Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Top 10 Funniest Parenting Memes of 2017

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I've made it my unofficial mission to make other people feel normal about their chaotic live if for no other reason than that they end up looking better in comparison to mine.

Well, get ready to feel really normal, because these are the top 10 best-loved and most-shared Unremarkable Files Facebook memes of 2017.

(P.S: If you didn't know I make these, you really need to start following me on Facebook. Get with the program.)

10. Here comes the sun.


The most hilarious, popular, widely shared parenting humor on Unremarkable Files this year. Don't forget to pin and share your favorite!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

9. It's a little bit of both.


The most hilarious, popular, widely shared parenting humor on Unremarkable Files this year. Don't forget to pin and share your favorite!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

8. Don't talk to me about tutorials on how to do it. All lies.


The most hilarious, popular, widely shared parenting humor on Unremarkable Files this year. Don't forget to pin and share your favorite!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

7. This, too, shall pass. Maybe.


The most hilarious, popular, widely shared parenting humor on Unremarkable Files this year. Don't forget to pin and share your favorite!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

6. I've been really good this year, so I deserve it.


The most hilarious, popular, widely shared parenting humor on Unremarkable Files this year. Don't forget to pin and share your favorite!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

5. At what point do "yoga pants" become just "pants?"


The most hilarious, popular, widely shared parenting humor on Unremarkable Files this year. Don't forget to pin and share your favorite!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

4. It's all about perspective.


The most hilarious, popular, widely shared parenting humor on Unremarkable Files this year. Don't forget to pin and share your favorite!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

3. Now don't you wish you'd kept your mouth shut?


The most hilarious, popular, widely shared parenting humor on Unremarkable Files this year. Don't forget to pin and share your favorite!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

2. If this doesn't make your eye start twitching, nothing will.


The most hilarious, popular, widely shared parenting humor on Unremarkable Files this year. Don't forget to pin and share your favorite!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

1. Why does bedtime have to come at the end of the day when we're already exhausted?


The most hilarious, popular, widely shared parenting humor on Unremarkable Files this year. Don't forget to pin and share your favorite!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Don't forget to pin, stumble, share, or print out your favorite and wear it on a T-shirt! It would be a really nice Christmas/New Year's gift if I could make other moms and dads laugh along with us for what's left of 2017

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Maybe Others Don't See Your Chaos the Way You Do

It was a busy, crazy day and there absolutely wasn't time for this, but the doorbell was ringing and this appointment had been my idea and it was too late to back down now.

On the front porch stood a smiling woman from church, holding her adorable baby on her hip.

She was here because we were teaching a church group how to make Christmas ornaments, and neither of us being the crafty type, we wanted to do a dry-run and make sure we knew what we were doing first.

I'd known today was going to be hectic, but I threw dinner in a crockpot and hoped it would work squeezing this in between gymnastics and the half-hour drive to violin lessons.

I invited her in to what can only be described as the eye of the storm: my older kids were getting home from school, scattering their backpacks everywhere and making a mess of the kitchen as they raided it for snacks.

My 13-year-old was pounding on the piano just a few feet away. My 11-year-old kept coming in to ask for my input on a school project.  The two littlest were fighting over some random vacuum attachments in the middle of the hallway.

I hadn't even had time to clean up the house, having just gotten home a few minutes ago myself.

If your kids have ever embarrassed you in public, you've got to read this.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

While we got out our craft materials and started Mod Podging, her baby sat beside us quietly gumming a Little People farm animal, a perfect contrast to the chaos of my family swirling around us.

I couldn't stop thinking about how horrified this woman must be. My kids were like a rowdy, drunken biker gang compared to her baby, who she assured me was just as serene at home as she was right now.

I was sure she was one step away from excusing herself to go out to her car to breathe into a paper bag.

It was about when my anxiety was reaching peak velocity that she randomly said, "I love how it feels like a family around here."

Uh, excuse me?

She continued, "There's so much activity and beautiful music and your dinner cooking smells so good..."

It took a few moments for me to understand she was actually talking about my house.

And do you know what? She was right. A moment before I'd only seen noise and chaos, but when I looked again I saw something else. The house felt (and sounded) full of life, and if I'm honest with you that's actually one of my favorite things about having a big family.

So you never know: the next time you feel self-conscious because you're trying to have an adult conversation amid kids who are happy-screaming and dive bombing off the couch and asking you for a million things at once, other people might not see the chaos quite the way you do.

