Motherhood

21 Surprising Parenting Tips

Joanna Goddard and Anton

Cup of Jo has been running for 13 years, so we’ve decided that every week, we’ll be highlighting one of the most popular posts from the past. Here’s one of our favorites, originally published on January 12, 2015…

Over the past few years, I’ve picked up some surprising parenting tips from friends that have been really helpful, so I’d love to share them below (and hear yours)…

From me:

1. If your child falls, ask him, “Are you hurt or scared?” (Usually they’re just scared/shocked/embarrassed.) Then embellish a story about when you (or Daddy or even Uncle Nick if you can believe it) fell when you were younger. These have become my boys’ all-time favorite stories.

2. Always and forever, SIT APART ON THE PLANE. I’ve recommended it before, I’ll recommend it a thousand times: When flying as a family, have one parent sit with both kids, and another parent sit alone. Switch off every two hours. Actually makes plane travel a joy for everyone.

From my friend Jenny:

3. If you want their attention at the dinner table, or anywhere else, start a sentence with “Did I ever tell you the story about…”

4. The best $29.99 you will ever spend is for a Dirt Devil that lives in the car.

5. At back-to-school night in your kid’s classroom, show up early, and sign up for beverage duty (i.e., easiest job ever) for every in-class celebration before anyone else can.

6. A stopwatch is an excellent motivator if you want your kid to tie his shoes, clear his plate, clean his room, do ANYTHING faster.

7. However excited you are that your kid is finally old enough to play board games and however much nostalgia you may have for playing Candy Land, don’t bring it into your house. You will weep with boredom. (Buy Rush Hour, which involves actual strategy, comes with its own carrying case, and, best of all, can be played alone. Ages 5-8 ish?)

From my friend Kendra:

8. Make a double batch of homemade pancake batter at the beginning of the week and keep it in the fridge in a 4-cup measuring cup. Just needs a stir for a delish, speedy breakfast all week long.

From my friend Abbey:

9. To prevent leaving-the-house-jacket-battles with young kids, instead of saying “Put on your jacket” say “Put out your arms” and then put the jacket on.

10. Create a once-a-week “Doughnut Day” or “Candy Day.” Instead of always having to say “No, you can’t have a doughnut,” you get to say “We have doughnuts on Wednesday,” and then it’s special that day. My son gets so excited on “Doughnut Day.”

11. Ask your kindergarten-aged kiddo to choose and pack a book for running errands or subway rides — it gets them in the habit of taking control of their own entertainment. We like the travel-sized Where’s Waldo? and the Search & Find books.

From my friend Emma:

12. Toddlers are always thirsty and always need to pee. Even if they say they are not, when faced with a glass of water or a potty, they’ll do it.

13. Ignore your mother-in-law, when needed.

From my friend Anna:

14. Being there is a huge part of parenting. Not just being physically present, but mindfully and emotionally present, too. When you come home from work, if at all possible, leave your phone in your bag and just be present for your kid for the first chunk of time (10 minutes? an hour? it’s up to you). Even if you’re stressed from your day and cranky about something, it’s so important to put it aside for some quality time with your kids, before you launch into dinner or bedtime or whatever homework you need to do. Ironically, sometimes the kid is too busy for quality time (playing intensely or doing homework) but just knowing that you’re there and available is enough!

From my friend Jordan:

15. When our two boys were younger, they were always losing socks or mixing them up, and I was spending so much time sorting socks that it was kind of ridiculous. So finally I assigned them each a type of sock and bought 15 pairs of each. The younger got striped navy and the older was assigned striped grey. It simplified everything so we are never “missing” a sock and sorting socks is a cinch. We’ve been doing it for three years now and I’ll never go back.

16. We play a game where every week I take them to the market and say, “You each have to pick two vegetables.” They get really into the decision. Then we go home and figure out new ways to make them. We’ve done pretty much everything you can think of: sweet potato fries, kale chips, guacamole, sautéed squash, green smoothies. When we eat them they announce, “This is my vegetable!” It has been a great way to get them to try new things.

From my friend Linsey:

17. My kids choose a song for us to sing as we brush their teeth. It entertains them and because they know the words, it functions as a timer allowing them to know how much longer they need to be still and keep their mouths open (instead of sudsy complaints of “how much longer!?”).

From my friend Lena:

18. When we were having some challenges with our four-year-old son, my friend suggested I give him a rundown of our day in the morning so he’d know what to expect. It made so much sense! When he was a baby and toddler we toted him around without explaining what we were doing or where we were going…telling him made such a difference! Sometimes our plans are straightforward and fun, and he simply likes knowing what we are doing. Other times I’ll say something that gets him thinking ahead about a situation that could be challenging, like “We’re going to a party where there will be lots of younger kids and you might need to be patient with them.” It feels natural now to include him in discussing our day ahead.

19. When your child takes a nap in the stroller, pull his/her hat down over their eyes and they will nap so much longer.

From my friend Sharon:

20. Find out which chores they like. My daughter loves taking the trash out and my boys love emptying the dishwasher and vacuuming. The one they all fight over? Cleaning the stovetop. I don’t get it either. When I taught them how to do the laundry, I thought their heads would explode in excitement. The chore they hate? Cleaning their room. So that’s always a mess, but the stovetop is usually clean. I can live with that.

21. Buy neon beanies for your kids in the winter. They can run but they can’t hide!

Smart, right? What tips and tricks have you figured out along the way? Word-of-mouth advice from parents can be better than all the parenting books in the world. Please share below! xoxo

P.S. 20 more surprising parenting tips (the first edition!), and six words to say to your child.

(Photo of Anton and me)

  1. Louise says...

    We do the doughnut day one but with juice. It’s called Tuesday Juice-day!

  2. Lorna Smith says...

    I used odd/even days for my young sons. 1) They STILL sometimes use it ~ and they’re in their late 30s! 2) On the 31st? It’s MOM’S day!

  3. Stephanie says...

    One of the best pieces of parenting advice I’ve used over the years came from this site. Whenever my boys (husband too!) walk into a room, I always give them a big smile to let them know how delighted I am to see them, even if they’ve only been out of the room for a little while. It makes for some of the best interactions and I love knowing my boys know how special they are to me.

  4. Emily says...

    The best parenting advice I ever got came from my former therapist, a godsend. I was worrying b/c my five year old son needed one of us to lie down with him at night as he fell asleep and I thought he wasn’t independent enough. She said, by the time he doesn’t need that, he will always remember that when he needed it, you gave it to him. He will carry that in his heart with him forever.

    My son is now 12, one of the most emotional astute people I know, and guess what? He occasionally still wants my husband or me to lie down with him at night. And guess what? We always do it. Now I do it more to soak up the time with him and relish the fact that he still needs me in a very simple mom way. I also realized she was giving me such a gift with the advice because by the time my son doesn’t need me to snuggle him at night anymore, I’ll have had the wonderful memories of that time with him to carry with me in this life.

    xo

    • Caro says...

      This is so beautiful! Thank you

  5. Amy says...

    Natural yoghurt/Greek yoghurt (no sugar and this is what it’s called in Australia – and, Greece, I assume!) is a staple. Our now 3yo has always motored through it on its own but it’s also good for taking down the spice in a curry, adding to oats and grated apple then left in the fridge overnight for overnight apple pie oats and, the one time I accidentally gave him a piece of chilli chicken and watched his eyes, then his face go bright red as he started to cry, wiping the yoghurt in and around his mouth immediately soothed it.

  6. Callie Kurtz says...

    I love the comment about neon beanies, and as a beach mum, I do the same with the kids’ swimmers! Bright swimmers, never from a local/popular store. Why? Because I spent 5 minutes at the beach last summer watching the WRONG TODDLER in the water, because my daughter was the same size and had the same swimmers. I still thank the good Lord that my risk-loving, impulsive little girl didn’t wander into the deep water during that time. Lesson learned.

  7. Mara says...

    I don’t have kids, but #13 gave me a good chuckle. When my SIL (our husbands are brothers) had her first child, our MIL aggressively pushed liver on her for 2 weeks to replenish her nutrients. MIL kept showing up with more raw liver. SIL was ready to barf after her third day of liver, but MIL didn’t relent. I told SIL at the time to just follow the advice of her doctor, but she felt bad. I agree that our MILs raised wonderful men whom we love dearly…I also agree that much of the time, this advice is unsolicited and can be veiled in criticism.

  8. Leigh says...

    When my son was young we got separated in the mall. I called security and they asked me what he was wearing. I was so panicked I couldn’t remember. We were quickly reunited. After that if we were going to any kind of crowded place I would take a picture of all of him and us it as a screen saver. Not any everyday tip, but hopefully helpful.

  9. Lorna says...

    Can you include black voices as an everyday thing, not just as a niche perspective where you highlight their blackness?

    For example, this post links to sites by Jenny, Kendra, Linsey, and Lena, raising their public profiles. And in the previous Parenting Tips, you linked and directed traffic to Samantha, Ashley, and Abbey. Did you link and promote any black women?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I actually had this thought when reposting — this post was from 2015 and nowadays we always have a diverse group of voices. It struck me how we didn’t in 2015. So glad our site has grown and changed. Thank you!

  10. Summer says...

    I love how diverse COJ is, and wonder if we could get a little but more about other types of parenting here too – like fostering and adopting. My husband and I are about to step into fostering and I would love some advice/resources, especially as it will bring some unique challenges & opportunities Into my life soon.

  11. Shabnam says...

    One funny incident I would like to share. That day my daughter was very pranky and when I wanted to feed her she wanted to have alphabets! can u imagine? And I did it! I cut bread into alphabets, put different spreads on each, and gave her. She actually had it!

