I have a new respect for single parents and small free-range chickens.
We recently hosted a dinner party: a guest list of thirteen which included my wife, our two kids, and me.
Although it was pot luck, we were still responsible for the main course: capon and ham; as well as the vegetable side dishes: sautéed beans with Parmesan and lemon; and spinach salad with walnuts, cranberries topped with paprika/poppy vinaigrette.
My wife was called into work that day, so I was called up from the minor-leagues to prepare the meal, prepare the house, prepare the kids, and ultimately prepare for an inevitable crisis.
That morning, I avoided the “Life” section of the local paper. The risk was too high it would contain an article reminding parents to restrict television viewing in young children. Today, I knew I wouldn’t survive without plopping them in front of a movie. Psychologists be damned; unless Dr. Spock was going to vacuum my living room, The Incredibles were going to have to baby sit.
I reminded myself the key to surviving days such as these was prioritize, prioritize, and prioritize:
Step one: Tire Them Out.
Fortunately, they’d survived two consecutive late nights, followed by two early mornings. With the help of a little fresh air and bicycling, I could hope for a return of the long-forgotten afternoon nap…as long as I bribed them with a movie afterward.
Step two: Get That Bird in the Oven
As much as over-cooked dry capon is reminiscent of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, salmonella is no way to welcome dinner guests, even family.
Step three: Rest While They Rest
When possible, twenty minutes of shut-eye, or deep-breathing, or book-reading, or knitting – whatever your pleasure – will go a long way toward salvaging your sanity when your day is one deadline after another.
With the bird in the oven and the kids in bed, my head hit the sofa throw cushion for 20 winks.
Step four: Clean While They’re Catatonic
The kids are awake, and now occupied by the evil television. Time to get the house to a presentable state. Not perfect, but – at the very least – your washroom should not be a testing lab for the Centre for Disease Control.
Step five: Get Dressed and Let the Chips Fall Where They May.
Even if it means Doritos falling into a bowl to be served as an appetizer because “Pot Luck” assignments didn’t quite cover everyone’s pre-dinner appetites.
Finally: Enjoy Super Hero Status.
That’s right. 10 hours of childcare, cooking, cleaning, and table setting is worth yodeling from a mountain top whether you’re a mom or a dad.
After all: At 11am I felt my goose was cooked, at 8pm the only thing cooked was that darn capon: to perfection.
Author’s Bio: Kenny Bodanis is father of two, husband of one. He works as a television producer/director, and is the author of FatherDaddy, at www.kennybodanis.com.