I originally posted this on Dad Revolution December 27th, 2011. A lot has changed since then, but the concept is still solid.
Being a parent is exhausting whether you’re a single, stay-at-home/work-at-home, or working parent. As one of the latter, I’m usually tired before I get home.
I’m normally awake around 5:15 and out the door by 6:00. I’m currently on shore duty, and while my current job isn’t necessarily difficult, it is still taxing in it’s own ways. I drive to work about half the time which involves about an hour round-trip on the San Diego freeways. The rest of the time, I ride the bus which is much more relaxing, but takes about twice as long. I’m normally dragging by the time I make it to the driveway.
Most days, I get a second wind as I walk through the door. Whether it’s from the joy of seeing the kids, or their ridiculous amount of energy rubs off on me, I’ll usually feel pretty rejuvenated for about an hour or so. Of course, adults aren’t built to operate at the levels of a 2 year old, so I quickly wear back down. This is when I am sometimes forced to break out my secret fatherhood weapon.
Before, I go into this, I need to make sure that every reader has gone through a thorough background check. This weapon can’t be taken lightly, and it comes with great responsibility.
Background checks complete? Then, let’s go.
This is a weapon that is so powerful and so brilliant in its simplicity that it should be illegal in 49 states (nothing is illegal in Nevada). It has the ability to turn a situation where the kids are going crazy and you have no control into a situation where the kids are still going crazy but you have a slight amount of control. For those of you without kids, that probably doesn’t seem like much of a change, but ask the nearest parent, and you’ll realize how valuable that can be.
My secret weapon is incredibly simple. There is no assembly required and no moving parts. It’s also incredibly inexpensive. In fact, it’s absolutely free. There are only 3 pieces required. You need to have at least 1 child with energy levels that could power a small island, 1 exhausted father that can no longer keep up, and 1 relatively soft surface.
There is only 1 real instruction for how to operate the weapon. Take the 1 exhausted father and put him in a horizontal position on the relatively soft surface. The rest will take care of itself.
Now, some of you are probably saying, “Hang on, I take naps all the time, and it doesn’t solve anything. It just makes my significant other upset and the kids continue on as they always were.” Well, there’s a slight twist, and it does not involve you actually taking a nap (as tempting as it may be). The kicker is that the relatively soft surface needs to be on the floor in an area where the kids like to play.
I call my secret weapon the “Simplylieonthefloor-inator” (I watch way too much Phineas and Ferb), and here’s how it works.
Step 1: You lie down on the floor.
Step 2: The kid(s) notice that you are comfortably resting on the floor.
Step 3: The kid(s) decide that this will not stand.
Step 4: The kid(s) begin playing in your immediate vicinity, and in most cases, directly on top of you.
This may not seem worthy of true “-inator” status, but think about it. You are doing absolutely nothing. You can even think about it as pacing yourself or replenishing your tank. In the mean time, you know exactly where the kids are and what they are doing because it is happening directly on your spine. Trust me when I say that there is no way kids can resist a parent lying on the floor. It’s like a snot magnet.
They will show up every time. You are also bonding with your kids in a weird, twisted way. Are you actually talking to them? Not necessarily, although you’re always welcome to. You are, however, connecting with them because you’re at their level and in their vicinity. You are expending absolutely zero calories, but your kids are loving it. They are climbing all over one of their heroes. How is that not awesome?
Now, there are a few guidelines that you should follow when using this weapon. First, I cannot stress “relatively soft surface” enough. When flying toddler butt meets exhausted dad head, you don’t want your cranium supported by granite tiles. It might quickly sour you on the Simplylieonthefloor-inator.
Location is also important. When deciding on your relatively soft surface, you want to go through a mental check list. Is the surface soft (Seriously! Make sure it’s soft!)? Check! Will the kids be able to find me and safely play in the area? Check! Is it clear of any hazardous objects like dirty laundry and litter boxes? Check!
Be advised that a small pain threshold is also recommended. Knees will meet ears, elbows will meet spleens, and feet will meet…basically everything. Personally, I like to lie on my stomach because it covers most of the really vulnerable spots. If you work it out right, it can also be beneficial for your health. Do you have back problems? This can turn into a horribly uncoordinated and pretty inefficient massage. That’s better than nothing.
One of the problems with this weapon is that it is so secret even I forget to use it. I’ll come home exhausted and decide that putting a movie on is the best option. In general, I’m not against TV, and I think it provides valuable bonding experiences of its own, but for my money, the Simplylieonthefloor-inator is far superior.
In all seriousness, simply lying on the floor is one of the best things that you can do as a father. The kids absolutely love it, and you are able to bond with them. There have been times where I have gotten down there and not moved at all. There have been other times where my energy has magically returned, and I turned into a horsey. There was also one time where I chose my spot poorly and settled where our barely house-trained dog had an accident that we didn’t know about, but hopefully, that won’t be a problem for you.
In closing, there’s a phrase that I used to use pretty often but have forgotten about lately that pretty much sums up my parenting strategy. When all else fails, simply lie on the floor.