7 Game Changers for Parents


If I was going to write a post about parenting advice, I’d probably mention that I think it’s important to give each child one-on-one time or keep a spare bag with diapers and wipes in the car, just in case, but that’s all advice that you’ve heard from your mom or your BFF or the latest issue of Parents magazine.

This post is about the lesser known “parenting hacks” that I’ve implemented and they’ve changed my life.  It sounds extreme, but they’re game changers, for sure.  Maybe you’ve done all of them or none of them, but I’m hoping that a couple of them help a fellow parent out.  *throws up parenting gang sign*

Okay, here we go.  Warning, this post is looooooong.



I know that seems like a redundant statement to make, but there are times that I feel guilty for being irritated with their behavior or dreading playing another round of Candyland.  But there’s a reason why they like that stuff and I don’t, and it’s not because I’m a boring parent.  It’s because I’m a grown-up that likes grown-up things and they’re little kids that like little kid things.

When they’re in the middle of having a loud tickle fight with each other or rolling bouncy balls down the hallway, my knee-jerk reaction is to get them to stop.  I’ve had to pause for a few seconds and ask myself, “Are they doing anything wrong?  Or are they just being children?”

Two little girls singing different songs at the same time is discordant to me, but to them… they’re better than any Brandy + Monica “The Boy is Mine” harmony.  I also think that I suffer from sensory overload pretty easily, and that’s not their fault, either.

My solution: ear plugs.  I kid you not, and before you call DCF on me, ear plugs (the neon orange foamy kind that you can buy at any drugstore) do not eliminate all sound.  They just take the edge off the high pitched noises, the thump-thump-thumping down the hallway, and um, let’s be honest… any whining.  I can still hear them… but I’m not so overwhelmed by the noise.

I also do something similar with earbuds + music at bedtime that I’ll explain further below.


Or a baby carrier, but my favorite is the Ergo.  When Minnie was smaller, I used a lilleBaby, which I liked very much because it has a “newborn setting” on it.  I ended up giving that one to Rachel and I use my Ergo every day, multiple times a day.  I strap Minnie onto my back and I clean the kitchen or vacuum the living room or go for a walk with Remmy + Sophie or shop.  If you’re newly pregnant and are only going to register for one thing on your baby registry, make it a really good carrier (like the Ergo!).  I have a few other recommendations for baby must-haves here.

These tips changed my life for real

We’re blurry, but productive.


Whoaaaa ho hoooohhhh.  No running for the duct tape just yet.  I don’t do this often, but if we’re having a rough afternoon, I strap all of the girls into their carseats, and we go for a drive.  I put on a kid friendly CD (love Jewel’s “The Merry Goes Round” album), and run any possible drive-thru errands.  Mostly, this means the bank, but one day I’m hopeful for a drive thru Target.  YES AND AMEN.  This isn’t the most gas-friendly option, but in a pinch, it’s an easy way to stop fighting (no one can even touch each other), get them to mellow out a little (babies + children love new scenery), and keep you from losing your cool.  I drive a few towns over to get to a Starbucks drive-thru to order a shaken black tea lemonade and sip.

7 game changers for parents


I know babies aren’t really supposed to watch television before the age of 2, but I asked my pediatrician about it, and he swears up and down that 30 minutes of television for a one year old is not going to do any detrimental damage.  And as a mom who has done this with the two older ones, I don’t feel an ounce of guilt doing it for Minnie.  If you need someone to make you feel comfortable about this, CHILD, I RELEASE YOU.

Anyway, once in awhile, I pull her highchair into my office, strap her in, put a toy on her tray, and “split” my computer screen in half.  We watch Baby Einstein on the left side, and the right side goes to whatever project I’m working on at the moment.  We sit, we chat, we marvel at the puppets for 20 minutes or so, and I get a little bit of work done.

split screen baby einstein and work

Minnie, internet destroyer.


Well, sort of.  I heard about this app, downloaded it, and I love it.  When my girls come home from school with art projects and pictures, I open up Artkive (for iPhone, not sure if it’s compatible with other phones yet), take a photo, and just enter the info.  When you set it up, you put in the names of your kids and their ages or school years, so I just have to choose which child and all of that info populates for me.  I name the piece of art (The Universe!), and boom.  Done.  It’s uploaded and later on I can order a book made with all of their art in it.  The books can be kind of pricey (at first glance, I haven’t really checked), but at this point, I don’t have to think, glue anything, or figure out any particular website’s photo layout software. I’m also no longer drowning in paper clutter.

A still keep a few, but most of the projects get “filed in G,” (code for thrown in the garbage or recycled) but their memories live on!  THIS IS SPARTA!


When Minnie goes down for her afternoon nap, Remmy + Sophie have quiet time.  They get split up into two different rooms (usually one in the living room and one in my bedroom) with a couple of toys.  I put the timer on for forty minutes, and they’re allowed to quietly play or read books.  Every few days or so, Sophie tucks herself in and takes a little nap.  It’s a nice way for them to unwind after a day of school (and another hour of play), and have a little alone time.  I used to do quiet activity bins regularly, and I’m thinking about utilizing them again.  But right now they mostly read, play with blocks and puzzles, and color on a Magna Doodle.  PS. Magna Doodle?  Great investment.  Catch ’em on sale, and buy one for each kid.

