Your baby is crying for you. Your toddler is spilling applesauce all over his shirt and dropping his sippy cup on the floor. Your 7-year-old daughter is playing hair salon in the basement while blasting pop music, and you’re running around trying to care for them all.
Parenting is hard, and there is no rule book to follow — that’s why parents have to help other parents out. Luckily, where there is a will, there’s a hack to make your life so much easier. Here are 20 of the best parenting hacks that have been parent-tested and approved.
1. Toddlers are hard to watch, even when there aren’t dangers lying around every corner. This dad came up with a genius way to barbecue so that his curious toddler can still roam.
LadBaby / Instagram
2. If your bathroom has a stand-up shower, it’s nearly impossible to bath your child without you ending up in the shower as well. This genius parent thought to place a blowup pool inside their shower to make bath time possible.
fjordliebe / Instagram
3. Children love playing in sandboxes, and you love when your child is occupied. The downside, though, is boxes are very hard to keep covered and clean. If you purchase a small tent and fill it with sand, you can zip the door shut at night and keep unwanted debris, animals, and bugs out of the sand.
The Goonberry Tales / YouTube
4. These smart parents thought to place this emergency information label on their child’s car seat in the event of an accident and they are unconscious. This information would be extremely helpful to the first responders.
Mommy Hacks Official
5. Sometimes your baby strollers become off-road vehicles and the wheels get dirty. No one wants to bring that into their house. If you simply place shower caps over the wheels, the dirt stays contained and your house stays clean.
6. Baby walkers are a great way to let your baby explore while also keeping her safe. The downside is that these walkers do a number on your walls and furniture. Attaching pool noodles with zip ties can help prevent damage to your house.
7. Every parent has felt the pain of stepping on a Lego because they are the hardest toys to keep organized. Just purchase an inexpensive shoe organizer so your child can store and organize theirs as they see fit.
8. As a parent, you want to give your kids their space, but you know they still need some supervision. This little mirror will give you some peace of mind and give them their independence.
Redhead can decorate
9. Creativity and hands-on projects are key to a child’s development. Still, they can be such a mess. If you slip a piece of paper and a few drops of paint into a Ziploc bag, they can finger paint without the mess!
sportymum_b / Instagram
10. Little hacks can help make car rides so much smoother. For example, if you create a short sippy cup leash, they can retrieve their fallen cup when you’re busy behind the wheel.
We have Aars
11. Once your children are up and running, they are constantly trying to open all of the doors and cabinets in the house. These little doorknob hats are decorative and will make it difficult for their little hands to open any door.
This lovely life
12. If they won’t wear their smock during craft time, you can use press and seal cling wrap and apply it to the front of their shirt. That way, you can just peel away the mess when they are finished.
13. It can be difficult to keep children occupied during long plane rides. These inexpensive window cling stickers can be a quick-and-easy distraction to pull out of your carry on bag. They’re light to travel with and easy to clean up.
teachermama1138 / Instagram
14. Long car rides can be equally difficult. Children often wait until the last minute to tell you they need to use the bathroom and there is no rest stop in sight. Just keep a training potty and some extra diapers in the car. When they are done, just dispose of the diaper.
A haven of chaos
15. You can always buy those expensive car track rugs that your child will probably play with a handful of times — or you can create one yourself for next to nothing!
tmccrum_mua / Instagram
16. Getting your kid to eat fruits and vegetables is hard. Use this little trick when they’re being fussy. If you cut an apple into thin strips, they’ll resemble French fries. Just tell them they’re eating apple French fries, and they’ll gobble them up.
eastcoastveganvibes / Instagram
17. A great and mess-free way to play with your child is to use your imagination. If they’re really into fire trucks and police cars, you can play pretend firehouse and have them help paint the fire station. Just get a bucket of water and a broom and let them “paint” the patio.
lydialaceby / Instagram
18. Now, this might seem over the top, but sometimes you really need to get in and out of stores without any distractions. If you carry around an “out of order” sign you can use it in desperate situations to dissuade your child.
Peter Neill / Twitter
19. Toys tend to get really dirty. This is especially true if they catch a cold or stomach bug. You can easily wash plastic or rubber toys in the dishwasher so they’re clean and sanitary for your kids to enjoy.
20. Certain subjects don’t always come as easily to kids — math is one of them. Many children are visual learners, and they learn from what they see. These multiplication stairs allow them to physically move around and solve math problems themselves.
