After my first son was born I remember reading a parenting book that was supposed to be a collection of tips and tricks from Real Parents Just Like You, except the advice it contained had a real pod-person feel to it and I questioned the legitimacy of contributors like “Anne, mother of 7″ who suggested that dry oatmeal was a fun sensory stimulator for young children. “Just fill a box or plastic tub, and let the good times roll!” Sure, maybe a mother of seven has nothing better to do than vacuum a metric crapload of oatmeal out of every crevice in her house, but somehow I doubt it.
I’d rather read a collection of suggestions that address real-world issues, and “My children do not have nearly enough Quaker products crammed in their bodily cavities” isn’t really a concern I’ve experienced. I still consider myself a mouth-breathing amateur at this motherhood business, but here are a few of the tips I’ve learned over the last couple years, should anyone be in the market for creating a new oatmeal-free book:
How to Unclog a Newborn’s Nose. Carefully drip a couple of drops of saline water in your baby’s tiny snout-hole, then hold both nostrils slightly shut while using the nasal bulb to suction out the surprisingly enormous booger within. Note: your baby may object to this treatment, and then be completely ungrateful for the ability to breathe freely. Just chalk this up to yet another unrewarding moment in parenthood.
How to Distract a Melting-Down Toddler Who is Protesting a Decision or Activity. Let’s say your kid is freaking out about getting dressed for bedtime and screaming “NO PAJAMAS RIGHT NOW” etc; try suddenly asking if he wants his SPACE pajamas or his DINOSAUR pajamas. Toddlers, in my limited experience, love choices, and it’s often enough to reset their little on-fire brains to offer a choice related to whatever it is they’re all ticked off about.
How to (Briefly) Calm a Fussy Baby. I’m sure this doesn’t work for ALL babies, but this trick worked with Riley and now it works with Dylan: when he’s worked himself into a fussy state that can’t be addressed with milk or sleep or soothing or whatever, I take off his clothes and let him squirm around on a blanket for a while. Babies = nudists.
How to Get the Smell of Barf Out of Fabric. Baking soda in the washing machine, and a lot of it. This also works on stinky, sour towels.
Okay, your turn: I’d love it if you shared a couple of your real-life parenting tips. No particular subject or category, just whatever comes to mind!