Motherhood, joy though it is, is not necessarily the easiest job out there. There are times, in fact, when it's hard -- hard as getting spit-up out of cashmere.
Luckily, this encourages an endless supply of products intended to make the mommy job a little easier, things like odor-fighting diaper pails, sippy cups, minivans, nonmarking markers and kiddie-cell-phone LoJak.
Still, there are plenty of openings in the market.
Here, 10 products that would make the mommy community jump for joy, starting at the beginning: a stretch-mark solution.
It's a fact of pregnancy: Women end up with stretch marks. Not all women -- genetics spare some the pink, streaky remnants of becoming a mom; but those predestined for stretch marks will have them, belly-oil or not.
So it'd be nice if there were an OTC product that would remove the marks, pain-free and affordably. As it is, the only treatments shown to make a difference are expensive, uncomfortable ones like laser treatment and chemical peels (and even those results are so-so). The available creams and lotions, when studied independently, have not been found to do much of anything.
Up next: You know what would reduce tardiness?
OK, we don't actually know what the No. 1 cause of tardiness is, but it could easily be having to search for your kid's other shoe every time you leave the house.
How about shoe locators? This idea got some airtime on the TV show "Parenthood," and we think it's brilliant. Kind of like those audio key finders, only they're built right into kids' shoes. These radio-frequency devices could be networked, so you'd only have one "clicker" to find any shoe in the house. Hear noise coming from somewhere besides the kid's room? There's your missing shoe.
Or something like that. We're not engineers.
Up next: You know what would take 10 years off?
Science isn't sure whether stress helps turn hair gray or not; but if it does play a role, then moms are in a primary risk group, and they have very little time to spend putting the color back in.
A permanent fix for the gray would do wonders for busy moms who wish for a life without roots. (And by permanent, we don't mean six weeks, which really is really more like three.) This could be in the form of a perfectly safe, side-effect-free systemic drug, or maybe some type of anti-gray laser treatment or magic wand. Whichever's easiest.
Up next: You know what would help at 3 a.m.?
If you're a mom, you've probably spent long nights struggling not to fall asleep on your feet as you attempt to soothe a crying baby who, no matter what you try, seems to want the one thing you haven't thought of.
An effective, accurate cry translator would do wonders for the daze that is early parenthood. Food? Diaper? A good long snuggle?
The ideal translator would have multiple settings to grow with the child, eventually translating teenage vernacular into what old and uncool people can understand.
Up next: You know what would save a trip to the ER?
When you use a standard thermometer on small children, they're not thrilled. All the squirming, screaming, crying and/or flailing make three minutes seem like three hours and sometimes means, in the end, having to guess whether or not it's a fever.
Those ear thermometers at the pediatrician's office are a breath of fresh air -- and you can get one for a reasonable price! Unfortunately those affordable glimpses of heaven tend to be way off in their measurements -- nothing like the high-quality instrument the doctor uses. More than one child has been driven to the emergency room with what turns out to be a temperature of 100.
An off-the-shelf ear thermometer that works would be sweet.
Up next: You know what would cut down on the housework?
Children are balls of energy. Toddlers in particular are physically unable to sit still for six seconds at a time. If we could harness that energy for, say, vacuuming, moms would have a lot more time for, say, showering.
There are plenty of vacuumlike toys out there already, like the little pushers with the balls that go pop-pop-pop. Replace the balls with sucking power and a battery pack, and you've got yourself one helpful little kid.
Up next: You know what would reduce the mortification?
Every parent dreads the call home from school: "Your child has lice." You always think it'll happen to someone else -- someone unclean. And then it's you, and you're frantically delousing your child, your couch and your dog and apologizing profusely to the other moms in playgroup.
A lice vaccine would be awesome, but that might be over the top. So, you know those dog shampoos that help repel fleas before they even show up? One of those for kids would be great.
Up next: You know what would make traveling with little ones bearable?
In the futuristic sci-fi thriller "The Fifth Element," spaceships have sleep inducers that put everyone to sleep until arrival at the destination. The system appears to be noninvasive and drug-free -- in short, utterly harmless.
Moms want that, mostly for 2-to-4-year olds. Maybe for 16-year-olds.
It's unclear how it works, but there seems to be some sort of air-pressure release at the moment of sleep induction, identified by a distinct whooshing sound as Bruce Willis passes out. Like we said, we're not engineers, but inventors might want to start there. It's a definite whoosh.
Up next: You know what would make baby-proofing easier?
Perfectly lovely adult homes turn instantly to baby-gated eyesores come crawling -- and that's just the start. Raising everything to upper shelving and installing cabinet locks, toilet seat locks, window locks and faucet and door knob protectors and takes hours and hours, and even then you're still chasing after the kid when he starts to climb.
Two words: force fields. They could be installed at every point of possible harm and/or destruction. They could even, later on, protect the walls from finger painting and block the windows from teenage escape in a grounding situation. In the latter case, the technology would need a password-protection option.
And finally, the Holy Grail of busy motherhood.
It's one of those iconic parenthood scenes: Piling the kids in the car, one in a soccer uniform, another in a tutu, a tiny one in a car seat, crying, and a stoic mom or dad trying desperately to get everyone to his or her respective afterschool activity without having a mental breakdown.
A home teleporter could be the saving grace of motherhood, fatherhood and nanny-hood. It could be a paradigm shift. Instead of spending precious time and sanity dropping off and picking up and dropping off and picking up, parents could beam their children to soccer and ballet and be waiting when they're beamed back home, molecularly intact, with a well-rounded dinner ready on the table that isn't takeout.
These products, they could change things.
Moms are waiting.
HowStuffWorks learns about the free-range parenting philosophy and talks to the movement's founder Lenore Skenazy.
More Great Links
- Ballantine, Coco. "Fact or Fiction? Stress Causes Gray Hair." Scientific American. Oct. 24, 2007. (Oct. 12, 2010)http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fact-or-fiction-stress-causes-gray-hair
- "Skin Conditions: Stretch Marks." MedicineNet. (Oct. 11, 2010)http://www.medicinenet.com/stretch_marks/article.htm