I’m solo parenting four kids going through a big transition. My default is to put out the fires. Feed the mouths. Clean the clothes. Rush to the appointments. Wipe the tears.  I quickly find myself stuck in a reactive posture.

And if I focus on today, things can look pretty grim.

As we transition to life back in Canada, these are a few things helping me keep some perspective:

  • a long view,
  • strategies for interacting with my strong-willed little people,
  • child care (i.e. time without my little people).

A Long View

I know I need a long view. Without it I drown in details and little defeats. I react all day long. I need to set the tone and remember where I’m heading. Thermostat, not thermometer. I’m the parent, here. I need to set the tone.

But. Being proactive requires effort. So. Much. Effort.

I’m tired. I need to know it will pay off. Rory Vaden’s interview with Donald Miller persuaded me to do something today that makes tomorrow better.

Right now, that means investing our physical environment, tools, and training. The latter is a very long term endeavor.

Our physical environment – Mostly this means purging clothes and toys and small pieces of furniture.

Fewer items gives kids and me a fighting chance at keeping the remainder tidy-ish.

I love Erin Loechner’s suggestion to box unused clothes and toys and inform your child, “I cleared out some things you haven’t used in a while. If you need anything that is missing, it’ll be in the garage (for a period of time, after which, the donation bin is fair game.)”

Tools – I want the kids being outdoors and active, so I went out and bought a badminton/ volleyball net on sale. We set it up right away. It’s no magic bullet, but it is a draw. And one without a screen. And, once outside, imaginative, unstructured play is more likely.

Imaginative play happens more outdoors, away from screens.

Training – Letting kids do their jobs imperfectly and ever so slowly is painful. Improvement comes with practice. However… when I jump in and take over, I all but guarantee their unwillingness to help next time.

Sometimes they downright refuse to cooperate, which is why I need…

Strategies for Getting Past the Impasse 

Do you have one of those kids? You need to get out the door and he will not budge. He wants to play, not go. The promise of a snack gets no response. You cancel dessert. And TV. You both know you have no more ammunition. Are you really going to take away the X-box for so long that no one will remember why?


With quips like, “motion changes emotion”, Kirk Martin teaches strategies to diffuse the inevitable standoffs we have with our strong willed kiddos. Without burning bridges of connection.

I found him on this podcast, where he’s interviewed three times. I listened to them all! He’s that good.

This is stuff I’d never come up with on my own!

When I can’t for the life of me think of an “appropriate” consequence, what I need is a script.

Kirk teaches specific responses and phrases that help us get past the impasse.

Kirk is helping me enjoy my little guy more and butt heads less. And he’s reminding me to not sweat the small stuff.

Child Care

Perhaps we should just go ahead and call it self care. Right now, being by myself is my most needed self care. Child care= self care.

Since finding a babysitter, I dare to plan time for writing instead of squeezing it in when I should be sleeping. I might even start working at my best time of the day. Imagine that!! (There are days when working = self care. All things in moderation, right?)

What is helping you stay sane these days? What little thing can you do today that will make tomorrow simpler?


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