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Parenting and Family Life
- To wean your toddler from a dummy, cut a small hole in the tip, over a period of time gradually make the hole larger. Eventually they will discard the dummy of their own accord.
- Don't buy a white sofa.
- On a day out write your mobile number on your child's arm in biro - if they do get lost, this way someone can let you know quickly.
- Don't spend loads on a nappy disposal system. Buy a cheap bin with a tight-fitting lid from the local hardware shop and use plastic shopping bags as liners. If it gets smelly, some lavender oil on a panty liner stuck to the underside of the lid works wonders.
- Rather than lying your baby on a cold plastic changing mat, cover it with a flannel / terry nappy or similar (Ikea do a pack of 10 flannels for about £2 that are ideal). It feels nicer for them and you've got something immediately to hand in case of accidents!
- On a rainy summers day, create the 'indoor paddling pool'. A couple of inches of water in the bath along with all the usual paddling pool toys and the children love it!
- Keep a notebook by your bed to jot down that essential to do list which wakes you in the middle of the night.
- If your child did something good, it's because of your excellent parenting. If he did something bad, it's just a phase he's going through.
- A thermal mug is essential for anyone with a new baby. Keeps the tea hot for ages, ideal when you're stuck on the sofa and daren't move the sleeping baby.
- All things can be done with 1) confidence 2) a determination not to be embarrassed and 3) a muslin cloth.
- Always keep a duster and polish near your PC. Then if someone pops in, it looks like you are cleaning, not posting on a parenting website while you ignore your kids...
- Always keep a secret hidden emergency spare pair of socks for each child - for those mornings when they find the sock monster has eaten every single pair in their drawers.
- Use all that brown paper mail-order companies pad out boxes with to play The Very Hungry Caterpillar with your children. Wrap them up for nearly two weeks, then let them burst out like a beautiful butterfly. (Note: whatever the temptation, don't actually leave them for two weeks.)
- When dealing with difficult relatives giving advice, just say, Gosh thanks that's great and then proceed to ignore serenely.
- When sitting on a public loo, don't let your toddler anywhere near the automatic flush sensor.
- Always buy more toilet roll than you could ever possibly need.
- Always dress the DC in red when eating Italian.
- Check the soles of your feet for CBeebies stickers before attending your yoga class.
- Never, ever tickle the person holding the baby. Ever.
- Don't tie your shoes in a revolving door.
- A large Stickle Brick makes good emergency comb.
- Check the weather forecast before telling your children that soft play is only open on rainy days.
- Don't sweat the petty things... and don't pet the sweaty things.
- No matter how late you are, don't rush out of the house without checking in the mirror first. Bumping into the neighbours with a towel wrapped round your head is never a good look.
- Don't get upset when you need to break rules that you have set yourself when raising children.
- Smile at everyone in the school pick-up queue. You never know who's going to turn into your child's best mate.
- If your child hates having their eczema creams put on turn it into a dot to dot game by dotting bits of emoillient on, then get them to smear one dot into the next. Emoillient on! Giggles all round!
- If you have to give your child medication in tablet form then disguise the taste with a little honey or yoghurt.
- Kill two birds with one stone and have your older DC read their book to your younger DC at bedtime. The little one get a bedtime story and the older one does his reading for the week, whilst you take a peaceful five minutes.
- If you are struggling to wash your child's hair in the bath, stick a picture of their favourite character on the ceiling and get them to look at it.
- When on a busy beach, tie a balloon onto your child's arm. They can play about and you can see where they are at a glance.
- If you want to keep your kids off sweets, then at an early and still highly impressionable age, give them liquorice and tell them that all sweets are yucky and disgusting like these.. This should keep them off sweets for years!
- Rotate your kids' toys and books. Not only will they tire of them less easily, it will take you a lot less time to find the floor after they've gone to school in the morning.
- To finally get rid of dummies, leave them under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve for Santa to deliver to babies who need them. It worked well on a 2 1/2 year old.
- If you are having trouble with the children eating fruit and veg try and grow your own plants and encourage them to cultivate their own food, it always gets them excited!
- To make mornings easier, my (messy) boys always have breakfast BEFORE putting on their school uniform. This avoids any last minutes changes!
- Don't buy an expensive and tiny wooden playhouse for the garden - buy a shed! Half the price, twice the size and when they get fed up with it you can claim it back.
- Don't laugh when your child swears. Even if it seems really funny!
- On a boiling hot night when the DC are not going to sleep well anyway - do NOT decide that it would be a good evening to start reading Roald Dahl's The Witches to your (very sensitive) 6yo.
- To take the sharp edges off of babies finger and toe nails use the softest part of a nail buffer. No more scratched baby faces!
- Don't waste hours ironing kids clothes for everyday wear, since they'll have them dirty and crumpled again in 5 minutes. I let the tumble dryer do all the work for me.
