Parenting Hacks for Toddlers – 8 GENIUS IDEAS

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Having a toddler is one of the most exciting, and completely exhausting things you will go through as a parent. They are needy, yet independent. They are sassy, but still so sweet. And they will make you crazy! Your only chance of survival is to do things to help even out the chaos. These parenting hacks for toddlers saved my sanity!

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1. Create A Snack Station

snack station

Snack stations are such stress relievers. Studies show that on average, children ask for a snack 1,374 times a day. Just kidding. But it feels like it.

You can create these snack stations at the beginning of the week, and prepare them with healthy snacks. On a busy day, it’s unlikely you want to peel and cut up carrots, so you’ll throw some goldfish at them instead.

Doing all of this prep work will save time AND it will save you money. You won’t have to buy convenience snacks, like pre-made applesauce pouches. It will also help you from wasting produce.

I have a snack station in the fridge, as well as the pantry. You can decide if you want them in a place where your toddler can self serve, or somewhere they can’t reach to avoid them eating them all on the same day.

snack station toddler hack

2. Find Creative Ways to Stay Entertained

  • Restaurant Kit– There’s nothing worse than going out to dinner, only to go sit in the car while your child has a meltdown. These kits are good for everywhere you need to keep your child entertained and quiet. Check out this bloggers restaurant kit… it’s awesome!
  • DVD Art Kit – This is a simpler version of the restaurant kit, dvd art kitspecifically for coloring. You can but a coloring kit, or have fun making one out of a DVD case!
  • Busy books – These are a genius invention. We use ours in church every week.

  • Ipad – A lot of people are against electronics, and for good reason. However, there are so many educational apps out there that are truly beneficial. You might get some funny looks, the best way to deal with that is to give them the finger. Just kidding. Don’t do that.

Screen time hack: Set a timer. Teach them that when the timer goes off, the games go away.

3. Utilize Educational Movies and Apps

Yes, too much electronics is not good. But there are a lot of educational apps that are great. Here are a few that have really helped my daughter.

1. Leapfrog – My daughter knew her numbers, the alphabet, and the sound each letter makes, because of these leapfrog DVDs: Numberland and The Letter Factory.

2. Daniel Tiger – Daniel tiger is the best thing to happen to this world since sliced bread. There are a lot of reasons that I promote Daniel Tiger, here’s some of them:

  • Each episode has a theme (going potty, feeling frustrated, etc.) and there’s a song for each one. The song is catchy and simple. When they’re struggling, you can sing the song and remind them what to do.
  • It is the BEST show that displays diversity. Some characters only have one parent, some are biracial, some live with other family members, some are disabled, and each character has a different personality. Respect for all kinds of people is one of the most important things to teach children.
  • You can watch Daniel Tiger on Prime video, TV, PBS kids, and you can also download a few apps that are awesome.

3. Be sure to check out our article on The Best Toddler Apps! 

4. Get Smart With Safety

1. Toddler leash backpack – This is a controversial topic. But, toddler leashes are a good idea. Why is it bad that you want an extra form of protection. There are multiple reasons a toddler backpack is a good idea:

  • allows for independence – toddlers don’t want to be in a stroller, they want to explore.
  • keeps them from running away – especially into traffic!
  • keeps them close – a stranger will have a harder time grabbing them
  • storage– you can put a change of clothes or a snack in the backpack and stop carrying a diaper bag

backpack harness child leash

Check out our article that talks about our favorite backpack harness brand!

2. Wrist leash – A new alternative to the backpack leash is the wrist leash. This is becoming quite common.

5. Potty Training Hacks:

Potty training is one of the worst parts of parenting. Just when you think you got it down, BAM. They poop their pants in the middle of the grocery store.

These potty training hacks can help save your sanity.