21. Let’s face it: kids love to crawl. Unfortunately, you don’t always have time to keep the floors clean. So why not make the best of their habit and turn them into little dusters? They’ll have their fun, and you’ll finally get those clean floors you always wanted!
22. Convincing your sick toddler to take their medicine is probably one of the most difficult aspects of parenting. Not anymore! Just slice off the tip of their pacifier and insert the medicine dropper into the hole on the other side. They’ll instinctively suck on their binky without realizing they’re getting well!
23. No child likes to get bath water into their eyes. It’s not only annoying, but it can burn, too. For an easy fix, try placing one of these nifty umbrella bands on their head. Now you can wash away the worry of it every happening again!
24. Going to the beach with a toddler in the summer can be pretty troublesome—they always just want to crawl away. But why not just make your very own beach play pen with a fitted bed sheet and some items to hold the corners up?
25. If your child fears monsters in the closet, there’s an easy way to put their minds at ease. Simply fill a clean spray bottle with “monster spray” (water) and spritz it around their bedroom. You’ll help put those fears—and your child—to bed in no time!
26. Learning to be organized is important. So why not introduce that notion to your children at an early age while also letting them have some fun? You’ll be so happy there’s no cleanup when playtime is over!
27. It can be pretty difficult for children to tell time on an analog clock these days. To make it easier for them to track their chores, try using a color coding system to block out each hour. Time management for the win!
28. Anyone who has ever traveled long distances with multiple children in the back seat would most certainly benefit from this nifty contraption. They can’t possibly argue or fight with each other if they can’t see each other… right?
29. All parents know that getting children to take medicine when they’re sick is no walk in the park. Why not give this parent’s innovative idea a try and let kids think they’re sipping from their favorite drink? The straw is really inside of the medicine, of course, but they just think they’re getting a treat!
30. Let’s face it: there’s no way children actually enjoy cleaning up. Asking them to tidy the floor is like asking them to give up candy—not happening. That is, unless you turn it into a game! Have your kid to sweep all of the crumbs and mess into the “square” and watch as your kitchen becomes spic and span.
31. You can never underestimate the power of a parent’s touch to help a fussy child fall asleep. A good way to comfort them is to fill a glove with dry beans and place it on their backs. In no time, they’ll soundly drift off without ever knowing you snuck away for some shuteye of your own!
32. It can be pretty tough to keep all your children’s belongings in order while in the car, but not anymore. All you have to do is attach a shoe organizer to the back of the front passenger seat to make a handy organizer!
33. Whether you’re on a long road trip or you’re running errands with the kids, every now and then, you’ll need to eat a meal on the go. To avoid spills and keep things tidy, try putting your food in a shower divider for easy and clean access.
34. Teaching your children proper hygiene is an absolute must, so why not place toothbrushes in a clothespin instead of letting them accumulate bacteria and dust inside a cup? Not to mention, they’ll also be easier to reach!
35. Every parent has watched their child struggle with figuring out which shoe goes on what foot. You want the kid to learn, but you also need to tackle your to-do list. Here’s a fun way to help: try cutting a sticker down the middle and placing a half in each shoe so they know which side is which!
36. Looking for a clever way to get your child moving in the morning without being distracted by toys? Try gluing some pennies to the bottom of their old shoes and let them tap dance around the house. They’ll have so much fun, and you’ll literally only spend a few cents!
37. Look, everyone wants to get their children the best toys, but as all parents know, some of them can be quite loud. To remedy that problem, simply place a little tape over the toy’s speaker. They’ll still hear it, but it won’t be nearly as loud!
38. Every parent has struggled to keep their children quiet on a long plane ride. The next time you have to travel, try bringing along some sticky toys they can stick to the window and create fun scenes in the sky!
39. It goes without saying, but kids love popsicles. Then again, these snacks can be super messy when they melt. Did you know there’s an easy way to prevent the inevitably sticky mess? Just try using disposable coffee cup lids to catch all the melting ice!
40. Are you sick of cleaning up all the glitter following an arts and crafts session with your child? The easiest solution is sitting right inside your utility drawer right now: a lint roller. Voilà!
41. Use electrical tape to make a cool racetrack, maze, or set of streets for Matchbox cars. When you get sick of one track, you can pull up the tape and design another!
42. You don’t need chalk or a sidewalk to play hopscotch. Just use colored tape on a linoleum or other non-carpeted floor to make your own court and get hopping!
