Parenting is a tough but rewarding job. If you’re also a first-time parent or a parent of a child with disabilities, you’ve added on yet another pile of worries and challenges. Wouldn’t it be great to have a list of life hacks from parents who have figured out a thing or two to make life a bit less stressful for the family? We’ve been there and know exactly how it feels when one little tip can feel like it’s taken the weight of the world off your shoulders. No matter where you lie on the parenting experience chart, you’re bound to find a life hack in here that fits one of your needs.
The Need for Order and Being Prepared
Organization can help keep the whole family sane. It seems like there’s a handy little app for just about everything now, and the Cozi Family Scheduling app is one great example used by many parents. Cozi helps keep families organized, in the know, and up to date. When an appointment or task is scheduled on one device, it’s scheduled across all connected devices. It can truly be a lifesaver and reduce stress and miscommunication.
Another great hack we often hear is keeping a family binder in an easily accessible place in your home. Section off your binder for all the things that are important to your family, including financial household goals, school calendars, and to-do lists. Sections in your binder that may be extremely beneficial are:
· Emergency contact numbers
· Medical doctors’ information
· Food or drug allergies
· Upcoming appointments needed or already scheduled
· Concerns or questions to ask at upcoming appointments
· A medical log for reference
· A diet log
· Likes or dislikes (particularly helpful for caregivers)
Some families find a color-coding system to be a game-changer. Assigning each child a color helps teach independence when gathering their own cups or towels. It can be a great learning tool for teaching younger children as well as children with disabilities. You may even go as far as color-coding devices and chargers to help cut down on the chaos.
Color-coding school supplies is a time-saver as well — code by day or subject to help your child stay organized.
Preparing for the Unexpected
Nighttime bed-wetting accidents don’t have to be all that stressful anymore with this helpful tip. Layering your child’s bed with a waterproof mattress pad and fitted sheet followed by a second waterproof mattress pad and sheet can help middle of the night clean-ups be less of a hassle. As groggy as you may be, it’s much easier to peel off the top layers with a fresh set of bedding waiting underneath.
Many families find an emergency to-go bag to be a time saver as well. Stocked full of crayons, snacks, a change of clothes, and a few first aid items, this bag can be particularly useful if a grab-n-go moment arises. Middle of the night trips to the hospital is a perfect example. Keeping one in your car is helpful for those unexpected spills or unscheduled stops.
We’re always searching for new ways to help picky eaters. Parents of children with autism, in particular, can be up against greater challenges when it comes to introducing new foods. Try waiting until dinner time to add a new item to your child. Start the day off with their regular routine and fill their stomachs with a familiar breakfast and lunch. This will help out if dinner brings resistance or tantrums that may throw off the rest of the day’s schedule. There’s always a big win in making it through the first portion of your day!
Hacks You May Not Want to Live Without
Online food shopping with pick-up and delivery options are an amazing alternative for any family. Sometimes life happens, and there just isn’t time to get to the store. With today’s amazing technology and offered services, this option is definitely worth looking into to save time and a little bit of sanity. Shop online when you have the time to build your list and schedule your pick-up or delivery when it’s most convenient for you!
Have you ever seen a stroller cooler? By connecting one to the back of a stroller or wheelchair, you’re able to keep bottles, snacks, or necessary medical items with you at all times without taking up the limited storage space you would normally have.
Helpful Hacks for Sensory Issues
Buying several of the same item, such as a favorite shirt or pair of colored socks, can help cut down on meltdowns often met during dressing. It’s an easy way to save time and stress for the whole family and meet your child’s needs.
Consider keeping a spare noise-canceling headset in your car for any occasion. Noisy areas and loud events can be better navigated when you’re prepared.
Making a large family wall calendar with visual and text flashcards is a fun and useful way for your child to know what to expect for the day. Create cards for what the weather may be, where you may be headed, or what you may be working on for the day. It also gives your family a chance to plan and discuss the upcoming week’s activities.
While some families may use a large whiteboard and laminated, velcroed cards, other families have had great success painting a chalkboard wall. From ABA play therapy to practicing social skills at a playgroup, it’s a creative and useful tool.
ABA Play Hacks for Improving Social Skills
Participating in ABA play therapy is beneficial for the whole family. Working through the levels of play will help introduce social skills where your child may need to improve. ABA play methods work best when you help your child use them in all environments. Don’t worry, we have a few life hacks to help!
Creating your own books is a fantastic way to introduce new people, situations, or places. By using drawings and words that are developmentally appropriate for your child, you can create personal books that help them learn new social skills, know what to expect on an upcoming outing, and more. Some of your books can even give you a chance to help your child practice for situations. Try practicing a social skill that may have been a struggle at your last playdate. Use methods consistent with what he may be learning during ABA play therapy, such as interactive play.
There are even sensory-friendly places that offer opportunities for your child to interact with others and practice social skills. AMC offers movie viewings with low volume, additional lighting, and the opportunity for children to wander, dance, and play during the movie. Theme parks such as Sesame Place have even created rides that match the abilities or accommodations your child may need. Their friendly staff are knowledgeable and certified, and the park offers areas and rooms for children with ASD who may need to take a break. It’s a fantastic option for your next family vacation.
From finding ways to implement a new ABA play therapy or social skill to making sure your family is on the same page, there’s definitely a hack out there that can help you. Hearing from parents who have perfected their own life hacks is an amazing way to experiment and find what may work well for your family. To learn more about services and resources that can help your child thrive, contact us today!