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A little parental corner cutting

My typically healthy family closed the book on two cases of influenza and two colds when one of our children woke up with that puffy, rose-colored tell-tale sign.


Pink eye.

Why not?

Hey, parenting is tough. Kids are hungry little cave people covered in germ-filled goo. They take a lot of feeding, cleaning, correcting, nursing, etc. It can get to be just a little too much.

Fortunately, unlike school, it's okay to cheat in parenting. Here are a few tips to help you cut some parental corners without someone calling social services.

(Note: I took input from other parents for this one. I have withheld their names to protect them.)

• Your clothes are your PJs

What does it hurt if the kids wear blue jeans to bed? You don't have to dig through that Mt. Everest of laundry to try and find pajamas or wait for them to get dressed. The next morning, they slip on their clothes, make their way to school and no one's the wiser. Plus, if you make a habit of it, you'll reduce the amount of PJs you have to wash.

• Whole wheat PB&J

Kids eat a lot - and frequently. Make it easy on yourself with 100 percent whole wheat bread. You can slather on some peanut butter and jelly and you have yourself a reasonably healthy meal in like two minutes! It's all done and you don't feel guilty because everyone knows that whole grains are healthy. Plus, if anyone says, "Wow, you sure do feed your kids a lot of PB&J," you say, "Oh, it's on 100 percent whole wheat bread." Then they'll feel ashamed because they put down on whole grains. Or take that guilt to a whole other level by going organic. Then you can say, "It's 100 percent whole wheat ... AND organic." Feel the burn.

• Skipping baths

You can reduce the number of times you have to go through the bath routine by spacing the baths out further. But you have to know what you're doing. Remember, older kids can skip a lot fewer baths than younger kids. Younger children are just naturally cleaner, I guess. I think my 4-year-old could go a couple of months without a good scrubbing, and he'd still be fine (you know, in the winter). My 8-year-old twin daughters start getting greasy a lot quicker. Teenage boys begin to stink about 12 minutes after their previous shower.

• Pool time = bath time

This only applies to people with a pool or people who have friends with a pool. But, really, what's the difference between swimming and taking a bath? You're in water, you towel off afterward. It's the same thing! So if the kids go swimming, you can skip the bath. As a matter of fact, they're probably in the pool longer than they'd be in the tub. They're actually cleaner. Plus all that chlorine will kill any germs on their person.

• Bedtime is ... whenever

You know why kids have so much energy? Because they perpetually drain it from their parents. They're like little energy sponges. So sometimes you just need a break. Young kids can't tell time so, when you've had one of those days, just start getting them ready for bed at 6 p.m. or so. They won't know the difference. They usually don't even know what day of the week it is.