Before becoming a mother I thought that parenting would be easy and breezy and that I would be able to pick things up from books and articles online. I was obviously clueless because nothing can prepare you for the actual process and experience of motherhood. By now having a small amount of experience on the matter, I am truly amazed and enlightened by how moms manage it all. In today’s fast-paced world, moms have to be resourceful and creative when it comes to managing their children and family. When you become a new mom, you realize that you are now a part of an exclusive club made up of different women who share the same goals – to raise their children right. Every child, situation and family is different and every mom’s style is different as well. Nowadays when I’m around moms, I love to ask them about their experiences and what tricks and strategies they use to make their lives easier when it comes to caring for and raising their kids.
We asked some friends for their own personal “mom hacks” and it may just have the solution to your Mommy problems at home.
Mel Habito, 31
Zoe, almost 5 months
Start taking malunggay pills at 37 weeks of pregnancy (or earlier even). I did this and had no problem with milk supply.
Have a portable bidet spray in your hospital bag. It was the most useful thing I had for myself after giving birth!
Download the app "Baby Ears" to decode your baby's cry (gassy, hungry, need to be burped, etc)
Put the baby tub on top of the bathroom sink as it is the perfect height for a baby bathtub. This saves me from backaches.
Lay a new diaper under the old one before each diaper change—just in case an explosion happens (and trust me I've had a few)
If you have a baby who just can’t sleep without motion, a rocking crib is such a worthy investment. It's made my life, and sleeping time, much easier.
When breastfeeding, use a haakaa on the other side to catch letdown. Or when engorged in the middle of the night but too lazy to pump, just sleep with two haakaas attached to your breasts (just make sure you dont knock it down when you move or else your milk will spill on you. haha!)
Don't have a tabo to use for bath time? Or tabo is too big for your newborn's head? Use a small cup instead.
Establish a bedtime routine and consistently follow it so that baby has a signal that it is almost time to sleep. Read the same book every night--she will not only know it is bedtime but she will also look forward to reading that book each night. (my baby starts getting excited when she sees me bringing out the book)
If you don’t have a white noise machine, just download free apps that have white noise sounds. (there are plenty)
Try to focus on wake times, not sleep times! I used to stress so much about the length of her naps. When I started to focus on how long she could be awake instead, she started napping longer.
Forgot to pack a bib? Just fold a hanky into a triangle and wrap it around baby's neck
Apple Store Link
Jill Mondigo, 35
When I make my weekly shopping list, I ask my son what he'd like to eat. With him helping me plan the menu, I know I'll be making things he'll actually eat. Plus, he seems to like that I ask his opinion.
Camille Severino, 37
Rafa 1 year and 3 months
I don’t really have much strategic tactics. I include her in everything I do; I don’t have a yaya so there’s not much choice. I include her in some of my workouts - she enjoys that very much, we go do errands together - groceries, shopping, going to the bank, driving for my parents, etc. whenever we eat out I let her watch cartoons on my phone so she’ll eat (lol, not exactly a good tactic but just a few mins a day won’t hurt I hope)
Cris Rodriguez, 36
Joachim Miguel, 4 and Juliana Lucia, 3
I do the reward system like a follow through in school. Sometimes it can be challenging for the kids to listen and follow right away. They are in the stage where they test your patience. When I have a hard time making them listen or follow, I try the reward/prize approach like what they do in their school. They get a sticker, stamp and sometimes some sweets if they listen and follow.
When it comes to feeding, I usually mix vegetables in their food so they won’t notice it. Like when I cook monggo, I mix it with spinach but I try to cut the leaves in very small pieces so they won’t notice it. And also when I cook tinola, I try to mash the sayote with the soup, my kids love soup!
Maria Carla Angela Carranceja, 35
Carlin Heleina, 3
My mommy hack that I want to share is how to avoid tantrums or “bili moko” in the mall. While still in the car I will explain to Heleina what we’re doing at the mall and she can only choose to play or buy a not-so-expensive toy. And when going to the grocery she can choose only one kind of candy or cookies she wants. So when we go to malls I don’t have to worry about Heleina having tantrums.
