Top Five Parenting Hacks from a Family of Five

Okay, let’s just get straight into it – because when you have a family of five, there just isn’t any time for lengthy introductions.

parenting hacks

  1. Cash Under the Restaurant Table 

We occasionally venture outside the house and go out to eat at a restaurant where they have silverware, cloth napkins, and adult conversation. When we do go out to eat with our littles in tow, the underneath of our table or booth usually ends up looking like an archaeological dig into our life. There are forgotten napkins, dropped utensils, 300 Cheerios, one forgotten kid’s menu, and four broken crayons. We use to leave a generous tip and walk away sheepishly. However, I ripped a page from my own parent’s handbook. And now, we toss some cash down there too. “What, you throw cash underneath your table?” Yes. Yes we do. Because whoever busses the table and then has to get down to sweep it all up should also find a little reward for doing so. Every time I clean up the same areas in my house I know I would sure appreciate a little five dollar bill for my efforts!  

2. Unmatched Socks 

When my third was born, I remember we accumulated a giant bin of unmatched socks. Nursing, tired, and strung-out on coffee I took one look at the giant bin, put two mismatched socks on my two older kids, and called it a day. I don’t think we’ve ever looked back. Occasionally, someone will point out that we have mismatched socks on our kids, and I laugh and usually say, “Ain’t nobody got time to match socks in this family,” and they take in our brood and usually say no more. Very seldomly, someone will poke fun at the fact that we put mismatched socks on our kids, and to this I usually respond, “Well, sometimes you look around and think, ‘something’s gotta give’, and I wanted to keep all three kids; so socks were the next best answer.” I’ve always gotten a laugh and an understanding nod. One day we will match socks again, when milk is spilled less and nights are slept through. But for now, in the thick of parenting wee ones, do not be afraid of making life easier in some very non-consequential ways so that your life as a parent can be just a small bit easier too! 

3. Park Next to the Shopping Cart Return 

Everyone with kids knows that the spot to get in the parking lot is the one up closest to the store entry. I disagree. My parking spot goal is next to the shopping cart return. Why? Because while unloading groceries one day, juggling one being buckled into the car seat, one hanging on the car door handle, and one still in the shopping cart -the shopping cart started to take a joy ride with my youngest still strapped in. He was fine, I caught the cart immediately. But I drove away thinking there had to be a safer way to “securing” the cart while unloading three kids and all the groceries. Then there was also the fact that to return the empty cart, I had to leave all three kiddos in the car briefly to run across the parking lot and find the nearest shopping cart return, and then run back before someone gets into the Fruity Pebbles. Enter the idea of snagging a parking space right next to, or very near, a shopping cart return. I simply act like I am “returning” the shopping cart, kids and groceries still in it, and it is usually safe and secure in the metal structure as I unload both at my leisure (like there is such a thing as leisure in parenthood!) So far this is my go-to, and has the added benefit of being convenient and cutting down on our car door dings from the shopping cart.  

4. Your Smartphone Camera Will Save Your Sanity 

Smartphones are wonderful when you open your camera app and take photos. No, not of your kids or the silly kitten wrapped in string. Take photos of permission slips, birthday invitations, shoe sizes, screenshots, coupons, addresses, instructions, ID cards, homework, spelling words, etc. When my purse was stealthily picked apart and all my insurance cards went missing (my youngest seems to be the guilty party) this tribulation was not realized until I was standing in front of the receptionist at the pediatrician’s office with three sick kids in tow. I was so relieved to have snapped a photo of the front and back of our health insurance ID card to show her the updated information. All she had me do was email the photo to their billing department email and all was corrected. I felt pretty unstoppable that day, to say the least. Another time the birthday party invitation my daughter had been looking forward to all week had inadvertently been thrown away, but I had snapped a photo of the invite beforehand. I was able to look up the correct address again before a mini meltdown ensued. The only downside to this form of “back-up of important documents” is then making sure to delete them when no longer needed; as well as remembering to take cute pictures of your kids! 

5. Take Advantage of Our Day and Age 

Our “day and age” is awesome! We no longer need to milk cows for our family’s breakfast cereal and we can order groceries from our phone, and in some instances they’ll be delivered in one hour. Our ancestors must be rolling their eyes to any complaints we may have! But the truth remains that technology is amazing for busy moms. I use it to order groceries and have them delivered to my doorstep once a week. I can simultaneously add coupons and plan menus and recipes I have saved on Pinterest, all while sitting at home and using my computer. I have three kids that all like to either grab things off of aisle shelves or sit in the cart, which leaves little patience and room for the actual groceries. I also use online banking apps, note apps, calendar reminder apps, etc. Find something that make your life a little easier, and then thank goodness there’s cold milk on its way! 

Add your FAVORITE parenting hack, below!

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3 Responses to Top Five Parenting Hacks from a Family of Five

  1. Rhonda Alexander April 24, 2017 at 8:12 am #

    Love these!!

  2. Jill D Humphrey April 24, 2017 at 8:30 am #

    Love this Meg!! Your “sock” dilemma reminded me of how I did the sock regime. I realize that since your sweet kids are aged and gendered differently, but I would buy those (semi-ugly…lol) but VERY cheap Fruit of the Loom bags of socks at Wal-Mart. The key here though is that I got the 3-4 bags worth (10-12 pairs per bag) ALL in the same color. They were white with blue tennis socks. Then…when I matched all the socks, I had NO problem finding their mate. I either ended up with one stray or they all matched up!! 😉 Problem solved! 😉

    Also…during bath time, I bought the alphabet sponge letters and while they were playing, we’d sing the alphabet (with letters all over the shower wall) or spell their names…or just have alphabet wars!! lol… When done, they put them all in the white netting and hang them up to dry!! I made bathtime fun plus they’d learn w/o knowing it! 😉 (Also, soap on washclothes and blow on other side was always fun…and they’d was their faces…lol)

    Love you! So proud of you!! You are AWESOME!!!

    Love,
    Aunt Jill 😉

  3. Gretchen
    Gretchen April 25, 2017 at 10:06 am #

    AWESOME tip about parking next to the cart return. I’ve done this for 10 years now and it really makes a difference. Great insights!

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