Of all the key traits necessary to be a decent parent, I am beginning to think efficiency is perhaps the most critical to retaining a healthy level of sanity.
Some parents I know are the most efficient people I have ever met. It’s not because they want to be, but it’s out of necessity.
From a parenting perspective, being efficient means making the most out of the time you have on your own to take care of business — whether it be personal, family, household or professional matters.
Whether it means house decorating for the holidays, odds and ends around the house, work obligations or petty nuances demanding time and attention to address, production is a must and it has to be quality time because the quantity is scant.
Sure, you have to be loving, unselfish, caring and all that mushy stuff to make a good parent, but you also have to be able to get stuff done when not with the kids.
With my boys now 5 and 4 years old, I realize I have to get done what I need to get done in a short amount of time and have come to understand the weekends are family time and not for chores, hanging with friends or football games like they once were.
Realizing that helps make me a better planner. For example, I found myself with an hour to myself the other day.
I left work early at 4 p.m. and had an hour to hit the grocery store, put all the stuff away and go for a quick run before having to pick up my kids by 5 p.m. and then get Beckett to karate by 6 p.m.
It was by far the fastest couple of hours of my day, but it was time well spent.
While perched like Spiderman over top of the bathtub the other night, Beckett and I had an interesting conversation.
After repeated demands to get down, I tried another way to get him to listen by simply saying nothing at first as I watched him hang precariously over the tub, which was full of water.
Him: What’s the matter? I’m just being a dare devil.
Me: Nobody likes a dare devil.
Him: You’re just saying that because you’re my daddy. I’m not going to get hurt.
Me: Maybe, but I’m going to count to three and if you are not down bath time is over.
Him: [After I got to three and pulled him out of the tub] I wonder what Evel Knievel did when he was my age.
Me: How do you know who that is?
Him: [Eyes rolling] Everybody knows who he is. He was the greatest dare devil of all time, and I want to ride my motorcycle like him.
For the record, he does not own a motorcycle.
Both kids enjoy “Elf on the Shelf” but Carson, 4, finds it to be something special.
Carson is quite a sight to watch each morning when he comes downstairs. He immediately starts looking around the house. Like his big brother, he doesn’t bother looking anywhere low because he knows it’s not supposed to be touched and that it will never be within reach because as the story goes the elf loses its magic if touched by a little one. Therefore, our goal is to keep it high and difficult to find each morning for the boys.
To Carson, the thrill is in the hunt and I have to literally sit on Beckett, who is always up early in the morning, to keep him from spoiling the hiding place for his little brother.
In our house, we simply hide Doodle — our elf’s name — in a different spot every night. We don’t get into the creative aspect too much like some other people prefer. So there’s no Elf sitting on the potty fishing for marsh mellows and no Elf sipping a pina colada from a straw while sunning himself. There’s nothing wrong with that sort of stuff, but we just don’t have that much creativity left after the kids go to bed at night.
The kids think and believe that after they go to bed each night the elf magically heads to the North Pole to provide Santa with an update on them, specifically whether they have been naughty or nice. Upon his return very early in the morning, they believe Doodle picks a different spot each night because he is a little mischievous.
Why else would he hang upside down from a window shade, get his hat stuck in a window returning from the North Pole or lay nonchalantly over the smoke detector? I think they like that side of him because they share that penchant for being a little bit mysterious at times.
Beckett still enjoys locating Doodle each morning, but is not as into it as he used to be. That I find a little sad. When he finds him nowadays, he simply says something along the lines of “ah found you Doodle, good morning.”
On the other hand, Carson takes locating Doodle quite serious first thing. He gets worried at first when he can’t find him but then gets tremendously excited once he spots him. His reaction is different each morning and I love that, but it usually includes some sort of finger pointing, giggling, rubbing of the belly and jumping up and down. He then likes for me to pick him up and let him get a closer look and particularly likes it when his excitement is shared.
I worry what his reaction will be in 10 days or so when there is no more Doodle for the year, but until then we will continue to make it fun for him and work on convincing Beckett he shouldn’t spoil it for him.