7 life changing tips for parents


Say whattttt.  I know this flies in the face of every joke on Pinterest about how “cleaning while the kids are awake is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.”

BUT… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put the girls to bed, hopeful for a little time to myself, and then I realize that I need to spend the next hour and a half cleaning because the house is a bomb. It’s kind of disheartening.

We have three basic cleanup times throughout the day.  They have before school chores, before quiet time chores, and before bed chores.  These chores are really, really simple.  I have a list of chores for toddlers + preschoolers here (that definitely needs updating), but their before school chores include things like 1) putting their breakfast dishes in the sink and 2) putting their pajamas on their bed and their undies in the hamper.  Before quiet time (which is not long after they get home from school), they make sure their lunch boxes are in the kitchen, their shoes are in the shoe basket, and any toys are put away.

7 game changers for parents

The hardest hitter is the before bed time chores.  We loosely start after dinner.   Jack works late often, so I’m usually the one dealing with dinner/bedtime by myself.  Real talk – sometimes it’s really frustrating.  I think most parents will chime in and say that this is the most difficult part of the day.  For me, it’s the time where I’m most apt to get frustrated or raise my voice.  :(  Both things I don’t want to do.

I put earbuds in and play some music.  It’s low enough where I can still hear my kids (and they’re with me this whole time, if anyone’s concerned about safety), but it’s a barrier against general kid-loudness and sensory overload.  Y’all know me as a hip hop lover, but at nighttime, I switch on Vivaldi or Shane & Shane on Pandora.  The music on the Shane & Shane station lines up with a lot of my spiritual beliefs, so I find it soothing while I’m heading into a particularly rough time of the day.

With music in my ears, a baby on my back, and a three year old and a four and a half year old by my side, we go through room to room and quietly pick up.  Toys get put away, dishes go in the sink.  They help me load dirty laundry into a basket, and all of us take the trek into the basement.  They take turns pushing buttons on the washer/dryer, loading and unloading.  They sweep and they take turns vacuuming (with my help).  Everyone gets their own little rag and we wipe down the kitchen table.  This isn’t abuse or child labor.  Remmy + Sophie really, truly enjoy helping.  It’s spending time with Mommy :) and helping with the cleaning because “we all live here and we have to share and respect the space.”

Pajamas, teeth brushing, going potty.  I pull Minnie off my back, and get her ready for bed.  We spend the last few minutes hanging out in their room, quietly playing for a bit.  I take my ear buds out and give them each a turn to listen to the music (THEY LOVE THIS!) before tuck-in time.

When all of the kids are in bed, I still have some cleaning to do, but it’s not nearly as bad as if I just let them wreak havoc and waited until bedtime to clean.


Think any of them are bogus?  Got your own to add?  I’d love to read them.  :)

original photo credit: lintmachine cc

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  • Reply ashlie April 23, 2013 at 11:31 am

    This is great! I have it easy, just one 2 year old, but she can still seem like a handful some days. The best advice my mom gave me (she raised 4 kids, and currently has 3 foster kids) is to give them a job. When Vivian is freaking out because the cat doesn’t want his tail pulled or something, redirecting her to help with a job always seems to do the trick. “Let’s put this in the blue box! Let’s feed the kitties! Here’s a wet wipe, let’s clean the table!” Toddlers are ineffective, but definitely want to be helpful!

    • Reply Roo April 23, 2013 at 11:44 am

      Totally agree, Ashlie. Sometimes I’ll just pull out a couple of baby wipes and direct them to wipe down every doorknob they can find. :)

  • Reply aimee April 23, 2013 at 11:37 am

    great tips. my little guy is just 9 months now, but future sibs are definitely the plan. I’m gonna keep this filed away for later!

    • Reply Roo April 23, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      Yay, Aimee! I hope it helps. :)

  • Reply Joanna S. April 23, 2013 at 11:44 am

    So is it sad I just figured the job thing with my five-year-old?? I was a single mom up until he was 3-1/2 and it was just easier to everything myself, but now that I have two and a husband and an entire house to clean-up I’m realizing that was probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. I finally stopped and have been giving him jobs and asking him to help with his little sister, and good lord the fighting with me about everything has finally stopped and really enjoys it. He actually seems so much happier now that he feels like he’s helping with our family, in our house… he’s proud.
    And quiet time (definitly under any circumstance is it to be called “nap” time) is a life saver… keeps all of us happy and friendly and not grouchy. :)

    • Reply Roo April 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      Oh yeah, Joanna! I agree. Chores give them such a sense of pride! I make sure to be generous with my “Wowww! You did such a great job putting the books away!” etc etc.

