Survival tip for when the kids go crazy

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“A change in child-to-parent ratios certainly has a huge impact on the household’s dynamics and everyone’s sanity,” writes Mummy columnist KATE MEIKLE

I RECENTLY received a great parenting tip from a friend who grew up in a large family: when the kids are going crazy and nothing’s going right, simply take one kid away to do something else and peace will be restored.

Kate Meikle.

My friend remembers being dropped off at her grandparents’ house or going for a drive with her dad while her siblings stayed at home, to give the family a chance to reset.

A change in child-to-parent ratios certainly has a huge impact on the household’s dynamics and everyone’s sanity.

We tried this last weekend, with me taking my son to Adelaide for a long weekend, leaving my husband with the boss baby.

It was a great breather for me to be focused solely on my preschool-aged boy. It made me realise how comparatively easy one child is to manage and, with tantrums and toileting issues all behind us, he is a great little travel companion, able to entertain himself and chat away with his 96-year-old great-grandad who was the reason we were there. It was awesome.

Meanwhile, the prospect of my husband being at home with the boss baby for a long weekend didn’t phase him, although I admit it would test me! He assured me that our two-year old daughter doesn’t muck up for him, when I am out of the picture they get along famously, he boasted.

It made me feel a little bad… apparently we already have a complicated mother/daughter relationship!

But I don’t think I’m alone, because I hear from a lot of mothers of daughters who can totally relate to two-year-old girl’s fiery independence, assertiveness and, in particular, her need for mummy to be the one that she wants to do everything for her.

It’s a beautiful honour being that one person in her world that she prefers over anyone, but it’s also draining. When I’m out of the picture she adapts to others caring for her so, despite a couple of mother’s guilt pangs that I was leaving her behind for the weekend, it felt good to give her a special weekend with her dad. Especially since he was so confident he had everything under control.

I felt vindicated though when I received a series of text messages from my husband, halfway through the weekend. They read:

“Boss baby is in time out.”

“I just put her in the laundry.” Insert emoji of the crying face.

“We are into minute 10 of this…” Insert emoji of the face gritting its teeth.

“Flipped a switch and back to normal.” Insert the smiling/sweaty emoji.

Well, at least it’s not just me!

Now we are home, I could feel the benefits from taking one of the kids out of the equation for a while. It gave me more patience with the boss baby and a new appreciation of my son’s maturity and patience.

Parenting is a relentless gig, not for the faint hearted. The nature of caring for little kids means that they love their routines, crave consistency and will always ask so much of those they love every day.

Sometimes taking one kid out of the equation for a while is all you need to reset and have faith in what you are doing.

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Kate Meikle
Kate Meikle is a staff reporter for "CityNews"

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