KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Hey there, new parents. Just want to say, we feel your pain. Many of us have been where you and your kids are - the hotel room that's not child-proofed, the broken diaper tab when you're out and about and there's not a new diaper in sight - hundreds of scenarios like these that, taken on their own, are minor annoyances, but taken as a whole, can drive you over the cliffs of insanity. Well, our next guest can't drive you back, but she can share some MacGyver-style tricks that could keep you from getting there in the first place. She is Asha Dornfest, and she's the author of "Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts For Life With Kids." Welcome to the show.
ASHA DORNFEST: Thank you for having me.
MCEVERS: So the broken diaper tab.
DORNFEST: You know, a Band-Aid actually works in a pinch. But believe it or not, there's a magical multitasker that I still to this day carry with me all the time. And that is a roll of blue painter's tape. It can stick to...
MCEVERS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You put it around the trim and it keeps you from painting on the thing that you don't want to paint on.
DORNFEST: Right. It comes of easily. It's sort of, like, the Post-it note of tapes.
MCEVERS: OK (laughter).
DORNFEST: And so, believe it or not, it works really well in a diaper in a pinch.
MCEVERS: OK. And it works on other things, I gather.
DORNFEST: You can actually use it in that hotel room situation that you mentioned earlier. You can put it over some electrical outlets. You can use it to keep drawers closed because you know how little toddlers are. They love to open and close drawers.
MCEVERS: Right. These are all, like, seemingly really simple solution. But, of course, when you're in the middle of being a parent, it's hard to think of them. How did you start, like, collecting all these ideas?
DORNFEST: So I started a blog - theparenthacks.com blog - 10 years ago now. And it is hard to come up with a solution. But yet, every now and then, sometimes it's that moment of desperation that actually inspires some crazy ninja moment of genius. And so, you know, every now and then, I would stumble upon one of these solutions. And whenever another parent would share something like that with me, I would think to myself, wow, why didn't I think of that?
MCEVERS: You crowd-sourced the ninja moves.
DORNFEST: In a big way. Yes, indeed.
MCEVERS: You know, going through the book - it's interesting. I feel like I had a couple of reactions. I had the, oh, I've totally done that before; I must be a genius already. Like, the trace your kid's foot on a piece of paper before going shoe shopping - I like that one, right? So you don't actually need the physical kid there to buy shoes.
DORNFEST: No feet necessary.
MCEVERS: But then, I found a bunch of them that were like, oh, wow, such a great idea - putting the ketchup below the hot dog. But I feel like there's a few where it's just, like, oh, man, really? Like, put bite-sized snacks in an ice tray and serve it to your kids so they'll be excited about the fact that it's, like - I just feel like I would never do that.
DORNFEST: Right, right.
MCEVERS: (Laughter). You know?
DORNFEST: OK, so here's - this is actually - I'm very glad you brought this up because there's no expectation that every hack will work for every parent. The ice cube tray - I actually think to myself, really? Who's going to - that's a lot of little, tiny compartments for putting little, tiny bits of food in.
DORNFEST: And yet, I know those people who have finicky kids, and they just tried it once. It was a one-time only thing, and it got their kid over the hump with certain things they were unwilling to try before.
MCEVERS: What is your one essential hack that you can share with people? I mean, if there's one takeaway they need to have, what is it?
DORNFEST: My favorite parent hack in the book is how to disable the auto-flush sensor on a public restroom toiler.
MCEVERS: How? I don't know.
DORNFEST: OK, so here's the deal - it's terrifying.
MCEVERS: Wait. I think we should say, just for people who don't have children or don't remember what it's like to have the young children, they're, like, afraid of the flush. They want it to happen when they want it to happen or maybe not at all - like, after they've already left the stall. Like, it's a thing. Yeah.
DORNFEST: It is a thing. So the simple way to disable an auto-flush is to cover the sensor. This is where handy and beloved painter's tape comes in, and - or a Post-it note. And then remove it after the kid is out, and then the auto flash can do what it's meant to do on a predictable schedule.
MCEVERS: That's great. That's Asha Dornfest. She's the author of "Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts For Life With Kids." Thank you very much.
DORNFEST: Thank you for having me.
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