This article is linked to the greatest tips edition of Works-for-Me Wednesday, where the hostess explains how to get a human on the phone when you call customer service, and more than 178 people have linked to their own helpful tips on how to do all sorts of things. Here are my own greatest tips:
7 product recommendations (NOT paid endorsements!).
Here’s a recipe for a delicious, nutritious main dish you can mix up in ten minutes using affordable, shelf-stable ingredients.
A whole bunch of household hints.
Use The POD Concept to balance responsibility for the kid between parents.
Are you thinking of relocating? Pittsburgh is wonderful! (And it’s weathering the recession very well.)
Just a few of the things I learned in 6 years as a Girl Scout leader.
Offering choices to toddlers: how to get it right and what not to do.
Quick and easy exercise: The 7-Minute Stretch!
You deserve handkerchiefs!
Are you depressed, anxious, and/or some sort of mildly crazy? Well, quit faking it. They need the bed.
Spaghetti with meat sauce for vegetarians.
Good books for grown-ups, too!
How (and why) to line-dry your laundry.
Make your vacation more fun and more environmentally friendly by taking the train.
Tons of tips for reusing stuff.
I originally put together this collection of links for an earlier greatest tips edition of Works-for-Me Wednesday! If you’ve never checked out this blog carnival (to which I’ve linked many of my other articles), look at this one: more than 220 people linked up their best-ever tips for how to do all kinds of stuff, and the hostess gave great advice on second-hand shopping. I linked to the most useful (in my humble opinion) tips I’d posted in the past.
However, if you are a long-time devoted reader of The Earthling’s Handbook who has read all those articles already, I don’t want you to feel gypped by this “best of” collection, so I also included a new tip:
One of the downsides of public transit is that it runs on its own schedule–with various delays caused by traffic and construction–not on your schedule. This can be particularly frustrating when you’re commuting with your child, who also has his own ideas about schedules that may not match yours. Sometimes, you’ve been delayed by a shoe-tying argument and an unplanned bathroom visit and an important pine cone, and now you’re walking toward the bus stop with half a block to go when you hear the bus approaching. If you keep walking at your child’s pace, that bus is going to move on without you, and you’ll have to wait for the next one, which (due to Murphy’s Law) will be 20 minutes late and too crowded to let you on, so you’ve got to catch this one!! Here is the step-by-step procedure:
- Make sure your child knows what’s happening: “Here comes the bus!!!”
- Quickly scan the route ahead to make sure there are no driveways intersecting the sidewalk–if your child is too short to be seen by the driver of a car, and he happens to be crossing one of these driveways when a car is driving into or out of it, that’ll be bad, so stop here; you’ll need to keep him near you until you cross that driveway (even if it means missing the bus).
- Look back over your shoulder and fix the bus with a stare of brief yet commanding intensity. Believe that you can affect the will of the bus, even if the driver does not see you.
- Start running as fast as you can. If you were holding your child’s hand, let go! Yanking on a child who cannot run that fast is going to make him fall down and get hurt, and then you won’t catch the bus.
- Call out something in an enthusiastic, sportscaster-like voice, such as, “Mama takes the lead!!” This inspires your child to try to race you and makes the whole thing seem more like a game.
- If there are other people waiting at the bus stop, believe that they will have empathy for you and tell the driver to wait for you. You may be able to encourage this with appropriate gestures.
- Glance back at the bus every so often to maintain your psychic hold upon it; you will also be able to check on your child as you do this, and the bus driver and/or passengers already on the bus may recognize your backward glances as indicating (a) that you’re trying to catch that bus and (b) that the child desperately chasing you also is trying to catch that bus–many people feel more empathy for little children than for random adults who are running late. However, look backward very quickly so you’re mostly keeping your eyes on the sidewalk and you won’t trip or crash into anyone.
- When you reach the bus, put one foot on the step, then stretch out your other arm toward your child and give him an encouraging smile as he runs the rest of the way. You need to be partially into the bus so it can’t drive away without you, but you need to make it obvious that your child is with you so the bus won’t leave without him! If possible, use your other hand to show your bus pass or get out your money while you’re waiting.
- Say something friendly to the bus driver, like, “Thanks for waiting,” or, “Whew! We made it!”
- Once seated, appreciate your child’s cooperation: “That was some fast running! I’m so glad we got this bus and won’t have to wait!”
My five-year-old has been riding buses with me all his life, and I’ve used the above strategy since he became adept at walking on his own, around two-and-a-half years old. It’s always worked really well for us. Of course, we don’t always catch the bus (sometimes the driver isn’t willing to wait long enough at a green light; occasionally the driver is just a big jerk who’d rather run a red light than wait for us!), but when we do we feel a pleasant sense of shared triumph, and when we don’t Nicholas invariably blames the driver or shrugs, “We’ll get the next one,” rather than yelling at me for making him run.
It’s all in the attitude. If I panic and screech, “Hurry! Hurry!” and put the focus on my child’s slowness, he’s likely to hurry too fast and hurt himself while displeasing me anyway (because if I’m waiting for him, it’s his fault if we miss the bus), and then we’ll be mad at each other the rest of the trip. If instead I remember that I’m the bigger, faster, more responsible person, then it’s my job to catch this bus for us. It’s really kind of fun feeling speedy and capable, since I was a very poor runner as a child (I have a defective hip joint, which became less troublesome after I stopped growing) and still hold a lingering belief that I don’t run well, which is disproven every time I catch a bus. It’s good exercise, too!