By Lisa Sugarman
If you’re a modern, remotely tech-savvy, parent who spends even a little bit of time online, then the chances are good that you know what Life Hacks are. And if you do, then you love them. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible you have no idea what I’m talking about. So in the interest of those who don’t know, let me rock your world.
Life Hacks, or just plain Hacks as most people know them, are nothing more than nifty little tricks, shortcuts, or novelties for managing day-to-day activities that enhance our productivity and/or make us more efficient. In other words, they’re ingenious little ideas for doing regular everyday stuff that you can’t believe you didn’t think of yourself. HuffPost Comedy described them best when they called them clever/brilliant/ridiculous solutions to everyday dilemmas. And they are, every last one of them.
Unbeknownst to me, though, Hacks have been around awhile. Since 2004, actually. (Again, unbeknownst to me.) But the weird thing is, they never really made it onto my radar until fairly recently. (What can I say? I’ve been busy.)
Now I kind of assumed I knew the gist of what they were just by using my good-old-fashioned inferring skills whenever I saw a post about a new hack scroll through my News Feed. But until a couple of years ago, I didn’t realize that there’s an entire world of useful hacks floating around out there. And let me tell you, my world hasn’t been the same since.
See, I’m what you’d call a habitual organizer—an efficiency freak to be more precise. I’m forever sorting and compartmentalizing and consolidating my personal little world, so it’s almost like hacks were developed just for me. (Or at least that’s how I feel.) And now that I’ve discovered this network of brilliant ideas, I’m completely addicted.
I mean, it’s amazing to me that I’ve made it this far through my life without using jumbo office binder clips to secure bags of frozen vegetables to the rungs of the shelves in my freezer? Or that I could cut down a pool noodle and make it into a door stopper. Or that when my girls were little, I could’ve put them in an empty laundry basket while they were in the tub to corral all their toys. These things are pure genius. If only hacks were around when I was a new mom? If only.
So although there are literally thousands of solid hack ideas out there, I’ve scoured the Internet to find what I think are some of the most useful and ingenious hacks for parents. Here’s a list of the top fifteen I found:
- Get gum out of hair or fabric using ice.
- Don’t cry when you cut onions if you rinse them under cool water first.
- Lay a wooden spoon across the top of the pot to create a simple interrupting barrier that will keep your pot from overflowing.
- Double diaper your baby when you go out of the house, that way when you need to change her diaper you’ll always have a backup on hand.
- Make all your sandwiches for the week on Sunday and freeze them in a Ziploc baggy. Then, pop them in your son’s lunchbox frozen and you won’t need a freezer pack. They’ll be perfectly defrosted by lunchtime and everything will stay cold.
- Store all your bulky bibs on the back of your highchair with a stick-on hook.
- Put a Band-Aid over an electrical outlet when you’re traveling as a quick baby-proofing trick.
- To sooth teething baby gums put their pacifier in the freezer.
- Use an inflatable baby pool as an indoor playpen for your baby.
- Use old egg cartons for paint palettes when your kids want to paint.
- Keep your bathrobe on over your clothes until you walk out the door to avoid kid messes.
- Ensure toddler mittens don’t get lost by sewing a long piece of yarn to each glove and then stringing the gloves through your son’s coat sleeve.
- Keep a plastic cereal container lined with a trash bag in the front seat of your car as a trash barrel.
- Lay down a bedsheet before your son starts playing with his Legos. Makes clean-up a snap.
- Push a popsicle stick through the bottom of a foil muffin cup to ensure no dripping.
I could honestly go on forever because they’re all so damn useful. But this is just a sampling of the best, most ingenious hacks I found (and I wasn’t even looking that hard). For more useful, top-rated hacks, go to lifehacks.com or lifehack.org or Pinterest or Tumblr or YouTube.
Just clear your schedule for the rest of the day because once you start checking them out, you won’t want to stop.
Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at itiswhatitiscolumn.wordpress.com. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com and at select Whole Foods Market stores.