Parenting Planners

Parenting Follow Up & More

September 22, 2020

I wanted to share two of my favorite comments on Sunday’s post:

“One thing I was wondering that might help you — you said you get frustrated because you’re trying to get them to listen and they don’t listen well. I would honestly focus hard on that for right now and make it so that listening to you the first time is not optional. Enforce consequences if needed but honestly, it’s easier to be around kids who are well-behaved and good listeners, when everything doesn’t turn into an argument. You’re the mom, you’re the one in charge, don’t stand around waiting for your kids to obey whenever they happen to get around to it while letting your anger and resentment build and simmer. Enforce listening the first time.

I also don’t expect to be able to spend long stretches of “me time” when I’m alone with my kids, reading or knitting or whatever. I work on other creative projects like cooking and gardening that don’t require as much concentration. I also don’t feel the need to jump up and tend to my kids’ needs the moment they arrive (not saying that’s what you’re doing, just what I do). It’s been really important for me to reframe how I’m spending my time, and to remember that while I might enjoy curling up with a good book right now or working on that sweater, I’m not entitled to that time and it’s also not my task in this moment. (Again not suggesting any of your struggle comes from a sense of entitlement! Just sharing what’s worked for me.) The long stretches of solo parenting can be so tough but it can also be possible to enjoy it. Good luck.

from Amy


You are not alone. I was a SAHM when my kids were basically exactly your kids’ ages. There were so many days in which I was just hanging on by my fingernails. There are a few tips and tricks I learned, and you can absolutely feel free to ignore them if any of this is too ass-vicey. Re: yelling. I would gather the older kids and say in my quietest voice that I was really tired of them not listening to me, and that I was afraid I was going to yell. We talked about how we all felt when I yelled (bad). I asked them to please help me not yell by listening. We agreed to work on it together. Whenever we started to get to that point, I would switch to my quiet voice. If I did end up yelling, we’d have a debrief – I’d apologize, we’d discuss what happened. Your older kids are old enough to understand.

Next, I never tried to have any significant tasks to complete. Like the most significant task was load the dishwasher or put up a load of laundry. If anything beyond that happened, then great. Next, I tried to have a list of possible activities in my mind to stave off fights from boredom. If they were playing great together, I did nothing. If they were starting to squabble, I’d mix it up. Who wants to blow bubbles? Make chalk drawings? Swing outside (we have a playset)? Go for a walk? Have a dance party? Color? Build legos? Read a book? Play school? Play hair salon? Bake? Have a snack? Take a bath? Tickle monster? Rake leaves? Build a fort? We also had quiet time. After lunch for at least an hour, everyone had to play quietly in their room. It gave me an hour to decompress or do some deep work or nap or whatever. I also took a nap almost every day during one episode of Dora. I swear I’m like Pavlov’s dog now – the opening song puts me out immediately and the closing song wakes me up. I would lie on the couch with the kids leaning against me and one arm around them. I could feel if someone got up, but that rarely happened. On hard days, it would be 2 episodes of Dora. Dealing with the emotional/physical/social needs of three little people is truly exhausting. I needed that nap to be able to function.

from MommyAttorney

I love the idea of Dora triggering a Pavlovian nap. I have done the “couch naps while kids watching a show” thing many times before, and it truly can feel rejuvenating even if it’s just 25 minutes (or . . .25 minutes x 2).

After writing all that (it was rather cathartic), I ended up having a much better day. I did take the kids to the Gardens, and otherwise mostly focused on strategic housework and rest.

Hopefully this sign wasn’t coated in COVID

I am going to work on making more friends here. I agree that the easiest (and best!) would be families at C&G’s school, because if the kids are already interacting it’s kind of like a premade pod. If the playgrounds would just open up (!), then it would be easy to suggest a meetup with another family.

In other news, I heard a rumor that when schools open in our county, the kids will “continue e-learning in the school buildings” to allow teachers to synchronously continue teaching kids who choose to remain home. As in, they will all bring their laptops and continue to most of their work on screen, though the teacher would be physically present. While I sort of understand the rationale for this, it makes me sad AND very happy that I moved C because I am 98% sure it would have been disastrous for him.


What better way to finish off a year of 83473 different planning systems than to try a new quarterly planner for Q4?! I discovered Amplify on @dolceplanner‘s feed and decided it would be a fun one to try out. Will definitely share pix and let you all know how it goes!


  • Reply Amy September 22, 2020 at 6:57 am

    Lol, I did the couch nap to Daniel Tiger thing too when my kids were really little.

    I’m glad my comment was helpful — I say all of those things from experience and can also say I started enjoying my solo time with my kids MUCH better once I asserted more authority. Which doesn’t have to mean yelling and being a drill sergeant, just recognizing my role and not feeling conflicted about it. Good luck. You can do it ❤️

  • Reply Anon September 22, 2020 at 7:43 am

    I didn’t get to reply to your original post but wanted to share my experience. I told my daughter it was very frustrating for me having to ask her many times to do something. She told me that sometimes she’s too tired and I’m bombarding her with too much information. So she tunes out. This little conversation made us more aware of each other’s needs and easier to get things done without a fight.

