No matter how you try to avoid it, if you have small children, you will at some point be required to take care of them by yourself. This is due to the fact that your wife doesn’t like to be stuck at home with small children any more than you do. Often, it just comes down to who has the better excuse for being gone.
So my advice is to work on your excuses, but more importantly to hone your survival skills for those times when, like it or not, you will be the sole care provider.
The trick to child care, as with any other task, is to identify your objective and then accomplish it with as little effort as possible. In this case, your objective is for your children to be alive and your house relatively intact when your wife returns home.
I suppose, from your wife’s point of view, it would be nice if you were to teach the little tykes conversational French while deep cleaning the carpets, but believe me when I say that she will settle for alive and intact. That will actually be more than she secretly expects and may even earn you the distinction of being “good with the kids.”
All of this can be accomplished quite easily with a little help from that most versatile of household appliances, the television set.
Yes, I know you’ve read all those articles in parenting magazines decrying the use of television as a babysitter. Nonsense. Television makes a great babysitter, as your wife knows perfectly well. She can hardly blame you for doing what she would do in your place, if she’d had the lamer excuse for getting out of the house.
The fact is, numerous highly scientific studies, conducted by me on my four children, have shown that even the most active of toddlers will sit slack-jawed for hours when confronted by an endless succession of cartoons. For that matter, they make me slack-jawed, too.
Older children can be similarly tranquilized — er, entertained — by Disney movies, which they will watch and re-watch until you know the dialogue by heart just from being in the next room. And those movies always have a really great message, such as, “It’s cool to defy your parents and run away from home at 16 with the first person of the opposite sex who catches your eye.”
As for teenagers, there’s always MTV, the viewing of which, I’m relatively certain, probably won’t cause permanent brain damage.
With your charges properly stowed in front of the tube, you are free to go about your business. Heck, if the movie is long enough and you live close enough to the course, you can probably get in a few holes. Chances are, you’ll return 90 minutes later to find the children much as you left them — just marginally less intelligent.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and author of “Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility,” available at Books for Less in Buford and on Amazon. Email Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit familymanthebook.com.