They’ve warmed our hearts with their stories and pulled us off the couch cheering them to gold. They’ve represented us, bested us, and kept us up late. They’re the athletes of the Summer Games. But, while these Olympians have been training, qualifying, competing, and triumphing, parents across the world have been contending in our own Olympics.
(Kitchen) Table Tennis
Athletes put healthy, balanced, farm-raised, grass-fed, gluten/soy/dairy/nut-free, hand-churned, all natural, organic, non-GMO, omega-3-rich, kid-friendly meals on the table under intense time pressure.
The timer goes off at the whim of a child’s warning-less “I’m so hungry and I have to eat now, now, now.” Sets include rounds of airplane-spoon, “you at least have to try it,” and dessert-bribes.
Wrestlers go one-on-one with a 19kg toddler, buckling them into a car seat.
Competitors dig deep into years of agility, strength and mental training. Typical training regimens include wrestling toddlers into pajamas, shopping carts, strollers, high chairs, bibs, and arm floats.
A combination event showcasing an individual’s ability to leave the house.
Individual All-Around puts Mom or Dad flying solo. Includes gathering items needed for 1-3 days of feeding, diapering, entertaining, dressing and slumbering multiple children. Typical preparation environment consists of an accidentally snoozed alarm clock, a non-functioning vehicle, a yogurt-and-oatmeal spill, a small kitchen fire, no clean shirts, a screaming infant and a forgotten dish-to-pass.
A combination event showcasing the entire parenting team’s ability to leave the house.
Mom and Dad must work together to achieve similar results as the Individual All-Around. Communication is key, with phrases like “did you grab the _____?” and resisting blaming the teammate for the accidentally snoozed alarm clock, poorly maintaining the non-functioning vehicle, giving the two-year-old yogurt and oatmeal, causing the small kitchen fire, forgetting to move over the laundry leading to a clean-shirt shortage, not tending to a screaming infant, and forgetting about the potluck. Winners of the Team All-Around reach the podium only after a handful of arguments where neither teammate remembers how the argument started.
Weightlifters perform sequential tasks on an obstacle course while carrying a Pack ‘n Play in one hand and a fully loaded & occupied infant car seat in the other.
Athletes must maneuver flights of stairs while taking important phone calls and set-up Pack ‘n Play, in the dark, without waking the baby or dropping either item.
2 x 9,460,800m Relay
An 18-year race run by a two-person relay team.
Instead of the traditional single hand-off, the 2 by 9,460,800m relay involves irregular hand-offs as far apart as multiple days and as often as every minute over the course of 9,460,800 total minutes. Unlike any other relay, teammates run much of the race side-by-side. Hand-off zones are filled with anticipation/frustration/agony/triumphant when athletes choose to use a blind hand-off.
A lifelong balancing act mixed with an assortment of superfluous kicks, spins, jumps, flips and sticking the landing.
The Beam brings out the crème de la crème of balancing. Crushing it at work while prioritizing family. Responsibly rearing while leaning on “a village.” Training without indoctrinating. Providing opportunities without forcing. Limiting while encouraging curiosity. Modeling excellence and modeling imperfection. Embracing personality and shaping character. Selflessly parenting without kids running their life.
A routine consisting of floor puzzles, Legos, reading books, watching “this,” and eating plastic salad & invisible dressing prepared in a Fisher Price kitchen.
Floor Exercise athletes must avoid going out of bounds or they face disqualification. Choreographed as a 90-second routine, a typical performance may last up to three hours. It involves bends, cracks, and aches and is followed up by three to six months of out-of-network physical therapy.
Athletes compete in five crucial events over one August week: school shopping, garage organizing, summer squeeze, doctor appointments and Pinterest execution.
- School Shopping: the score is based on overall discounts, coupons applied, number of stores visited with children actually in tow; points are subtracted for items returned to store and anything ruined, stained, broken or outgrown before October.
- Garage Organizing: score based on time
- Summer Squeeze: the score is a percentage calculated by the number of summer bucket list activities crammed in the final week over the number of activities on the original bucket list.
- Doctor Appointments: score based on penalties for missed vaccinations, unfilled-out paperwork, minutes late or no-shows, being outed by a child for considering chicken nuggets “healthy,” and failure to follow the preventative schedule.
