Cowgirl Parenting–How I Wrangle the Five Kids in my Rodeo


I learned to wrangle my five kids on the front lines of everyday parenting–sometimes I feel like I’m at the rodeo. Instituting solid parenting strategies for outside activities helps reduce stress and confusion. In fact, parenthood is the scariest “hood” I’ve ever encountered. Ultimately, I now easily wrangle five kids at restaurants and other outings. Sound too good to be true? I will show you how to wrangle your kids, even at your own rodeo.

In the beginning, I envisioned that as my family grew, I would float around like Mary Poppins.

I’d be chipper, organized, and very prepared. Now, Let’s all take a moment to laugh about this together.

Actually, the reality is that I often felt inadequate. Consequently, I was spread thin and compared my family to a troupe of rodeo clowns. Activities were bedlam, and I knew I had to change that. Have you ever seen an old Western movie? One where the sheriff fires his pistol into the air to break up a bar room brawl? Meet Wilma. She’s my whistle. Wilma has my back.

Airial's whistle
Yes, I carry a whistle named Wilma.

Now, when my kids hear Wilma’s shrill call, they react immediately. Ultimately, they know that noise means they need to quiet their voices, stop what they are doing, and come immediately to my side. Be that as it may, I’ll admit the first time I had to roll out Wilma in an indoor location, I was slightly horrified. Okay, a lot horrified. I blew softly–so as not to seem like a misguided camp counselor. Even in a more muted tone, Wilma worked like a charm.

The moral is: you need to find a way to quickly communicate to your kids that you need their full attention. And then, you need a way to wrangle them.

Depending on the age of your children, getting them to walk from point A to point B can be a challenge. Should you need to wrangle more than two kiddos, I highly recommend a walking rope. Walking ropes provide the perfect parenting strategy for keeping your kids together at activities. 

My husband walking with the kids.
Walking ropes are easy and portable.

You can make one, or if you’re super busy (like me) you can purchase one.

Furthermore, the walking rope has allowed me to easily walk outdoors and in very busy areas with eight little ones, stress-free. Be sure to practice with your rope (and your kids) before using it at an outing.

Moreover “misplacing” a child at an activity is terrifying.

Maybe it’s only for a moment. This happened to me at an agricultural fair, and I tear up just thinking about it. I’ve told my kids to find a security guard if we ever become separated. In that instance, my daughter ran from the area in search of one. For this reason, I now tell them if we are ever separated, stay in the area, and find another mother with children. In addition, I write my cell phone number on each of them with a Sharpie.

I also ask them to wear neon shirts. The shirts are from Michael’s. Accordingly, Michael’s also sells iron-on decals if you want to number your children. Visually, they help me expertly keep track of everyone, in an instant. My husband and I wear neon shirts also. We’re dorky like that.

Kids dressed alike
Dressing alike helps you find your kiddos in a crowd.

At the end of the day, I’m proud of my gaggle of kiddos when we attend activities. They know the expectations and respect the limits I set. We always have a fun time. Strangely enough, we have MORE fun when everyone is safe, together, and in control. Even at the rodeo.