The Mediocre Mom's Guide to Surviving Kids

By Jen Piwtpitt - 8:03 AM

So you’ve got kids. Wishing someone had sufficiently warned you about just how much they can test your sanity? I understand. Life’s pretty tolerable when they’re at school, but when they’re not? Things can get hairy. (No, really. Why is there fucking hair all over the bathroom floor?) Look. As much as you’d like to keep them there, they have to come home once in a while, which means you have to suit up for battle.

The key to surviving this shit is in not giving a fuck. About pretty much anything. Okay with being the World’s Okayest Mom? Excellent. Then this is for you: The Mediocre Mom’s Guide to Surviving Kids. Take notes. (Or don’t. That shit’s for overachievers anyway.)

Let the TV babysit the kids. Whoever said this is a bad practice obviously aspires to be Mom or Dad of the Year. Not me. This is an amazing practice. Kids love TV. You love your sanity. And as far as I know, nobody's yet contracted life-threatening brain damage from too much Dora the Explorer (not counting that brought on by your rapid descent into alcoholism from listening to that big-headed shout-talker bellow “Everybody scream!” every five fucking minutes). I don't see the downside here. I’m not great at the maths, but I figure TV + liver damage > temper tantrums.

Lock the kids outside when they get whiny. Being outdoors is good for them, and making it so they can't come back inside only reinforces their creativity. It's amazing what kinds of things kids can contrive out of a few sticks and some rocks. Worried the neighbors might complain about your kids' incessant wailing and pleas to be allowed back indoors? Invite them to let your kids in their doors. Problem solved.

Turn your kids loose in the grocery store. A gal's got a right to shop in peace, doesn’t she?  (And by gal, I mean YOU.)  So what if they knock everything off the end caps? That's why they hire stock boys, isn't it? You're doing everyone a public service, really.  It's the best birth control available to man.

Threaten to withhold meals until everybody calms the fuck down for at least two hours in a row. Second only to...well...nothing, I suppose, eating is at the top of kids' priority lists.  The best part? They rely on you to provide it to them. Kids being insufferable little shits? Skip mid-morning snack. Still at it at lunch time? Make a nice, gooey grilled cheese and creamy tomato soup combo and devour it in front of them, taking care to "mmmmm" and "ahhhhhh" at all the right moments and to remind them that they, too, could take part if they'd quit acting like Satan's spawn for one goddamn second. Cruel? Maybe. But it’s effective. And efficacy with minimal effort is what we’re after here.

Stock up on chicken nuggets and french fries. Speaking of food, ain't nobody got time for arguing about eating vegetables. Stuff that freezer fulla fried fare and fire up the oven without worry. They will be just fine without produce until Tuesday. Probably. (That’s what Flintstones are for anyway.)

Allow them to make a mess out of basic household items. If crapping up a house were an Olympic event, kids would win gold every time. Don't stop them when they start unraveling the toilet paper and decorating the entire bottom floor of the house with it or when they get into the bulk dish soap and spread it across the floor, pretending the layer is molten lava. You've got a spouse who can clean that shit up when s/he gets home from work, don't you? No? Meh. You can just make the oldest one take care of it later in exchange for food.

Let the kids settle their differences alone. Siblings love to fight. It's in the handbook for How to Be a Sibling or something. Normally, you'd step in to mediate, but now? I say lock 'em in a room and let 'em figure it out themselves. A little conflict resolution -- whether it involves punches or not -- puts hair on the chest (and according to my grandfather, that's a good thing).

Encourage a riveting round of Quiet as a Mouse. Convince your kids the game of seeing how long everyone can go without saying a word is all the rage. Feel free to throw in a God-loves-the-quietest-children-the-best addendum if further persuasion is required (because He does.) Promise a pound of candy as a reward to whoever can last the longest. Then send them to your mother-in-law’s.

Arrange playdates with friends, family, and neighbors, and remember at the last second that you have an appointment. Set up a time when you and someone who has kids close in age to yours can get together to let the kids play. Build this thing up as much as possible until your kids and theirs are about to burst from the excitement of it all. On the day of the date, suddenly remember you have a Very Important Thing you just can't miss. Your friend wouldn't in her right mind cancel this shit and suffer the consequences of childhood disappointment. Feign regret when you drop your kids off at her door, and take care not to let the sparkle of freedom in your eyes shine too brightly until you're safely in your car and on your way to enjoying your well-deserved respite in ecstasy. And don’t feel the least bit bad about it either. She knew who you were and what you were capable of when she agreed to this arrangement in the first place.

Become open-minded about torturing the pets. The cat may not like riding in the baby carriage, and the dog may not agree with donning that bonnet, but when it comes down to it, is having its toenails forcibly painted really going to harm the guinea pig? Not as much as being driven batshit crazy by tiny people will harm you. That much is for certain.

Go forth, mediocre moms. Be free. And tell those child-rearing experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics to kiss your ass while you’re at it. That is until CPS steps in. Then pretend to be June Fucking Cleaver, high heels and all.

Lola Lolita is a wife, mother, wine lover, and chronic sufferer from anxiety, immaturity, and children. Find her in her books -- Who Pooped on the Corpses? And Other Pressing Life Concerns, I Still Just Want to Pee Alone, and Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays -- on her blog, Sammiches and Psych Meds, and on Facebook and Twitter.

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