  • Reply Natasha April 23, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Giiiirl you got this figured out. I may need to implement the earbuds, because that hour before dinner when the 3yo and 8yo are getting on each other’s last nerve is crucial. And the paper clutter? My number one pet peeve. I dislike anything on my counters, and I am VERY spartan about tossing things. Every so often I do a number on the house and huge bags of JUNK go out the door. Otherwise, the hub’s hoarder habits would take the house over. Def going to check out that art app…

    • Reply Roo April 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      Yeah, I felt so guilty getting rid of projects, but that app changed my life, hahaha.

      EARBUDS. Do eet. :)

  • Reply Heather J. April 23, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I don’t even have kids yet, but having your kids help with the chores like that seems totally genius to me. My mom never really made my sister and I do very much around the house, and it would have been nice to already know how to do my own laundry before I went to college – I still feel like I’m doing it wrong half the time!

    • Reply Roo April 23, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      Hahaha, I sort of feel the same way about cooking. By the time I left the house, the most I could do is make salad. :P

  • Reply Sarah @ Pretty Providence April 23, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Roo, thanks for sharing your wisdom! I don’t have any kids yet BUT this is the stuff I want to remember. Having them help you clean is so smart and I’m sure also character building. Also I kind want to buy that Ergo now just so I can have it when I need it! But I’ll wait I guess. For the sake of practicality.

    • Reply Roo April 23, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      Haha, I saw that you pinned it. Thanks, girl!

      Ooh, maybe when you have your baby, Ergo will have come out with an amazing kind that has a cup holder attachment or something. :)

  • Reply christina @ homemade ocean April 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    I now feel confident that I can have and handle kids…..in five years :)

    I soooo appreciate your parenting style, any time you want to through posts like this out there I will be right behind you bookmarking and filing as you post!

    • Reply Roo April 23, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      Aww, thanks, Christina! I hope I don’t lead you astray, haha.

  • Reply Sarah F. April 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I LOVE this! I just downloaded the Artkive app, so psyched about that. And I am going to be printing the chore list (right after I type this….). It’s so easy to get frustrated with the mess and I love that you include the little ones. Thanks for this!

    • Reply Roo April 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks, Sarah! I hope it helps!

  • Reply Amy @ drivethirtythree April 23, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    omg. that artkive thing is pure genius! i have all of my sons artwork pictures that i took randomly stored on my computer and wasn’t sure how to best keep them and then print them out. It is a bit $$ but totally worth not having to worry about it!

    • Reply Roo April 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      For real.. I have a million years’ worth of photos that I’m supposed to put in an album. Hasn’t happened yet. :/

  • Reply Ryan April 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Dad here, works from home and let me tell you, I love my ergo!! It makes me feel close to my son, like we are on own little adventure in our own little world.

    – Car rides are amazing. Now we usually stop at Publix and get a free cookie/balloon and thing sing out hearts out to ” Life is a highway” by Rascal Flatts or the “Car Car” song as my son calls it.

    – As far as night time rituals go, we sing the “clean up, clean up” song as we put away our toys. Then we brush teeth while making a choo choo noise. My favorite time is when I get to rock him to sleep. I pull out my phone and we look at pictures as we recount the days event. ( I take way to many pictures).

    I cant wait to try out a few of these especially the earplugs. Hahaha

    • Reply Roo April 23, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      So fun, Ryan! I love that you guys recap the day with your photos!

  • Reply Anna April 23, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    This is awesome! I love the earplug option as my daughter has one volume – LOUD! The art projects one is good too- I just take a pic with my phone or camera (did this with her first painted Easter Egg) and plan to load them into my Digital scrapbooking program to add to her scrap pages (if I ever get around to that). My favourite of your list is the before bedtime clean up. That is the worst time for both of us and I am often tempted to plop her in front of Micky Mouse. It all sounds so much more peaceful!

    • Reply Roo April 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      It really is, although there’s still a few “slooow breath” moments. :)

  • Reply Melanie S April 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Love this! I have a seven year old triplet boys and if we didn’t pick up a little bit each day, my house would be a wreck. However, I did just implement the rule that they will get one nightly warning about clothes on their floor and that’s it. I’m not going to pick it up for them and put it in the hamper. So after all the laundry is done (is it ever really done) and they don’t have clean pants, not my fault!
    I also have a son who is very routine driven. We have signs by their bedroom door that are their morning routines and their night time routines. We have to spell out every step, so it’s wake up, go potty, get dressed, put clothes in hamper, pick up books, eat breakfast, put lunch in backpack, brush teeth, get shoes on, meet bus. But he loves that he knows what exactly he has to do and will often run back to check what step he is on.
    When things start to get too out of control, we do dance parties. Right now a favorite is Macklemore, Mumford and Son’s and Imagine Dragons. Not always the best dance music, but they all stop what they are fighting about when a little Can’t Hold Us comes on.

    • Reply Katelyn April 23, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      Melanie, I was giggling to myself at work as I read your comment. It’s so cute that they stop and dance when Macklemore comes on. Dance parties are such a great idea!