They might just see a happy family.

If your kids have ever embarrassed you in public, you've got to read this.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

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Friday, December 8, 2017

7 Quick Takes about Jello Fails, What Children's Books Have to Say About Biological Clocks, and an Audience Vote on our Wardrobe

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?

1


I don't know what happened, but I felt like I was pretty on top of Christmas gifts... and then I wasn't. I realized we hadn't yet had the kids draw names to do a gift exchange with each other, so we did that this wee but with a twist.

My kids don't really need anything. They don't. So this time when they drew a name, they aren't going to make or buy that person a gift. They're going to do something nice for them every day from now until Christmas, and on December 25th figure out a fun way to reveal their identity to their Secret Sibling.

So far I've seen kids making each others' beds, doing each others' chores, and discretely slipping a cookie in someone else's lunchbox.

Which calls into question where they've been hiding the cookies, because that was the first I'd seen or heard of them.

2


You know that move to escape from a wild animal where you throw food to attract it away from you and then run as fast as you can in the opposite direction?

It also works if your toddler is driving you absolutely crazy during church and you toss a Ziploc bag full of Cheerios to the other end of the pew. Just FYI.

3


My mother-in-law gave us this cute Jello mold when she was here because the grocery store was handing them out for free.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I'd never done Jello in a mold before and thought, "How cute! My kids would get a kick out of it if I made some of these and sneaked them into their school lunches."

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Which I never actually did, because I think opening your lunchbox to find this would be pretty horrifying.

4


My 6-year-old has been all about listening to books on CD in the car lately, so we checked out a bunch from the children's room last time we were at the library. Her favorite is The Gingerbread Boy.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

My 11-year-old, however, thinks it's just weird. "So a little old man and a little old woman don't have any children so they decide to make a gingerbread boy and it jumps out of the oven and runs away from everybody until it asks a fox to help it cross the river and the fox eats him??"

I agreed that was a pretty good summary of the plot and asked, "So what do you think is the moral of that story?" (I have no idea, I was just curious what she'd say.)

Cocking her head thoughtfully to one side, she said, "Maybe... if you want a child, have it when you're younger?"

So for anyone putting off starting a family, take The Gingerbread Boy's tale of menopausal caution to heart: don't let this happen to you.

5


Every year for the past several years, I've subjected my family to the joy of family photos. I wanted to do this months ago but things kept coming up and we keep having to reschedule. But it's looking good so I think we're actually doing it next week!

I try to put everybody in coordinating outfits but my rule is that I can't buy anything, which always makes it interesting when you're trying to cobble something together from 8 different wardrobes.

So I need your help! I assembled two different color palettes and I need you you to tell me which one looks better.

Palette A:


It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Palette B:


It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Leave your opinions below or on Facebook and we'll wear the results for our Christmas cards this year!

6


Phillip went on a road trip with some friends for a few days (a guy outing? a manventure? I don't even know what to call it.) They did stuff like shooting and probably something that involved fire.

While he was gone, the 18-month-old got in the habit of pulling the bathroom stool up to the back door which has a window facing the driveway, then standing on his tiptoes to peer out and say "Hi, Dad. Hi, Dad."

It's like he's trying to telepathically summon Phillip to come home. Which doesn't work, and I know because I do it every day at 5 o'clock when the kids are all running around screaming and dinner's burning on the stove while I try to finish a blog post.

7


Recently my 9-year-old has been giving me a hard time about being late to everything, although I think he's exaggerating.

Also, I'd like to point out that I was almost on time for storytime at the library this week.

But while I was running around gathering extra outfits, sippy cups, and wipes in case the apocalypse should happen while we were out, my 18-month-old was busy in the bathroom putting on my makeup, and it takes longer than you'd think to wash lip gloss out of someone's hair.

Honestly though, he was only trying to imitate me getting ready in the morning and he did a pretty good job. Most of it was on his face, and considering I've been doing this for 20 years and still smudge mascara on my skin almost every time, that's not bad.

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Busy Mom's Guide to Simplifying December Christmas Traditions

Do you have a lot of traditions at the holidays? Our list is about a mile long, and the idea of skipping any of them in the name of simplifying is enough to give me a panic attack.

What's a busy mom to do, then?