- Try shopping for bulky, heavy items online. Saves precious time and is less stressful than taking children round the supermarket. If you need to go supermarketing with kids, write a list then cross out the stuff you probably can do without, stick to 10-ish items to make the shop easier.
- Set a time limit for when you want your child to do something and let them put it on a timer. They love to set the clock, it helps them understand how to tell the time and they actually get excited when the timer beeps, even if it means its time to tidy up or go to bed!
- Tell the kids that the ice-cream van siren means they have sold out of ice cream.
- I have always found that my kids value money more if they have to earn their pocket money, a little bit of drying up or weeding.It may sound mean but is a small lesson for later in life.
- I have bought a cooks timer to help my children 'share' their games console. They each get an hour ... and I get no arguements because they know they've had the same time allocation : )
- Keep toys interesting by rotating them. Invest in some plastic boxes with lids and make sure you routinely keep two or three hidden away for a few weeks/months (more time depending on your child's age) When you do bring out an old box you will be amazed at how interesting all the toys have become again.
- Always remember that when you buy the four year old a dressing-up costume, the 10 year old will suddenly want one too.
- Mucky hands do more damage than mucky faces. Always wipe hands first at mealtimes
- As Roald Dahl said: A stodgy parent is no fun at all... what a child wants and deserves is a parent who is SPARKY!
- Buy floral dresses - highly fashionable and not so obvious when baby is sick on them.
- Hand the phone to your toddler when you have a long-distance family member or friend and you've run out of conversation but they're not getting the hint. A simple: Awwww, XYZ wants to say hello, just hang up when you've had enough, speak soon!
- For a bit of peace on the beach, dig a big hole, stick your child in it, fill the hole up and pat around their shoulders. Pretend it's a game. Lie back and read.
- Children under 14 months can generally get their heads through extra-large cat flaps. Rather a slightly squashed moggy than a stuck tot!
- Take some familiar bath toys when you go swimming for the first time with your baby. It makes them less nervous.
- When children are eating cereal, give them a straw when they're nearly finished. That way they can drink all the milk and then see how many krispies or whatever are left to scrape up and eat.
- Don't toilet-train one child while baby-led weaning the other.
- Buy a second kettle for making up formula feeds - otherwise you will always be waiting for the water to cool and you'll never get your cuppa when you want one.
- Never trust a child to carry the cakes round the supermarket.
- When you are having a really bad day, stop trying to be a good mummy and settle for a lower target. Remind yourself that all you have to do is 'Keep them alive until tomorrow!' Anything else is a bonus.
- If your child is playing quietly, there is a reason... Go check quick!
- A good mother is a teacher, not a servant.
- Don't feel guilty - when you sense yourself entering the downward spiral of guilt, remind yourself that everyone would hate you if you were perfect!
- When you borrow or lend a travel cot or buggy, make sure you know how to put it up and take it down. They are all different
- Don't wallow in self-pity, wallow in a leisurely bath.
- Organise a garden snail hunt in the evening after it has rained. Arm your little tot plus little mates with torches and a bucket each and away they go.
- For young toddlers, put sofa cushions across the floor and play 'stepping stones'. Your child will love seeing whether they can get across without falling in and getting eaten by the crocodile (you)!
- Put a small button under the end of the sellotape - and save your temper (and your nails!) trying to find the end.
- Set your clocks five minutes early without telling the kids - give yourself some breathing space if things are running 'late'!
- Pin family photos on your baby/toddler's wall and say goodnight to them. It becomes part of a routine and increases familiarity with less regular visitors who will love being recognised when they next visit.
- Hairspray gets biro off of walls and leather sofas!
- Let your new baby snuggle up to or on a t-shirt you have been wearing recently, they will settle better if they can smell mummy.
- If your kids have to take their shoes off for school sports/visits to a mosque/whatever, put a blob of nail varnish on the soles. Makes it much easier for them to spot their shoes amongst all their friends' identical pairs.
- If, like me, you walk your kids to school everyday when the weather is at it's worst buy everyone a pair of wellies and cheap waterproof trousers. That way they can go through every puddle they want and still arrive dry. Saves you having to change trousers twice a day too!
- Don't cut the kids hair yourself.
Get a pro to do it.
It's not worth the mocking from DH.
- If you are due to redecorate but have lots of sticky-fingered children to take into account, buy vinyl paint or wallpaper. All the muck just wipes off with a damp cloth.
- A beach tip - always take talcum powder to the beach with you. If you rub a handful of talc onto wet, sandy feet the feet dry and the sand comes off without scratching, ready for putting shoes back on without the complaints.
- If you regularly hang your washing in the garden, get a baby garden swing if you can (we got one from a garden centre for under £20).
When I'm putting the washing out the swing is an easy place to put my baby and he loves it.
- If you're sick of small children waking you up too early with is it time to get up? draw a smiley face on a piece of paper. Tell them that if the smiley face is on the landing, they can get up. If it isn't, they are to get back to bed!