Teng Ongpin, 35
Rex Antonio and David Gideon
10 Month old twin boys
We put their pureed food in ice cube trays and freeze them, so we can prepare ahead and save time, but are still able to give them healthier and natural food compared to store-bought food. When I change their nappies, they usually spin around and don't stay still so I give them the "toys" that they usually aren't allowed to hold (remote control or phone) so they can focus.
Crisela Cervantes, 39
My little one wakes up early everyday around 6 am and it’s hard to keep her still anytime during the day. So when we have to prepare breakfast we had to think of ways to get her involved in the prep work. We’ve tried making shapes with bread, spreading jam and mixing things. But by far the best activity that keeps our toddler focused on the task at hand and also takes some time is removing egg shells. So there you go! Eggs are not only healthy but a great time consuming and interesting activity for toddlers. It may be different for other kids but I guess as always the best is to keep trying until you find the one that works best (at least until it lasts). Best part is she loves it!
Liezel Padiernos, 34
Reiley, 3 years and 6 Months
Lorenzo, 1 Year and 9 Months
My daughter, Reiley, started to eat on her own when she was 14 months old. I didn’t have a yaya/helper and I was 2 months pregnant with my second child so I’d always leave her alone when eating, playing, etc and gave her independence to figure out most things on her own. The freedom I gave her had a good impact because she literally won’t let me feed her and she would always tell me “only me Nanay, only me”... from feeding herself, putting on her clothes, her shoes, etc.
I try to raise my kids gadget-free because I noticed that when they have screen time, they become irritable and impatient after. So I made a rule that they can only watch TV when it’s the weekend (but I include Fridays cause we are usually out on Saturdays and Sundays so technically they can only watch on Fridays!) My daughter now asks me, “Nanay is it the weekend?” and when I say no, she will just say- okay. There was one time; I let my husband take care of the kids and apparently my husband told her come on let’s watch TV. I heard Reiley shout, “No Tatay, it is NOT THE WEEKEND!” Siya pa yung galit. lol!
When travelling, I make sure I get flight schedules that coincide with their nap time or sleeping time so that I won’t have a hard time taking care of an active or bored child on board. I also have emergency surprise toys to get them preoccupied on board. Like Play Doh, stickers, and coloring books.
My diaper bag has all the essentials plus crayons, coloring books/drawing books. This way, I get to eat and have a few minutes for myself when we dine out.
Tyra, 19 Months
I have a cart where I put everything there in our room since we co sleep with Tyra since birth. On the 1st drawer I filled it up with diapers and wet tissue. 2nd drawer, some pajamas extra shirt, face towels and socks in case she messes up - It’s easy to reach a set of clothes for her. 3rd drawer are her medicine drawers (thermometer, ear drops, Disudrin, Tempra and other medicines) 4th drawer is for me, my meds in case and some breast milk bags. On top of the cart I placed a small basket there, where I put a little of her fave books (again easy to reach) and her essentials like lotion, cologne, diaper rash, ointments, brush, comb, baby oil, cotton, cotton buds, Virgin Coconut Oil, which she uses everyday.
Georgia Eve Ilagan, 34
When Leon was still a baby and was teething, I'd put the baby cloth in the freezer and give it to him instead of the rubber teether because it was cold and it numbed the pain in his gums.
When traveling, pack kid's outfits in ziplocks.
Place Legos or toys in mesh bags and put in washing machine.
Reward kids with more TV time during weekends if they help out with chores.
Dara, 8 months
Most of my hacks I only got from Google and mom forums.
Very useful for baby girls: Use the cotton bud tip instead of a cotton ball when washing the labia if poop gets inside.
Another one is giving your little one something to play with during nappy change so they’re less fussy.
