The Longest Shortest Time

Weird Parenting Wins: Gift Guide

Looking for a gift for a person with kids?
Whether or not you’re a parent yourself, you want to show this person that you *get it*. We, of course, highly recommend the books we’ve featured on the podcast. For new parents: Pregnant Butch, The Reluctant Father, and Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears Vol. 1. For parents who like reading with their kids: El Deafo and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. For any parent (or person, really): Mating in Captivity and Pleasure: The Woman’s Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need & Deserve. Yeah, you’d have to know someone pretty well to give them those last two.

So here’s what you do. Pick up one of those books. And, to show your person that you truly get them, ADD ON one of the items below. These suggestions are all inspired by real caregivers’ unusual solutions to common problems. We’ve been collecting these “Weird Parenting Wins” for an upcoming project, which we hope to tell you more about soon. For now, pick your fav, and tell your recipient the accompanying story! It’ll make their day, we promise.



Problem: Baby won’t sleep
Win: Electric toothbrush (or two)

When my older daughter was a newborn, she had some very cranky evenings. We had heard that white noise helps quiet screaming babies. We lived in a condo and so were conscious of how much noise our baby (and our white noise solutions) made – especially in the middle of the night.

During a particularly loud crying spell one night, in a moment of desperation, my husband grabbed his electric toothbrush and turned it on. He started waving the toothbrush around like a half asleep orchestral conductor. And what do you know…the baby stopped crying! In a state of sleep deprived euphoria, we took the head off the toothbrush and nestled the contraption next to our swaddled newborn. She – and we – drifted off to sleep. But an hour later, the toothbrush ran out of batteries and the screaming began anew.

We swapped my husband’s toothbrush out for mine. And so began the nightly rotation of toothbrushes. While one was charging, the other one was somewhere within 12 inches of our beautiful baby girl. This was our new parent “make it work” strategy for about 3 weeks.



Problem: Kid is too scared to go to sleep
Win: Spatula (er, we mean, magic scepter!)

When my daughter was 3 she was really struggling with sleeping at night because she was scared. After a particularly bad week, out of desperation, I grabbed a spatula from the kitchen and gave it to her. I called it a magic scepter that would protect her through the night. Surprisingly this helped her sleep through the night for several months until she felt she didn’t need it anymore! Super parenting win!




Problem: Kid won’t eat veggies
Win: Beets

When my daughter was at the height of her pink phase (about 4) we got her to try beets by telling her it would turn her pee and poop pink. She is still eating beets 4 years later.



Problem: Picky eater
Win: Popsicle sticks

My toddlers will happily eat anything if it’s presented on a stick. I use washable popsicle sticks to make their “pops.” Banana pops, broccoli pops, meatball pops — put it on a stick, and suddenly it’s delicious.



Problem: Picky eater
Win: McDonald’s bags—find one near you!

When I was a toddler, I was an extremely picky eater. The one thing I would eat enthusiastically? McDonald’s Happy Meals. Both of my parents worked full time, so I was often fed by a nanny who indulged my fast-food habit, likely exhausted by the prospect of trying to get me to eat anything else. My mother devised a genius plan to trick me into eating greens, fruit, and meat that had not been breaded and fried. She went to McDonald’s and asked if she could take some empty bags, cups and napkins. She then placed all of my meals inside McDonald’s-branded packaging. Steamed string beans? McDonald’s makes those now! Tuna fish sandwiches on wheat bread? That’s part of the newest Happy Meal! By the time I was wise enough to catch on to her scheme, I had developed a palette for more than fries and chicken nuggets (but I still like those too!).




Problem: Kid needs to pee while in car
Win: Cheap water bottle (NOT for drinking)

@longestshortest We have a "Pee Bottle" in our car. Our toddler potty training tip# 1. Note: do NOT drink out of it. #weirdparentingwin

— Gaia Cornwall (@GaiaCC) November 21, 2016


Problem: Child resists potty training
Win: Nice insulated water bottle (for drinking)

My #weirdparentingwin while trying to potty train my son? Instead of setting a timer to take him to the toilet every hour, I just drink tons of water (almost a gallon a day now!) and take him to the bathroom every time I have to go. I’m super hydrated and he is having less accidents.



Problem: Child is scared of noisy auto-flush toilets
Win: Panty liners

I have a 5 yr old and a 2 yr old, both are terrified of noisy public bathrooms (especially those with automatic toilets) and will transition into a full-on tantrum from the moment we enter the stall…I’m talking rolling on the nasty tiled floors and screaming at the top of their lungs. We were in such a situation in the middle-of-nowhere Texas, in the summer time, with a long line of women waiting to use the toilets. My kids are screaming, I’m panicked because there is no where else to pee except among the cactus and fire ants, and everyone is staring at me like I’m crazy. I need to find something to cover the toilet sensor so it won’t suddenly flush when one of my kids is sitting on the toilet. In a last act of desperation, I tape a pantyliner across the sensor. It worked! Now, I never travel without a full bag of pantyliners. No more public bathroom tantrums.




Problem: Too zonked to participate in bath time
Win: Glow sticks + head lamp

I keep a tube of glow sticks from the $1 bin at Target on hand. I have 3 small boys, too small to safely bathe alone. So after a really bad day I sometimes put all three boys in the tub, add the (intact) glow sticks, turn off the light, put on my headlamp and sit on the floor of the bathroom and flip through a magazine for 30 minutes.



Problem: Kid won’t bathe until the tub is clean, ya hear me? CLEAN.
Win: Mini fish net

My darling two-year-old daughter loves baths. But when we put her in the tub, the sock lint floats out from between her toes and she refuses to sit down amidst the “yuckies.” So the first order of business at bath time is to capture all of the lint with a small fish net. Once the tub is yucky-free, she can sit down and have a grand time in the bath.




Problem: Need your hands free
Win: Boppy pillow + hot water bottle + muslin blanket

I just had my third baby. With two older kids, I found there were times when I needed my hands and wearing the baby just wasn’t feasible. Unfortunately, sleeping or awake, anytime I had to set the baby down, she would wake up and not be really happy. I thought maybe she liked the feeling of being surrounded, so I tried sort of propping her in her boppy and that was better, but not what I needed it to be. So, I had this brilliant idea to fill a hot water bottle, then put the boppy around it, covered it in a muslin blanket and put baby on top of the whole thing. IT WAS LIFE CHANGING. Something about the combination of warmth and the feeling of being surrounded was very comforting for baby. It totally worked until she adjusted to life outside the womb.



Problem: Kids won’t stop bugging you in the kitchen
Win: Cheerios

When my three boys were younger I had to get inventive about resourceful time. When I would try to prepare lunch they wouldn’t leave me alone…I literally couldn’t move around the kitchen because they were all over the floor (ages 2.5 yrs, 1.5 yrs and 6 months old). This was when I took the “always around Cheerios” and threw them all over the floor in another room. This sent my awkwardly moving, crawling, walking children to begin the taking up time of gathering and eating the cheerios. This gave them a snack and also bought me the time to get stuff done in the kitchen. Also it helped the ones learning to crawl have something to work for… Don’t judge, my floors were clean mind you…and if you would have been in my situation you would think I was brilliant. ;)


P.S. You also can’t go wrong with our very own onesies, totes, and shot glasses!

P.P.S. If you’re looking for gifts for kids, check out what our friends at The Kid Should See This recommend.

McDonald’s photo: Aranami via Flickr

Got a Weird Parenting Win to add to the list?
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