Guys: I don’t even know how to explain to you how validating this book is. I’ve been helping raise kids, while also living with chronic debilitating illnesses & disabilities for 27 years now. Very often, that raising occurs from a horizontal position, out of necessity. Oh, today we’re have vertigo for no goddamn reason? Great day to play Auntie NTE is the troll under the bridge who won’t let you pass. Oh, goodie, the treatment I had last week that was supposed to only have 1 day of side effects has going on 9+ now? Excellent: Lemme introduce you to a little game I like to call ‘I’m going to watch you build a city out of literally anything you want, and then we’re going to critique it together for its supervillain weaknesses.’ That’s just how much of my childrearing has happened, and there have definitely been times I’ve felt … less than, or judged by other parents.
But this book? Is just ALLL the nonsense I taught my niblings & godchildren & random young children I was in charge of so that I could play with them from the most flat position possible, plus a bunch I didn’t think of, that I am definitely going to cycle into usage after pandemic-time (I’m lucky the 15 year old still wants to play regular board games with me, I doubt she’d go this far). And it’s not like you have to be disabled &/or chronically ill to find this book helpful: I’m sorry, but if you’re a parent and you’re going to try to tell me that you’ve never felt 1 billion times more exhausted than your child, I just … somebody should be studying you in a lab somewhere, probably. I don’t know anybody who hasn’t laid down on the couch and let their kid take their fake blood pressure and listen to their ‘Harm beeps*’ for 15 minutes, just because letting them play doctor means you get to sit. still. Because every mom/dad/aunt/Grammy/caregiver I know? Wants a NAAAAAAP. Would sacrifice a succulent to Satan for just ten minutes of resting their weary bones. I don’t know any kind of parent other than ‘permanently exhausted’: I’m not even sure they exist outside of legend.
Which makes Horizontal Parenting perhaps the most beneficial parenting book you could gift to a parent, ever. I mean, it’s also funny, and it’s got cute illustrations and it doesn’t take itself too seriously, so it’s got all that going for it, but let’s be real: the selling points are the games. Tell us your secrets! Games like “Crime Scene” where you hand your kid a roll of painter’s tape and sprawl out on the floor while they ‘investigate’ around you; extra bonus points for moms who’ve been listening to true crime podcasts with their littles in the car, because I absolutely can think of three kids off the top of my head (average age 10) who would play the shit out of this game. She’s got a “Roll the Burrito” game that my kids and I used to play in pizza form (loosely based on the book Pete’s A Pizza; Find you a burrito book, this one is also about counting, and now you’ve got three horizontal activities in one… you’re halfway to a whole learning unit!) Play “Don’t Wake the Giant” (you’re the giant), and then after you’ve rested, dig out Don’t Wake Daddy and let your kids know real, true anxiety. Go for the revenge play, and become the “New Baby” they have to care for. So! Many! Ideas! (Easily adapted for low energy days/middle energy days/high energy days.)
I also love that the author refrained from calling this “lazy parenting”, which I have no doubt is a judgey label that many would apply to this kind of behavior, but they’d be wrong. Do you know what your kids need from you? Love. Time. Attention. Can you give all those things while also being flat on your back/side/stomach? Absolutely. Don’t let ableism and capitalism screw with your definition of what parenting – and especially good parenting – is. Paying attention to your kids while also meeting your own needs for rest, so that after you’re finished being horizontal, you can be more fully engaged with whatever comes next? Is GOOD PARENTING, I promise.
In fact, in the spirit of community parenting, I’m just going to add in my niblings’ favorite from my really exhausted days. Backwards Rolling Zoo. It means they have to transport literally every animal – stuffed, action figure sized, ginormous, who cares – into the room, one laundry basket at a time, past you, telling you about what kind of animal it is, and any facts they know about they animal. Heck let ’em make stuff up, tell you all about the Heffalump and Woozles – it doesn’t matter, because all you’re required to do is lay there, make agreeable noises as they parade past, and sometimes ask a question you know they know the answer to, because you’ve read them the books they’re telling you the animal facts from, so you already know them too! My nephew called it the Backwards Rolling Zoo; his sister called it the Stuffie Parade, even though 3/4 of the animals weren’t stuffies. It doesn’t matter, because it buys you a good half hour/hour of stillness, because they have to gather the animals, and “good zookeepers would never let the animals wander, so they have to make sure they go back in their cages/homes” so they also have to put them away, and they get to show off how smart they are: Wins all around!
I acquired my copy through NetGalley, for an honest review, which is that this book is excellent, especially if you have an exhausted caregiver of young people in your life. In fact, I’m mad it doesn’t come out til September. I need copies to give out now.
Also, I’m using this as the Self Care Square for Cannonball Read 13 Bingo Card; Start in the middle, makes sense.
*My oldest nephew, who turns 25 this year, holy shit, used to call heartbeats “harm beeps”. Ugh. Growing up is stupid.