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Parent Survival 101

I took an online quiz the other day, highlighting scenarios in which my survival depended upon correctly knowing how to use a cell phone to start a fire in the mountains, or how to navigate my ship (on my solo-trip across the ocean) if all satellite, electronics and communications went down, or how to respond to an incoming tsunami (when I was, of course, already paddling on a board out off the beach.)

Needless to say, I got 10/16.

According to the quiz, should I ever find myself choosing between a mule knot or some other types of knots, I will fail and it will ultimately lead to my imminent demise. (And if does not, I will then make the mistake of eating <insert Latin name for some deadly mushroom> and that will be the death of me.)

They used the term, “zombie bait.”

But, I think in many more practical ways, I’m actually quite a good survivor. I can survive the Post Office with four kids and an armful of packages. I can survive a toddler and the racks of candy at the grocery store check out. I can survive dinner time. I can survive drama performances and (never-ending) baseball games, and sneakers that go missing when we’re already ten minutes late.

And so, a more practical-to-me and non-definitive quiz:

Can You Survive Parenting Young Children?

1) The children are rapidly unraveling all around you, decompressing from yet another busy day of school and activities and errand running. You’re in the kitchen, surrounded by bags of groceries and with a three year old attached to your calf. You desperately need at least half an hour to get things put away and dinner on the table.

Your plan:

A) Netflix to the rescue!

B) Have your older children put away the groceries while you start cooking.

C) Find the grocery bag with snacks and bribe them each with crackers, if they’ll just leave you alone.

D) Order take-out and look for the grocery bag with the bottle of wine.

2) Your five year old has a favorite shirt that he insists on wearing, everywhere. It hasn’t been washed in days, there may be permanent marker on the sleeve, and speaking of the sleeve, you’re pretty sure he’s outgrowing it. It’s Sunday morning and you’re heading to church as a family.  You:

A) Decide it’s not worth the fight, let him wear it until it falls of his body.

B) Stop at Target and buy three identical shirts to start a rotation.

C) Bribe him with the promise of a doughnut at church, if he will just wear something else.

D) Make him change, even if it means physically removing the shirt from his body while he wails.


3) Your morning routine is:

A) Coffee and pulling the lunches you packed the night before from the fridge, just as the bus turns the corner on your street.

B) You wake up with plenty of time to make pancakes and pack lunches with special notes in each box. You drop the kids off on your way to the office.

C) The kids make a mess with cereal and grab their lunch money on their way out the door.

D) You homeschool, and on mornings without a co-op to run to, your “routine” is lax.


4) Your house is:

A) Very clean. Like, you know where all the things are and the floor is swept, daily.

B) Not nearly as clean as it was before kids, but, what’s a little Cheerio dust here and there?

C) What house? This place looks more like a science experiment gone wrong. And where is that smell coming from?

D) Good enough for me. Laundry piles are an acceptable living room decoration.


5) It’s two-AM and you are:

A) Sleeping soundly, duh.

B) Catching up on work that you can’t do during the day, with all the kids around.

C) Trying to sleep, but instead over-analyzing your words and actions from the day and wondering if your kids will one day write tell-all books about your mothering failures.

D) Passed out in the glider rocker with your newborn, who is finally, thankfully, sleeping.


6) Your three year old has scribbled on the walls of your freshly painted living room.

A) You scold her firmly with the repetition of the word “No” (…and then take a picture with your phone to send to your family with a funny caption.)

B) You gently tell her that’s not okay, then kick yourself for not having the markers put somewhere higher. Oh well, live and learn.

C) You remove the markers and sit her down in time out. After the timer goes off, you hand her a sponge and you wash together.

D) You grab a marker and add some flourish to her design.


Now…add your answers together to see if you are, in fact,  the best at surviving parenthood..



There are no scores assigned.

Because, at the end of the day, we’re all parenthood survivalists.

And, if you are still here and they are still here when the lights are turned out – you win the day.  No matter how organic the menu of the day was, or how crumb coated the floors under the dining room table are.

Parenthood is not survival of the fittest or the smartest or the fastest – and it’s not the survival of the most mellow, rub-some-dirt-on-it, drive-thru window diva.

It’s simply you, doing whatever you can, in the time you are able, with what you are willing to give.

And if that grocery  bag with the bottle of $12 wine factors in after those lights are turned out, cheers.

You survived.

(*This blog made possible by Ritz Bitz crackers, a PBS documentary and ten minutes between uploading client galleries.)

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About the Author

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Writer, Photographer, Wife, Mother to four rambunctious and amazing children.

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