- If your child wants to move to 'grown up cutlery', cake forks are ideal and are still small enough for them to handle
- Tell your children everyday that you love them, and remember that cuddles are free so give them loads. You will both benifit from doing these things!!
- For young school children get a picture put on name labels so even if your little one can't identify their name they will hopefully spot the picture!
- Tantrum avoider: don't bother forcing your child into a coat, just take it with you when you go out and they'll soon ask for it if they get cold or wet.
- tie a belt to your pram front so you can tow it up hills, hoist it up steps or swing it round as game in an empty playground!
- My young children love the wooden puzzles with the little lift out pieces but we were forever losing pieces as they do not come in a box. I purchased some larger net/mesh bags with zips and they all get packed away in these now to avoid losing pieces.
- When I was a new mum I used to tip toe round my daughter, big mistake as any loud noise woke her up. So when I had my son I got him used to all household noises, he slept through a fast spin and even the hoover. Also when you have a baby, people always tell you what's best, trust your own instincts, you are the parent, listen to you own inner voice. Being a new parent is tough, but you see the rewards, like the 1st smile, 1st word etc.
- Refill brand name empty boxes wirh shop's own brand and your family will probably not notice the difference. You will save money.
- Roll up too-long sleeves ^before^ you put the top on your LO. It will be easier than getting little arms through endless sleeves, and you bypass the struggle of rolling them up once attached to a wriggly giggly baby.
- Old plastic babyfood or puree storage pots filled with rice or dried pasta make great shakers for your toddler.
- When your baby goes with you to the supermarket put them in the trolley, keep them in the trolley on visits for as long as possible, if you let them out once you won't get them back in the trolley again!
- Let your children do the boring jobs that involve scrubbing things with a nail brush, like the slimy washing up rack. They love it and it means you don't have to do it!
- My tip if you have a child starting school for the first time is make sure they try on their uniform before the day, so they have got used to putting it on and it doesn't feel strange on the morning. Also do a trial run of your journey to school - if you're going to be walking then walk it to see how long it takes, if driving drive and check out parking etc. Will mean less stress on the actual morning!
- Only dress for work immediately before departing the house, under no circumstances before breakfast, you will then avoid giving presentations covered with congealed weetabix!
- keep together all the party invites your child receives at nursery/school, and you'll soon build up a handy list of parents names and contact numbers
- Trying to encourage your child to enjoy family walks? Take some paper & crayons out with you and do leaf & tree rubbing as you go along, you'll be amazed how keen they are to go next time.
- Allow at least half an hour more than you intended to leave the house.
Try to wander and dawdle as much as possible to get into the mindset of a pre-schooler.
- If your toddler won't have a rain cover over them buy the smallest umbrella you can find and let them hold it over themselves. The novelty means they keep it up (mostly) an don't get too wet, but without all the screeching.
- Install high shelving everywhere. Your home may end up looking like a hardware store, but if it can't be reached it can't be spilled/broken/eaten etc.
- Child who does the ironing board when you're trying to strap her into her buggy/car seat? Tickle her tummy. Works every time!
- To prevent water from entering your child's ear when washing hair, cover the whole ear with the top from a hairspray can, or similar. It covers the ear completely. You could paint the top to make it more child friendly. Works for adults too!
- Big brothers and sisters are a perfect distraction at nappy change time. Just give them a toy and let them amuse baby while you deal with the stinky end
- Reduce the stress of supermarket shopping by making a picture-shopping list of some of the items that you need. Encourage the children to use the pictures to help you remember what you need. This gets them involved and helps prevent tantrums in the aisles!!
- To encourage a reluctant hair washer get the toys involved. Encourage your child to wash his/her toys 'hair' first. Talk the toy through the dreaded hair washing process and get them to help you. This can really help increase their confidence and reduce their fear.
- Persist with letting your toddler dress themselves even if it is quicker for you to do it for them. It means you can do something else at the same time - this is a real boon if you have younger children or when you have to get ready for school. It also means they can dress and undress for PE with minimal help when they start school.
- kids love to feel like they are helping, i get my 6 year old to help wash the car, hoover and polish and she loves it and it keeps her from getting bored.
- Leg warmers are invaluable for toddlers - keep legs warm in a sling, stop their trousers riding up when crawling, and keep trousers out of puddles or snow (and in their wellies)
- Put every phone number you come across from your child's friend's parents in your phone, from birthday invites to PTA correspondence, even if you don't know them. They might just come in handy one day.
- I have no idea why this would work, but my children hate having their hair washed, but they'll happily let each other do it.
- Changing Mats - they come with three padded sides and an 'open' end where one, logically, would lay the child's feet. Turn the mat the other way round, the padded end for what otherwise would be the head prevents the slurry of 'runny poo' pouring down over you and the changing station. A valuable lesson learnt.
- To encourage music practice, create some colouring in sheets with multiple butterflies or rockets in groups of ten. Every time your child completes a short period of music practice, allow him/her to colour one in. When the whole sheet is complete, express great pride and allow him/her to file the sheet.
