Parenting Tips & Hacks

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parenting tips and hacks

One of a series of articles about how to get this job done.

Episode One: Get your house in order, but not how you think

If you’re looking for ways to raise smart, compassionate, and successful kiddos, this is not that article. It is the article that can save you some time, perhaps a bit of money, and most importantly, your sanity.

As the mom of our one-and-done beautiful boy, I applaud you parents of two, three, or more and ask that you email me if you have tips to share because you must have some SERIOUS skills up your sleeve.

From the first weeks at home to the first days at preschool and then riding the bus to kindergarten, things keep changing, new phases come and go, and then if our grandparents are right (which we all know they are), we’ll see them off to college and beyond before we know what hit us.

In the meantime, we’re overscheduled and underslept, trying to manage a household, work, and family. A little shortcut here and there, as long as it’s not skipping seatbelts is OK.

We’re not perfect and there’s no use in trying. As a wise client, who also happens to be a mom of two, always reminds me, “Perfection is the enemy of completion.”

Learn when to say NAP

Let’s face it: household tasks multiply with kids. Cleaning, organizing, laundry, putting things away, and dishes are always on the list and the list never seems to be completed.

In the midst of a newborn, high on hormones, it can be tempting to tackle the list while the bundle sleeps, but that (IMO) is exactly the wrong thing to do. If napping was not in your pre-kiddo lifestyle, it should be a habit that you consider adopting immediately.

Letting your mind and body rest, even if you can’t fall asleep, is beneficial for avoiding sour moods, irritability, and stress. Not to mention avoiding ‘unplanned’ naps in a chair where the newbie can slip out of your arms and onto the floor.

Co-Calendar

Although not critical for the early weeks and months at our house, a shared Google calendar app on our respective iPhone and Android is an absolute necessity once pickups and drop-offs are required.

Unlike our dearly departed doggers, you can’t leave home without the kids unless you have scheduled a sitter or your co-pilot is home.

Sounds simple, yes — but when you assume that your better half will be home and they do the same, scheduling conflicts and stress can ratchet up quickly.

Before co-calendaring, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to share an appointment and had to reschedule or miss an event when all it would have taken is a few clicks or taps. Sharing is caring, people!

Meal Share

One of the highlights of our week is meal sharing with our neighbors. And let me assure you, a weeknight meal is no dinner party drama — more like family expansion for a weekly, bi-weekly or other dinner schedule.

Select the day of the week, or schedule your next meal share over this week’s sloppy joes. You can do a whole meal swap, or split up a main dish and salad or veggie duties. Not only do the kiddos get a chance to play, it frees up time for sharing the weeks highs, lows, and of course — parenting hacks and tips.

In an era of bike and car sharing, meal sharing has opened the door to vacation sharing and impromptu kiddo swapping which for our family, has been life changing.

Budget Backup

With preschool, daycare, and babysitter costs — not to mention formula, diapers, and clothes — it can be challenging to prioritize and keep a handle on spending. Shoes alone can run $40+ a pop and they will only fit for a few months or weeks depending on your particular growth trajectory.

That’s why thrift and consignment stores are a must. Not only can you often get clothing that still has a tag on it, your budget will go 5–10x further by purchasing used shoes, clothing, toys, and housewares.

Not sure what your budget is?

Then you need to get one. Having a budget doesn’t make you responsible, savvy, or smart — it makes you aware and awareness is the key.

And before you open up another browser window, let me suggest you skip right over mint.com and shimmy on over to www.youneedabudget.com instead.

Not only will you avoid the constant ads for new savings and brokerage accounts in mint, you will be in charge of assigning your money a job before it is spent through their YNAB method. (Check out their LEARN section on the website).

Best of all, instead of feeling bad about going over budget, you can easily readjust the budget as circumstances change and we all know that they will!

Have tips or tricks you want to share? Email me.

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Sarah Steil is a Minnesotan by way of Denver, CO and hails from the metropolis of Algona, IA (once home to the world’s largest Cheeto). Sarah puts her visual and communication nose to the design and brand grindstone each day as founder of a local brand and design agency.