      • Reply Melanie S April 23, 2013 at 2:59 pm

        I’m just waiting for the day when they get in trouble at school for asking a kid to have their grandpa’s style!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      So smart, Melanie! I definitely want to make routine signs for them.

      • Reply Melanie S April 26, 2013 at 8:32 pm

        I’m sure yours would be much better than my plain numbered ones. I can’t even do awesome stick figures to show what he should be doing!

  • Reply Sara April 23, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    My little guy is almost 5 (gulp), but he’s only lived with us on a regular basis for two years or so (he’s my stepson, and there were custody issues previously). I know I have SOOOOO much to learn, plus the added stress of “that’s not how mom does it.” However, one thing that has worked wonders for us is the timer on my phone. We’ve eliminated arguments about bedtime, TV time, how long dinner takes, even how long to brush out teeth. If we’re coming up on bedtime, we discuss what we need to do before bed, and every task gets a time limit. He knows if he runs over in one area, he forfeits time in another (bath goes 30 minutes instead of 25? Only time for one game, not two). He’s learning time management, and we’re eliminating arguments. Lifesaver. Oh, and he loves checking the time when he’s brushing his teeth (2 minutes) and spits every 30 seconds. So cute!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:19 pm

      Aw, Sara, that is really cute! We use a timer for quiet time, but I love the idea of using it regularly. :)

  • Reply Megan April 23, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Roo ~ Thank you so much for this post. My husband is becoming a police officer and is working over nights so the big three – dinner/bath/bed – is all on me. Your list will give me some tools to deal with my 3 and almost 2 year old. Maybe the music & ear plug combo will give me a new happier and calm perspective!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      You’re going to do great, Megan! ♥

  • Reply Missy April 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Girl, I don’t know how you do dinner//bath//bedtime solo on the regs. That is for sure my most hectic time of day. But I also homeschool my kids so they are ALL home ALL day long. By the time we get to dinner I need reinforcements in a bad way. My best line of defense is to send them all outside to play. We have a fenced in back yard and I can keep tabs on them from the kitchen window. Thankfully they are all old enough to hang out without needing me to be out there 100% of the time. I keep the living room window open so I can hear any cries for help but am not quite as annoyed by the noise and the are not underfoot while I try to cook. And I can even have Pandora going sans earbuds. Thankfully by the time dinner is ready my husband is home and we can tag team it. I should probably get HIM a pair of earplugs – haha! I’m pretty good at tuning out kid noise unless I’m trying hard to concentrate on something. Then things can get a little ooc.

    • Reply Missy April 23, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      aaaaannnd, love me some Shane and Shane. Been rocking out to those boys for like 10 years What?!

      No Passion Tea Lemonade? But it’s so pretty.

      • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:24 pm

        Hahaha black tea for me, girl. Shane + Shane know what’s up. Dem harmonies.

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      Your backyard setup is fantastic, Missy! Our kitchen opens up onto a second story deck, so it’s just too far to be able to watch my kids… I love that they’re able to run outside on their own!

      Have you been homeschooling from the get-go?

  • Reply Sarah April 23, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Amen to drive-thru Targets!! Can we get someone on that???

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      For real, y’all!

      • Reply Michelle November 10, 2013 at 3:42 pm

        When we lived 8 hours from family and I had a 3 year old and a 1 year old, I dreamed about the day that I would start up a drive thru “Mom Stop” that would sell diapers, wet wipes, bread, stamps, and toilet paper. Just for moms who can’t possibly find the energy to haul the kids out of the car to get that ONE item. :) It hasn’t happened yet and my kids are now 12, 11, 8, and 2.

        • Reply Amy E. August 19, 2014 at 3:50 pm

          i LOVE this idea! where do i sign up?

  • Reply Kelly April 23, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    I can’t [yet] empathize with the kid stuffs, but will totally keep these tips in mind for later. Especially the earplugs. LIFESAVER.

    But Shane & Shane! I went to Baylor and got to catch these two on the regs as they were finishing college- they’re hilarious dudes. Also, if you’re looking to expand your musical selections, test out Josh Garrels. He just finished touring and is equally amazing/ talented/ uplifting.

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation, Kelly! I’ll plug it into Pandora and check him out. :)

  • Reply Ashley P April 23, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    EARPLUGS. Genius!! My two girls (1 and 2) are L-O-U-D! Why have I never thought of this?

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      Just a little foam, girl! Do itttt! :)

  • Reply Caitlin MidAtlantic April 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    My 3yo is entirely in charge of feeding the dog – she loves the responsibility, and takes great care in her chore. We give her coins for her piggy bank in return. She’s currently saving to “fix the bumps in the roads.” Civic minded already!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      What a sweetheart! I love that!

  • Reply Jen April 23, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    LOVE the earplugs idea. What is it about the time after dinner and before bed? My husband works really late, so I’m always on my own at night too and it is hard. I have no idea how you do it with three. Huge props, mama.

