Expat Asides

Parent Life Hacks
By James Clapham

“Life hacks” are ideas or concepts that are designed to make life just that little bit easier. Those that are banded around the Internet can be hit and miss, but some have strokes of genius to them that make you sit up and wonder why you hadn’t thought of that in the first place. A lot of the time they involve using normal household items that could otherwise be thought of as garbage. Nevertheless, either by accident or by design, they work for a lot of given situations. Here are some life hacks that are especially relevant to parents and may be modified to suit your needs:

  • That’s not my van, it’s… someone else’s: There comes a stage where you’re just embarrassed about the state of your minivan or large SUV that’s used to transport your ever-growing (either by numbers, size or both) clan. Dried apple slices and random fries from that McDonalds drive-thru, and also bits of lint and general nastiness can litter the inside if proactive steps are not taken first. So, in order to keep everyone’s food and drink together for each taunting youngster try using a shower caddy. These come in sections and have a handle, so they can be passed around the vehicle and limits the amount of thrown around mess that keeps Norwex in business.
  • Laundry day: If you have more than one child, and they’re all starting to wear clothes that only say medium, then use a permanent marker to make dots on the washing label. One dot can be for the first child, two dots for the second, and so on. This will make laundry day a lot easier to do, and there will be less yelling about where their favourite Spider-Man hoodie has gone to this time!
  • Keep it all in one place: Parenting hacks are all about saving time and, hopefully, not stepping on a stray piece of Lego as those things are as deadly as a landmine. For the babies and toddlers that are just finding their feet, think about using an inflatable pool in the living room and instead of filling it with water, fill it with their favourite toys and so on. It keeps the new crawler fielded in one place, those large building blocks in one area and not jammed into your shiny new laptop.
  • Night terrors: Did you know that you have the power to keep those monsters under the bed at bay? Get a spray bottle, place a bunch of monster, spider and dinosaur stickers on it and call it your Monster Destructor 3000 or something. Use the spray (which will have nothing in it at all) whenever Junior gets a nightmare and it’ll help somewhat against an unseen enemy.
  • Blackboard paint is awesome: This is supposedly better than the whiteboard paint that you can get, but nonetheless cover your fridge with it and suddenly you can have your own notes on the top and your child’s artwork all on the bottom. Be sure that they understand that it only works on the fridge and not the TV, and you’ll be golden.
  • Keeping it orderly: If there are several children running around the place, then you need to stay on top of what activities that they have for the day. Keep a hook on the wall for each of their bags and put a flipchart or a small whiteboard above each hook, detailing what they’re doing in the coming weeks. It makes it easier just to take the bag off the hook (instead of hunting for it underneath the couch) and fill it with the required items your child needs without over-thinking too much. Over-thinking is bad, since as a parent you need all the energy you can muster!