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The Tiny Victories That Got Parents Through 2020

In a year filled with chaos and uncertainty, at least there were moments of closeness, levity and relief for parents, despite the pandemic and other disasters. We asked, and you delivered the tiny victories that got you through this wretched year.

Becca Gridley, a mom in New Milford, Conn., discovered that if she set up her 17-month-old on the floor with a pile of small stuffed animals and a salad spinner, she could cook dinner and unload the dishwasher with zero interruptions as the little girl gave each toy a “ride.” A pair of $1 cat and dog masks kept Alice Henchley’s 2-year-old twins occupied for an entire hour, barking and meowing at each other. And Katherine Smith, in Tacoma, Wash., was able to get her 3-year-old to put on his coat without any yelling or bargaining.

Hearing about all of these wins provided a bit of joy and peace in the midst of our darkest days. Below are more of the submissions that especially resonated with readers throughout 2020. We hope they give you a few laughs and a bit of inspiration as we careen into another year of pandemic parenting.

“I sat down for just a second on my 3-year-old’s bed. Unprompted he brought me my book and said, ‘Here mama, you read, I play!’ I got to relax and read my book while he played, by himself, in his room!” — Gabby Hernandez, McAllen, Texas


“I was fed up with trying to figure out which tiny socks belonged to my 1-year-old vs. my 4-year-old so now the baby only has striped socks and the older kid has solid-colored socks. The older kid’s socks are handed down to her cousin.” — Janice A. Clear, Brooklyn


“My mom used to come watch my 2½-year-old every week. We haven’t been able to see her in a while, but she sent a ‘Grandma box’ — basically a shoe box filled with trinkets and craft supplies she finds around the house, and when we miss her or need a pick-me-up, it becomes our treasure chest. — Jen Ruwisch, Fairfield, Conn.


“My 3- year-old daughter is obsessed with pretending to be a kitten. So, I play Mama Cat, and she will do ANYTHING! ‘Mama kitties always wash their kitten’s fur…’ and BAM. Shampooed her hair with zero resistance. ‘Meow! Kittens LOVE scrambled eggs for breakfast!’…And they’re gone. Total win.” — Melissa Thomasma, Victor, Idaho


“Got my toddler to take a shower by calling it a Party Shower. We had cake (soap), presents (toys wrapped in a washcloth) and dancing.” — Gina Vasoli, Philadelphia


“To keep my toddler occupied while I’m making dinner, I fill a large bowl with soap and water and leave it in the sink. She is happy to stand on a stool and splash around with cups and spoons ‘mixing soup’” for a solid 20 minutes.” Sam Bodnar, Nashville, Tenn.


“I’ve been getting my (recently) picky 4-year-old to eat more veggies by having ‘crunching contests’ at meals to see who can crunch the cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, etc., the loudest. Veggie intake is up!” — Jessica Squazzo, Elgin, Ill.


“My 18-month-old and 3-year-old have discovered that they love quarantine dance parties. The three of us tell Alexa to play our favorite music, and we sing loudly and dance while I also get some cleaning done! Sometimes we even FaceTime Grammy to join in, and that’s at least an extra 10 minutes of uninterrupted chore time for mommy.” — Stacey Gawde, Austin, Texas


“My 4- and 6-year-olds now nearly routinely take the extra .25 seconds to untangle their underwear from their pants before dropping them down the laundry chute. BIG win.” — Sara Kerr, Portland, Ore.


“Our 4-year-old has decided to potty train her 2-year-old brother. She makes him sit on the potty and she reads books to him.” — Melissa Merritt, Altadena, Calif.


“We’ve convinced our 5 ½-year-old that rather than calling us back into her room 800 times to answer all of life’s deep questions — which conveniently always surface at bedtime — that she should write them down instead. We leave paper and a marker in her bed and she writes down questions until she falls asleep. Then we go over the questions during breakfast when I’m fully caffeinated.” — Jennifer Lewis, Seattle


“My 5-year-old was having nightmares and waking me up each night, so I hugged and kissed her pillow and told her I’d filled it with ‘mommy love.’ It worked, but I have to recharge it each day with more hugs and kisses.” — Leah Nelson, Montgomery, Ala.

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