The Commandments of Lazy Parents

I know it’s Fess-up Friday day, but I’m bored of that so I decided to write a big ass testament to my parenting style.  I hope you all enjoy!

P.S. Excuse wordpress for being a brat and eating some of my paragraph spacing. Weird glitches today.

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Call it Laissez-Faire parenting, call it Submarine parenting, call it Free Range parenting – we all know what it really means.

Lazy Parenting.  Lazy, Lazy, Lazy.  Don’t bother trying to hide behind the fancy labels.  Embrace it.  Own it.  I’m a lazy mom, and I’m proud of it!

Criminitly, as a side-effect, it just so happens that the kids are better off for it.  (Sidenote: may have watched Disney’s Robin Hood one too many times this week.)

We all know now that “helicopter” parenting creates codependent little brats, so just relax ladies.  Lazy is good, and no, I’m not saying it’s okay to be negligent.  There’s a fine line, but please stay on this side of it.

Believe me, our kids don’t need us half as much as we like to think they do.  Or at least, that’s what I believe.  I’m putting on my know-it-all hat (because ya know having three kids practically gives me a PH.D. in parenting), and have written up some commandments that I think all lazy parents will appreciate.

Commandment #9:  Let them make their messes.  Then, let them clean them up.

For preschoolers and older.  I particularly love this one.  A) You don’t have to fight with them to be clean constantly B) You don’t have to clean anything up for them.  You may, however, have to hover over them, continuously redirect them back to their task and threaten them with serious punishment (that you’ll likely never go through with – but they don’t need to know that).  Eventually they’ll get used to the routine and henceforth motivating them with the death glare will suffice.

Commandment #8:  Instead of doing everything for them, teach them to do it by themselves.

Taking clothes off.  Putting clothes on.  Doing up their zippers.  Getting on the potty by themselves.  Crawling/walking down the stairs on their own.  Pushing themselves on the swing.  These are basic things, but they take practice.  If you’re really really diligent and work with them, you’d be surprised how early these things can be accomplished and the kids can get off your apron-strings.  

My just-turned 2 year old recently started pushing herself on the swing.  I’ve been sending her back upstairs to get herself dressed in the morning for nearly 6 months.  She puts her own shoes on.  She helps me wash the dishes (and does a surprisingly good job).  She can (finally) sit on the potty without my help.  And she’s happy.  And I’m happy.  And no, she’s not “advanced”.  She’s a normal little girl, who happens to have a lazy mom.

Commandment #7:  Give your kids free reign of the house.

Once you’re able to give them some modicum of trust, and if we’re being honest even before that, it really pays off for your sanity to let the little ones explore the house on their own.  Just steel yourself for the potential for finding whole toilet paper rolls marinating in your toilet because one of your older kids forgot to close the bathroom door behind them.  And make sure the dangerous chemicals are locked away.  Trust me, those precious few minutes of alone time are totally worth it.  And the fallout makes for some awesomely naughty pictures to post on Facebook.

Commandment #6:  Let them deal with their own problems.

Kids fight.  Sometimes a few punches are thrown; sometimes they scream and yell childish remarks (“You’re not coming to my birthday!”); sometimes they need some help with mediation but oftentimes they don’t.  Let them at least try to sort it out themselves before playing the white knight.

As moms (and dads) it’s easy for us to jump at the first squawk.  We react instinctively to the sounds of our kids crying.

We want to save them and soothe them and make it all better.

Or sometimes the opposite – we react defiantly and tell them to stop crying or refuse to pick them up until they stop crying.  “Don’t be ridiculous – it was just a little scratch.”

As a parent, which is best?  Personally, I’m of the “everything in moderation” camp.  Don’t overreact.  You have to walk the line in between the two extremes to balance having a child that doesn’t scream bloody murder at every bump and bruise or on the other hand, a child who is so emotionally introverted that they internalize everything creating problems for them later in life.  Either way, we’ll probably eff up but at least attempting to mitigate this is important.

Commandment #5:  Allow them quiet time, time to be creative.
When kids are being quiet, especially when they are very young, most parents run as quickly as possible to check what kind of damage they are doing.  Clearly making sure they are safe is a prerogative, but otherwise kids are at their very most creative when they are being quiet.  Even if they are being naughty and dumping out your shampoo into the bathtub – they are doing little science experiments.  Of course there is a limit, so use common sense but don’t necessarily jump at every moment of silence.  Try secretly watching them for a while – kids in the throws of creative destruction are fascinating.

Commandment #4:  Give them their autonomy.  

