20 Surprising Parenting Tips

Hope everyone is staying safe and dry! Over the past few years, I’ve heard some amazing (and surprising) parenting tips from friends that I’ve found really valuable, so I’d love to share them here (and hear yours!)…

Two things I’ve learned myself:

1. Carters white onesies are the cutest (and cheapest) ever. Also train conductor overalls. Buy them in multiple sizes.

2. If you think your child may have a temperature, kiss their forehead (instead of using your hand). You’ll immediately be able to tell if they’re hot or not.

From my friend Lena:

3. Give your child a whole, peeled, hard-boiled egg. It’s a fun sensation to hold an egg, and my son likes to break it apart slowly and usually he eats the entire thing. When I cut up the egg instead, he eats some but then gets bored.

From my friend Samantha:

4. If my toddler gets fussy when we are walking, I change up the pace by trying different walks: Marching, waddling like a penguin, hopping like a frog, etc.

From my mom:

5. Consider inviting the same number of guests to a birthday parties as the child’s age (so as not to overwhelm your child). So if your child is turning one, invite one friend. If your child is turning four, invite four friends.

6. Make a special drink when they’re sick: orange juice with sugar on the rim of the glass!

From my friend Lina:

7. Not sure what to make for dinner? Make a “pupu platter”—three olives, two apricots, a lump of peanut butter, a slice of cheese, a dollop of hummus and whatever other random stuff you have in the fridge. It’s fun to eat and will likely be healthier than mac n’ cheese or frozen chicken nuggets.

8. Need 20 minutes to yourself? Put your kid on a stool in front of the sink, hand him/her some plastic cups and turn on the water.

9. Kids can be really good at helping with house chores, and they LOVE it. Give them little jobs: shelling peas, taking clothes out of the drier, pairing up socks. If you don’t have an actual job for them, make up one that feels really important. Like, “I need to to take all these peanuts out of this bag and put them in this bowl.” This will buy you time while you’re actually making dinner or folding the laundry.

10. If your kid HATES getting his hair rinsed in the bathtub, let him hold his own washcloth that he can use to wipe his eyes.

11. Any hair combing/braiding is best done in front of the TV. It’s ok.

12. Justin Bieber on Pandora radio.

From my friend Sharon:

13. Listen to parenting advice from a few trusted friends/mothers/writers. All you need is two or three. The rest just nod and smile.

14. Pull your kids out of school and take them out to lunch without warning.

15. Learn how to draw a few simple animals. I learned how to draw a frog and my kids think I’m brilliant. I beam when they make a request. I can also make a pretty badass paper airplane.

16. Stay out of their way when you take their pictures. If you force them to stop and smile, you’ll ruin the moment.

From my friend Ashley:
17. Read a story at the table after they finish eating dinner to practice sitting for longer times.

18. When heading to the playground, bring at least two small toys—not just one—for making friends. After all, most babies and toddlers play beside one another before they play with one another.

19. Always say goodbye to your child when you leave, even if it means some tears.

From my friend Abbey:

20. Overall, remember you can ask other moms for help and supplies when that diaper exploded, you forgot the sunblock on the hottest, sunniest day of the year, when you realize you don’t have wipes. I’ve been endlessly humbled how generous moms will be to other moms if asked nicely. Motherhood is a powerful shared experience. I was recently traveling alone with Alex, overwhelmed, carrying a 50lb toddler on my shoulders and two heavy bags. Just when I was at the edge of my endurance, a mom came up to me and said, “How can I help.” I almost burst into tears and handed her one of the bags. Even if you’re having an off day, some mother somewhere remembered to pack the snack, the water and the wipes.
Awesome, right? I’d LOVE to hear your tips and tricks that you’ve learned through the years. Sometimes word-of-mouth advice from parents is better than all the parenting books in the world. Please share below! xoxo

  1. Thanks for these valuable tips. It will be helpful for many parents. Being a mother one should always try to give best bedtime to her child because good sleeping helps overall development of child.

  2. A cup of soapy water, a paint brush and a sliding glass door will buy you at least 30mins of peace and quiet and a clean door.

  3. For #10 (water in eyes), I had great success with ‘special’ bath goggles… aka swimming goggles in her favorite color, found on clearance. One dollar and no more screaming. Your ear drums will thank you.

  4. I have a 14 year old son and a 10 year old daughter. One thing I try to make sure I do is when they do something that embarrasses them, is make sure to tell them a story about something that I did when I was young that was equally (if not more) embarrassing so they don’t feel like they are the only person on the planet to have done something they wish they hadn’t. This has helped me from the time my kids were very small. One time my daughter had and accident at school and while I was there helping her get cleaned up I told her about the time I also had an accident at school. By the time she was wiped down and clothes were changed she had stopped crying and realized her world wasn’t over just because she didn’t make it to the bathroom in time. Just keep in mind, don’t make stuff up to help them feel better…They will ALWAYS remember an embarrassing story about Mom!

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  6. 1. Never make time out in the bedroom. Find a chair ( or 2 ) and make that the “time out chair”. I was once told this and it’s stuck. For one, they will likely play in their room, unless you sit in there with them. Second, they will soon associate bed/ room with ‘bad’ things. Going to bed or playing in your room is not a bad thing. They are both glorious things! No need to put a bad connotation with them.

    2. Eat. Play. Sleep. After eating let the baby/ child play a little before taking naps. This helps them be able to sleep without a full belly or without expecting food to nap.

    3. It is OK to cry. They are babies/ toodles/ Children. It happens.

    4. When they fall, bump, etcc try not to ask “are you ok?” if you can see that they are ok, then they probably are. If you ask each and every time, they will abuse the notion.

    5. Try not to say NO. Try “lets do this instead”, “try is this way”, “this is how we do it”, “maybe another night”… etc. No has become a ‘bad word’ and it’s really not.

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  8. Baaaaa hahahah – love #13!!! So true!

    Have you done a post on advice for childcare? My baby boy is going to be 13 months when I go back to work part-time. I am so nervous to leave him the whole day. Any tips/advice from you or others?