My own hack (I don’t know if it is one), I use separate towels for her bath and poopoo time. OC lang hehe
I also use the big muslin swaddle wherever she sleeps (1) in case ma full diaper siya its easier to wash like instead of washing the full bed cover diba? (2) its cleaner.
Then to help her sleep, I massage her bottom cheeks. She really loves that, heaven for her.
Razel Rilloraza-Navarro, 35
Aurora Robyn, 2 years and 2 months
Just in case you run out of bottle soap for your baby and don't have a sterilizer especially when traveling you can use boiling hot water and salt to wash baby bottles or any utensils your baby used. This is from my mom I think this is how they cleaned our bottles before.
1. Fill your sink with table salt and hot water.
2. Add all of the components of the baby bottles to a large, clean bowl or basin filled with hot water and salt water.
3. Soak the bottles and pieces overnight.
4. Wash your hands with soap and water before handling the bottles the next morning. Dry your hands thoroughly with a clean cloth.
5. Scrub the bottles with a clean bottle brush. Use hot water and salt.
6. Rinse bottles with hot water.
7. Fill a large pot with water and 3 tablespoon of salt and place the pot on the stove.
8. Add the bottles, nipples and rims to the pot and cover the pot tightly.
9. Turn the burner to high and boil the feeding equipment for at least three minutes.
10. Leave the equipment in the covered pot until it is needed if you will use it that day. Remove the bottle, nipple and rim with metal forceps as needed. Alternatively, remove all of the equipment, dry thoroughly with a clean cloth or towel and store in an area free of dust and other contaminants.
Natalya Rogers, 37
Newborn- love the swaddle. It helps soothe them. At night you don’t have to change diaper if it’s just a little pee/ poo. Sleep is much needed for both you and the baby. Black out shades help let baby sleep more. We’ve always used white noise because our kids were light sleepers. It helped have constant noise in their room. If not white noise I sometimes use music (lullabies and mellow sleep music). We were always consistent with routine, when they eat, play, sleep etc.
Use an old plastic wet ones container for a travel diaper changer- you can put the wipes, diaper, extra clothes (I usually have that in the car- so I always have extra, being moms we tend to be forgetful)
Toddlers- I tire them out in the morning when they wake up. We head back home to make lunch and they both always take a nap at the same time. I synced their schedule because I tire them out in the morning.
I always have their bag in the car and I always make sure I have 2 extras of everything. And when I use it I always replenish it. Snacks is a must. I never leave the house without their thermos water bottle and their bento snack box so when they ask for snacks I don’t have to buy. I’m the mom who’s always ready and I always have everything in the car. Even extra shoes (usually the ones that are still slightly bigger) there are times we take them in the car- and forget to put shoes on. Thank God I put extra shoes.
Potty training- love the oh crap book. But more or less it’s naked on the 1st day. Then just underwear the 2nd day and clothes the 3rd day.
We had a portable potty out and just let them sit every 15 min. Letting them know/feel how potty is. I’m in love with this. Because I take it with me everywhere. (I can’t stand public restrooms especially because they want to touch everything )
It’s portable and I can throw the plastic away (Of course this is temporary and I know I’m not being eco friendly) it can also be used to be on top of a big toilet so it’s 2 in 1.
I have the IKEA portable potty in the back of my van and in the house. It’s easier for them in the house especially when my girl needs to pee. And I can throw the pee or clean the poo (no plastic needed) and in the van I let them pee when we get to the destination and before we ride the car. So they are always good for travel.
Since I stay home with my kids- I always have toys that I put in bins. They don’t have free play to use it. Unless I want to do something (cook, laundry etc) so I would take 1 bin out- let them play and when they are bored with it I ask them to clean it up and I’ll get a new bin for them to play with. This helps them get busy and value the toys.
Kristine Fraser, 34
Kaiden, 11 and Bailey, 8
I definitely have a lot of mom hacks, most of them you just learn throughout the years.
