Parents

TODAY Parenting Team shares 27 hacks you'll wonder how you lived without

When the laundry is piling up, Junior is throwing a tantrum and you don't know what to do next, who are you going to call? No, not Ghostbusters. This is where the TODAY Parenting Team has your back! We've gathered 27 hacks, tips and tricks from our brilliant community to help with the small stuff so that you can focus on the things that really matter.

Have some ideas to add? Want more helpful tips? Join the conversation and become a member of the TODAY Parenting Team and share how YOU ease the stress of raising a family.

Making a morning routine

1. Pack outfits into Ziploc bags. (Jill Morgenstern)

"Folding clothes directly from the dryer into the Ziplock bags without making a stop at a laundry basket or dresser drawer will save even more time."

Jill Morgenstern / "Do Try This at Home" / Jill Morgenstern / "Do Try This at Home"
Jill Morgenstern shares her morning routine parenting hack

2. Use a calendar app (like Cozi) to organize your schedule each morning. (Jaime Linder)

"I have each person color coded so we know just by the color who is doing what. Also, it can be shared by the whole family. Husband and I can each access the calendar and add or edit events."

3. "Uptown Funk" up your morning. (Angie Goff)

"Crank it up! Put some fun jams on your iTunes, Pandora or the radio! Music in the morning is an instant mood booster and will get you going faster and the kids love."

4. Keep your makeup in the kitchen. (Jill Simonian)

"How else are we supposed to dab concealer under our eyes while simultaneously supervising our toddlers eating breakfast to make sure they don't choke?"

Jill Simonian
"Just tell your friends you saw the 'mirror in the kitchen' design trick on TV and thought it added to your home decor -- rather than spill you're hanging it out of pure vanity to look decent before 1pm."

Owning mealtime

5. Make a big batch of pancakes on Sunday and freeze them for a hot breakfast all week long. (Rebecca Rodriguez-Brea)

"Since I’m making my own, I can add bananas, walnuts, flax seeds — it's healthier and less expensive than the frozen store-bought kind."

6. Never tell your child the foods you dislike. (Ashley Alteman)

"I've hated raisins since I was a kid. I made the mistake of mentioning that in front of my daughter and guess what?! She hates raisins too! Imagine that!"

7. Blend veggies into pizza sauce. (Doyin Richards)

"Granted, the sauce isn't the most appetizing thing in the world to look at once it's blended, but it's actually quite tasty. You'll just have to trust me on this."

Doyin Richards
"My daughters used to run away like hungry hyenas were chasing them the moment anything green and edible was mentioned in a conversation."

8. Stay focused at the grocery store. (Nicole Johnson)

"Map out your route and for the love of God, bring a list, man! If you know where you are going and what you need, you have a better chance of getting in and out with as little drama as possible."

9. Bring snacks wherever you go — and probably a lollipop for emergencies. (Dr. Sheryl Ziegler)

"Be prepared with plenty of healthy snacks and water as well as those special treats for when things get a little hairy and you need a lollipop to keep the peace for a bit!"

Dr. Sheryl Ziegler

10. Meet your new best friend: The Crock-Pot. (Meredith Masony)

"I will crock pot cook anything. Want chicken for dinner, DONE! Want a roast, DONE! Want a cake, DONE! There is a recipe for pretty much anything you can think of."

11. Frozen mango or pineapple bits are the best teething treats. (Maria Colaco)

"To help with teething pain, small frozen mango or pineapple bits are the perfect antidotes. Kids will love the sweet tasty treat while also numbing the teething pain."

Maria Colaco

Being Dr. Mom or Dad M.D.

12. Chocolate fixes yucky-tasting medicine. (Amanda Mushro)

"Put a few mini chocolate morsels on their tongue and when the chocolate melts, it coats their tongue so you can sneak the medicine in minus the bad taste. See, chocolate really does fix everything!"

13. Or, go with the lollipop method. (Amanda Mushro)

"Dip the lollipop in the medicine and let your kid lick the medicine each time you dip. When they finish all the medicine, they get to eat the lollipop (get yourself one too — you’ve earned it)."

14. For messy nights, layer your kid's sheets “like lasagna.” (Amanda Mushro)

"Just like lasagna, make layers of sheets and towels. When you need to make late night clean ups, you can strip off a layer and the bed is already made and ready for the next round, sigh."

Amanda Mushro
Contributor Amanda Mushro's family getting back to "normal."

