Parenting 101

10 ultimate life hacks that every mom and dad should know

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Introduction

I love simple everyday hacks that can make a mom’s (and a dad’s) life a little easier and a little less stressful. Over the course of five years, I have added quite a few in my kitty that helps make my days a little less hurried and sometimes a little less labor intensive.

So, if you are a mom like me and always running late; and if you just can’t fit in one more chore into your list of TODOs, here are some life hacks which will help you shave off precious minutes from your chores-time and survive the overbooked days. Check these out and in case you have more hacks to add to the list, then please do share. I could use at least 90 more of these! 😉

1. Kitchen Hack: Easy-clean the microwave without serious elbow-grease

After blitzing cups of milk, oatmeal and ten different kinds of gooey stuff for you and your family, is your microwave complaining bitterly and oozing out all kinds of brown residue and god-awful smell?

Don’t worry! You don’t need to bring in your heavy artillery for cleaning equipment and caustic solutions just yet. Try this instead:

  1. In a small bowl, pour 50% vinegar (the regular kind, nothing fancy!) and 50% water and microwave it for 2-3 minutes or till you have a good amount of vapor generated inside the microwave.
  2. Wait for 10-15 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the microwave door during that time. Then wipe off its insides with an absorbent cloth.
  3. The stubborn burnt residue will come off easily and the smell will also go away.

I read this tip in a newspaper some time back and it works like a charm for me.

Need some more hacks for the microwave? Check out this useful infographic by Quill

Microwave hacks for the breakroom: Cleaning, cooking and office tips

2. Winter Hack: Can’t find the lip balm? Use this!

Can’t locate the lip balm to take care of your child’s chapped lips when you are in a hurry to go out? (Our son sometimes uses lip balm as crayons or glue depending on his fancy, so, yeah, we can never seem to find lip balm in our home!).

No worries. Go to the kitchen and apply one drop of clarified butter i.e., “ghee” onto your child’s lips. It’s’ safe (after all its food!) and being of a thick consistency, works for a long time (even when your child keeps licking it or wiping his lips).

3. Kitchen Hack: Is the food too hot and spicy? Try this!

So you spent hours toiling in the kitchen and making a fabulous dinner for your family? Then you realize that it may be a tad too spicy. You see their tongues hanging out and they gulping down water like there’s no tomorrow.

Stop them right there! And don’t throw away your hard work into the dustbin just yet.

First, replace their glass of water with a glass of cold milk to take away the spicy hot burning sensation. It is a proven scientific fact that milk or milk products are the best companions for spicy food. If you hate someone, though, try giving them a glass of Coca-Cola instead! 😉

Anyway, after everybody has had the chance to calm down, mix their dinner with a spoonful of Yogurt or Ghee or Unsalted Butter (whichever they prefer and whichever goes well with the food in question). Any of the three options will reduce the heat from the spices and chilies to a large extent.

Bonus Tip: Ghee or unsalted butter will also work wonders if instead of hot and spicy, you accidentally over-salted your food.

Indian cuisine is all about different spices. So as much as I would like to, I just cannot take away the heat from traditional cooking. So, instead, I try to be ready with a glassful of cold milk at hand for the spice attacks.

4. Home Remedy: Suffering from memory loss thanks to mom-brain? Use this tip to remember things!

Remember the oh-so-familiar feeling of exasperation when you enter a room in hurry and then just can’t remember why the hell you went there in the first place?

Don’t fret because if you follow this simple trick, you will no longer need to retrace your steps back one hour later!

Simply move your eyes from left to right in quick succession for a few seconds and then think about the reason. More often than not, you will have the answer!

Sounds impossible, right? Not really!

The quick movement of the eyes left and right helps connect both hemispheres of your brain, thus activating your thought processes and linking them to your memory center (To know more about this, check out the “Brain Games” series on National Geographic). With foggy mommy brain like mine, it sure saves a lot of time and frustration!

5. Kitchen Hack: Hate washing the blender with the sticky gooey mess? Try this!

If your son is like mine and relishes his share of smoothies and shakes, then cleaning the blender or food processor goop is one of your big daily tasks. The task gets even more difficult if you are lazy like me and are not in the habit of rinsing it with plain water immediately after use. Once it dries up a bit, it could take precious minutes and herculean effort to clean it well.

