What's a parenting rule you should break and why?
Please feel free to ignore the following parenting rule: Enjoy every moment! It goes so by quickly. Because I can almost GUARANTEE you that there will be days with your children you do not enjoy.
All-family stomach virus day? Not enjoyable. My kids coated the brand new couch we saved for over a year for in Sharpie day? I give you permission to go ahead and despise this day. My child learns to scream the word "NO" at top volume? Go ahead and take a week off from enjoying parenthood when this happens.
If you take the pressure off yourself to delight in every single instant of your childrens' existences you'll be a better parent and a saner human. And there will be plenty of moments to enjoy, don't worry. Just not 'My kids have learned how to open the refrigerator and have now hidden broken eggs all over the house' day. That day's gonna be really, really bad. Be warned.
That everything my kids do or create is a brilliant masterpiece of wonderfulness.
I know what my kids are capable of, so I refuse to stand in rousing applause each time they press crayon to paper or run across the soccer field in the wrong direction.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not going all Crouching Tiger, Hidden Piano Mom on my kids. I'm supportive and encouraging and appreciative. I've never tossed a violin at anyone. I pinky swear.
But when they can do better? I know it. They know it. So I tell them to do better.
Earlier this year, my kids were making birthday cards for their uncle. They basically scribbled a smiley face and handed them to me. I took one look and said "Uhhh no. Try again, people". They typically spend hours a day making colorful ornate cards and posters for their stuffed animals, for goodness sake. Step it up a notch for a real Human Being, please.
I see no problem with building confidence in kids by telling them they did a good job at trying something new, even if they didn't do a superb job. Heck, they tried! That's awesome!
But when they are, in fact, good at doing something and just dialed it in? Or know how to write their name but only tack on a last initial out of laziness? Or simply don't want to clean their mess up and act like they don't know where the toy box is?
Gimme a break.
I'm happy to hug and support them, and my kids know I believe in them and are here to kiss boo-boos.
But they also need to know that They Can Do It On Their Own. They Can Do Better. I have faith in their abilities, and don't want them thinking that there's never room for improvement. These parents who think it is terrible to keep score at soccer games, or who argue with the Art teacher that their kid's splotches of paint are deserving of a college scholarship, or insist that their child is a genius at something when everyone else who hears/sees/smells the result is wondering "Does she see what WE see??" aren't letting their kids shine for the world, only for them. And that seems limiting, to me.
I'm not perfect, and don't expect them to be. I don't expect them to be The Greatest At Everything They Do. But we can all be a little better.
I know my kids are awesome. I just want them to prove it to themselves.
So I refuse to blow smoke up their butts. I'll leave that to their grandparents.
"Teach your children to self-soothe. Never rock them to sleep."
Soon you will sleep. Soon your children will brush their own teeth and comb their own hair and roll their eyes when you try to give them a good night kiss. But right now? Right now they still think you are awesome. Right now, they giggle when you read with funny voices and think you are the smartest person in the world
Right NOW. While you are exhausted and dirty and (WHAT is that smell? Is that ME?) stretched so thin... they want more. They want five more minutes, one more song, another story. And soon, they'll hang a sign on the door that reads, "No Gron Ups Aloed." But right now, you still a member of their club, right now you have a chance to savor their sweet baby smell and listen to their innocence as they talk about anything and everything to delay bedtime for just five more minutes.
Gretchen Rubin says, "The days are long but the years are short."
Give them five more minutes, because right now, you still can.
All of them. Because either you choose to break them or they will crumble and fall apart on their own schedule if you don't.
It's not us against our kids. It's us against the rules we have about our kids. And if we wait long enough, Murphy will come along and break the rules at the worst times.
I hate to be predictable, but I really feel that parents should let go of the rigid nap routines. Seriously! I get so many envious comments from folks whose kids fight them on nap time, but the irony is that this new frontier in napping really started for my kids because I was too exhausted from taking care of my youngest to wrestle my oldest into his bed any longer. The rest is history. Sure - I don't get to plan my day around nap time. However, my kids have learned to be flexible and creative and they still get the sleep they need most of the time. As an added bonus, I get a daily laugh and a great photo album to show them when they're grown!
"Not on a school night."
My kids need structure more than most. Heck, I need structure more than most. When I tell my kids "Homework! Dinner! Bath! Bed!" it's as much for me (exhausted me, who NEEDS THE DAY TO END) as it is for them.
