I’m smack dab in the middle (of the beginning) of raising 4 kids of all different (under 10) ages, and also their friends are around a lot, so we are constantly surrounded by young-ins! Of my many observations and trials and errors in trying to keep them all simultaneously calm and content, I have discovered a few secrets, golden secrets – so considered because of their miraculous success rates, at least in the under 10 set. Give me a few years (especially when the kids reach their teens), and I may have enough golden kid-contenting secrets to write a book, let’s hope I learn some more anyway…
1. If you trace the roots of every kid tantrum and meltdown, you will find that most are derived from feelings of hunger, followed closely by fatigue and thirst; the latter two can be interchanged, it depends upon the kid. But the #1 reason is usually hunger. Keeping small, energy-boosting (and likable!) snacks on hand at all times can do wonders for the mood of the group.
2. Never underestimate the power of blankie. I keep those really thin blankies in my car – the ones they give you at the hospital when you’re having a baby. They fold up so small, it’s really not a big deal for me to keep a bag with 4 of them (1 per kid is important!) folded up and stashed under the front passenger seat. When we are returning home on a long drive or even when we’re in the middle of a long day out, a sleepy (and full-stomached, see hint #1) kid can often be comforted and most often put to sleep by a blankie. Even the thin ones work like a miracle; I’ve seen it work for multiple ages, genders, and personalities. It’s difficult for me to get used to, but I keep offering my son little stuffed animals to play with. I had 3 girl babies before him, and they all loved stuffed animals. My son could care less, unless the stuffed animal still has its tag for him to rip off. But the blankie secret is effective even with him – he’ll pull it up against his cheek and instantly get sleepy! If you don’t have enough of the hospital blankies for each kid (and it’s important they each have their own), I highly suggest you purchase other thin blankies for the car since they’re inexpensive, especially when you consider how helpful they are. They come in packs of 4 or 5 for under $10, I think… A key to helping this secret be effective is to make sure you retain control of the blankies – don’t let the kids keep them in the back of the van or like anything else, the novelty will wear off, rendering the blankie ineffective. My kids know that the car blankies are just for “blankie emergencies”, and that policy helps to make sure I can keep them somewhat clean and stashed and ready for use.
So just remember, snacks and blankies can usually get you out of most kid-pinches, sometimes even calming kids who pinch, ha. At the very least, if you find yourself in charge of some crazy kids, plan ahead and do some light packing – these hints will buy you some time to think of a better plan!