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Patty Sullivan and Michael Kinney share their parenting tricks and tips

Patty sullivan and michael kinney - patty sullivan and michael kinney share their parenting tricks and tipsWhen it comes to raising their two daughters, it isn’t all fun and games
for Kids’ CBC host and producer Patty Sullivan and actor Michael
Kinney. They have established some ground rules for their girls –
including limiting TV!

What do your kids do when they see you on TV?

Patty Sullivan: The little one will lock on to me when I’m on the air and gets upset if I disappear from the scene. With the eldest, it’s no big deal – that’s just “Mommy at work.” But when she sees my husband on TV? Well she wants to see it again and again!!
Michael Kinney: I tend to get a bigger reaction than Patty as I’m not on as much as her. They can see their mother on TV pretty much every morning.

How much TV time are your kids allowed and what do they watch?

PS: The eldest gets to watch about an hour a day during the week, and we make sure it’s always educational (can you say Kids’ CBC?? LOL!). And as long as she does her chores and homework, she can watch a movie on the weekend.
MK: We really only let our oldest daughter watch TV; our little one is still a bit young. When she does watch, the TV rotates between Disney Jr., Treehouse, Kids’ CBC, PBS and TFO.

What do you admire most about your partner’s parenting skills?

PS: I love how he will always take the time to go that extra mile to explain things to our daughter – like using a flashlight to show her how we experience day and night. She then proudly explains it to others!
MK: Patty is amazing at coordinating activities for the girls – whether it’s swimming lessons, skating lessons, piano lessons, dance classes, play dates or sleepovers. She really does an amazing job of exposing them to new things.

How have your backgrounds as performers influenced your parenting styles?

PS: As a performer, you have to be in touch with your emotions. You also learn to “put yourself out there” and take risks. I assure them it’s okay to talk about and show their feelings. And I tell them they should never be afraid to try new things. It’s good to take chances.
MK: We can be pretty animated. And acting goofy isn’t a big stretch for us. But I think the biggest thing is our ability to NOT talk down to our kids. We both have a background in children’s educational television, so we respect our children’s intelligence. We break things down when we ask them to do something or when we need to correct them. We give them not only the “what,” but more importantly the “why.”

Do you have any tricks or tips for making chores fun?

PS: When my daughter is helping, putting the laundry or toys away will sometimes become a race or a matching game. But when it’s just me doing it? No tricks really. But now you’ve got me thinking….
MK: Having been a producer and host on a science show for many years, I try to turn the mundane into a “did you know” moment and tell an interesting story. It’s hit and miss.

What are your favourite games to play as a family?

PS: We’ll play ball, hide and seek or blow bubbles. The little one really likes that! And sometimes when the little one is in bed, we might play Snakes and Ladders or UNO.
MK: There are the good old standbys, like hide-and-seek. We build things with blocks to involve the little one.

Fill in the blank: After the kids are asleep, we like to …

PS: … Exhale! And to wind down, we’ll often grab a glass of wine and catch up on some TV or watch a movie together.
MK: … Talk about our day, and just reconnect. We reaffirm that we’re both doing an amazing job with this whole parenting thing.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, October 2012.

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