Let your school aged child pack their own lunch.  Yes, they might put in two granola bars, but they might also surprise you, as my son did, and add a small ziplock bag full of sliced cucumbers.  Just make sure you peek in and double check everything, lest they plunder their leftover Easter candy stash.  

Let them pick their own clothes (without interference).  No, they might not match perfectly but they’ll feel great about it and they’ll probably look adorable too.  In fact, being that I’m lazy but still rather vain about the appearances of my kids, I’ve intentionally coordinated my son’s entire wardrobe.  There is hardly a piece of clothing in his whole wardrobe that doesn’t match every other.

Let them make their own friends.  They might not always be the friends you would have picked for them, but micromanaging their social lives is never in their best interests.

Commandment #3:  Safety first – but otherwise, give them physical freedom.

Trust them as far as they’ve proven themselves trustworthy – and then a little farther.  Yes, it’s risky, but that’s how kids grow.  And frankly, the vast majority of kids will push their boundaries with or without your permission.  If the boundaries you set for them are normally pretty flexible, then when something is truly important and lines are drawn, the kids will stand up, take notice and respond the way you want them to.  

Now, I’m not saying to let your toddler play around the lake on their own.  Minimize the risk of death and trauma first.  Use safety gear.  Use reason.  But supervising them every second of every day isn’t only going to make them crazy – it’ll make you crazy too.

Commandment #2:  If it’s good for you and it’s good for them, then it’s all good.

Being forced and doing the forcing stresses out both kids and parents.  You push, they push back – you push back harder.  A lot of the time, it’s just not worth it.  Pick your battles wisely.  Don’t say “no” unless you really mean it and are willing to enforce it with every ounce of your willpower.

One battle I’ve given up on?  My middle child, Julia, crawling into bed with us at 3am every morning.  Partly because I’m too exhausted to put her back in her own bed, and partly because I secretly enjoy our middleofthenight snuggles, she’s remained a fixture in there for the better part of the last 6 months.  Obviously she needs the comfort, and maybe so do Jon and I.  So until either we get fed up (unlikely to happen) or she has conquered her fear, I have no problem letting her stay.  For a while.  It might start to get weird once she hits puberty.

Commandment #1:  Be in love with your kids.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that all parents love their kids.  They say a parent loves unconditionally.  But, I don’t know that all parents are in love with their kids.  Being in love comes with conditions.
Maintaining a passionate flame of love takes a lot of work.  Be patient, be kind, be thoughtful and be thought provoking.  You’ll reap the rewards of your efforts later.  Be stern when you need to.  Never tolerate rudeness.  Work hard to raise kids that you are proud of.
This also means you have to be happy with yourself (or with your progress) before your kids can be happy.  Work on your own issues.
Be introspective and try to improve those qualities that are limiting your potential – because they are also limiting your kids potential.
 No one is a perfect parent and everyone has their own shit to deal with, but being aware of it and talking about it is the first step.

If I make a real mistake, I apologize.  My kids know I’m not perfect because I talk to them about it.  They understand that we’re all imperfect beings who are all striving to be just a little better than we were yesterday.  Keep the lines of communication open and you’ll find out things about your kids that will make you burst with love like you’ve never thought possible.

Can you think of any more commandments I’ve forgotten?  Think I’m a crackhead and should stick my rules where the sun don’t shine?  It’s all good – comment below.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “The Commandments of Lazy Parents

  1. I believe in the thinking “Let them be Bored” (and have been meaning to write a post about that myself). They are their most creative when they are bored, when there is no scheduled activity, no t.v., no video games. When my kids tell me they are bored I say “Good, would you like to help me clean?” Usually, they quickly will find something to do.

    Loving your blog, Erin!

  2. I love it! I (not surprisingly) agree, but most especially about #1. My OCD is seriously bothered by the fact that you have 9 and not 10 commandments, lol, so I’ll pretend like Julie’s ‘let them be bored’ (which I totally agree with, as well!) is number 10.

    If I had to add something to your list, I’d put – give up your personal space, mostly. Hug and kiss and wrestle and cuddle and hold those babies!

    • Hey Kelly! I’m pretending the same thing re: Julie’s commandment. My brain was soooo fried and it was either post it as is or wait another day and patience is NOT my friend! OCD sure would be seriously helpful sometimes. LOL!

  3. Wow!! I am glad to have found a parent who parents just like me!

  4. Chrisy

    Sounds like a good plan to me. When I actually find someone crazy enough to marry me, and we get around to adopting a little one, I may end up calling you quite often screaming “HELP!”… hehe

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