Nicola Alpe: Five parenting hacks to get you through the early years | #parenting


Try adding these parenting shortcuts into your routine to make life easier. Photo / Getty Images


The days may still be stretching into long warm evenings, but the fast-paced lifestyle has well and truly returned. The summer holidays can seem a distant memory, especially if you have kids and are thrown head first back into a frenzied pace.

As my daughter officially transitions from preschool to schoolgirl, I’ve found myself reminiscing on her early years and remembering the hacks that got me through. Here are some of my favourites for young families.

1. Swap bathtime for a shower

Bath time can be beautiful to bond with your child, but it also takes up a heck of a lot of precious time every single day. Sure, it’s cute watching them splash around and delight in having a face full of bubbles, but when you have to sit there supervising them nightly, the minutes can really drag by. Very early on we embraced a nightly shower and we haven’t looked back. A bath is now a special treat, bubbles even more, yet a shower can be over within minutes, giving you back precious time for all the other jobs you need to do at the end of the day. When they understand racing, it’s even more fun to time yourselves for extra speed. Winning. Just make sure you turn the shower off as you wash them otherwise you might as well get in there too.

2. Embrace car snacks

It’s highly likely that as soon as it’s safe for your child to do so, they will love snacking in the car. Given that you won’t ever leave the house again without a snack, you might as well make it work for you. Commutes home from daycare or preschool are the perfect time to get them eating some of those dreaded vegetables, plus, they are hungry, and they can’t go anywhere. Perfect. Get the kids used to eating a healthy vegetable-based snack in the car and you won’t be so stressed at dinner time if all they want to do is eat pasta with butter and parmesan cheese.

3. Beige doesn’t mean bland

While we are talking snacks, let’s talk laundry. It’s a given that you will be washing more frequently but why make it harder for yourself by serving snacks that stain when you are out of the house? In addition to cotton feeding smocks, I started a regime of non-staining snacks on-the-go to save on laundry. Cheesy omelette, baked Vegemite and cheese bruschetta, cold pasta shapes, edamame beans, crudité vegetables and plain crackers were all in my war chest and didn’t leave our girl looking like she’d dived head first into the buffet table.

4. And speaking of laundry

Invest in a box of colour catchers from the supermarket. Throw one of these in with a mixed wash on cold and you won’t turn your knickers grey or white socks pink while in with the onesies.

5. Be as organised as possible

The wheels really fall off when you are disorganised. The moment you are in a rush kids pick up on your tension and all hell breaks loose. Try to combat this by being as organised as possible the night before. Set up the birthday party decorations the night before (learnt that the hard way), pack the non-staining snack, put water bottles in the fridge, stock up the nappy bag. While you’re at it, make sure your snack is packed and that your clothes are laid out. Life definitely revolves around the kids but it’s just as important that you are fed, watered and clothed too.

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