Why I Plan on ‘Bribing’ My Way Through the Winter Break This Year

Bribing Kids in Winter

Like almost all mothers I’ve talked with, I’ve been living in a state of “I’m too tired to stay awake but too awake to fall asleep.” Mom-Tired and Mom-Worry was already in its own, pre-pandemic, category. But presently, I feel even more defeated and drained. I feel so, so tired, that I just want to slap on a “Do Not Disturb” sticker on my forehead and go back to bed for the next six months. The following made-up word pretty much sums up exactly how I feel, and have felt, on and off, for like, 20 months now.


(adj.) Too tired to give a shit.

And that is why I’ll be bribing my son through the winter break. I’m just too tired to give a shit if regularly bribing children is considered really bad in these unprecedented times, when us moms are teachers, nurses, tutors, advocates, worriers, while also feeling trapped and stir-crazy.

Frankly, I’ve been pretty much been bribing my way through the past 20 months. Again, these are unprecedented times and I had never bribed so liberally when times were still “precedented.” At this point, I’m not even sure if I can still consider it “bribing” — specifically with, Holt, my 8-year-old — or if that’s just how my son and I just converse now. Here are two recent and real conversations with my son. Neither of us raised our voices, that’s how normalized bribing is, in our interactions:

Me: Put your cup in the sink, please.

Holt: Why me?

Me: Because it’s your cup

Holt: But Rowan…

Me: Fine. Do it and you can order anything under $30 on Amazon.

Another conversation:

Me: Can you run upstairs and get my charger, please? It’s beside my bed.

Holt: Why can’t Rowan do it?

Me: I just made you the perfect crustless sand— just go get it and you can order anything under $30 on Amazon.

The rate of the Amazon “Bribe Parcels” delivered to my house has increased steadily as, sadly, this pandemic drags on. I had to bribe when homeschooling. I’m not sure how I even got through the summer — it’s all a blur! — but I think I bribed my way through the summer with Amazon deliveries of Pokemon cards?

Like most parents, after months and months of not being able to take our kids to do anything fun, nowhere to go, and nothing that’s open, and no birthday parties, playdates or sleepovers, I think most moms, at least at some point, can agree that, if we are being completely honest, bribing actually works. I’m so tired that if anyone suggests that I shouldn’t bribe my son to do expected chores, I’m just going to say, “But it works! These are unprecedented times!”

If I want to get my son outdoors to go on a walk, I’ll bribe. Take a shower? Bribe. Reading books? Bribe. Must be a good boy for the entire day? Bribe. Pre-pandemic, I would only bribe my kids for getting good grades. Now it’s like, “Can I have 30 seconds to pee? You can order anything under $30 on Amazon if you give me 2 minutes.” Here’s the thing: He’s spoiled but not spoiled. Lazy? Absolutely! But not spoiled.

My bribes now feel robotic, like I’m a hypnotist: You can order anything off Amazon for under $30. You are getting sleepy. You can order anything off Amazon for Under $30. You are getting sleepy.

I wish I had a better reason, aside from pure exhaustion, guilt, and sadness I can’t take my child to fun places, on the reason why I’ll be bribing my way through the holidays. I did find, “Here Are 5 Reasons To Start Bribing Your Kids. There are actually great benefits…but they might not be what you think.”

I’ve never seen someone justify bribing so impressively! The author writes, “…The traditional definition of bribe according to my dictionary is “to persuade [someone] to act in one’s favour, typically illegally or dishonestly, by a gift of money or other inducements.”

Well, I’m not bribing my kid to rob a bank! She says bribing teaches children a valuable lesson; “They hold the power in terms of what comes next,” she suggests. Um, I’m already bribing my kid. Why the hell should I start negotiating with my kid over bribes and giving him even more power?

Bribery and being a good parent aren’t mutually exclusive. So, yes, I’m giving myself the gift of permission to bribe my way through the holidays, especially to catch up on much-needed rest, so my coffee doesn’t think it needs coffee. If bribery buys me relaxation, sleep and no whining children? Well, I’ll bribe my way through and will re-group and re-think about bribing my kids in 2021!

Wishing you and your family and very happy holiday, with love, laughter, health, and joy. I will see you next year!






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