It’s Saturday morning, and you are asleep. Suddenly, you hear it: the pitter-patter of little feet coming down the hallway toward your room. Your eyes dart hopefully to the clock—maybe it is still 4am and you can give this child a hug or a glass of water or a blanket-straighten, and then you can go back to bed. But no. It’s 7:05. This is a perfectly reasonable time for this child to be out of bed, expecting to be entertained or fed or cuddled. But you are not ready for this. You stayed up too late binge-watching Orange is the New Black—it was Friday night, after all! So, now what? Do you have to get up and get going? And if you do, will you ever be able to sleep in again?*
Have no fear! I have discovered several short-term solutions to our mutual problem! Here are my best stalling tactics to gain extra time in bed while staving off the grumpy impatience of my children.
Keep books by the bed. This sounds simple, and it is. But it does take prep work! I have often mumbled, “Want to look at books on the floor beside me?” only to discover that Daddy cleaned up all the books so there is no longer a messy pile of them on the floor. Darn you, Daddy! Because if I have to get up to fetch some books, I might as well just stay up.
Give them a journal and a pen. I mentioned once before that I keep a journal of letters and stories for my kids that I intend to let them read someday. Well, I’ve gotten worse at keeping it since I started the blog, but it is still there on my bedside table. If I let my child write or draw or scribble (depending on their age and pen-use abilities), I can stay in bed while they do so. And then, when they are done, I just write their name and the date on that page and it becomes part of the journal. See, I’m not lazy. I’m recording memories.
Play “I Spy.” When I was a kid, I used to climb into bed with my parents almost every Sunday morning, and my dad would play I Spy with me (and my brother until he outgrew this tradition). Well, every single time, without fail, the first thing my dad would “spy” would be something on me. My pajamas, my hair elastic, my eye colour, my socks. And every week, without fail, I would forget that he did this. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Eventually my mom would have to cheat and give me subtle clues, such as pointing at her own clothes, or mouthing, “your pajamas.” It was ridiculously frustrating for me, and pretty amusing, I think, for my dad. I used to think my parents just really enjoyed playing I Spy, but now that I’m an adult I wonder how much of the game my dad played with his eyes closed. Sneaky.
Play “I Gotcha Trapped.” This is a relatively simple game. Basically, you hold onto your child, or partly lie on top of her, or gently put your arm over her torso—depending on the age and strength of your child. Then you say, over and over and over, “I gotcha trapped, I gotcha trapped, I know you can’t get loose. I gotcha trapped, I gotcha trapped, I know you can’t get loose.” And the child tries to wriggle free. I like this game because the kid is expending a lot of energy but the parent is just lying there, mumbling. When the kid gets free, you change the end of the mumble-line: “I gotcha trapped, I gotcha trapped, How did you get loose?” NOTE: Obviously you have to pay attention to whether your child is getting angry and claustrophobic about not getting loose and be prepared to weaken your hold. This is supposed to be fun, not scary.
Play Hide and Seek in the blankets. Obviously, this only works when your kids are very young and you are very desperate. So, in my case, often.
It is my hope that these simple tools will allow you other lazy parents to procrastinate, along with me, every weekend morning, so you can maybe catch a little more shut-eye to prepare you for your busy day ahead. Your children will thank you! Actually, no, they won’t. They will whine for breakfast and ask you to turn on the television. But maybe they will thank you much later, when they are parenting their own children and writing their own blogs and remembering the games you used to play with them, even before you got out of bed in the morning. It is also then that they will realize your games were just stalling tactics, but they will forgive you because they remember having so much fun anyway.
*And by “sleep in” I mean anything later than 7:30am, of course. Because I’m a parent of preschoolers, and that is how we do.