- Pinterest Execution: the score is based on the number of pins attempted with bonuses for homework stations, reading lists, teacher gifts, dinners kids actually eat and inspirational quotes on canvas, but penalized for #pinterestfails, #overachieving, #photobragging, and #bentoboxlunches.
Athletes are required to remain horizontally asleep for a six-hour stretch.
Having training facilities all over North America, the horizontal bar is the most widely participated event. First-time athletes call this event downright impossible. No Horizontal Bar athlete has ever medaled twice.
Athletes nees to grab the attention of their children at an approximate distance of three meters.
In the newest event of the games, athletes choose any relevant or irrelevant phrase they want to lock in a child’s response. Common strategies include basic commands such as “SHUT THE DOOR!” but extend to strategies of bribery, whispering, throwing (soft) things, sending a sibling or giving up.
Athletes dive into difficult parenting decisions and are judged on raw scores and degree of difficulties.
Parent-athletes are judged on execution of “choosing their battles.” Fostering independence vs. enforcing obedience. Encouraging individuality vs. teaching societal norming. Developing educational aptitude vs. cultivating playfulness and creativity. Comforting vs. building grit. Resolving conflicts vs. challenging perspective. Setting the tone vs. inviting open expression. Training in appropriateness vs. cultivating passion. Raw scores are based on five elements: starting position, approach, take-off, flight and entry, and then combined with the dive’s degree of difficulty. Judges are randomly selected from extreme parenting styles and judge on a scale from “they must not love their child” to “they’re such a better parent than me.” The synchronized version of this event requires both parents to simultaneously make battle-choosing decisions while appearing to have coordinated ahead of time.
Athletes stretch explanations to justify parental inconsistencies.
The ultimate test of athleticism and the Parental Olympic spirit, athletes attempt jumps such as explaining why being tactful isn’t lying. Why going “five over” isn’t breaking the law. Why only Mom/Dad are allowed to stay up late, eat whatever they want and watch forbidden tv shows. Why you should always be yourself yet can’t wear your ninja costume to meet-the-teacher. Why we “always share” but not cups, combs, and toothbrushes. Why we celebrate poops & pees in the potty but aren’t allowed to use “bathroom talk.” Why we say the baby “is stinky” but we don’t call people names.
Athletes face the challenge of cycling through the same patterns over and over and over again.
Cycling is a seemingly never-ending event. Cycles of lunches returning home untouched. The nightly homework battle. Being consistently late for drop off or pick up. Sitting through a [thirty]eighth viewing of Frozen/StarWars/LegoMovie. Eating at McDonald’s again so we can “collect them all.” Stocking up on kid-approved sampled-Costco food only to be tossing out freezer-burned mini-spinach-cakes eight months later.
Athletes navigate a course of selflessly tending to a young one’s illness while managing their own gag reflex.
Trampoline has no qualifiers and the majority of competitors end with a disappointing result of DNF (“Did Not Finish.”)
A multiple-stage competition involving the completion of three continuous endurance disciplines: answering time-sensitive work emails, supervising children and engaging in a conversation with another parent at the park.
Unlike its traditional counterpart, the Triathlon of the Parental Olympic Games is a simultaneous trifecta.
A day(s) long event of back and forth between a #parentathlete and a #childlawyer.
Exchanges include: “Why?” & “Because I said so,” “But, you said” & “I don’t care what I said,” “But, I was just…” & “Do what you’re told,” and “But, I need it now!” & “Well, you’re going to have to wait.”
Athletes attempt to keep their heads above water for the duration of parenting.
While the freestyle swim may seem like the simplest of events, it is harder than it looks to keep your head above water. Athletes admit to underestimating the challenge of this event prior to qualifying as Parental Olympians.
The Parental Olympic Games.
Most will train. Many will qualify. Few will win. Host Cities are everywhere, as the games are funded by the athletes themselves and events can be held in any venue with adequate minivan parking. Prior to the next Summer Games, the International Parental Olympic Committee will update uniform requirements to reflect more current trends. The IPOC recently replaced the archaic gold/silver/bronze medals with World’s Greatest Dad mugs and #1 Mom plastic plated necklaces.