  9. Potty training: I found a concierge bell very helpful. It reminded her to visit the toilet without asking her if she needed to
    Tickets: Tickets help things get done. For example, if I need to leave and she doesn’t want me to, I propose to pay for a ticket of exit. She then pretends she’s selling me a ticket, I pretend buying it and then Im gone
    Bubble baths: Baths with low use of water will guarantee a half hour break. Just make sure there isnt an unsafe amount of water in the tub, there are enough ducks and toys and a good temperature
    Always wear nice underwear. You never know when your child is gonna pull down your clothes in public

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  11. this is my favorite post ever! thanks for sharing.

  12. S says...

    Hi Joanna,
    Excellent post!
    My tip would be to tell the same story using the same words in the same tone every night. You can read different stories but do this if your child is still wide awake. After a while, they find this reassuring and it puts them to sleep easily. Once, we were in a train and my son had to sleep on the bunk at the top while I shared the one below him with my daughter. He found it uncomfortable and could not go to sleep. But, as soon as I started telling the story, he was asleep halfway through. He asked for it as it made him feel at home!

  13. Cora’s tip for parking close to the cart return is brilliant! I just got a car and it’s a whole new set of little challenges and tricks to learn.

  14. I love the pupu platter (had to Google it though to find out what that meant, LOL!). We do this in our house at least once a week only we call it a “continental” supper (as in continental breakfast, but with more dinner-like appies–meats, cheeses, veggies & dip, cut-up fruit and maybe a hot hors d’oeuvres or two). My son LOVES this as the idea of being able to choose whatever he wants is really appealing to him.

  15. Whenever my husband and I struggle with what to do when millions of requests are being made of our time, money, energy, etc – we say: “What is best for the little one at this moment?” And we go with that – it takes all the guilting and guesswork out of the equation!

  16. My son is 11 months so I still feel pretty new at this, but one thing I’ve learned is to be kind to myself. Motherhood is tough. We face all types of physical, emotional and mental challenges: from middle of the night feedings to chasing a baby around the house; from discovering ourselves as mothers to rediscovering ourselves as women/spouses/lovers/friends and to everything in between, I have found it important to give myself a break and to remind myself I’m doing the best I can. And that is usually good enough.

  17. The best tip I’ve picked up as a mom is: Park close to the cart return NOT close to the store. It’s so much easier to get the kids into the car when you don’t have to worry about schlepping your groceries while also carrying a baby or cranky toddler.

  18. Keep a favorite toy at the changing table to distract your toddler when changing their diaper. (if they hate it as much as my daughter does!) same goes for the car when trying to get them into their car seat.

  19. love this advice! you look glowing in those pics

  20. My younger kids love it when I read to them while they are having their baths. They seem to pay better attention and become more engaged than when we read “on land”.

    Also, for teething, put a clean, damp washcloth in the freezer for 30 minutes. Babies and toddlers love the way is softly soothes the gums.

  21. I’m taking the Pu Pu platter advice for dinner tonight! He’s a happy camper, thanks!

  22. Oh I wish I had time to read all of these comments! Few things I do. 1. If I need to cook dinner or do some baking I set my 2 year old up on her little table with a mixing bowl and some smaller bowls of flour, sugar, lentils, egg etc, anything. She can make a cake (aka mess ) to her hearts content and when finished we just chuck away and wipe down table. 2. I regularly check art craft websites like red ted art and imagination tree for really simple rainy day ideas that I tailor to suit depending on what materials we have. Latest trick was bread and sandwich filings madeof felt. Cue entire morning engrossed!

  23. Lovely post, so many great tips. :-)

    19 is very important! when I was an au pair, the mother would almost always try to sneak away, which made her kids SO upset. And scared because they couldn´t find her. Not the emotions you want to be connected to you as a mother . .

  24. I totally agree with the white onsies. They were ALL my son wore the first month or two of life. I have entire outfits given to me that he never ended up wearing.

    I’ve learned that even though giving my 21 month-old son a PB&J for dinner makes me feel like a lazy parent, he thinks it’s a treat. He’s just as happy with macaroni and cheese out of a box as with a meal that took me hours to prepare. (In fact, he’d probably choose the mac, given the choice.)

    I always thought my mom made us fabulous, home-cooked meals every night. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I ate a lot of fast food and Rice-a-Roni growing up, too. She had her shortcuts, but I didn’t know it!

  25. For kids who aren’t infants or babies, have a “sleep over” in their room, or “camp” out in the living room one night. My daughter thinks this is the best thing since sliced bread.

  26. When my sister and I took long car trips, my mom used to give us a little “happy” for every hour on the road – a new coloring book, small game, crossword puzzles. It kept us from getting bored in the car, and sometimes we would fall asleep and have 2 presents waiting on us!

  27. My top tip of all time is: ice cube tray. Make batches of bolognaise/macaroni cheese/mashed potato/stewed pears/leftovers/anything really, and freeze in ice cube trays. When they are frozen, pop out into a zip-lock bag and store in the freezer – and any time you are pushed for time, you have ready-made, individually portioned meals ready to defrost in the microwave! Perfect for babysitters etc – just instruct on how many cubes of each thing to cook and you’re ready to go. I even do this for little healthy snacks for myself – portion control at it’s most effective!

  28. GREAT POST!!
    Thanks! :)

  29. The “kiss test” for a fever is failproof! And, if a kid is cranky- toss them in some water! lol! playing in the sink or bath gets the crankiness out of kids better than anything!

    Personally, I’m not a fan of pulling kids from school or reading at the table (we eat as a family for every meal, so its not like the kids are eating separately from me and need to be entertained during a meal). But, to each their own.

  30. My son is turning a year old next month, and I’m learning so much from this post and the comments!

  31. Loved this! Have a boy coming in February and I always appreciate your down-to-earth Motherhood Monday posts. They are such an encouragement in and of themselves! -Kim

  32. Even if you aren’t a mom yet, write down a list of stories about your childhood! As many as you can remember for storytime in the future. Kids love hearing about ‘when you were a kid!”

