Today’s Best of Both Worlds is our second all-mailbag episode! Sarah and I recorded this together in my office in Pennsylvania over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday break. She put out a call on Instagram, and we managed to get through a lot of listener questions. Some fun ones:
Our guilty pleasures. Dark chocolate peanut butter cups, fancy stationery, and little notebooks. We examined my ridiculous stash of nice little notebooks in my office. I will never, in my whole life, have enough good ideas to fill those notebooks.
How to deal with kid tantrums. The listener asked about toddler tantrums, but unfortunately, they don’t exactly end at age 3. Staying calm, removing the child from the situation, and even acting bored about it all work. It’s also helpful to try to ward it off by keeping the kid from getting too hungry or tired (when possible; not always possible).
Preserving kid memories. I don’t have a really good system; Sarah talked about hers.
Our Myers-Briggs types, and our Enneagram types. Sarah and I are both “Js” in the Myers-Briggs but that seems to be our only overlap. We both seem to be “1s” in Enneagram, but who knows. We don’t put too much stock in these things. We had a discussion about our husbands’ types. My husband is a “P” with work, reworking his schedule to the last minute, but he’s willing to function as more of a “J” at home.
Whether to set multiple goals, or one. We’re both into multiple goals, though we like the idea of sequencing them, so you can know what your future goals are, but can focus your energy on fewer goals at a time.
When to tackle home tasks. We talked about the benefits of “homing from work” — using what would be breaks at work to fill out personal paperwork and such. Some tasks (buying birthday presents) can be done when the kids are running around. Pull out the phone, order on Amazon, done. We also talked about the benefit of having good-for-anyone birthday gifts.
How to respond to relatives who think your husband does too much. We found this a fascinating question, and recommended dealing with it much like the toddler tantrums (above). Stay calm, remove yourself from the situation if need be, or try to defer it. “Oh yes, John is a great guy, isn’t he? Say, how was your trip to Florida?”
How to remember recurring tasks. If something needs to happen monthly, it helps to set a certain date of the month (or quarter/year…) that you always do these things. The first makes a lot of sense, but it could be another one.
The best order to read my books. 168 Hours is a good intro to time management. If you’ve found me while on maternity leave, I’d recommend I Know How She Does It. If you’re reading me on vacation, Off the Clock might be a good choice. If you just want 45 minutes of me, and that’s it, try What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.
Staying engaged with the kids between the end of work and bedtime. We’ve done an episode on evenings, and I’ve written posts about this too. Our listener mentioned making the most of these “precious” hours, which is nice, but we mentioned lowering the pressure a little. Just because you’re a working parent doesn’t mean you’re not spending time with your kids. You’re probably spending a lot of time with your kids, so you don’t need to feel like every minute of every weekday evening needs to fall in the precious category. It won’t. But you can go in with a plan of at least one mutually enjoyable activity. Having fun books to read can make bedtime better. If the kids tend to run around and break things, but are more controlled in the bathtub, let bath time go on for a while. Heck, cuddling together on the couch and watching TV together can be OK too. No one is going to create magic 5 (or 7!) nights per week.
Nixing gimmes on experiential trips. A listener mentioned planning more adventures with her kids after reading Off the Clock (yay!) However, she wanted to know how to deal with the “gimmes” that then occur when the magical adventure ends in a gift shop. I mentioned trying to avoid gift shops as much as possible. You can also acknowledge that there are many wonderful things in the store, and you have wonderful things at home too! Isn’t life great? Some parents let kids spend their own money as a teaching experience, or assign a small amount which the kid can then decide how to spend. I know I reflexively say no, though on some level, if I’ve spent $50 on an experience, is spending $5 more in the gift shop really the end of the world? We also talk about not letting an argument over the “gimmes” color the rest of the adventure. You had a good time, even if there were some non-spectacular moments.
I have to say, listening to us when we were in the same place was kind of fun — the conversation flowed better when we could see each other. Hmm… Guess I need to start flying to Miami…