3 Parenting Tips for Calming the Chaos

ice cream in Prospect Park

I’m not the best at dealing with the chaos of raising two little kids. The messiness, the yelling, the arguing, the constant activity — it’s all completely par for the course, and I know it, but it’s still hard for me. I like neatness, calm, and order. This is not an advantage in parenting.

In the course of one year staying home with the kids, though, I have come up with a few “mom rules” to help me deal with the day-to-day chaos. And they’ve given the kids certain expectations, too, which has been helpful.

The rules relate to a few of the things that occur routinely during a day — snacking, behavior issues when out and about, and arguing between the two kids. I’m not saying these will work for everyone, and of course we all have our own parenting styles. Maybe you’re all about no rules and no structure — and if that works for you, AWESOME! I hope you can teach me a thing or two.

In the meantime, I’m just saying these little mantras have helped me.

“If you’re snacking, you’re sitting.” — Whether we are at home, in the park, or in the playground, I see no reason for my kids to be running around with food in their hands. If they’re eating something, I want them seated for a moment. Focus on the activity at hand. Enjoy your food. Then resume with whatever wildness was underway.

“If you’re not listening, we’re leaving.” — Call me mean mommy (you wouldn’t be the first), but I have absolutely NO problem making my kids leave some fun activity because of bad behavior. If we’re headed to a birthday party, or Coney Island, or an excursion into the city, I remind them before we go…. What’s the rule? Jasper now recites it back to me: “If we’re not listening, we’re leaving.” Damn right we are.

“You can either agree, or it’s “mommy’s choice.” ” – Two kids seem to somehow = a million arguments a day. I mean, really. “He can’t use my stool!” “I want to wash my hands first!” “I want to watch the Barbie DVD!” “No, I want Thomas!” I try to employ this rule often. You two can either work it out and agree — sometimes they actually do! — or it’s my choice, and I make the call on whatever issue or argument is at hand.

Do you have any basic mom rules that work for you? I’d love to hear!

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8 Responses to “3 Parenting Tips for Calming the Chaos”


  1. 1 Amy July 28, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Amazing!!! I love these and can’t wait to use them.

    My latest with our 3 1/2 year old is “My ears can’t hear whining so you better try again in a different voice.”

  2. 2 Karen July 28, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I really like the “If you’re snacking you’re sitting” rule. That’s a great one!!

  3. 3 Melisa July 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks! And, Amy, we tried yours this morning on our newly-four-year-old! (We had to repeat it more than once; she’s a tough case.) :)

  4. 4 Sasha July 29, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I am so totally stealing these!

  5. 5 Melisa July 29, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Great, Sasha, I hope they help! And you must have a few house rules, too, yes??

  6. 6 alicia July 30, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Hey! This is great stuff. I definitely have to try the “if you’re not listening, we’re leaving” one!

    I agree with Amy. I have a 2 1/2 year-old and whenever he whines I say, “Can you use your normal voice, please? I can’t understand you when you speak like that!” It works wonders.

    Also, teaching him to share is an uphill battle so I’m encouraging turn-taking instead. I use A LOT of “when and then” with him, like “WHEN he’s finished playing with the red car, THEN it will be your turn” or vice versa. It’s like a miracle.

    I’ve included this post in my link roundup for this week!


  1. 1 Mashable Link Round Up – August 1 Weekly Reading Pleasure : NYC Single Mom Trackback on August 2, 2010 at 1:58 pm
  2. 2 August 28 – 29: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas « Shiny Brite Trackback on August 27, 2010 at 9:02 am

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