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      Seriously, nighttime is sooo hard. I think six hours during the day is easier than 4:30 to 7:30. :)

  • Reply Rachel April 23, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Yeah, I definitely have the cleaning blues after bedtime, but my 7 month old can’t exactly help yet. I’ve learned to be ok with some messes sitting around and we do a big clean-up on the weekends when we have more energy after the work week.

    Roo, have you thought of doing speakers for your music, so the kids can listen too? If the music calms you, maybe it will calm them too. (Of course, kids are kids and kids are loud. I totally get needing a little sound barrier at times.)

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Oh yeah, the girls love music! We play it often, but sometimes when things are crazy, it just adds to the noise. That’s when I pop those earbuds in. :)

  • Reply Lani (@armytbonegirl) April 23, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    These are all AWESOME ideas!!! I just checked and Artkive is available for Androids now! Definitely going to start using that – my 8 year old LOVES drawing and my toddler is just starting getting into “drawing”.

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Sweeeeeet! Thanks for letting me know!

  • Reply RebeccaNYC April 23, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    As a non-parent, who is so tired of my friends totally indulged and impossibly behaved children, can I just tell you how refreshing your parenting is!? Chores! What a concept. Most of my friends are bossed around by their kids, who expect to be waited on hand and foot. Of course, as a non-parent, I am not allowed to have an opinion about this. So I keep my big mouth shut. But I totally love you. Thanks for teaching your kids that the world does not revolve around them, and they need to help in their own home. Well done.

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      You’re sweet, Rebecca! I promise I screw up every day. :P But in the end I hope I’m doing it right.

  • Reply Kasia April 23, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    haha lovveee this! no kids yet for me but I’ll try and remember these tips. For now, I’ll try them out on the kids I nanny for. Love the artkive app I’ll have to tell their mom about that one since they both love to draw!
    xo, Kasia

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      What a great nanny! Thanks, Kasia!

  • Reply Jodi T. April 23, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    The end of the day is when I am the most punchy too. I’m definitely going to try the ear plug things to see if it can take some of the edge off… I think I might have a bit of a sensory overload problem too.

    Thanks for the tips!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      You’re welcome, Jodi! Hope it works for you!

  • Reply Brittney April 23, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    LOVE the Ergo! It is seriously the most used baby “equipment” excluding the carseat, we own. Thinking about getting Ergo4Life tattooed on my arm I love it so much! :)

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      Hahaha ERGO 4 EVAAAA!

  • Reply Jamie April 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Definitely pinning this one for future reference! My little one is Minnie’s age, but we have some cousins at are as old as 9 and still don’t make their own bed!! I love the idea of giving them chores, it makes them appreciate keeping things a bit tidier.

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      Aww, congrats on a new baby, Jamie!

  • Reply Liz April 23, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Hold up. Wait a minute.
    Did you say Black Tea Lemonade?? I didn’t even finish reading the post when I saw that. I’m not a Starbucks gal (which is probably why I had no idea black tea lemonade was a thing) but I am surely about to become one! Thanks for the most awesomest parenting tip ever!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:37 pm

      It’s soooo good! Tell me how you like it. :)

      • Reply Liz April 26, 2013 at 9:06 pm

        I was able to try it yesterday. I sounded like dope ordering it since I can not keep those sizes straight, but it was sooooo worth it. I was already craving it again today!
        P.S. Your other tips are great too!

  • Reply Stefanie April 23, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Netflix on my iPhone has saved us from a few meltdowns and fits in the grocery store or restaurant. It’s soooo nice to be able to click on Veggie Tales and be able to preemptively stop my 2 year old from jumping over the seat onto the table behind us.

    I may, or may not occassionally use it to pass the time watching Call the Midwife while waiting for a doctor’s appointment.

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      Netflix has totally been a lifesaver for us, too, Stefanie! Especially if someone’s not feeling well. We put Jack’s iPad in a kid-safe case and let them watch movies in bed. :)

  • Reply Joanna @ Our Freaking Budget April 23, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    I really love the idea of an Ergo and having the option of carrying our baby girl on my back. As is right now, I have her on my chest in a Bjorn, and when I lean over to throw clothes in the washer for instance, I feel like she might fall right in there, too!

    All of these are super smart, and I’m excited to try some of your methods down the road, esp. the split screen Baby Einstein tip! Genius!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      On the back is wayyyyy easier than on the front, Joanna! I feel like I have my arms free and I can get stuff done. Minnie loves it, too. :)

      Oh yeah, split screening will be great when you’re working. I hope Sally *loves* it. :)

  • Reply Emily April 23, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    These are such great ideas Roo! Thanks for sharing. I love your perspective and methods on parenting. It is so nice to see there are other young parents out there willing to give their kids responsibilities. We are working on this with our 3yo too and they do truly love helping and taking ownership

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      So great, Emily! 3’s such a fun age, isn’t it!?

  • Reply Diane April 23, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I especially love tip #5~ Toss the Art Projects~ but take a photo first. My kids are grown & I still have some of their art projects from childhood in a binder that I made for each of them. Some things I just had to toss after they disintegrated! What I WISH I had done, was to take a photo of the projects and take a photo of the child with the project, so you could see them when they made it! So make sure to get the girls in some of the photos.

