Life Hacks for Special Needs Families

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True confession: I love to read about life hacks (almost as much as Pinterest fails). Although some are universally helpful, many of the’typical’ hacks just don’t meet the special needs of my family.

Time saving life hacks
Photo by Giallo on

Special needs parenting requires me to think differently, and let go of social ideals about how to raise children. We modify nearly everything – schedules, expectations, recipes – you name it! Life hacks are no different, we modify them too. As a result, I’m sharing 12 hacks that make living my special needs lifestyle a little bit easier.

The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines a life hack as "a usually simple and clever tip or technique for accomplishing some familiar task more easily and efficiently." Click To Tweet

Said another way, life hacks simplify tasks and save time! And, come on, who doesn’t need a time-saver or two?! Therefore, I am sharing my list of life hacks for the special needs family.

Buy multiples

I remember the time my daughter refused to wear any socks unless they were red. And that time when she would only wear shirts with monkeys. Our hack is that when we find something she loves, we buy extras to keep on hand.

Batch Cook & Freeze

Slow Cooker Meals
Slow Cooker Freezer Meals

This meal hack is a lifesaver! I batch cook and freeze gluten free pancakes and muffins that turn into less-than-2-minute-breakfasts.

Additionally, I take a couple of hours to prep and freeze complete meals that can be put in the crock pot for a quick and easy dinner. This can be done for up to 30 days at a time!

get a slow cooker

I love my slow cooker! Sometimes I make ahead meals and freeze them, or simply dump all the ingredients in, turn it on low, and forget about it until dinner. This hack is a great way to make sure everyone gets a good, nutritious meal (especially for parents who exist solely on coffee and dreams of a full night’s sleep).

use a toaster oven

While you’re enjoying a nice hot meal from your slow cooker, use the toaster oven to quickly make chicken nuggets. Again. Because it’s all your kiddo will eat. Ever. I like to line the tray with aluminum foil for super-easy clean up. Plus, it replaces a toaster & saves counter space! Three-hacks-in-one!

Video Chat

It can be hard to get out when you have a child with special needs. Make time to video chat with your friends after the kids go to bed. Everyone needs to connect – this hack helps me get the adult interaction I crave, and a chance to talk about something other than chicken nuggets or Doc Mc Stuffins.

Find a grocery delivery service

Sign up for Instacart or other local service to have groceries delivered. Try Amazon Dash to reorder your favorite products and supplies. This hack has saved my sanity. Seriously.

Get Amazon Prime

I can get nearly anything within 2 days. My daughter’s favorite gluten free granola bars? Yep. Laundry Soap? Indeed. Toilet Paper? Sure. Did you know that for families who receive government benefits like Medicaid or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Amazon Prime offers a discounted rate?

Double Wrap the Bed

Night time accidents tend to happen at advanced ages for our kids more often than their typical peers. If this rings true, this hack is for you. Put a mattress protector on and a sheet on top. After that, place another mattress protector and sheet on top. After a night time accident, simply peel off one layer and reveal the clean one! (This is especially awesome when the accident happens at 3 AM and you’re nothing more than a walking zombie.)

Toy Rotation

Toy Rotation
Storage Buckets to pack away toys

Kids are easily overwhelmed by too many toys. Add sensory challenges to the mix, and too many options can easily overstimulate. Leave a small number of toys out for use (especially favorites!), and pack away the rest. Rotate toys out routinely. This hack won’t overstimulate the kids, and it will seem like there is always something “new” to play with when the dreaded “I’m bored” is heard.

Pack a bag (or two)

I love those small drawstring backpacks. They’re kept in a drawer near my front door, because we use them often. Additionally, I like to pack one or two with “going out” distractions. We keep one near the door, and one in the car. Small items like colored pencils and paper, word search book, an action figure or two, Uno cards – just some things to keep my kiddos busy when we go somewhere (like out to dinner) where there will be wait time.

Sticker Shoe Hack

Sticker shoe hack
Sticker Shoe Hack

Direction is a challenge in our house. We put a sticker inside the left shoe only, so that my kids always get their shoes on the correct feet. I’ve also cut a sticker in half (like a heart) to show that when they are put together correctly (like a puzzle) they are on the correct feet!

Find a Volume Control App

Perhaps it’s just our household, but when my kiddo uses her iPad, I think the neighbors can hear it. Our hack is an app called Volume Sanity because it lets you set a max volume, but there are others to help you control volume and reduce the number of times you say “Turn it down!”

I hope you enjoyed this list! Have a hack of your own? I’d love to hear it. Drop it in the comments, below.

Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and Mommy Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo — from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia! Want to join in on next month’s Voices of Special Needs Hop? Click here!

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  1. Love these!

    The shoe one is sooooo brilliant. And yeah…connecting with friends is HARD with high-needs kids — love the video chat idea. (Can we do that in pajamas? YES!)

    Thanks for such a bighearted, helpful post,
    Full Spectrum Mama

  2. This was seriously so helpful! There are so many tips and tricks out there that as a special needs family I just laugh at. But these special needs family hacks really hit the target and were amazing. Thank you for the post!

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