- Small boys? One word: diggers.
- Unable to find the hairbrush in the morning? Tie it with ribbon to the basin near the mirror and you'll save time and angst.
- If you're going to be within a five-mile radius of a small child, don't wear white!
- The best tip my mum taught me, if your children are sharing something (a cake, bar of chocolate etc) that has to be cut in half, let one child cut and the other choose their piece. It saves the 'he's got more than me!' argument, as the one cutting makes certain the pieces are even!
- Baby refusing to settle with other people and you need to nip out? Leave the t-shirt you have been wearing all day for the babysitter to put on their shoulder - baby will be able to smell you, and hopefully drift off to sleep!
- Tights under trousers are great for keeping tiny legs warm in winter - even for boys.
- If you don't have a paddling pool, a plastic basin full of water for them to jump in and out of will keep little ones happy for ages!
- Never get rid of toys and games children have had a craze on, like Pokemon cards or Go Gos. You can bet that, as soon as you do, your children will rediscover their craze and will have to start collecting all over again.
- Always let your child choose their own sunhat. Then at least there's an outside chance they'll actually wear it.
- Find it difficult getting out the door on time some mornings? Set all your clocks 10 minutes fast, you'll be surprised at what a difference it makes.
- Now the sun's shining, give your kids a bucket of water and some big paintbrushes and get the to paint the fences in the garden. Keeps them amused for ages!
- Children's pyjama bottoms worn on head look like bunny ears. Hopping round room optional. Kept my boys amused for hours.
- If you're going to have a craft box, make sure it is stored high up or in a locked cupboard. PVA glue, glitter and tissue paper are not easy things to wash off the dog.
- You don't have to bathe your newborn everyday. Once a week, when Dad has time to do it, is fine.
- If you're going to work, put something on top of your clothes while you feed your children breakfast. That way, you won't mind (quite as much) getting smeared in Weetabix...
- Got teenagers? Hang a wipe board near the front door: when anyone goes out, they have to leave a note on it saying where they are.
- If it's all too much, throw in the towel and try again tomorrow.
- Mark 'buy a sledge' in your diary for June.
- Do not attempt to change a really rank nappy while wearing cashmere arm warmers. (Stop sniggering at the back: I was severely sleep-deprived, and it was cold.)
- There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.
- When testing batteries, don't be tempted to lick them to see if they're dead.
- Don't worry - they start to become human around the age of 22.
- Only the very brave wear clothes with no pockets when they take their children out.
- Take a first aid course. Even if you never use it, you can use the knowledge to gross your kids out.
- Never give your children jelly at 6pm and expect to be sat on sofa with glass of wine in hand by 7.30pm whilst aforementioned children snooze happily in their beds.
- Cheap plastic tea sets are much more fun in the bath than expensive bath toys. And they don't get covered in black goo like rubber ducks do, either.
- Have breadsticks about your person. Always.
- Be warned that safety scissors DO cut hair. Oh yes...
- Put the baby in the car seat and the BLANKET in the boot!
- Don't buy your slightly OCD 5yo dd pants with the days of the week on. It will only make getting ready for school a nightmare. Thursday pants on a Tuesday, mum? Are you mad?
- Ask your friends to recommend a good locksmith. Then programme all the locksmiths' numbers into your mobile. That way, if you do get locked out on a wet evening at teatime, there's a chance you'll be rescued BEFORE you're forced to let your starving five-year-old do a poo in your own front hedge.
- Carry crayons, plasters and antiseptic cream absolutely everywhere you go for at least 10 years after giving birth.
- Nappy cream BEFORE vapour rub.
- Always check the hamster is still in his cage before vaccuuming...
- Don't let your toddler play with your car key. Especially if they are in the car and you are not.
- Show your kids at a early age what great fun a dustpan and brush can be. We have a 'special' one in the kitchen that they can always reach...
- Impress on your older boys that it's actually Dad's help they need when choosing trainers and school shoes...
- Dress your child in bright colours, so you can keep track of them among the havoc and mayhem of the soft play centre. Obviously, it wouldn't work if everyone followed this tip.
- If your kids are clamouring for a pet, 'borrow' one from a friend or neighbour for a trial run first. At least then, if the novelty wears off after two nanoseconds, you're not stuck with the smelly creature for the next five years.
- Keep a couple of plastic chopsticks in your nappy bag. They're exactly the right shape and size for cleaning the (yukkily inevitable) bits of dog poo off the tyre treads of your pram wheels.
- When you're taking your buggy on the bus, always turn it around, so it's facing outwards, and then encourage your child to smile and wave at everyone else on the bus. That way, grannies will entertain your little one for the entire journey, while you leaf through Heat/look out of the window.
- Let your kids swap rooms for a (weekend) night. They find it incredibly exciting and can be made to do all sorts of disagreeable things on the back of it. Like tidy everything away first...