  12. EE says...

    I was a big worrier growing up, especially right before bedtime. I worried about everything, big and small. Sometimes, in the moment, I didn’t feel ready to verbalize my worries to my mom, and so she had the most amazing trick to make me feel comforted. while also respecting that I wasn’t ready to open up quite yet. She would say, “Give me all you worries” and hold out her hands to me in a cupped position. I would then close my eyes and “give” them all to her, and she’d then toss them over her shoulder. I’d always feel a bit better and more ready to go to sleep. It was a quiet and simple way that my mom supported me and made me feel safe and loved . Some day when I have children, I hope to use this same trick.

    • Lauren says...

      I love this. I have a worrier daughter. Thank you for sharing. ❤️

    • Yolanda says...

      I do this with my worrier daughter at night too! I put them in my pocket. I also take her and my son’s crankies too, when they can’t get past a bad mood. They kind of pretend vomit them into my hands. Sometimes, if we are driving, I’ll roll down the window and through the crankies to the pigeons or seagulls and we’ll laugh about how the bird is suddenly going to be grumpy.

  13. Olivia says...

    My best parenting tip is to make a habit of narrating how you feel. Kids are not afraid of emotions and they’re not blind to them. If you tell them that you’re frustrated or sad or really happy and why you’ll give them language to talk about what they’re feeling and a sense of how emotions ebb and flow and change over time. I don’t mean a watered down version (like, “don’t worry, mama’s just tired.”) Fall apart a little. Be human. Tell them the truth about what you feel, because they can already see it. Giving them rich, deep language for it shows them that they can experience, tolerate, and navigate through complex emotions and be open with you about how they’re feeling.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I love this, Olivia.

    • Caitlin says...

      Olivia, I really love this. I have an intense memory from when I was maybe 3 or 4. I was the last of 5 kids and I remember, so distinctly, sitting on my mom’s lap on a little stool after she and my sister had gotten into a fight. She was crying and her arms were around me squeezing me and she said teenagers are just so hard Caity, will you remember that when you’re older? I did remember it and it left an impact on me- I’ve always seen my mother as not solely a mother, but a whole, complicated, human being. I’m sure there are other reasons why, but showing me her raw emotions definitely played a role. I love her so much.

  14. Hilary says...

    When your baby is very little – like, days old even – start your day with classical music + reading. Does this sound pretentious? You bet, BUT many studies show that classical music helps with language development and kids need to hear 1 million words before kindergarten.

    During maternity leave, I would lay my newborn down on a mat on the floor every morning, eat breakfast, drink coffee and read to her (sometimes board books, sometimes Vanity Fair mag, and sometimes the newest Anne Patchett!) with everything from Mozart to the Lullatones in a background. Not only was it great for her, it was a cherished time for me to get to know my tiny new babe and have a little structure to the day. It didn’t matter if the rest of the day was hard or emotional or weird (as it often is with a newborn) I could count on those 30 mins every morning and they were so sweet.

  15. Catie says...

    My hack is to have a stash of use-up-able novelty items: tiny bottles of bubbles, balloons, glow sticks, water beads, etc. It amazes me how effective this is for a rainy or stir crazy day!

  16. Alicia says...

    If you celebrate Easter, write their initials on the eggs (and make sure their amounts are even, of course). This was an egg-hunt game changer, especially when my youngest was nowhere near as fast as her brother. Egg hunts became teamwork instead of competition and there are no more arguments.

    • Dominique says...

      You can also give each child a egg color. We have done that in the past.

    • Robin says...

      We give each kid a room in the house! And sometimes get the other kid to help hide, so they can watch knowing and being excited for what’s hidden. But it’s fun either way.

  17. Caitlin says...

    I remember reading the sock tip years ago before I was a parent and being like I am definitely going to do that… Now that I am a parent I think about it ALL THE TIME – but for the life of me I cannot find any good quality, non-white, toddler socks all in the same color! Primary has been sold out for ages on their solid color packs. I have searched high and low. Anyone have suggestions? My son’s sock drawer is such a nightmare of tiny, mismatched socks.

    • We LOVE bombas toddler socks – such nice quality and good grips! A little hard to fit into shoes sometimes, but we love them for indoors. Don’t know what the color options are, my aunt gifted us a multicolor set.

    • Hannah says...

      I just have mine wear his kinda mismatched. His socks are “striped,” regardless of color. We bought them as multipacks at Primary when we couldn’t find the solid ones anymore.

    • Chandra says...

      We LOVE grey socks with grips for my son, and we found them on Amazon. Just search for grey toddler socks. I think we chose some from Avantmen but they all kind of look the same. They are awesome, and they’re all we use. Note: our 2 year old has average size 6 toddler feet but we sized up on the socks to the 4-6T, and after a wash and dry, they are perfect for him. Now we have socks for the long haul. This is probably my most favorite toddler dressing tip of all time.

  18. Molly says...

    Love the neon beanie idea.

    My parenting hack is to, during the summer, keep shampoo by the hose and a towel by the back door.

    • Hilary says...

      Oh, this is GENIUS!

  19. Tammy says...

    If you are planning on having more than one child, do NOT buy a one-off cute plate or the rainbow pack of unbreakable cups unless you want to spend the next decade listening to them fight over who gets the panda plate and purple cup. Buy a set of melamine dishes, so everyone can have the exact same plate, every time. If I had a time travel machine, that is what I would tell past me.

    • Kirsten says...

      Absolutely agreed- we threaten all the time to giving them all away to start over!

    • fgb says...

      This is hysterical and so true!

    • Elspeth says...

      Oh my gosh YES. My brothers and I fought endlessly as kids about who would get the blue cup. Drove my parents nuts! And we have no idea why that cup particularly….??

  20. tina says...

    Am I the only one who doesn’t like these recycled posts?
    Don’t get me wrong, I have been a loyal follower for forever and have read nearly every single post, therefore, when I see a post from the past, no matter how wonderful it is- because it is, I get a little disappointed and skip it as I am craving something new to read/learn about.

    • Kimmie says...

      There have been some that I skip over, but it doesn’t bother me. COJ has been around for so long, and the quality of their content is high. I think it makes sense to pull from their own older content. For every few that I have no interest in, there are ones that are now much more relevant to my life, like this one actually. I have an 18 month old and reading these tips feels like I’ve struck gold whereas when this originally was posted, kids weren’t part of my life. That said, I don’t think I would necessarily want them to occur anymore frequently then they currently do.

    • Tara D. says...

      That’s so interesting because I love the recycled posts! This one is a great example because when it was originally posted, I had just started trying to get pregnant. Today I have a 4 year old so I’m loving all the tips. I think of it almost like yoga, where it’s the same pose (or blog post), but you hear it differently depending upon where you are. :)

    • S. says...

      I also like them a lot! I’m a long time reader too, and I don’t have kids, but I love reading the new comments on the old posts – it’s so interesting to see which things still resonate and which don’t, and the new perspectives on old(er) advice. And I love hearing from folks like Kimmie and Tara who first read the post when they didn’t have babies in their life but now they do and the post is resonating in a whole new way!

      On a broader/more existential level, I love that it slows down the NEW NEW NEW churn of content creation on the internet. The COJ team works so hard and does so much for us – if digging into the archives gives them (and us!) some reflective space I’m all for it :-)

    • Cait says...

      Y’all, if you have/are a dream MIL, then #13 is not for you. You have hit the jackpot, huzzah. It’s ok to not pick up that tip. However, please don’t try to invalidate, undermine, or suggest that those of us not in the position of having a helpful and great MIL are to blame for it. Just like relationships with moms run the gamut, so too relationships with MILs. Just like some mothers, some MILs do not respect healthy boundaries, do not respect choices others have made, and try to control everything. In those instances, ignoring them IS a way to keep the peace, and it IS a way of being respectful because confronting it would get ugly. If that’s not your experience, try just being thankful for it and not judging those who are in that difficult position.

    • Cait says...

      Ugh sorry I didn’t mean to reply to your comment!

    • SarahN says...

      I like them as a less long time reader – I don’t resonate so much with some of the other posts, like Beauty Uniform or the ones that are semi sponsored from brands that are very US centric.

      But podcasts? Hate a re-release, usually as I HAVE heard the original episode!

    • Anna says...

      Agree with you, Tina – not a big fan of these recycled posts, but more because framing it as a celebration of 13 years of CoJ (I have been following for ten and I love it!) seems more like an excuse. If you have no capacity right now, that is totally fine, we are all going through crazy times! There is no need to position it as something else.

    • Maya says...

      I love these recycled posts. I’m a long-time reader, but these still feel fresh since I’m in such a different place in my life now (I’ve had a kid since this was originally posted!). Also, the comments are just as rich as the posts themselves, and I really enjoy reading the new ones.

    • Sadie says...

      I like recycled posts, I like seeing little baby Anton’s face and seeing how Cup of Jo has evolved. It is a very smart way to incorporate Joanna’s brand of sharing her life with new readers. It shows how this blog has grown while still staying true to the brand and has become more inclusive. Not every post is targeted for every person, that is the nature of a site with a wide reach.

  21. J. says...

    This probably works best for parents of two children (or only works if you have an even number of children of a similar age?), but one thing my mom did was assign each of us to be either odd or even in early elementary school. The list of things for which this was used grew over the years, but even all throughout high school, the little squabbles over who got to sit in the front seat of the car, who got to pick dessert, who got to choose the TV show first, who had to do the dishes, who got to shower first, who got to do ___ first, etc. was easily solved by looking at the calendar to see if it was an odd or even day.