1. Charts & Rewards for Motivation – I can’t imagine potty training without using bribery. Charts are wonderful. The first chart I created was a potty training reward chartsimple chart that had ten squares, each with a number in it (1-10). Every time they go potty, they get to stamp the chart. Also, every time they add a stamp, they count 1 to 10 each time and then add their stamp. This was such a great way to learn to count. You can do this with numbers, letters, colors, shapes, etc. You can also choose to add rewards if you’d like. Pieces of candy each time they go potty or add a stamp is popular. Or, a prize when they fill the chart.

2. Potty Training Pants – Those thin little panties are a joke. For a long time after learning to go potty, they will likely pee a couple of drops and then realize, “Hey I have to pee.” When this happens with those thin underwear, it soaks through their pant. The thicker underwear is so much better for little leaks.

3. Toilet in the Car – This is a life saver. I always have a potty training toilet in the back of the car, especially for road trips. There have been so many times my daughter has had to go potty when there wasn’t a bathroom nearby. So we go right there, behind the car.

Click to download the Potty Training Chart!

6. Teaching Independence & Patience – The “Big Kid Chart”

This tactic I’ve developed helps teach potty training, getting dressed onreward chart their own, brushing their teeth, doing their hair, counting, colors, and days of the week.

I developed this because I HATED when my daughter would spend .04 of a second trying to get her sock on and proceeded to scream that she couldn’t do it. The only way she gets the stamp is if she does it without whining. She can calmly ask for help if she has already tried and can’t get it.

How it works:

In the morning and at night, if she completes the tasks (going potty, getting dressed, brushing their hair and teeth) without whining, they get to put a stamp on the chart for each task. The number of stamps they do, they get to add that many marbles to the jar. When the jar is full, they get to go to the store and get a prize. If you want to eliminate the jar, you can just allow them to get a prize when they’ve filled the chart. Some prizes my daughter has chosen are a scooter, tea party set, and a sing-a-long microphone.

rewards chart

The items in the prize bowl I filled were all purchased at the Dollar Tree. It costs me $15 for all of the items, including the bowl it’s in. 

rewards, prizes

****Extra features of the big kid chart:

On Sunday, pick out all of the clothes for the week and put lay them out. This saves so much time in the mornings! Refer to the “big kid chart” and coordinate with the colors on the chart, as they relate to the day of the week. On Monday, it’s “pink day.” They can then go to their pre-laid out clothing and find pink day, and get their clothes their self.

clothing hacks


***Click to download the Big Kid Chart and the Days of the Week Printout!

7. Make the Car Less Miserable

Car rides are either peaceful, because you get a break, or terrible because your child is screaming and you’re trying to focus on not running a red light. For the hard times, try some toddler car hacks to make car rides a little less awful.

  1. Back of the Seat OrganizerThis organizer is so handy. It’s great for long road trips, as well as everyday needs. We stuff ours with toys, snacks, wipes, extra clothes, sanitizer, and on the long trips, it has a spot for her iPad!

back of seat orgnanizer


2. Kids Travel Tray – This handy little thing has saved us! We take a lot of road trips. The longest so far has been 48 hours round trip. This tool has so many different uses. It’s got a hard bottom with a dry erase base, so you CAN use it for dry erase, or we use it for play-doh! It’s got edges, so it keeps the mess in. And it’s also great for eating on, as it’s easy to clean. It has storage pockets on the side, and it folds up nicely! (It goes around the car seat, so it doesn’t fall off their lap, but it’s easy to take off as well!)


8. For the Girls… Hair Accessories Organizer

Instead of throwing it all in a drawer, you can make this DIY hair accessory holder.

This project cost me less than $20, WITH buying the staple gun, which I’ve used many times since!

Here’s what you need: 

  • screw hooks – $3 at Walmart
  • old picture frame – $1 from the thrift store
  • lace – $2 at the thrift store
  • ribbon – $0.50 at the thrift store
  • staple gun with staples – you can find this on Amazon (I’ve used this for many crafts!)

We hope you can use these parenting hacks for toddlers to help you make it out alive! Let us know in the comments any other tricks you use to help make life with a toddler easier!


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