- If your washing machine has seen better days and needs a good cleansing then fill the soap drawer with lemon juice and set to rinse, twice. This leaves it smelling and looking like new.
- Crochety baby? Hold them in your arms and get hula-hooping on the Wii - guaranteed to calm them down! Do not do this with an actual hula-hoop, obviously.
- Put baby socks into laundry tablet net bags to wash them, so you don't get odd socks eaten by the washing machine!
- Simply pop a pair of dungarees over the top of an all-in-one suit on your baby, and hey presto! ready to go out and no trauma of getting changed!
- If you're keen to get your child to play an instrument but are a bit hard up, don't forget there are a lot of brass bands around who will provide an instrument and teaching for free.
- Even if you don't live close enough to school to walk all the way, find somewhere to park/get off the bus early so they have a chance to get a bit of fresh air and exercise before being closed up in a class room for the day. It made a huge difference for my kids.
- Take a 'team photo' of all the kids at your child's birthday party with a digital camera - and use it to make thank you cards for the birthday presents.
- Get your child to learn your mobile number. We lost my son recently in a crowd and we were only reunited because he asked another adult to call me.
- Kids can Hoover!
- Hard pressed to find time to exercise? Do a fitness dvd and get the kids to join in. If they get bored, they can give you marks out of 10 for how well you're doing.
- During the cold winter months, let the shampoo/bodywash bottle (closed!) float in the bathwater for a few minutes before using the product on your child.
- Out somewhere your kids might get lost? Write your mobile number on their arms and tell them that if they do get lost they should find a woman with children and ask her to ring it.
- Keep a brush (from a dustpan and brush) on the front door step to brush the dead leaves and mud off the wheels of the buggy before you bring it indoors.
- If your toddler is prone to taking his nappy off, put the nappy on back to front and if that doesn't work place a piece of clear sellotape on the tear strips at the side.
- Keep a stash of £5 and £10 book tokens as emergency birthday/graduation/thank you presents - they suit almost everyone!
- Keep an emery board, some nice handcream and clear nail varnish in the glove compartment of the car. If someone else is driving, or you're early for school pick up you can give yourself a quick manicure - when else would you have time to do it?
- When in doubt, chocolate and wine are ALWAYS the answer.
- When you tuck your child into bed at night ask them what the best part of their day was. It helps to end the day on a warm note for you both.
- For children too young to handle pocket money, start your own 'shop' at home. They can earn points (beads or similar) for good behaviour and exchange them for little treats.
- Whether you have problems with teenagers or toddlers, remember that all phases pass. Live for the day and try not to worry about tomorrow's problems.
- Never bounce a just-fed baby over your head. Baby sick in one's mouth is deeply unpleasant.
- Don't allow your child to become seriously attached to one toy; we did and lost 'bear' today. We're going to be stuffed at bedtime tonight...
- Every child should have access to a guinea pig. They're the answer to most of the problems in life. Unless, of course, the child is allergic to guinea pigs, in which case they should have access to some form of wooden rodent.
- If your child isn't keen on walks, try turning it into a collecting walk. We take a carrier bag for collecting fir cones, stange shaped leaves etc and stick them into a scrap book (made of plain paper stapled together) when we get home.
- Don't believe it when you are told plastic scissors can't cut anything... my two-year-old re-styled my one-year-old's hair.
- Add some white vinegar to the conditioner compartment when machine washing cloth nappies. It will stop soap build up, keep nappies softer and stop them smelling of wee!
- As a parent I've come to realise spare batteries are vital. Right from the Tens machine in labour (yes, you may need another set) to every single toy at birthdays and Christmas.
- Cheap hand-held hoovers are perfect for cleaning up crumbs after the kids - and quickly tidying high traffic areas to give that 'Domestic Goddess' impression to visitors!
- Now's a great time to siphon off presents that the kids haven't touched yet. Stow them away for a rainy day or when the stuff that's being used now is exhausted.
- Put a couple of fitted sheets on your baby's mattress at once. If the top one is messed in the night, you can just wip the top one off without having to start making the bed from scratch.
- Fill a small photo album with pictures of your child and their family and friends. There's nothing a small child enjoys more than looking at familiar faces.
- If you have a hard floor in your kitchen or play area, use a cheap double duvet as a play mat. They are a generous size and the cover is easily washed.
- Get the kids to make a toboggan out of a plastic bag or a tray and watch them whiz about in the snow - if were lucky enough to get some this year!
- Have a competition in your family to see who can make the best fairy to put on top of the Christmas tree!
- Get your friends and family together to learn the parts to all your favourite carols. Then you can go carol singing in your local area - a lovely way to spread the festive cheer. Perhaps you could raise money for a charity?
- Go out walking to find festive leaves like mistletoe and holly. Stick onto coloured card for homemade organic Christmas cards. Paint the leaves silver or gold before you stick them on - you can also use leaves to make a wreath for your door.
- Have a flick through all your magazines and tear out the really colourful pages - like all those bright Christmas-themed adverts - to recycle it into wrapping paper that is a little different and good for the planet! Works well for small gifts.