    I have a tip for use if you intend to keep ANY paper projects, or class/sports/dance photos. I purchased a binder for each son and put things in it like their Pre-K & Kindergarten graduation certificates, First Communion certificate, any Special awards from school, or sports, Cub Scout/Boy Scout certificates, samples of special projects, Mother’s day cards or self-portraits, school & sports photos, class photos, team photos. I now have 2 binders for each boy, 1 for school & the other for sports & scouts. This is a great way to keep things together, in order.

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      Ohhh what great ideas, Diane! Thanks for sharing!

      • Reply Diane April 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm

        Sorry~ I forgot to mention that I use standard sheet protectors in the binder to put the papers in. They’re protected and you don’t need to punch holes in the papers or photos that way.

  • Reply Bethaney April 23, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    I don’t have kids but still find these posts adorable (and a little hilarious, but not in an offensive way). As always, thanks for sharing. :)

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Aw, thanks for still liking them, Bethaney! xo

  • Reply Noele April 23, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Just sighed with a little relief. I’m 7 weeks into having an infant and a toddler and I’ve got to say I’ve been on the verge of tearing my hair out for about half it that time. I’ve lost my patience a few times with my oldest since the baby arrived and I always feel horrible afterwards, because most of the time he’s just being a kid and not doing anything wrong. I know having a structure/routine for the two of them is farther off than I’d like, but reading about the possibility of one makes me feel a little less “mommy dearest.”

    Love these posts Roo. They definitely help me feel more sane and able. Keep them coming please!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      Awww, Noele, it’s such a hard time! Hope some of the ideas help. xoxo

  • Reply Katherine@YeOldCollegeTry April 23, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    I looooove the advice to clean while your kids are up. It’s much more pleasant than getting them to bed and then tackling all the messes they made all day.

    We have the best luck with chores being done in a timely manner when we sandwich them between dinner and any semblance of dessert. My kids can drag their feet big time. But if they know there’s a jelly bean on the line (seriously- one jelly bean; we call that “dessert” around here) they can really get the lead out.

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      A jelly bean! That is so cute, and what a fun idea!

  • Reply nicolemarie April 23, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    so i need to be more consistent with what i have the kids help me with. for instance, the 3 of them are asleep and i am staring at a living room full of dumped toys and no will to actually put them away.

    also, strapping kids in a car is a miracle. sometimes, i’ll drive 20 minutes to go to the only drive-thru starbucks around just so i can have a little peace ;) i institute a mommy-talking-timeout in the car and ask the kids not to talk to me (but they can talk to each other), because I to just not answer questions for a short while. it helps.

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      I like the mommy-talking-timeout idea. It’s hard for Remmy (who sits in the way way back) to hear me and vice versa, so it’s super difficult to communicate.

  • Reply Amyjo Reid April 23, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Thanks for the artkive app!!! So excited to use it :)

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Ooh glad you’re liking it! :)

  • Reply Mindy@FindingSilverLinings April 23, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Great post. I teach art to kids from ages 3-14 years old in an urban school district. $hit gets real in my room from time to time. It’s less structured activity time than say math, so they tend to want to let loose. I swear I keep my sanity by keeping chill music playing low while they work. It somehow calms them (and me) down. We constantly have music playing in our casa. Morning time is usually happy & upbeat or “get it movin” (Bob Marley, Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole) but evening hours in my house we keep the Pandora on mellow.

    As a hip hop head myself, may I suggest the “Handsome Boy Modeling School” station. It’s very chill music ( some just instrumental ) with a hip hop vibe. Good stuff

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      Oooh Mindy, thanks for the suggestion! I’ll check it out. :)

  • Reply Heather (Laptops To Lullabies) April 23, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    I agree 100% with the “clean while they’re awake” idea. My son has been carrying his dishes to the counter since he was 18 months, and he loves to help pick up toys, sweep, etc. I think it’s really important that our kids help out, so they don’t just think fairies clean up the messes!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      Good point, Heather… just letting them see that we all have to pitch in. :)

  • Reply Monica April 23, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Just so you know… The infantino version of the ergo is amazing!! (For those who don’t own one already and want/have to save the money) Just have to put that out there any time I can. I have been using mine a year and it is a lifesaver for that clingy kid I call my son :) Loved your other tips too!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      Thanks for the pro tip, Monica! :)

  • Reply Lauren April 23, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    This is awesome! I love these posts about as much as I love ballers of History… which is saying something. I have registered for a Boba (very similar to an Ergo, but can fit a newborn w/o an insert) and I can’t wait! It’s going to be great to put my little munchkin in and do everything. I saw a woman with her kid in an Ergo in the grocery store today. Little tyke was sound asleep against her chest. I’m storing these posts away and often use your ideas while I’m babysitting. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:52 pm

      Aw, thanks, Lauren! I’m so glad they’re even a little bit helpful. :)

  • Reply melissa April 23, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    i love this!! im at home for the next 5 weeks on maternity leave and use the “get in the car for a drive” a few times a week. I have a newborn and a almost 2 year old and he needs to have places to go! Even if its to Target, it gets us out of the house and they are both in thier car seats and we all get quiet time. I like the cleaning while they are awake idea too! Gonna get on that :) Your blog rocks my socks!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks, Melissa! And congrats on the new baby!

