A few weeks ago, Mother in Israel put up an excellent post, Frugal Strategies for Young Families That Pay Off as Your Children Grow, or in essence, invest a little brains and work now and it'll save you a ton of both - and money - later on.
What's particularly good about the list is that it not only helps the parents, but in the long run, the kids themselves will be more independent and capable in addition to simply being more skilled, mature, and responsible.
One of the most fascinating things to me as a parent is simply watching my kids trying to do something, then either figuring it out, coming up with something creative, or the like. Kayla likes to stare out from her pack 'n play when she wakes up, but she's too short to see over it. She always stands on a boppy pillow or something similar to get her head over the edge to see. Today, Elianna took a mini-stroller and rolled it up a slide onto a jungle gym; then later, trying the same on a different (and thinner) slide, was having trouble, since the wheels were too wide. She was in the process of balancing the wheels on the edges of the slide when another kid came along and grabbed the other end of the stroller to ruin it, but it was an impressive transition from one minute and one attempt to the next.
Check out her list, which is a good, simple, easy one to follow. My only quibble is with #6, and we probably mostly agree; it's not that daycare is a problem, it's the assumption that working more while sending kids to daycare or babysitting will make the family more money when it's often not the case (or will have minimal effect for a lot of work).