26 parenting hacks

      1. Type out your instructions for babysitters—and then just change the details for each specific outing (phone numbers, meal instructions, etc.) as needed. Then print and go! Alternatively, laminate your instructions with blanks for the changeable information, and write in with dry or wet erase.
      2. Instruct tree-climbing children to not climb on any branches smaller than their arm.
      3. When kids come in after bad dreams, take a moment to pray with and for them while holding them.
      4. Messy room? Try intervals of “speed cleaning”: “We’re all going to spend just five minutes cleaning up this room. Ready? Go!” “How many items con you pick up in three minutes? Go!” “Everyone pick up 10 items! Go!”
      5. Ask children to always look you in the eye when you are giving them an instruction.
      6. From a mom of five boys: For testosterone-related offenses, give physical consequences, like laps around the yard, wall sits, or push-ups.
      7. Let kids read books by lamplight in bed until they fall asleep.
      8. Gently enforce that all requests be enforced with a respectful, “Yes, Mom.” This teaches respect and obedience, and verifies that instructions have been understood.
      9. Time-outs should be as long as one minute per year of the child’s age. A four-year-old gets four minutes of time-out.
      10. Set up a consistent moment in your day to pray for your kids; try a printable  like 31 Scriptures to Pray for Your Kids.    A friend of mine actually keeps a prayer book for her kids—While They Are Sleeping: 12 Character Traits to Pray for the Children You Love
        —by her toilet.Get where I’m going with this?
      11. Pray with and for your kids on the way to school each morning.
      12. Play “high/low” at the dinner table (parents included): What was your high point today? Low point?
      13. If you don’t have a program like AWANA, consider your own motivations for memorizing Scripture: perhaps you’ll grab an ice cream after so many verses for each child (make it age-appropriate), or they get to skip a chore, etc.
      14. Keep a list of offenses and pre-assigned consequences posted on the inside of a cupboard door. Rather than resorting to disciplining with your voice, employ the pre-determined consequence.
      15. Rotate meal duty. Posted a paper wheel on the wall with each of your children’s names on the inside wheel and meals on the outside, alternating who will wipe the table and sweep beneath it at each meal of the day.
      16. Know roughly your child’s personality profile, love languages, and specific areas of gifting. Make it a working project, changing as you seek to know your child more.
      17. Keep a list of gifts received at a birthday or holiday, and then make an art project out of thank you notes. For younger children, try free printable, colorable notes, like these cuties.
      18. If your family are believers, take turns praying for a different cousin/grandchild every month, sharing targeted prayer requests on each child’s turn.
      19. For a chore of theirs, consider a child helping you cook certain dishes in the kitchen. Rather than make my children hate cooking, it’s caused them to love getting this as a certain chore—and now my 11-year-old can make lasagna, a salad, scrambled eggs, even scones.
      20. When giving allowance, supply three containers for each child: giving, saving, and spending (I confess to adding Star Wars Lego clipart to ours!). Help children divvy up their cash—and gain a vision for each—like posting a photo or drawing of something they’re saving for on the jar, or thinking where they’d like to give.
      21. For long-distance grandparents, consider them having FaceTime or Skype installed on their devices, so they or your kids can initiate face-to-face conversations, bedtime stories, or those all-important lost-tooth celebrations.
      22. Establish the [Ephesians] 4:29 rule at your house: nothing coming out of mouths except that which builds up, fits the occasion, and gives grace to those who hear.
      23. Dole out “screen” time on popsicle sticks, or with bucks like these (see this whole post for processes and websites to regulate electronic time).
      24. Let your kids choose three or so foods for their “not my thing” food list: foods that when served, they don’t need to eat. The rest should be tried without complaining. After doling out small portions you’re confident your children can eat, consider plastic-wrapping their unfinished plates. When they’re hungry for snack time, dinner is finished first.
      25. Write reminders on the mirror or glazed (only!) tile in dry-erase marker.
      26. When hosting dinner guests, offer a small reward (like an extra half-piece of dessert) to the child who asks the best question of your guest.

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