Recently I had the opportunity to spend some time in St. Louis, MO with my 2 favorite sisters (ok, my only sisters). When I arrived, they had made tons of fun plans for me to ensure that my 48-hour break from parenting (I have a teething 5-month old and a 2-year old...'nuff said) was an amazing one. We filled our day with coffee shop chatter and board games, manis and pedis, light shopping and... a 1-hour escape room challenge. If you haven't heard about escape room challenges, you're missing out. To complete these challenges you are locked in to a room with your team (in my case it was my sisters and me) and have to find hidden compartments, clues, etc. to figure out how to get out of the room within a 1-hour time period (or whatever time limit you are given). It is SO much fun and absolutely gets you thinking; however, about 20 minutes in to the challenge, I couldn't help but notice that this "challenge" that we had embarked on seemed very similar to the times that I am actually with my children. Here is what I noticed:
1-The clues are hidden (or nonexistent).
As a parent, I am well aware that, on at least an hourly basis, a problem will arise that I don't know how to solve. My natural reaction to these problems is to stumble over my words, in an effort to not let my children know that I don't know the answer, while frantically searching my surroundings for answers. In an escape room challenge, you spend an hour doing just that, frantically searching for answers.
2-There are frequent "ah-ha" moments.
Sometimes those frantic searches DO give you an idea of a way to solve your current problem. For example:
Toddler: I want a cookie.
Me: *frantically eyeing my surroundings...sees a bowl of grapes*
Me: You know what sounds delicious? Some grapes! (Classic redirect)
Toddler: I want some grapes!
Same thing in an escape room challenge! While running around like chickens with your heads cut-off, ideas just pop in to your head and you have an "ah-ha" moment where you remember where you saw that key or that paper with numbers written on it that might work in the padlock you just found.
3-There is a lot of yelling.
Me: Ok! We are leaving in 3 minutes! *Sets timer on phone*
*3 minutes pass*
Toddler: Noooooooo! I don't wanna go home!
Just like that scenario, in an escape room challenge there is a large timer set and an alarm that goes off when your time is up...the question is are you still in the room or are you out? If you are still in the room, chances are you are slightly flipping out over the timer going off just like your child would.
4-Timers are often used.
As much as I like to always talk in my calm "mom voice," sometimes it's time for lunch or time to go and my toddler or husband isn't always in the same room that I am so I may call to them. Or, lets be honest, sometimes my toddler is a nut job and needs a stern talking to OR is talking so loud that I have to yell to my husband in order for him to hear anything that I need to tell him (so fun right?)
It could have just been because I was with my sisters and we are all comfortable with each other but oh, the yelling! In an escape room challenge you are in a room but everyone might be on opposite sides searching for clues and what-not so when you actually do find something you have to yell out in order to gain the others' attention. I'm sure the race-the-clock feeling doesn't make you want to speak in calm undertones either...
5-There is a lot of running around.
With two small children, I tend to get way more than the 10,000 steps per day recommended to lose 1 pound of fat per week. (See image of steps taken on 3/1; information collected via Fitbit Flex which can be found below.)
Honestly, I sometimes I even feel like the 10,000 steps to lose weight recommendation is a slap in the face as I always get way over 10,000 AND rarely lose 1 ounce of fat.
6-Cameras are present.
Not only are we, as parents, constantly snapping photos of our adorable little ones doing just about everything ("Yay! You're going potty!" "Wow, you managed to get mud in your teeth, let's take a picture for dad!"), there are also live cameras, a.k.a. baby monitors, planted all over your house to allow you to watch your little ones nap, or not nap if you're my toddler, or play in their room or whatever.
Escape room challenges should really make one feel more claustrophobic than they do but, something about the live camera watching your every move (creepy...but also not) makes things feel a little less scary and a little more exciting as you are not just completing the challenge for yourself or your team but also for an audience.
All-in-all I think everyone should give one of these escape room challenges a try. Who knows, you may gain some useful parenting advice.