You know those life-changing mum hacks that you now swear by and wished you had discovered months (or years) ago? We’ve got more for you to add to your list! Here are our personal mum hacks to help make your motherhood journey easier- all tried and tested by the team behind makchic:
Lu Sean’s Tips:
Get the kids out the door smoothly
A hack that helped me to get my kids out the door were to incorporate visual reminders. This can be used even before they start reading. I took photos of their morning routine – waking up, eating breakfast, brushing their teeth, toileting, getting dressed, grabbing their bags and going out the door – and stuck these photos in their rooms, to remind them about what needs to be done.
As your kids get older, you can reduce the photo to just one – of them packed and ready to go out to school! Having said that, kids have a tendency of forgetting. One day, my son forgot to wear his shoes before getting in the car, and I had to lend him my slippers to wear. So, tip #2 for parents: always be prepared for emergencies.
The minimalist approach
With my first child, I went all out in sourcing baby-specific things (opening up a whole new world for the shopaholic in me!). With my second child, she used a butter knife to learn how to cut fruit, a step-stool instead of a learning tower, and slept on a mattress on the floor, instead of a toddler bed.
It’s ok to use what you already have, and the kids quickly learn. Having said that, I must admit that I do love our Stokke Tripp Trapp chair.
Have your cake, and decorate it too!
When it comes to birthday parties, bespoke cakes are very special. However, if you’re on a budget, you could consider buying an off-the-shelf cake (we love Sweet Passion’s Heavenly Unicorn cake at Cakerush), and decorating it yourself.
Last year, I printed out Roblox “Adopt Me” characters, stuck them on a card, and taped them onto satay sticks as cake toppers. You can also use new or existing toys that are easy to clean, such as LEGO, as decorations. And bonus: the birthday kid gets a toy to play with, after the cake is consumed!
Connect before you correct
This is one of my favourite parenting approaches that I find useful not only with my kids, but also with adults!
The tenet of this concept is pretty self-explanatory – to acknowledge feelings, and to make your kids feel valued and understood before correcting undesirable behaviour, or getting them to do something they might not be keen on.
For example, when my kid is watching TV and it’s time for her to take a shower, I would sit with her for a few minutes, ask her what she’s watching, have a short conversation about the programme, and tell her she’s got another 5 more minutes before it’s time to switch off. On a good day, she would actually want to continue the conversation with me, forget about the TV, and walk with me to the shower. On a not-so-good day, she would whine – but at least there would be less resistance, and we’d avoid getting into a shouting match.
I obviously don’t practice this 100% of the time – sometimes, I admittedly don’t have the time or patience for it! But we do what we can, whenever we can.
1. Prepare an after-school ‘help yourself’ tray
I’ve had my fair share of spending the entire day prepping snacks, and resisting the urge to just dump a box of chocolates on the table, for peckish kids. Having a pre-filled, limited (my kids quickly learned that mama wasn’t going to refill this, every half -hour!) ‘help yourself’ tray in the fridge with nuts, fruits and healthy options was a lifesaver.
2. Store bibs on a command hook behind the high chair
When we have a baby, or a fast-moving toddler, everything needs to be within arm’s reach. Hang bibs on command hooks stuck to the high chair, for easy grab-and-use during meal times.
1. Have a roll of tape packed together with your bubble wands
Bring along some masking tape whenever you’re out for bubble play, and simply tape the bubble solution tube to the leg of a chair or table. No more messy solution spills – and you won’t need to end up being the one holding on to the container all day.
2. Use an inflatable pool for messy play
No mama enjoys cleaning up post-messy play time. Pump up an inflatable pool for the kids to play in and contain all their messy bits and pieces. This hack made me more willing to prepare more sensory play activities for my little ones at home.
Thrifty Tips for Mamas
1. Always check out the reduced-to-clear racks in supermarkets
Not everything in the discount racks will go bad within the next few days. The racks in Village Grocer especially, feature items that still have a month or two left before their date of expiry.
Always want to try some fancy biscuits, or sauces that come with hefty price tags? This way, you can! I also get imported chocolates and candies for the kids at a discount as a treat – and let’s face it, those won’t take long to finish in your pantry. Don’t forget to check the vegan section of the freezer too. I do avoid dairy products such as milk, because those items are more volatile.
The reduced-to-clear section is also a great way to find some overripe bananas for your banana bread, or to inspire new cooking ideas for the family.
2. Think before you throw
My kids dislike bread crusts. To avoid wastage, I save crusts that have been cut off, and freeze them to make bread and butter pudding, croutons, or bread crumbs down the line.
I also save numerous vegetable stems in the freezer to make broth or a soup base for another day. The freezer is my best friend! Just don’t freeze cream cheese (trust me on this one).
3. Stock up at baking supply stores
Did you know things like European or Australian butter, heavy cream, and cheeses are cheaper at baking supply stores? I also buy spices, such as oregano or garlic powder, to refill the spice jars at home. You can even get some cereals (Cornflakes, Coco Pops) and marshmallows for much cheaper.
It’s also easier to find gluten-free substitutes, if anyone in your family suffers from celiac disease. Just don’t be distracted by the many, many containers and fancy baking tools, so you don’t overspend.
Making Routines Manageable
1. Use auditory cues!
Kids respond to sounds, just like the rest of us. The alarm clock ringing means it’s time to wake up, just as the bell ringing at school means recess, or the end of a school day.
When my kids were younger, I used the Timer Trick by Little Big Feelings. When the timer ran out, they would move on to their next activity, with less resistance. Now, I associate sounds with a task – for example, the Maghrib call-to-prayer signals the time for night showers and prayer, an annoying audio I found on my phone signals that a clean-up of some kid-related mess is required, and so on. This has saved me a lot of “nagging energy.”
2. My “Borrowed” Laundry Hack
A shoutout to #makchicmumsquad member @haryanasidin for this hack that I now utilise to make folding laundry so much easier!
Collect your clothes from the laundry line, according to which family member they belong to, and put them all in one pile.
By now, you’d have four piles of clean laundry (if there are four people in your family; sometimes I have an extra pile for household towels and clothes). Haryana is right – finishing one pile now seems less daunting and keeps you motivated to move on to the next pile!
Putting away clothes is also easier when they’re all already separated. It’s easy for the rest of the family to help put away their own clothes when there’s a clear separation of which stack belongs to whom!
3. Packing Scavenger Hunt
We create lists for the kids to find items that we need to pack for our travels. They will complete this list and bring all the items into our room, which makes packing a lot easier.
Sure, sometimes they mistake pyjama pants for “going-out” pants, but just continue to correct them and with practice, this process gets so much easier!
Most parents dread going on a road trip with their kids. But, my family loves them! We prefer the easy drive on the East Coast highway to visit extended family in Terengganu, and enjoy impromptu day trips to neighbouring states. We leave early to beat the traffic, keep kids well-stocked with their favourite snacks, and entertained with books, music, and games.
I didn’t realise the added bonus of having kids that enjoy long car rides until recently, however. Raising teenage girls has not been easy. I try to strike a healthy balance between setting clear rules and limits, and allowing them to make their own choices and to develop the necessary skills to become independent adults.
Our mutual love for long car rides has been a handy tool in my parenting arsenal. Whenever my daughters are struggling – be it with friends, school or anything in between – we’d just hop into the family car, set off on our drive to nowhere, and talk things out during the drive. This does not happen in every car ride, but we do have some of our best discussions in the car.
If a car ride is not a thing your child enjoys, choose something else that you do enjoy together. It could be during a walk around the neighbourhood, or while you prepare a meal for dinner. The best discussions happen when the both of you are feeling relaxed and calm.