Bag of Tricks

April 4, 2014 § 1 Comment

I ran into a friend at a coffee shop recently, who commented on the busyness of my schedule, exclaiming that she didn’t know how I did it all. I always find it ironic when I hear these words, because I often feel the same way about the person with whom I am speaking, which quickly led me to the conclusion that all parents are busy, and we all find a way to do it! Falling into the trap that most of us seem to, I quickly discounted any element of praise and insisted that I simply have mastered “the illusion” that it is all getting done.

Contemplating it afterwards, I thought about how fantastic it would be if we all shared our “tricks” of getting it all done. You know, the ones that we’d rarely admit to, except to our closest friends, for fear of being criticized as a poor parent. So I am wading out into those judgement-filled waters, and offering you two time-tested tricks from my own parenting bag of tricks:

Television

Contrary to popular judgements, TV really is a terrific babysitter in a pinch. I have used this solution countless times when needing a shower, taking a phone call, or securing a much-needed, sanity-saving time out for myself. Most frequently however, I use this twice a day at bus time. We live at the end of a very long driveway. Despite repeated requests for the school bus to come to the house, alas, we have to catch it at the end of the laneway like everyone else. In the nicer weather, the kids love riding their bikes or skipping down the laneway taking in the warm breezes and bright sunshine. In fouler weather however, of which we have had more than our share this winter, I drive them. It has always been the case, however, that I have had younger non-school age children with me at home while the older children go off to school. Instead of struggling though the tug of war to get a young, uninterested and decidedly strong-headed child to bundle up in their outerwear and get into the car, I turn to the warm, entertaining and immobilizing effects of a trusted friend: Samsung. Convenient, centrally located, and always available!

Bribery

At an event I was at last week with a collection of mothers, we were discussing the undeniable effectiveness of bribery as a parenting tool. Some were quick to point out that their tool is actually called “motivation”, but I have yet to successfully distinguish the two. And if it weren’t already self-evident in the successful completion of toy clean-up each night before bed (or no bedtime snack!), one could also consider the number one technique my children have learned to use on each other when they can’t get their sibling to do what they want: “Please, please, please, I’ll give you my best Pokeman card! No? How about the remaining candy in the loot bag I got last week? Alright deal.” While I don’t recommend this parenting technique for influencing moral decision-making in our children, it does work like a charm to keep the daily operations flowing smoothly.

And here is one more: despite everything that has happened, or will happen, you are a good parent. So steer away from the duality of deciding if your decisions were good or bad, right or wrong, and instead assess your instincts, rely on your gut, and realize what you are doing is always what you think best for your children given the scenario. Well done, my friend!

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