Not anymore.

Enter Top Chef Gordon Ramsey and his fabulous time-saving tip on cleaning the mixer-grinder. Simply add a few drops of dishwashing liquid and some water into its container. Then just run the blender on high speed for a few seconds and rinse it with water. Voila! It will be sparkly clean and no sign or smell of goop will be left behind. Best of all, it cleans better than hand-washing.

6. Home Remedy: Three in one bump, bruise and burn medicine

Children are notorious for their ability to get bumps and bruises despite all child-safety efforts from their clueless parents’ side. And worst of all, when you try getting the swelling out using ice cubes after an accident, all they want to do is play with the cubes or lick them.

So, what’s the alternative?

Enter Ayurveda and the healing powers of Aloe Vera Gel!

  1. Just apply a generous amount on the swelling and repeat when it dries off for the next 30 minutes (or less depending on the severity of the bump).
  2. The swelling will go down pretty fast (much better than when ice cubes are used) and there will not be any bruising of the area the next day.
  3. Pure Aloe Vera is safe even if it is accidentally consumed by the child, so you need not worry about the repercussions.
  4. And this is not even the best part! Besides being great for your skin, this super plant also works like magic on severe burns as well (including sunburns, of course). (Read some of the amazing benefits of aloe vera here.)

I have dropped boiling milk into my hands, splattered hot oil and god knows what else. What can I say? I am in a perpetual hurry (like Mr. Rabbit from Alice In Wonderland) and clumsy to boot. But despite that, I have not gotten the customary water-filled blisters or even felt the burning sensation much, ever since I started using Aloe Vera Gel on the affected area; and the burns have healed much faster than regular burn medicines.

I have at least five-six tubes of this amazing super-remedy always at hand and even carry one in my handbag at all times. It doesn’t hurt that it is dirt cheap and so I don’t need to worry about the cost when being liberal with it. Effective and economical? What can beat that!

7. Winter Hack: DIY Moisturizer for Super Dry Skin

Winter is that time of the year when you need to stock up on body lotions, moisturizers, hand and foot cream etc., especially if your skin type tends to be dry. But, hoarding up is the easier part of the plan than actually applying your assortment of creams and lotions on daily basis, more so, if you are one of those perpetually exhausted parents like me.

Enter Aloe Vera Gel again! Create your own DIY Moisturizer for super dry skin by mixing the below ingredients:

  1. 2 Parts Rose Water
  2. 2 Parts Aloe Vera Gel
  3. 2 Parts Water
  4. 1 Part Glycerin (You can decrease glycerin content if your skin is less than super dry)

Voila! You have the perfect solution for winter dry skin. It’s safe even for sensitive skins and being dirt cheap (I did say that earlier, didn’t I?) you won’t mind using it profusely.

But wait, how does it save you any time? Well, actually in two ways:

  1. First of all, it is very potent and applied even once a day it retains moisture for the whole 24 hours.
  2. Secondly, it is sort of like an in-shower gel. You can just pour it all over your body after a bath and be done with it.

It’s safe for your kids as well and so, on the days when you just don’t have the energy to give your squirmy little one a nice massage with his J&J Baby Lotion, don’t sweat it. Just pour this liquid down his shoulders after a bath and pat it dry lightly.

Better yet, if you have a clean spray bottle, use it for spraying instead of pouring. However, be sure to not get any of this liquid into the eyes because glycerin is a well-known tear-jerker. Remember the actresses of yesteryears who used to apply too much of it in their eyes during sad scenes? 😉

Anyway, this solution is awesome. You will be able to ditch your body lotions and your hand and foot creams and yet, forget dry skin and cracked heels in no time and much, much more!

8. Winter Hack: Home Remedies for Cough and Cold

First things first. Get your child the flu shot at least a fortnight before the flu season begins. It really works! Having said that, if, despite the flu shot, your child does get a cough or cold, here are a few sure shot home remedies you can try to help him feel better till he fully recovers:

Steam

Steam is your best friend when trying to clear a child’s nasal pathways and chest congestion. You can buy a small steam device (aka Vaporizer) at your local pharmaceutical shop.

