I just finished writing an article for a client project and it got me thinking about how we as modern parents manage to keep our heads above water in the constant juggling we do to keep all balls in the air.
The article is about the Veterinarian at Potters Park Zoo, in Lansing, who recently gave birth to baby #3. It’s a compare/contrast on what it’s like to raise three children and 569 at the zoo. Dr. Tara Harrison lives by the ancient African proverb … “it takes a village to raise a child.” With every additional child (human or animal) dependence on that village grows even greater.
In raising our four kids, I couldn’t agree more. Considering our oldest will turn 20 years old this summer, I guess you could say we have a few years of experience with parenting.
Our approach has always been based on what my husband and I refer to as a “divide and conquer” strategy. Since dividing and conquering has worked fairly well for us, I figured it might be worth sharing.
It’s certainly not rocket science, more so based on common sense. Here’s how it works …
At the beginning of every week we share the schedule. This is done via email, which is now how my husband and I communicate regularly and often throughout the day.
Nowadays, the schedule is prepared and sent by my husband to me. He gets to his office earlier and is able to access online sports schedules – http://www.highschoolsports.net – faster than me.
Schedule messages consist of evening and weekend activities — practices, games, locations, times, etc.) School activities are added by me in a reply email — field trips, parent/teacher conferences, after school science fairs, etc.
From there the dividing and conquering begins. The nights when three activities happen at once are the biggest challenges. Afterall, there are only two of us and they’ve yet to figure out how to clone humans.
Those are the nights we turn to the “village” for ridesharing and filling in on the sidelines with cheering. We do our best to have at least one of us attend each child’s games or events.
The divide and conquering approach actually began before kids. Early on in our 22 years of marriage we somehow determined duties around the house. Our to do lists of chores is pretty predictable for man vs. woman. I do more inside. He does more outside. We’ve accepted this long ago and it works.
Funny thing is, much of the kids’ chores seem to fall along the same divide and conquer lines. Never was this more apparent than a few years ago, in a family discussion about who was going to tackle an additional chore, our oldest son stated – “don’t look at me, I’m poop and garbage.”
Not that it’s a perfect system. Admittedly, things fall through the cracks. Flexibility is key. Especially when those last minute notices crop up (which my husband will say are far too frequent for me), like an email alert of parent/teacher conferences “today @ 11:30 am — can you make it”?
For the most part the system has worked fairly well for our family for 22 years. Perhaps it’ll work for yours. I’d be interested in how you keep your head above water as a parent.
ps … note to husband — “parent/teacher conferences this Thursday, March 3 @ 11:30 a.m.” See you there !!!