No matter how much planning a parent does, they’ll eventually end up ad-libbing. All children are different, which makes finding what works challenging enough. But the moment you begin to figure yours out, they grow, forcing you to revamp your battle plan. Throw in life’s tendency to toss surprises at us and it’s no wonder parents are always scrambling!
Despite parenthood’s ever-changing challenges, these five tools are consistently invaluable:
1. Diaper Pins
Who needs diaper pins in the era of disposable diapers? Anyone who might need a safety pin in an area that small children can reach! The safety pin’s larger, childproof cousin can make the same fixes without forcing parents to worry about their child pricking themselves.
Since diaper pins are much more difficult to pop, they also work better in situations where there is likely to be greater strain — like that caused by a small child tugging on their mother’s clothing as they demand her attention or an older child tugging on sheets to get the walls of their tent exactly right.
2. Duct Tape
Duct tape is an incredibly versatile fast fix. It can strengthen the spine of a too-well-loved book, hold a raveled hem in place in a pinch, or seal a half-finished snack bag. With the wide variety of colors and designs available, it’s an easy way to color code children’s belongings. On a rainy day it can be taped to the carpet to form a road for miniature cars or a quick hopscotch course. It even makes a good addition in the craft box!
3. Air Mattress
As much as parents wish otherwise, illness is an inevitable part of childhood. When there’s vomiting involved, an air mattress is much easier to clean than a traditional mattress. The prospect of sleeping on the air mattress might provide a welcome distraction for an ailing child. If not, it allows a parent to stay close without staying on the floor.
As a bonus, when everyone is healthy an air mattress comes in handy when friends or family visit for a sleepover.
4. Zipper Storage Bags
Plastic zipper storage bags have infinite uses. They’re perfect for packing snacks or keeping small pieces together. They’re also great for carrying spare outfits, especially since any messy outfit can be sealed inside to prevent collateral damage to other items you’re hauling around.
Parents can even keep a few empty gallon-sized ones tucked in the car in case of sudden illness. Folding the zipper down a little creates an impromptu basin — one you can seal if the worst happens to prevent spills and contain stomach-churning odors.
5. Small Flashlight
A small flashlight makes the search for something gone missing much easier and turns terrifying blackouts into adventures. It can also make an unexpectedly late night safer. Today many are small enough to go on a key ring or fold neatly into a woman’s purse.
In my years as a mom, I’ve used these five things more times — and in more ways — than I can count. Consider adding them to your parenting tool box. They won’t let you down!