Parenting Tips and Tricks I wished I'd learned earlier

  • AdoptaTeens take turns cleaning the kitchen and rotate one week off, one week on. We ran into problems with them “accidentally” falling asleep and “forgetting” to clean up at all. We recently solved that by instituting a helpful reminder - if they forget, that is as good as saying they volunteer to have dishes duty next week as well. They haven’t forgotten since.

  • They are very close in age and were constantly fighting over who got to sit in the front seat of the car; so we figured whoever had dishes duty that week should have the perk of sitting in the front seat.

  • Car insurance companies offer discounts to teens with A/B grade averages so we told our kids they could drive as long as they kept their grades within State Farm’s guidelines. If their grades dipped, so did their driving privileges. No more fighting over report cards. Behold the power of DRIVING practice :slight_smile:

  • No one ever wants to walk the dog so we give them 30 minutes extra TV control on the weekends for every dog walking credit they earn during the week. This has worked very well.

  • I don’t mind shopping for groceries but I hate unloading them from the car, so AdoptaTeens do that and earn 25 cents per bag they take care of which they are free to decide what it’s spent on (usually their favorite snack food) the next shopping trip.

What sort of compromises/bargains/deals/tricks/tips work for you?

*Don’t spend all day screaming like a banshee, and I’ll make sure you have food and a clean diaper.

Ah, damn…I’d do that anyway. Fricking toddlers…there’s just no reasoning with them.

I like your suggestions, but had some reservations about this one:

So you earn the money, drive to the store, buy food for everyone, drive home, and they expect to be paid for carrying it to the house? I’d be tempted to say, “No need to help with the groceries if you don’t feel like it - only those who wish to eat need pitch in.”

I like it, personally. It’s teaching them the value of a dollar. :smiley: I’ll have to keep it in mind for when my husband’s kids stay over.


I had, if I may say so, a frakking brilliant idea at WhyBaby’s 2 year old birthday party. You know how they usually go, right? People bring gifts, put them in a pile, ooh and aah over the toddler for a bit and tell him how big he’s getting. At some point, you drag the kid to the pile of boxes, have him open one, exclaim how wonderful it is, and then yank it away and hand him another one to open. Repeat. And repeat. No wonder the poor tyke melts down!

So we didn’t have a “present opening time”. We all hung out in one room talking and eating in a large circle. Every so often, we’d hand the kid a present. She’d open it, love it, take every piece out, play with it, share it with us, and just basically enjoy herself for 15 minutes or so before putting it down and wandering away. At which point we’d pick up the pieces, put them in a bin or bucket or whatever storage device was to be their new home, and give the kid another present. Which she’d open and chill with for a while.

It was perfect! All night, she got to open and play with her new stuff! People got to see how much she enjoyed their gifts. All night, I was slowly cleaning up and finding homes for things instead of doing it all at once. Neither one of us was overwhelmed, and neither of us, I’m happy to say, had a meltdown all night!

Dunnow, Xema, it’s sort of like my brother and Dad’s car.

My brother’s “weekly pay” was enough to cover his justifiable expenses. But he fell in love with a girl from a town nearby. Return train tickets, while not expensive, would have taken a pretty nice bit out of his pay, and he didn’t want to up and say “well, there’s this girl…”

So he offered to wash Dad’s car for 500 peseta (the cost of the train ticket: 453, and don’t ask me why Renfe couldn’t just get round numbers like everybody else). The first time Dad was so surprised he just said “yes” (getting a yes out of Dad was as easy as getting cheesecake from a rock). He was surprised when Bro kept offering to wash the car pretty much weekly but after some informative nudging from Mom kept paying and having the car cleaner than it had ever been. He even offered Bro extra if he didn’t just wash the outside but also clean inside.

Bro was pretty angry when he announced proudly at the lunch table that he had a girlfriend and Dad said “oh, I know, your mother told me already!”
Bro: “WHAT? Who told you?”
Mom: “You did, dear, it didn’t take a genius to figure it out…”
Me: detailed list of what we knew about her and how we’d deduced it (they’d met in the Easter celebration held at our parish, therefore she was part of the youth group, therefore from one of a handful of places; his timing leaving the house and returning all dressed up matched the trains to that particular town; it didn’t, indeed, take a genius)
WhyNot, I love that! takes notes

Si_girl (~16) gets paid for the ironing, cleaning and vacuuming. She has a clothing allowance sufficient for basic clothes, and gets to choose how it is spent.

Si_boy (~15) gets paid for dealing with the garbage and dusting - maybe the lawns and carwashing as he gets a bit older (and taller).

SiWife runs a strict rotation on who gets to sit in the front seat

They both feed the cat (when I am not there - he is MY cat, after all) and empty the dishwasher (daily turnabout), cook one or two meals a week and clean up after dinner - for the privilege of living in my house :wink:


Brilliant, just fucking brilliant. I’ll have to remember this for next year, at one she just didn’t know what to do with the things wrapped in paper. Except eat them of course.

Works exceptionally well at Christmas time for a few years as well. AND you buy fewer presents.

Always park near the cart return when shopping with the toddler(s). There is usually a cart already there waiting for you to load the kid into so you don’t get the “boneless” phenomena holding hands while crossing the parking lot. Then when you are done you don’t have to worry about leaving the baby in the car since there will be no hunt for the cart return.

