When I sent my Blisstree post from last week around to my friends, I figured I’d hear a reproach or two for having hurled a certain unsavory word around while trying to get my tween-ish age kids off to school in the morning.
Here’s what they said instead: Does that morning chart thing you did really work? Can you send it to me? Did you make it yourself? Which font makes check boxes? Did you give the kids a prize at the end?
And here’s what I realized: While we might think our parent friends are essential for talking out the big stuff, the “Is my kid going to end up in therapy because I…” moments, we really just need them for their tricks. Because this is how we get our really good parenting skills – the kind that make us feel like we’re cheating in the parenting game, and might possibly even stand a chance at winning.
So, here’s the best technique I’ve got: Super-Duper Dessert Thursday. Once a week (that would be Thursday), my kids get to eat whatever they want. The rest of the time, treats are pretty much off-limits.
Like most good scams, we came up with it because I was getting mad all the time. This time at dinner. My kids don’t like real food. My kids do love junk. So my kids constantly ask, “Is there dessert, and how many more bites do I need to take to get it?” Any respectable parenting book will tell you to never say the words “just one more bite,” but how do you avoid that when dinner devolves into a spoonful of pasta, a poke at their peas, and repeated questions about whether they’ve had enough? I was deep in a power struggle over food and didn’t even know how I’d gotten there. So one day (without cursing!), I removed dessert from the equation – except for Thursdays.
I posted these rules on our bulletin board:
Super-Duper Dessert Thursday
1. You can pick whatever dessert you want.
2. You can eat as much dessert as you want.
3. You do NOT have to finish dinner.
4. There are no rules.
Sounds completely nuts, I know. But it’s been more than two years since SDDT debuted, and it still works for us. The kids really don’t ask for sweets on other days (well, mostly), and I don’t feel like the bad guy for saying no every time the ice cream truck pulls up in front of school. Meanwhile, they live for Thursday, and sometimes start chattering over breakfast about what to have later. (It’s a little sad, really.) Sometimes they get creative (cookies and cookie dough ice cream). Other times they just enjoy rummaging through the cupboard for anything that’s been forbidden (Doritos® Oreos, potato chips). Not surprisingly, many kids try to wangle an invitation to our house on Thursdays. And I get to eat whatever I want that night, too. Funny thing is that, in the end, they really don’t eat that much dessert on Thursdays; so I win. Let’s hope they’re not reading this.
Bottom line? The kids relish having total control on Thursdays. And on Thursdays, I relish not having to be so controlling.
Now, what kind of chicanery do you practice at home? Tell us below.