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18 New York parenting hacks that will definitely change your life

New York, you've been hacked! Parents, check out these awesome tips for making life in the city even better (if that's actually possible)

Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Get groceries delivered in one hour

Amazon Prime now offers groceries, prepared meals and baked goods from places like D'Agostino and Gourmet Garage through its Prime Now app. Two-hour delivery is free for Prime members, and one-hour delivery costs $7.99—check their website to see if your zip code is included in the offer.

2. Know which subway stations have elevators before getting there

If you're sick of lugging the stroller up and down daunting flights of stairs, visit the MTA website and check their accessibility page—it'll tell you every station with elevator service and where to find them! 

3. Make storytime "me" time

Drop by storytime at Greenlight Bookstore (11am every Saturday) with your brood. Little ones can hear readings by local authors and illustrators and try free activities/crafts. Meanwhile, you have (gasp!) a free hour to pick out your next great read. 

4. Find a clean toilet in two seconds

Little ones gotta go right then? Use Sit or Squat (sitorsquat.com) to see a map of available public restrooms in your vicinity. It will save you.

5. Trade old kids' clothes for cash or swap for cooler stuff

Easily sell clothing that the kids have outgrown by sending it via mail to a service like ThredUp. You'll get cash for on-trend brands (they accept Baby Gap, Crewcuts, Gymboree and more), and any unaccepted items are donated or recycled. Another great option is Little Swappies, a networking group that hosts swapping events for NYC parents.

6. Have the best time ever (for free)

Life's expensive. Good thing you can easily hack it with our guides to the best NYC restaurants where kids eat freefree museum days for kids and other free things to do with kids in NYC...FREE, WE SAY. 

7. Trade the beach/waterpark for a water playground

Ditch sandy feet, beach bags, paid entry waterparks and whiny rides home from Rockaway! The city is chock full of splash parks that are free, easy to get in and out of and don't require a full day's commitment for wet 'n wild fun.

8. Get in and out of cabs at lighting speed

In most cabs, you can pay before it's time to get out. Swipe your card at any time during the trip, select your tip amount and even decide if you want a receipt—just let your driver know.

9. Look for slightly dirty areas on the edge of the subway platform

Nope, it's not magic. That's the place where the doors of the train line up, so if you stand there, you'll be the first in (after people get off, of course) and most likely to get a seat. It also gives you more time to get the stroller and the rest of the kiddos in without rushing.

10. Permanently banish evil closet/fire escape/under-the-bed monsters

All it takes is an empty spray bottle and some "evil monster spray" (er...water) to scare off those creepy city monsters. Before you know it, your kid's bedroom will be totally monster-free.

11. Save space (and sanity)

Using your bed as a shelf? Don't want to pony up for an expensive storage unit by yourself? No one says you have to. Go in on a unit with a friend or neighbor to make it insanely cheap and reclaim your apartment. Companies like Manhattan Mini Storage and MakeSpace even pick your stuff up for you.

12. Need a cocktail? The kids can come with...sometimes

Believe it or not, there are plenty of kid-friendly bars in New York City, many with a cutoff hour to separate you from the rowdy drinking crowds that may come in later. This means you can down a beer with a stroller in tow. This may actually change your life.

13. Let an IDNYC Card open doors for you

Have you gotten one yet? Because you should. When you finally do, you're eligible for a one-year free membership package at 33 of NYC's leading cultural institutions. Kind of amazing. Here's more info.

14. Impress your friends with a great sense of direction

If you're living in NYC, there's a good chance you've gotten lost. With your kids. Who have been misbehaved and antsy. Here's a simple tip that may blow your mind: Traffic flows west on odd-numbered streets, and it flows east on even-numbered streets. Now you know.

15. Plan your kid's next playdate from the subway

If you're traveling underground and need to send a quick text (or plan an afterschool playdate for your little one), these stations have free Wi-Fi—just check your phone! If you're continuing to plan your kid's social calendar above ground and don't want to drive up your data bill, check Time Out's free Wi-Fi in NYC guide.

16. Be at the TKTS booth at the perfect time

Yes, everyone knows the TKTS booth in Times Square (as well as its outposts downtown and in Brooklyn) is the place for sweet ticket deals for Broadway shows. But to nab the best seats, show up at around 5pm, after theater box offices have released most or all of their available tickets for the day.

17. Make a rainy day game plan

Pick a few ideas on a beautiful day and save them for later. You can even write them on slips of paper and let the kids pick them out on some especially gloomy weekends. That way, if it's gross out, you'll have some go-to plans. Our list of 10 things to do with kids when it's raining and indoor activities should do the trick!

18. Get your kids tatted

Companies like SafetyTat let you get customized temporary tattoos with your child's name, address, your phone number and more, which is perfect for all the street fairs and festivals you'll be attending (just in case, of course). If you want to make one on the cheap, write the information on your kid's arm and seal it with liquid band-aid. 

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