Parenting Hacks That Have Been Approved By Real-Life Moms And Dads

Parenting is hard, and there is no rule book to follow — despite what the publishing industry would have you believe! 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 some of the best parenting hacks that have been parent-tested and approved.

1. Life-saving BBQ barriers

Toddlers are hard to watch, even when there seemingly aren't dangers lying around every corner. That's why this dad — the U.K. YouTuber LadBaby — came up with a genius way to barbecue so that his curious toddler can still roam without burning himself. He simply put a play pen around the dangerous object (the barbecue) so that the tot couldn't touch it.

2. Bath-ception

If your bathroom has a stand-up shower, it's nearly impossible to bathe 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. Getting the thing in and out of the shower could be a hassle, mind you.

3. Easy sandbox

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.

4. Emergency info on lock

These smart parents thought to place this emergency information label on their child's car seat in the event of an accident that leaves them unconscious. This information would be extremely helpful to the first responders. It's especially handy if your child is too young — or too scared — to provide the information themselves.

5. Shower-cap wheels

Sometimes your baby strollers become off-road vehicles and the wheels get dirty. And 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. You might have to find yourself some new shower caps, though.

6. No walker scratches

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. But attaching pool noodles to the sides with zip ties can help prevent damage to your house.

7. No more sore feet

Every parent has felt the pain of stepping on a Lego. They are the hardest toys to keep organized and out of the way. But if you purchase an inexpensive shoe organizer, your child can store and arrange theirs as they see fit. It'll save your feet — and reduce the number of cuss words you use!

8. Spy mirrors

As a parent, you want to give your kids their space, but you know they still need some supervision. You are also probably keenly aware of every blind spot in your home! By placing a mirror in one of those blind spots, you can sneakily keep an eye on your kid. A perfectly placed mirror will give you some peace of mind and give them their independence!

9. Mess-free painting

Creativity and hands-on projects are all part of 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, though, they can finger paint without the mess! The other option is to surround your child with throwaway table covers and hope for the best.

10. Cup leash

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. That leaves you to concentrate on the road, free from demanding squawks from the backseat. Now your little one can stay safe and hydrated.

11. Doorknob caps

Once your children are up and running — literally — 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. They also provide a little protection when they inevitably bump their heads on them.

12. Smock alternative

If they won't wear their smock during craft time or meal 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. You could also make one for yourself if you feel like you're going to be in the firing line. Just don't leave your child alone with the cling wrap; that could be dangerous.

13. Plane stickers

It can be difficult to keep children occupied during long plane rides. So these inexpensive, window-clinging 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.

14. Bathroom insurance

Long car rides can be incredibly frustrating — for everyone. Children often wait until the last minute to tell you they need to use the bathroom, and it usually happens when there is no rest stop in sight. Solution: keep a training potty and some extra diapers in the car. When they are done, just dispose of the diaper.

15. Rug on a budget

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! Some ingenious parents will use something as cheap as electrical tape to lay out a track on the floor. The best part? You can rip it up and make a new one in a totally different shape.

16. French fry deception

Getting your kid to eat fruits and vegetables is hard, so 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.

17. Fun chores

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.

18. Out of order

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, then, you can use it in desperate situations to dissuade your child from holding you up.

19. Clean toys

We all know that toys tend to get really dirty and that they should be cleaned often. This is especially true if your child catches a cold or a 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. Visual learning

Certain subjects don't always come easy to kids, and 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. Deodorize baby bottles

After a while, baby bottles can wind up stinking of sour milk. To eliminate this unpleasant odor, Reader’s Digest recommends that you take some toothpaste and a bottle brush to the offending item before rinsing it thoroughly with water. The same method can be used on Tupperware and plastic storage boxes to remove any lingering smells of last night’s leftovers.

22. Help crumbs meet a sticky end

Anyone with small children — or just a sloppy adult eater — in their household will know that crumbs can be annoying. There’s an easy trick to cleaning them up, though, no matter how messy things have become. Simply dab sticky tape on the affected areas to remove all traces. That way, no one will have to know about the sneaky cookie you enjoyed earlier.