  33. Thanks so much for n°19!!! It’s so obvious to me but it’s not for everyone.

    Last WE, I left my 1 year old to sleep over at her godmother and she wanted to distract her so I could leave and avoid tears. I insisted I could at least kiss goodbye. But I don’t think my baby realised I was leaving (which is actually what is important).

    I felt very bad and the day after my baby was really upset (while she never is).

    But the best tip I ever had (for me it’s actuallyn a guideline) : your baby just need 2 basic things : milk ( = later : food and drink) and affective safety.

  34. Yes, thanks for these! I need to start using #10…

  35. If you want to teach something to your kids, specially if it’s an important issue, tell them a story of yourself or someone close that your kids know perfectly well, in that same situation when you were little. they will feel related to you and to the scenario and will learn better the consequences of their acts.

  36. So I’m not a mum, but I’m a Sunday School teacher (I teach the smaller kids, aged 3-6) and I find that when any of my kids decides to have a tantrum or storm off, it’s much more effective if I let them. Yep. I let them. Instead of insisting they “come back right now and sit down!”, I tell them that they can either be upset by themselves, or they can come and play and learn with everyone else. I also tell the other children that they shouldn’t pay any attention and that the child who’s stormed off will come back when they’re ready. It can take a minute or so, but they usually decide that it’s better to be with everyone else having fun and I make sure to make a big deal out of their return (“Oh it’s good to have you back! This is what we’ve been doing”)

  37. When we were really little toddlers, my mum would pretend the car wouldn’t start if she saw one of us wasn’t wearing our seatbelts. A great way to teach little kids they don’t have a choice about seatbelts!
    Also, when we were young, we were allowed to say quite a few rude words, but my two-teacher parents always taught us that “hate” was a really, really bad word, and if we didn’t like something, we had to say why. It worked so well! Now when I hear three year olds saying they “hate the beach” or “hate day care”, it makes me realise how great that rule was.
    When we were a bit older, mum kept a dictionary in the kitchen. So when one of us three was hanging around while we were cooking dinner saying “what does this mean” or “what’s this word”, we would look it up together, and she would explain it using the dictionary. Maybe that’s done on an ipad dictionary app these days, not the same :(
    My dad made up the “counting vegies” game — and we would go for a new record of how many different vegies we could spot on our plate, and eat, each Monday night. Dad would “hide” vegies (pumpkin in the mashed potato, etc), and we’d have to “find” them. We never had any idea it was just to make us eat more vegetables at dinner!!

  38. Awesome post! Best advice – write down or email yourself the cute things your kids say. We do this for my son so we can remember all the hilarious two year old phrases (our current favorite is “take the salad off my strawberry” (the hull). My mom wrote this stuff down for me through age 10 and it is great to go back and read.

    I know the pulling out of school at lunch idea was heavily contested but I still remember the time in first grade when my best friend and I were pulled a few hours early on a Friday for a special surprise weekend away with our moms. It is my most treasured childhood memory. Maybe not during the day but an afternoon once every year can’t hurt!

  39. A totally random snippet from some parenting magazine I was reading when my first bub was just a few months old (she is now 13) was to start beaming/smiling/grinning whenever your child looks at you or comes into the room. It seemed really silly at first – I adored my baby, but I was already expecting baby #2 and I was exhausted. But one day I did it and her face just lit up. It became a habit and I can’t help but stop whatever I am doing and smile when my girls come into the room. Again it seems like such a tiny and almost insignificant thing, but 13 years (and 3 more babies) later and I know that this is one of the ways my girls know just how much they mean to me.

  40. These are great. One of my faves is also just to remind yourself that cavemen did it with rocks. You will be okay. Allow yourself to enjoy and get past the noise of everyone telling you what you should do. I love what your friend said as well about just haveing a few people to go to for recommendations and just nod and smile with the others :)

  41. My sister and her husband started something that I just love. My niece always wants to buy something when they go to buy groceries or to the store so my brother-in-law would give her 1.00 for cleaning her room or my mom and dad would give her small change for little things she did to help around the house. She would keep up with it in her purse, and the next time she went to town she could buy one thing using only her money. I think it teaches them about saving money and having their own money. It also helps lessen the fits thrown in stores when they want the toy.

  42. My son is 20 months and love all of these tips:)

    The number one thing that helps me out is letting him help me throughout the day with as much as hes able and being silly with him. I may be singing crazy songs going through the grocery store but he is singing with me and smiling. When we have a bad day, I try to go to the bathroom myself and take a deep breath its so relaxing then come out with a smile and try to start over.

  43. Joanna- one of the scariest things I can think of is being a parent, even though I know that I want to be one at some point in the future. However, when I read your blog, you somehow take the scariness away and help me to look forward to those days. I know that when that day comes for me, I’m going to re-read ALL of your parenting blogs, because you’re an inspiration even before I can apply these things!


  45. When my son was a toddler, my husband bought a Miele vacuum and while he was at it, he bought a matching battery operated Miele vacuum for our son. It was adorable watching them vacuum together. My son was obsessed with it. Unfortunately, now that he is 11 he’s not so obsessed.

  46. Favorite advice given to me: trust your gut. So hard to remember when you’ve got information overload (and anxiety about doing it all “right”) but I do fall back on my instinct as much as possible. xo

  47. Wonderful tips and advice. I’m not a mother yet but I’ll be pinning this for when I am.

  48. These are so great. Abbey’s comment inspired me to commit to helping out another mom if I see one in need!

  49. genius!

  50. hardboiled, oj with sugar on the rim, and sink + plastic cup

  51. I never thought about the birthday party idea, but it’s such a good one!!

  52. I recently discovered the only way my 4-year-old son will let me wash and rinse his hair, which he also hasn’t cut in over a year. It’s best just to see:

  53. jo says...