But sometimes, when when your kids beg to go to a park across the county to have a picnic dinner by the water and it's Monday at rush hour on a school night, the right answer is yes.
Sometimes, when it's dusk and freezing out and your kids beg you to take them sledding through the woods, the right answer is yes. Because then you get amazing memories like this:
Safety comes second.
Say what? Exactly. We are told when we are children to remember "safety first" over and over, but there are so many times this rule restricts growth, fun and learning. There are times to be impulsive and there are times to test boundaries. Plus, children learn to trust us if we warn them of the danger in what they're doing but allow them to do it anyway, and then find out we were right. We would never lick the brownie batter spatulas with our kids if we put safety first. We wouldn't let them play with slingshots. We wouldn't let them take apart our vacuum cleaners (kudos to my in-laws for allowing my computer scientist husband to do this as a 5-year-old trying to build a hovercraft.) As parents, we need to weigh what we're trying to protect our children from in our minds against the life lesson they will get if they find out the harder (and more fun) way.
The most ludicrous and unrealistic parenting rule I ever heard is: "Don't let your children watch TV. It's bad for them." Who made up that rule? Cavemen? (More likely, cavemen without children). If I didn't have the luxury of plopping my kids in front of the TV when they were little, I would have been unable to prepare innumerable meals, pay the family's bills, or commit to any sort of physical hygiene. In other words, without TV, my kids would have starved, been homeless, and had a mother who stunk.
What's so bad about TV anyway? It's a sure fire way to soothe our precious savage beasts when they are fighting or crying or having some other type of emotional breakdown. There is something about the bright colors flashing across the screen that tames our sweet angels and causes them to stop destroying everything in their paths. TV helps them to sit in one spot for more than a few seconds at a time. TV helps return the home to a peaceful place where parents and children alike are smiling in silence.
Remember, parents: TV is your friend. Embrace it, don't shun it. Most of all, don't believe a word those non-parents tell you!
Your child does not need to be a part of the clean plate club. I remember growing up that we always had to finish every single bite on our plate. Just remind them that there is no more food for the rest of the night and it will work! My daughter always says she is full after a few bites. I tell her that there is no more food for the rest of the night and if she is really full she is done. If she is still hungry then she will eat a few more bites. It is not right to force food down your kid's throat if they really aren't hungry anymore.
Wait....we're supposed to have RULES??? Personally, I like to think of them more as "guidelines" because what works one day may make you wanna stick your head in the microwave another day. Parenting is all about survival of the fittest and being able to adapt to whatever wack-a-doodle thing life throws your way at any given moment.
Every. Single. One. Being a mom means being able to fly by the seat of your pants and adapt to any situation at ANY time. Parenting "rules" are in place as a guide. There is always a situation to break every one of them. I hate it when my friends guilt themselves for letting their kids stay in their pajamas all day, eat pizza for breakfast, or indulge their pleas for a toy even when their behavior has been less than perfect. Being a parent also means showing our kids that rules can be broken and life is meant to be enjoyed! Doing what makes them/you happy is a part of living and loving life. Teaching them happiness is more important than most lessons those parenting rules are meant to teach anyway.
As a the only 5-year-old Featured Blogger on Circle of Moms I think the parenting rule to break is the notion that parents are in control. I like to give my mom the illusion that she's the "boss." Like when she's desperately trying to do the laundry and get dinner together I let her CHOOSE if she wants to play Candyland 20 times in a row OR engage in a round of Ariel verses the Polly Pocket army. By giving her the choice to either A) play with me or B) play with me... she's much easier to deal with by bedtime.
Don't think so hard about things. Go with your gut sometimes - you're probably right. I've got older kids than many "mommy bloggers" and I really want to stress that as things get tougher, as problems with older kids may become larger, unconditional love, with a strong sense of boundaries, is invaluable.
Some people think you can spoil a child by giving them too much attention and affection, but I don't think you can ever give a child too much love.
Heidi Ferrer www.Girltomom.com
Wait. There are rules? Where can I get a copy?
Give thyself a break. Stop thinking there are rules. New parents aren't graded on how they swaddle or what language they use around their kids, but it's almost as if we wish we were because we're all desperate to get it right. So we immerse ourselves in first, second and third hand advice to validate decisions that are largely intuitive and subjective --there IS no right. So trust yourself and your love for your kid and stop freaking yourself out. Besides, by the time you have a second kid, your litmus for a good day will be reduced to whether you've all got clothes on.
Viv from Soapbox Dirty, the artist formerly known as The Mad Mom