Shhh ... Dirty little parenting secrets revealed!

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Parenting is not an exact science -- it's a messy improvisation. For every one "child whisperer" expert, there are 4,000 parents just trying to keep spit up/juice boxes/soccer mud/random glitter/mystery goo/sweatsock funk off their last clean shirt.

There are those days when "good enough" is simply good enough. Shortcuts and outright trickery are a part of life as a parent.

The dirt on dirt

Considering kids seem to be constructed from dirt and crumbs with a little drool to hold it all together, it is not surprising that cleaning shortcuts are plentiful.

"I am the queen of wet wipes baths! Even at [ages] 8 and 9, sometimes it's just like that," said Shannon Taylor of Reynoldsburg.

"Sometimes I just hand him a washcloth and tell him to just wash his behind and go to bed," said LaSalle Jackson.

Wet wipes and strategic spot cleaning were some of the more common secrets, though some parents have very creative solutions to the pesky dirty-kid-versus-dog-tired dilemma.

One anonymous parent admitted to putting the 2-year-old in the kitchen sink and spraying the child with the sink hose, though according to the parent, the kid in question had a great time.

Another admitted to making it through a particularly, um, sticky situation while at a store. "During cold season, [when I was] out shopping with my son, he sneezed out a huge snot puddle and of course I had no tissue ... so I grabbed a napkin, washcloth, whatever was near in the store, wiped his nose and kept going."

Bedtime deceit

When discussing bedtime, more skeletons fell out of the closet as many parents shared a single source of trickery:

I am guilty of skipping book pages," said Charles Lipscomb, father of a 7-year-old and 3-year old twins. "[I] have gone from Simba and Mufasa talking [in The Lion King] to Simba being king within a matter of minutes. No mention of Scar, hyenas, or anything!"

Simeon Frazier of Westerville agreed. "I've definitely abridged a long story by reading only the first 2-3 sentences on a page, before moving on. [My son] didn't know and occasionally it changed the scope of the entire story. If I read the book again legitimately, it [was] like a brand new story to him - like [those] Choose Your Own Adventure books. The drawback is if he liked the story, he may expect the same ending!"

Time tricks

Alongside storytime mischief, many parents admit to imposing an occasional early bedtime before the kids were able to tell time.

Parents hustle and bustle every day to work, school, church and other activities. Getting there on time is often an exercise in patience, bribery and flat-out lies. "I offer a prize to anyone who can get dressed the fastest, especially on Sunday trying to get to church," Lipscomb said.

One Dublin mom sheepishly admitted to changing the clock. "Before my kids could really tell time, but knew about the big hand and little hand, I'd push the clock forward an hour just to get some peace."

Bribery goes a long way with Victoria Jefferies' kids -- ages 2 and 7. "I bribe them with M&Ms so they will get ready for church. I even bought a tin shaped like one so they could hear them rattling around as motivation."

"My daughter was not, and still is not, a morning person," Victoria Murray of Columbus said. "Some mornings when she was dragging more than usual, I would tell her that the teacher called and she needed her to hurry up and get to school because she needed her to help with the class. It only worked during kindergarten and first grade, but it was good while it lasted."

Mealtime cloak and dagger

Combining meal- and time-saving techniques is Shannon Hall's specialty. A mom of three kids ages 4, 2 and 8 months, Hall uses mobile food to stay on task. "We do protein smoothies in the car for breakfast," Hall said.

Some mealtime secrets involve tricking the kids into being their own chefs. Shannon Taylor has Make Your Own Dinner Night. "Hey, if cereal is good enough for breakfast -- the most important meal of the day -- it is good enough for dinner!"

A confession

Normally a writer does not insert herself into an article, but I felt guilty asking my friends and family to expose their dirty deeds while keeping quiet about my own. So here goes - I have:

  • Thrown away a Barney VHS tape because I couldn't stand listening to it anymore. When asked about its location, I looked my sweet 2-year-old in the face and lied without blinking.
  • Forced the family to live off a pile of laundry for weeks on end. We are a family of five with children ages 6, 2 and 7 months, which means we have a LOT of laundry. I figure as long as it's clean ...
  • One day I literally swept dirt under a rug. A friend was coming by and in my mad rush to make it appear that my home was not a dwelling for the chronically crumb-ridden, I swept up the kitchen only to find the dustpan had disappeared. There wasn't a stiff board or an album cover around, so I picked up our kitchen rug and stashed the crumbly evidence.
  • Except in cases of sticky food or filth, I believe in the 10-second rule.
  • Finally, I admit to all of central Ohio that my husband's suspicions are true: I knowingly pass to him the children with poop in their diapers, stiffing him with the change.

Perfect parents don't exist, though there are perfect bribes and shortcuts to help you along the way.

More imperfect parenting

Great books for non-perfect parenting:
  • Dirty Little Secrets from Otherwise Perfect Moms, by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile
  • I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood, by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile
  • Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay: And Other Things I Had to Learn as a New Mom, by Stefanie Wilder Taylor
  • Daddy Needs a Drink: An Irreverent Look at Parenting from a Dad Who Truly Loves His Kids -- Even When They're Driving Him Nuts, by Robert Wilder
  • Mack Daddy: Mastering Fatherhood Without Losing Your Style, Your Cool, or Your Mind, by Larry Bleinder