    We have twin one-year-old boys who have slept through the night since they were 3 months old. While I believe that mostly this was just a gift from God and had nothing to do with us (because seriously, we are inept parents at best) one tip we got two tips from our occupational therapist while the boys were in the NICU (they were premature).
    1. When feeding little little babies, be sure to feed them on their side so they don’t have to deal with the flow of the bottle or breast and they can better regulate the flow. The more positive experiences they have with feeding the better. If they choke, it takes a long time to get back to a positive experience for them to get over it.
    2. When your newborn cries, start talking to them as you enter the room (or before you pick them up). Then touch them before you pick them up. And THEN pick them up. Even if this is only a few seconds delay, it slowly trains your baby to eventually soothe to your touch and then to your voice and then oftentimes when sleep training begins, they will go back to sleep with just the sound of you telling them everything is ok and they can go back to sleep.

    And my third piece of advice,
    they really can feel your emotions. Try to have the most empathy you can possibly muster. Why might they be behaving this way? And then go with the very best and most positive answer you can come up with. Just having a positive answer can change your perspective and your approach towards them and they will feel that love emminating from you.

    This is a great topic. Thanks Joanna!

  54. In case you want your toddler to get rid of the beloved pacifier, you can offer a deal: Let Santa Claus, the tooth fairy or whoever buy them one special gift they always wanted in exchange for the pacifier. When your toddler asks for the pacifier you can tell them if he or she wants to give back the new doll or the new car to Santa Claus, then. In most cases the answer is no.

    And what I found very helpful with my new baby (born in december):
    The best spot to check if the baby feels too hot or too cold is down the nape. If it feels okay there the baby is fine.

    And I always wondered how many layers the baby needs to wear, especially on cold days: Usually one layer more than yourself are wearing is perfect.

  55. First (and this is my advice to all new mothers): Don’t gatekeep! If your child is lucky enough to have two parents around, let your husband do some of the parenting heavy lifting, even if he’s not doing it “right”.

    Second, enjoy your kid(s). Not every minute of every day — that’s impossible. But try to remind yourself from time to time that parenting can be a joy, and not just a chore. I wrote a blog post about this — I think there’s a tendency of the internet to exaggerate the bad times, but the reality is, motherhood has its ups and downs. Cherish the ups.

  56. Great tips!

    I have one that helped me a lot… “Don’t try to make happy happier.” It’s tempting to sometimes intervene when your child is playing, but if they are happy and entertained, don’t. Babies and children are happy just to observe and explore, they don’t need all of our intervention and crazy toys most times!

  57. Wow, great list. I’m still in TTC land, but hopefully I’ll be able to use these tips soon.

  58. I am expecting our 1st baby in a little less than a month, and I love most of these! As a nanny for the last year or so I have learned a few things that I am also grateful for. Like about toddlers (crawlers even) and heights; don’t completely remove steps and other seemingly “dangerous” situations from your child’s environment! Let babies explore them- supervised- from the time they start moving around on their own. If you are worried, place a soft mat on the downside of that single step! Better they learn about negotiating such obstacles safely (and where they are around their home) than one day tumbling, full-tilt, over them. You still need to be ever-vigilant, but there is something deeply reassuring when the now 21mo twins I “trained” approach any small edge with caution, balance themselves, and peer over the side- sometimes they turn around and back down, bum-1st, from a whole metre away.

  59. Lovely post and I definitely teared up at #20. I think the taking your kid from school idea is great – what a way to make a child feel special.

  60. Great post, here’s the one piece of advice I try to follow and I give to friends, do what works for your family, all families are different and there is never just one answer how to get things done. If it’s working why fix it or change it so it seems right to others???

  61. I also love #20. Sme tips I have is to try not to sweat the small stuff, a.k.a pick your battles. Let kids feel like they have choices, even between which two cereals they want for breakfast. It really does help! Also, I use books for rewards instead of toys. I get a few at a time at a used bookstore, and hide them away to give my 3 yr old for special “treats/rewards”, such as if she was on her best behavior on a trip, or followed her bedtime routine for a week straight, etc. She LOVES this and loves to read, partly because she has so many books!

  62. Since my kids were little (2 or 3) we have a “nothing with an on/off switch” rule for Sunday at 6pm until Friday at 4 pm. That means no tv, video games or computer. It saves us so much arguing. A rule is a rule and since it has been that way since they were little so they don’t even question it! Of course Mom and Dad have to follow the rule too which is the hardest part (thank goodness for early bedtimes)!

  63. My parents had a neat idea for travelling on longer road trips or even flights with my sister and I ask young kids/toddlers. They took some of our small toys that we already owned (things like Old Happy Meal toys etc.) and wrapped them up. We were allowed to unwrap one every hour. It was a surprise that kept us occupied, didn’t cost anything since they were items already owned, and if they got lost-well, they were cheap little things.

  64. Such a bittersweet time to read this. I have 6 angel babies and was recently told I will never be able to carry my own child to term…I am desperately praying my angels send me an angel Mama that would be willing to carry our child so I can have a chance to experience all of this…I just so want to be a Mama and my heart not only cries at beautiful posts like this, but smiles in the hopes that I will get to join the ranks of “motherhood,” that isn’t inclusive to me being an “angel baby Mama.”. I will continue to follow you, while hoping at the same time…for now, I will dream <3

  65. these are so great! and #20 made me teary eyed. we really are all in it together.

  66. this is a fantastic post. All of it duly noted!

  67. One for fathers and daughters is to have a Daddy/Daughter Day every once in a while where the two of you do something that you both really enjoy. My dad and I would go to the art museum or go shoot off model rockets. We continued the tradition well into my teens and twenties, and I think that’s part of the reason why we have such a great relationship. My husband loves to go run errands with our 3 month old. It gives mommy free alone time and he loves doting on her (and I think he secretly loves all the attention he gets because they are too cute together).

  68. i love these, especially #’s 13 &14.

    one thing that works for me is keeping a small collection of plastic paper wrappped straws in my purse to pull out when i need to distract or entertain my toddler. she loves these: unwrapping them, twisting them, hitting stuff with them, blowing in them, and biting them. They are a little to no mess novelty that she never gets tired of.