- Even if your baby doesn't really need a hair cut, take them from an early age for a very slight trim regularly to get them used to the sensation.
- Always fasten bibs before you put them in the washing machine or the velcro will stick to random clothes and make them all bobbly.
- When you've finally built a wooden track for your dc trains that works, take a picture, print it out and keep it safe to use as a guide for when they next have it out. Saves a heap of time and frustration!
- Make tiding up toys before bed a fun 'game' that you play together from a very young age - a little effort now pays dividends later.
- If you frequently visit non-child-friendly houses of relatives/friends - leave a small tub of old toys/colouring pad etc for when you visit. Bit cheeky but worth it!
- Turn your outdoor UV play tent into a living room den. Fill with snuggly rugs, cushions and teddies... so you can rest while still playing with your toddler!
- If you live away from your family, make a special photo album for your toddler with pictures of your mum, dad, sisters, etc. My sons love looking at the pictures.
- Lego fits beautifully in 'tool' boxes - they've got loads of compartments to sort the bits into, and they're cheap too.
- Keep the plastic packets (the ones with popper fastenings) that vests and small kiddies tops come in. They're great for keeping wipes, mucky stuff etc in when you're out and about.
- Keep a swimming bag ready for each of your children (and yourself!) containing towel, costume, hairbrush, shampoo and money for the locker. Then if the mood takes you you can just grab the bags and go!
- When moving your toddler to a new 'big bed', turn the duvet round cross-ways,and tuck it under both sides of the bed. He's less likely to either kick the covers off or to fall out of bed!
- Each year, around their birthday, take your child to a photo booth - fascinating to see how they change, from baby to teenager.
- Store packets of baby wipes upside down so that the 'juice' spreads through the whole pack and you don't have half a pack of dry wipes to start with.
- Baby wipes are the best thing for wiping up wayward drips of paint when you're decorating.
- After decorating, keep a spare pot of tester paint handy to touch up those sticky finger marks and pieces of wall 'art' you don't want!
- Giving out pocket money on Sunday evening maximises your bargaining power with your children through the weekend.
- If your child always answers, 'Fine' to the question, 'How was school?', try asking them what the best and worst bits of their day were. You'll find out much more.
- Distract an older child when nursing her sibling with a game. Try "find me something in the bedroom that is blue/red" etc.
- Wash your child's teddy in the same fabric conditioner as his bedding...if he gets upset when you're out, his teddy will smell familiar and comfort him.
- Don't let your child run round the garden carrying a 6' bamboo pole. It's bound to end in tears.
- Accept that on some evenings, your children will go to bed too late, you will eat junk food and your house will be a complete shambles. You can't follow a perfect routine all the time nor should you.
- To get your child to keep their room tidy, divide it up into small areas and assign each area a different day of the week. This stops the job being overwhelming and gives her a place to start.
- Keep an empty biscuit tin in a cupboard and fill it with 'interesting things' - toilet rolls, junk mail, freebies - which can be pulled out at a moments notice to entertain little ones.
- Play-doh does come off carpets! Just leave it to dry, then when it's really crumbly use a suede or nail brush and vacuum up the bits.
- Keep a clean swing-bin under the stairs for old artwork. If the kids ask for one of their 'treasures' before the bin is emptied (about every three months), it can always be retrieved.
- I always get the children to help write the shopping list on our way shopping, it is half hour drive,keeps them busy, helps with writing and spelling skills and gives them an interest in looking for the items once we get there.
- Having trouble with keeping baby entertained while changing nappies? Put a sticker on their hand and they will be too busy trying to take it off to notice what you are doing.
- When your child develops a serious attachment to a favourite toy - buy an identical one. That way, if the first toy gets lost it can be immediately replaced and they're none the wiser.
- Buy a small pack of coloured stickers to keep in your wallet - when your child becomes bored you can surprise / distract them by producing one.
- If you're always late getting you and your children ready in the morning, set all clocks and watches ten minutes fast. It works for us (sort of!)
- Through trial and error, I now try to keep one day each weekend free of set arrangement so the children have a rest after a busy week at school and we all have time to relax together.
- Chose your child's clothes with them the night before and leave them out. Our nearly three year old has even dressed himself before coming in to wake us up! It saves morning time and helps avoid tantrums.
- Tuck baby-wipes into the collar when your kids are having their hair cut - it helps stop hairs getting down the neck and feels comfy when used to pick up trimmed hairs.
- As your children get older introduce "personal time". My girls have half an hour every day to themselves when they can listen to a CD, read a book or do homework without anyone interrupting them. It's helped lessen the family arguments.
- When having a grown up occasion such as a big birthday party or wedding etc. do a separate party for the children. Hire in a bouncy castle or a magician and get someone to supervise - the grown-ups get plenty time to enjoy themselves without children and the children have a much better time.
