Parenting Motto: How Would This Sound on the Six O’Clock News?

by Sarah Dyer

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I have always relied heavily on my gut to guide me through big decisions and it has, for the most part, been very good to me.  I have been told that I have a good head on my shoulders and I think it is fairly accurate (apparently I’m feeling really modest today too).  But if you don’t know me then it helps to have some background here. 

I’m basically telling you I’m not a lunatic…yes, I feel like I need to lay that out right off the bat. Ok, so I’m good at making decisions, but when it’s the end of a long week and the kids have worn me down and I know I’m no longer on my A game; things can get a little hairy.  

I am very patient when I’m not tired.  But as soon as I’m down a quart, my patience runs dry and I find it very hard to keep my cool.  My gut, which tells me what feels like the right thing to do in any given situation, seems to have gone off to watch Ellen with a bag of Cheetos.  This leaves me with a tired brain and my back up plan for parenting.

My back up plan for parenting is, fortunately, really quite effective in my mind. It is this principle: if I were to do this (or not do this), how would it sound on the six o’clock news?  Because we all know how the six o’clock news can make even the most benign topic sound sensational.

I don’t make a habit of watching the six o’clock news, because one week I’m dying an early death if I drink coffee and the next I’m not taking care of my heart if I don’t drink coffee.  I’m all for keeping updated on current events but the sensationalism can be too much (really, this applies to all news in general).  And truthfully, I’m a little busy at six o’clock.  I digress…

Now, I’m not talking about popping in Kung Fu Panda and walking to the corner to sit at the bar and have a glass of wine (we live in Chicago, there is a bar on every corner so it is very tempting).  But for things that fall into that grey area of decision making where no one’s life is at risk but perhaps if something were to go wrong it might sound worse than it really was at the time. This is when I apply the question, “How Would It Sound On the Six O’Clock News?”

I actually ask the question HWISOTSON (How would it sound on the six o’clock news?) at least once a day, often more. So you got me, it is not just at the end of the week when things get hairy, its actually all the time. Too bad it is an unsexy acronym otherwise I’d consider hawking bracelets.

Here is an example of its use: I am upstairs getting the baby ready for bed, the older two kids (ages 4 and 5) are downstairs watching a show.  Generally it is impossible to get them to listen to you while a show is on, let alone get up out of their seats.  But as I’m upstairs, I hear a door open (we have those alarm chimes that go off when a door opens), my husband works out of our house and I assume he is letting the dog out.  But of course I can’t tell with 100% certainty.  So I think great, I KNOW its not the kids, BUT HWISOTSON? Woman Hears Kids Leave the House, Does Nothing, and Never Sees Them Again. So I haul my butt down two flights of stairs with the baby, see that they are still in their seats in zombieland and haul it all the way back up again to put the baby down.  All is fine, no reporters can come to my door questioning my ability to parent.

So when you are worn down and tired and you can no longer rely on your keen parenting skills may I recommend HWISOTSON? It has certainly helped my weary self.  Either that or it has just made me work harder unnecessarily.  In which case, carry about your business and write me off as the lunatic that I am worried I might be.

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