Any parent who hears the cliche, “parenting is not easy” knows that’s the understatement of the century. Even without a global pandemic to deal with, parents pretty much always deserve a break.
Here are some hacks to help you take a little time off.
Let’s get some sleep
When children are babies, you expect sleep to be elusive. It’s well known that teething, potty training, and a whole host of cluster-feeding phases can drive any mom or dad to exhaustion. But when kids are older, it’s time for everyone to get some well-earned shuteye.
Try these tricks.
Stick to a wind-down routine. Remember that after a hectic day of school and activities, most kids need time to relax enough to fall asleep. Winding down is essential but not with electronic devices; they interfere with our body’s circadian rhythm. Instead, read aloud together, listen to quiet music, give a hand or foot massage, or try other quiet activities. Wind-down should start about 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime.
Get some nighttime toys. Some children need extra help and maybe even sleep training. Cute alarm clocks—like Rest from Hatch—work with different colors of light to let your child know if it’s time to be in or out of bed. Not only does this help you get more shuteye, it also helps your child to develop good sleep habits. Bonus: The Hatch also comes with sound machine capability. And if your little one enjoys a snuggly stuffed animal at bedtime, try a Warmies animal or a weighted blanket to calm them and keep them in their bed all night long.
Let’s talk about everything else
Having a few shortcuts around all the day-to-day activities that come with parenting can help take the pressure off. Here are some of our favorites.
Hacks for younger kids
- A pizza cutter is not just for pizza. Use it to cut up your kids’ sandwiches, waffles, and even hot dogs. This is a great time-saving trick unless you really do love spending 10 minutes every morning making perfect squares from a toaster waffle.
- Put a sticker inside one of your kids shoes so they remember which one goes on which foot. This can save you precious minutes when you’re heading out the door every morning.
- Use apps like FamiSafe to limit screen time.
- Stack your kids’ sheets. Alternate a fitted sheet with a rubber liner and then another sheet and liner on top of that. That way, if there are middle-of-the night accidents, you only have to remove the top sheet and liner and then go back to bed.
- Use an app like Greenlight to create a chore chart.
- Create a Drop Zone in your house where your child’s backpack, shoes, coat, and any electronic devices they bring home from school are kept. Note: It’s best not to make this location their bedroom if you ever want to see the iPad charger again.
For the older kiddos
If you have older kids, you know how difficult it is to monitor their comings and goings, especially now that social media is a part of their lives. As parents to a generation of tech-savvy kids, it’s incredibly important to keep up-to-date with the latest information. What does that mean? Talk to your kids about what’s cool! It changes quickly right now, so be ready to use phrases like “that’s lit!” one day and “yeet!” the next.
One great way to keep older kids safe online is with the use of parental-control apps. These run the gamut from helping your kids monitor their own screen time to letting you do it. If you’re looking to make your family computer safer for all the teens in your home, applications like Net Nanny Parental Control or Norton Family make sure they can only visit approved websites. You can read more about both here as well as other great apps for Internet browsing.
If your child has their own device, it’s important to teach them self-monitoring while upholding firm rules and boundaries surrounding screen time. QuStudio, TimeOutIQ and the built-in screen time app on iPhones are great electronic partners for helping your child manage screen time use.
No matter what age your kids are, there are hacks that will make your life a little easier. They’ll help you reduce your own stress and, in turn, help your family relax. For now, all we can do is hope that 2022 lands a little easier than its predecessor.