What my readers may catch onto pretty darn quickly here is that many of these mom hacks of sorts, or experiments moms have tried in their quest to get through the F-ing day with babies and young kids around, are related to some rather specific topics.
And if readers out there happen to already be moms, dads, or guardians in some capacity, I bet they can guess what these topics are.
What are the things that inevitably become extreme frustrations or even major battles when dealing with children around the clock?
If you’re already a parent, I bet you’re eagerly raising your hand, shouting, “Oooh! Ooh! I know!” and answering 1) going to the bathroom / all things related to the bathroom; 2) eating / getting them to eat / not having to share what you’re eating / not spending two hours to get through one meal; and 3) getting dressed, or more specifically, that they want to do everything BY THEMSELVES.
Now, I don’t have the answers, but I am deep into the insane battleground that is raising a three-year-old (and mine is apparently rather polite and well-behaved compared to many out there, which makes me shudder to write).
Therefore, through my own experience and research, I present for you now 15 hilarious experiments that saved these moms’ sanity.
14 What If You Do Away With Diapers?
Yep… These topics always seem to pop up for me to write about at just the right time in my parenthood journey. Tensions in my household are at an all-time high. And the stresses escalating daily around us aren’t related to common family worries like money, work, and chores… Nope, our daily battleground is currently related to getting my toddler to use the GD potty.
Now, we didn’t push her – she showed signs of readiness and even said she was ready, in so many toddler words, with her own mouth: She didn’t want to wear diapers anymore, and she was ready to use the potty. So what was the experiment? “What happens when you take the diaper away?”
The answer? They go in the potty.
They don’t like to wet themselves or have accidents – and many of them really like the idea of wearing underwear.
So why the tension I mentioned? We’re currently seeing what happens when you take away the diaper at night (when my little always go poop…).
13 Can They Be Used To Clean ______?
There’s this thing that happens, like, at least three or four times each and every day, I’d say. You find yourself stuck in some situation, somewhere, where you’re trying to control a wriggly baby or contain a wild animal of a toddler in public or prevent one child from eating the disgusting mess another has made and you ask yourself, can this problem, too, be solved by baby wipes?
What we’ve found in our extensive research is that the answer is quite often YES.
I’d like to put in an important side note here that while I must confess to using quite a few of these disposable wonder-cleaners (as in we buy them most weeks in huge bulk packs), I want to remind myself and everyone out there to exercise caution about using too many landfill-filling products.
With that said, the early baby and toddler years seem to inevitably require some waste in this modern life, and when peanut butter’s all over the steering wheel, poop’s on your arm, or a mystery substance is on your preschooler’s face, baby wipes can often save the day.
12 How About A Good Old-Fashioned Bribe?
My doctor actually encouraged me to perform this experiment on my own child.
There was a certain unfavorable behavior I was trying to correct. To get specific, my otherwise very well behaved, amazingly kind, and wonderfully smart girl had taken to screaming, ear-piercingly and awfully, in frustration and anger, like, every single day.
I’d tried so many tactics. Nothing had worked.
It had been months and months, and I needed an out.
Was the answer to correcting bad behavior bribery? As my doctor advised, to put it simply: Yes.
It can actually get a bit more complicated than that, but when it comes down to it, it is a bribe: a reward offered in return for the behavior you desire.
And many would caution to make sure that reward isn’t something that will mess them up (like food or something). A sticker on a chart, for example, for each day your little love uses her words instead of screaming may do the trick.
You’ve tried being honest with them. You do it all the ways you think you’re supposed to. You set healthy limits. You offer healthy foods. You explain openly and honestly (though in simplified form) about thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
But these smart and humane approaches to parenthood don’t always get you what you want.
What happens if you lie?
I’m the last person to encourage breaking the bond of trust between a parent and child. That is scary and dangerous stuff, in my book.
But what many parents come to realize is that small bendings of the truth or allowances of ambiguity can save their days and stop them from going insane.
For example, my toddler decided she was finally open to using a public toilet because there was one “just her size” at the public library. I started explaining to her that there were other perfectly nice public potties that were her size (with my help…), too, and voila! I can now leave the house for more than two hours at a time.
11 Are These Classic Snacks The Answer?
If I bring cheerios and crackers with me everywhere I go – religiously – will it make it so that I can leave the house with my young children?
Not always, but most of the time, actually, yes!