Changing bad behavior

15. Use a mood ring to tame a tantrum. (Tandra Wilkerson)

"She was so busy channeling her energy that she forgot about her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, mood. For once, mommy TKO'D the tantrum!"

16. Take an exercise break — for both you and the kids! (Ali Wilkinson)

"It’s a great way to break out of that rut, and break out of it quickly. And an unexpected benefit is that it showed my kids that exercise can be both fun and centering."

17. Put a paper bag on your own head when you feel like you’re gonna lose it. Seriously. (Glennon Doyle Melton)

"It’s not necessarily a different career or parenting philosophy or neighborhood or child or personality or spouse that we need. Sometimes it’s a deep breath, a bath, a glass of water, a walk outside, or a paper bag."

Glennon Doyle Melton
"Tada! Instant quiet time, oxygen, and a reminder that things are not necessarily as dramatic and horrible as my kids or jumpy head might suggest."

18. To communicate with your teen, do something active together WHILE conversing. (Traci McNett)

"Talk while doing the dishes together (two birds, one stone, y'all!), or while driving them to practice or to a friend's house. These are great times to talk about school, relationships, and even that dreaded s-e-x! (I know... It's awkward!")

19. Stop tantrums in their tracks by calling "the manager." (Angie Goff)

"I think this plays up to the feeling your kids are always great when someone else is watching them (i.e. school, grandparents etc). She has no problem acting out under me but when you bring someone else with authority into the picture she won’t test it."

Keeping your house (somewhat) clean

20. Create a system where they earn points by doing chores to get screen time. (Melissa Garcia)

"I am tired of them sitting like sloths in their rooms glaring into their computer/tv screens like zombies. So I decide to come up with a way to make them earn their game time. While they were away at school last September, I made this chart full of simple household chores or things that would get them outside playing and made a point system out of it."

Melissa Garcia
"Basically they have to collect 500 points to earn their game time for the day. Also if they do not do a good job and just rush through it because they are mad then they get points taken off which means they have to work even harder to collect their points."

21. Use your socks to clean as you go. (Meredith Masony)

"I spray my fuzzy socks with some Mr. Clean and I skate mop the floors during the day. It is a great work out and it gets those unsightly blemishes up off the floor in a flash."

22. Don't separate their laundry. (Jacqui)

"Just toss everything into the wash on COLD. It saves time, energy, sanity, and you'll notice a difference on utility bills, too."

23. Try the five-minute rule. (Jamie Taylor)

"Set your kitchen timer (usually found on your microwave), for 5 minutes, and work on cleaning your counters, sorting papers, or loading the dishwasher until it beeps. Then, make yourself stop doing whatever you are working on, and set that timer again. Move to another room."

Jamie Taylor
"Listen, friends. This works! Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed by what I have to do, I start the timer and let the magic begin."

24. Don't be afraid to throw out some of their artwork. (Kim Grubbs)

"I learned to put them on top of the refrigerator and leave them there for a few days. If they ask for them again within those few days, I can say, 'Here it is sweetie — I'd never throw that away. I know it's special to you.' (Hero points) and if not, when they are asleep or at school, I can throw them away."

Hacking your attitude

25. Switch your words from “I have to” to “I get to.” (Amy McCready)

"For example, instead of I HAVE to shuttle my kids to school and sports practice – I GET to spend uninterrupted time with them without the competition of the TV, internet, friends or any other distraction. I GET to make that OUR time to catch up, belt out tunes, be silly, talk, relate – and enjoy their presence - just us."

Amy McCready
"Now, the next time you’re faced with an 'I have to' kind of day, take a deep breath. Grab a coffee. And then think, 'What do I GET to do with my child today?' Then do that."

26. Help kids deal with fears by creating a "worry box." (Susie Garlick)

"When your child begins to worry, challenge her to write down her fears and put them in her 'worry box.' Then, schedule twenty minutes everyday to talk about these worries together: no distractions, no siblings and no technology. Once the time is up, the worries go back into the box until the next day."24. Take a bubble bath and watch the day melt away. (Anna Ross Kinard)

"My favorite way to relax is taking a bubble bath every night - even if it is just for a few minutes! I am a strong believer that a bubble bath a day keeps the doctor away."

Anna Ross Kinard

27. When you're feeling stressed, just whip out old videos. (Patrice Poltzer)

"When I am feeling really overwhelmed, stressed and unworthy of even having acquired the label of 'mom,' I know I can look back at videos and be brought back to a happy place. A joyful place."

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