    • Tammy says...

      Stealing this!! Thank you.

    • Kate says...

      We did this – my birthday is the 2nd and my brother’s is the 31st so I was always even and he was odd!

      The other one: you cut + I choose for cake/cookies/anything which needed to be split evenly. I still squat down to compare the level in the glasses when pouring wine for my partner and me! :)

    • Amanda says...

      Love this!

    • Candice says...

      My kids’ “auntie” came for a visit and said, “What is this weird calendar for?” “Oh, just who gets to pick tv first, who closes the car door at dropoff, who gets tucked in first, who picks movie night…” My kids simply alternate days, but that calendar is The Written Word!!

    • Alice says...

      Yes, Kate! “You cut, I pick” should be the law of the land forever and ever. It saved my parents so many headaches and I still use it on the daily.

    • Sal says...

      We did this, based on our birthdays. My older sister was the 26th, so she was even. I was the 29th, so I was odd. We still use it now! And I’m 35!

      Another similar thing was “you cut, I choose”, which came down from my dad. If there was ice-cream to share out, or a cake to cut. One would cut, with microscopic focus, and the other would watch, and then choose, with the same level of intensity!

  22. Louisa says...

    We learned it here: Two truths and a lie. Every dinner I learn SO much about my 6-year-old’s day from this game. Small things but they give me a picture of her day: who wouldn’t play with her, who her reading buddy was, etc. And she learns about me: “My 1st grade teacher had a little girl with your name.” “I wanted to be a dancer when I grew up.”

  23. Jenny T. says...

    One I learned from my daughter’s preschool teacher – kids will often engage in self-directed play when adults are doing house or garden work nearby. When my daughter’s school closed for the year in March, it took me awhile to realize that I didn’t have to come up with tons of activities to keep her entertained. If I was nearby and puttering around the house or yard, she’d quickly immerse herself in imaginative play in a way that she doesn’t when we’re playing together, when we’re doing an activity with a designated process like baking, or when I’m doing computer work. Can’t say I’m getting all my professional done, but it was really freeing to realize I can still tackle some of my own projects and that my daughter’s better off for it.

    • CS says...

      This! When my son was little, I’d let him entertain himself with imaginative play while I went about my tasks. It helped him develop his creativity, and let me get things done.

    • patricia blaettler says...

      I gave my daughter assorted fabrics cut up into random sized pieces and she used them for imaginative play with her dollies. ‘Dresses’ ‘blankets’ ‘curtains’. Hours of self-entertainment

  24. Savannah says...

    I didn’t remember reading this in 2015 but clearly I did because I tell my daughter about the plan for the day (and at bedtime going over it) and asking if she’s hurt or scared! I’m sure I reread all the parenting articles when I was nursing her in the middle of the night and picked those up. Anything we can do to help raise our kids together!

  25. Lisa says...

    On a brushing teeth song – elmo’s brushy brush song. It is 1:30 minutes long, shows other children brushing their teeth (for inspiration) and it starts with “ok every body, it’s time to brush your teeth, go get your toothbrush!” Which I play on repeat so my children know it’s time to get their toothbrushes and clean their teeth.

    • Cooper says...

      Yes! Currently watching this YouTube video twice a day with my 18 month-old :) I was also encouraged by Jennifer from the instagram account “Kids Eat in Color” to think of tooth-brushing for toddlers as a non-negotiable and to use a firm cradle-hold if you have to in order to get those teeth brushed.

    • Ashley says...

      Also: Laurie Berkner’s “Silly Toothbrushing Song.” Toothbrushing fights: gone!

    • Emma Lewis says...

      Yes! My two year old asks if she can brush her teeth “with her friends” (aka the Elmo song). It has been so key in getting her to brush her teeth.

  26. Andrea says...

    As a mother of two very different teenage girls, I feel like I have been feeling my way through parenting them. I know now there is no one-size-fits-all. I would by no means call myself an expert, but here are some things that I have discovered on the path:
    – Expand versus contract works best for us when starting something new – meaning, new phone, new curfew, new social circle – set rules to start with and then loosen if you want. (example – no phones in bedroom, then for an hour here and there once they get older, show responsibility, etc) It’s easier for us to expand and loosen than it is to walk things back and tighten up. Teens rarely respond well to having freedoms taken away. It’s not always possible, but when we can, we set parameters to start with, then loosen as we go.
    – “Because I said so” doesn’t fly anymore. If your reasoning doesn’t work with a manager or a friend or any other person in your life, don’t use it with your kids either.
    – Don’t be passive/aggressive. If your’e upset, say you’re upset. We are a much more involved generation of parents, so when kids start to want their independence more, spending more time away, with friends, driving, etc, you can feel the separation and it can hurt. My oldest recently spent a couple of consecutive nights at her best friend’s house this summer, and I asked, “Loving it there?” And of course she did. She is a teen and was with her friend. I found an internal jealousy creeping in, wanting her to want to be home. Let me just say from experience, acting short with your kid because they are having fun somewhere else will not make them want to run home.
    – I wrote in once before and I will say it again:
    Completely unsolicited, 100% subjective advice for those who will one day have a teen in their home: There will come a day when you are dropping said teenager off at school and he/she is suddenly in a huff about something that you think is insane and they are thinking, “…how could you do this to me?” and you are thinking, “…are you serious right now?” Before you call them an ungrateful (insert name), stop, take a deep breath. This has nothing to do with you. They are in the process of developing their own lives/world/universe and you may feel your place in it shrinking. It will be so much easier to for them to talk to you about it/share in it with you/come back to you if your love remains steady in the meantime. So instead, just smile, tell them you love them, and have a good day followed by “ungrateful (insert name)” silently to yourself.

    • Laura says...

      I think that last one is a great piece of advice for anyone in any kind of relationship, whether that’s romantic or friendship! There are often things my husband is upset about (not at me, like in your example), but situations where I’m thinking “just chill, this isn’t a big deal”. But it is a big deal to him, and when I’m compassionate, he moves through those emotions faster. Same thing, reversed with me. Same thing, when you and a friend might see a situation differently.
      I think your advice is great for all of us to keep in mind! :)

    • Shana says...

      I love your tips, Andrea! Saving these in the back of my brain for when I’ll need these for my infant in 12 years.

  27. Katharine says...

    When I need my son to play by himself, he plays much longer and more contentedly if he can’t see me. Asking him to pick another room to enjoy his time in is a game-changer.

  28. Rachel Betts says...

    My fav parenting tip is get rid of your coffee table and buy an upholstered ottoman for the family room. If you keep the coffee table, your child will repeatedly hit their head on it when they are learning to pull up and cruise. Also, you won’t be able to keep anything on it anyway once they can pull up. Instead, get the soft ottoman – you can change diapers on it (with a mat underneath them), they can crawl under it and play, the pets can hide from the kids under it, etc. My kids are 10-11 and they STILL crawl under our ottoman for hide and seek.

    • Heather says...

      Yes! We got one before covid and I’m so thankful! The girls ( 3 & 5) crawl all over it, use it for forts, play card games on it, and of course it makes movies much more cozy. It’s changed the way they play in our living room.

    • Amanda says...

      We were just having a conversation about whether we wanted a coffee table or an ottoman for our new living room. I prefer the look of a coffee table but we’re trying for kiddos so I think we’re gonna go for the ottoman.

  29. Em says...

    OK, so my husband and I don’t have children, and we aren’t planning to–but these are brilliant tips. I’m sharing them with every mother I know!

  30. shannon says...

    Interested to talk more about mothers in law! Maybe a dedicated COJ article? I’d love to hear from both perspectives, how to be a wonderful child in law as well as how to be a great MIL. Or maybe an essay from someone who has a particularly positive or unique relationship with their in laws.

    I adore my MIL, and am pregnant with my first baby (a boy!). So I’m especially wary of the dynamic of mothers of sons being less close to their grandkids. (A NYT article about maternal vs paternal grandparents a few years ago shed light on this topic). That’s not what I want for my lovely MIL, who I hope will be very involved with and close to our children.

    • Amelia says...

      I love and adore my MIL and I would say my number one observation about her is that she has only positive input to anything we are doing. She never once asked if we were going to get married or when we were going to have kids. She doesn’t look at photos I send of my kids and say, “Shouldn’t he be wearing a jacket?” or “that seat belt is sitting at the wrong spot across the chest” (as my mom does, but I love her dearly too). But the point is my MIL has literally never ever not even once, in 20 years, said a single negative thing about how we run our lives. She is just 100% delighted to talk to us, to see us, to tell us she loves the photos we send, etc. Who knows what she secretly thinks about our lunatic lives or how I discipline the kids? I probably never will. But I think she’s decided just to be positive. And another thing that sets her apart is how inclusive of every girlfriend her son had ever had, including me of course. But from day 1 we were all invited to Christmas or invited on the family vacation or asked to be in the family Thanksgiving photo or whatever else sometimes newer members of the family circle might not be invited to join.

    • lina says...

      ditto! i don’t get along with my MIL at all (she is an extremely toxic and controlling person towards my husband and her other children to the point where she hurls the most ridiculous insults at him regularly and he’s not even fazed). i have given up on being a “good” daughter in law because i’m loyal AF to my husband and no one is allowed to speak to him or anybody that way. however, now that my husband and i are thinking about having kids soon, i wonder how to handle her and would love to hear other stories about people in a similar situation to mine and how they’ve worked (or are struggling to work) through it.

    • CS says...

      Thanks for this comment. Before you treat your mother in-law unkindly, remember someday in the future (and it comes quickly) you might be the mother in-law. How would you like to be treated? Would you like your experience to be valued/heard?

