24 November 2009

Parental Tricks

I was thinking about writing out the daily routine we have, but realised that most people are not as list-oriented as I am. Therefore, instead I am sketching out a few time management skills (yes, in a list... I couldn’t help myself...) that David and I have developed for getting through each day. Hopefully, they are entertaining...

  • We take turns getting to sleep in (every other day). This was really crucial until recently, as Callum tended to get up at 5:30 am whereas the rest of us (Anya included) think it isn’t decent to get up before 6:30, and really like 7:00 the best. Lately sleep-in time hasn’t been as much of an issue, except that our neighbour’s kids tend to start at 6 am, the ensuing brouhaha broadcasting straight at our bedroom window from their rumpus room cum echo chamber. I don’t know how, as they don’t seem to go to bed until 8 or 9 pm (Anya and Callum go to bed at 7:30, or 8 at the latest).

  • We race Callum to the toilet, or other places we want him to go. It is important to note that we do NOT get Anya to be in the race, unless she is just joining in to help us get Callum going (which she generously did this morning, allowing him to “win”) because nothing gets Callum crankier than losing out to Anya AGAIN.

  • At breakfast, I eat the same thing as the kids do. David has not adopted this tactic, but I’m certainly finding it easier since I realised that serving myself the same items is a lot quicker than thinking up and serving out a completely different meal. Also this has the positive benefit of making my breakfast healthy, not a sugary pastry, like I used to prefer B.K. (before kids). This morning we had mango, banana, blueberries, yogurt and English muffins. I was the only one who had coffee, though.

  • For a while, I toyed with applying the requisite sunblock before leaving the house, but now I’ve gone back to doing it after we arrive at Kindercraft. It’s a useful way to spend the hanging out time before I leave them for the day.

  • When it’s time for me to go to work, Callum says quite cheerfully, “You go?” with an inquiring look into my eyes. I say, “Yes, who wants to throw me out the gate today?” and everyone in the immediate vicinity (anywhere from 3 to 10 kids) usually says, “ME!!!” At the gate, I dramatically heave myself forward and backward, counting, “One! Two! Three!” and force myself out. Then depending on her mood, Anya either kisses me through the gate, or advises her best friend, “Don’t – she has slobber –” but my lovely son always accepts all kisses.

  • Dinner is usually sandwiches and fruit in the car on the way home, and maybe a little treat as well. Yesterday I attended the Artforce award ceremony (painted traffic signal boxes, of which I have accomplished one so far), so we all drove over to New Farm and the kids got to play in the fantastic playground (arguably the best in Brisbane) before heading home with Dad while I went over to the awards shindig at the Powerhouse.

  • We love when the kids play together in the bath, but usually they fight when stuck in close quarters, so most of the time bathtimes are separate. They do love being in the bath with either David and me, so sometimes we get in with them. It gets REALLY crowded when both kids get in with one of us! A strong argument for getting a spa when we get a new home...

  • TV. I admit defeat. My mother was completely anti-TV, and I inherited that attitude from her (i.e. TV is for your brain, like sugar is bad for your health). But on this front, I have given in. Kids going crazy and you don’t have time to escort them outside? TV. Want to eat your breakfast in peace for a few minutes before loading up the car for work? TV. Time to wind down for the day and get ready for bed? TV. Having said that, David has introduced an interesting twist recently: he uses our TV/PC setup to play songs (not videos) for the kids. It seems to give them the feeling that they are getting the treat of TV, and they enjoy hearing the songs.

  • At bedtime, the kids seem to actually prefer a more flexible approach (rather than the extremely predictable routine recommended by most experts). Our only firm goal is to get them into bed by 7:30 with clean teeth and empty bladders. But one staple that seems to remain is the singing. The very last event of their day used to be us singing them a song or two of their choice (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star being the usual favourite). A few weeks ago, they both seemed really grumpy with the singing segment, and I suggested that instead, they could sing to us. This was an instant hit, and is our new routine, although every once in a while, they still ask that we do the singing. Anya really loves it when I surprise David by tickling him while he’s singing, but he really isn’t up for tickles every night.

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