Take shortcuts. Try these brilliant holiday hacks that shorten your time-consuming Christmas traditions into compact activities that give you the same end result as the real thing.

Baking Cookies:


Empty a 5-pound bag of flour into your Shop-Vac, reverse the suction, and blow it into the kitchen. Give the kids a storebought tube of refrigerated cookie dough to fight over.

Family Pictures:


Instead of telling your kids to "Say Cheese!" try saying "Put your fingers in your mouth or stare at something completely irrelevant!" For the first year ever you'll get family photos that look exactly the way you expected them to, and it only takes one shot.

Christmas Cards:


Scratch out "Happy Holidays" at the top. Use Sharpies and correct them to say "Happy Groundhog's Day." Now you have plenty of time to address and mail them.

Shopping:


Circle the nearest parking lot 15 times looking for a spot, then turn around and go home. They wouldn't have had what you're looking for in-store anyway, so you've just accomplished in 20 minutes what would have ordinarily taken hours.

Pictures with Mall Santa:


Next time you're in a waiting room of some type, dump your baby on the lap of the random stranger next to you and take a picture of her screaming.

Decorating the Christmas tree:


Invite a local wino or hospital patient who's high on post-operative painkillers to put ornaments on your tree while you go run some errands. In the end, it will look exactly like your kids did it!
Looking for a way to shorten your holiday traditions while still getting the same end result?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Advent Calendar:


The calendar itself is unnecessary. All you need to do is:
  1. Set a timer for 5 minutes; tell the kids to see who can yell loudest "IT'S MY TURN TO OPEN IT!"
  2. When the timer goes off, give everyone a piece of chocolate and stress-eat the rest of the bag locked in the bathroom.
  3. Repeat nightly.
Optional: if you have a preschooler, give him an entire bag on Day 3 when he would have opened all the little flaps himself out of curiosity.

Making Gingerbread Houses:


Scatter icing, crumbs, and tiny candies all over the dining room. Make sure all of it is hard and tasteless.

Driving around to look at Christmas lights:


Tell the kids to whine from the backseat that they're bored, there's nothing to see, and they want to go home during a regular errand you need to run.

Wrapping gifts:


On Christmas Eve, rip 10 rolls of festive paper into crumpled shreds and throw them all over the living room. Hide the kids' unwrapped toys beneath the carnage so they're still a surprise on Christmas morning.


Busy moms know that creating a super-magical holiday season often takes more time than they have available.

By using these tips to simplify common Christmas traditions, you too can continue making holiday memories on top of your already demanding schedule of making sure everyone has clean underwear and trying to dislodge Shopkins from the printer.

Merry Christmas!

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Monday, December 4, 2017

11 Big Family Board Games for 6+ People (So Everyone Can Play)

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click on a link, I may receive a commission. See my full disclosure policy here.

I love board games, but I've noticed that many of them are designed for families of 4 and can't accommodate more players than that  not ideal if your family is twice that size.

Do you find your large family forming teams just so all of you can play? If so, this list of big family board games for 6, 8, 10, or more players is what you need.

Big families know the struggles of finding games that accommodate enough people for everyone in the family to play. Check out this list of 11 board games for families or 6, 8, 10, or more!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

King of Tokyo

2-6 Players

King of Tokyo is one of the best family games we've ever owned, and the gameplay is relatively quick (usually under 30 minutes.) The basic idea is that you're a monster battling the other monsters for control of Tokyo using a little luck and a lot of strategy. I've heard it called "battle Yahtzee," but personally I think the twists make King of Tokyo much more fun. Best for ages 7 and up.

2-8 Players

Simple enough for a preschooler to understand and enjoy, but older kids and adults can put a lot of strategy into this game of elimination by following The Path. Gameplay is short and unlike a lot of other games, Tsuro is more fun the more players you have. Also, the gameboard and pieces are absolutely beautiful. Amaze your guests whenever you pull it out, this is unlike any other game you've seen. Best for ages 3 and up.

Big families know the struggles of finding games that accommodate enough people for everyone in the family to play. Check out this list of 11 board games for families or 6, 8, 10, or more!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Snorta

3-8 Players

This game has been a permanent fixture in our game closet for years. It is fun, silly, fast-paced, requires quick thinking, and guaranteed to make everyone laugh as you all try to make the right animal sound. Special rules for younger players let them enjoy it along with everyone else in the family. I was so sad to see this game was discontinued, but you can still find it on eBay or through 3rd-party sellers on Amazon. Best for ages 4 and up.

