Father’s Day is coming up this weekend, which has got me thinking about my Dad. He gave me a lot of advice over the years. I listened to all of it, and then promptly forgot or blatantly ignored most of what he said (sorry, Dad!). However, there were a few nuggets of wisdom that I took to heart, and one suggestion in particular has made my life and parenting significantly easier.
Don’t take the last run.
These four words come from the years we spent on the ski slopes of northern New Mexico. My Dad was a ski instructor and I was a squirt on Mickey Mouse skis. Eventually I grew into an adolescent pain in the butt who spent my chair lift rides scraping the snow off my skis onto unsuspecting skiers below. No matter how old I was, I loved being on the slopes, and I always wanted to take just one more run.
Nope, my father said, don’t do it.
The last run of the day happens when we’re the most tired (and/or hungry, tired, dehydrated, or overstimulated, depending on the situation) and thus the most likely to have an accident or injury. Even if it’s not that bad, that last run may be the one to put us over the edge into a meltdown, adults and children alike.
The last run doesn’t just happen on the ski slopes. It’s one more TV show, one more trip around the block on the bicycle, one more cookie, two more minutes on the swing, three more jumps on the trampoline, five more minutes at the playdate, two more stories before bedtime.
Basically, you want to stop while the stopping’s good. Because when the stopping gets bad, it can get really bad, especially when kids are involved.
Sometimes I have a hard time keeping my own advice in mind; the girls are having so much fun, or maybe they’re not having that much fun but I’m enjoying talking to my friends so what do I care, or maybe they’re just asking really nicely. Either way, it can be so damn tempting to just let them take one more run. What can possibly go wrong?
Uhhhhh… a lot. A lot can go wrong.
Don’t do it. Notice that urge to eek out every last minute of fun, and resist it. Remind yourself and your kids not to take that last run. Pack it up while you still have a chance at getting off the mountain without a major meltdown or sprained ankle. You can get back out there tomorrow, when everyone’s had a chance to sleep and eat and return to normal functioning.
There you have it, folks. Some of the most useful advice I’ve ever gotten, courtesy of my Dad. What’s the most helpful advice your father ever gave you? I’ll share the best nuggets of wisdom in my newsletter, which, incidentally, you can sign up for here.