- Get a dustbuster - a rechargeable, hand-held vacuum cleaner. It makes cleaning up after messy play or messy eating much easier, and the children love it so they happily help with the cleaning up as well!
- To remove stubborn stains from kids' clothes, use washing up liquid and a nail brush on them before putting them in the washing machine - they come up lovely and clean.
- If you're worried about bathing your baby buy one of the bath cradles that you put in the big bath and lie the baby on. You then have two hands free and don't have to struggle.
- Use swimming goggles when washing your child's hair to keep water and soap out of their eyes. You can also stick stars on the ceiling for them to look at to encourage them to keep their heads tilted back.
- Keep a tub of baking soda handy for eliminating smells from baby sick. Either sprinkle onto the affected area and vacume off later, or dissolve a little in some water and dab on with a cloth.
- If you need to get wax off the carpet then get a brown paper bag, put it over the offending mark, heat up your iron, then iron over the mark. Removes wax, chewing gum, all sorts!
- When buying clothes for children, ignore the label sizing. It varies so much from make to make. Instead, take along some old clothes that fit your child and measure the new clothes against them.
- If you're trying to cut down the amount of time your kids play on the PC, buy a remote control mouse and keyboard then you can confiscate them and stop them going back on when your back is turned.
- If your children argue when sharing food, always let one child cut or divide whatever the item is (i.e. piece of cake, chocolate, drink etc.) and let the other child choose which one they would like. You'll see some remarkably precise cutting and there'll be no more arguing!
- To keep little ones entertained on a rainy day get the photos out of when they were smaller, they love to hear tales of when they were babies or see where they have visited.
- To avoid disappointing our son when he wants to wait up for his Dad to return from work, they leave each other little notes to read before bed and for his dad to read when he gets in from work.
- Allow your newborns's older siblings to be actively involved in caring for them. My son sits and reads books with his little sister. It gives him a sense of responsibility towards her as well as being something that he can feel proud about.
- If at all possible, don't plan more than one car journey a day over the Xmas holiday. It sounds great to catch up with long lost friends, but we learnt from experience that the novelty soon wears off for children who just want to be at home playing with their new stuff.
- Don't run the bath away until the last tiny tot is in bed...there's plenty of opportunity for getting dirty again between bath and bed and you may well wish you had kept the water for a final quick dip!
- If your child's shampoo bottle is kept on a chilly bathroom windowsill, pop the closed bottle into the bathwater with the child, to take the chill of the contents before use.
- Try a bucket of water and a paint brush for water painting on the patio. My kids love it and you can leave them safe in the knowledge that they can't do any harm!
- Never iron your kids t'shirts! Simply lie a dry t'shirt out on a flat surface and with firm strokes of the palm smooth across the material. Fold and repeat and then put away!
- Avoid hundreds of odd pairs of baby socks by saving the small net bags you get with washing tablets and put the socks in these to wash.
- Where possible, stop what you're doing to listen to your kids when they have something to tell you. It makes them feel that you are actually listening!
- Always get your children's school clothes, shoes, hair bands, PE kits and book bags ready the night before. Then when those unplanned time-consuming things happen you will still be ready on time.
- Entertain your baby in his highchair by putting ice cubes and a few drops of food colouring in a zip up freezer bag and watch him enjoy pressing and pushing it around on his tray.
- To cope with the long holidays from (pre) school, we worked out a programme with my four year old and set out what we were going to do each day. This stopped the 'I want to do painting, gluing, sticking, play doh' every other minute as she knew we would be doing all her favorite activities at some point during the week.
- If your child has lots of jigsaw puzzles, try putting little coloured stickers on the back, so when they get mixed up, it is easy to sort.
- Dress your children in bright colours if you're going to a crowded place. That way you can easily spot them.
- Remember to update the contents of your baby's changing bag regularly. I recently had to change my baby (almost one year)and found that the only clean clothes in the bag were age 3 - 6 months and the nappies were two sizes too small!
- When putting your child's artwork on the walls, use a tiny blob of toothpaste rather than blu-tac as it does not pull wallpaper off when removing and can just be wiped off.
- Dress your children in bright colours if you're going to a crowded place. That way you can easily spot them.
- If your child has a favourite toy to go to bed with, make sure you stock up with a couple of spares - if it gets lost or needs washing you won't have so much stress at bedtime.
- If your baby won't keep still during a nappy change, try giving her a small torch to play with and perhaps turning the lights out to make it more exciting. Keep the torch just for changes to extend the novelty.
- Having got everything ready for my son to paint in the garden, he spent the whole time painting my patio with water from the bucket I got out for him to clean his hands. It's free, non staining and if we're lucky enough to have a hot day, dries really quickly for him to start again! We haven't bothered with the paints since.
- When packing up a house to move, keep a pack of felt tip pens or crayons handy. My two were busy for ages colouring on the boxes and the huge sheets of packing paper. They hardly noticed their toys disappearing around them!