    • Julie says...

      Amelia, your MIL sounds like a gem! Mine has been similar so far. We’re expecting a baby this fall and I hope that stays true.

      I would love to read and talk more about the in-law/extended family dynamics, too. My spouse and I have been together for 13 years (married about half that time), and until recently my relationship with my in-laws has been mainly of the distant-cheerleader-and-support variety. More recently, they’ve navigated prostate cancer, mobility loss, and a cross-country move to be 2,000 miles closer to their 2 adult children and higher-quality healthcare. Our relationship is changing to be much more interdependent, with my generation (along with brother- and sister-in law) taking on more responsibilities and concerns. While we’re enjoying many aspects of proximity, it’s also an adjustment for everybody.

    • RLG says...

      I adore my MIL. She is involved and supportive without being overbearing. I think it also helps that we are both thrilled for my husband/her son that he has each of us in his life. I think that my husband being close to his mother has been good for our marriage and his role as a father. Rather than being threatened by his relationship with his mother, I celebrate it. She, in turn, values that I am the partner to her son and mother to her grandchildren. Caveat to all of this…we live across the continent from each other. :)

    • It’s so interesting, this “in-laws” dynamic. I think family dynamics change drastically with the first born grandchild. “Children” shift to “parents” and the elderly “parents” are now “grandparents”, and there’s this new baby who everyone loves but the adult relationship dynamics take quite a bit to adjust – the grandparents are very used to being the ones that advise on how to raise children, and the parents often have pretty clear ideas of which parenting style they’re going to take. I think this can often lead to tension as the new grandparents struggle with not being the ones “in charge”, or the advice they give is met with scoffs or eye rolls. Their kids (now “the parents”) may have a feeling of self-assuredness about how they want to raise their child and can be very sensitive about receiving unsolicited advice. On top of that, there’s a big power shift. For a mother or father with personal insecurities, he/she may find themselves in a strange new world where they hold all the power and control over who sees the baby. I have seen personally how this can lead to very damaging effects on relationships. For the grandparent that wants nothing but to be a part of their grandchildren’s lives, yet they have zero control over if and when they can have access. This can lead to a complete breakdown, and it’s really sad. Something I don’t hear spoken about really anywhere, but I certainly wish I could have had that heads up before the birth of my first born.

    • shannon says...

      Laura, yes yes yes! It’s a huge role shift for the grandparents and one they have zero control over…not easy and often glossed over because “aren’t you so excited about the baby?!” The only writing I’ve seen on this is in the book What No One Tells You by Alexandra Sacks. I think it’s reflective of a greater lack of respect/priority on aging in American culture. Many will be parents in law and/or grandparents for decades, longer than we have our own children at home! The life phase deserves more attention, and more research/support in this area would have great benefit for the adult children too.

    • Shannon, thank you! Will order that book. This topic of the “dreaded in-laws” is something CoJ could definitely start a conversation about – with thoughts from in-laws and new parents. Remembering that many of us will be the “dreaded in-laws” one day. Something really important (in my view) to reflect on before the arrival of a family’s first baby/grandbaby.

    • Amelia says...

      Julie – regarding your reply to my comment – what you raised is something I’ve also been wondering about. There’s the original question of how to be a good MIL, but what you wrote raises the question of adults taking on the responsibilities for caring for aging parents, often while also having the responsibilities of caring for their own young kids. It must be incredibly challenging to do that, not only logistically but also and maybe most especially emotionally. What is the relationship between an aging parent that suddenly needs assistance and is losing independence, and the the child who is asked to step up to support but needs to establish boundaries in what is possible for him/her to do? How does everyone navigate that fairly and with kindness and keeping their own mental health intact? I am glad you brought it up and would be interested to hear others’ thoughts on it and/or have CupofJo write an article about it.

    • Robin says...

      Yes to Amelia’s comment – my husband and I are both kids of divorced parents, so we have seven grandparents locally, which is wonderful, but we are also the ones who are going to be doing a lot of support over the next few years. And there’s just us, for the most part. And we have young kids as well. Boundaries are going to be hard to draw, and to maintain in a way that also maintains positive relationships with these people we love.

  31. I am a mum of five and some of these tips are news to me!! Love the idea of doughnut day (maybe more for myself than the kids!?) and very much agree on the ignore mother-in-law (or any) advice as needed.

    Also, as we start the summer holidays, my absolute top tip is Recharge Hour! Instead of calling it quiet time (which often puts my kids in a grump) I have everyone take an hour (45 mins for my 4 year old) alone in their rooms to ‘recharge’ before we continue the afternoon together. We’ve been doing it for the past few summers now and it has definitely saved my sanity and helped the siblings have some calm time away from each other… which keeps the mood more cheerful all round. Most of the time anyway :)

  32. Elena says...

    for when people start to go out again: buy a sequin skirt for your child to wear out, especially at night time events or any outdoor activity (that is skirt conducive). The light catches the sequins and you will always be able to spot them in a group, on the playground, etc. It works and it’s easy!

    • Katie says...

      When we were on vacation my dad (who is a fairly large guy) would always wear an array of bright yellow and orange shirts, knowing that if we got separated it would be easy for us to find him! Thinking back I’m surprised they never dressed us kids that way too!

    • Amy says...

      I still find myself looking for red or yellow when I’m searching for my mom at an event (I’m 30); when I was a kid she’d always choose a yellow or red tshirt for large group events so we could find her easily.

    • NW says...

      When we were kids, my mom would dress us all 3 alike when we would go places like malls, amusement parks, etc. That way, if one of us wandered away, she could remember what we were wearing that day! We had several sets of matching T-shirts, and we got used to directions like, “wear red/blue/purple” for the day.

  33. Leigh says...

    From an old CoJ reader comment, this is my go-to tip: Just Add Water. It’s genius, especially for summer. And it’s also good for adults. Take a bath, give the toys a bath, sip ice water, set out the sprinkler, set up the baby pool, etc. I read this while trying to get pregnant and now I use it with my 4yo on the regular.

    • Rachel Betts says...

      YES! So true! Still using this tip for my 10 and 11 year old kids and sometimes even grouchy adults, and it works.

    • lkb says...

      I remember this one too! I think of it often. It doesn’t always work, but has been a life-saver in many, many situations. Especially recently.

    • Meg says...

      Yes! I read it on an old comment and it has stuck in my head ever since. I just busted out some water play for my cranky 4 year old yesterday and it worked like a charm. Just Add Water!

  34. Maureen says...

    Thanks for this! I don’t have children and I still find this list super helpful to motivate myself! Stopwatch, totally helps with house cleaning. Or, Green Day songs instead — I can do a lot of cleaning in 3 Green Day songs! :)

    Also, love the communication modeling of explaining the day. Great life lesson.

  35. Allie says...

    I know this is an old post but… I would love a post like this for parents of teens/tweens. I vaguely remember the challenges of having little ones but I feel like matching socks is trivial compared with the emotional hurricane that is parenting a middle-schooler, and there isn’t a lot of support out there compared to all the sites about how to get your baby to nap or your toddler to behave.

    • celeste says...

      Yes! I have caught my 12 year old in some fibs this weekend and am researching how to sit down and have a talk. I found that the Facebook group: Parenting Teen and Tween Girls helps a little.

      I’ve definitely done the scheduling trick!

    • Wendy says...

      Yes to this!!! If anyone knows of blogs for parents of teens, please share!

    • Kathryn says...

      I rarely comment, but THIS I can sooooo relate to. Posts about tweens/teens would be awesome!

    • Susannah says...

      Yes please!

    • sabrina says...

      I never comment here, but just had to chime in–Yes, please!!

    • Laura says...

      From the mother of a now very adult daughter (who went off the rails at 14 in every conceivable way, but turned into a fabulous human by 16)–ask: “Under what conditions would you feel very safe telling me the truth about that (situation/wrongdoing/teacher conflict/etc.” ‘None’ or ‘never’ are off the table, of course. Then do your best to manifest those conditions.

    • Elysha says...

      I was thinking this SAME thing as I was reading! Would love to know people’s ideas. I loved the post about periods recently. One bit of advice that I can pass along is to make sure you have friends with children a bit older than your own so you can go to them for advice!

    • sbe says...

      Agreed! It would be fantastic to hear some tips/experiences regarding parenting of tweens/teens. And I love Laura’s response with the question: ‘Under what conditions would you feel very safe…’ Great starter!

    • Denise says...

      As a school psychologist at a middle school, I have found that the #1 reason adolescents lie to their parents is because they fear their parents will “overreact.”

      I believe we need to learn how to have difficult conversations with our children In a calm manner. Ideally this starts before adolescence. I also see the importance of connection between the parent and child and if they spend meaningful time together. The better the connection, the more adolescents will come to their parents with the hard stuff.

  36. jean says...

    As a single parent with two daughters I was always looking for quick and easy ways to keep household chores and housework easier. My best tip is to colour code the bathroom towels: my two daughters chose pink and purple, and mine were blue. We had so many hand and bath towels each, and whenever a towel was left on the bathroom floor or not put into the laundry, I always knew whose towels they were. Just made things a bit easier for us.

    • Bren says...

      Okay this is genius – I have 4 kids and I am absolutely getting them all their own colors!!! I think you just saved me hahaha

  37. LeahaBeth says...

    #13- My mother in law is much more my go to for questions than my own mother, and I try really hard with my own daughter in law. Im sorry that you feel differently. For me, my mother in law can be a wealth of information.

    • silly lily says...