    • Reply Amy September 22, 2020 at 12:11 pm

      This is such a great point!!! We’re all told as moms to give our kids choice after choice after choice — that genuinely stresses them out. Sometimes they don’t need to choose. You can choose for them. It’s what you’re there for!

  • Reply Mommy Attorney September 22, 2020 at 7:47 am

    Aw, thanks! I’m glad it was helpful. It’s so so hard, and even harder with all of the craziness in the world right now. Can’t wait to check out your next BLP episode.

  • Reply KGC September 22, 2020 at 8:08 am

    Re: the comment on listening – this is HUGE for me because it makes me crazy when my older kiddo does not listen. I’m not a yeller by nature but occasionally I do raise my voice to get his attention and tell him that it frustrates me to have to ask 3x (or more) for him to do something.

    Something that I like, and from which you might get some useful snippets, is that I started following Dr. Becky Kennedy on instagram – @drbeckyathome. She’s a PhD something (psychology? child behavior? something) and gives these snippets of advice about how to rephrase, how to recognized dysregulation (in you or a child), how to deal with tantrums, etc. You might find some of it useful, even if you don’t sit down and watch all of her videos (I don’t!) – she captions everything and writes these short summaries about how parents can maintain authority, recognize children’s wants/needs, etc. I know you’re trying to avoid mindless scrolling, but I view this as mindful =)

    I especially like her “You wish…” statements (when a kid is upset, rather than trying to make them feel better by reassurance, recognizing it and saying “You wish we could stay at the park, huh.” or “You wish that toy hadn’t broken,” or “You wish your brother would leave you alone right now.”) and her “Two things are true” statements (when there’s tantrums or arguing, you can say “Two things are true. I’m the parent and my job is to keep you safe, so right now we need to put away this toy that you and your brother are using to hit each other. But you are allowed to be upset about it. That’s true, too.”)

    These are not perfect examples, but I like that she gives ACTUAL phrases to say that I can memorize and use. So far, I have found that my kiddo responds really well, and I like her explanations of the why behind her recommendations. She also has a series of stuff on sibling relationships, too! Anyway – not AT ALL trying to give parenting advice, but just sharing something that I’ve found and liked. Good luck!

    • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns September 22, 2020 at 9:00 am

      Thank you for suggesting this account! Our son is 2.5 so we are getting into the thick of tantrums and not listening etc. So I definitely need some tools to navigate this!

    • Reply Meg September 22, 2020 at 2:40 pm

      I second checking out Dr Becky – I’ve gained many tools from her posts, especially for my more sensitive 5yo.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns September 22, 2020 at 9:05 am

    I’m glad you had a better day and I hope that your parks open soon so you can arrange a play date with friends from school. Our school has a parents’ facebook group so that kind of helps facilitate playdates because you can say, “Is Georgie’s mom on here?” Ha. Because I only know the kid’s first name so it’s hard to figure out who the parent is when you aren’t interacting at pick-up/drop-off.

    I feel like I need more weekend plans now than I did pre-covid. I used to be a chronic over-scheduler and then I had a baby and was so overwhelmed by working full time, parenting, meal planning, etc. So I limited myself to one week night commitment and one weekend commitment. Then Covid hit and we were in lockdown and my mental health was NOT GOOD in Mar/Apr when we weren’t seeing anyone and had our 2yo home with us. After things opened up a bit and I came to accept that socially distanced outdoor gatherings were safe, I started to plan things – both with and without my son – and I felt like a whole new person. This past weekend I had (outdoor) plans every day. Pre-covid that would have been way too much but now I find I need to get out of the house on the weekends since I’m barely leaving during the week (I WFH 100% now and will indefinitely). But we are in our summer and you are in your winter, so I can see how it’s been hard to get out due to the weather. We’ll swap places soon and I will be the one losing my mind because it’s too awful outside to do outdoor gatherings and you’ll probably/hopefully be spending lots of time outdoors and hopefully meeting families at the park!

  • Reply Kat September 22, 2020 at 9:27 am

    Our kids are teenagers now, but I actually called it the “Dora nap”. I would tuck them in behind me on the couch and knew I had 20 minutes. It saved my life and my sanity…plus the bonus of both kids could count in Spanish. Win-win!

  • Reply Erin September 22, 2020 at 11:59 am

    Daniel Tiger is my couch nap show of choice! Those soothing voices are perfect background noise for a 20-minute nap and I definitely have a Pavlovian-esque response to them.

  • Reply Amy September 22, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    By the way Sarah have you ever read anything by Kim John Payne? You might check out his work — I’ve found him transformative for our family. (My kids are 8, 6 and in utero.)

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 22, 2020 at 12:55 pm

      Loved Simplicity parenting but it has been years since I read it! I need to go back …

  • Reply Anon September 22, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk is a great book as well.

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