As a single parent, juggling a full-time job with a toddler is…challenging, to put it delicately. I have a degree in maternal-child health and have read a ton of parenting books, as you can imagine. But sometimes, I don’t want—nor do I have the time or interest, really—to read an entire book on parenting. So much of parenting, honestly, you just don’t find in a book. Maybe your child has some different needs and the overwhelming majority of parenting books don’t even begin to touch parenting children with diverse needs. Maybe the parenting books assume there are two parents doing the work and so most of it you shake your head at and skim over, while gleaning morsels that might be helpful. Or maybe most of it is the same stuff you’ve read in every other book, and there’s nothing new. What no one tells you is that no one really knows what they’re doing 100% of the time as a parent. Most of the time, we wing it, we do our best based on what we know of our children, and we hope it works. That, or we’re thrown into an unexpected situation and develop hacks of our own. You can read every single parenting book out there and still find yourself thinking, Great. What the hell do I do now?
I’m discerning with the parenting books I read. I tend to stay away from trends and do my research. I don’t really have a real-life mom group of my own, so when it comes to parenting hacks or comic relief, I turn to various Facebook groups or select mom friends of mine. And while I might not have time to read an entire book, I like when I can open up a book and read a chapter related to what I need, or read little snippets to make me laugh. Here are some books about parenting that do just that.
Weird Parenting Wins: Bathtub Dining, Family Screams, and Other Hacks from the Parenting Trenches by Hillary Frank
Written by the same woman who created the podcast The Longest Shortest Time, this book is broken down into chapters like “The Art of Getting Your Kid to Eat Stuff.” Along with writing by Frank, each chapter is filled with parents talking about their own experiences with babies, toddlers, and kids, and strategies for how they got their kids to eat meals, stop throwing tantrums, get dressed in a timely manner in the morning, and more. Especially if you don’t have a mom group IRL to turn to, this feels like the next best thing. No saccharine Sanctimommies, just a bunch of real talk.
Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life With Kids by Asha Dornfest and Craighton Berman
When you need hacks and laughs at the same time, this is the book to get. The illustrations are fun, and there are hacks from pregnancy through toddlerhood. From the ponytail-holder jeans hack to using baby wipe containers for art supply containers to how to wash LEGOs, this has a ton of smart hacks and tips you might not think of on your own. I like how each snippet is a page or two, which is especially handy if you have a baby who doesn’t sleep much or a toddler who manages to get into everything all at once.
Toddlers Are A**holes: It’s Not Your Fault by Bunmi Laditan
As the mother of a toddler, I cannot recommend this enough. Toddlers have a way of stretching and straining you in every possible way. Laditan has always made me laugh on her social media accounts, and this book is no different. If you’ve had a rough day, reading a few pages of this will make you at least smile, if not laugh.
Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster
This one is a bit more involved—no quick hacks here, and you do need to sit down and semi-concentrate when you read, but it’s worth it. I read Oster’s other book, Expecting Better, when I was pregnant. I really appreciated the empirical-based information she used to back up her arguments, and in today’s world of fear-mongering and shaming for pregnant people and new parents, I appreciated her main vibe of everyone just chill out and relax. Her new book is no different, and in fact, even more so. An economist, she looks at hot-button issues like sleep training, breastfeeding, talking, potty learning, and more. Especially if you’re dealing with other moms who push push push their children and are judgmental Judys about other people’s parenting choices, this book is a good one to read so you have the knowledge and information to speak up. It might even change minds regarding some of the issues. Not hacks, per se, but definitely information to help you make informed decisions about how you want to parent and approach things.
Do you have any go-to parenting books for when you need a little relief or a quick answer?