For this week’s post, I wanted to do something fun and share some cool Dad Hacks that I have come across while scouring the Internet. These 14 easy-to-use “hacks” will help any dad effortlessly reduce stress and increase enjoyment in their lives. I have even thrown in a few tips and tricks of my own that I have found great success with. Without further ado, here’s the list.
- Give Them Some Control
When dealing with a difficult preschooler, consider giving them options. Instead of saying “It’s time for bed,” which may result in a temper tantrum, we could instead offer, “would you like to go to bed in 3 minutes or 4 minutes?” This allows your child to feel like they got to make the rules, even if it is within the parameters that you have set.
- Make Chores Fun
In my own experience, I have found that most kids like to play and few like to work. However, if you can get creative and turn the work into a game, then you may be pleasantly surprised at how willing your children are to get the work done. My source recommended using tongs or one of those “grabber” things to encourage the kids to pick up toys. When I was young, one of my dad’s friends had taught me to play basketball with the toys and the toy box. I find that turning things into a race works well with my older two. If I want them to brush their teeth, buckle their seat belt, or get their coats on, I have them race me to a finish. Somehow, I always seem to “lose” with a smile on my face.
- Show Them a Routine
Kids have no sense of time (neither do I to be honest). This little trick will help to visually demonstrate a rhythm in each day that the kids can follow along with. If you look at the picture below, you will see that each color indicates an expectation for the time allotted to each task. Learning to follow a routine like this will help your child to develop the disciplines needed to be successful later on in life.
- Monster Spray Bottle
Have a kid that’s afraid of the dark? How about giving your child something to fight back with? All you need is an empty spray bottle that you can decorate and fill with water. Whenever your child thinks there might be trouble, have him or her spray the area with the “special spray.” Later on, you can tell them that the “special spray” was just some good ol’ courage.
- Nothing Says Comfort like Mom’s Used Shirt
For the dad’s left at home with a newborn- if you find yourself unable to calm your child, try finding a shirt mom used recently and cuddle your child up to it. Your child will recognize mom’s smell and may be comforted by it.
- Yoga Mats = Cheap Portable Changing Pad
Men’s Health shared a clever trick that they had gotten from Zach Rosenberg (8bitdad.com). Instead of buying a changing mat for your times away from the house, just buy a cheap yoga mat at the store and cut it up to make a few easy-to-clean changing pads. Here’s one I found at Wal-Mart that would get the job done: Click Here. There’s no need to spend $20-$30 on a single portable changing pad or station.
- Child Won’t Stop Taking Their Diaper Off
This one is from athomedaddy2016 (found at babyology.com). If you are one of those unfortunate parents that has a child that loves to take their diaper off (especially a “used” diaper) then this is an easy solution for you- just take some duct tape and cover over the tabs so that the ends of the tape wrap around to the back, where the child can’t get to it.
- Make a List
If you are constantly struggling to get things done throughout the day, consider making a list first thing in the morning. It’s not the most natural thing for some of us, but it does help to maintain focus on the priorities of the day, and it reduces unneeded stress trying to make decisions on the fly.
- 30-Day Policy
We live in a materialistic world that encourages us to pursue the next “biggest” and “best” thing. Impulse buying is a struggle for many men. To help protect our family from poor financial discipline on our part, try this trick: buy only what you need in the moment; when you find something that you want, write it down on a wish list with a date next to it showing when you first found the item. After 30 days, if you have the finances to make a “want” purchase and you still find that you value the item, then you might consider buying the item. Be sure to fit the item into your budget so your much desired purchase doesn’t become a nightmare later on down the road.
- When You Can’t Find a Bib
This is one that my mother-in-law taught me the other day. Our youngest daughter had just come home from church and was wearing her brand new dress. We started to heat up some leftovers so that we could eat a late lunch. What was on the menu? – Spaghetti. If you haven’t seen a 1 yr. old eat spaghetti, then consider yourself blessed. It’s not pretty! We had three options: undress her and have her eat with just her diaper on (too cold), completely change her outfit (too much hassle), or, as grandma suggested, just take a recently used play shirt and slide it over her dress. Works like a charm!
- Read What You Like
I’m not sure where I got this, but I found this tip in a magazine before I had my firstborn child. When children are too young to comprehend the words that are being said or when they are still in mom’s belly, they aren’t going to care if you read “Hop On Pop” for the 30th time. Just read what you like. Read them something out of Sport’s Illustrated or Popular Mechanics. Use the time to catch up on something that interests you. What they really need to hear is your voice. Just please; don’t read them something full of profanity. Though the child won’t comprehend what you are reading to them, they will remember the phonetics of words, and may likely surprise you with what they pick up.
- Use Car Time Wisely
Life is full of distractions. If you are going out for a long trip, make the most of the time. Before you get on to the road, give your child something to reflect on, such as “did you know that a tree can grow from a small seed?” or “what would you do if you could swim under water without having to come up for air?” If your child asks questions and you can safely give them your attention, then go for it- make it a learning moment. When your children get older, use this time to remind them of important truths like, “did you know that I will never stop loving you?” or “I wanted to let you know that I am so proud of the young man/woman you are growing up to be.” Some of the best conversations I ever had with my dad took place in the car. Now that I am an adult and only see my parents a few times a year, I never miss an opportunity to tag along with my dad when we are visiting and he needs to “go get something.”
- Don’t Let It Go Just Yet
There are so many creative things that we can do with the stuff that we mindlessly toss away. Heed my words- bubble wrap and boxes are sacred to a preschooler. Do not throw these away until they have been played with by your child. Make a spaceship out of the box your new refrigerator came in, take all those printing mistakes and set them in a scrap paper box for the kids to color on, and turn that coffee container into a drum. The sky’s the limit!
- The Weights that Never Stop Working
This is another tip that I had found in a magazine before my first child was born. For those of us that can’t get to the gym as often as we used to, just strap your baby securely in a car seat and start curling. When your child is old enough, they really get a kick out of being raised up and down like you are bench pressing them. I often have my kids grab ahold of my legs while I am walking around the house. You can also get a good workout playing airplane with them. The best part about using your child as weights is that, as they grow, so will your muscles that you need to keep from “getting to old for this stuff.”
Now, it’s your turn to share some dad tips and tricks. If you know of any good Dad Hacks, leave them in the comments below for everyone to enjoy. Catch you all next week!
Brian Faust is the Fatherhood Program Coordinator of Rock Solid Fatherhood in Warsaw, IN. He is the husband of the world’s best wife and father of three beautiful girls. He has nearly a decade of mentorship and mental health experience. Brian has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Grace College. It is his desire to come alongside men of all walks of life as they embrace their role as partner and father with rock solid strength.