WFMW: Key to Parenting Outside of the House

I’m not a parenting expert. Just ask my kids. No, really, ask them. They will give you the scoop. Actually, never mind. Don’t ask.

Let’s pretend I know what I’m talking about.


Years ago, in passing a friend made a comment about their parenting rule: “We always leave when we’re having fun.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I watched them at gatherings. Sure enough, they never stayed too long and everyone laughed healthy.  I decided it was the most brilliant statement I’d ever heard. (Except for “We only serve sweet tea here.”)

Leave while you’re having fun. We implemented it immediately. And it seriously changed our lives. (Why, yes, I am feeling dramatic today).

So, if you’re at a birthday party, the library, the park, zoo, museum, YOU NAME IT, do not wait for signs of sleepiness and do not let the whining be the sign that it’s time to leave. LEAVE WHILE YOU’RE HAVING FUN. It reduced the meltdown quota substantially.

WFMW guidelines and upcoming theme suggestions are here. Are you out of tips? How about sharing a Valentine’s Tip next week?

What works for you?


  1. 3


    That is a great philosophy, even if one has to take a child out kicking and screaming…that is tough when they are three years old, but they’ll remember they were having a great time!

  2. 5


    I have little ones (4-yr-old and 20 mths) and I’m so glad I’m learning this now. I’d never heard that piece of advice and it’s priceless! I can see how I’ve made the mistake numerous times of dragging an exhausted toddler and baby around way past their limit. I need to be observant of when they are having fun and leave while they are still in a good mood. Genius! Thanks for the advice to a young mom like me :)

  3. 7

    Brenda says

    I agree!! We do this all the time and it has saved many a meltdown on our way out. My friends laugh because my phrase is “We always leave on a high note.” And we exit quickly!

  4. 9


    WOW! This is really great advice…we have a 3, 6, and 8 year old and this would definitely make a huge difference I believe, especially for our youngest!!! :) Thank you!!!

  5. 10


    Hi Kristen! Yep, I have lived by that rule for EVER with my kids who are now teenagers and it still needs to apply! I always called it leave on a high note! Works for us as well! What a great group of tips here! I am linking up my baby steps to a rockin’ life with loads of tips to make life better and help you find more me time! All the best! Alex

  6. 12

    Sheila says

    This may be a dumb question but how to implement this realistically? Wait until you see your kids having a great time and then say “ok we’re leaving” – won’t they kick & scream more at that point since no one wants to leave in the middle of having a great time. Or do you tell them in advance – we’re leaving when you are having fun so be prepared? I mean I get the concept but how do you actually pull it off?

    • 12.1

      kristen says

      Well, it’s not meant to be mean. But usually, there’s a transition time after we’ve been somewhere for awhile. We’ve had fun, but at the first thought of leaving, we usually stay another 20 minutes talking, gathering shoes, kids, etc. The meltdowns or tears usually happen at that point. So, my suggestion is really to go places and have a wonderful time, but when things begin winding down, leave. Don’t just think “we should probably go” and then stay. My 2 cents :)

      • 12.1.1

        Sheila says

        Got it – thanks! Would help if I could convince my husband to cut down on the long goodbyes which turns into more chatting & next thing you know its 20 minutes later.

  7. 18


    This is something that I always had to practice with my youngest because he had some OCD tendencies and needed his routines. So going out during the week was not a good idea unless we could be home in time for his normal bed time, etc. Weekends we tended to loosen up the schedule a little, but more often than not…it was just easier to stick to his dialy habits so that outbursts were at a minium. Every family and child is different so we have to learn to be flexible no matter what and the needs of the children always come first (and they let us know with bad behavior…lol).

  8. 19


    This is definitely sound advice…I just need to take it! I have such a hard time walking away before something is over, even if I am past my limit and everyone ends up cranky. Thanks for the fun link-up every week!

  9. 20


    My horse trainer always ends a session at the point where the horse did something really, really good…or when he had a good experience doing something new. She says it leaves the memory in his mind for the next time, so he will be more likely to cooperate next time when he remembers it as “good” as opposed to “scary” or “bad”. Makes sense! I need to remember this when teaching my children a new concept in school, or while doing chores. They always say to make chores “fun” by playing music for 10 minutes at a time and getting everyone to clean in short little spurts.

  10. 21


    Oh goodness. I am not a parent, but I wish more parents took that attitude. I think the worst was when 2 of my friends dragged their 3 year old to a Christms party right after she spent the day at her own birthday party. She was full a sugar, had all the excitement from her party, had run around all day, and best of all, she had no nap. As a mom, you can guess how she acted during that night at the Christmas party. They would have been so much better off just taking her home. Not only for the other guests, but most of all because that poor child was so over stimulated all she needed was a good night’s sleep.

    Sounds like you are a good mom to have your limits and know how to make the event a good time for both your kids and the people around you.

  11. 22


    Hi Kristen!

    Interesting idea. I know a LOT of parents who usually wait until the kids start to become restless before they leave. Even then they spend the next half an hour saying goodbye in between shushing their kids. Sometimes it seems pretty selfish to me but I guess they need the social life too. :)

    However, don’t the kids end up being upset whenever they have to leave while they’re having fun? How do you counter the pouts and sulking faces?

    Thanks for the great advice!

    Tariq and Shaheera

  12. 25


    We give countdown warnings…meaning in 5 minutes we are leaving…Now, it’s time to go do your last favorite thing. It’s amazing how many meltdowns take place when we do NOT give those warnings!!

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