Today Oprah.com posted our answers to some of the viewer questions sent in after The Secret Lives of Moms show (search keyword: Heija). It was a privilege to hear stories from moms around the country. I love hearing and sharing the silly and sage advice that we pass from mom to mom.
But lately I haven’t been following my own rules.
One of the first and most important pearls of wisdom I learned as a new mom and insist on sharing with others (whether they like it or not) is NEVER FORECAST FUN! My sister-in-law shared this piece of clever advice with me when my boys were very little and I am forever grateful.
The rule is pure genius. IF you follow it.
The premise is simple: DO NOT tell your children about fun future events until the last possible moment. Life is unpredictable. Work schedules change. Kids get the stomach flu. There are moments when Mommy and Daddy might kill each other if they enter the same vehicle. Keep your plans for family fun top secret, to be revealed on a need to know basis. If plans change, your kids will be none the wiser and you will be a proud member of T.P.P., the Trauma Prevention Program. As a bonus, if you wait until you are pulling into the Chuck E. Cheese parking lot or boarding the plane to Disneyland you also avoid having to answer annoying questions like “Are we there yet?”
We’ve pulled off some pretty fun surprises following the NEVER FORECAST FUN rule. We managed to keep our first camping trip plans a secret until we were in the car and well on our way. I still like to keep play dates and birthday parties secret until the last possible moment which leads to befuddled looks and then crazy smiles of delight once they’ve figured out our true destinations.
My kids are pretty open to car trips and outings because they never know where they will end up. I wave my hands vaguely when asked a direct question to avoid straight up lying. Our adherence to N.F.F. has been so successful that sometimes I have to manage expectations as we load the car, “No we are not going somewhere special. This is not a drill, this a real trip the grocery store, I swear!”
A few days ago I went soft on the NEVER FORECAST FUN rule and now I am paying the price.
Spring has finally sprung here in the Pacific Northwest and with the glorious sunshine comes the promise of summer fun. Like a dummy, I decided to discuss it with my five year old daughter, “Sistafoo.” I used happy words to paint a sunny picture of her last summer before Kindergarten; strawberry picking, beach combing and a strange combination Fairies and Cooking camp at our favorite Children’s Museum.
What was I thinking?
Sistafoo’s elaborate bedtime routine already included a dramatic tussle over her toothbrushing technique, a book (or three) read by her father, and Mommy rubbing her back for a few minutes while she gets her sleep on. That was before I opened my big fat mouth to forecast a whole summer full of fun! A summer that is still three months away!
For the past three nights, I have been subjected to Oprah worthy diatribes and interviews. We’ve discussed the exact number of days until summer, how to get to the strawberry fields, what “exactly” will be cooked at cooking camp, and whether or not fairies are real. This exhausting conversation is then capped by a drowsy tantrum (hers not mine) about not having enough time to say goodbye to all of her friends at preschool.
How can I get fun out of the forecast? This is an emergency!
I am calling my sister-in-law.