Real Simple readers weigh in on everything from Velcro to vino.
My king-size bed! When everyone fits, everyone sleeps.
I could not live without my camera. Every moment, whether big or small, I have captured on my camera. I love to look back at all the memories we’ve made and think about what a huge blessing and honor it is to be the mom of three boys.
Bubble baths. I am a mother of two beautiful children: One is autistic yet full of joy, and the other has a determination and energy that exceed all reasonable understanding. Needless to say, our days can be full of challenges, stress, achievements, emotional turmoil, laughter, and sometimes tears. At the end of the day, a private bubble bath for each of us seems to create a peace that reminds us to live in the moment. Or to just splash our troubles away.
My mother-in-law. She understands the frustrations that I go through as a military pilot’s wife. She never criticizes me. She just lets out a laugh and says, “I’ve been there, too.” For some reason, those four words do more to heal me than anything else. I married the man of my dreams, but I lucked out and got the mom-in-law of my dreams, too.
The word no. It is the most important tool in the parenting arsenal, and it is woefully underused and underrated. I wouldn’t be a good parent without it.
My timer. When it’s almost time for bed, I set it for five minutes so my daughter knows in advance that she is to complete her reading and downtime within the next five minutes and then it’s snooze time. No surprises, no resistance to sleep.
Doctors Inlet, Florida
Books. While I was raising four kids as a single mom, there was never a lot of extra cash for movies or formal outings. We could, however, make regular trips to the library to check out books and read together at night. Even the older kids, who were supposedly too sophisticated to join in, were known to sneak into the room once the story began.
A portable DVD player. Although I am absolutely against parking kids in front of the TV, on long trips in the car there is nothing better for keeping children busy and happy.
Lyne Marie Larocque
A face-painting kit. On rainy days, face painting is a great way to inspire pretend play (and cleverly sidestep the kids’ claims that “there’s nothing to do”).
Lauren de Beer
Red wine. Because after a long day with my two-year-old, I know I have something to look forward to after his bedtime.
West Hartford, Connecticut
My BlackBerry. It’s indispensable for keeping measurements, doctors’ appointments, playdate information, you name it! And it’s perfect for answering those off-the-wall “Why?” questions. With the Web at hand, I’m only a few keystrokes away from being a supermom with all the answers. I’ve even looked up knock-knock jokes!
Velcro. My autistic son communicates visually by using cards. His favorite food cards are Velcro’d to the cupboard door. When he wants a snack, he can reach for his favorite food card, detach it, and give me the card. Velcro helps my son and me communicate.
My BabyBjörn carrier was the best $80 I ever spent. After three babies, its fabric is faded and stained, but it is the one baby item that I’m saving. My youngest is now too big for the carrier, but I have wonderful memories of carrying my girls through their first years.
Corpus Christi, Texas
Audiobooks. My voice gave out after reading the first two Harry Potter books to my son, so we started buying the rest of the series on CD. Audiobooks are a perfect way to hold his attention on long car trips, and unlike movies, they require him to focus his attention and use his imagination to visualize the story.
Furniture that doubles as toy storage. My home can look like a normal adult’s in mere minutes because there are trunks, cabinets, and drawers throughout the house that are designated for certain types of toys, books, and puzzles.
Grand Prairie, Texas
Cold cereal. It comes in a wide variety of healthy whole-grain choices, it’s a quick breakfast or snack when time is short, and it’s economical.
My sense of humor. It makes even the most frustrating situations manageable. Even if I am angry at the time, I always imagine entertaining my husband, who travels often, with the stories of the mishaps our children get into. And while perfecting the story for my shtick, I always get a renewed sense of the excitement they bring to our lives.
Fort Collins, Colorado