Big families know the struggles of finding games that accommodate enough people for everyone in the family to play. Check out this list of 11 board games for families or 6, 8, 10, or more!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Scum

4+ Players

Scum is new favorite family card game. You can play with as many people as can fit around your playing table, and my teenagers like it just as much as my kindergartner. While anyone who knows how to count can play, there's also an immense amount of strategy you can put into it. The object is to get rid of all your cards, but you keep playing for 2nd, 3rd, and so on until everyone finishes, and you can play as many rounds as you want to. You can also play using a deck of regular playing cards or Rook cards (which in itself is another fun game for 2-6 players.) Best for ages 5 and up.

Big families know the struggles of finding games that accommodate enough people for everyone in the family to play. Check out this list of 11 board games for families or 6, 8, 10, or more!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Apples to Apples Junior

4-10 Players

Apples to Apples Junior is a creative, rowdy, imaginative card game that encourages vocabulary and thinking skills. Using only the cards in your hand, you have to play one that "matches" a randomly-chosen adjective, then argue the case for why your word is the best fit (even if it's a stretch!) Even our kids who can't yet read like being on mom or dad's team, helping us pick the words to play.  Best for ages 7 and up.


Big families know the struggles of finding games that accommodate enough people for everyone in the family to play. Check out this list of 11 board games for families or 6, 8, 10, or more!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Uno

2-10 Players

Every family, especially big ones, should have this classic card game on hand. It's easy enough for preschoolers to play because it's essentially just matching colors and numbers, but still challenging and fun for teens and adults. Each round is quick, but kids can play for a good long while before getting bored. Best for ages 3 and up.

Big families know the struggles of finding games that accommodate enough people for everyone in the family to play. Check out this list of 11 board games for families or 6, 8, 10, or more!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Taboo

6+ Players

Taboo is a race to get your teammates to guess words, but there are "forbidden words" you can't use to do it. It's hilarious to listen to the creative ways kids describe things when they can't use the words they want! Even our kids who are too young to be able to give the clues still like being on a team and guessing along with everyone else. Bonus: this version of Taboo comes with a "squeaker" that sounds like a rubber ducky instead of the annoying buzzer that came with older versions. Best for ages 8 and up.

Big families know the struggles of finding games that accommodate enough people for everyone in the family to play. Check out this list of 11 board games for families or 6, 8, 10, or more!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

5-Second Rule

3+ Players

5-Second Rule sounds easier than it is: name 3 things in a certain category in 5 minutes. You will all be laughing at this game that encourages thinking on your feet. My kids like the funny noise the timer makes, and we can choose however long we want to play. We modify the rules so our younger kids can play too (i.e: the 5-year-old only needs to name 1 thing instead of 3.) Sometimes they don't know what the topics on the cards are ("name 3 soap operas") so we just skip to the next one. Best for ages 7 and up.

Big families know the struggles of finding games that accommodate enough people for everyone in the family to play. Check out this list of 11 board games for families or 6, 8, 10, or more!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Mexican Train Dominoes

Up to 8 Players

Mexican Train Dominoes is a set of double-12 color-coded dot dominoes that come in a durable aluminum case that holds up to years of rough use (it has in our house.) There are instructions for lots of different types of domino games, lasting from 20 minutes to several hours. Even when we're not actually playing a game of Mexican Train Dominoes, my toddlers like lining up the trains and my older kids like building with the dominoes. Best for ages 4 and up.

Big families know the struggles of finding games that accommodate enough people for everyone in the family to play. Check out this list of 11 board games for families or 6, 8, 10, or more!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Headbanz

2-6 Players

You probably played a homemade version of this at home or school when you were a kid. You slip a card into your headband and ask other players yes or no questions to figure out what it is. It's fun but also educational since kids have to think critically about the questions they ask and remember the answers until their next turn. Since the cards have a picture along with the word, non-readers can play, too. (There's also a card of "prompt questions" in case a kid gets stuck.) Best for ages 4 and up.

Big families know the struggles of finding games that accommodate enough people for everyone in the family to play. Check out this list of 11 board games for families or 6, 8, 10, or more!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Pictionary

4+ Players

Another classic family game where the sketches and the guesses are both hilarious. Play is in two teams, with the more players the merrier. You don't have to draw well to play (I know, because I'm the worst artist I've ever met.) You have to be old enough to think fast and sketch under pressure, but just like with Taboo, kids who are too young still enjoy being a guesser on the team. Best for ages 6 and up.

