Most children’s board games instructions are 10 steps or less, but anyone who has ever actually done it knows it takes much, much more than that. Here are the 35 steps I follow:
1. Agree to play game with children.
2. Break up argument over which game you’ll be playing.
3. Compromise on one round of each child’s choice of game.
4. Break up argument over whose game gets to go first with dessert promises if they would just please stop bickering already.
5. Realize game number one has missing pieces.
6. Decide to start with game number two.
7. Realize that game number two also has missing pieces but fewer than game number one.
8. Send children on hunt for penny to use in place of missing game piece.
9. Close your eyes while you’re waiting for them to get back. You’ll need a lot of energy to get through the game you’re about to play.
10. When children return, begin choosing which game piece you will each use.
11. Break up fight over who gets to use the penny.
12. Threaten to break your dessert promise and use the damn penny yourself if that’s what they really want.
13. Remind child how to play the game.
14. Take your turn.
15. Point out to child that it’s finally her turn.
16. Remind child how to play the game. Again.
17. Take your turn.
18. Tell child to remove card from her mouth.
19. Take your turn.
20. Remind child that you just reminded him two times how to play the game and that he’s the one who wanted to play this game in the first place.
21. Take your turn and realize that you could win right now, but if you end the game this soon, they’re going to start crying about how short it was.
22. Fake it and don’t win while patting yourself on the back for being a nice parent who extends the games to make your kids happy.
23. Realize that while you were patting yourself on the back, some sort of cheating accusations were going on between children, and the younger one has thrown her game piece across the room.
24. Yell, “This is why we can’t have nice things!” as you crawl around looking for it.
25. Find second penny to use in place of game piece you are unable to find.
26. Take a deep breath and ask child to kindly take his turn so you can finish this damn game already.
27. Take your turn.
28. Repeat child’s name 14 times to get her attention so that she can take her turn.
29. She wins.
30. Agree to keep playing for second and third places so other child doesn’t get too upset.
31. Throw the game, again, so child can get second.
32. Feign disappointment at getting third.
33. Start singing “Clean Up Song” while you’re the only one cleaning up.
34. Figure you’re off the hook for any more board games for a while until they remind you about the Great Compromise (Step No. 3 above).
35. Repeat from Step No. 4.