As I was adjusting my rear view mirror in my car the other day, I started thinking about parenting hacks. I realized that my mirror is adjusted backwards to how most people have theirs. Mine points down when I switch it, instead of up. The reason for this is that I have had children riding in the back seat of my car for so long. When my mirror is adjusted that way, it only takes one little click to be able to see what's happening in the back. There's no need to turn around while I'm trying to keep my eyes on the road. I could just glance in the mirror. It also helps keep the chaos down to a minimum because they know I can see them whenever I want.
Another hack I used was to wear overalls with a hammer loop on the side. When my daughter was 3 and my son was a newborn, I had no car and walked everywhere. Although the baby was in a pack, I still often needed both hands free for carrying things, so my daughter learned to hold on to the hammer loop instead of holding my hand. I also had safety pins on my belt loops, just in case, and always had some kind of toys and snacks in my backpack to ward off tantrums.
We often went out as a family to after-dark parties or other events such as music festivals. I fell in love with glow sticks and light-up sneakers. They were lifesavers. In their light-up shoes, I could always see where my children were. I would have them draped in glowsticks as well, but they also lined our blanket so the kids could wander a bit and still find us in the dark, and we practiced going back to our spot until they were confident. I even floated glowsticks in a bath one especially rough and whiney night and turned out all of the lights, creating a magical glowing bath and saving the day.
When my oldest son was just starting to walk, he loved to wander off. That boy was an escape artist, climbing under and over everything in his way. It was becoming increasingly difficult to contain him, and I was too busy to hover over him constantly. I also believed in letting my children have a little autonomy as a learning tool. I believe that if we are constantly there, protecting them and paving their way, they won't be self-sufficient. They need to have scrapes and bruises occasionally to learn. I didn't neglect them, but they had times when I wasn't watching. The house was childproofed to afford them that luxury. But my boy was a wild child. I attached bells to his shoes and his clothes so that I could hear wherever he went. Occasionally, when the sound of the bells stopped, I knew he had removed his clothes and was probably getting into some terrible mischief. That was a very useful hack. I was able to be in the kitchen or bathroom without having to cart him around with me.
I'm sure there are more that I've forgotten over the years. I was always trying to think of new ways to make my parenting life easier. I'd love to know what your parenting hacks are. Please share them for all of us to see. Remember, we're all in this together with no manual to refer to when we're struggling.