If you have more than one child, chances are good that you are breaking up fights between them for about 95% of your day, which is leaving little time for other projects, such as dreaming about what you’re going to do when they’re finally in bed, or eating that chocolate bar that you’ve been hiding in the cupboard. However, I have discovered that there are ways of preventing, disrupting, or ending these fights in a matter of seconds, leaving you more time for all things coffee. Here are ten strategies that I have found particularly helpful:
1. Never make an important phone call, or even answer the phone when you are home alone with your children. They wait for these moments to start fights, so don’t give them the chance.
2. Give them identical plates, bowls and cups, at each and every meal. Make sure they are the same make and colour, and always make sure there is never one iota of difference in the amount of food you give them. Because they will NOTICE.
3. Take two handfuls of candy and fling them in opposite directions. This only works if you have two children. If you have more than that, consider asking a friend or a neighbour to lend a hand or two.
4. If you can hear them playing and laughing together joyfully, or hugging and cuddling and being adorable with each other, count to 30 and then separate them. If you wait too long, they will start fighting, guaranteed.
5. Use duct tape to divide the house into as many portions as you have children, and assign one portion to each child. This will work for only a few minutes (i.e. enough time to drink your coffee, hopefully) as children love testing boundaries, and other children do not love it when their boundaries are tested.
6. If they are having a conversation that is quickly building into a disagreement (“Elephants can be gray, but they can also be red and orange.” “No! Elephants are not EVER red or orange! They are ONLY gray!” “No, I’ve seen them.” “No!!”), just shout a nonsense word, like “BLARK!” That will get their attention long enough for you to take two fistfuls of candy and throw them in opposite directions.
7. If they are building a couch fort together, STOP THEM. STOP THEM RIGHT NOW.
8. If they want to play a game with each other, but are very set on their own ideas of how the game should be, for example, one wants to play “ninjas” and one wants to play “zombie-king and zombie-princess pretend to be ninjas,” gently suggest that they both take turns playing the games they each want to play. When they adamantly refuse, shout “TICKLE MONSTER!” and chase them around. This will get out what scientists refer to as their “fight beans” by exhausting them so much that they won’t be able to fight anymore.
9. If you sense a fight brewing between them, choose this time to discuss with one of them how you would like them to clean up the lego that they left out on the floor, earlier. This will make that one start arguing with you, yes, but the other one will suddenly start to act like a perfect angel, and do everything you say, so they can demonstrate to you that they are “the good one.” Use this opportunity to ask “the good one” to clean up the half-formed couch fort from earlier.
10. If the phone rings during the day, let them answer it. There is a great chance that they will fight during this, but at least that person will never call you again (see #1).
So there you have it! I hope this has been helpful. If it has not been helpful, or makes things worse, and you wish to lodge a formal complaint, please forward your complaints to Jac. Or, feel free to give me a phone call, anytime during the day.