Friday, October 16, 2009

DoctorMama’s Helpful Hints

I’ve been neglecting you. To make up for it, I’ve prepared a real treat for you: a whole bunch of helpful hints and ingenious solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had. If I could patent these, I would, but since I can’t, you’re getting them for free. You’re welcome.

How to Stop Sleeping on Your Stomach
Those of us who stomach sleep tend to get cricks in our necks and sore lower backs. If I spend more than a few minutes doing it, I get a back spasm so bad that I am unable to turn back over, and I’m left to struggle like an upside-down turtle. One solution I’d read about was to sleep with a long pillow next to you on the side you usually turn to. Good in theory, but unless your bed is next to the wall, you’ll just end up with a pillow on the floor. My brilliant solution? Tuck the pillow under the fitted sheet, creating a bumper. It won’t fall out, and when you turn over, you naturally sling your knee over it and stop halfway.

How to Keep a Toddler (or Drunk) from Falling Out of Bed
How to Stop Sleeping on Your Stomach above! It’s genius, I tell you.

How to Use Decongestant Nasal Spray Without Becoming Addicted
When you have a cold and can’t sleep because you can’t breathe through your nose, use decongestant spray in one nostril only. The next night, you can use it on the other side. Don’t use any during the day. You can keep this up indefinitely.

How to Quit Decongestant Nasal Spray
If you’re already addicted, quit using it on one side. Once that side is more or less back to normal, quit the other side.

How to Avoid Losing Your Child in a Crowd
Or rather, how to find your child after you’ve already lost them in a crowd. All you need is some masking tape and a marker. Put a strip of tape across the child’s upper back and write on it: IF FOUND CALL [cell number]. My son adds: tell your child to approach either a Person In Charge or someone who also has kids.

How to Clean Out a Stainless Steel Carafe or Thermos When You Can’t Reach Your Hand In
Put a Brillo™-type pad and some water in there, put the lid on, and shake it like a hurricane.

How to Fix Yellow Toenails
If you wear pink or red toenail polish, you may have noticed that they leave your toenails stained yellow. I searched for years for a cure, and finally discovered that the clear polishes that have names like Yellow Out actually work. Duh.

How to Keep Noisy Toys from Driving You Nuts
Put clear packing tape over the speaker holes. Several layers if necessary. Kids’ hearing is way better than ours; they don’t mind at all, and it makes life so much more bearable. (This trick is not my own invention; I learned from another cranky old parent.)

How to Keep Your Ice Cubes from Getting Smelly
Because I’m sorry, baking soda just doesn’t work. Charcoal odor absorbers, however, do. Drop one directly into your ice bin and voilà.

How to Cure Diaper Rash Quickly and Cheaply
Most diaper rash is at least partly due to candida (yeast). Buy a (store-brand) tube of vaginal yeast cream (throw away the applicators that come with it). It’s good as prescription cream; clears it up in, like, 12 hours. Works on athlete’s foot, too. We call it Toe-Butt-Vagina Cream.

How to Stop Picking at Your Face (Or at Least Cut Down)
Put 25-watt light bulbs in your bathroom.

How to Soothe a Sore Throat
Suck on a baby aspirin. (Do NOT let children do this.)

How to Keep A Cat From Shredding Your Furniture (Besides Declawing)
Keep its front nails clipped. A regular nail clipper works fine. You’ll probably need a second person to do the cat holding, but it’s not as hard as you’d think—nothing like trying to pill a cat.

How to Get Children to Behave
I have no frickin idea.


Snickollet said...

Spent two nights with kids at a hotel a couple of weeks ago and used a variation of the tucked in pillow to create bed bumpers--I rolled up towels and tucked them under the fitted sheet. Have been feeling brilliant ever since. Guess we're both brilliant.

Thank you for all the other helpful tips.

Betty (aka Jenna) said...

I've already let a bulb burn out in my bathroom. Great advice. What zits?

Orange said...

My bathroom fixture had two 25W bulbs and a broken socket. Then the electrician came. Now I have two 40Ws and one 25W. I look like hell. Yes, I bought some more 25W bulbs, but really I should just get a dimmer installed so it can be bright for inspecting splinters and dim for daily survival.

Boulder said...

Love your running info, but these are the kinds of tings that I'm always trying to sort out one way or another. Keep them coming. Please?

Lily said...

You don't have to use brillo-pads for those thermos, paper tissue will work great, too.

The Mother said...

Noisy toys in my house just spontaneously stop working.

I have no idea how this happens, but once, one of my kids got wise and opened up the battery case, discovering it was empty.

The battery pixie is a very busy guy.

Anonymous said...

I have one of those 3 bulb over mirror fixtures -- the middle one contains a CLF -- I "save" energy and keep it dim all at once.

I've gotta try the foot creme idea.

Kristine said...

I find the low wattage bulbs help me cut down on cleaning time too. Well if you can't see it it's not dirty right?

From the lion's mouth said...

Re: the thermos, you could get a bottle brush, you know, the sort that's used for baby bottles? No babies here, but we use one for cleaning our water bottles.

And on pilling a cat, our poor old kitty is on blood pressure medication, and the best way I've found of getting the pill into her is to coat it in peanut butter. With other substances (butter, duck fat, tuna, etc) she just licked them off and spat out the pill, but peanut butter is stickier and the pill goes right down.

ABC said...