  69. I love the advice for taking your kid out of school for lunch! When I was little my dad would fill our lunch box with rocks or sticks so we wouldn’t notice that it was empty and would show up at school just in time to swoop us away for a quick date. It always made my brothers and I feel so special!

    • Oh, and I am a teacher, my dad was a teacher- so don’t worry about all of those riled up comments earlier. It’s about making special memories. As I teacher I appreciate parents who genuinely want to spend time with their kiddos!

    • you’re awesome Kelsey!

  70. one of my favorite posts so far – and that’s saying something!!!

  71. #20! Yes!

  72. I’ve got a toddler and a four month old (I’m a full-time stay-at-home dad). The best advice I ever received and usually the only advice I will offer unsolicited: almost everything is temporary. The nights of no sleep, finicky eating, the barf, the diapers – it all eventually comes to pass.

    Some phases are longer than others, but I found it to be quite reassuring to know that all these things come and go quickly. Try not to worry about a lot of these things long term. You’ll be on to the next challenge before you know it.

    • i find this to be so true as well and remind myself of it often……….!!!

  73. These are perfect! I don’t have kids yet but starting my research and loving these posts! Thanks!


  74. I do not have any contact with small ones at this point in my life, but loved reading your hints. Very nice to see so much common sense in your generation. My favorite was to always say goodbye. We took this one step further and also said, “See you when I get back”. Good reminder that we do come back!

  75. I just became a mom 6 1/2 weeks ago, and I really like your last tip. :) I definitely don’t feel like I have gathered any tips to GIVE yet, but one thing I keep telling myself is- keep it simple. I can do this. Sometimes it seems like there’s so much to learn and figure out with a newborn, I like remembering that my little guy really just wants to be held. And that’s really enough. Hope you’re staying cozy and safe over there in NY!

  76. Hey moms :) I am in need of recommendations for strollers and carseats? Do most moms do the combo of the two or not usually? Help!

  77. I’m a stepmom to an awesome 5-year-old. He always seems to “forget” what happened at school. So I start asking him “did you fly to the moon?” Or he’ll forget what a book was about. Asking him completely random, silly questions makes him smile and he instantly wants to correct me.

    “No, we did this.” or “No, it was about this.”

    It’s a great way for him to open up :)

  78. Buy a 5 year journal. Write just a sentance or two a day about the super sweet(or not so sweet) things your little one did. It will be your greatest treasure.

  79. My son is allergic to eggs, so I may try an avocado :) #10 hasn’t worked for me, but I’m hoping it will! xx

  80. We called that a thingy lunch : )

  81. During a tantrum, try a hug……it is magic. And it usually takes swallowing my own stress/anger/annoyance…..but that hug? It melts away all the chaos instantly, I promise!

  82. LOVE (can’t say it loud enough) #17.

  83. I do “pu pu platters” all thé time! haha. had one today for lunch with the kids! so much better and easier than fast food.

  84. i LOVE all of these tips! my fireman and i just got hitched and have JUST started trying for one of those things :) all these tips have me super excited for the next chapter of our lives! i’ll keep you posted if it works this month ;)
    xx, Vanessa

    ps: i just posted all the details from our wedding today. check them out if you get a quick sec! xo!

  85. Great tips and comments. I’m raising a tween and a 4 y.o. at the same time and hoping to have one more next year. It is wonderful in terms of parenting. Everyone is so unique so it may not work for all parents, but my advice is spread them out at least a few years. They each get so much one-on-one time and it is fulfilling seeing the way they care for each other in their own ways. My only other advice is to read chapter books to y.our kids waaay before you think they’re ready. Our daughter remembers each one as they get pulled off the shelf for her brother, great memories.

  86. I love all these piece of advice. I have plenty I could add to these but one immediately pops into my mind: don’t forget to spoil yourself. Loving on your kids all day is so important BUT you can’t forget to care for yourself – too many Moms I see look exhausted and in time for their own time. When you can treat yourself – a pedi, a take-out fancy coffee (rather than drip!) or just a glass of red and a piece of chocolate when they’ve finally fallen asleep at night. Mothering is amazing, but it can be tough: you deserve to be spoilt!

    • Totally agree, even if I don’t follow this myself. Kids need to see its important to take care of yourself so they will take care of themselves in the future.

  87. Three years and two littles (and counting) into this motherhood journey, and I have to agree with all of these!! Love these tips.

  88. Brilliant-love these tips (will put them in the bank!) -think your mum’s is just great! And the water one…but only if you are prepared to clean it up after..! :) Great post Jo!

  89. i love these all! xo

  90. It’s hard to always succeed with this, but I try to just be with our son so that he feels I am present for him and not busy being hung up on making everything perfect… For me it’s more important to be engaged with him, stick storebought frozen food in the oven and hang out with him on the floor, instead of trying to make a perfect dinner. Even though he is only 13 months old, I can see how fast this time is flying and I want us both to have memories of just being together and enjoying each other’s company. He will remember me, he won’t remember his frozen fish sticks!

  91. Emily, pulling your kid(s) out of school for a special mom/kid lunch is the best! I find that if one of my kids is having a tough week/day or the weather is yucky surprising them with some one on one time really brightens them up! You may not agree, but really they won’t miss much and the gin is worth it!

  92. Do not worry about whether you’ve lost your baby weight. Your child KNOWS you are the most beautiful mother in the world every single day.

  93. I think #20 is such a good one to remember, and to also be that mom who can see when another mom may need assistance. In our case, it was a fellow dad who came to our assistance when we were traveling for the first time with our 5 month old and had too much stuff and not enough hands.

    My tip? When traveling – you don’t need as much as you think you do. You may think you need a ton of stuff to amuse your tiny baby, but you can actually make do with a few favorite toys, and a blanket to play on.

  94. While most of these are really awesome, I have to disagree with #14. While it might be really fun to randomly pull your child out of school to go to lunch, what it reinforces to the child is that school really isn’t that important since you can just leave for no real reason. It makes it more confusing for most children then when you, as a parent, try to express the importance of school and of education!