One of my favorites is my behavior chart. The behavior chart is color coded and always starts with “ready to listen” and when they do something above and beyond and do something good without me asking, they go up one color. They do it twice and they go up to the top and get a prize. Prizes could be different things, it could be 20 mins on the computer, stay up an extra hour, pick a candy/little toy from the treat box, etc. Now if they do something I didn’t like, if they argue or don’t listen, the clip goes down one color as the first warning. They get 3 chances before the final warning and then they get to pick from the consequences. Those could go from no electronics this weekend, to bedtime is half an hour early, or no TV today. Most days I just yell out the color and when I say yellow (first warning), they stop right away and don’t go all the way down to the consequence color bar. It works like magic!
Another one that I really liked (I don’t use it anymore as our school schedule has changed a lot with all the extra activities and sports) is my clock. I opened it and colored and wrote on the inside, and is split into everything they need after school, til bedtime. An hour each. It gives them enough time to have their snack (kids ask for “a snack” like every hour and delays all other work they need to have done, so with this they know what time snack time ends, and also it helps not to ruin their appetite for dinner), homework, and still have time to relax and watch a little bit of TV or something before dinner and getting ready for bed. We wake up at 5:30 am everyday so bedtime is at 8 pm (unless there is a late school activity or lots of homework) on school nights so they get enough rest before a long day at school the next day.
I also had this chart I made for their school lunches. Everyday, I pack them their main meal, something sweet, something salty, something healthy/fruity, and a drink. Most days they just have their water bottles so juice days are a treat. I made a mix and match list of everything on velcro so when the kids are good, I let them pick out what they want for the next day. I sometimes pre-make the PB&J or Nutella sandwiches and freeze them so I just pull one out when I need to pack it for their lunches. Makes life easier in the mornings!
They have a daily routine and chore list. I try to get them to do as much chores as they can and let them clean their rooms, help with laundry and dishes (I still help out for the most part), feed the pets, get stuff ready for school for the next day, to start them early with learning about responsibilities and not always having to rely on someone to do stuff for them. They ask for help when they think they need it but for the most part I let them do it and let them make mistakes to learn from. There are days where they are not allowed to do fun stuff (after homework) unless their rooms are clean and stuff is put away. I also don’t allow electronics (phones, computers, video games, YouTube) on school days so they can focus on studying. So that makes them kinda like a treat for them and something for them to look forward to on the weekends. During school days, when they say they are “bored” after doing homework, I encourage them to read books or play together (we have collected a lot of board games over the years), that way they are still learning and using their minds and at the same time spending time with family.
Michelle Suarez, 40
Manu 11, Zozo 6, & Sofie 18 months
My 6-year-old and I have an agreement that before he rejects food that I serve him, he has to take 3 bites. It’s called the “3-bite-rule”. We got the idea from a book series, Pete the Cat, which my son loves. Because of this “rule” he’s come to love broccoli and Brussel sprouts. (We’re still working on other vegetables)
Sofie, 18 months, has this knack of learning by example. In order to spend time with her and still get chores done, I encourage her to help me pick up toys and let her put them in a basket. I also let her load clothes into the washing machine, and sometimes transfer them to the dryer (with my help). While doing dishes, I give her a paper towel and she knows it’s for wiping the dining table. I try to turn these chores into a game for her, so it’s fun and it keeps her temporarily occupied.
Last one - Amazon Echo Dots. I bought them on sale and put one in each kid’s room so they can listen to music, stories, even play guessing games, find out what the weather is, set an alarm, timer, reminder. I use the drop in feature and call them from downstairs to eat their meals. Saves me time and yelling.
Denise Limon, 38
Pablo, 9 and Luisa, 6
It's so hard to think about the things I do for my kids. I don’t know if these are hacks, but sharing some I thought of :
When my kids refuse to study, we play “school” instead. My kid becomes the teacher while am the student. It’s more fun for my kids to boss me around and I can “test” my kids in reverse, by getting answers wrong or pretending to be confused. They give me direction on how to solve things OR they give me the right answer. Beats fighting over homework!!
