So I’ve probably mentioned that I have five boys once or twice here. I often get asked, “How do you manage to juggle a career while taking care of five boys?”
Actually, it’s usually phrased more like this: “Girl, you’re crazy. When do you ever sleep?” Or this, “Do you have a clone?”
I wish there were easy answers to these questions, because if there was one simple nugget of parenting advice I could offer to help your days go more smoothly, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
But if there is one overarching answer, one thread that ties most of my parenting decisions together, it’s this: I’m a parenting slacker.
Here is where I need to add a little disclaimer and state that it goes without saying I love my boys to the moon and back. And of course, I know those who make different parenting decisions love their kids just as much…this parenting thing isn’t a competition and if what you’re doing works for you, KEEP DOING IT!
So what does slacker parenting mean to me and why do I embrace it? First, it most certainly does NOT mean that I’m a disengaged or distant parent. Far from it… I work with a constant hurricane of boys swirling about me every day. And I love it.
What it does mean is that a lot of the time when making a parenting decision, I pick my battles…and when I can, I opt for the “easier” choice. That is, the one that causes the least amount of turmoil in our lives, the one that isn’t disruptive, the one that that allows our days to hum along in the most normal way possible.
- We don’t do a bunch of summer camps. For some, this is sacrilege. For us, it is sanity. The notion of waking up bright and early on summer mornings to haul boys around to five different camps sounds like a nightmare. Instead our boys spend those summer weeks together, reading and biking and making sandwiches and fishing and (yes) playing video games and making more sandwiches (these boys eat a LOT) and playing basketball and and and. No, they won’t have the memories of summer camp, but they are forging their brotherly bonds and learning how to occupy themselves.
- I don’t go over their homework every night once they are done. I’m always available to help, answer questions, explain concepts, etc…but I don’t check for mistakes or to make sure it’s complete. It is THEIR homework. If they don’t get it done, the consequences are for them to bear. If they get something wrong, it alerts their teacher they need help in that area. Same thing goes for reports…I’m most decidedly not the parent that makes sure the fizzing volcano looks realistic.
- I was lucky that breastfeeding was pretty easy for my boys, and I took full advantage of it. Especially at night. I let my boys nurse when they woke up, and I couldn’t work up the energy to institute a schedule for meals nor for teaching them to calm themselves at night. The easiest thing for us was to let them nurse…because it let me get back to sleep the fastest. If they needed a diaper change, that was my husband’s job (I totally won that coin toss!).
- My boys have age-appropriate cooking skills. My 15 year-old can whip up some mean spaghetti. My littlest can fix himself a bowl of his favorite cereal. The older boys can pack their school lunches, and can help the younger ones with theirs as well. Not only do my boys and I enjoy our kitchen time together as I teach them how to navigate a kitchen, but also they are slowly taking over some of the household responsibilities. In fact, the older they get, this feels less and less like being a slacker parent and more and more like they are learning a real life skill they will carry with them when they leave the nest.
- Our family room sometimes doubles as a makeshift dorm room. Loud thunderstorm? The boys (especially the younger ones) will probably be camping together in the family room. Especially fun day? The boys might very well be extending it by sleeping in the family room. Honestly? The average Worthington evening? The family room will probably be strewn with sleeping bags. My boys are a pack, and they like being together. I’m happy to sacrifice my family room for the cause…doesn’t bother me a bit that it’s the Worthington Dorm Hall. The boys that chose to be in there any one evening are building those brotherly bonds, they all fall asleep fast and sleep like logs. This means that Mom and Dad get a great night’s sleep, too.
We’re all in this parenting thing together…and we all have our own parenting styles and what works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for another. We’ve found slacker parenting works well for our family, and our boys are learning independence and self-reliance.
Are you a slacker parent? I’d love to hear how it works for you and your family! Share in the comments!
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