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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Word Problems for Moms and Dads

By Kerrie McLoughlin

Sometimes when you’re parenting you just don’t have all the answers. Nothing makes sense, and things don’t always add up. Take, for example, these parenting dilemmas. How do you do the math?

1. If two kids raise their hands to go here and three raise their hands to go there, how many tears are shed by the ones who do not get to go where they want?

2. If the household runs the dishwasher twice a day and the washing machine once a day for one month straight, how many hours will the parents have to work to pay the electric bill? Bonus: How old will the kids be when they are able to clean the house while Mom eats her Dove chocolates in the tub and watches Netflix or listens to an audiobook?

3. Mom spent five hours scraping wallpaper in the kitchen, and then two hours washing and sanding one wall. How long will it be before she stops procrastinating putting on the Spackle? How sick of waiting for someone else to do it will she become? When she does spackle the joint, how badly might she mess it up?

4. The kids made $45 at a recent garage sale. The adults, who did most of the work for the sale, made about $10. Why do we keep having garage sales?

5. For two weeks of groceries, Mom spends $123 at the discount grocery store, $132 at the big box store, and $21 at the regular grocery store. How much faster does the grocery shopping get done without children?

6. A stroller travels at a speed of 2 mph when it is empty. How fast does it travel if it holds Mom’s diaper backpack, which contains her cell phone and laptop, as it goes into the park lake? Why in the world is there no brake on the stroller?

7. If X, Y, and Z activities (drama, soccer, Scouts) are all going on at the same time every week, calculate the trajectory of exactly when and where Mom will lose her mind.

8. Calculate the distance between your house and the nearest Starbucks, your house and the nearest pizza joint, and your house and the nearest chocolate store. Now figure out how much it will cost for Uber to take you to all three. Better yet, when will Starbucks join Ubereats?

9. If your son invites over one friend and your daughter invites over two friends, how quickly will the food in your home disappear and how long until someone is accidentally injured while roughhousing? Bonus: Where is the nearest store that sells earplugs?

10. If a vacuum cleaner is around 70 decibels, and you have to vacuum four times a week to make your house look halfway decent because you have twin toddlers running around with crackers, how long will you have to save to hire a maid service? Bonus: Calculate the shock and horror on the face of said maid when he or she arrives.

Kerrie McLoughlin is a homeschooling mom of five who just moved from the city to the country and lived to tell about it. Find her at