SheKnows is proud to offer The Parent Trap column, by mother and writer Lain Chroust Ehmann.
Lain Chroust Ehmann

I don't know what the big deal about Survivor is. What's so tough about getting along on a remote tropical island, anyway? For most of the parents I know, a few weeks of solitude -- or a few weeks surrounded by other adults without a nose to be wiped, a bottom to be cleaned, or a toddler to discipline -- sounds like pure heaven. Heck, forget about the million dollars in prize money; I'd ,pay to get sent to Pulau Tigua. Somehow, the hardships these participants face don't seem so bad.

I hear the show's producers are already planning next year's Survivor: 2001 in Australia. Maybe instead they should consider a sequel that really tests the limits of human endurance: Isolate team members in a secluded house with several members of the under-six set and let 'em battle it out.

I can just see it now: MTV's The Real World meets Romper Room. Ratings will skyrocket as parents everywhere take time from reading "Hop on Pop" to tune in.

The first episode, warring Tribes (Pampers vs. Huggies) compete in a relay race Reward Challenge. Which team can be first to unload the groceries from the minivan in sub-zero temperatures while the three-year-old is clamoring for a Popsicle, the toddler is eating cat food, and the newborn is sleeping peacefully in the car? The Pampers Tribe is rewarded with a Baby Bjorn pack, suitable for keeping colicky infants quiet while still allowing "Mom" or "Dad" some limited freedom to do the dishes and clean the house.

At the Tribal Council, the Huggies Tribe votes the former Navy SEAL out because he inadvertently wakes the baby with his cursing when he drops a grocery bag containing a dozen eggs on the icy front steps as he attempts to keep the Golden Retriever from mauling the cookie-selling Girl Scouts who appear at the door at an inopportune moment. His errors compound when he fails to rekindle the oven's pilot light after the preschooler extinguishes it by dumping the entire contents of the flour canister on the stove.

The next week, contestants face their first real crisis as all three children are hit with a simultaneous case of the stomach flu at the same time the house is invaded by swarms of unexpected visiting relatives, wanting to be fed and housed for "just a few days." The mail also brings a few unpleasant surprises, and the teams must band together to make important decisions, such as whether to pay the furnace repairman or get a new transmission put in the minivan.

The Reward Challenge of the week -- the Bath and Bed relay -- goes to the Huggies Tribe, who successfully bathe, diaper, pajama and put all three kids to sleep in record time. They walk away with a stack of Barney videos and a VCR for the family room TV set.

At Tribal Council, in an unprecedented move, all participants under the age of 25 on both teams are kicked out for dissension (the final straw was when the younger contestants, fed up with the steady diet of macaroni and cheese, tater tots and Teletubbies use the money set aside for a family outing to Chuck E. Cheese's to order in sushi and the Bare Naked Ladies Pay-Per-View concert special).

In upcoming installments, watch breathlessly as teams deal with issues such as chronic diaper rash (Will the chemist, Ramona, be able to concoct a solution to cure the condition, or will the team have to resort to cloth diapers?), sibling rivalry (Who really flushed the Cabbage Patch Kid down the toilet?), and parenting philosophies (What exactly is "Attachment Parenting," anyway?).

See them dump members for transgressions such as giving the kids nightmares by allowing them to view Bride of Chuckie ("I thought it was a 'Rug Rats' movie," says the ousted contestant). Watch the tribes vie in Challenges such as the Potty Parade and the Supermarket Scurry for creature comforts like a Peapod grocery delivery account, a subscription to Parents magazine and renowned pediatrician Dr. T. Barry Brazelton's home phone number.

Who will survive the changing emotional weather of life with three kids? Who will prove hardy enough to withstand the ups and downs of parental life? Who will walk away with the big prize? Tune in and find out.

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