Easy tricks to survive the season

. December 1, 2017.

Parenting is hard. Much harder than anyone tells you–or maybe we just don’t believe it until we actually HAVE children. Here are five parenting hacks that make the exhausting job of parenting a tad easier during the bustle of the holiday season.

1. Simplify the gift-giving process
Simplifying the gift-giving process is one way to reduce stress. Instead of fighting the crowds shop small, local businesses to avoid long lines.

If you’re buying presents for teachers, coworkers, babysitters, etc., buy them all the same thing–gift cards never fail. Give wine or craft beer to neighbors instead of bothering with time-intensive baked goods.

Set up a gift-wrapping station in an unused portion of the house and wrap presents as you bring them into your home..

2. Shop with Kroger Clicklist
Kroger Clicklist is perfect in every way–except for the fact that it didn’t exist when I had a newborn and a 2-year-old.

Create your “shopping cart” from the comfort of your home, which prevents parent/child impulse buys. Instead of buying yet another jar of spaghetti sauce because you can’t remember if you have any, and it wasn’t on the list so you didn’t check when you were home, simply go look, preventing adding a fourth jar to the other three buried in the pantry.

Couponing and price comparison becomes infinitely easier online, and if Kroger is out of the item you request, they will substitute a similar item, and you always pay the cheaper price.

Your first three trips are free; after that it’s the cost of an overpriced coffee to have your grocery items bagged and brought directly to your car within minutes of pulling into the Clicklist parking space. No lugging kids in and out of the car in the freezing cold!

3. Invest in Amazon Prime
How did our parents raise us before Amazon Prime? From obscure school project needs to last-minute birthday gifts, Amazon Prime delivers in just two days, no matter what the item.

Gone are the days of a repeat grocery trip because you forgot to buy a scrub brush (again), or a special trip to Ulta, dragging reluctant kids along, for that one obscure product that works wonders on your hair. Instead, sit on the couch, let the kids play, and make a few clicks from your Amazon app. They even deliver on Sundays.

4. Meal planning and food prep
Meal planning, while boring and tedious, prevents the last minute scramble to figure out a meal or the habit of rotating the same three meals over and over. It also helps eliminate food waste. Ask for suggestions from family members or simply pick some easy crockpot recipes from Pinterest, whatever works for your life and your family.

The hardest part of food prep is carving out the time to do it. Cutting up fruits and veggies for meals and snacking for the next several days might take 30 minutes, but you save the time of repeatedly washing and cutting produce throughout the week. You also cut down on the amount of dishes you’re washing.

Take it a step further by washing, cutting and seasoning all of your meals for the week, freezing some and tossing the rest in the fridge. This saves an incredible amount of time and makes weekday meals a cinch.

5. Rapid Pickup
When you don’t have the energy, time, or food to cook a meal, rapid pickup is a lifesaver. Find the restaurants near you that offer the service and put them on rotation. Our favorites are Balance Pan Asian Grille, Starbucks, Panera, and Core Life Eatery.

Place your order online or through an app, and at the designated time, simply run in and grab the bag with your name on it. It takes under a minute, so the kids can easily wait in the car. Affordable, healthy, and fast options. Beats waiting in a drive-through line for fast food!