I haaaaate packing for myself and now for my 2 kids! so for travelling to a place with cold weather, my kids’ stuff are already grouped together. So it’s easier to pack and go! After every trip, we make sure to wash and return so that the gear is ready to be packed for the next trip. Most often they are already matched together so it’s easier to think of the outfits!
When I traveled, long haul to the US, my son was only almost 2 Years old. about a month or two before the trip, I made sure to “hide” toys he really liked or never opened - so when we brought them onto the plane, it was like he had a bunch of brand new toys! My son never roamed the aisles!
During Christmas or birthdays, my kids unwrap their gifts but are taught to only open 1 at a time. They’ve been content doing this for quite some time now because I started even when they were babies. While they are happily playing with a few of the items, I pack away the rest of the toys (kids get so much over the holidays!) into a box that is kept away. Now whenever they deserve a prize for doing good (or just so we won’t shop at the mall), I get the “box of gifts” from the closet and they get to choose a “brand new” item! This helps us save from random buys at the mall and we are also able to maximize the joy they get from their gifts!
I’m a full time working mom and hardly have time to review my kids everyday. What I do is make worksheets over the weekend then spread them out for them to accomplish during the week. I just give them a call in the afternoon, and they are able to review or work on their own (plus, with yaya’s reminders!) I save the sheets in a Google drive, so that I can re-use for my younger kid (and share with other moms).
For sleeping, my kids use plain white shirts with their jammies sometimes! To give them an activity, I put different fabric paint in spray bottles! It’s a fun activity for them plus they get to design (or mess up) their clothes the way they want and are so proud to wear their work of art to bed!
Judy Anne Doctor- Escalona, 44
Rolando Domingo III, 13 & Rafael Jon, 9
It's hard to keep the balance between not keeping them chained and not letting them do whatever they want. But these tactics seem to work for my boys, so far:
Be firm and don't have second thoughts when you say "no" to them; and if you'd say "no", let them know the reason.
We have a "Rules" notebook which we forged together, like, no swearing even if one gets real mad, or never say, "I hate you".
If they do break a rule, or they did wrong big time, I do "closed door" heart-to-heart talk. If one's at fault, like si kuya lang, it's just the two of us in the room without the other knowing what we talked about.
I let them know how grave the wrong they did so that they'll know the punishment they should impose on themselves. I let them decide, like, no gadgets for the whole weekend, or giving up stuffs that they really like doing.
I don't scold them in front of other people, especially strangers.
I don't hesitate saying sorry and admit if I did something wrong.
I try to negotiate with them over their wants but avoid over-negotiating which gives room for them to manipulate. This is what happens when I say “no,” and they “out-lawyer” me, and then I'd give in and tell them “yes.”
They're just kids so I give them the room to run, to explore, to learn, to play.
Give them freedom with boundaries, restrictions without dictatorship.
And I always, always tell that I discipline them because I love them.
Vanessa Tan Uygeehing, 35
My second child won’t eat fruits and veggies, so we juice fresh apples and carrots for him and now oranges too. Also, I used to make lugaw for my kids but with the third one we just give her rice with some soup directly and she eats practically anything. So when they are babies pa, let them be used to trying different textures with food or during play to lessen them being picky with food.
Arvi Tito, 34
Ava,6 & Cara,2
Not sure if it’s a hack but it’s more of a concept that we follow. We take the baby-led/child-led approach. So instead of asserting whatever we want the kids to learn, we take cues lang from them and yun yung dedevelop namin. So we let them decide and just guide them. They are also given options to choose from instead of just telling what you want them to do. It empowers them kasi.
Jumie Anne Cruz - Zuñiga, 35
For doctors check-up, I write down my questions in a post-it then stick it to the next page of the baby book so the pedia just reads it during the visit. I don't get to be embarrassed about asking seemingly stupid questions and I get to ask all.
Photos property of contributors