Whether you’re caring for one child or eight, infants or teens, parenting can be tough. We asked current foster, kinship and adoptive parents for their best parenting “life hacks.” Here’s what they had to say:
“All of my little people have a toddler backpack and they each carry their own diapers, wipes, water and a small toy like a pop it when we go out places.”
“We have 8 kids. We call this “Briefing The Kids”. Some people call this Social Stories.
Before an event, we tell the kids what we are doing. We explain the general order of events so they know what to expect. We tell them what they *can* do and what they *can’t* do. We give examples of things that might happen and how they are supposed to respond, etc. We try to make it entertaining, hilarious, and just funny while also informational. It makes trips to the store, restaurants, doctors, and everywhere else so much more smooth.
Example: We’re going to the dentist. The conversation goes something like this: “First, we’ll be waiting in the waiting room. Do you stand on chairs or crawl under them? No? Good. We can sit in the chairs and look at a book or watch the TV in the office. When they call your name, we go get pictures of your teeth and a nice person will brush your teeth too…..on and on…”
Example: We are going to my husband’s boss’s house for dinner. We explain that this is dad’s boss, so we need to use all our manners. We tell them to use sir/ma’am. No running inside. No taking apart Lego houses built by their kids. We explain what they can do: They can use the bathroom if needed. Upon arrival, we immediately show them where the bathroom is. They can play games in the backyard. We tell them if they get bored, to come talk to us for ideas. We tell them how long we will be there (approximate time).”
“If you have multiple kids, having assigned colored dishes changed my life. Walmart sells them for $2. Each kid has their own plate, bowl etc., so when there’s a plate in the sink or the coffee table we all know who is responsible for cleaning it. Miraculously I don’t have dishes all over or a sink of dishes anymore.”
“Pick your battles. Examples: One time my older kiddo threw a BIG tantrum in her room and started kicking around an empty box while yelling and grunting. Her sibling was with me, allowing big sis to release her energy in a safe environment. Instead of making a big fuss, I gave her time to cool off. We talked about it later, both using our “speaking voices.” Also, the house is always going to look lived-in, so as long as we take care of the big things and (somewhat) keep up with the little things AND have quality time together, then it’s okay. I also try not to freak out about eating fast food once or twice a week when I’m not feeling so well or we’re having a long day due to extracurriculars.”
“Everyone gets a day of the week. Example if Monday is your day, you get to pick the tv show, sit up front when old enough, etc. We had 5 kids so everyone got a weekday and weekends were mom and dad’s.”
“Bath bombs for new placements. A big basket of bath bombs with toys or squishies inside that they get to dig through and choose one seems to help a lot of kiddos get comfortable with getting in the tub in a new house. Usually they opt for ‘extra’ baths the next day, too.”
“Hot pizza and fresh baked cookies when kiddos first arrive. Don’t ever bluff! They will call you on it every time. If you don’t mean it 100%, don’t say it.”
“If you are potty training or have a kiddo who struggles with bed-wetting, use layers, for example, a waterproof mattress protector, fitted sheet, waterproof protector, fitted sheet, etc. Then if there’s a middle of the night accident, you just strip layers and don’t have to remake the bed.”
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