- Give your child her own set of shiny, metal keys. That way you won't spend hours hunting for yours in the flower beds. (Same goes for telephones. An old, real one is much preferred to a plastic toy.)
- If you are having trouble tracking down a popular toy in the shops try the auction web sites (such as ebay.co.uk). We recently successfully bid on a much promised but impossible to get hold of Thunderbird One.
- Plastic boxes with lids and wheels (the kind you get from DIY stores) make excellent sandpits. They are compact, can be sealed and can be moved around easily.
- Store lego pieces - sorted out however your child prefers- in a selection of small tupperware-type containers. The lids are very secure and the containers stack up neatly
- Two children very close together in age? Buy them 'shared' big toys at christmas that they can play with together. E.g kitchen sets, shops, wendy house, dual swing, see saw etc.
- If your toddler has an obsession with telephones but no interest in toy ones, get them a real phone. The cheapest phones cost less than some toy phones and they'll think they're playing with something forbidden.
- For an alternative to crayons and plastic toys in party bags, why not add a packet of flower seeds. My daughter was delighted to plant some and watch as the flowers bloomed.
- Clean the bathroom while the kids are having their baths. This way I get something done and they can join in too.
- For family events, buy your older toddler a cheap disposable camera. We have some wonderful photos taken through our son's eyes - even if some are mummy with no head! We put them in an album and he is so proud.
- Always play a certain piece of music when you want the children to help tidy up. When the music comes on they know what time it is and you don't have to keep repeating your request.
- We love eating out with the children but were a little dubious about taking them to the posh French restaurant we fancied. No problem! They took crayons and colouring books and were allowed to wear their artists' smocks (no dribbles of soup!). We had a lovely time and so did they!
- For very easy cutting and sticking crafts for 2-4 year olds try: http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/cartoons/mjessee.html (this link takes you to a jesse from toy story made from toilet roll!)
- Organise a treasure hunt. Just write 10-15 clues (eg look in the place where you get your cereal) on strips of paper, with the last one leading to a packet of crisps, then sit back and read the paper.
- If you're arranging children's sleepovers over the school holidays, aim for mid-week. Then you are free to go away at short notice at the weekends to make the most of any sudden heatwave.
- If you hang up your children's clothes, group them according to colour. As well as making a fun-looking rainbow in their wardrobe, individual items are easier and quicker to locate.
- If you're feeling poor post-Xmas, have a good rummage through all your coats, pockets, handbags and behind the sofa cushions for small change - you'll be amazed how much you'll find.
- If you arrive late for everything, set a kitchen timer for 10/15 minutes before you have to go out - just enough time to get to the door with (hopefully) everything you need. It's also good for encouraging children to share ie 10 minutes each with a toy.
- To keep the children entertained on supermarket trips I give them 'safe' items from the shopping to touch, feel, smell etc which keeps them amused most of the way around e.g. tins, packets.
- Instead of giving your toddler sharp metal keys to put in his mouth, fob him off with a set of plastic kitchen measuring spoons - the sort that are held together on a clip. I'm sure they don't give quite the same oral fix, but they seem to suffice and aren't as potentially dangerous.
- I wanted to find a way to make sure my first son wasn't too upset by the arrival of his baby sister so I decided to make her voice when I brought her home from hospital. It helped them bond because he can chat to her and if he gets too rough she can ask them to be more gentle. Sounds a bit mad but it always lightens our mood!
- If your baby screams and kicks whilst having their nappy changed, try giving them a mirror to hold, this sufficiently distracts them so you can change their nappy in peace!
- Put a mirror over your baby's cot - those pull out shaving ones work well. We found it kept our 6 month year old amused in the mornings and gave us crucial extra lie-in time.
- Dance with your baby from birth. It seems to quell any impending tantrums when they're older, the music calms them right down and the bad mood is forgotton.
- Mums of newborns are always advised to sleep when the baby sleeps. Not always so easy when there's lots of things to be done. So prioritise you time with your baby. Every time you go to do something while your newborn sleeps think is there some way I could do this with my baby awake?. If so, stop immediately. If that leaves you with no urgent tasks to do, sleep.
- Ban felt tip pens until they're teenagers.
- If your child has trouble settling at nursery/pre school, give them something of yours to 'look after' until you get back. It tells them you are coming back and it helps them to have a 'bit' of you whilst you are away.
- Get name tags with surname only if you have more than one child; so much easier to hand down uniform.
- Always check your back before leaving the house with a newborn.
- Take a tub of talc to the beach with you. When you want to leave but your children's feet and legs are still caked in sand, sprinkle the talc liberally over them. I don't know how it works but it magically makes the sand brush off painlessly
- If your children are forever stealing your house or car keys - get them a set of real keys of their own.
- Cold, wet feet in wellies on cold days make miserable children. Pop plastic bags over the socks on each foot and secure with elastic bands.
- Use swimming goggles when hair washing to keep water and soap out of the child's eyes. You can also stick stars on the ceiling to encourage them to keep their heads tilted back.