16 of Our Best Parenting Hacks of 2022 So Far

From managing tantrums and chores to parenting in ever more flexible ways, here’s all our best parenting advice of the year (so far).

I can’t be the only one who blinked hard at the calendar in July, wondering where the hell the first half of 2021 had gone. After spending the better part of 2020 wanting the whole year to vanish off the space-time continuum, it’s a little surreal to watch time speed up again as life around us normalizes. Even so, we’ve done a lot of parenting already this year, and as we turn toward the back end of 2021, it’s worth reflecting on some of the best tips we’ve learned up until this point. Join me on a journey through our best parenting advice of 2021—so far.

I suggested this at the beginning of the year, and halfway through is another good time to rethink any household rules that have outlived their usefulness: Changing rules we’ve had for years doesn’t always occur to us, though. Sometimes a rule has outlived its usefulness, but we’re still enforcing it simply because we’ve always enforced it. That’s why I propose, in this fresh new year full of promise, that we reboot our parenting rules. We should take a moment to ask ourselves if this year is the year we can ditch the “no snacks on the couch” rule because, actually, the kids don’t leave crumbs all over creation every time they eat anymore.

Starting even as young as age two or three, kids can be pitching in around the home. The little ways they “help” as toddlers and preschoolers can lay a foundation for them to build upon as they get older and learn to, eventually, become self-sufficient adults. Here’s an age-by-age guide to kids’ chores. Every child is different. Some kids are going to be chopping veggies by the time they’re seven years old; others can’t be trusted with a sharp knife until they’re old enough to drive. This guide is an attempt to build on skills from one general age range to the next, but it’s also okay—and encouraged—to play to your child’s strengths and preferences when it comes to chores.

When non-parents confidently declare how they would parent in an XYZ situation (a toddler throwing a tantrum in Target, a child who refuses to eat anything other than chicken nuggets, a teenager who is perpetually glued to their cell phone), they often don’t realize that the parent they’re smugly judging from afar is parenting not All Children Who Ever Lived, but their one unique, specific child. And that child has their own personality, needs, and temperament. Understanding your child’s temperament—which they are largely born with—is more than half the battle.

You may want to do it all with your kids (in theory), but you can’t do it all. What you can do, though, is get a little smarter and more intentional about the time you do spend with them to get more out of each moment. You know which activities you love doing with your kids, but maybe you’ve been spending just as much time doing the things you don’t love because you felt like you should do them. And maybe you’ve been doing those things because you think it’s super important to your kid—but maybe it actually isn’t. The types of tasks and time our kid’s value and the support they need changes drastically throughout childhood. When they’re little, they may want us to be there at every school drop-off and pick-up so they can relish those few extra minutes of having a captive audience—until they get a little older and would prefer to ride the bus or walk with their friends. You may be able to tell which activities they value the most, but if you’re not sure, ask them.

I didn’t say get excellent at dealing with tantrums. I didn’t even say get good at dealing with tantrums. If someone had figured out a fool-proof way to quash every tantrum, hopefully, they’d have shared it by now. But, depending on your child and the reason for the (majority of the) tantrums they have, there are some tricks you can try to resolve more quickly—or avoid them completely. What works for one parent and child almost inevitably won’t work for the next parent and child when it comes to many aspects of parenthood, but especially tantrums. So here is where we will share for you everything we have learned so far about the fits our kid’s throw—starting with why they get so damn mad in the first place.

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