Big families know the struggles of finding games that accommodate enough people for everyone in the family to play. Check out this list of 11 board games for families or 6, 8, 10, or more!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

If you've got a bigger-than-average family then it's just a simple fact: you need to fit more people in your car, at your dining room table, and in your board games! What are your favorite games for 6 or more people to play in your family?

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Friday, December 1, 2017

7 Quick Takes about #LightTheWorld, Last-Minute Dental Substitutions, and Dates that Aren't Really

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?

1


Happy December! What's your favorite thing about this month?

If you haven't heard of it, I want to tell you about a campaign called #LightTheWorld. Every day from now until December 25th, there's a new prompt for something you can do to follow Jesus' example and be a better person.

Do you need a kick in the pants to get out of your head and your to-do list? This would be it.

#LightTheWorld comes from my church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) but is created for and is applicable to any Christian, Mormon or not. You can learn more at mormon.org, or, if you prefer musical montages to text, watch this video.

(There are many things I love about being Mormon, but one you can really see in this video is how it makes the principles of the gospel so concrete. There's nothing abstract to us about being followers of Jesus Christ: it's in the little things we do, all day, every day.)


Disclaimer: I'll tell you right now that I will fail miserably at doing #LightTheWorld every day, but that's okay.

Life is about progress, not perfection.

2


Over the weekend, we went to an art museum and my daughter, who's learning Latin in school, stopped to examine a Latin inscription in the stone wall of one of the galleries and translate it to us.

Then we overheard the person behind us repeating it to her boyfriend word-for-word as if she was figuring it out herself... including the word my daughter mistranslated.

Impressed, the boyfriend asked, "You know Latin?"

"Yeah, a little," she shrugged, clearly trying to be very humble about her thought plagiarism.

It took all we had not to start laughing until we left the room.

3


Something we do every Christmas is go watch The Nutcracker. In the past I've hesitated to spend a lot of money on tickets, but I really haven't loved the shows we've seen so I decided maybe this is one case where price is actually an indication of quality.

So we decided to buy tickets for an expensive show this year and see if it was worth it.

Since the really good seats would have necessitated a home equity loan, we ended up in the second row, practically looking up the dancer's noses.

It was kind of cool to be so close, though. Not only could you see each individual muscle working as they were dancing, we could also see offstage where the dancers didn't think anyone was watching.

We enjoyed seeing the long-robed Father Christmas boogie backstage like he was at a nightclub to make his friends laugh, and also watching Godfather Drosselmeyer dance majestically offstage and immediately start playing with his phone until it was time to go back on.

So if you're going to a show and you have to choose between the nosebleed seats and the second row, pick the second row. It's highly entertaining.

4


You know you're the sixth child in the family when... your first joke is about bathroom humor.

We were all sitting around the dinner table, talking about Christmas presents. My 11-year-old said she didn't know what she wanted, so I told her I'd just buy her a giant poop emoji pillow which she thought was pretty funny.

When the laughter died down, my 1-year-old seized the opportunity to one-up me. With perfect diction, he shouted the word "poopy" to the whole table, and then covered his mouth with both hands and started laughing maniacally.

Well, that just undid the entire family and now he won't stop. Someone get me out of here.

5


My three oldest kids had a dentist appointment scheduled first thing in the morning, but I didn't realize until about 11 P.M. the night before that my 9-year-old wouldn't be able to go because he had a field trip at school that day.

I have no idea how strictly they enforce this, but my dentist's office has a $50 missed appointment fee if you don't cancel 48 hours in advance.

Luckily, I had my 3-year-old with me to take his place, so no fee for us! I can now add this to the list of reasons I have so many kids.

Plus, I've been meaning to schedule the 3-year-old's first dentist visit for a month  but it seems I can only remember between the hours of 1 and 3 in the morning.

6


It's been a busy, crazy month. One of those months where you barely have time to talk logistics with your spouse about basic things.

My mom was here and offered to babysit so Phillip and I could have a date night, but every night on the calendar was packed. So we picked an afternoon, chose a Panera that had wi-fi, and determined to get all our planning for Christmas done.

