Oliver: Managing household logistics can require patience, creativity

The term “logistics” often is used when talking about the ability of companies to provide goods and services to their consumers. In a larger sense, logistics can mean organizing a complicated activity to make it happen effectively and successfully.

Any parent will tell you that dealing with the varied and many demands of children involves logistics. For instance, what if you have more than one child in more than one activity? Who is going to take Child A to soccer while getting Child B to dance class?

Even before the kids are old enough to be getting involved in activities, there’s the dance of trying to weigh what needs to be done versus what a little one will allow. Who hasn’t encountered the frazzled parent in the middle of a store who just wants to get the errand done, all while wrangling a child who clearly does not want to be there?

As someone who tries to be compassionate, I’ve always felt a measure of empathy. However, as a childless woman, I really didn’t get it.

As a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, I now realize how difficult some of the logistical considerations of parenting can be.

For instance, Tony isn’t always able to understand directions and requests. Some days he’s perfectly capable of getting into a vehicle and putting on a seat belt. Other days, he can’t figure out which vehicle door to open in order to get in. And on and on it goes.

The other day I thought it might be a nice change of pace for us to head over to a nearby garden center so that I could pick up a few plants. I have plans to grow a few vegetables in addition to my usual assortment of annual flowers.

With that in mind, I put down a tarp in the back of our SUV and then went to get Tony ready for the adventure. I had been talking about this trip for days in the hopes that I could build a little excitement in him about the task.

When I brought him his “outdoor” shoes and asked him to put them on, I got the first wave of resistance.

One can never be sure if it’s that he doesn’t understand what I’m asking or if he somehow is misinterpreting what’s going on. Sometimes it’s just that he doesn’t want to do anything that he doesn’t want to do.

I’ve learned through experience that I sometimes need to go at this request from different angles. I’ll walk away and try again later. So I gathered some raingear to throw in the back seat and returned to Tony to see if he made progress with the shoes.

Nope. Once more I asked if we could please put on the shoes so that we could go. More resistance but eventually success.

Then it was trying to get him out the door. More problems. Unbowed, I kept trying to get us to the car. After all that, not surprisingly, I could see his frustration rising. Then I felt the raindrops starting to fall on both of us.

We still hadn’t gotten into the car.

At this moment, I took a deep breath and decided that I wasn’t in any mood to continue with this exercise. It would have to wait for another day.

So back into the house we went. This time, he was back into his slippers in a blink of an eye.

All was right in Tony’s world again. He was home and had won this round. All I could do was laugh.

No doubt more than a few parents can relate.

Undeterred, I got on the phone and made other plans. It was time to pivot to another strategy. This time, I’ll have someone spend time with Tony while I get those plants. Then we’ll both be happy.

Sometimes it takes careful orchestration – logistics – to make the Oliver household function.

Parents, you have my sympathy.

Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at

Joan Oliver

Joan Oliver

A 30-year newspaper veteran who has been a copy editor, front-page editor, presentation editor, assistant news editor and publication editor, as well as a columnist and host of an online newspaper newscast.