15 Mom Hacks: Making Daily Tasks a Little Less Hectic

This morning routine is relatable among many parents: wake to the sight of a wide-eyed child staring at you in bed; rush to drink a cup of coffee that’s been reheated multiple times (and is still cold), and frantically search the house for your child’s missing homework – whilst still holding said cup of cold coffee – all before whisking the kids off to school by the time morning announcements begin (God willing).

Many parents today are over-stretched, over-worked and overtired. From infancy to teething, walking to talking, and ‘threenager’ to ‘school ager’, every phase in childhood brings new rewards and challenges. Here are 15 ‘mom hacks’ that have proven to help make the day-to-day challenges a little easier:

1. Use pool noodles to help prevent falls
If you don’t have a bed rail – or choose to forgo the sometimes-hefty price tag that comes with it – pool noodles cost a couple of bucks and can help stop your little one from rolling out of bed at night. Simply customize your noodle by trimming it, if necessary, to fit the length of the mattress and secure it under a fitted sheet.

2. Save time on baby food cleanups
Whether you’re a veteran parent or a beginner, you’ll likely come across a baby who just can’t keep puréed food in his or her mouth. Even if you have control of the spoon, food will probably end up splattered on the walls, drapery and floors. Place a garbage bag or two underneath your child’s high chair before the messy eating session begins. You can also cut a layer of the garbage bag with scissors before opening it and spreading it out, which increases the catching distance on the floor.

3. Re-use kitchen sponges sans bacteria
Cleaning up after kids can seem like a thankless, neverending task. One of my go-to grabs for quick cleanups is the kitchen sponge, which can quickly become a cesspool of sometimes-dangerous bacteria. Instead of reusing it, run the sponge under warm water, toss it in the microwave for two minutes and once it cools, you can re-use it without the worry of it carrying so much harmful bacteria. Keep in mind: it’s not recommended you use the same sponge for dishes, counters and other spills because of the bacteria it may carry. A general rule-of-thumb is, if it looks tattered, it’s time to toss it.

4. Turn your fridge crisper into an easy-access zone
Kitchens across the country are bursting with reusable containers, many of which have missing or unmatched lids. There’s no shame in admitting you can’t keep an organized drawer or cupboard in your kitchen! Grab a few of your containers and turn them into an organized space in your fridge crisper. Washing fruits and veggies ahead of time before placing them in the bins will entice little ones to grab and go for healthy snacks. Added tip: Placing a paper towel in the containers will keep produce fresh longer by helping to absorb moisture.

5. Clean dishes and toys in a single cycle
Baby toys and other small toys can easily be cleaned by tossing them in the dishwasher – and if you don’t mind, throw in the dishes too. Instead of disinfecting toys one-by-one by hand, let the dishwasher do all the dirty work.

6. Use a straw to remove strawberry stems
No need to grab a knife and de-stem a quart of strawberries, stem-by-stem. Take a basic straw, feed it up through the bottom of the strawberry, and the stem will pop right out. It’s quick, clean and simple, and the kids will get a kick out of it too.

7. Make your own eco-friendly all-purpose cleaner
This wonderfully-scented, safe alternative to potentially hazardous spray cleaners is easy to make, lasts a long time and works like a charm! Mix one part white vinegar with two parts water, throw in a few lemon slices (or orange slices), and pour into a reusable plastic spray bottle. You can use this DIY cleaner on many surfaces, including glass, countertops, sinks and stovetops.

8. Soothe sore gums with baby washcloths
Coping with a teething baby can leave parents feeling helpless. For quick relief, wet half a washcloth with water, place it in the freezer for about 20 minutes, and let it partially freeze. Once you remove it, you or your baby can hold the dry portion of the washcloth while he gnaws on the frozen part. The combination of the cool fabric and pressure on baby’s gums can help your little one through this sometimes painful stage of development.

9. Use the shower as a natural decongestant
Little ones, especially school-aged kids, get colds – a lot of them. In fact, it’s not uncommon for young children to have between 8 and 10 colds a year. You can help your congested child get some relief by turning the shower on very hot (but ensure children do not get close), followed by closing the bathroom door for a few minutes, or until enough steam has circulated. Next, bring your child back into the bathroom and allow the steam to help loosen mucus and relieve congestion.

10. Turn a chalkboard into a meal planner
Planning meals ahead of time is a huge timesaver, especially for moms and dads on the go. Map out what you’re going to eat for the week, similar to a restaurant menu. I use sidewalk chalk and a fancy-looking
mini-chalkboard, which hangs on our kitchen wall to display our meals for the week. It’s a simple concept, but it stops me from sifting through recipe books or resorting to takeout menus!

11. Use hairspray on stubborn ink stains
If your favourite sweater has been blasted with blue ink, rest assured it can be worn again. You can battle unsightly ink stains with a can of hairspray. Spray it directly onto the garment, let it set and then rub the stain with a cloth. It should fade pretty quickly.

12. Keep coconut oil on hand to calm eczema flare-ups
Both my children have mild eczema – up to 25% of Canadian children suffer from varying forms of this itchy skin condition. We’ve tried everything from topical steroids to high-end lotions, and while we have some go to store bought products, the pantry may be the best place to temporarily sooth and prevent flare-ups. Coconut oil has nourishing, anti-inflammatory properties and the best part is, it’s all-natural and it smells delicious. If you don’t have coconut oil, Vaseline also acts as a buffer zone to help keep eczema in check.

13. Clean the shower while taking a shower
I will admit I do this VERY often. Cleaning the shower while I’m in the shower is a real timesaver, but make sure you don’t grab the bottle of cleaner instead of your shampoo!

14. Use your exhaust fan to calm baby
Each baby is different, so this hack isn’t a one-size-fits-all, but from experience, I can tell you that blasting the exhaust fan above the stove has done wonders for calming a fussy baby. The sound of the white noise flat-out halted crying sessions for our eldest child when he was a newborn. Really, this worked like a charm!

15. Use a baby gate to prevent middle-of-the-night roaming
Transitioning your child from a crib to a toddler bed can be a little unsettling for parents. If you’ve already ditched the baby monitor, you may feel an added layer of uneasiness over not hearing what’s happening in your child’s room at night. After all, they could be planning their escape and you’d have no idea until the sound of footsteps becomes more pronounced as they runs to your room. For safety and peace of mind, use a pressure mounted baby gate between your child’s bedroom doorframes. It won’t only keep them in their room at night, it will also prevent potential falls and other injuries during the night when everyone else is sleeping.