Necessity is the mother of all invention. Ergo, as a parent who is often overwhelmed and in need, I am like Thomas Edison. You give me a thunderstorm and I will immediately craft ways to harness the lightning in the service of a breast pump that does not require me to be plugged into a wall.

Before having a child my best invention was something I liked to call “tube of blades”. Its sole purpose was cutting a pie into multiple slices with two basic actions:

One – Press a button to release seven lethal blades from a hollow hand-held tube

Two – Ram all blades into a pie to instantly produce seven perfect slices

This invention was full of flaws. First, it was a horrific danger and would probably end up being sold as a weapon and featured in Jackie Chan movies. Second, I suspected that it may have already been invented by someone else. And third, it was not really essential. Sure maybe it would come in handy at an occasional barbecue or birthday party but it was not going to revolutionize anything.

But my new inventions… the ones I come up with in the deep hours of the night when no one is awake but me and my toddler; the ones that surface when I’m covered in feces and stale cheerios-

These are the ones that are going to change the world.

Now, I know as an inventor I should not reveal my ideas before I have a patent; that’s just bad business. But I’m not out for money, just improved quality of life. Also, I don’t know how to logistically make any of them happen. So, I figured I’d release them straight from my mental laboratory and into the universe. Perhaps someone with more brainpower and capital funding will run with them and make them real…

Snackume-cleaner

Picture the Roomba (that cordless vacuuming disk that travels around your house cleaning up dust bunnies even when you aren’t around). Now picture your typical snack trap – a container with three equal sections- one for raisins one for cereal bits, one for small berries. Now merge these two images together. You’ve got the snackume-cleaner! This little wonder will travel around your home picking up all the food items that your child has dropped. It will sterilize these bits and store them neatly in a little compartment so that your kid can enjoy them as a midday treat. This contraption will also include a “gorp setting” and a “smoothie setting”. That’s right, you’ll have the option to turn these crumbs into a delicious trail mix or whip them into a cool tropical drink. No more crawling around picking up after your wee one, the snacume-cleaner’s got your back!

Share Alert

Never again will your child have a play date that erupts into “It’s my turn!” “No, it’s my turn!” All you’ll need to do is Velcro this nifty button sized alarm onto your child’s most cherished toys and set the “share alert” to an appropriate time increment- maybe five minutes for a stuffed animal, ten for a set of blocks and fifteen for a book. When your child’s turn has come to an end an alarm will sound and a voice will say in a firm yet encouraging tone, “time to share, time to share.” No more bargaining, no more negotiations, just a simple reminder from the “Share Alert”. And just to make sure the sharing happens – if the item does not change hands when the alarm goes off a tiny dart will fly out of the button and attach it’s self into the ceiling. It will then reel the toy up into the air where no one can reach it. After all, “if you can’t share, you can’t play.”

Five AM Playgroup

This one is less of a “thing” and more of a “movement”. It’s a playgroup that happens in the wee hours of the morning. It will require you to have friends who are up early- most likely these friends will have small children, but insomniacs with free time will work too. Each week you will elect one friend to be “the watcher”. He or she will be responsible for looking after the children, feeding them, keeping them happy and safe, while the rest of you sleep on cots and futons in one large communal soundproof room. You will include as many people as possible in your rotation so that you can minimize the amount of time that you are required to be the one hanging with the kids at the crack of dawn. At a set time you will all wake and go your separate ways. You will be refreshed and ready to rock the day!

All during my childhood my mother swore that she had actually invented the jogging stroller. It just came to her one day as she was trying to come up with ways to work off the baby weight while simultaneously spending time with the baby. Every time we passed one she used to call out- “That was MY invention!”

After a while I just figured she was crazy. I assumed that there was absolutely no way that a woman who couldn’t manage to work a VCR could somehow invent something with wheels and breaks and gears.

Now I know she was telling the truth.

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