    • I disagree, and so would my mother, who was a teacher. She felt that school was very important, but not the only way to learn. And I don’t think her willingness to take us to plays at the Kennedy Center or hear political thinkers who visited our town or travel kept me from seeing school as a priority. If it did, surely I would have quit before the M.A.

  95. My biggest piece of advice (and the thing it’s taken me longest to learn) is to relax about food. I spent a long time hovering over my oldest to get her to eat, and I wish I’d been more chill! Think of a balanced diet as something that happens over the course of the day, or even the week– not every single meal.

  96. I love #18 about always bringing two toys to the playground. Great advice!
    My advice is that even though it’s tough, focusing on nailing sleep and bedtime early on (and sticking to it) is SO worth it. Rested kid + rested parents = parenting bliss (or sure helps anyway!) Sleep is truly the holy grail of parenting when you have really young kids. I’m a relaxed mom, but a stickler about bedtime!

  97. To get my 2 boys to walk we play “get the energy” which has them running to the manhole covers that are all over the sidewalks! Works brilliantly. OR we say “I’m gonna touch that tree before you” and off they go!

  98. Learn to draw Sesame Street characters! They’re super easy, and a BIG hit. :)


    • Totally! Our 2 year old requests Elmo & Abby constantly!
      She also asks for Mickey Mouse which my husband has perfected – he would actually practice which was adorable to watch :)

    • Oh what a great tip! My 20 month old is really nuts for Elmo and Abby at the moment, she would love it if I could draw them! Thanks. :)

  99. Can I just say that being able to draw is the best way to impress the preschool set? Or any set, I suppose, but my boyfriend has a 5 year old daughter, and we had some of her friends over one afternoon. Abby goes, “Kelsey can draw ANYTHING. She will draw you a cat!!”

    And oh, how many cats did I draw that day! hahah. I went to school for art, but mostly textiles/weaving, and I hate drawing from life, but gosh. cartoons. All day long. It’s all you need to be able to do, anyway, when it comes to impressing kiddos. P:

  100. These are awesome, thank you!

    I’ve always let my son turn the pages when we read together, and now reading time is his favourite.

    Also, a breadstick (the kind that looks like a drinking straw) as a snack keeps him occupied for way longer than little things like goldfish or cheerios, which I have to keep handing to him.

  101. For the hair rinse: ask them to look for flies on the ceiling. For dinner: if they are involved in preparing the dinner, they eat more and better. For traveling: if your kid is prone to vomiting, keep some instant coffee on hand; if there’s vomit, sprinkle generously on the puddle, and cover with a cloth – the odours will be truly covered. I also do the new toy for traveling, or a new movie, or whatever comes handy. Sometimes, when there’s cabin fever, we make a picnic on theliving room floor. Or on a Friday night.

  102. This kind of spot-on advice is what keeps me coming back (every day!). Thanks, Joanna!

    My son loves to unpack things, so when I need a few minutes, I’ll crack open a kitchen drawer, or unzip my (always packed) suitcase, or load a bunch of interesting things into a bag and let him at it! Keeps him entertained for ages, or at least long enough to finish dinner. :)

    Baby socks: they are invading my life! Next go, I’ll buy one big pack of the same kind of socks for each size needed (as in, a twenty pack of white 0-6 months socks, a twenty pack of grey 6-12 month socks). The socks of each size will all match each other, and I’ll know at a glace which ones to pack up when they’re getting to small.

  103. My baby is only four months old, so take this advice with a grain of salt. Whenever I’m about to do something I know he doesn’t like but needs to get done (like strapping him into his stroller, or putting him in the bathtub), I smile at him and talk to him in this high pitched, happy tone and I DON’T break eye contact. This seems to give him a sense of comfort and safety and he doesn’t cry or scream because he trusts me and he knows it’s going to be okay. I really hope this advice works for somebody! Hugs to all the new mamas!

    • That’s known as “parentese” and it’s the most natural way that people talk with babies! Do you ever notice that when people start to talk to little babies their voice raise up and they elongate their vowels? Even men do this! Babies love this and it also helps them learn language. :)

  104. Love this post, love, love it! #7 (pu pu platter) is genius and I’m going to do this all the time.

  105. Love this post, love, love it! #7 (pu pu platter) is genius and I’m going to do this all the time.

  106. I enjoy the photo at the end of Toby looking shocked in the webcam. Adorable!

  107. I can’t thank you enough for your motherhood Monday posts. My husband and I are just thinking about starting a family soon, and I keep hearing from everyone how overwhelmed and tired we will be. Your posts give me hope and make me really excited about parenthood! I know there will be many a night where I come back to your blog for advice. :)

  108. I love your mom’s advice about the birthday party guests! Its something I have learned recently by throwing a “big” three year old birthday party and finding that she only played with only a few (probably 3) of her friends the whole time. My one parenting advice would be… to “pick and chose your battles”…its okay for them to wear silly outfits out and take naps on the couch rather than the crib… :)

  109. Ha… I’m only 26 weeks pregnant and I’m already an expert at #13. My husband and I have a handful of friends whose parenting styles we want to emulate, and we actively seek out advice from them. Everyone else? Just smile and nod. In one ear and out the other. :-P

  110. Thank you for these Motherhood Monday posts. I don’t have children yet; hopefully I will in the near future…but I work in an office with all men and many of them are so negative about their children and parenting that it can be disheartening. I read your posts every Monday and get excited again about becoming a mother. So thank you thank you thank you.

  111. lg says...

    We live on a third floor walk up and it can take a long time for a toddler to climb the stairs, but after we started to count the steps on our way up it takes less time and is more fun.
    Toddlers are also very interested in band-aids so they have become a useful reward for a successful day of potty training ..they can be found cheap and easier to remove from furniture than many types of stickers.
    One last thing I learnt from a dentist is that when brushing our child’s teeth it is best done with them lying down or leaning back while sitting on your lap. That way they relax and you can see all the teeth.