      Thank you for saying this! I’ve had a Mother-in-Law and now I AM a Mother-in-Law……When I first had children, my MIL worked full time and spent most of her weekends two hours away, at the shore. I’m sure she would have helped me if she could have, but with these parameters to our relationship that rarely happened. We were expected to visit often, and of course that wasn’t very convenient. When my first son was three they moved permanently to the shore so it was inconvenient most of the time. She was a cheerful person who LOVED to cook, and that was mostly her gift to us. She also gifted me with a lot of advice, unfortunately based largely on old wives tales. Which were actually dangerous, at times……such as when I told her that babies under a year should never have honey since it was suspected to cause SIDS. And she responded by huffing: my babies thrived on honey. I can count on one hand the number of times she babysat for me.

      In contrast, I have been a Grandma for seven years; my sixth is on the way. And I have been hands on for that entire time…..between two DILs I spend multiple (sometimes very long) days at their houses on a weekly basis. I have had numerous overnights at my house, and had complete care of my 10 day old granddaughter when her Mom had to be hospitalized. In addition, I have to be extremely mindful about gluten and dairy free diets, allergies, and homeopathic treatments; as well as (of course) the likes and habits of each individual child. My care is never simply custodial…..my grands and I spend hours in exploration of new places, inventing new games, building forts, reading miles of books, watching good shows (I introduced them to Mr. Rogers) and generally speaking, a wealth of creative activities. Re-reading this, I’m a bit embarrassed cause it sure looks like I’m tooting my own horn pretty loudly. Guess I am! But my point is — if you have a MIL who is available that often, and often at the drop of a hat, and you don’t have to WORRY when you’re away…….please don’t ignore her TOO often. It shouldn’t cost too much to be respectful to someone who makes you and your children a TOP priority.

      BTW I have two lovely DILs who are grateful for my presence in their lives and treat me with respect and friendliness. It might be tough for me to do what I do without that.

    • Hilary says...

      Silly Lily, you sound like a dream MIL. Your grands are really lucky to have you! My parents are a lot like you and dang it we are so grateful to have them in our lives.

      As someone who doesn’t have that situation with my in-laws, some of our best and hardest parenting has to be done around boundaries with in-laws and in keeping our kiddo mentally/emotionally safe when she’s around her grandparents, since things like body image and bullying can take root so early. They also live 2 hours away and still work, so I think my in-laws think we just ignore them, when the reality is that we are extra thoughtful and careful about when/how they are involved.

      For all the other DILs out there with tricky in-laws, I feel you! And if you’re a MIL reading this who feels ignored, it might be worth looking at your own behavior to figure out why that is :)

  38. Julie says...

    One piece of advice I have is to never start playing kids music in the car. From the beginning we played our music only when driving. She likes it all. one I took a two hour drive to Disneyland with a good friend whose two year old would only listen to the Tigger song on repeat the entire drive. The.entire.drive. Omg. You can’t imagine.
    I’ll do anything for my daughter but listening to kiddy music is just torture!

    • Lisa says...

      My MIL drives me crazy but she loves my children more than life itself. So I happily put up with whatever craziness she has in store for me. She lives 7 hours away and it is not unusual for her to call and say she’ll be to our house in 2 hours. When she calls I always do a happy dance with my kids and sing about how Grandma is coming. She ignores all schedules and routines and generally makes my life difficult but I constantly let her know that she is always welcome and that I love having her in my life. My best parenting tip- love your in-laws like you want your children’s future spouses to love you. Be a peacemaker and remember that true love is kind and patient and holds no grudges.

    • K says...

      YES kid music is a bridge too far. Also when you’re in the grind of your mid-30s you get a moment of feeling cool when your kid is asking to listen to a Pavement song.

  39. Meghan says...

    Jo,

    I love your blog and the advice from you and other moms is my absolute favorite. I screenshot more and more motherly advice from here! And I’m just so grateful to have the opportunity to try new things with my son!

  40. Stephanie says...

    What do you mean by switching off on the plane? Going to sleep? Listening to music? A bit confusing.

    • Susan says...

      In this context, “switch off” means “trade places”.

  41. This list was so wonderful, thank you for sharing!

    My toothbrush tip is to buy a children’s electric toothbrush. Makes cleaning a breeze and it’s such a novelty. Toddlers look forward to when they get to turn on and off the ‘buzz’ and preschoolers walkaway with cleaner teeth because it can be so easy to miss all of those nooks and crannies with a regular toothbrush.

  42. As an elementary teacher, something that works well for those school-age kiddos who fall down is to come up to them after they fall/get bumped or bruised and say “Wow, you’re really tough.” Somehow, being told they are handling a situation well mean they do handle it well and go off to play rather than cry.

    Also- in classroom celebrations- if you must bring a sweet, cookies or something without a lot of mess is a live-saver. Slightly more work for the parents, but also very popular with the kids: sliced apples and touch of carmel. Also great for classes where so many kids have food allergies or limitations.

    • Midwest Mama says...

      Can I ask why the goal would be to keep a child from crying when they get hurt?

    • Robin says...

      I often comment on how well my kids fall – wow, you rolled right out of that one, nice! Did you get hurt at all? You’re getting really good at falling! And we’ll talk too about how it’s important not to run with something in your hands, so they are free to catch you, that kind of thing.
      To the comment above – this isn’t for when kids are truly hurt, but to help them deal with a scratch or bump so they don’t dwell in their injury. I do cuddle them and comfort them when they are hurt. But kids can get lost in it and they fall a LOT.

      Another thing I do with my preschooler is ask how many kisses he needs to feel better. He’ll pick something like 8562, and then I’ll count 1000,2000, etc. He’s always smiling by the end.

  43. I love the pancake one–doing it! I think granola could be included with that tip. It’s all about planning ahead right?

    For the plane separation, that’s really interesting! We live overseas and had never thought of doing that. One travel trick I totally recommend is finding your Airplane Fairy! Once the little kiddos are on the plane (car, train, or boat), they open their backpacks to find all sorts of goodies–snacks and treats, games and toys. My kids are now older, 11 & 12, but we all still make sure the Airplane Fairy has stocked our bags before we leave on our trips.

    This is such a fun post with so many great ideas.

    Oh, I’ll leave with this one: since my kiddos were real young, I’ve always insisted they are each other’s best friends. It has worked. They play so well with one another and have a real respect for their sibling.

    Thanks Joanna and all the other moms for their tips and tricks!

    Love,

    Ann of Kremb de la Kremb

  44. My parents has 3 daughters who were all two years apart in age, needless to say there were constant arguments about what TV show to watch, who got to sit up front the car, who got to play with certain toys, who got to sit in the “good spot” on the couch, who’s turn it was to set up the dinner table or clean up afterwards, and the list goes on! My genius parents, tired of the constant bickering, come up with a plan they called “Girl of the Week” – for one week the Girl of the Week would have first choice of everything. She would have preferential choice of seating, setting up of the table but no cleaning, could choose which toys she wanted to play with, etc. We would rotate each week with each sister and almost all arguments ceased immediately! Each sister was far too fond of the week long awesomeness that was Girl of the Week to attack it! What’s funny is that even though we’re all in our thirties now, we still use some of the old rules when it comes to setting up and cleaning for dinner when we’re at our parent’s house!

    • Laura says...

      That is a fantastic idea! I might have to use that for my boys one day!

  45. Julie Mallet! Thank you. I just became a MIL and I’m feeling stifled for fear of being THAT MIL. I will only respond to direct questions. I truly only want a good relationship with my DIL. I know it takes time…willing to wait and just be myself in the meantime.

  46. Great list! loving these.

    I’m pretty sure the Mother in Law comment was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and I’m certainly not meaning to wail on Emma, but this is something I have been thinking about a lot lately (especially having just had my second boy) – would be an interesting conversation to develop outside of a jokey (at least I think jokey!) one-liner?

    I really struggle with how the Mother in Law (can I use the MIL acronym for ease?!)’thing’ has become such a thing in so many circles I am part of. I find it really odd and disappointing.

    So many of my friends have an issue with their MIL. These women cannot do ANYTHING right, with regards to parental/running a home advice and support.

    I just find the lack of self-awareness staggering. I am speaking in generalities; of course there are MILs who are genuinely awful, and mothers who are not helpful. But isn’t it fairly obvious that we like what our mothers suggest because it’s what we are familiar with within our own family culture, and how we were taught to do things, and we dislike what our MILs do/suggest because it doesn’t jibe with our background?

    I am not being very articulate, but I just find the whole ‘waah waah my MIL is horrible/useless/stupid’ thing to be very… easy? a trendy fall-back?

    I think we are all just women trying to do life and get along and support one another, and yes my MIL might suggest something that is different to how something might be done within my own family culture, but that doesn’t make it wrong, and she is probably JUST TRYING TO BE HELPFUL. Like another commenter said – she raised my husband and he is pretty awesome, so kudos to her.

    One day, I hope to be a MIL and I hope that my daughter-in-law knows that I am just trying to help, and doesn’t spend all her time at coffee group moaning about what a stupid bitch I am because I folded the washing ‘wrong’ (read: differently to how the daughter in law was taught to fold it). Seriously, this apparently a grievous offence.

    I don’t know… I don’t mean to get heavy, and I did really enjoy the list! but crikey, I hate that there is this whole social construct around the MIL relationship, and this expectation of not getting along.

    With the exception of a few outliers, let’s get along with our MILs, communicate effectively to resolve issues, and hope that our future daughter-in-laws accord us the same respect.

    Something to talk about further?

    • d says...

