THE SETUP: Some of you may know that my family and I will bid adieu to Baltimore in mid-August. Since our announcement, I’ve had a few requests from moms and dads to share my Baltimore parenting knowledge. More specifically, I’ve been asked to blog about Baltimore parenting on the cheap. You got it!
In other posts, I shared my favorite hacks in food deals, entertainment and shopping. But now I am going to talk about parenting in general. Here is some of the best parenting advice this frugal mom has received.
OK, parenting is basically teaching. As an educator, I stole brilliant ideas from other teachers all the time. Same applies to parenting. Also, in case you didn’t know: Kids see everything you do and don’t do and they hear everything you say and don’t say. Remember that. Onto brilliance and sanity.
Once your kid is potty trained and 3 feet tall, go to IKEA and leave them at Smalland. This gives you 90 minutes of unadulterated time to yourself! Go eat breakfast or lunch in the cafe BY YOURSELF! Even better, do this with other families and have all the adults eat alone while the kids play. When you’re finished eating, wander the store just because you can.
VERY IMPORTANT: If your kid is a runner, wanderer, or you’re just a helicopter parent like me, go to the children’s department and purchase two to three safety vests. Use them when you visit crowded places. Your kid probably won’t mind, because he or she will look like a construction worker. I have received so many high fives for this hack. Sometimes when my friends and I go places together, we get mistaken for a daycare because ALL of our children wear the vests. High visibility for my kid, yes please!
After purchasing the vests and when 90 minutes is up, collect your child(ren) from Smalland and take one of three options: Go home; treat them to a lunch at IKEA; or treat them to more play in the children’s department. I suggest registering for an IKEA family card for discounts.
If your kid wipes away your or another’s kisses, tell him or her if they don’t want kisses that’s OK, but they have to give them back. This usually results in them giving you a peck. LOL. Suckers! (Thanks for this tip, wifey!)
When packing a change of clothes for your kid, include shoes and socks, too. Pee dribbles down legs all the way to the feet. (Thanks, Kim.)
Barf bags in a car are handy for pregnant women and for sick kids. I recommend a couple in the glove box. You never know when someone has to blow.
Reusable pouches and snack bags are good for everyone.
Grass countertop drying racks for baby bottles and related items also can be used for non-baby things. I still use ours and the bottle brush to this day — and our kid is now 3. Long live items that can be used beyond a couple of months! Nipple brushes are great for cleaning water bottles, sippy cups and other tough to reach places.
Honestly, my favorite thing, and most cost-efficient parenting hack, is swapping things with friends. We receive hand-me-downs from friends with older kids, and when my kids lose interest in things or if we just have too much, we swap with friends and neighbors. It’s a great way to get “new” toys, books, clothes, etc.
NoseFrida clears up boogers, beans, rocks and more. No lie, my wife has extracted all of these items from the nose of our child and the children of neighbors. OK, she is a nurse. But still, NoseFrida.
Energetic or rough kid? Have him or her punch and tackle a pillow when he or she gets a little too handsy with others. Especially if he or she doesn’t respond to time outs. You want to hit? OK, go hit a pillow for two minutes. Again, my brilliant wife.
Finally, find friends and do as much as you can with them. More eyes and hands equal invaluable help. Not to mention, not having to be the one to constantly yell or discipline your child is awesome. Parenting is exhausting, difficult and often times boring. With friends though, it doesn’t seem to be as much work. You quickly learn that everyone struggles with parenting, and it’s nice to voice frustrations, get ideas, and have a large network of support. Join forces with friends and either all suck at the parenting game — or more likely — rock the shit out of it.