  1. Add a teensy-weensy pinch of salt in the water to generate a large amount of steam within a small time frame (Quite important when your kid refuses to stay at one place for more than five minutes).
  2. Make a tent using a double bed sheet to cover your child and yourself along with the steam device.
  3. Make sure to play some steam games, for example, breathing in and out the steam like you are doing yoga, trying to gobble up the steam etc., otherwise there is no way your child is going to remain under the bed sheet for long!
  4. 5-10 minutes at a time is more than enough for a child to feel much better with steam therapy.
  5. And it doesn’t hurt you either because it cleans out your pores for a glowing happy skin!
Eucalyptus Oil

For making sure that your child gets a good night’s sleep during a bout of cold, apply a few drops of Eucalyptus Oil on both sides of his pillow and also on his shirt. This will keep his airways open throughout the night and he will breathe effortlessly without suffering congestion. However, do make sure that the oil doesn’t touch his skin as it can cause a slight burning sensation and teary eyes.

Honey, Ginger and Sweet Licorice

For relieving coughs, Honey with a few drops of ginger juice is a well-known remedy and works wonders. However, if your child is like mine and hates the taste of honey-ginger, you can try giving him a stick of “Mulethi” (aka Sweet Licorice) to chew on or boil a piece in plain water and give him the water when lukewarm. It works even better than honey-ginger.

9. Kitchen Hack: Hate peeling onions and garlic? Soak’em!

One thing I hate most about cooking is peeling onions and garlic. Unfortunately, Indian cooking is seldom devoid of these two core ingredients. It’s labor intensive and makes you shed buckets of tears, literally and figuratively.

But now thanks to this hack, I am able to save both time and tears. This is what you need to do to adopt this hack:

  1. After cutting the ends of the onions, soak them in water for 10 minutes or so before peeling and chopping.
  2. For garlic, even chopping off the ends is not needed. Directly soak them in water. After 10 minutes, peeling them will be effortless and there will be no more tears either!

All done. But how to get rid of that awful raw garlic/onion smell from hands after chopping? Simply rub your hands against the rounded sides of your steel kitchen sink and then wash them off with plain water!

10. Kitchen Hack: Hate the grunt-work needed before you can don your Masterchef hat? Save on prep-time using this!

This is something that you will need if your produce store frequently runs out of frozen vegetables (mine always does!); especially for the times when you just don’t have the energy to wash, peel and cut fresh veggies.

Following vegetables work great if diced (in small cubes) and frozen; and also last way longer than when simply refrigerated:

  1. French Beans
  2. Carrots
  3. Peas
  4. Zucchini
  5. Pumpkin
  6. Bell Peppers
  7. Cauliflower
  8. Broccoli

This means you not only save time by avoiding frequent grocery trips, you can whip up a quick meal (when needed) without the usual fuss or don your best creative chef hat without worrying about the grunt-work.

If you are worried about the nutrition content of frozen veggies, then check out below links to save you a guilt trip:

  1. http://www.livestrong.com/article/379533-do-frozen-vegetables-have-the-same-nutrition-as-fresh/
  2. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/reasons-buy-frozen-fruits-veggies/story?id=20683879#
  3. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20070316/canned-fruits-veggies-healthy-too
  4. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/frozen-vegetables-are-hot

11. BONUS TIP, Kitchen Hack: Early morning rush and breakfast delays? Try these tips!

Hey, you made it all the way down to the end of this long post. Thank you! And here are a couple of bonus tips for you:

  1. Always keep about 100 gms of butter (or approx. the amount that your family consumes in a couple of days) at room temperature instead of the fridge. I can tell you from experience that it saves many precious seconds during the morning rush when all you need is a quick, buttered toast (Agreed, you can always microwave the butter, but room temperature butter is way better. Try it and you will know what I am talking about!)
  2. Invest in a good electric chopper. It is one of the best pieces of kitchen equipment to have! Do you need a quick “parantha” or an omelet or a veggie “upma“? No problem. It can save you a whole lot of time and energy that you may otherwise expend in fine chopping things.

Over to you

Quite a list, right? And I am nowhere near done with this! Anyway, hope you found this list of life hacks helpful for those crazy super-rushed days. I’d love to read yours too, ’cause believe it or not, a mom can never have too many of them! So, yeah, do share, comment, like, discuss this post 🙂 Ciao, till inspiration strikes again!

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