      You are right, but people’s egos often get in the way.
      As someone who has lost both parents, I am always disappointed when I see older relatives, in laws, etc (people who I’d normally turn to for a word of practical advice or for wisdom) act like selfish children or antagonize their grandkids for their own kids attention.
      It is strange, but believe me, it does happen more than you’d think…
      This may sound harsh, but a kid or a grandkid is not the glue to fix people’s emptiness or insecurity.
      The fact that someone becomes a mother or a grandmother does not automatically earn them universal respect and authority over anything really.
      Extending common courtesy is advisable, but following one’s own instincts and politely shrugging off unsolicited advice regarding parenting and all family related matters, is the way to go in my opinion…

    • M says...

      I think that you are right that most MIL’s are well-intentioned and trying to be helpful. I know that mine is! What I struggle with is that her unsolicited advice almost always feels like criticism-like what I am doing isn’t good enough. And then I feel inadequate. And then I feel defensive and resentful. In contrast, my own mother almost never offers advice; she just listens. That may be one reason why we have such a good relationship.

    • L. says...

      Hi Everyone, My mother-in-law just passed away. I knew her for over 30 years. It’s a complicated relationship, but kindness and respect has to rule the day. I don’t think we can expect the mother-in-law relationship to have the same warmth as our mom/daughter, partly because the history isn’t there. As I’ve gotten older, I think there are cultural differences for sure in how “older” women are treated. I get along better with young women from European cultures better; American women seem put off (afraid?) by our age difference, whereas European women are more secure and comfortable with the idea of aging. This may have an effect on your relationships with your mothers-in-law. Maybe? Just putting it our there ….

    • M says...

      For me, the big difference between my mum and my MIL, is that my MIL is constantly offering unsolicited advice, and my mum never does. I think my mum feels like she did what she could to raise me, and now I’m an adult with three kids of my own, and the raising part is done. My MIL of course hasn’t had the benefit of filling me up with advice for decades, and maybe that’s why she does it now.
      Regardless of what’s behind it, I think many MIL issues come down to unsolicited advice. Almost no one ever likes to be on the receiving end of it, no matter who it’s coming from or what it’s about. When it’s my turn to be an MIL I really hope I’ll remember to just wait until I am asked…

    • Julia, Yes to everything you say, especially the part about the MIL bit being a trendy fallback. I, too, have grown weary of all the moaning.

      P.S. CoJ: this is SUCH a fun list!! Would love to hear one geared towards parenting tweens, teens, and young adults. And maybe one FROM mothers-in-law??

    • Mariela says...

      I agree that we should give our MILs the benefit of the doubt, and we shouldn’t EXPECT to not get along with our mother-in-laws — that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think where the issue comes in is when a mother-in-law expects (and expresses this expectation verbally or otherwise) that the home-keeping and parenting be done in the way that she did it. Ultimately expressing that she KNOWS better.
      I love my mother-in-law — at the same time, I thoughtfully do not run my home in the way that she did or parent in the way that she did. And it is, after all, my home and my kid. If my partner and I disagree on something, we owe each other the conversations, time and energy it will take to come to an agreement because we are equal partners in our lives and committed to that. I did not agree to that same arrangement with my mother-in-law. And so while I will always lead with respect, a mother-in-law needs to respect my choices and the ownership I have over my own life.

      *I do wonder if this is a socialization/gender-related issue as well. We have historically parented boys to take less ownership over home-keeping and parenting, and we have historically parented girls to identify completely as home-keepers and mothers. It can then become a problem when their children grow up if they have not found other ways to identify or have lives to live separate from their children — and they can become overbearing in these areas when it comes to their grandchildren.
      As parents, we should all make an effort to ensure we are teaching young boys to take care of themselves and take on the FULL responsibility of parenting if they decide to become one, and ensuring our girls know that they have value outside of keeping a house and becoming a mother. And to respect other women’s choices in these areas as well.

  47. Funny and clever as always. I don’t even have kids, but I still enjoyed reading it :-)

  48. Ooo, at my house we had to make little cards with pictures about things that were happening that day (play school, visiting dad at work, which babysitter was coming that day, play time, meal time). Our little toddler had such anxiety about what was happening, so in the morning we would put the cards in sequence on the fridge with magnets. Then we’d go over it and as the day went on he would go and flip them over on the fridge.

    Work intensive. But, IT WORKED.

  49. #13… i could not have said it better myself.

  50. I couldnt agree less with the ” your mother in law knows nothing” comment… Some of us are VERY blessed with wonderful MIL’s who know a great deal. For Petes sake she raised the man you married. Have a little respect.

  51. I just remembered an amazing tip my Mom gave me: only buy ice cream from one place.

    So we have “our” ice cream shop and (not counting when away on holiday) that’s the only place we get ice cream from. It means that seeing an ice cream cone sign elsewhere in our city never results in begging for ice cream because “it’s not our ice cream shop”. It helps if said ice cream place is not somewhere you pass regularly, so it’s a special outing.

    I have also found the “one finger” rule invaluable for allowing things to be touched, but not damaged or tugged (e.g. jewellery I’m wearing, xmas ornaments, etc). It’s easier for little ones to understand this concept than “be gentle” I think.

  52. Wow, some serious mother-in-law bitterness here. Lighten up, ladies. Maybe you had a good one; maybe you are a good one. But surely you know the feeling of getting tons of unsolicited advice from someone who has a lot of social leverage over you, but whose values you don’t necessarily share every one of.

    • A says...

      Oof, seriously! My MIL is maybe well-intentioned, but she acts like she is the only family member who matters. If my husband had a dollar for every time he’s had to stick up for me against his mother (for both of us really, we make parenting decisions together!), we would be richer than Jeff Bezos. And I’ve always thought the “she raised your husband” argument was silly if not slightly offensive. My mother raised me, but that doesn’t mean she did everything right and I should follow her opinions 100% as an adult!

  53. To introduce a child to taking a shower, roll up a washcloth and have him/her hold it over their eyes while you shower them. Face them away from the shower. They’ll get used to the water running over their heads and faces and eventually the wash cloth won’t be needed.

    There is a great toothbrushing app called Brush Eez. Love it!

    When my daughter was younger and would fall or tumble we wouldn’t react at all. Not even a gasp, because kids sometimes react to your reaction. Instead we wait and see what she does. If she looks like she’s going to be upset we ask her “How are you?” then take her cue. Usually though she’s fine or will simply respond “I’m all right!”, pause then take off to play.

    I used to carry a pair of small scissors (like kiddie scissors). It made it much easier to cut food down at restaurants for her to manage than using a knife (cutting spaghetti with a knife?). Wipe clean with a wipe

  54. During dinner, we take turns around the table playing Roses, Thorns and Unicorns. Each person shares one great moment that happened in the day (Roses), the worst thing that happened (Thorns) and something they wished or hoped to have happen (Unicorn). I find it helps our sons sit through dinner..even if it’s ‘so yucky tasting’…and I like listening to their sincere concerns when we express our thorns…pretty sweet. xo

  55. This one is a life-saver for any mom of a little kid who lives and breathes Lego, and who can’t stand bending over to pick up a zillion little pieces. Buy a Rubbermaid bin and a flat bed sheet. Put all the lego in the middle of the flat sheet. Grab all four corners and twist them together. It will go into the bin nicely with all the Lego inside. When your child wants to play, simply take the sheet out and spread it out on the floor. It’s SO easy to clean up. I give credit to my mom for inventing this one!

  56. I’m not even a parent but I love these all!!!

  57. haha, i love these! i’m not a parent yet but i always tuck these away somewhere. plus i’ve asked my husband to start doughnut day for me ;)

  58. If you are going to a new park or place and your child is prone to wandering off put a bell on your child. My middle sister has Down Syndrome and was a major runner and escape artist when she younger and my Mum always put a bell on her if we were going to a busy place because that way if she got lost she could hear her.
    Once they get older let each child choose a meal once a week which they help cook. My Mum did this when I was growing up and it eventually turned into us cooking a meal by ourselves once a week so she got a few nights off.
    Panadol helps calm a worked up child. I have anxiety and when I was younger I would get extremely worked up over little things to the point where I would be crying for no reason my Mum would always give me Panadol which some how helped calm me down.

    • Ann-Marie says...

      Valerian root is a much healthier option than Panadol (which is acetaminophen/Tylenol in the States)!! Especially for kids, crikey, don’t do that.

  59. These are fabulous! One tip that a friend recently gave me and that works like a charm (for kids who keep coming out of their room at bed time or calling “mama!”): let them know you’ll check on them….but only if they’re quiet. This keeps my kids quiet, in their bed, and asleep:)

  60. A couple that have worked for our 3 kids: We have pretty adventurous eaters, and I think it’s because we make one meal for everyone, and you eat or you don’t. Our doctor used to say you control what and when, and they control whether and how much. Dinner is served. This is the time to eat it, not in an hour. There aren’t substitutes. Whether or how much you eat is up to you. If refusing to eat gets them what they want to eat, then there’s little incentive to branch out. Eating together as a family has definitely helped this, too.

    Also, lay out all outergear the night before. It’s the sudden refusal to wear or inability to locate a hat/scarf/glove that can be the difference between a tantrum-free or a running-late morning!

  61. I love how simple and practical your posts are Jo….. easy to read and follow!!!

    I have a 23 month old…. so its nice to learn these little tips and tricks before he hits the terrible twos!!

  62. I want to do all of these! Right now I’m just trying to convince my 2 yr old to eat something green! I always get discouraged because I’m not a very creative cook- but when he gets a little older, I’d like to try the “pick your vegetable” game! So cute and creative. Thanks Joanna for these posts- I love your blog. xoxo

  63. Love the airplane idea! Will have to remember that for the future. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to just follow my instincts, regardless what the lady at the store, someone else’s doctor or your mother-in-law says. If it doesn’t feel right to you, steer clear.