  112. Don’t assume you know what’s wrong when your kiddo is upset. Ask them. I am often amazed by what is actually bothering my son when I ask him why he is mad.

  113. (Believe it or not) buy a Hamilton Beach Personal Blender. I have model #51101B which is currently available at amazon for $15.92. (A friend tipped me off when I was in the market for a much higher end ($300!) blender for the purpose of making smoothies-there really is NO need)
    It has come in handy for days when I’m stressing over my 3 year old’s eating habits. Even though she is typically a great eater, she can still be rather picky.
    Kale/frozen banana/pineapple/splash of diluted apple juice is her current favorite smoothie. Mine is Frozen peach/banana/greek yogurt/low-fat milk/pumpkin pie spice :)

  114. I once saw a movie where the mother picked up her son and said, “You point, I’ll drive”. I can’t wait to pick my son up from school for lunch (#14) or if he’s having a bad day and say this to him. There is just something silently supportive about this.

    I loved all of your surprising tips! I especially love the one about learning to draw animals. :) #4 (walking) and #6 (OJ) were especially playful which I love and am trying to be more like. I am trying the washcloth one tonight. And my mother also felt my fever with her lips and I do the same, so comforting.

    I would add, sing a song for whatever you want them to do! Bathtime song, cleanup song, meet me at the door song, go to bed song…it triggers them for the activity and they love the consistency. My son loves the itsy bitsy spider so that one can usually break him out of a tantrum :)

    Thanks again for a great post!

  115. Seriously? Pull them out of school?
    All the rest of the advice was great though.

    • I have to agree. All of this is great, really great, except that one. As a teacher, please don’t pull your kids out of school. You can definitely find some other way to be spontaneous and surprise them with a treat, AFTER school!!

    • hi! i thought this was fun. once or twice a year, just for lunch, like 25 minutes. I bring them back before they return to their classroom teacher.

    • I feel like this is silly – they’re not saying to do it all the time. Once in a while (on a birthday especially!) isn’t going to destroy anyone’s college dreams. :)

    • I don’t pull my child out of school during learning time but I do pick them up for a surprise lunch during lunch time a few times a year. They don’t miss class time but do get special time with mom. I have a friend that does the same but she always brings a pizza and goes to our outside classroom with her kids for a surprise picnic.

    • I loved this one :) It practically made me well up with love. Life should be special, and a kid will remember those lunches as being special forever, especially if it is just once a year or so.

    • I completely agree with and love the idea of surprising your child with a fun lunch occasionally. This one really resonated with me because I remember when my dad used to drop by my school and surprise me during lunch. He passed away when I was 7, and reading this piece of advice brought those memories back. I don’t have many memories or him because I lost him when I was so young, and I’m just so glad he did this :)

    • As a teacher I must add my 2c here, it’s not so much that pulling your kid out will ruin his changes of getting into college, it’s the culture of disrespect for teachers and schools. Yes family time is important but the struggle between parents and teachers is bad enough without adding this devaluation of our time. Children need to know how important school is and one way of teaching this is to only pull them out for extremely important reasons.

    • I think you are overreacting. What is wrong with a child leaving school during the lunch hour, when they are NOT in class? They aren’t missing anything and aren’t disrupting anything. They aren’t disrespecting teachers and schools. Geez. Get a grip!

    • In high school, my mom would sometimes pull us out and have tacos waiting for us in the car. We’d sit and eat together and then go back in before lunch period was over. So, no school actually missed. It was great. A rare treat, and she always only did it with one of us at a time, so it felt extra special.

    • Instead of pulling out of school for lunch, I would ask the front desk if you can have lunch with your child at school, I think that’s much more special.

    • I was totally caught off guard when I read this piece of advice to find that I was suddenly holding back tears! I don’t know why exactly, but the idea of a spontaneous surprise lunch outing is so sweet to me. My son is only 1, but dreaming of the look of surprise and excitement that I would see on his face had me welling up with emotion. And think of the interesting things they would tell you on such a special “date.” I am so surprised to read that his teacher might find it rude or disrespectful to hear him excitedly reporting that he had gotten to eat lunch with his mom.

    • I’m a 4th grade teacher and I strongly encourage you to surprise your child a few times per year and take them out for lunch. Get a copy of your child’s daily school schedule and aim to miss as little class as possible. Your child feeling special and connected to you is significantly more important that those few minutes of class.

      I remember my parents checking me out of school about an hour early as a surprise when I was in 3rd grade. The three of us went to a nearby city where we shopped for a new book, saw a movie, and had dinner together. This didn’t hinder my respect for schools or teachers, nor did it hurt me academically considering I graduated as the valedictorian of my class and became a teacher. It showed me that my parents loved me and that family time is important.

    • “Pulling out of school for lunch” sounded to me as the best one! I remember how amazing it was when my parents would do that once in a while. AMAZING! And I actually really loved school.

  116. when my son was born, our pediatrician said something to me that i will never forget. the most important thing you can do as a family is sit down together to dinner as often as possible. this matters for your child’s entire life and it will be a tradition that keeps him talking to you as he gets older. we try to do this almost every night. and it’s the brightest spot of my day. if left to his own devices and not endlessly questioned, my kindergartener will tell us the coolest details of his day.

    other advice i’ve gotten that is golden: let your partner/husband/spouse do things the way he wants to do them when it comes to parenting rather than the way you think they should be. make simple outings into adventures.

    advice i feel compelled to give: encourage your child to play on his own. don’t raise him to always expect to be entertained or “go somewhere” for fun. teach him to make his own entertainment right where he is with what he has. with hold video games/electronic games for as long as possible and encourage outside play (i already see 5 and 6 year old children loathe to play outside b/c they want video game time and it makes me sad). don’t sweat the small stuff (it doesn’t ultimately matter what your child wears to school as long as his clothes are seasonable-if he eschews a warm coat or hat, let him learn the lesson on his own as long as his health isn’t compromised. lastly, let your child see you try new things and FAIL or show him how you make mistakes. showing our kids we are human helps them be gentler on themselves (and us). what a great post!

