I've discovered a great new accountability partner for harried moms. It's called an open window. My neighbors can now make an educated decision whether to pity me, applaud me, or simply nod in understanding when the kids' level of rambunctious activity and whining suddenly spikes at 5:00 p.m., the witching hour in our house. When the windows are open and the broadcast of WPPR Kid Crazy can be heard throughout the hood, I don't feel the need to walk onto the driveway and make a public service announcement that we are not, in fact, beating our children. It's just bathtime.
In all seriousness I sometimes do my best parenting in public. I'm calm, on the ball, and prepared to handle crises including but not limited to hunger, boredom, "crate bottom" from sitting in the shopping cart too long, sibling rivalry, hitting, biting, crying, peeing or pooping emergencies, and inadvertent shoplifting. The kids usually respond pretty well to cool, collected mommy, so much to the point that I've rarely shied away from taking them out in public when I need to. That being said, I still have blog-worthy public incidents with the kids. I just respond to them better.
When I'm at home, however, it's sometimes easy to fall prey to the 2:00 p.m. energy slump or get distracted by the computer or phone. Sometimes I get so engrossed in laundry or the dishes that I neglect to interact with the kids like I should, or I raise my voice with impatience when I'm interrupted. The open window always helps me out, though. It's like a smaller version of the public at large. You would be amazed how calm you are when you know others might be listening. I stay in better control of my emotions, and I'm able to see the kids' points of view more objectively. I take more time in explaining their consequences and reassuring them I love them no matter how many times they sit in time-out for telling me they hate me.
The open window will not endow you with an endless supply of patience, but it may just help you think outside the box for more effective ways to resolve conflict. My continued goal is to practice Open Window Parenting at all times, even during those months it's thirty degrees outside and an open window would do nothing but increase your heating bill and lead your children to question your mental stability. I know even if the neighbors can't hear me when I'm Demon Mommy, my kids can. And they deserve Open Window Mommy all the time.