  64. I’m not a parent yet, but loved “Anything You Want Day” as a kid. It’s in the same vein as “Doughnut Day,” but once a year. Every Labor Day we were allowed to do WHATEVER we wanted (ice cream for breakfast, treasure hunts, sleeping in a fort that took over the whole living room, etcetera.) Instead of saying “no” to ridiculous requests, my mom would say “wait til Whatever You Want day.” And she meant it! I anticipated it as much as Christmas and plan to do the same when I’m a mother.

  65. My hubby and I don’t have kids just yet, but I know that when we do, I’m going to be doing a LOT of #13. Oh man will I ever.

    Seriously though, these are great tips! Trying to commit to memory all the wonderful parenting advice I’ve gleaned from your blog throughout the years for when the time comes to use it :)

    wispandwhim.blogspot.com

  66. Related to the neon hats in winter tip, my mum always had us in matching t-shirts on the beach! They kept the sun off our skin as we kept them on over our swimsuits, and picking the colours that nobody else seemed to want (in the sales I suppose, too!) meant that we stood out in the crowd. We had these odd lime-ish green ones that feature in every summer photo album for years. Your tip about sitting apart on the plane is definitely counter-intuitive but does make sense – saving that one in the memory bank.

  67. This worked on my daughter (20 years ago) and my nephews to this day. Concerning ouchies: A small ouchie can be rubbed off as in, “Oh, are you okay? Let’s rub it off…” A larger ouchie, once the tears have subsided, “Do you know what happens when you get an ouchie? You get a little bit bigger…” which of course can morph into, “Oooh, I think when you hit your head/knee/elbow you got a little bit bigger, I can see it!”

  68. these all all good tips– not just for parents but for all people who interact with children!
    I also believe in always asking open-ended questions that you (the adult) don’t know the answer to. So, instead of asking things like “What color is the doggy? or How many buttons are on your shirt?” actually asking interesting questions where you can learn about the child and they can feel like you really care about them.

  69. Oh my gosh! These are so awesome! Thank you so much. I did laugh my head off at the Candyland advice. – Good one.

  70. I’m not a mama yet but I am an elementary school teacher so I spend lots of time with kiddos. These tips are genius and I will be sure to remember them when I have a baby of my own.

    sprucesandstones.weebly.com

  71. All good advice!
    Here is mine. (momma to two boys and a girl)
    When changing baby boys: Open the diaper, let the cold air hit it, put the diaper back down, wait a few seconds, proceed as normal. ;)

  72. On family trips my parents always put us in the same color shirts daily- it made all four of us easy to find. I have to say, it seems a bit harsh to say your mother-in-law knows nothing though- although I admit I’m not at the stage in my life where my mother in law is offering unsolicited parenting advice, I’m sure she means well, right? ah well. Dare to dream!

  73. #14 is sooo important, yet so hard to adhere to. Thanks for the reminder. I am trying to improve!

  74. This great! Love the veggie one!

  75. Mindy Lee, your comment on guiding them through the swell of their emotions – how beautifully put!

    I feel like I could do with that sometimes, so of course my little one does and for him it’s way more overwhelming. But easily forgotten amongst the physical and practical. Thank you for putting it in a way that’s so easily remembered.

    I’m too new to this to have the retrospect to know what works yet, but love this!! Joanna, can you make this regular, or a semi-regular, post?!

  76. Ha, I love these. They make perfect sense and I would never think of them on my own.

  77. I am not quite at this stage in my life…but I have bookmarked this to send to my friends who are. And I love the vegetable one!

    Annabel ♥
    Mascara & Maltesers

  78. These tips are great!!! I’m a mom of 2 boys. Here are a couple of my best tips:

    When your child starts reading at age 4-6 or so, start paying them a “Penny a Page” for the books they read. It might sound like bribery, but I have found it to be the biggest motivator for early readers! I do this through 2nd grade, and by that time, they are completely hooked on books and do marvelously in language arts. My 4th grade teacher suggested that to my parents, and I went from getting a “C” in reading to developing a lifelong love of the written word. This can also be adjusted for a child with a learning disability… a penny a word or a penny a sentence, as the child’s level allows.

    My second type is for coding holiday items. At Christmas, I put X’s and O’s on their presents. This way, they don’t know whose is whose, so they can’t figure out what’s in a box just by looking at it. At Easter, I color code the Easter eggs. One gets all the warm colored eggs and the other gets all the cool colors. This way, each gets an even amount, and the younger boy isn’t crying while the older one quickly finds a bunch of eggs.

  79. Don’t say please to a child, say thank you when you want a child to do something without negotiation eg. Shoes on! Thank you, well done. Please gives them the “no” option and sometimes, it just isn’t the time for options. Kids love being thanked by adults.
    Plus: junk day. Last day of school holidays should be junk day. Loads of junk food, back to back DVDs and slouching about. Adults too..

  80. Number 9 reminds me of a trick I use with my 2 year old Montessori students: when we get ready to go outside in the cold weather, I lay their coats open on the floor in front of them but turned upside down. I tell them to bend down and put their arms in the armholes and then flip the jacket over their head while they stand back up so that their arms slide in and the coat is on and ready to be zipped up before they know it. They love doing it, it makes getting ready quicker, and it gives them a sense of pride in being able to do it themselves. Once they see how it works, they’re always eager to grab their coats and even learn to lay them out themselves so the only work left for you to do is zip them up.

  81. My mom actually always used the “neon clothes” trick when we travelled. My brothers and I were always dressed in head-to-toe orange, or electric blue, or yellow when we took planes or trains. That way, if we ever wandered off while at the airport or train station, she could easily spot us.

  82. I totally second #21. We have a highly-active 4 year old & whenever we go anywhere, especially a park, the zoo, etc – he wears a red baseball hat. It makes him super easy to spot among other kids, bushes, play equipment.

    And for all the singing teeth-brushers, Raffi has a song specifically about brushing your teeth and my son and I sing it (mostly me since his mouth is full) every time he brushes.

    And finally, we allow our son to watch 1 hour of TV during the day and he gets 2 coins (each one representing 30 minutes) that he can “cash” in for a show. This helps him to know exactly how much he gets, he gets to decide when & how they’re used and also alleviates the begging for more programs once the coins are gone. The coins can also be taken away as a consequence. TV is a privilege, not a right. :)

    I, too, love Jordan’s suggestion about the veggies. We’ll have to try it out!

    Thanks for all of these!

  83. We struggle every single day with getting dressed. Our little dude does NOT like to wear long sleeves and puts up a fight 9 times out of 10. It’s a good thing we live in San Diego and he can get away with short sleeves most of the year.

    I think my best advice would be that the fastest way to pull them out of a tantrum is with a distraction. It’s so easy to get sucked into their fit-throwing, that you might miss the opportunity to re-direct their attention. My husband and I were trying (unsuccessfully) to coax our guy out a mini tantrum last night when I shouted “WHO WANTS A GUMMI VITAMIN?!?!?” Worked like a charm ;)

  84. If I constantly get a battle with getting in the car or going to bed I start with, ‘why don’t you pick out a toy to bring in the car with you’ or ‘why don’t you pick out a book to read before bed’ and then I let them walk over by themselves rather than picking them up. Seems like they feel like it’s their choice then.

    Listen. They will tell you what they need. My son didn’t want my daughter to close the door this morning and was completely freaking out. Turns out it was because he wanted her to come and sit on the couch with him. All I had to do was ask.

    Let them feel all of their emotions and guide them through the swell. When one of my kids is having a tantrum, I keep them company and show understanding until it passes and they are ready for a hug. It’s not always easy but it seems to work.

    I love all the tips, these posts are so helpful! I love the dustdevil idea! And starting a convo with “did I ever tell you about the time…”. I’m trying that one tonight!

    Thanks Jo!

  85. thank you for this! We’re patiently waiting for our little one to arrive (T minus 11 days! maybe?!) and these made me smile :) Definitely remembering the sock tip :)

  86. #13. Thank you. My in-laws are visiting right now. Needless to say there’s been a lot of polite ignoring:)

    One tip that’s been working for us is giving our 2 year old a “head’s up” that our activity is about to change. Usually we’ll start with a ten minute warning, then a five minute warning, and then “in one minute we’re going to go find our jammies… or put on our shoes… or sit down for dinner”. Though lately she’s started to try to negotiate with us – especially during the pre-nap warnings. Clever little thing.

    OH, and we accidentally used your “sit separately on the airplane” tip when we flew home from Christmas a couple weeks ago. It was a full flight and the airline had us sitting apart. I was initially panicked. But it ended up being great! I sat with our daughter for the first part of the flight, and then Dada came to the rescue the second half… it was amazing. We’ll be doing this every time for sure.

  87. I cannot thank you enough for this post. I cannot wait to use them and share them with everyone I know!

  88. When my daughter protests or complains about something, I take a moment to acknowledge her feelings; “I know, it stinks that we have to go home now, when you’re having so much fun on the swings! wouldn’t it be cool if we could stay in the playground all night?” Sometimes she just wants to know she’s being heard/understood.

  89. Which specific model is the Dirt Devil? When I click on it to open the link, it’s not opening, just a blank page. Thanks so much, Joanna!

  90. Love these tips!
    I would add this one: sit back & be quiet. Very young children can do a lot of things by themselves as long as they are given the opportunity. They do not need our constant wording.

