Four Junk Drawer Items That Will Change Your Day


junkdrawerWhen you become a parent, the inundation starts: lists and tips of must-have items and registry requirements that will transform your parenting or your day. Contrary to all that advice, you have plenty of things on hand that can make your parenting life easier, and they may be as close as your junk drawer or cleaning closet!

When your child is starting solids, reach for the pan scraper.

Kids are messy eaters.

Before you buy stock in paper towel companies, consider the handy pan scraper, that plastic credit-card sized object that came with your pizza stone or cast iron skillet. When the macaroni and cheese has turned to glue or your child has painted every surface with avocado, just scrape the layers off your table or high chair tray. It’s especially effective on birthday cake icing once your cake smash is over, and you’ll use a fraction of the paper towels for clean up each day.

Now if only this tip worked on faces and clothing!

When baby is suddenly mobile and you haven’t baby-proofed, grab the painter’s tape.

This is also a great travel trip when your local accommodations are less than safe, or when a friend with her walking/crawling child is coming over.

Painter’s tape safely covers outlets, tacks down cords, and keeps drawers closed all without marring the finish. We added small squares of similarly colored washi tape on our cabinet doors so visitors would know where to place the magnetic key to unlock the new cabinet locks. And once during a long flight, my husband and I were amazed by a family who kept a toddler occupied for an hour with a strip of painter’s tape running up the window, across the ceiling, and down the seats. That child kept pulling and picking with quiet concentration. Genius.

Thank you, junk drawer!

Speaking of travel, keep your child occupied on a plane with post-its!

A simple collection of colorful, overlapping post-its can create a stained-glass window, if you are lucky enough to snag a window seat.

Peeling off the post-its is also a great fine-motor skill test! You can stick them on the seat back and tray table, even foreheads. If you’ve brought a roll of painter’s tape (or the smaller, more packable washi tape) you can also create a mobile to hang from the air vent, which will dance on the breeze (ask me how I know this works)! And if these items fall to the ground, they’re easy to pick up and throw away as you deplane.

Never underestimate the power of a 3M hook.

Ah, the glory of a well-placed hook.

Beyond tidying up your mud room, you can use these handy hooks to corral cords and plugs while baby proofing, or keep small items (like your husband’s glasses that are always pulled off the nightstand) out of reach of your suddenly interested toddler. My son loves to climb in and out of the bathroom sink cabinet, and a small white hook now acts as a knob on the inside, saving his fingers and my sanity!

A little junk drawer inspiration…

Sometimes a little junk drawer inspiration is all it takes to hack through your parenting day. What are your favorite tips and tricks for cleaning and organizing?

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Kate is a Hoosier by birth but knew in her mid-teens that she’d live near the mountains. In college she spent a glorious summer in Colorado Springs volunteering at Glen Eyrie and vowed she’d come back somehow. She's now lived at the foot of Pikes Peak for more than a decade. She and her husband and two boys live downtown in a home almost as old as the city itself. Kate attempts to garden in her free time, making a commitment to grow something strange and new each year. So far luffa sponges, quinoa, and various pumpkins have fed nothing but the squirrels. Prior to staying home with her boys, Kate wrote and edited for a nonprofit that transformed the lives of children all over the world. She is passionate and nerdy and is continually surprised at the joy she has found in this season of motherhood.