15 Sanity-Saving Hacks Every Toddler Mom Needs to Know

15 Sanity-Saving Hacks Every Toddler Mom Needs to Know
Image: Vanessa Quigley

mom reads in bed
Vanessa Quigley

It's not easy to be a toddler mom. Kids at that age are notoriously picky eaters, they have zero attention span, and they're not exactly known for their ability to keep themselves entertained. The only way to survive the toddler years without totally losing your mind is to arm yourself with the very best tips and tricks from other moms who've been there. Luckily, there's a new book that gives you an easy way to do just that.

Real Moms, Real Hacks: 107 Parent-Tested Tips and Tricks to Save Your Time, Money, and Sanity is the latest by Vanessa Quigley, a mom of seven and the co-founder of the popular photo app ChatBooks. The book features dozens of creative hacks shared by real moms at every stage of parenting. But we pulled out the very best ones specifically for moms struggling through the terrible twos, threes, and fours -- let's face it, those years are all pretty nightmarish.

Here, 15 mom-approved (and Vanessa Quigley–approved) hacks that will make everything from breakfast to bedtime just a little bit easier.

  • Play All Day

    baby boy playing with cars

    "Fill a rimmed cookie sheet with rice, cars, and little dump trucks -- it keeps toddlers entertained for hours!" -- Sarah Banks

  • Bath Time Brilliance

    Mom drying kid off with a towel

    "Throw a towel in the dryer a couple minutes before the kids get out of the tub. It keeps them calm and they get sleepy quickly." -- Ellie Jones

  • Shake It Off

    mom dancing with daughter

    "When life gets busy, the house is messy, or we're all a little grumpy, I turn the music up really loud in our kitchen and start dancing. Within a few minutes, everyone is smiling again and life is good." -- Shea Mcgee

    More from CafeMom: 12 Tales of Extremely Picky Eating -- & How Moms Overcame It

  • No More Bedtime Struggles

    A glass jar filled with colorful pom-poms

    "To make bedtime easier, I do 'sleepytime balls.' If my kids go to sleep without getting up, crying, or stalling, then in the morning I give them one puffy pom pom ball that we put in a mason jar. When the jar fills up, there’s a prize. If they don't go to sleep right away, I take one out." -- Heather Mildenstein

  • Master Multitasking

    woman washing her face

    "I used to be TERRIBLE at falling asleep with my makeup on. Then I realized I have to be in the bathroom to bathe my kids each night, so I wash my face while I am in there! Violà, life changing." -- Jenny A. Moore

  • Date Night Done Right

    a man and woman having dinner

    "My husband and I do date night on Thursdays -- it lets us skip both the Friday crowds and the competition for babysitters!" -- Camille Anderson

  • Snack Hack

    A cute child eating a healthy snack

    "Use muffin tins instead plates to entice kids to eat: Simply put a different food in each cup. Our favorites: grapes, berries, oranges, apple slices, cheese cubes, deli turkey, crackers, carrots or other veggie & dip, cubed avocado, yogurt, chocolate chips, popcorn, almonds, and raisins." -- Erika Peterson

    More from CafeMom: I'm Going to Tell You the Exhausting Truth About Raising Two Kids Under 2

  • Less Mess, Less Stress

    a teddy bear in a box of books

    "I have several buckets throughout the house. Any time I come across a random toy during the day, it all ends up in the closest bucket. At the end of the day, the kids help me empty the buckets and put everything away. It helps keep the house tidy throughout the day, keeps me from stepping on loose Legos, and when one of the kids comes asking if I've seen a toy, all I have to say is, 'Check the bucket.'" -- Melissa Cook

  • Ace Accident Clean-Up

    a sleeping toddler

    "Layer two fitted sheets on a crib or mattress: When your child has a middle of the night blow-out or accident, you already have a fresh set of sheets on the bed." -- Veronica Andrews

  • Potty Time, Any Time

    a little girl on a potty seat

    "Store a potty chair in the trunk. It's like a constantly available bathroom stop for toddlers when you are traveling across country (or just across town). 'Nuf said." -- Shashanna C.

  • Snack Management

    kid reaching for healthy snack

    "My kids get to pick four snacks per day from a basket on our table. Normally they snack at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and before bed. I've found this is way better than constantly being asked for a snack." -- Emily Murdoch Roberts

  • A Better Way to Shop

    mom putting baby in a shopping cart

    "Park next to the shopping cart return! It means I don't have to carry everyone in to the store to get a cart and better yet, when we come out I don't have to go too far to return the cart." -- Arrin B.

    More from CafeMom: 14 Unbelievable Stories That Prove Mother's Intuition is Real

  • Friendlier Skies

    mom and baby on airplane

    "Bring little sticky notes on flights: Your baby can stick them all over the tray in front of the seat, then pull them off." -- Brittany Hayward

  • Perfect Meal Prep

    a woman cutting pizza

    "Cut children's food with a pizza cutter! I'll never forget seeing my friend do that when he and his wife had us over for dinner. I took a mental note to do it with my own kids." -- Kara Miller

  • Make Memories

    mom and daughter laughing together

    "Take more pictures than you think you need, and capture the everyday along with planned events. Write down the funny things your children say so you can read it back to them as they get older. This motherhood thing looks different on everyone and one 'hack' I've found most valuable is to do your best to capture it all." -- Jacqui Saldana

    For more great ideas, grab your own copy of Real Moms, Real Hacks: 107 Parent-Tested Tips and Tricks to Save Your Time, Money, and Sanity by Vanessa Quigley.

bedtime fun & games picky eaters potty training

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