- One song on repeat for weeks on end. Most annoyingly, this is the only way the kids want to listen to anything. Most mercifully, they almost always agree on which song must be playing. After the big roadtrip this summer (sound track provided by my cool sister), we listened to "Oh oh oh oh" for at least six weeks (that would be Britney Spears, Till the World Ends). It got so bad that whenever Shmoogie caught sight of phone, she would beg, howl and scream for "Oh oh oh oh" until I got it playing and let her hold the phone. Then she would smile and dance bouncy-like until it stopped and the cycle started over again. Thus the discovery of the one song repeat function. We have since been through a slightly shorter period of obsession with "Night! Night!" (the music video is not family friendly (also, depressingly unimaginative) so I'll just link to the music with lyrics on screen: Black Eyed Peas, I Gotta Feeling). And now, in a classic mixed blessing, we have moved on from catchy tunes the children love with disturbingly sexual/druggy lyrics the children do not understand to a catchy tune the children love with disturbingly martial lyrics the children do not understand — "Moon, Moon!" (The High Kings, By the Rising of the Moon). (Mr. Pants, who has lately been asking penetrating questions about the causes of "The Civil Whir", seems to believe this song is a lively celebration of night time.)
- Mindless knitting while watching WWDC sessions about preparing your app for iCloud syncing. It's true I sometimes have to rewind to listen to something again to really get it, but it's actually less often that was happening when I tried to be serious and just watch. My mind kept wandering. The knitting seems to help prevent that through the information-poor sections.
- Paper chain motivation. We've had a sticker chart going for months with very little success. It was too complicated (Mr. Pants could earn up to seven stickers per day for putting on various articles of clothing by himself, then seven stickers translated to $1 which he could spend on whatever). This is simpler and clearer: he wants a Lego space shuttle set. It costs $25 on Amazon. I helped him make this chain with 25 links in it and when he's completely dressed himself for the day, he gets to take one link off. So far, he's motivated. And it's obvious to him how much farther there is to go (instead of the old system where he didn't really understand the concept of stickers translating to money and didn't really understand how much money things cost and kept asking me if he had enough for xyz yet and then having a tantrum when I said no).
- Candy Rules: one piece per day; you pick when you want to eat it. Even if it's before breakfast (which it very often is). I got the idea from It's Not About Nutrition and I'm liking it much better than the Great Pumpkin mistake of last year.
- Staying busy enough that it is easy to maintain my delusion that Christmas is still months away.
What's working for you right now?
Now that I've written this, I realize it's partly inspired by Ask Moxie's post, How is running a factory like raising children? So I might as well link that. :)