My friend Alison says I should write my own parenting book. She says it will be sassy, clever and funny, just like me. At first I laughed it off, I mean, I’m basically the anti-parent. I always feel like a fraud giving parenting advice, even when I worked at a parenting magazine! Essentially, I’m the bad mom in the corner who learns everything the hard way — good old-fashioned trial and error! But Alison got me thinking, maybe there is a market for my style of detachment parenting. Take a look at these anti-parenting tips and let me know if you think there’s a market out there!
1. Let your kids go out in the snow wearing their spring coats. If your poppet values looking cool over being warm, teach him about natural consequences; once he feels the chill chances are good he’ll choose his down jacket over his spring vest tomorrow. My son recently came home and said a teacher told him he needed to wear a warmer coat from now on. For some reason when she told him his coat wasn’t warm enough he was all ears, but when I told that he threw a fit and refused to listen! Yes, you’re absolutely right — he should listen to me — but he doesn’t always.
2. Sometimes kids suck. I absolutely encourage you to cherish the magic and joy of watching your kids discover how the world works. Little ones are sweet and cuddly and right after their baths, they smell really good. BUT… sometimes all those discoveries lead to tantrums and fighting and vomiting. And those things suck!
3. TV is a good thing. Some days I just really, really need my kids to watch lots of TV. TV is a perfectly good babysitter as long as you don’t use it constantly. And I hereby give you permission to let your kid watch too many shows in a row, once in a while.
4. It’s OK to have a mommy mentor and make all your decisions based on what she says. Sometimes I don’t know my ass from my elbow where my kids are concerned, preventative discipline? punish? I don’t know! Luckily my friend Monica is super smart — like the smartest mommy I know. She has four older kids and chances are good she’s already been through whatever battle I’m currently fighting. So a lot of my decisions are based on her advice or actions. If Monica says no electronics allowed at table, I think WoW! What a great rule! Then, I make that a rule at our house too. (This drives my daughter Charlotte crazy!)
5.GO AWAY! Once a year I flee the country for a few days to visit my aunt and cousin in Charleston. This serves two purposes. 1) I get to escape the Canadian winter and realize that yes, this season of slush and bleakness will soon pass, just as it does every year and 2) It gives me the chance to relax and miss my kids. I know not everyone has the opportunity or means to flee to Charleston, (although I’m sure my aunt would be happy to see you) but going on a girls getaway to a cottage for a couple of days is just as good. Try it, you’ll like it.
6. Take care of you. Kids are demanding and wonderful… and demanding. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in their web of needs and wants that you forget about yourself. Ask yourself this, did you skip your shower this morning so you could get them out the door? Did you eat at the counter while you made their breakfast? If so, you might need to take a few minutes each day to meditate, take a bath or arrive early to pick them up and just sit in the car sipping a coffee and enjoying the quiet — do something just for you.
7. It’s OK to hate being a mom sometimes. No one ever says that, do they? If advertisements on TV are to be believed we’re supposed to lovingly stroke the sides of our kids’ little faces all day long. But no one loves every minute of motherhood. If one of your holier-than-thou friends says she does, remind her about the time her daughter was car sick in the back of taxi on her way to the airport. Her grimace of disgust will prove my point.
8. Go on a dates. The whole reason I got myself into this parenthood thing is because I went to a bar one night and fell in love/lust with a total dreamboat I met there. This family is a direct result of his dreaminess. The times I forget that are often the times I dislike my role as mom/wife the most. So, after two rounds of marriage counseling, the hubs and I have learned a few things. The first is that I am always right (heehee!) The second is that we need to take care of our relationship, even when our kids throw themselves onto the car demanding to come on our date with us. If this happens here’s what we do: The passenger gets out of the car, throws said kid inside the house and then runs back to the car. Meanwhile the driver revs the engine ready to squeal away at a moment’s notice. Then we take off to a mini mall for a cheap dinner at a franchised restaurant. Nothing says romance like the smell of burning rubber .
9. Do homework or don’t do homework. I care not. Here’s the thing, two of my three children are pretty volatile. Sure they’re cute and sweet and charming but put their homework in front of them and they turn into rotten apples. They scream, they cry, they procrastinate — often they lie about whether they have homework at all. Now, I could go all helicopter on them (yeah, right!), or I could let them figure out the consequences of not doing your homework. IE, fine, you can tell your teacher why it isn’t done tomorrow. The thing is, I already did gr. 3, I know the answers to these questions and while I’m happy to sit with my daughter while she does her homework I refuse to do it for her.
10. Newsflash: You are a good enough mom! Women have been mothers since the dawn of time; parenting books, mommy blogs and all other guilt-inducing media are a relatively new phenomena. Your job is to raise them the best you can and try not to screw them up too much. But no matter how hard you try, you will screw them up somehow. So keep them clean. Teach them how to love each other and themselves. But chill the f*ck out and remember that you’re raising them so they can live in this world once they leave your house, they won’t learn anything if you don’t let them make mistakes now. And if you screw up along the way remember that you’re not alone. I’m right here, screwing up with you.