I just added charcoal odor absorber, toe-butt-vagina cream and baby aspirin to my shopping list.

Ozma said...

These are genius. Except the 'losing your child in a crowd' is giving me panic attacks. That's a horrible fear of mine.

Mama Goose said...

Ice cubes get smelly? I had no idea. Apparently I'm deprived...

Anonymous said...

These advice posts are THE BEST. I love your practical, no-nonsense, "Just Do This" approach to life. Love it. I think you should publish a book. My favorite one in this post: put a pillow under the fitted sheet. (After a certain age, sleeping on your face also dramatically accelerates wrinkle formation, another reason to want to quit.) -victoria

E. said...

Yes, there are some real gems in here. The decongestant spray one is genius! And the pillow bumper. Very "why didn't I think of that?" Because I'm pretty smart, but not as smart as you. And the beauty of all of these is their simplicity.

Feel free to give me helpful hints any time.

DoctorMama said...

Snickollet - you're the brilliantest, I'm sure.

Lily - how does the paper tissue work? If you can't reach in?

Rebecca - I always feel like the baby bottle brushes are too flimsy. Know of any stiff ones?

Ozma - one advantage of having a clingy child: I never once had that panic, because he was always treefrogging on me. Now that he's older, there's a slight risk. But crowds are actually very safe places for children: many witnesses.

Mama Goose - I am a little bit of a smell freak. I am sure your ice cubes have no odor whatsoever.

E - when I think of all the years I could have used the bumper trick, I want to kick myself.

And re dimly lit bathrooms: make especially sure that the bathroom dinner guests use is super dim. That way, they'll think they look fabulous and hence have a better time, AND they won't be able to check on the cleanliness of your bathroom.

Lauren said...

GENIUS. It's like there's a reason you're a doctor or something.

Kylie said...

These are great - I did a variation of the under-sheet bumper thing with my kids when they were newborns - one rolled wrap either side of them under their cotsheet seemed to make them feel more snuggly and contained. Now, can you pleeease tell me how to stop biting my fingernails? I'm 41; clearly old enough to know better. I not only have really ugly fingers as a result but it seems to be a sure-fire way to catch nasty bugs. My boys are biters too - I'd love to save them from a lifetime of the nasty habit.

Northwoods Baby said...

Re. diaper rash: go to the jock itch aisle and you can get the same cream you get for yeast infections, only minus the internal applicators/boluses. Boli? Less to throw away. It's also cheaper. Hey-o!

LoriSB said...

so, what happens when you are addicted to the nasal spray? I've always wondered. how can you tell if you are addicted? and why does only using it on one nostril prevent addiction?

DoctorMama said...

NWB -- at my local T-get, the jock itch cream works out to approximately $12 per ounce, whereas the vaginal version (7-day kind) is about $2.50 per ounce. Of course this may just be regional pricing.

LoriSB -- an explanation of nasal spray "addiction" can be found here. You are much less likely to develop tolerance if you use it every other day -- therefore alternating nostrils makes sense.

Beowolverine said...

Re cat pilling: The peanut butter idea sounds great (if messy?) but what has worked best for us are Pill Pockets: small, soft, hollow cat treats that can be folded around meds for ease of disguise (and swallowing). Our cat--undoubtedly the world's highest maintenance pet--has, among other things, a daily steroid for a skin condition, and we've never had a refusal with the Pill Pockets.

As for thermos cleaning, surely child labour is the obvious answer here? :)

DoctorMama said...

At the risk of completely siderailing the discussion, I must say that even our vet agreed that our cat CANNOT be pilled. (And if you squirt liquid medicine down his throat -- the kind that costs, oh, let's just throw out the number of $100/ounce -- he makes himself throw up after.)

Mignon said...

They still make baby aspirin?? I love that stuff. That tangy medicinal flavor is one of my treasured childhood memories...

Shoot, I thought the back pain/stomach sleeping problem was because of our too-soft bed, and now we are in the middle of purchasing a new one because of it. Okay, not purchasing, because we're getting it for free, but still.

I have one trick. One. Halls cough drops do a pretty good job of getting rid of garlic breath (or alcohol breath, if one partner in a relationship can not stand having sex with alcohol breath blown in his/HER face).

Anonymous said...

Yes ... as soon as you mentioned baby aspirin, I remembered that wonderfully sweet medicinal orange candy that melts in your mouth ...

Anonymous said...

I implemented the "pillow under the fitted sheet" trick to stop sleeping on my stomach, and it worked. Yay! Thank you. (I had to use 2 pillows, but it worked, it totally worked.) -victoria

Anonymous said...

Dr. Mama, while you're in the mood to give out free advice (Thank You for this!) do you happen to have any tips on how to give up sleep aids like Advil PM or benadryl or Nyquil or similar OTC soporifics?

I quit drinking a while ago (I guess it's been almost a year), and that was fine. No problem. Don't miss it.

But now I frequently can't get to sleep without a little help form the medicine cabinet, which, I don't know, doesn't seem very healthy. It's probably less healthy than a few glasses of wine, come to think of it.

You don't happen to know any tricks for natural, drug-free sleep, do you? -victoria

Val said...

Great tips - wondering if you've come across anything to lessen the volume of a snoring husband? (I'm wearing earplugs but it still leaks through.) I see separate bedrooms in our future...
[Vicky I'm all over the natural, drug-free sleep as well]