Recently, a quick-thinking dad made the news when his teenage daughter refused to change out of her short shorts for a family night out. Rather than let the issue slide, the dad snipped the legs of his pants and wore his own version of short shorts to the restaurant. His daring deed served as a humorous, yet poignant lesson on modesty to his daughter.

As parents, sometimes it takes thinking outside the box to feel like we're on top of our game. Read on for some more parenting tricks and ideas.

  1. When unloading the groceries, stash away half the week's snacks and bring them out mid-week, after your kids have emptied the pantry.

  2. If you're desperate for sleep, help your responsible preschooler learn some independence. The night before, prepare a baggie of cereal and filled Sippy cup in the fridge. He can help himself in the mornings while you catch a few more ZZZs.

  3. Write a chore list for your kids first thing each Saturday morning. Mandate that jobs must be done before lunchtime, or no lunch.

  4. Clean your kids' rooms while they're at school so they won't notice all the junk you throw away.

  5. Take pictures of your kids' large, bulky artwork so you don't have to store it.

  6. Hide the chocolate, and rotate your hiding places.

  7. Kids love preference questions. At dinner or bedtime, ask questions like, "Would you rather have a million dollars or be the strongest person in the world?"

  8. Bake the world's sneakiest brownie recipe by substituting a can of pureed black beans for eggs and oil for a healthier treat.

  9. If your kids ask for something (a Popsicle, spending money), make them clean something first. You know they'll be motivated.

  10. Steal a few precious moments each afternoon with a daily "quiet time." Your baby can nap, and the older kids can rest, read or play quiet games in their rooms while you work, read or rest.

  11. Sneak veggies into your kids' fruit smoothies.

  12. Stash some diapers and wipes in a basket in the main living area of your home. This saves all the back and forth to the bedroom for diaper changes.

  13. If they share a bedroom, stagger your kids' bedtimes so they don't giggle and chat all night. Even a half hour lead helps the younger child fall asleep without added distractions.

  14. Keep a paper tray in your kitchen with a slot for each of your kids' notes from school, certificates, report cards, and other paperwork you don't want to deal with immediately.

  15. Reserve dessert nights for weekends only.

  16. Balance after-school snacks with one healthy food for every junk food.

  17. Save cash in the long run by buying a set of clippers and learning how to cut your boys' hair.

  18. Save money by hiring a musically-talented teenager to give your young kids their music lessons.

  19. Purchase your kids' bedroom furniture, musical instruments, and sports equipment secondhand on sites like

  20. When you forget to leave money under your kid's pillow, explain that the tooth fairy was on vacation.

Sometimes, parenting takes quick thinking or planning ahead. If it helps the finances, teaches an important lesson, or saves your sanity, find creative ways to take care of your family.

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