In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How to raise your children

Despite my generous hips, ample breasts, and glossy hair -- traditional indications of fertility -- motherhood has eluded me (or rather, I have eluded motherhood). Never wanted babies, never got 'em. Perfect!

I am, however, weirdly obsessed with child rearing, and I have many friends with children, and I am a keen observer of humanity. Therefore, I will tell you the one universal secret to raising children and remaining sane at the same time.

Among my friends who have both kids and happy marriages, there is almost a unanimous embrace of one single practice: enforcing an early bedtime.  7 pm works for many years, and means parents can have dinner together - a real dinner, with yucky things kids don't like -- watch adult tv, or shake up a cocktail and chat, happily and unbothered, for three or four hours a night. This is necessary to prevent homicidal mania brought on  by children and maintain a happy union.

The problem with this, of course, is the fact that many parents work late and putting their kids to bed at 7 would mean they would never see them. I personally don't see that as a problem, but I can understand the reluctance.

However, among my friends who keep kids to this schedule, their general tranquility from having quiet evenings to handle household chores in peace, have a relationship, and still get a good night's sleep -- along with the fact that the kids are well rested -- seems to compensate. You can see the little moppets on the weekend all you want. And the kids do well on a strict routine and lots of sleep.

If you need help GETTING them on a sleeping routine, watch super nanny. It's a central feature of every show.

I have spoken.


  1. I wouldn't disagree - though I'm many many years away from bedtimes.
    The problem, as I see it, is that young parents nowadays don't often have routines - in my experience with them, anyway.

    Still. Good advice, as usual.

  2. I think that's right, regarding the routines. My suspicion is it's some cocktail of working long hours and feeling guilty about not seeing them and/or wanting to encourage kids to And if there's one thing I've learned from Super Nanny (and I have seen just about every one, for some reason) it's that kids need routines and they make life hell without them.

  3. Amen. We have two, I'd die without my several hours of peace and quiet in the evenings. I'd recommend Save Our Sleep by Tizzy Hall (why do authors of child related manuals all have strange names?) if you're more of a reading books type person. She tells you what to do till they're 2!