Never put the socks and shoes on the youngest before you put them on the oldest - the youngest will have them off again before you are done with the oldest. (my kids are 18 mos. apart).

This one only works for a brief window, but if there is something you want your child to eat, put it on your own plate.

Nope, not the way it works at all. They are perfectly willing to unload groceries or any other chore I ask of them without pay - they’re good kids! The difference is that I offered to pay them per bag to bring them in and put them away as a means to get out of something I hate to do AND to let them earn the extra trashy snacks I’m not always willing to buy. There is no demand or expectation on their part - just a bonus for something they do for me. Sorry for the confusion.

“This one only works for a brief window, but if there is something you want your child to eat, put it on your own plate.”

Once they’re past the point where this one works, I would sometimes mention that something I was enjoying could only be appreciated by the taste buds of grown ups … made them want it all the more, plus they felt way cool when we’d give them a small taste and tell them not to tell the other kids.

(underlining mine)

You are a good woman. The above-quote post indicates that you actually care about putting the cart back, rather than just leaving it anywhere (it’s not MY job) for some poor kid to corral after it’s scratched the paint on four cars.

Good for you.

When dividing a snack (or anything else) between two kids, let one kid cut and the other chose. That ends the “his is bigger” whining. The kid that cuts has only herself to blame if she tries to cut herself a bigger piece and the kid that chooses takes that piece.

Experienced Aunt

Keep your child informed of upcoming events.

“Sophie, you’re going to bed in a half-hour. Better wrap your mind around sleeping.”
“Soph, you have 5 minutes to play with your toys, then we’re going to have dinner.”

Springing nasty surprises on them (even “surprises” such as bedtime :rolleyes: ) is a recipe for tears. Letting them know what’s going on in the future can mitigate it.

Harness the Power of Sibling Rivalry.

After the Tiny Girl was born, I no longer had to drag her big sister kicking and screaming to the change-table at change time.

“Rachel, I’m going to change you and Julia. Now who’s going to go first?”

“Mummy I will go first and Julia will wait patiently

Re. the present opening thing - I’ve got to tell you guys we’re waaaaay ahead of you over here. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a kids party that tried to do the “all presents at once” style of opening. It’s always “guest arrives at party, immediately presents birthday child with pressie, birthday child opens pressie”. Works good as long as five people don’t turn up all at once.

How old are these kids? 30 minutes “TV control time” for “dog walking credits”? Washing dishes to sit in the front seat? Ugh. The grades for insurance purposes thing I can understand at least.

Well, I’ve had some success lately with paying my kids for report card As. They get ten bucks per A, and no payment for any other grade. This gives them a chance to get a chunk of money every nine weeks, which they have to budget until next report card time. It has caused limited improvement in their grades as well. Last time, the girl got no As, but I slipped her a few bucks anyway because I had seen that she was putting in effort.

I like Aspidistra’s “who’s going to go first?”

Ooooh, good one! I do this when babysitting, as well. In many ways, having multiple kids is SO much easier than having one! Why doesn’t anyone tell you that while you’re pregnant? It’s all, “Twice the kids is four times the work!” and other scariness. No, twice the kids means someone else to hand me the wipes while I hold the baby steady on the changing table, and a younger one who wants to eat the same veggies as the “big kid”!

We’re trying to transition Caileigh to cow’s milk (she’s been on infant formula for two years because she’s so tiny), but she’s been really resistant. Just this morning the almost-3 year old boy I’m babysitting made a face when I mixed formula and cow’s milk for her.

“Baby milk tastes yucky,” he said, “I like kid milk.”

“Well, when she’s big like you, she’ll want kid milk,” I told him. “Right now she gets half baby milk and half kid milk, because she’s half a baby and half a kid!” I could see the wheels turning in her brain. Bet you she’ll be asking for “kid milk” by the end of next week!

Good for you guys! I had to keep explaining why I was doing what I was doing so people would stop trying to take things away from her “so she can open the next one”. They all thought it was a great idea when it was explained, but it was truly revolutionary there for a bit! :smiley:

Never tell your kid how you know things about them. For example, both the little Barringtons kept “forgetting” to wash their hands after using the toilet. I was always a stickler for their using hot water and soap, especially after a dump. They’d go upstairs to use the loo, then at best rinse their fingertips under cold water for a second or two. Then they’d come back down, and I’d send them back up to wash their hands properly.

My ex once, when asked “how did you know?” told them that they hadn’t had time to wash their hands, so they learned to wait a little before coming down. She’d made a mistake with that one.

I was more devious. In that house, you could hear when someone turned on a hot tap - the water heater downstairs made a gentle “thwump” sound as the gas heat-exchange burners kicked in. No “thwump”, no hot water. Back upstairs, Barringtonette. “How did you know, Dad?” “Magic, that’s how.”

As transparent as it may seem to adults, when dealing with 3yr olds, reverse psychology works.
We’d been discussing wearing underpants with varying degrees of resistance. The child in question kept telling me, “I’ll wear them another day. Not today.”
One morning I asked again and got the same “another day” answer. I set the really cool new undies out and said no more about them. 3yr old started checking them out. I said, “Don’t look at those. You said you weren’t wearing them today.”
“Well, I just want to look at them.”
“No, remember you said you’d wear them next week. Put them down.”
“Well, maybe I want to wear them today.”
“You can’t - you said you weren’t wearing them today.”
“I do want to wear undies! I do! Please?!”

She hasn’t been in a diaper since.