Disclaimer: I don’t know yet how my kid will eventually turn out (this has worked up through age 4). Follow tips at your own risk. Results may vary.
1. Forget button-down shirts and corduroy pants. Your (male) kid needs nothing more than sweatpants and T-shirts. Chances are they are not fashion-conscious, and the main thing is that they are comfortable while doing their main thing, which is running around. Without zippers and buttons in the way, they can dress themselves earlier (it will still take unfathomable amounts of time though). The other great thing about sweats and t-shirts is that they are comfortable enough to sleep in, which brings us to:
2. You don’t need to change your kid into pajamas. If you do change your kid into pajamas, they’ll just get yogurt or jam or whatever on them the following morning, at which point you’ll need to throw both the pajamas and whatever clothes they were wearing the day before into the wash. Instead, have them sleep in their sweats/shorts and t-shirt. This also expedites the getting-ready-for-bed process. “But my kid takes a bath every night! So we put on pajamas anyway” you say. Indeed, that brings us to:
3. Your kid does not need to bathe every day. You might take a shower every day, and no doubt people close to you appreciate that. But grown ups are stinky. We are. Young kids are not. There are really just the input/output areas to take care of. Wet wipes are a wonderful invention; keep a box by the potty. Also, when your child has ear-to-ear peanut butter because of their creative way of eating toast, a wet wipe is a good solution.
4. You can cut your kid’s hair yourself. Some parents enjoy herding their kid into the car to run little errands. If that’s not you, there is one thing you can do right at home. No matter how bad your hair-cutting skills, chances are your kid will still look better than other kids with months’-worth of grown out hair. Order a hair clipper. It might come with a DVD. This DVD will have the following instructions. Step 1: seat child in front of laptop playing a movie Step 2: cut child’s hair because child will be very still. ”Really?” you ask. Yes, and the reason is that you can:
5. Have super-simple screen-time rules. Do you look forward to arguing with your kid about whether they can watch a movie or play with their tablet? No? Simply implement (very, very early on) a strict rule: they can watch a movie, but after dinner. Make a few, consistent exceptions in order to achieve other goals. If any desired behavior (sitting for a haircut, potty training) permits screen time, this behavior will be more readily adopted.
6. You can avoid watching kid cartoons– even avoid watching the same things over and over again. Admit it: Thomas the Train has some deep psychological issues, and Curious George needs constant adult supervision. If you emphasize watching things together, but then steer toward things you can tolerate, chances are you’ll end up having a good time. ‘How It’s Made’ is pretty much perfect — interesting for kids and adults alike, but only ~20 minutes long. One family has even made it to Season 15.
7. Listen to Pandora exclusively. Why Pandora? You can’t pick what song is going to be played next! You can easily explain this to the kid. This takes some commitment (i.e. no playing your own playlists in the house). The ‘children’s folk music’ station is fun (once you customize it), but you’re likely to find that your child enjoys classical, classic rock, heavy metal, blues, etc. And voilà, you are not having to listen to the same kids song over and over again.
8. Tell Stories. You can tell stories in the car (in case you forgot to bring a book or a toy, which in the case of the lazy parent is likely), when your child is not cooperating (“Did I tell you story about the little boy who wanted to keep drawing and didn’t come to dinner? No? Well [abridged version] he got so hungry that without even realizing it he ate crayon after crayon until he had none left!”), or when they are really upset (your child will stop their protest because curiosity will overtake them). For lazy-parent extra bonus points, take turns with your kid telling the story, why should you do all the work?
9. Give up on trying to get your kid to eat what they don’t want to eat. Books/pediatricians’ leaflets will tell you that it can take 14-17 times for a food to be served to a child before the child starts to eat it. That statistic is probably made up and is repeated because it sounds good. More realistically, your child might be a teenager before they eat new foods. In the meantime, do something for your sanity. Look up the nutritional info on things your child *does* eat. Did you know that chocolate is a good source of iron? Tofu alone takes care of all the amino acids and many minerals. Marinara sauce (hello pizza and pasta!) and miso have Vitamin K (take that green veggies!).
11. Institute chocolate time, separate from meal time. Dinner should be something your kid contemplates on its own merits, not as an obstacle to getting dessert. At chocolate time, they can pick among whatever kinds of desserts are in the house (usually chocolate).
12. Your kid isn’t behind; other kids’ parents are too forward. Do your friends’ 3 year olds count to 1000, speak 3 languages, and read Shakespeare? If your friends are too in your face about this, you could stress yourself and your kid out by working toward the same level of achievement. Instead, spend less time with these friends and more time lazing around and doing fun things with your kid.