Maybe not the most romantic of dates, but this was the only way it was ever going to happen.

As we pulled out of the driveway I was thinking about how it had been a while since we'd gone out together and exclaimed to Phillip, "We're on a date!"

"Sort of," he said. "This is more like a business lunch."

7


I love a graffiti artist with a sense of humor. 

I assume this sign originally said the name of the security company in charge of this parking lot, but I kind of like how it takes things to the next level by appealing to a higher conscience instead.

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

It wasn't until I uploaded the picture to the blog that I noticed someone had scribbled beneath it in Sharpie: "And me! Jim!"

So remember guys, behave yourselves. God and Jim are watching.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Secret Way To Help Your Husband Be a Better Dad

The other night, I caught my 1-year-old in the bathroom. He'd climbed up on the stepstool, gotten hold of a toothbrush, and was very purposefully wiggling it around in his mouth. As I watched, he pretended to spit and even tapped the toothbrush on the side of the sink a few times before putting it away.

He had no idea why he was doing any of those things, except that he saw us doing it.

Want your husband to be a better dad? There's a way you can make that happen, and no one even has to know you're doing it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

For the past several months, I've been taking advantage of the enormous capacity of children to mimic everything we say and do  and it's also been helping my husband become a better dad.

Here's the secret formula, and it's really very simple: get excited when he comes home.

Yep, that's it.

Whether or not your family is structured like ours (I stay home full-time with the kids while Phillip works outside the home) you can do this, too.

It started when one day, I noticed that the kids barely greeted Phillip when he came home from work. If he was lucky he'd get a grunt or a nod, but most of them didn't even look up from what they were doing. It bothered me, and after thinking about why that was, I realized it was because I did the same.

It wasn't that I didn't like seeing him.

It was just that he comes home at the busiest time of the entire day: right when I'm trying to supervise homework, cook dinner with a fussy baby on my hip, with someone tugging on my pant leg begging for water and someone else on the phone trying to sell me a newspaper subscription. When Phillip walks in the door, I'm a tad preoccupied.

But after observing the kids, I decided to make an effort to start doing things differently.

When I see Phillip's car coming down the driveway, I put on a voice like I just won $1,000 by being the seventh radio caller and start yelling ecstatically "Daddy's home! Daddy's home! Daddy's home!"

The kids took a few days to follow my lead. And just as I'd expect after seeing the 1-year-old with his toothbrush, he was the first to imitate me.

Now when I start yelling "Daddy's home! Daddy's home!" there is a stampede of little feet. I actually have to hold my 6-year-old back, otherwise she flings open the front door and bolts outside and I'm afraid she'll be hit by the car in her exuberance.

Even the older kids at least look up to say hi, and sometimes get up to give Phillip a hug or tell him about something that's on their minds.

Not only do I love seeing the kids be more enthusiastic about their dad coming home, I imagine that from his perspective it feels pretty good, too. How could it not, when there are at least three small children literally jumping up and down at the door screaming his name like it's 1969 at a Beatles concert?

It's hard to play and engage with people who don't seem to notice you're there, but when the kids are visibly excited that Phillip is home it sets the stage for an evening of positive interactions between everybody.

In other words, it's making it easier for him to be a good dad.

Since then, I've realized the same principle can be applied in lots of ways. Kids imitate everything, even your attitudes about things, and parents can use that to their spouse's advantage by talking them up when they aren't around.

My kids think their dad is The Most Amazing Cook on the Planet. And even though Phillip is absolutely a very good cook, I think kids are generally oblivious to that kind of thing. The fact that it's even on their radar is most likely because I tell them all the time how lucky they are to have a dad who makes them such delicious food.

This isn't about fooling your kids into thinking their parent is something s/he's not. It's about drawing their attention to the wonderful parent s/he already is.

If you admire your spouse and do it verbally and often to the kids, they will follow your lead and admire your spouse, too.

As I write this, I realize Phillip doesn't know I intentionally whip the kids up into a frenzy of "DADDY DADDY DADDY DADDY!" seconds before he walks in the door, so I guess the lid is blown clear off my secret.

But I suppose I don't really mind. In fact, maybe it's better if it's not a secret. We can both do it, and come to think of it, I wouldn't complain a bit about someone pumping up the kids to see me every time I got back from the grocery store.

Want your husband to be a better dad? There's a way you can make that happen, and no one even has to know you're doing it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

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