  • Reply Madison S. April 24, 2013 at 12:14 am

    1. —> ERGO
    Babywearing FTW. Seriously. Best parenting advice ever.

    2. I love the ‘cleaning when their awake’ idea! My daughter, Liv, is 18 months old, and she LOVES helping with laundry to the point where, if I try to do it without her, she gets upset (ha!)…

    3. Quiet time may need to be added to our home at some point, especially with baby #2 due in a month (exactly *WOOT WOOT*), but I’m not sure how to do that with an 18 month old…

    4. So glad I found your blog! Love it!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks so much for finding me, Madison!

  • Reply Simone Bawden April 24, 2013 at 3:44 am

    These are awesome! I don’t think that getting your kids to help you with chores is child labour, it’s teaching them about life!
    I don’t have children yet but my partner works away 4 weeks and is only home for a week before he is home again and I am confident – especially with these tips – that we can do it!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      You’re going to do amazing when the time comes, Simone! :)

  • Reply Krystyn April 24, 2013 at 7:45 am

    We did a pre dinner cleaning today. It made after dinner do much better.

    Now can you share how you put your room sharing girls to bed? I’ve realized it’s unrealistic to expect to put the 6 and 4 year old to bed at the same time. Help!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      They all go to bed at the same time – 7:00pm. O_O Minnie naps twice a day (in theory), Sophie will occasionally take an afternoon nap, and Remmy doesn’t nap at all. We crank up some white noise, and if Minnie goes to bed before the bigger two, they’re instructed to be super quiet.

      • Reply Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? April 27, 2013 at 4:36 pm

        So the older two go to bed at the same time in the same room? It’s totally failing here. We have to separate them to put them to bed, or else put down the 4 year old, keep the 6 year old up for a bit waiting for the 4 year old to go to sleep and then put her in there. They’ve only been sharing a room for about 1.5 years. Maybe that’s part of it, too?

  • Reply Tamara April 24, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Thanks for sharing! So helpful! I have 3 little girls too (4,2 1/2, 11 months). My days are full and cleaning up and getting frustrated is sometimes all I feel I do. Thankful for His grace each day. Would love more tips on parenting girls (especially whiny persistent ones)!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:57 pm

      Thanks, Tamara! I like writing these posts although I feel so unqualified to share info with anyone.

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  • Reply Karen F April 24, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    GREAT post, Roo. I have a 6 yr old and a 3 yr old, and I think, like you, I get sensory overload sometimes (ok, a lot). The whole “children are childish” concept actually only dawned on me fairly recently (*smacks head*). Earplugs – holy cow, genius idea!

    Also, regarding the “clean while they’re awake” tip – I completely agree with you, and I think it’s important to teach kids to be responsible for their belongings (I’m still working on that). My older daughter is in Kindergarten, and they get a job each week – I floated the idea of making a job chart at home (with jobs that rotate weekly) and she was all for it – I may give that a try, too.

    Lastly, I downloaded artkive a long time ago but haven’t used it – time to start, I think! the paper clutter kills me, but I hate tossing their creations!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:57 pm

      Thanks so much, Karen! I love the idea of a rotating job chart! Let me know how that works out, pleeeeaase. :)

  • Reply Cassie April 25, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    I never thought about it, but I wonder if I have a sensory overload issue as well.

    Especially after being at Head Start all day, I come home and the pitches of my kid’s voices and the dog’s barks are really.friggin.annoying. I instantly snap and I hate doing that to them. I think I’ll invest in earplugs, too…

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      Seriously, earplugs will change your life…!

  • Reply Violeta Stevanova April 26, 2013 at 3:02 am

    I’ve said this (not here though) and I’ll say it again – YOU ARE A GENIUS. I don’t have kids yet but when I do I’ll read again all your posts … or maybe you should write a book? Yes, you should!

    • Reply Roo April 26, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      Hahaha, awww, thanks Violeta! No idea what I’d write about, but I’m happy knowing you’d buy a copy. ;)

  • Reply Melanie April 28, 2013 at 12:49 am

    Just came back to the post on my computer (instead of my phone) to click the Artkive link aaaand it takes me to your Invisalign pic on FB. Doh! Easy peasy to look up myself but thought you might want to update the link.

    • Reply Roo August 8, 2013 at 11:41 pm

      A million years later… thank you! I fixed it! :)

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  • Reply Naomi April 29, 2013 at 5:21 am

    Great post, i only have a 4 yr old to deal with (and a 1 yr old cat) but that is still draining as he has no one to play with. Some great tips i enjoyed reading your post. I should try and ‘desensitise’ to my 4 yrs olds noise as i am getting sick of the sounds of my own voice nagging.

