On Tuesday my wife flew to Michigan to visit her mother. For reference, today is Friday, and she's not coming back until Sunday night. That leaves me alone with 9- and 14-year old daughters for nearly a week. I'm enjoying the time greatly, in no small part because everyone I run into offers tremendous sympathy around how difficult this must be, despite the fact that it's really not difficult at all.
The most logical conclusion is that I'm a natural genius at raising children.* Hence, I've decided to share my amazing parenting insights and technique with the rest of the world, free of charge. You're welcome.
Keep in mind that we're talking about tactical parenting here. Day to day, for a week, while your spouse is gone. Strategic parenting is an entirely different topic.**
Here's the crash course in just a few easy steps:
- Set an alarm for an hour before the kids have to be at school. If they're alive at this point, your job is 90% done.
- Make breakfast for the non-angsty younger kid who still actually eats. She likes cold, leftover hamburger for breakfast? Don't waste her time by trying to talk her into oatmeal. Give her the burger. It's got enough calories to get her to lunch.
- Drop the kids off at school.
- It's Miller Time.
- Set another alarm to get to the school before the kids are released. This is important. To a teacher, the worst dad in the world is the one who's late to picking up his kid from school. They will rat you out to your wife. I knew a guy who was late picking the kids up once. He died a death that made Stephen King cringe.
- Go to the drive-through car wash. It's like a ride at Six Flags but much cheaper.
- Get out the chainsaw and cut up the tree trimmings you've been meaning to handle for eight weeks. Have the 9-year old wear safety goggles and hold the bundling twine.
- Make everyone help in dinner preparation.*** That's quality time.
- Since everyone just interacted while making dinner, it's okay to watch Phineas & Ferb while actually eating it.
- Bedtime routine. You can do this in half the time your wife does****, and you'll have to, since you let the kids watch an extra episode of P&F while you caught up on Reddit.
- Call your wife after they're in bed. Explain that they were worn out after your big day together and just fell right asleep.
- Miller Time, Part II.
And that's it. Your personal twelve-step program for managing the kids on your own. Now, I'm pretty sure there's some Stanley Cup Playoff action to be watched.
* Occam's Razor, baby!
** But still really damned simple. When planning how to raise your kids, prioritize development of the skills and knowledge needed to a) further your empire, b) avenge your untimely death or c) both. Wham. Job done.
*** Unless it's Day Three, when it's okay to go out to Red Robin. You have to make dinner at home on Day One to show that you're not some deadbeat who can't "cook healthy" for his kids, and you have to do it again on Day Two to prove that Day One wasn't a fluke. But Day Two can be breakfast-for-dinner.
**** I'll explain this more in my Amazon Kindle pamphlet, "How To Get The Kids In Bed In No Time Despite Your Wife's Insistence That It Can't Possibly Happen In Less Than Ninety Minutes." Remember, Amazon will require proof of a Y chromosome before you purchase this item.