There is a parenting book out there that encourages the parent to give their child 2 choices when they need to do something, i.e. mealtime, getting dressed, leaving a playground. If I lived by it more, maybe I would remember the title to share it with you, but I don't so I can't.
I used this method on myself this afternoon when I desperately needed a shower. I had spent 2 hours at the gym and then at playgroup....STINKY! I had all but started the shower when I set each of the kids at the table with a game of their choosing. Connor had Checkers, Abi had Memory and Carly had Connect 4.
Notice something similar between all of the games? 2 players. They all needed 2 players, but to imagine that the kids could manage playing the games together without getting into fights just wasn't realistic. But they could play by themselves for a while so I could take a shower.
As I started to walk toward the bathroom, Connor asked, "Mom, can you play with us?" I stood in the doorway hearing myself say, "You have two choices: 1) You can play with your kids who don't care what you smell like and give them affirmation of your love for them or 2) You can take a shower and come out only to hear them complaining and fighting cuz someone is on their side of the table.
I chose option #1 and it was fabulous! Connor did pretty good at Checkers (I may have let him win), Abi and I started playing Memory when she invited Carly (all on her own) to play with us and even suggested we make it easier for Carly by turning all of the cards right side up (although I think it was better for all of us with them right-side-up). During the whole time all I could think was "these kids are so cute."
Eventually the kids asked to "use the purple thing that you draw on and it turns things." Connor informed me they were talking about stencils. I pulled them out and they all wrote stories and shared them with me.
Today is one of those days where I spent some of it being the mom I had always envisioned myself being (some of the time, because the walk to playgroup wasn't so picture-perfect). Yeah! Score one for me.