43. Make your own skee-ball game using sidewalk chalk to draw a point-valued bullseye on the driveway. Toss wet sponges at the target to rack up points!
44. You can play outdoor dress-up by drawing characters on the ground with sidewalk chalk and using old clothes to dress and accessorize them!
45. Make fantastic pavement art with washable paint bombs! Mix cornstarch, food coloring, vinegar, and baking soda in a plastic baggie, seal it up tightly, and wait for the pressure to build. Eventually, the paint bomb will explode into a beautiful Pollock-esque work!
46. To make a DIY sun-catcher, fill the backside of a plastic lid with Elmer’s glue and add a couple of drops of food coloring on top. Use toothpicks to swirl the colors into crazy abstract patterns, let the glue dry overnight, and you’ve got super-cool hangable art!
47. Another easy art project is feet-painting, a close relative of finger-painting (a reliable classic). Simply wrap the kids’ feet in bubble-wrap, dab the bottoms of their feet in (washable) paint, and let them walk and stomp on parchment paper. It’s not only a bubble-popping good time, but the end product is crazy cool-looking!
48. For fun in the backyard, make your own tarp target game. Cut holes in an old tarp, assign them point values, hang it up, and see who can earn the most points tossing a ball or beanbag!
49. Cut colored sponges into uniform pieces to make a little-kid-friendly version of Jenga that’s soft, stackable, and wonderfully colorful!
50. For backyard water fun, you and the kids can craft your own rivers out of aluminum foil! Simply turn on the hose and watch the streams and tributaries flow!
51. For really young kids, you can make an exciting game by taping an old paper-towel roll to a low spot on the wall. Place a bucket or bowl underneath, and they’ll have tons of fun dropping bouncy-balls or cotton balls through the tube!
52. Create a DIY tapestry by threading colored yarn through a big piece of burlap stapled to a cardboard frame!
53. Sand is tons of fun, but in lieu of a beach or backyard sandbox, you can create a similar effect spreading out sugar in the bottom of a wide tray or shallow cardboard box. The kids can use a pencil or straw to draw, trace, and erase it when they’re finished!
54. Go on an inside camping trip by setting up a tent or building a blanket fort in the living room. Cap it off with a “campfire,” using a lamp or candle for the flame and old paper-towel rolls as the logs!
55. Balloon “rockets” are an excellent kid project. Tape a straw securely to a balloon and thread a piece of yarn through the straw. Then, tie the yarn between two chairs or other objects, blow up the balloon, and hold it pinched shut but don’t tie it. When you’re ready to launch, simply let go and watch the balloon race between the chairs!
56. Play miniature bowling on any hard, flat surface by setting up some pencil erasers as bowling pins and shooting a marble to knock them over. Keep score the same way you would in regular bowling!
57. To play secret agent, secure some red-colored yarn in angular, crisscrossing patterns down the hallway and let the kids try to make it from one end to the other without touching any of the “laser beams.”
58. For a cool science experiment, microwave a bar of ivory soap and watch it bubble and puff into a weird bulbous shape. Be careful with the finished product, because once it cools, it tends to crumble in your hands!
59. Set up a DIY tennis match by making rackets out of popsicle sticks and paper plates and using a balloon as the ball. Score it any way you want…or just have fun keeping the balloon from touching the ground!
60. Use painter’s tape to make a fun indoor cobweb. Drape the tape across a doorway or up in a corner in a crisscrossed pattern, and then toss “spiders,” molded out of construction paper or aluminum foil, at the web to watch them stick!
61. With a repurposed cardboard box and a flight of stairs you can build an awesome indoor slide. Be careful, though, or you might have to repair the wall at the bottom of the steps!
62. Create giant bubbles with a mixture of dish soap and water and a big bubble-wand. To make the wand, attach a loop of string to two sticks and secure a coin or other weight to it so that the loop becomes more of a triangle when the sticks are held!
63. Build “wacky sacks” by putting playdough in small water balloons and tying them closed. These squishy, moldable bags provide hours of fun, and as long as the balloon stays sealed airtight, the dough remains soft!
64. Create custom t-shirts with sandpaper, crayons, and some cheap tees. Let your kids draw with crayons on the rough side of the sandpaper, then lay the drawing face down on a t-shirt. Iron the backside of the sandpaper, peel it away, and the drawing will have transferred to the shirt!