26 Real Life Hacks You Can Use for Juggling Babies and Work
Getting out the door on time without tears or cereal on your jacket can be a struggle when you have small children. Heck, it was difficult enough before they came along! We polled our friends and reflected on our own experience to put together a list of ‘life hacks’ for getting to work on time, relatively clean and without tantrums (by you or the baby). Feel free to add your own in the comments below. You’re ok and your baby’s ok!
All the best
1. Get all the plastic bags
Put some plastic shopping bags in your handbag or in the car. You will use these for any number of things such as wet clothes, dirty nappies or just shopping. You will marvel at your forethought for having these in your bag and they don’t take up much space so the more the merrier. Scrunch those puppies down.
2. Put your baby’s outfits in ziploc bags
Before being a mother, a lot of people really don’t know how great Ziploc (sandwich) bags are. But now, they’re pretty much best friends. When you get a spare moment which is like, I know, never but ok, sometimes, pull together a few outfits and chuck them in separate ziploc bags. This means when you’re running late, instead of hunting for two socks that go together, you can pull one of these out of the drawer and it’s all there, hey presto, and bung it in the child care bag. If you’re out and about, the ziploc bag can also serve as a plastic bag in case you ignored point 1 above.
3.Take a spare top with you
A spare top is almost as essential for a mummy as it is for a baby, or at the very least a coverall scarf/pashmina that can be utilised to cover up baby puke when you get chucked on just at the point where it is too late to turn back around to go home and change.
4. Don’t rule out nudity…yours, that is.
One mum told us, “I strip off my suit as soon as I walk in the door, before my three year old can get his grubby fingers on me in a way that necessitates dry cleaning. I stay naked in the mornings, whilst giving him breakfast and making his lunch. In fact, he doesn’t really recognise me in clothes.”
5. Pack things in advance
Everything that can be packed in the car the night before, should be. Especially your papers/files etc. Prepacking everything is not the most original tip but stands the test of time. Get kindy bags and clothes ready the night before; pack baby’s bag ready for grandma the night before (some of my friends have even created a special ‘grandma bag’ full of anything grandma will need to care for bub while you are out); plus a handful of small toys and longer lasting snacks in your handbag in case you are asked out and need an emergency distraction (matchbox cars, Thomas trains great… But make sure there is one per kid at the table….).
6. Put packed bags out of reach
So hack No.5 should have taken care of this, but make sure that the childcare bags you have dutifully packed the night before are placed somewhere out of toddler range, so that you don’t find the whole bag unpacked on the floor when you’re already 10 minutes late.
7. Breakfast in the car is totally OK
Toast in the car is a completely acceptable breakfast for kiddies, especially if they are heading to their 5-star-hot-meal-childcare. When choosing foods, crumbs are preferable to sludge every time. It is true that a persistent or inventive toddler can turn crumbs into sludge, but it is preferable to start off in solid form. One friend has bought a lifetime supply of plastic coloured plates/bowls from IKEA and many mornings she will present bub with his breakfast plate complete with one banana sliced into two pieces and a peanut butter sandwich. He eats that in the car on the way to childcare and she says, “I pretend it’s some kind of gourmet, quinoa porridge that Gwyneth Paltrow would have given him. He’s full and happy by the time we get there, I’ve saved 20 minutes of negotiating and I don’t have to engage in one of those, “But why is the light red?” conversations while sitting in peak hour. I don’t even mind the litter of rainbow coloured plates/bowls on my car floor anymore – plenty more where that came from.”
8. Meal planning is where it’s at
A lot of mums swear by meal plans and buying in bulk. It means mundane daily conversations about the evening meal are a thing of the past.
9. Cook big batches
A lot of mothers said the thing that helps them best is cooking up big batches of freezable favourites like casseroles, bolognese, lasagne, soups etc on a Sunday and freezing them so they have good meals ready quickly when they get in the door from childcare at 6.10pm.