It’s gotten easier and easier for me to understand how often these little loves of mine need or want to eat. See, my work and energetic output grow exponentially with each additional child (I’ve now got two VERY active ones) and each passing day, so I also find myself needing to put something edible in my own mouth just about every two hours lest I get what I’ve heard many people describe as “hangry.”
It’s hard to get out of the house. It’s daunting to add one more step (on top of all the peeing and pooping and whining and shoe-finding and mind-changing and you get the picture) before you make it out that door, but pouring some cereal or crackers in a bag or grabbing that string cheese just might save your sanity – and make it so you don’t have to turn around and go home ten minutes after you exit your driveway.
10 But What About The GERMS?
As the parent to a newborn or a single young baby, you may shudder at the thought of anyone putting your precious little love’s bottle or sippy cup in their mouth except for, well, your little love.
But at some point – for example as soon as you join a playgroup or activity or mommy-and-me class, or have another child – a little experiment will be forced upon you. Your hypothesis may be that when someone else regularly puts their slobbery jaws all up on your child’s cup, it will inevitably result in disaster.
Your findings, however, may be quite different.
Now I do try to use caution about not giving a cup back to my babes once a rando kid outside of the family has grabbed or chewed on the spout.
But I had to let go a long time ago of the dream of always having one separate cup for each of my kids (a toddler and a baby) – even if I do have the time and wherewithal to bring two cups, they always end up switching and sharing.
And does it matter? Nope. Because they all mouth and touch the same stuff all day everyday anyway.
(As with all things in this list and health-related, go ahead and consult with your own doc and do what’s comfortable for you.)
9 How Simple Can We Keep It?
There has to be some way, somehow to avoid an hour-long battle about something as simple as getting dressed in the morning, right? Because everything else is already a battle. We have to get these little creatures to eat. We have to convince these tiny and loveable terrors to go do the thing they were so stoked to do like thirty seconds ago.
So please, oh please, moms of experience out there, tell us: Will letting the kid have a few options and choose himself actually be faster (and more painless) than just choosing for him?
You know what I mean if you’ve had a toddler. Right around two years old, you might find yourself desperately trying out this classic mom-xperiment pretty darn quick.
The conditions are thus: Eager to avoid a screaming explosion one morning, you present two shirts, and ask a simple phrase: “Which one?”
And hallelujah, some of the time anyway, it works. They feel like they got to be a big girl (have some agency) and choose, and you got the hell out of Dodge.
8 Is Nonchalant Nonsense The Answer?
Even though I know what the results of this experiment will look like when they come in, I’m still really, really bad at performing in order to receive a favorable outcome.
Here’s the question that top mom-researchers have so often posed: Since acting like what my child does is really important to me makes him or her do the exact opposite of what I want, will I get what I want if I act like I just don’t care?
An alternative exploration of this topic may be titled “Does reverse psychology work?
It takes strength. It takes patience. When I say “patience,” I mean that it may require you lovely moms and dads and grandparents and caregivers out there to summon every bit of fortitude that you have within, to channel your most challenging prior experiences, to call on ancient inner knowledge, and possibly to practice Zen-like calmness in the face of a swirling storm.
The kid is flipping the F out over something stupid, or refusing to do something quite simple and quite essential to life (like eat enough calories to, like, stay alive), and you pause think, and act like you DON’T GIVE A F.
What have moms found? It often works.
7 Does Getting Greedy Get Results?
So you make many a delicious meal. You present it in appealing and enticing ways. You buy special Minnie Mouse plates with matching tiny silverware. You offer to help feed. You allow her to self-feed.
Ninety percent of what you make ends up on the floor or in the trash.
What happens when you make something you enjoy eating, sit down to a delicious plate – and don’t offer any of it to your little guy or gal?
It doesn’t work every single time, but this really might be a great way to get your (possibly somewhat picky) tot interested in more varied foods.
Sure, there’s the exposure approach, where you just keep offering varied and healthy foods and figure they’ll catch on at some point (more on that later…).
But if you look really interested in eating some yummy dish, a little voice may quickly question, “What’s that??” or even reach out for a bite.
6 Will Persistence Really Pay Off?
If you feel like a broken record as a parent, get used to it.
You may not truly understand the extent and scope of the world “repetition” until it comes time to guide a little person through this world.
It may seem at times like your child will never, ever learn to go to sleep on his own. It may feel like getting him to put away his Legos is straight-up impossible. But do not give up hope, because moms have found that yes, repetition really is key.
