My playbook for solo parenting

Selfie portrait of my with the kids and dog on a walk.

My wife is away for a week so I’m solo-parenting. It’s also a long holiday weekend so the kids are off school for a bit more than normal. This means the difficulty level is increased slightly and I need to have my Dad playbook in good shape. Luckily, I have some plays that never fail.

Before we get to the specific plays I use (sorry, I’m going to use a lot of American football metaphors here) I have a very strategic gameplan that I follow which is built on three pillars:

  1. Holding the most coveted activities until later in the day so that I have the leverage needed to get the kids outside run, rain, or snow.
  2. Designing in lots of outside time so that they are super tired by the end of the day making bedtime a cinch
  3. A ridiculous amount of actual treats and/or the promise of potential treats

Oh, and I should also note that my kids are age five and eight at the moment, so this is a finely tuned plan specific to my team.

My go-to plays for our days go like so:

Kick-off: I make waffles, or pancakes, or something DELICIOUS. Let’s get this party started.

First half: Bike riding adventure or playground adventure preferably, anything outdoors and active will do. Audibles can include birthday parties, going to an indoor play space (which costs money), or birthday parties at indoor play spaces (which cost less!).

Note: This is almost always a successful play as long as you have snacks ready in case there are any objections.

Halftime: I usually make peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese or something DELICIOUS. Let’s keep this party going, right? Oh and if they eat everything they get a treat of some course (which my wife likes to point out makes no sense if they are already getting peanut button and jelly andI just tell her that makes no sense to me).

Second half: Art time or some sort of crafting/building project. Usually art time. We do a lot of watercolor painting and, lately, drawing of every single mob and item in Minecraft. Audibles can include library trips, board games, or baking cookies.

Note: This is almost always a successful play as long as you have snacks ready in case there are any objections. Notice a pattern?

Final minutes: Video game time or [insert streaming service here] time. This is the payoff they’ve been waiting for. I either join in (typical) or go do other stuff (freedom!!!). The house could crumble down around them and they would scarcely notice as long as the screen stayed on. Minecraft and Roblox and Animal Crossing get the lion’s share of attention at the moment.

The Minecraft is strong with this one

End of game: Depending on the day and if there hasn’t been too much screen time, I might “go nuclear” and make popcorn for dinner and put a movie on. I call this the nuclear play not because the kids absolutely love it (which they do) but because my wife goes nuclear when she finds out.

Shhh, don’t tell.

Comments welcome!

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