10. Always have basics in the freezer too
Fish fingers, peas, corn, spare loaves of bread. Not fancy, but not unhealthy either.
11. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself at dinner
A toasted sandwich classifies as dinner and so do beans on toast. “Upside down dinner” is hugely loved by kids on those nights you are just too buggered to cook. Yes, upside down dinner is actually breakfast served again at dinner time but hey, it’s all in the name!
12. A slow cooker is the shizzle
No browning of meat (who has time for that?!). If it is all turning pear shaped, one tray of chicken thigh fillets straight in with a jar of Pataks in the morning will save your bacon at the end of the day.
13. Get onto the two-night roast
So, you roast a chicken on Sunday night with lots of veggies, then eat just the chicken breasts and leave the thigh/legs. Then on Monday night all you have to do is whack it all in the oven for about 15 mins and you’ve got a delicious dinner that requires no effort.
14. Dress them from the cot/bed and relinquish control of outfit choices
…even if it’s a tutu over jeans and a bike helmet. It’s much easier to get them dressed straight up – straight from the cot to the change table (don’t let their feet touch the floor) so having their clothes ready the night before is also a must. Tutus will probably solve many problems. It also helps you to easily identify the other mums you want to be friends with. Your bub’s crazily dressed mate at day care may have the most awesome mum in the place. Also, they don’t necessarily need day clothes and night clothes. With little kids, don’t feel there should be a distinction between pajamas and “day” clothes. The kid can stay in their outfit until it can’t be wiped clean with a paper towel and a once-a-fortnight bathing routine for newborns is entirely acceptable in my book.
15. Use treats wisely
There is literally nothing a three year old won’t do for a Kinder Surprise so use them wisely! Get chocolate. For you, not the kids. Wine. For adults. Icecream. For children and adults. Freeze coffee and vodka. For….adults. Obviously.
16. Have snacks available for stressful times
Always having rice crackers in your bag is a tip worth considering. They usually need it somewhere – usually when you just get in the car as they’ve stopped and realised they are hungry. Snacks and drink prepacked in anticipation for childcare pickup are generally handy. Reduces whining on trip home (an essential after a busy day!)
17. Diffuse tantrums with sympathy
The most useful thing one of our mum says she has learned is to diffuse oncoming tantrums by sympathising rather than trying to fix a problem if the problem isn’t fixable. So, if they are complaining about being thirsty and there is no drink, she’ll say “Gee I’m thirsty too. Let’s think about the most delicious drink we could make,” and then she comes up with something gross, like cat spew, and the kids then focus on out-grossing each other rather the being thirsty. If that doesn’t work (or she does not have the patience) then yes, she bribes or yells. But she says the other way works better.
18. Have a shower at night
Oh my gawd, you totally need a shower to get going in the morning, but on those days where you know it’s going to be chaos, especially if you’re parenting on your own that morning, it’s so much easier to shower the night before and skip the morning shower.
19. Buy risoni
Another thing we never thought about before baby but now feel naked without is some risoni (or other small pasta) in the cupboard. Seriously, when contemplating giving sausage rolls to a little one for dinner and just quietly, everyone has done something like that, you can pause and instead put some water on for only eight minutes. You can stir through leftovers (but let’s face it, if you had leftovers, you wouldn’t need the risoni) but a real meal that feels pretty fancy is stirring an egg through the risoni with some grated cheese plus frozen peas and or frozen corn. Behold the majesty of your pasta concoction and what’s not to love about cheese and pasta?
20. Put a towel in the car
Did you heed the advice in your pregnancy to keep towels in the car, in case your waters break? I didn’t, but if you’re more
obedient sensible then you might as well leave them there for the next 18+ years. I don’t know how kids get so smeary and wet and grubby and sticky but when I’m just about to get out of the car at childcare, it’s comforting to wipe baby down with a towel so you can pretend that they are a pristine angelic creature before they suddenly become someone else’s problem (I mean, adorable little bundle of joy) for a few hours.
