuming and difficult. We have an easy fix! Boil the potatoes, let them cool, and the skin will peel off in seconds.
Put marshmallows in your brown sugar. Brown sugar is a baking necessity for cookies, cupcakes and pies, but unlike white sugar, brown sugar can dry out very quickly, which means you’ll be stuck breaking up hard blobs of sugar when you want to use it. But, there’s an easy fix for this. All you need to do is throw a few marshmallows into the airtight container with your brown sugar to conserve the moisture and make it easy to scoop.
Chop herbs with a pizza cutter.
Having fresh herbs in the house is nice for creating marinades, dressings and more. Finely chopping those herbs can be difficult, but there’s a way to make the process easy. Place the herbs on a cutting board and roll a pizza cutter through them. Don't worry about cutting in perfect lines, just roll through as many times as you want.
Grate your butter. Softened butter is a staple for all bakers out there, but putting solid butter in the microwave isn’t always the best way to get that soft consistency you're looking for. Try grating it, instead. Grab a cheese grater and you’ll be on your way to having soft butter you can mix in a snap.
With all of the prepping, list-checking, and shopping, the holidays can be stressful. Breeze through the festivities with these creative (and budget-friendly) ideas for present wrapping, gift giving, and holiday snacking.
Make a mini TP roll package. Wrapping something tiny and can’t find an itty bitty box? Try using a TP roll by folding down one side, taping it, putting the gift inside, folding the opposite side in and finally taping it closed. Finish it off with baker’s twine and a small bow.
Use a bag clip for finding your tape edge. Let’s face it, everyone’s lost the edge of their tape at some point. Keep your sanity intact by using a bag clip to hold your place, and you’ll never lose the tape edge again!
Color code your gift wrap. Cut down on the confusion with this ingenious trick. Try assigning each family member a color or wrapping paper pattern, and forget about all of the gift tags!
Slow cook your hot chocolate. Winter is the ultimate season for breaking out the slow cooker to help you create yummy dinners for the fam. But, this amazing invention is also great for brewing hot chocolate. Head over to How Sweet Eats for all details.
Start a gifting checklist. Deciding on a strategy to deal with your kiddos' endless list of holiday requests is always hard. Luckily, we have a pretty genius solution. Create a gifting checklist for each person, so they know that they'll be getting a present from every category: 1. Something they want, 2. Something they need, 3. Something to wear and 4. Something to read.
Feature photo: courtesy Unsplash