    • Reply Roo August 8, 2013 at 11:42 pm

      Yeah, I get to a point where I’m even annoying myself. :)

  • Reply Naomi April 29, 2013 at 5:24 am

    oh also to add about the Art work thingy, i do that same thing, i was SOOO overloaded with paintings and scribbles i was desperate so one day i went through it all and took photo’s of the best ones and kept any sentimental peices then the whole lot went on the bin, the weight was lifted of my shoulders, now to get the photos printed into a book…

  • Reply Steph Reiner April 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    I have several problems with this… First off, whenever I strap Allie to my back to get some cleaning done, I turn on some ‘N Sync or Spice Girls to get the cleaning mood going and then it’s just a dance party for 2. Allie doesn’t really have a choice since she’s strapped to me and all.

    Secondly, you were the first to give me the idea of a drive-thru Target and now I’m truly bitter that it doesn’t exist. I’ve thought it through… you can shop online and then go pick up your order like the To-Go option at Chili’s. Someone needs to get Target on board.

    Thirdly, are you absolutely positive that Minnie’s eyes haven’t melted out of her head and her brain turned to mush from watching tv? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what I was told. I tested it on Allie. She made it 15 minutes into A Bug’s Life which was just enough time for me to get the dishes done. And her eyes seemed ok. I couldn’t see her brain so I just hoped for the best.

  • Reply Whitney Dupuis May 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Ooooh! Love me some Shane & Shane. Dudes can sing and I get my church on when I hear them!!!

  • Reply Ben May 2, 2013 at 2:19 am

    first the picture of you in the second tip pretty hot. Secondly pretty smart too. not hitting on you unless you want me, to but I have read a lot of parenting tips and your are some really good ones. As a children’s book author (The Adventures of Kid Humpty Dumpty available on amazon and kindle) I’m always looking for ways to better interact with kids with the one’s I encounter working at book signing and readings or with the ones waiting on me when I get home and your tips will go a long way Thank you

  • Reply Liz May 7, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    So I’m WAY late in commenting but just had to LOL when I took some time to catch up on blog reading while my 11 mo old son watches Baby Einstein Farm edition on the iPad as I’m typing this. We don’t watch it every day, but when I need him to chill for a second, Baby Einstein totally does the trick unlike anything else. What is it about Baby Einstein?! Geniuses, that’s what.

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  • Reply Todd Chance July 16, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Cleaning while they are awake?! You got that right. My Gracie sprints for the handheld vacuum at the mention of cleaning. It’s adorable. As a single dad, I didn’t know how she would react but I’ve found that if I’m looking at a laptop and she’s playing, she’ll want my attention = no productivity. But if I start sweeping a floor or doing some laundry, she demands to do it with me = awesome productivity and bonding time. Did it feel like child labor the first time? Sure, but now we just have fun hunting for our pet dog’s furballs as a game. Great post! :)

  • Reply Kelli August 9, 2013 at 12:04 am

    My kids are 30, 23, 22, and 15. Some of these things I did, and some I wish I had done. As they say, “hindsight is 20/20″……so I feel I can say with some degree of authority, that you, Roo, (being a young mommy and all) are exceptionally wise. Shout out!

  • Reply Sandra Lovelace August 9, 2013 at 4:37 am

    So much honesty and practical wisdom in this post. Good on ya!

    I especially appreciate the way you involve your kids in the tasks it takes to keep the house and family running smoothly. We all feel better or more ‘part of’ when we can participate in what’s going on, and the more real contributions we make the more important and valuable we feel.

    Keep it up. Even us oldsters are being encouraged by your blog.

  • Reply Heather November 10, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Mine are old enough that I don’t need these tips, but they truly are outstanding! Teaching your kids to be responsible for maintaining their living area is NOT slavery, and using ear plugs/music to keep yourself sane is NOT irresponsible or unsafe. I love that you’ve figured out these sanity savers, and how well they work for you. My favorite was that when things are rough, take a drive a couple towns over and go through a Starbucks for a drink for you. I wish I’d known that one 15 years ago! Thanks so much for this post :o)

  • Reply Christina @ The Murrayed Life November 10, 2013 at 10:22 am

    What an awesome list! I think that these are genius and nothing to feel bad about! One mom of three that I know gets the orange earbuds in a giant tub for the same reason. She swears by them. I’m still on my first little dude, and he’s at his neediest stage right now, but I’ve figured out getting the bed made, clearing out the sink and loading the dishwasher, and putting a load of laundry in in the morning always starts my day off better. I’ll definitely get mine in on the cleaning too… Not only is it time together, it’s teaching them important skills and responsibility for life! :)

  • Reply Karen F October 8, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Just revisited this after the link was posted in the comments of yesterday’s post. Still awesome!

    I did start the rotating job chart, but wasn’t able to stick with it (that’s more my fault than the kids’)

    Wait until both of your kids are in elementary school and have homework. Holy schnikies. I’m still figuring out how to get their homework done, dinner made, + showers and bedtime without losing my mind (my husband works nights).

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