I’ve hit a bit of a rough patch lately.
Yesterday, I was attempting to rush my kids out the door, to pick up the car from the mechanic before they closed. My kindergartner, who had planned on spending the afternoon watching Winx Girls, began stomping around in defiance. Joining in the drama was my toddler, who stood before me with a fistful of Play-doh in one hand and my checkbook in the other — and, of course, no pants.
It was one of those moments where I just wanted to crawl into bed and emerge 18 years later. Was I really going to survive these early years? Was I strong enough to withstand the madness?
And then I pulled myself together with a thought: I’d had a pretty good stint in Corporate America before having kids. I had survived crazy bosses, hysterical authors, Darwinian struggles for the last bagel at sales conference — without once barricading myself in tears in the bathroom. If I could survive that, I could certainly manage two small humans whose life ambition was to acquire ice cream. In fact, I could use my corporate experience to get a handle on this motherhood thing. Here are 5 lessons in parenting, straight out of the boardroom.
1. Toddlers are like that crazy boss in need of constant attention. You know, the one who wants everything instantly. Who barely articulates his needs, because clearly you can read his mind. Who continually changes his demands and then throws a fit when you don’t deliver. How do you deal with an overly demanding, possibly unstable manager? Experts have plenty of strategies, but my way is simple: Smile, pretend you’re listening — and remind yourself that Happy Hour is just a staff meeting (or bedtime) away.
2. Co-workers are key to keeping your sanity. At the office, you have fellow workers with whom you commiserate about your insane boss, or that client who somehow got your home number and has been harassing your spouse about your work ethic. In parenting, you have fellow moms, who completely get why you canceled your cable service to avoid yet another episode of Thomas and Friends. So schedule a play date, pour some coffee, and enjoy a little fellow-mom therapy. And hope the kids don’t break anything important.
3. School break is like a never-ending staff meeting. You know how it goes: you enter the Monday-morning meeting full of enthusiasm and ideas you can’t wait to share. Forty minutes into the meeting, you’re binge drinking coffee and hoping no one notices you drifting off in your chair. School breaks are similar. You start out with grand ambitions: trips to the museum, family-cooked gourmet meals. A few days in, and you’re eating Goldfish for breakfast and watching Anna beg to build a snowman for the hundredth time. But, just like with meetings, suddenly there’s that moment — of humor, of camaraderie, of pure inspiration. Miss it at your own peril.
4. Social media is… hold that thought, I have to check Facebook. Whether at work or with the kids, social media is the ultimate distraction. And just like I was never able to convince my boss that checking a friend’s relationship status was “research,” my kids aren’t convinced I’m doing anything important either. And they’re right.
5. Never let them see you sweat (in fact, don’t sweat — you don’t have time to shower). At work, everyone around you needs to believe you have it covered. You need to inspire confidence, or else you’ll be ignored, overlooked, or put in charge of organizing the holiday lunch. In parenting, the same rules apply. Even if you’re not feeling like you have your act together, you need to fake it — or else you’ll end up hiding under the table while the kids have a “snowball fight” with last night’s leftover meatballs. Stand tall, speak firmly, and hope no one notices your shirt’s on backwards. You meant to do that.
Photo by franky242, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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