How To Make Parenting Decisions When You Are Beat Down. Worn Out. Tired.


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I have always relied heavily on my gut to guide me through big decisions and it is has proven to work for me.  I have also been told that I have a good head on my shoulders; apparently I’m feeling really modest today too.  But if you don’t know me then it helps to have some background.  I am basically telling you I’m not a lunatic. Yes, I feel like I need to lay that out right off the top.

Okay, so I am good at making decisions, but when it is the end of a long week and the kids have worn me down and I know I’m no longer on my A game; things can get a little hairy.  I am very patient when I’m not tired.  But as soon as I am low on my zzzzzs, my patience runs dry and I find it very hard to keep my cool.  My gut, which tells me what feels like the right thing to do in any given situation, seems to have gone off to watch Ellen with a bag of Cheetos.  This leaves me with a tired brain and my back up plan for parenting.

My back up plan for parenting is really quite effective, at least in my mind it is. It is this principle: if I were to do this (or not do this), how would this sound on the six o’clock news?  Because we all know how the six o’clock news can make even the most benign topic sound sensational.

I don’t make a habit of watching the six o’clock news because one week I’m dying an early death if I drink coffee and the next I’m not taking care of my heart if I don’t drink coffee.  I’m all for keeping up to date on current events but the sensationalism is just too much (really, this applies to most news in general).  And truthfully, I’m a little busy at six o’clock.  I digress…

Now, I’m not talking about popping in Kung Fu Panda and walking to the corner to sit at the bar and have a glass of wine (very tempting).  But for things that fall into that grey area of decision making where no one’s life is at risk but perhaps if something were to go wrong it might sound worse than it really was at the time. This is when I apply the question, “How Would This Sound On the Six O’clock News?”.

I actually ask the question HWTSOTSON (How would this sound on the six o’clock news?) at least once a day, often more. So you got me, it is not just at the end of the week when things get hairy, it is actually all the time. Too bad it is an unsexy acronym otherwise I’d consider hawking bracelets.

Here is an example of its use: I am upstairs getting the baby ready for bed, the older 2 kids (4 & 5) are downstairs watching a show.  Generally it is impossible to get them to listen to you while a show is on, let alone have them get up out of their seats.  But as I’m upstairs I hear a door open (we have those alarm chimes that go off when a door opens), my husband works out of our house and I assume he is letting the dog out.  But of course I can’t tell this with 100% certainty.  So I think great, I KNOW its not the kids, BUT HWTSOTSON? Woman Hears Kids Leave the House, Does Nothing, and Never Sees Them Again. So I haul my butt down 2 flights of stairs with the baby, see that they are still in their seats in zombieland and haul it all the way back up again to put the baby down.  All is fine, no reporters can come to my door questioning my ability to parent.

So when you are worn down and tired and you can no longer rely on your keen parenting skills may I recommend HWTSOTSON? It has certainly helped my weary self.  Either that or it has just made me work harder unnecessarily.  In which case, carry about your business and write me off as the lunatic that I am worried I might be.

What is your trick for staying sane during the crazy times?






  1. says

    I sometimes purposefully let myself fly off the handle. I let all my exhaustion, frustrations, and impatience boil over like hot stew, and I don’t always hide it from the kids. My neurosis is: If they see me constantly struggle to keep my cool when it’s obvious that I need to vent it, will they be made to feel a little self-conscious and inadequate when they inadvertently lose THEIR cool from time to time? I got a little creative with my venting methods and found some easy releases that seemed preferable to gnashing my teeth while screaming expletives, or throwing something across the room, or (insert psychotic parent activity here) that would set bad examples on how to vent my steam. Some of these alternatives are:

    1) Jumping up and down while flapping my hands as if I’m on fire. The kids get a kick out of this one, and their laughter is contagious, so I usually end up cackling right alongside of them.

    2) Singing a LOUD falsetto where I incorporate my current conundrum for the lyrics. Example: “Donnnnn’t hit your sister, little misterrrrrr, else I’ll be forced to GET YAAAAA!”

    3) At times when I begin to cry, like right after realizing the benefit some animals get from eating their young long before the terrible-twos hit, I will add MAJOR theatrical exxagerance. The kids laugh @ mommy then, too. Their laughter is contagious. I crack up, in a good way.

    HWILOTSON? Probably like this:
    *Mother of 3 under 3 finally snaps and goes berserk*

    … But who cares what people think? I have taught my children several lessons from seeing mommy act a fool:

    – how to make the best of the onset of a temper tantrum (we all have them!)

    – how to use the silliness imperative to diffuse what could potentially turn into an extremely ugly episode

    I know this to be effective after having witnessed my 2 1/2-yr old scream into a pillow, then laugh at his own absurdity afterwards.

    Great article. I’m going to use the HWILOTSON tactic from now on, too

    • says

      Linda, you are awesome! Those examples are hilarious. I agree, it is good to let your kids know you get frustrated too and how you handle it can be a good example for them. Getting them to giggle when I’m at my wits end always helps me feel better, its tough to do though, I think I might have to try your falsetto voice I think I could work that one well. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your GREAT ideas!!!

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