Whenever I see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — Prince William and Kate Middleton — wrangle their kids in public, I find myself jealous of their parenting abilities. Does it come naturally, or do they have an easier time because of things commoners like me can't afford? I did some research and was surprised to discover they're actually pretty hands-on parents. I also learned they're really unconventional in their parenting style.
Armed with a nanny this summer, I decided to try some royal family parenting hacks for myself, just to see if I could learn their secrets. I'm not princess material, by any means, and my kids should probably never get within miles of a palace, let alone live in one like the royal children, but what did I have to lose? Middleton and Prince William seem to have endless patience, skill, and style, especially while parenting Prince George (4), Princess Charlotte (3), and Prince Louis (3 months) largely in the public eye. I have a feeling we could all take a page from their gold-plated birth.
So, at best I thought I might learn something new, and at worst I would find out their methods don't work for me or my five kids. If Middleton can do it, and still look that flawless and well-rested as a mom of three, I might as well give it a shot, too. Turns out, the results of my experiment were surprising... to say the least.
I tried to incorporate as many royal parenting hacks as I could in a week's time.
The good news: Turns out, I already do some of the things Middleton and Prince William do, like expect my kids to use manners and practice gentle parenting. While this was going to be a change, it wasn't a huge stretch for me or my kids.
The bad news: We didn't get to go to Britain or actually become royalty in order to give this experiment the fair shot it deserved. In fact, it mostly involved taking all five of my children out in public... at once.
Day 1: Get Involved
According to PopSugar, Middleton and Prince William only use one nanny for their three children. While that's a luxury many families can't afford, that's also "keeping it simple" when it comes to the royal family. I couldn't find a nanny for the summer, so I'm totally like a member of the royal family, you guys.
So, yeah, I decided to stay home with my kids during the summer. It's been an interesting ride, but I do feel like I am able to connect with them since they've been home from school. So far I have survived, and even, at times, enjoyed the experience. As Express reports, Middleton and Prince William actually enjoy doing crafts and cooking with their kids, too, so I decided to let my kids make lunch... and was shocked at how much we all enjoyed the experience.
Day 2: Appreciating Help
On day two of my experiment, my 9-year-old daughter asked, "So what do you do all day?" Having learned that Middleton makes a point to teach her kids to appreciate the many workers who make their lives easier, I decided to follow suit. So, I told my kids about my job, the many chores I do to make their lives easier, and have actually started having them join me in things like laundry, dishes, and caring for their younger brother. I would like to think they appreciate me more now that they know what I "do all day."
Day 3: More Manners
I knew that if I was going to parent like a royal, my kids needed to acquire some manners. It's not that they don't know how to say please and thank you, it's that they sometimes forget. They also absent-mindedly leave their shoes on the floor or dishes on the table, like we have a house elf from Harry Potter or something. Well, we do — me — only I'm not free the moment you give me an article of clothing, I just throw it in the washer with the rest of the seemingly endless pile of things to wash.
So yeah, manners were a challenge for my kids, but I found that repetition was helpful. I think I asked, "What do you say?" 100 times in a week-long period, but now my daughter says please and thank you without prompting. I am so proud of her.
Day 4: Limit Screen Time
I have to admit that letting my kids have too much screen time is an easy trap for a stay-at-home parent. I mean, it's so much quieter and I get so much more work done while they are occupied with their favorite shows, video games, and websites.
On the other hand, though, in my experience more screen time means harder transitions when it's time to eat, leave the house, or go to bed. So for one week, I seriously limited the amount of time I let my kids stare at a screen on a daily basis, and instead made them get outside, help around the house, and entertain themselves. I am happy to report that their behavior improved by leaps and bounds. For a day or so they complained they were bored, but then they magically found other things to do.
Day 5: Express Emotions
I've always been of the mindset that parents should accept, validate, and help their kids manage their emotions. I had no idea, though, that this was how the royal parents parent, too. Great minds think alike. When my kids throw tantrums, I tell them it's OK to feel that way, but that I need them to find a way to calm their bodies and their minds. Together we figure things out... like royalty.
Day 6: Get Down On Their Level
As Today reports, when the going gets tough for their toddlers, Prince William and Middleton get down on their knees and, more importantly at their kids' level, to try to help them get past their tantrum.
So when my 5 year-old threw a fit because I limited screen time, I got down on the floor, looked him in the eyes, and talked to him one-on-one. It worked. He actually apologized. Later, I gave him some chores he could do to earn back his screen time for the next day. I started thinking that maybe I am actually princess material, after all.
Day 7: Take Them In Public
Prince William and Middleton don't have a choice about being in the public eye. I learned that they do make choices about whether to take their kids out in public or to remove them from a situation if they throw a tantrum, though. Apparently, according to Express, one of Prince George's favorite things to do is go to museums.
Like royals, my husband and I decided an outing with all five of our kids was the best way to test whether or not these royal parenting hacks actually work. So on a busy Saturday we limited their screen time and, instead, took them to our local children's museum and out to lunch. It was amazingly successful. Were these even my kids?
In the end, I learned that parenting like a royal is surprisingly easy. I'm not saying that I'm ready for the paparazzi to camp outside my house, but we took all five kids to a museum and out to lunch without a single tantrum. Not one. I don't know if royal parenting for a week was behind my success, or it was a sign of the coming apocalypse, but I'm going to continue parenting like a princess... just in case.