  91. I am pretty sure I would also be out the door faster every day if I reminded myself to “Put on my arms” and “Put on my feet”, rather than struggling to figure out what goes with what! :)

  92. If a toddler is about to throw something or hit someone, don’t say, “Don’t hit!” or “Don’t throw!” They hear those words and it’s all they can think about. You have just set the wheels of fate in motion. Instead, think quick and suggest something else that they CAN do. At the moment, we do a lot of hits-redirected-to-high-fives and throws-redirected-to… well, whatever-I-can-think-of.

    • silly lily says...

      My 2 year old granddaughter was about to slap her mom when she was warned: you better not hit me. And she calmly replied: well, I’m gonna hit SOMEONE. Hilarious! And my new mantra……

  93. I love the sock idea! Where on earth do you find striped socks that aren’t in a multi-pack, I wonder?

  94. My latest discovery is the “ONE-FINGER RULE.” Children are so curious about breakables (think fancy Christmas ornaments) and want to touch/grab/poke and sometimes accidentally break them! The one-finger rule satisfies their curiosity, they get to touch something typically “off-limits” or for “adults only” and I have yet to have an accident with only one finger touching.

    Hot Mess Mamas

  95. #13 has my heart. I’m not certain what that says about my level of maturity, but I love it nonetheless.

    I do think the switching off parents trick on the plane is fairly genius.

  96. i’m LOVING these tips! keep them coming! xoxo

    • Cheryl says...

      You might need to remind yourself that you and many of the people giving advice on this site will someday be MILS. MY MIL wasn’t very nice to me but she was my husband’s mother, and we love each other very much (almost 39 years of marriage) so twice a year when they visited, I was respectful. We have cared for and been at the deathbeds of 3 parents. I have gained enough wisdom raising 3 successful children, teaching special needs children, and caring for loved ones, that I deserve more than being “ignored”.

  97. My friend Ann always had a damp washcloth for each child to have while eating so they could really keep their hands and faces clean and avoid the sink (too much water splashing around!)
    My mother taught me that if I really played with my kids for about an hour that they would be satisfied and then I could get things done afterwards (really worked!)
    My trick is to get on the same level as kids-adults are big and tall and so if you need to say something important–kneel down and say it eye to eye :)

  98. Great advice – I will be trying #3 tonight! Our 6 yr old has an attention span of a goldfish these days.

  99. Oh, the CandyLand tip! I geeked out one day and tracked down the 1975 version I used to play on ebay and purchased. So excruciatingly boring! Haha. I do the pancake thing, that’s a winner. And love both of Jordan’s tips. Thanks for them all!

  100. I have two kids with autism and along the way I’ve learned a few things that I think are helpful whatever your parenting situation! Find ways to give specific compliments even in the midst of meltdowns. Hearing what you’re doing right is powerful whether you’re 3, 13 or 43 and changes the emotional dynamic of difficult interactions. Also, trust your gut and don’t feel like you have to defend or explain all of your parenting choices, not because they are perfect choices, but because you’re doing your best with what you have.
    xo

  101. Love these! Especially 1, 16, and 20. I think 10 may be a particularly good one for my household – and we don’t even have kids yet : )

  102. #13 is exactly what I needed today!

  103. I just know that when I have kids in hopefully a few years down the line that I’ll be coming back to posts like this to remind me of all these great tips!

  104. We do #17, works great, except we don’t sing we put on a song that lasts about 2 min. Works must better than a timer/stopwatch for us – which leads me to, #6 depends on the child. My oldest (6.5 years) has always had an avid hate/fear of timers or stopwatches as a motivator to get tasks done – even when done with a ‘carrot’ at the end. The bare mention of starting one to motivate her to do a task, sends her into a screaming mess. I think #13 is obviously said tongue in cheek, as shorthand for you don’t have to take everything your mother-in-law says as gospel or try to live up to her expectations of how children should be raised. Feel free to be different and be strong in your belief in parenting and her criticisms will be easier to ignore.

  105. Great tips! We have 3 boys under age 10, and we are frequently complimented on their good behavior and lack of fighting amongst each other. At an early age when arguing would start we would say “remember, you guys are on the same team”. Even as little ones this seemed to really make sense to them. We often encourage them to look take care of each other…and they do!

  106. Fantastic post! Some of these we do, and some are great ideas I am going to implement from today! Thank you!!!!

  107. I so wish sitting apart on the plane worked for our family. My girls would always choose me and my husband would spend the entire flight worrying about how to help…

  108. Emily and Matt McLaren, I feel completely the same! I too have 3 boys. I also have a wonderful mother-in-law so I do have a good role model. She is sweet and laid-back and always happy to help and never judgmental. She usually thanks me for asking her to watch our boys because she just really likes spending time with them. I know this might be unusual but I really do appreciate her attitude and I hope to remember it when I’m in her shoes with my own boys.

  109. Love the “pick a vegetable” tip. My toddler loves “balls” (brussel sprouts). A few weeks ago he began chucking them off his plate onto the floor, and my husband and I realized that our household rule of “we only throw balls” had somehow backfired on us. :-)

    My current favorite parenting hacks:

    * While making batter for our Saturday evening pancake tradition, I fry the entire double batch into pancakes. On breakfast mornings I just pop the already cooked, leftover pancakes into the toaster to warm them. Quick, easy, and saves cleaning a messy frying pan every morning.

    * I put my 2 1/2-year-old and 1-year-old in the same size diapers. A 3 is a titch snug on him and a tiny bit big on her, but it saves so much work for me. Whenever I grab a diaper from the bag or changing table, I know it will work for either of them. If I’m going to have the work of two in diapers, I’m going to make it as easy as possible for myself. :-)

    * Read Janet Lansbury’s “No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame.” A quick read, and so, so helpful.

  110. I don’t have any kids, but I am definitely bookmarking this for the future! Very entertaining AND informative. This will be my bible if I ever have kids haha.
    It’sMyLife

  111. These are all excellent. I am loving the dinner table story teller, Dirt Devil in the car, and stopwatch the most!

    Photo at the top is perfect. Where could I find the same hat for my 18 month baby??

  112. My toddler loves to splash his hands in a soapy “finger bowl” after meals, rather than wrangling him at the sink. I love the sock tip and the airplane tip!

  113. Love all of these tips! It’s so great when you finally figure out how your kid works for a little while ;)

    One thing I had to really sit back and remember is that for kids, everything is enormous and immediate. They really don’t have a concept of the past or the future, so when something happens or they want something, they can’t really place it in any other context than the present. It can be irritating when everything needs to be now, but at the same time, they really haven’t developed future planning skills. It’s important to slow down, listen, and help them learn to plan ahead (such as the Wednesday donuts).

  114. Is it me or is the idea of becoming a mother in law so terrifying? I have three boys and am going to have to figure out how to do it well!

  115. oh, leah, we actually have both kids sit with one parent (in a group of three seats) and then the other parent sits in a single seat many rows away–then we switch off with the children in the row of three. does that make sense? so it should be the same for passengers around us. i think it might actually be easier because the kids are calmer throughout the flight when they have a “new” parent every couple hours. keeps them happier and quieter to have fresh energy!

  116. all great but #13 about ignoring your mother in law cracked me up!

  117. My son is only 7 months old, but I’m trying to get in the habit of NOT saying, “you’re ok!” when he’s crying. I’d never say something so dismissive to an older child or adult who was upset. I usually sympathetically say, “Aw, you’re gonna make it!” or, “you’re sad right now, but you’ll feel better soon.” I know it’s a tiny shift, but I am trying to practice cultivating empathy and conveying hope.

  118. These are great. What I really need is tips on how to get my 19 month old to nap (he is refusing lately) :) but I always appreciate ideas and empathy from other parents, thanks for sharing!

  119. I second the suggestion to tell your child the plan for the day. I teach Preschool and have noticed that, when I do that, things go very smoothly for me – particularly if a part of our day will be different. It is especially reassuring for kids with attention or anxiety issues to know what to expect.

  120. Love these! (Especially Gemma’s wise words;)

  121. “Ignore your mother-in-law. She knows nothing,” that’s hilarious!

  122. I love #16 I’ll definitely keep that in mind!

  123. Put sunscreen on toddlers when they are strapped in their carseats – they can’t escape!

  124. I love all these ideas! So many good ones, especially for new parents like me!

  125. I tried to keep track of which ideas were the best, but these were all complete gems. I have to say “put out your arms” made me laugh, and we don’t even get a cold winter where I live.
    This is a terrific post Jo and I look forward to checking in and reading the comments section later.
    I have no pearls of wisdom to share just now, I am going through one of those phases where I think my every decision might just be wrong.

  126. I’m a new mom, about to be a back-to-work mom :(. These are such great tips! Your friend Jordan’s are especially genius. Thanks for sharing!

  127. I really like the vegetable one!Definately going to try that. Also sit apart on a plane, wow. Brilliant idea.

    What works for us is when something big is coming up (birthday/trip abroad) I will make a drawing approximately 5 to 7 days in advance(crappy picture included) with the amount of boxes it takes until the ‘event’. Every day my son gets to put a stamp (or a cross) in the box. That way counting down becomes a thing and he gets a grasp of when something is. It works like a charm.

  128. Lucky me, my kids aren’t married yet. I’m still relevant.

  129. once when my one-year-old niece was bawling her head off, I pulled out a book she had never seen before and started showing her pictures of insects. crying immediately halted!

  130. This picture is too beautiful. Love the beanie hat on the baby.

    Hope you had a great weekend with the family.
    Love,
    Sofia

    stylishlyinlove.blogspot.com
    instagram: @stylishlyinlove
    Twitter: @stylishlyinlove