You know who loves a good hack? Everyone. You know who really loves a good hack, and oftentimes are the best innovators of them? Moms.
Vanessa Quigley, founder of Chatbooks and mother of 7—yes, 7!—children recently published a book chock-full of hacks for the modern parent. In Real Moms, Real Hacks: 107 Parent-Tested Tips + Tricks to Save You Time, Money, and Sanity ($10; amazon.com), you’ll find a bevy of helpful tips for everything from packing school lunches to getting your kids to brush their teeth. Some are her own ideas, and many are from fellow moms who, for lack of a better word, seem to have their sh*t together.
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Quigley’s appreciation for shortcuts started at a young age, when, as a the oldest child of 12—and you thought 7 was a lot!—she witnessed her mom constantly find creative ways to get things done around the house. Case in point, this brilliant idea of turning a regular household chore into a game: “My mom would pour soapy water on the floor and give the kids rags to go to town—playing AND cleaning!,” she recalls.
Her company even started as a hack: “I knew I needed to get my photos out of my phone, but I didn’t have time for another project,” she says when she realized that her son had turned 5 and that she didn’t have a single printed photo of him. “That’s when I came up with the idea for Chatbooks. Every time you add 60 photos to social media or your camera roll favorites, you automatically get a new volume.”
This woman obviously knows how to get things done. Keep reading for more ingenious parenting hacks from Quigley’s book. And if you have some life-changing tips of your own, share them with Quigley on Twitter. Maybe you’ll be featured in the next edition.
- I make a month’s worth of school lunch sandwiches, bag them, and freeze them. Each morning, I throw them in lunchboxes. They defrost by lunch while keeping everything else cold! -Vanessa Hunt @wanderlust.crew
- Bring little sticky notes on flights: your baby can stick them all over the tray in front of the seat, then pull them off -Brittany Hayward
- Park next to the shopping cart return! It means I don’t have to carry everyone into the store to get a cart and better yet, when we come out I don’t have to go far to return the cart. -Arrin B.
- I save all my babysitters in my phone with “babysitter” in front of their name, so I just open my phone and search “babysitter” when needed. -Allyson Downey founder of weeSpring and author of Here’s the Plan
- I keep a $20 bill hidden in my car for emergencies—like realizing you forgot your purse when you’re out of gas! -Vanessa Quigley
- I recently put a Lazy Susan inside my fridge: great for seeing those condiments that hide in the back of the fridge. -Natalie Norton @natalienorton
- My kids get to pick four snacks per day from a basket on our table. Normally they snack at 10am, 1pm, 4pm, and before bed. I’ve found this is way better than constantly being asked for a snack. -Emily Mudroch Roberts
- I have several buckets throughout the house. Any time I come across a random toy during the day, it all ends up in the closest bucket. At the end of the day, the kids help me empty the buckets and put everything away. It helps keep the house tidy throughout the day, keeps me from stepping on loose legos, and when one of the kids comes asking if I’ve seen a toy, all I have to say is, “Check the bucket.” -Melissa Cook
- Always keep thank you/birthday/teacher cards on hand along with $10 Starbucks gift cards—the same goes with kids’ birthday presents. You’ll always be prepared on the spot! -Keenan Sanders
- We used to have a hard time finding gifts for my in-laws until all of the siblings got together and decided to open a savings account for them to use for a trip/destination. We wrote a letter and gave them the account info. Now every Christmas and birthday we all just keep adding to it. -Jared-Amy Card