One of the more frustrating parts of parenting is constantly having to be the voice of reason to an otherwise unreasonable, smaller version of yourself. It can be truly exhausting trying to raise a decent human being because there is so much to teach them those first eighteen years.
Like many other mothers, I have ended my day sobbing in the shower because it felt like all I had done that day was referee, correct, and say (read:scream) NO. I decided that to help preserve some of my sanity, I was going to start picking my battles. The most important thing to me is that they grow up to be kind, happy, healthy, and confident people.
Here are some of the big things I decided to not stress so much about anymore:
As long as everything that needs to be covered up is covered, I’m good. If you want to wear colors that clash or a tie with rain boots (yes, my son has done this), then go for it. If you want to wear shorts when it’s cold (yes, my daughter has done this), then you do you. I have gotten looks and judgement I’m sure, but my kid is running into the school building where we all know it’s warm inside, then back to my car where it’s warm, then back to my house where, you guessed it! It’s warm. Being able to choose what they wear is a big part of figuring out who they are as individuals and unless I need a Christmas picture for Grandma, I am not too worried about what my kids are rocking.
Cleaning Their Plates
This doesn’t mean that my kids can eat one bite at Chick-fil-A then immediately go play. Do I want my children to be fed and healthy? Absolutely. Am I going to get worked up over some left over fries, green beans, or chicken? Heck no. This one is a big common sense one for me. While I encourage my kids to try new foods, I am never going to make them finish something they don’t like. We as adults do not eat things we don’t enjoy. We also stop eating when we are satisfied. I would say I more encourage my kids to serve themselves what they can/will eat.
I want my kids to be able to be creative and imaginative, and often times this leads to a messy playroom. And I want them to be able to play outside and find cool bugs, and climb trees, and forget about tablets for a while. I had to decide that I couldn’t let the fear of the mess get in the way of the magic of the mess. Kids are not innately clean beings, and we shouldn’t expect them to be. While you won’t soon be finding me put a frame around a wall drawing done behind my back with a sharpie, I still try to give them a good amount of creative license to craft, imagine, and play. This is one I am still working on honestly, but I feel it’s important.
Hear me out on this one, because it’s a big one and I know it’s tough for most of us. If either of my kids need help and I can tell its going south fast, I would rather let them finish what they can and just be done then and there. I simply write a note on the homework. I’d prefer to let the teacher know Thing 1 or Thing 2 and I need a little extra coaching on this. I have had meetings to get help and I’ve had a note sent back with examples. For the most part, homework is repetition of something they have already learned so if it becomes that much of a struggle, let it be and reach out because they obviously need a little more help in that area. In my experience, most teachers are more than happy to help.
So remember the mess I so badly want to embrace? Yes, well I also want to embrace responsibility. Life is all about balance and we can play, but eventually it has to get picked up. I decided to make it as simple and age appropriate as it could be for their sake and mine. I remain consistent and it’s really just part of their routine now. Do they do it as well as I would? No, but I’m not going to be upset over pants not folded just so. I expect they take care of their responsibilities, but I’m not busting out a rubber glove that’s just going to stress everyone out. Kids are smart and will get with the program. We sometimes underestimate how much they can really do if we just teach them. I’ve also noticed they feel very accomplished being able to do things on their own!
All parents are different and put more or less emphasis on things and have different expectations for their kids. One thing is for sure, we can all agree it’s a hard job. What is something you have eased up on to save your sanity?