All parents develop a repertoire of games they can play with their kids where they expend the least amount of energy possible. I’m sure this is linked to our survival as a species. Fact: kids have way too much energy. No, of course they have the right amount of energy and coffee is a poor substitute for us grown-up’s.
My first awareness of these energy-efficient childcare games was “monster on the couch.” Basically the adult sits on the couch, arms extended and waving randomly. Kid(s) run past trying not to get caught by the monster. If you have the fortune of having a house where kids can run out of view and back into view, the monster can slouch into the couch while the kids are out of view. Younger kids can happily play this for about an hour. Every once in a while you have to catch the kids and tickle them to make the rest of the slouching work.
Last year after dropping the kiddo off at kindergarten I had a lovely walk around the Rose Bowl with some other moms. As we chatted and traded fabulous bits of wisdom with each other this topic of energy-efficient parenting came up. Everyone had some version of “monster on the couch.” I added one of my personal favorites “injured hiker.” Ever since we got our earthquake preparedness backpack, my son and I have enjoyed playing injured hiker. I am the injured hiker. I usually pretend to fall off a cliff while hiking and land, where else, on the bed. Sometimes I sneak a pillow under my head. My son grabs the first aid backpack and comes running up the pretend trail or rappelling down the imaginary cliff to deliver first aid to me. I always have a lot of injuries so I have to lay there a looong time! If I happen to doze off, well, that’s a sign of hypothermia or shock…and the pretend search-and-rescue paramedic can learn about how to treat that too! The other moms were in awe of “injured hiker” and thanked me profusely.
Today I came up with a new one. I would be lying if I didn’t admit I’m proud of myself. My son and I like to wrestle and roughhouse. With a very small apartment, we’ve viewed the bed as a play space out of necessity. While this is not good for the mattress, I realized today there are some advantages. When we wrestle I’m usually a Decepticon and he is always an Autobot. There is a lot of falling down (on the soft, cushy bed) involved in wrestling and battling each other. Sometimes I fall dead for a little longer than he does, sometimes sneaking a quick pillow under my head (wink). Today’s brilliant breakthrough was incorporating “stasis” into my wrestling playtime. Statis, as any Transformer knows, is a state of hibernation for robots. Stasis is my new energy-efficient parenting trick.
In fact, I think I feel a little stasis coming on right now.
If you haven’t copyrighted your favorite lazy, I mean, energy-efficient parenting tricks, feel free to share in the comments.