When we moved to our neighborhood a few years ago, I noticed that a lot of the families with young children nearby were always posting Facebook photos labeled “RTTP.” These pictures were generally of their cute kids roving in packs at various houses, looking happy and mischievous and making one heck of a mess, and they looked pretty fun. I Googled “RTTP” and came up with nothing that made any kind of sense in the context of families with young children, and then I just sort of forgot about it until we became more-than-Facebook friends with some of the group and got a text inviting us to RTTP and BYOB for brats and apps. I could figure out the second acronym just fine, thank you very much (or, as the kids say TYVM—actually, I don’t know what kids say that because mine say NOTHING until I remind them, #MOTY for sure), and I am a chubby Wisconsin mom—I know my sausages and appetizers But we still had no idea what the first part meant.
So we did that really old fashioned thing that people used to do before Siri and Google and Alexa were around to answer all of our questions and we asked (via text, obvs because this IS the 21st century).
RTTP stands for Reduced Time to Parent, and it is GENIUS. As far as I know a friend’s husband devised the acronym, and he should work on getting a patent ASAP because I see a huge Zazzle biz once everyone gets wind of this idea and wants to make t-shirts and buttons and party hats advertising it. Which, I guess, would kind of defeat the point.
You know that fabulous article that makes the rounds on Facebook every now and then and encourages you to practice “scruffy hospitality” where you throw a come-as-you-are dinner party for your friends and practice what you preach by hosting the event without going to anymore trouble than you would to feed your own family? Where you don’t worry about the state of your house or your lack of pretty serving dishes and just invite your friends in to hang out and share your table? Well, RTTP is just like that only maybe scruffier because lots of little kids are involved.
It’s perfect for those nights when you don’t have any plans, and you need to kill 3 or 4 hours until bedtime and you don’t feel like wrangling your kids at dinner or the movies and you don’t want to break up one more silly fight about nothing. RTTP means come over with your kids and potluck a dinner and enjoy adult conversation while the children revel in the novelty of someone else’s toys and relaxed screen limits. It means grab your ¾ bottle of wine and your half-eaten Veggie Straws and a box of yogurt tubes that will pair perfectly with my random Lime-a-Ritas, Costco pack of organic juice boxes, and Pirate Booty, which, in turn, goes great with her quick and dirty fruit salad and coincidentally fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and his crock pot queso dip and chips. All of that is a perfect match for the host’s grill full of burgers, oven stuffed with lasagna, or kitchen island stacked with pizza boxes.
I have cupcakes and a messy kitchen. Come over for RTTP?
All you need to RTTP is a main dish, some low key munchies to slap on the counter for people to eat (and add to) while they unwind with adult talk, a contact list full of friends with kids who crave nights out without the cost of a babysitter, and a playroom or two that you don’t mind cleaning up the next day. No one has to watch the kids because everyone is watching the kids—sort of—and a little benign neglect goes a long way. Also! Think how prepared your kids will be to analyze Lord of the Flies in high school. “I totally get this book,” they’ll say. “I lived it in the Jedd’s basement when I was little.”
Gee, can you believe no one was paying attention to her?
As the sun sets earlier and earlier and you’re spending more and more time stuck in the house with your small kids, sound the RTTP clarion call via your iPhone. Uncork a bottle of wine; put a tray of baby carrots and dip on your kitchen counter. Toss some popcorn in the general direction of the children. If you’re feeling fancy, throw a box of Betty Crocker brownies in the oven while you wait for the pizza guy and the promise of a night of fun for the whole family that doesn’t require you to change out of your yoga pants—what could be better? Maybe some chocolate chips in the brownies, I guess.