Revelations From A Renegade Parent

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Today at the playground with my kids, I decided I don’t really care if they walk, run, or crawl up the slide instead of sliding down it.  I’m tired of enforcing that “you only slide DOWN the slide” rule. 

Both my kids are extremely agile, and regardless, they could injure themselves just as easily climbing up the stairs, ladders, or rock walls to get to the top of the slide.

I’m not going to waste my time or energy even pretending to care.  Who made up that stupid rule anyway?  When dozens of kids are going buck wild climbing on every possible surface, racing, swinging, and screaming with abandon, how is limiting them to only sliding down the ding dong slide going to improve anyone’s life?

As soon as I made this decision, I felt liberated, free from some old timey rule I no longer needed to enforce.  

I felt inspired.  

I’ve decided I feel fine allowing my kids to watch TV and snack while I make dinner.  By the time we actually make it to dinner-prep, we are all exhausted, hungry, and surly.  Jack has sat in a classroom for six hours, done homework, then run out all his remaining energy on the playground.  Emily has had a day full of enrichment, either home with me or at her daycare, so how is it harming them to watch a half hour of TV while I bustle around the kitchen?

I’ve always beat myself up for using the TV as the “electronic babysitter,” but I’ve chosen not to feel bad about it any longer. My exhausted little boy does not want to do play doh, color, or build with legos after his long day.  He wants to watch a show.  I’ve decided I’m fine with that.

My guilt is simply a waste of energy.

Furthermore, if they want to snack while they watch TV, I’m cool with that too.   While we try to eat dinner together at least three or four times per week (our busy schedules don’t allow for much more), I simply no longer believe in the notion that all nutrition has to take place at the dining room table.  They can munch on grapes, cheese and crackers, apple slices, or carrot sticks and I can add those bites into their overall dietary intake for the day.  If they eat a little less at the table, so what?

Look.  I’m not living in the world my husband and I grew up in.  Times have changed radically.  Kids are treated and behave differently.  Both the roles of women and men have evolved.  As a working mom there is no way I am going to be able to accomplish the white picket American Dream of yesteryear.  It would be nice, but it’s not going to happen. 

My life is in a constant state of falling apart-ness.  And that’s fine.  That’s just our life “as it is” to quote Pema Chodron.  Accepting where we are, and our limits is far more productive, in my humble opinion, than constantly exerting the energy it takes to swim upstream.

I don’t think any of these conscious choices to make my life easier make me a crappy parent.  Maybe they make me a little bit of a renegade.  Picking my battles doesn’t make me bad; it makes me badass.  At the end of the day, I can live with that.

What renegade choices do you make?  How are you badass at parenting? 

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17 responses »

  1. I had the thought as I read your sentence about the white picket fence – I’m not so sure people back then were ever actually made happy by that arbitrary finish line of American happiness. I mean, I wasn’t there to see it, but something just tells me that any mass-produced ideal can’t make everyone happy….or better yet, that happiness (or accomplishment, or satisfaction, or whatever you’d like to call it) doesn’t come from anywhere but from the inside.
    And by your choices, you’ve decided to be that happiness. yay!

  2. I think it’s so important that we all find our own way as parents. What works for one doesn’t work for the other and vice versa. And I think that sometimes we get so wrapped up in “how” we are doing things that we forget “why” we are doing them. When we lose sight of the “why,” I think we can become enslaved to the methods. Kuddos to you for keeping your eyes set on the “why”!

  3. Well, now that I have three, of course I’ve let a lot of things go like that. The guilt is sometimes still there in the back of my mind, but I’m working on letting that go too. Sometimes you just have to turn the TV on so they won’t be under your feet while you’re trying to cook. It’s that simple. Good for you for learning it faster than me!!

  4. I was and am a firm believer in “down time”, not all time spent has to have a creative product attached. I always let my girls relax and “watch a show”, WHILE snacking, even if it was BEFORE dinner. I think it reduced stress, and hunger and exhaustion.

  5. Way to go sister!! Don’t sweat the small stuff. Nothing wrong with TV in moderation! Nor the other things we battle constantly in our internal dialogue and guilt ridden conscious… How could relaxing on anything be more detrimental than a wiped out, barely functioning Mummy!? I love your insights and philosophies and back your attitude 100%…. When in doubt, ask me for a resounding affirmation of your awsumness!! 🙂

  6. I’ve let quite a few of the battles go. In preschool, my oldest wore her dinosaur costume or her pajamas (or both) for about six weeks one fall. I decided this was not the battle I cared to fight. TV has also resurfaced in our house, but I’m afraid that one came back to haunt me. Both my kids are obsessed with cooking shows, and my menu choices and plating skills are not up to snuff. Now, if only they were inspired to help me cook…

    • Ahhhh yes. . . I know the wearing of the costume for weeks on end well, my friend. We’ve been there too. Good luck getting your Gordon Ramsay on with those plating skills– LOL!

  7. I completely agree with all of the above. I can relate to it. For me I am renegade in many ways with raising my daughter. I myself have abandon the idea of trying to do things like others. I am much more confident and happy in the way I do it my way.

  8. We have to pick our battles and stop thinking that Pinterest is a realistic representation of every holiday out there. Simplicity and time together is usually best – a clean house a far second. Great post!

  9. I totally resonate with everything that was said above: we have to pick our battle and what harm can a little tv do if it enables to cook a dinner and have relaxed children at the table?
    Yesterday night I gave chocolate to my 14 months old daughter. Yessss I know, I will ruin her 12 teeth, give her a sweet tooth etc, make her allergy prone and probably she’ll end up junkie all because of this piece of chocolate. But well, I was myself eating it (A little PMS ;-)) in front of her and after 3 days which didn’t went well at the daycare, I bet she needed a little comfort food too, particularly after eating a whole plate of vegetable. And she was so happy and proud to eat the same food as us…

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