We had a fantastic number of Spoke contributors participate in January’s Writing Challenge, “The Productive Parent.” Our January 2018 winners are listed below—they each took home a cool $100 prize for their savvy word-smithing.

Scroll down to read excerpts from the winning posts, and check out all of the January 2018 Spoke Writing Challenge submissions here.

The Secret to Getting Kids Dressed & Out the Door in 10 Minutes or Less, by Nicole Merritt

You must  think this is a joke, right? I must be kidding you. How in the world can any parent get multiple children dressed and out the door in under 10 minutes? In truth, I've never been able to do it. But—I am going give you my suggestions anyway (which may absolutely work or not at all) and at minimum, I am going to make you laugh, okay?

Make them dress themselves. Tell them you are leaving in 10 minutes, and if they are not ready in time you will leave without them. Then, you actually have to leave without them.

Crap. Scratch that. If your kiddos are young you will get in trouble for leaving them in the house alone. Okay, maybe simply walk out the door at the 10-minute mark, hide around the side of the house and spook them when they frantically come out to see if you truly left without them.

Read the rest of the post here.

photo: Elizabeth Murray

5 Lessons in Productive Parenting from a Mom of 8, by Elizabeth Murray

Eleanor Carlile—or “Grammy," as her grandkids call her—has a license plate that reads “8senuf.” My maternal grandmother lost her battle with breast cancer in her early 30s and left behind a grieving spouse and six children, the youngest only a few weeks old. Grammy had two children from a previous marriage. The kids joked that they were like the Brady Bunch; they called themselves the Carlile Crew.

A favorite party anecdote is about the time shortly after their marriage, when Grammy, curlers in hair, crammed all the kids in to her Volkswagen Bug and was pulled over for speeding. The officer took one look in the car and said, “Are these all your kids!? Lady you have enough problems—have a nice day.” Grammy learned quickly that if she wanted to be productive as a parent of this crazy brood, she’d need to have some structure.

Read the rest of the post here.

The Unexpected Bonus of How Piano Lessons Helped Me Bond with My Kids, by Sonal Patel

What I didn't anticipate was how hard it would be for me. I had to learn to read music so that I could help them practice. The other moms in the book club already knew how to read music and could help their children without starting from scratch. I often found myself frustrated, because for some reason I have a mental block when it comes to learning to read music.

I consider myself a hardworking and bright individual (I can speak four languages and have two postgraduate degrees). But for some reason this was very difficult! There were many times when I wanted to quit. But the girls were enjoying playing and learning. If I did quit, what sort of example would I be setting for the girls?

Read the rest of the post here.

Thank you to everyone who entered! You can read all of the posts in this Spoke Writing Challenge here. If you missed this writing challenge, here’s how you can enter our current Spoke Writing Challenge.

As always, ride on!

—Keiko Zoll, Spoke Contributor Network Editor



January Spoke Writing Challenge: The Productive Parent

The Productive Parent: All Spoke Writing Challenge Entries

February Spoke Writing Challenge: Stories of Wonder & Imagination