The specific scenario I have in mind involves food. You present peas, but Junior just pokes them around. You offer then again, and eat them yourself, and he throws them on the floor. This may continue for quite some time. But guess what? It’s (perhaps frustratingly) no reason to give up on your child ever eating peas. Yep, if you, with utmost patience and fortitude, keep presenting the healthy option, they will likely come around.
5 Is It Entirely About Enticing?
I know from experience that it’s easy to fall into a pattern of offering your baby only stuff that, quite frankly, doesn’t look very good.
Your doctor may advise you to start offering solids foods by mixing breast milk or formula with rice, oatmeal, or some other grain of baby cereal (colorless mush). It can be made at almost a liquid consistency at first and then get chunkier (with less milk) and more varied (with pureed add-ins) as the baby gets used to the idea of eating “solid” (non-milk) foods.
Then, as you start to introduce “real people” food, it’s easy to do it just in little separate bites, because you may have found that babies react well to that. They like picking up a Cheerio or gumming a small bit of cheese.
But what if you, at some point, decide to make your baby an actual meal – like you would eat? Do they smell the enticing aromas, and eat the delicious dish first with their eager eyes?
Happily, moms and dads often find that if they step out of their comfort (or habit) zones and offer enticing “real people” foods, baby (being a little human, after all) digs in.
4 Will Little Bro Be Better?
Each kid’s personality and circumstances are so different that there is absolutely no guarantee of a predictable result with this experiment (or with any??).
But I am the mom who had the hopeful hypothesis that my second baby would take to solids more readily than my first. And I was right.
If a baby is surrounded by not one, not two, but three other people eating many meals around her every day as she is offered similar or the same food of her own, will she eat more of it and self-feed earlier than her older sibling?
In our case, heck yes!
And man, do I thank the universe for that.
I’m sure that like all things baby, mealtime excitement or struggles will come in waves – but it has been AMAZING to have a second kid who so far wants to eat allll the real-people food herself, just like her big sister (now) does.
3 Will Motion Still Calm The Commotion?
I guess many of the difficulties I’ve had with my own (otherwise genius, kind, beautiful, and otherwise perfect) child are really coming out here. And, well, I hope that might help some of you as you struggle to deal with your little terrors – I mean, little angels.
One neat trick mine adopted BEFORE SHE WAS EVEN TWO was to refuse – and I mean she will not do it – napping.
This, unfortunately, was of course a very productive work period for me that I was forced to give up, or at least have changed. Instead of fussing a bit before snoozing soundly for something like an hour, she’d jump around, sing, have a dance party, and generally be hyperactive and loud. I tried everything (making sure she had plenty of activity, had eaten at a good time, wasn’t over-tired, and so on and so forth), and it just didn’t work. She’s three now. She still won’t nap.
But if she’s exhausted, like too tired for life, what happens when I put her in the car and drive for 20 minutes like parents do for their fussy newborns? She will often actually sleep.
2 Monkey See, Monkey Do?
Not to brag or anything (ha…), but I was the little girl other moms wanted to come over and play at their houses in the hopes that my “good” behavior would rub off on their tiny little nightmares. My mom really enjoyed telling me that this is why I was in high demand to play the role of “best friend” for so many only children… but that’s another story.
The point is, moms wonder if the behavior of other kids will really “rub off” on their own little boys and girls.
And sure there are differences of personality and upbringing that matter no small amount, but much of the time, it does (rub off, that is).
I’m admittedly still pretty early on in this whole parenting game. My kids aren’t even in school yet.
But I know that young kids loooove to imitate what they see. It’s how they learn and experiment themselves with which behaviors will get which reactions.
Some moms make a real effort to surround their kids with children with behavior they want them to imitate (and watch out around those with behavior they don’t want them to imitate…).
1 Is My Imagination The Limit?
What happens if you don’t assume your little tyke can’t yet do _____ (fill in the blank) and actually just give them the chance to do it?
It can be scary. It can feel like it might be a total waste of time, in fact.
But really, I guess, it’s how they go ahead and learn.
Within safe limits, parents sometimes find that if they ease up a little and don’t try to limit their expectations of what their kid is or isn’t capable of so darn much, the world opens up before them.
And it doesn’t have to be something big… You didn’t think your tot would ever eat pizza with olives? Do you give it a try only to find it’s one of his very favorite things?
It can apply to so many areas of life. It can be pleasantly surprising to test this hypothesis and find out that although you thought your child couldn’t poop in the potty, eat with a fork, calm down on his own, or more – you were wrong!