These mom-tested tricks are guaranteed to have you saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?” From clearing clutter to crafting shortcuts and ensuring you always get a bite of your kid’s treats, these hacks will get you off the struggle bus. Share them with your favorite moms!

photo: iStock

1. Institute a Mom Tax
Almost as soon as babies learn how to eat, parents want a bite of their baby’s food. This desire gets stronger as babies grow into toddlers who eat the pizza, ice cream and cookies parents often forego because they are watching their budgets, minding their waistlines or because the birthday party host did not invite the adults to partake. Unless parents establish early that Mom and Dad always gets a bite, attempts to take even a morsel may be met with strong protests. The answer is instituting a Mom Tax (or Parent Tax) early and often. Once kids come to expect that Mom will always tax their treats by taking a bit for themselves, they may even begin to offer a bite of their own free will. And nothing tastes sweeter than that.

2. Tame the Toys
A trip to Target, let alone a toy store, can easily turn into a minefield if toy parameters are not set early. Reaching, grabbing, begging starts young. One of the easiest ways to assure a child you really, truly understand that they want a certain toy is by taking a photo of it so you remember what their heart desires. Your child is likely to quickly forget about the toy, and if they don’t, you have a ready-made wish list once their birthday or the holidays roll around.

3. Picture It
The old adage that the days are long but the years are short is true. Take pictures of it all, not only the first steps and birthday parties, but the everyday routines and moments. Get kids used to the camera early and often. If you don’t, they can feel as though they have to perform every time the camera comes out, resulting in all of your photos featuring strange faces or cheesy, fake smiles. You can learn helpful tricks, like how to take great photographs with any camera, with inexpensive guides like Fearless Indoor Lighting ebook from Click Photo School. Make sure you have a consistent photo vibe that will not only look good on Instagram but will also look great on your walls and, one day, in a wedding montage. Find a photo style you like, whether you edit your photos on your phone or computer, from Pretty Presets for Lightroom.

4. Toss Carefully and in the Dead of Night
Your child is undoubtedly a prolific artist who creates one masterpiece after another. You, or they, probably want to keep every museum-worthy drawing. They will protest loudly should they find one of their unbelievably valuable scribbles in the trash. The secret is to carefully toss these treasures after bedtime and to strategically place them under other rubbish so the drawings will not be spotted. However, if losing that artwork will also break your heart, there are a few options to preserve it: Fill an Artkive box with your child’s artwork and then send it off. Soon you will get a book filled with your child’s professionally photographed artwork to treasure forever. Or, take photos of your child’s best artwork and create your own personalized Shutterfly book. If you want to create your own mini-museum at home, snag an Articulate picture frame that allows parents to easily swap out artwork.

photo: iStock

5. Don’t Be Afraid of Shortcuts
Do you want to the kind of parent who does crafts and whips up creations in the kitchen but don’t have the time, energy or inspiration to pull it off? Take a deep breath and take these prep-work shortcuts. Craft kits come in lots of themes, like these dinosaurs and glow-in-the-dark rocks kits from Creativity for Kids. In the kitchen, let someone else do the baking with a  Color My Cookie kit that comes in ready-to-decorate themes from fire trucks to Valentine’s Day with everything included. Baketivity is a hassle-free option to get kids more involved in the kitchen with (nearly) all-inclusive kits and easy, color-coded directions for baking everything from cupcakes to whoopee pies. It’s okay to not plan every activity from scratch. In fact, you will probably be a more present parent if you don’t.

6. Make the Must-Dos Easy
Life with kids isn't all sunshine and rainbows. There are things that must done get no matter how hard, like cleaning and taking care of sick little ones. Invest in getting these things done as quickly and painlessly as possible. Saving a few dollars is usually not worth the stress of having to spend a weekend cleaning or holding down a toddler to have their temperature taken. Some examples: If you ever wished there were a magical machine that could vacuum and mop at the same time, you are in luck. The Bissell Crosswave does both well so you can get the cleaning done faster and move on to more fun tasks. When your child has a fever, try an OAXIS no-contact thermometer. For under $50, it's a good way to have peace of mind that you can take your child's temperature without a fuss, even while they are asleep. Keeping an eye out for new gadgets that make tedious tasks faster will pay off when your stress level falls. These small tricks can add up to a lot of saved time. Check out these health & safety innovations for babies & toddlers

photo: iStock

File these hacks for when your child gets older. Your future self with thank you....

7. Set a Flexible Schedule for the Tooth Fairy
It is very exciting when a child loses their first tooth. And their second. Parents anxiously await their child falling asleep when those first couple of teeth are lost, but by the fourth or fifth tooth, the Tooth Fairy may lose her shine. Once that happens, distracted parents may forget to leave a dollar under their child’s pillow at night. This will undoubtedly result in disappointment and tears, but not if parents tell their children from the outset that the Tooth Fairy will come sometime during the week each tooth falls out. Building in some wiggle room is smart, even if it turns out you are one of the rare parents who never needs it.

8. Visit Santa Early
Inexperienced parents may put off a trip to see Santa or delay getting that all-important letter to the North Pole in the mail. Do not wait until the week of Christmas to do this. Even if your child has been set all year on what they want, it is almost guaranteed that once they see the man in red himself, they will have a change of heart. This means either a disappointed child on Christmas or a stressed parent scrambling to find an out-of-stock toy or or paying for overnight shipment. While we are planning for Christmas, don't be afraid to let your child know that your family's Elf on the Shelf will visit for only a week. Your child can still have all of the magic without you stressing about coming up with tons of different places for the Elf to hang out.

—Jamie Davis Smith

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