I Bribed My Kids With Ice Cream And Cookies To Make It Through A Work Conference Call

shutterstock_141243691Last weekend I was home alone with the kids while my husband enjoyed a weekend away with his best friends.  I usually don’t mind a weekend alone, even with a 2-year-old and 4-year-old.  We planned a trip to Target, some time at the playground and ordering in pizza.  All was going well until I checked my work email and found this message:

Can you join me and [seventeen other people] for a conference call this afternoon?

It was Sunday morning and I was annoyed.  However, this was a rare occurrence and a request from a very reasonable boss.  If he was giving up part of his weekend, I knew it was important.  So I said yes.  A few minutes later I got the Outlook invite.  5:30pm?  Did that really qualify as the afternoon?  There went my visions of quietly slipping into the other room while my daughter napped and my son played on the computer.  5:30pm was possibly the worst part of any day, let alone a Sunday when my husband had been out of town since Thursday.

No backing out now, I planned my day around this conference call.  Dinner was on the table at 5:28, I planted the kids in front of the television and hoped for the best.  I figured the call wouldn’t last more than a half hour, right?  Wrong.

At 6:05 I knew this call was going to last awhile.  Thank you, dear technology, for the mute button.  At 6:15 I was stormed by the kids, done with dinner and bored with TV.

”How about some ice cream?” I whispered while trying to listen and take notes.

I set them up at the table with heaping bowls of fudge swirl.  That lasted all of six minutes.  Now full of sugar and adrenaline they slammed open my bedroom door to find me hiding in the corner with my notebook, still on the call ironing out key issues in the deal.

”You guys have been so good while Mommy works, how about some cookies?!?!”

I knew it was bribery, but I had no choice.  I was a vital part of this call and I needed quiet.

I led them back out to the kitchen table and stacked five cookies and a huge glass of milk in front of each of them.  That bought me seven minutes.

At this point it was almost seven o’clock and there was no sign of my heated conference call slowing down.  So I did the next best thing besides bribing them.  I threw them in the bath.  With my phone on speaker and mute, I filled up the tub, dumped a bunch of toys in there and sat in their room across the hallway where I could see them but not subject anyone on the call to their excited shrieks.

The bath was definitely my savior, and I wished I had thought of it before all those cookies and ice cream.  Although clearly if I knew that conference call was going to go for hours and hours I would have had a whole different strategy altogether.

In the end, the cookies and ice cream helped because after I pulled them out of the bath, dressed them and rushed them into bed — STILL on the call — they pretty much crashed.  No one even complained about skipping bedtime stories.  My son just looked up at my with droopy eyes and said, ”Mommy, are you going to be on this call all night?  You’ll never get any sleep!”

The call finally wrapped after the kids were asleep — all told it was over three hours and eighteen pages of notes that I needed to draft.  I think that might have been the most stressed out I have ever been in my life.  Trying to juggle work with the kids, by myself, with no plan to cover an emergency.  Thank the heavens I had a box of Mallomars waiting for me.  I ate the whole thing.

(photo: Dmitry Melnikov/Shutterstock)

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