  117. Thanks Joanna. I will definitely continue reading your blog and pay even more attention to the parenting tips when I have a wee one :)

  118. Great advice!

    My advice to moms is a to sing even if YOU think you can’t. Your Child will dub you the best singer in the whole world, even if it is just twinkle twinkle over and over.

    Also in regards to singing: to help with the ache of redundancy, slip in your own favorite tunes. The Beatles, Sam Cooke, and Johnny Mercer are some of my favs that I wouldn’t mind singing in or out of Mommy-mode.

    • Unless they are like my oldest son, who always told me to please be quiet when I tried to sing to him as a toddler, because it didn’t sound too good. :D
      My other kids haven’t complained though!

  119. I am going to make a tradition of pulling my daughter out of school for a surprise lunch. Thank you for that one! (why hadn’t I thought of that??)

  120. Jo this is so great! I’ll definitely keep this in my back pocket for when I start having a family! I just posted a blog about the 30 things every woman should know and do by the time she’s 30 by your beloved (and my beloved) Glamour Magazine. Today is a day for advice giving! Also keeping safe from Frankenstorm! Elle from

  121. these are great tips joanna! thank you for that, i needed #10 last night! :) stay safe.

  122. After you have washed your kid in the tub with the soapy washcloth, take that washcloth and run it quick along the bottom of the toilet, the floor or the sink while they splash around, whatever looks make-up laden or just dirty. Bath time 3 times a week leaves my bathroom clean in between deep cleanings

  123. First of all, I´m so glad you´re posting today :) That being said, my son is 12 years old now but my friend´s kids are toddlers and every morning they get into these huge battles on what kids want to wear to kindergarten…My advice is: let them be! My boy used to take his Power Rangers cape EVERYWHERE and looking back, it was no big deal.So, pick your batles and enjoy your toddlers because they grow up fast!!!

  124. Pick your battles. This has come in handy with a five year old especially. If it’s an argument between teeth brushing or mismatched socks – give in on the socks because it’s more important they have good teeth cleaning habbits. Remember – your setting them up with life lessons – one or even more things can slide every now and then.

    Pay attention to your own adult relationships – especially with your significant other. You are not just raising children but possible husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. It’s good to think years ahead while enjoying the now.

    • What a good point about also raising spouses. I always have thought that a happy child starts with a happy marriage. My husband and I believe in showing each other affection and respect in front of the children-they learn from example.


    • What a good point about also raising spouses. I always have thought that a happy child starts with a happy marriage. My husband and I believe in showing each other affection and respect in front of the children-they learn from example.


  125. Great tips! I love the one about the kitchen sink and cups. Brilliant! It’s always about finding good things for them to do so we can get other things done without resorting to the T.V.

    Something I’ve found very helpful is play I Spy, particularly while waiting for food to come at a restaurant. It keeps my 3 year old busy and concentrating on something else. Plus, it’s fun!

    Thanks for the great tips!

    • “I spy” is also great to play when they need to clean their room! You spy it, they put it away :) Great for siblings, too.

  126. Such wonderful tips!

    We use “1-2-3 swing” (my husband and I holding each hand) when we need to walk quickly somewhere and Dylan wants to stroll, be held, or stop to smell every flower!

    What a gift this knowledge is. Thanks for sharing it!

    Ps. Totally trying the washcloth shampoo trick tonight

  127. These are just brilliant. I am a mama to three little boys, and I think these are spot on.

  128. I learned very quickly that changing tables in public places were few and far in between but that, of course, didn’t stop my daughter from pooping… So I learned to change her in the trunk of the car. I kept a thick blanket in there and covered her top half while she was being changed.

    • This is a good tip! I have a hatchback and often change my guy on top of the shelf thing that covers up the contents of the trunk. You just have to be super Super careful that they don’t roll off!

    • I do this same thing, and have taught my friends the same. I feel like changing tables are so dirty and my son needs to touch everything yuck:)

    • I don’t have a car, but she’s usually in her pushchair if we’re out, so I learned to change her in there! I lay it all the way back and put the pad under her. Works like a charm! I did it when she was a newborn and have done it since she became a toddler as well!

  129. Wonderful post and i cannot agree more with you on #20!!! Mum’s unite!!!!

  130. I’m one of three girls, and when we were little any time we went on a trip (by car, train, or plane) my Mom would wait until we were in our seats and she would pull out one new thing for each of us. It could be a new book, a new coloring book, a puzzle, or a new pack or markers…but it was always so exciting! We would spend the trip playing with our new thing and then switch with each other-which kept us quiet for much longer than usual!

  131. #20 is the sweetest thing. Everyone should try to be more like this, parent or not! :)

  132. Im not a mother yet, but posts like these remind me of how much i want to become one someday.

    the powerful shared experience, other moms kindness and the advice of always saying goodbye to your baby brought me to tears. :)

  133. These are fantastic! I don’t have little ones yet but I routinely bookmark your posts like this to read when I do! Thank you!


  134. I do #5 and #10 a lot. With 5, my 4YOD LOVES her birthday and she will expect each year to “top” the next year, so we are not doing $300 parties, we are just doing cake with friends at home. And #10, my daughter cooks with me a LOT. I didn’t have anyone to teach me how to cook, so we will start with making fruit salad and go from there.

  135. 19 – very important. I always do that!

    2 – I’ve known that since I was little, cause that’s how my mother use to see if me and my sister were with a fever.

    15 and 16 – easy and usefull

    9 – my son loves to do little “jobs” like handing us the remote, help setting the table for dinner, putting some things (not breakable) in the washmachine.

  136. these are great! thanks for sharing :) im going to star this post to reference for later. i get to meet my little guy in 8 days!!!!

  137. This is great. I especially love the last piece of advice, from Abbey. So heartwarming. Thanks!

  138. You seem like such a sweetheart. I bet you’re a super fun mom.