21. Get dressed last
People talk about how you need to have a shower to feel dignified but let me tell you, there is a certain dignity in wearing your pyjamas until you’re absolutely ready to go and leaving your dressing until the last minute to reduce the likelihood of getting jam on your nice blouse. They will still get jam on your nice blouse. They will keep it in a secret compartment of their jeans and just whip it out when you are farewelling them. But it’s nice to try.
22. Put something over your clothes.
Think about a pinafore. Seriously. Maybe those 1950s ladies were onto something. If you can’t get dressed last, wrapping something over your nice clothes can give them that extra layer of protection and might be the difference between this and this. Get on etsy and find one. One guru said, “Wearing a t-shirt over my work clothes until the moment before I leave the house. I still do it because even at five my girl thinks it’s appropriate to give a weet bix hug.”
23. Baby wipes everywhere for everything
Pre-baby, you might have had some Wet-Ones in your bag that you occasionally used in a particularly confronting public toilet. Now a lot of mums pretty much live and die by the amount of baby wipes in their general vicinity. We have them everywhere – the car, near the feeding chair, in my hand bag and obviously near the change table. Use many, use often. You would be hard pressed to have too many baby wipes. Not only do they get last minute toothpaste off faces for childcare drop off, but they also remove random dribble marks, cereal kisses and lunch spills from your suit!
24. Don’t rule out using a baby carrier around the home
You know those days when your little one is grizzly and must be picked up RIGHT NOW? But you have to do things like, I don’t know, get breakfast and run a brush half heartedly through your hair? Chuck that little bundle of joy into the baby carrier and whip around the house much more effectively. With the right carrier, you can use this technique well over two years old and they will find it vaguely interesting. It’s not for every baby but it can be highly effective in a tight spot.
25. Get your dance on
When everyone is feeling pretty scratchy, I find cranking up a bit of Justine Clarke and getting my Dancing Face on can be surprisingly effective to get out of the house.
26. Revisit your ideology
All the mums we spoke to say they have changed their idea of perfection since becoming a mother. One said, “My advice isn’t really practical, but more ideological. Whenever I’m in doubt on how to approach a situation, I turn to the words of the great parenting expert – Senator Graham Richardson. I ask myself, “What would Richo do?” Naturally he would do Whatever It Takes, the title of his book.” And another, “In terms of ideological advice, I just lowered my standards. Everything becomes a little easier after you lower your standards.”
I was, and still am stunned at how easy and quick Jo’s method was for getting my daughter to sleep through the night. – BabyBliss parent
With 20 years’ experience and more than 8,500 books sold, BabyBliss provides baby sleep consultants and a range of gentle, effective products you can use right now to help you with your baby. Put your details below for options on how we can help.
- Juggling – 06.Juggling.Upper.MeridianHillPark.WDC.15April2012, Elvert Barnes
- Plastic Bags – Trash Tree, Alex
- Shower – Shower Head Water Drops 7-26-09 1, Steven Depolo
- Risoni – P7160008.JPG, deuzling
- Bath towel baby – Wrapping things up, Micah Sittig
- Red shoes – Jump down, you will fall in the sky, Lara Cores
- Blouse – pink blouse, Janine
- Owl backpack – Going to pre-school with new backpack, Lars Ploughmann
- Packed car – Packed to the Gills, Peter Dutton
- Breakfast in the car – Carseat Reid IV, Eden, Janine and Jim
- Meal plan – Meal Planning, Liz
- Cook in batches – Beef stew with small potato dumplings and carrots, Clemens v. Vogelsang
- Full freezer – Lenka’s freezer, Colin and Sarah Northway
- Upside down dinner – Magic hot cereal, Joy
- Slow cooker – Slow-cooker venison neck roast, Jason Riedy
- Two night roast – Chicken after roasting, Chuck Falzone