Ten Parenting "Life Hacks" That will Make 2014 Awesome

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Life hacks are all the rage these days. Sure, you can use a dust-pan to get water out of a sink and your coke can tab to hold your straw, but who cares? Imperfect and Normal Families like ours need practical help as we parent. We have legitimate daily struggles that need solutions. I have seen far too few life hacks that address the challenges of child-care, housework, potty training, transportation, and the economic realities of raising a family on a tight budget. With that in mind, here are ten great ideas (along with a few products) designed to get your family's year started off right!


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1. A Playpen Solution for under $5

If you can't afford a nice pack n play or playpen, a handy roll of duct tape can be just as effective. Be sure to use at least one strip of tape per pound of child. And don't forget to tape her favorite toys within arms' reach, as this wise parent did. This solution is particularly effective during those years your baby is learning to crawl in that you will always know where she is.


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2. A Better Way to Start Saving for College

If you are already participating in your state's college savings plan, good for you! But there is plenty of unclaimed cash in your public park's fountain. This dad has stumbled upon an easier (and dare I say more fun) way to build the nest egg that will help further your child's education. Think of the memories that father and son can create (and the bacteria they can share) from this wealth-building adventure!


3. A Way to Combine Potty Training with Bath Time

I have raised five kids and changed thousands of diapers. The potential messes that can be created during the toilet training years are the worst. I often felt like I was constantly bathing my kids, trying to recover from a nasty "accident." So why not meld potty training and bath time into one convenient step? Why didn't somebody think of this before? One word of advice: be careful not to confuse the toilet cleaner with the baby shampoo. I know from personal experience that this does not turn out well. (Baby shampoo just doesn't have the cleaning power to remove those tough stains in the bowl.)


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4. A Gas-Saving Solution for Stay-at-Home Moms with One Child

We can all readily agree that first time moms don't really need a big SUV or mini-van. But why stop there? Compared to a motorcycle, even a Camry is a gas-guzzler. The great part is that you can stop worrying about whether or not your car seat is installed properly. When you're using bungee cords to secure your child, how can you go wrong?


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5. An Even More Economical Solution for Large Families

When your family is blessed with three or four kids (and even a grandparent or an aunt living in the home), who says you have to have a large vehicle? The creative family in this picture seem to be fitting just fine on their motorcycle. That baby in the bucket might not be completely safe, but I bet he's happy. 


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6. A Way to Mop Your Floors While Your Baby Learns to Crawl

I love this idea, mainly because it addresses an even bigger problem than dirty floors: lazy babies. Beyond looking cute and filling up a new parent's Facebook wall, babies don't do much. They sleep, eat, and poop. With this awesome outfit, they finally have a way to make a contribution to the family. Just put it on your crawler, put him in the kitchen and watch him get to work! Roombas are for suckers.


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7. A "Onesie" to Help a New Dad to Be Successful

First time dads can struggle with confidence issues, mainly because we don't seem to have the innate parenting instincts that new moms have. (Let's be honest...if the typical newborn depended upon it's father for survival, the human race would have fizzled out eons ago.) This handy onesie can make sure that a dad doesn't find himself trying to make his baby's head fit through one of the gaps between the dozens of crotch snaps found on most baby-wear.  


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8. A Great Idea to Re-purpose Old Stuffed Animals AND Teach Oral Hygiene

Your kid has too many stuffed animals. Instead of giving that big bear away to the thrift store (which seems like a pretty gross thing to do), use it as a way to teach your kids oral health! Simply wire a set of dentures to Fluffy's mouth and let the fun begin! You can even do as the family did in this picture and prop it up over your child's bed so it can keep watch over your preschooler through the night. Sure, you'll have to deal with a few years of nightmares and a lifetime of therapy, but it's so worth it.


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9. More Free Time for Moms of Young Babies

If you are a new mom, you know that time is your greatest commodity. And there's never enough of it. With having to stop what you're doing to feed your child every few hours, it's amazing you ever get anything done. This handy new product promises to maximize your time by cutting down on the number times you have to pick up your child and actually care for it.

*Note: this was a gag-gift box that was sold at Wal-Mart this Christmas. Don't freak out!!


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10. Discipline Made Easy

As with the "Crib Dribbler," this is not a real product.

I don't think it's a good idea for a product.

I do not endorse the creation of such a product.

I just thought it was sort of funny. Please refrain from sending me hate mail. I won't read it.


Let's face it: there are few life hacks that can make the enormous responsibility of parenting any easier. We just have to commit ourselves to the task, look to God for guidance, and pray for wisdom in every moment. But it can be done. And God is with us. Thank God, He is with us.

Hope your new year is off to a great start!

-Barrett

 *Check back in February for information on our new book, The Talk(s): A Parent's Guide to Critical Conversations about Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables. You can click on the link to read a brief excerpt. The book has been developed to assist parents as they help their kids navigate our hyper-sexualized culture.

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