23. Don’t spoil the kids

As parents, we often think back to our own childhoods in which we didn’t have every new toy or designer pair of sneakers. This makes us think we need to make sure our own kids have everything, or they won’t be happy. This isn’t necessarily true, though, and it could lead to us spoiling them. So don't say "yes" so often in your house, and teach your children the value of money.

24. Parents should always prepare for flights

A parent can't completely prevent their baby or child from crying while flying. But flight staff advise that they arrive well-prepped to travel with little ones in tow. Jane Frilicci, who serves on a flight crew that operates out of New York, told Reader's Digest that moms and dads should bring along a brand-new toy to keep kids occupied for as long as possible. A few picture books and a beloved stuffed animal can also work wonders.

25. Easily erase crayon marks

Lots of kids adore scribbling away — but don’t despair if your offspring have decided to use your perfect walls as a makeshift art gallery. Just take a dishwasher tablet and break it down in some warm water. After that, use a clean — preferably light-hued — cloth to rub the solution on the wall until the crayon disappears completely.

26. Spot clean with baby wipes

You may not have thought about incorporating baby wipes into your clean-up regime, but perhaps that should change. After all, as they’re not too moist and only contain mild chemicals, they’re great at spot-cleaning fabrics. A word of warning, though: don’t employ cleaning wipes, as any bleach in these may damage your furniture or clothes.

27. Peanut butter for removing spots/stains

We love peanut butter. Clearly, though, because we’re rubes who don’t think outside the box, we only think of eating it. But the delicious, creamy, sticky gloop can be used to clean stains and spots on carpets and wooden tables! It can even be used to get glue off upholstery. Crazy!

28. Reuse your bedsheets when they rip and fray

When bed sheets get worn out in the middle, there's no need to just buy new ones. Instead, cut the sheet up the middle and then flip it. That way, the frayed middle is now on the outside, and the tougher outsides are now sewn together as the new middle!

29. An easy way to refresh your mattress

While you probably wash your child's bedding on a regular basis, do you ever stop to consider the cleanliness of their mattress? Well, you probably should, as it can become laden with skin cells and debris. Luckily, though, a mattress is easily refreshed. Simply scatter vinegar and baking soda over the item and then leave the concoction to sit for a few hours before vacuuming it away.

30. Dust electronics with coffee filters

Coffee filters aren’t just handy for making your daily mugs of joe. They’re also great at collecting dust particles, making them perfect for cleaning. The filters work particularly well on electronic items around the home, as they’re gentle. And unlike regular cloths, no fibers will stick to the screen, either.

31. Lift carpet stains with vodka

Vodka can be used to effectively treat carpet stains — a common occurrence with kids. To start with, blot the offending mark to remove as much of it as possible. After that, spray vodka onto the affected area before pressing it again — firstly with a dry cloth, then a clean wet one. And if the stain remains, go through the whole process again until it’s completely gone.

32. Chalk fingerprints off

White chalk works amazingly well for removing greasy fingerprints from walls. All you need to do is daub the chalk on the dirty areas and leave it to work for a few minutes. Then remove them with a damp rag, and the marks should have completely disappeared. If you don’t have chalk to hand, baby powder or cornstarch work almost as well.

33. Polish up your sofa

If your leather couch has fallen victim to wear and tear, use shoe polish to give it a new lease of life. Pick a similar shade to your seat to easily cover up scratches and leave the item looking almost store-fresh. However, you should ensure that you remove all traces of polish before you finally get comfy again. And do this when the kids aren't around.

34. Relieve insect bites

If you've fallen victim to an insect bite, you know that it can be irritating as hell. However, you may not have realized that these itching little lumps can be soothed with just a dab of toothpaste. According to Reader’s Digest, all you need to do is apply the minty concoction to the affected area and then allow it to cool the skin right down. Top tip: toothpaste can apparently be used in the same way to treat burns, too.