parenting is doing the math

How Parenting is Like Doing Math

parenting is doing the math
photo by F. Hummanad at

Doing the math in parenting

If you understand math, you’ll understand how parenting is like doing math. Our half-dozen were a lively brood, and folks often asked me, “How in the world do you do it?!”. Truth be told, it’s not as hard as it might seem. That’s because we did the math.

Our kids didn’t come in a set of six. They came one at a time. True, I wished for twins, but never got them.  We learned with one child and, when the second one came nineteen months later, we simply added this one into our daily routine. Oh sure, there were sleepless nights and a fussy toddler at times (you do not even want to know about those sleepless nights on number two!).

Parenting isn’t for cowards. Neither is doing math.  Remember that parenting is doing math. After addition comes subtraction, then multiplication and division. And after that, Algebra, Geometry and Calculus (I call those the teenage years.)


We started by simply adding one at a time. Where once I set the table for two, I set it for three, then four, until our table was filled by eight of us. Adding one at a time wasn’t that difficult, because our hearts had room for more.

We also recognized that not adding correctly would cause problems down the road.  It was imperative that those essentials like truthfulness and obedience needed to start when our kids were old enough to understand.  It is difficult to multiply when you’ve never learned to add. It’s never too early to do the math, and  it’s never too early to set boundaries and lines, whether it’s about whining, truthfulness, or playing quietly in your room while a sibling is still napping. That’s doing the math in parenting. You win this battle and you realize again how parenting is doing the math. The next stages will be easier because you’ve set a foundation.


Then we started subtracting. Once you’ve learned to add, then you subtract. Subtract the things that aren’t important in raising kids: matching pj’s, a pristine-clean house, and toys that only add to clutter instead of growth. Get rid of things that make parenting more difficult. This might mean busy schedules, the before-supper-hunger-rush, or no schedule at all.

Children do better with structure. Certainly, flexibility must be learned. But, when possible, a regular meal-time, nap-time, and bed-time help provide stability for kids. When things stay the same, they know what to expect. It doesn’t mean you can’t throw in fun times, but subtracting distractions from routines helps make happier children. Doing the math by subtracting makes us better parents.


If you don’t know how to add, you won’t be able to multiply, because multiplication includes addition. This is why the foundations are important early-on. When possible, do things in multiplied doses. It saves time later.

If you’re mixing up a batch of cookies, make it two and put one batch in the freezer for the next time you need a quick snack or finger food for an event. Double your recipes and put one in the freezer for later. How much longer does it take to fry up two pounds of hamburger than one if you’re making chili soup? Double the ingredients for half the effort. The same goes with cleaning. While your kids are in the tub, multiply your time of safe-guarding them by cleaning the sink and toilet. You’re in there anyhow, so use your time to multiply what gets accomplished.

When a child is in Time Out and you need to keep an eye on her, do something within the Time Out vicinity so you can monitor her and accomplish something else at the same time. Multiply what you accomplish by making use of your time.


When you’ve got a passel of kids, the work load is increased.  There isn’t a single one of us who denies that. You know what? You can use that passel to your advantage. Divide and conquer. I did that with my tribe, and you can read about it here.  Divide up sections of a room or of your house and designate areas for each child to be responsible. Involve older kids in channeling the energy of the younger ones. You’re a family, and families work together. Families help each other grow up. When you teach your kids to divide up the work, you are teaching them to work together to accomplish something bigger. It’s not about the division, it’s about the work ethic and comradery; it’s how parenting is like doing the math.

parenting is doing the math

photo by Mirjam Dondi at Pixabay

Doing the math

As parents, we are the teachers. We implement the plan and manage our classroom. We are the adults and the ones in charge. Our kids are like the students. They don’t run the show. Our kids don’t know enough about math to teach it to themselves or to others. It’s our responsibility to model and teach them how to do math. They will learn from us how to multiply their time and divide to conquer difficult tasks if we teach them. Learning and doing  math takes time. So does raising kids. Our kids cannot grow up by themselves. That's our job. Share on X

Make it easier on yourself and on them by doing it right. Build a good foundation by being consistent. Add to that foundation by subtracting the nonessentials. Then continue on the path to multiplying your time and dividing your difficulties among your tribe. You can do this. It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3.



parenting like doing the math


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