I have been a mother for 13 years now. When my first was born, I did everything by the book when it came to our daily routine. I had a list of his bowel movements on the fridge. We never missed a nap. I bathed him often, and dressed him like a baby model fresh out of a catalog. I swear, for the first year of his life that kid was never dirty for more than two minutes at a time.
Every day was like groundhog day in my house.
But then I had another baby. And another. They got older and with each passing year I soon realized what was important and what was honestly not worth giving a crap about. I heard my voice during an argument with my daughter one day about wearing matching socks. And that’s when it hit me: I sounded ridiculous; especially because she was so proud about getting said socks on.
What’s more, I could have used that time and energy to do something meaningful. You know, like paint my toenails or pluck my eyebrows.
I needed to let it go.
Along the way, I have given up on other petty arguments I was having with my children, because at the end of the day, they simply weren’t that important. Not even a little bit.
Things including, but not limited to:
1. Doing their chores perfectly.
Of course they don’t put their dishes or clothes away like I would, but they are doing it and they are learning. It doesn’t have to perfect. Plus, when they help out it allows me more time to deep-stalk people on Facebook.
2. Staying up late to read.
They are excited about a book and I am excited about that. If they are staying up late to delve into another world — a magical place that stimulates their brain — I am going to let them burn the midnight oil. And if I am lucky they will take a delicious nap the next day.
3. Wearing underwear.
My youngest son told me once that wearing underwear was a waste of time. It takes too long, it’s too hard, and he can’t seem to fit it into his overbooked schedule. I got really tired of checking his bum every day to see if he had put on his undies. The same undies that would make him complain all day. The same undies that would make him flail about, because they were SO UNCOMFORTABLE. If he wants to go commando, fine. Less laundry (and complaining) for me.
4. Wearing clothes to bed.
Here’s another time-saving trick my kids picked up from their super smart cousin. If you just put on a fresh outfit before bed every night, including a belt and headband, all you have to do is get out of bed in the morning and go. I’m not going to lie, it makes the morning run very very smoothly. (So screw you, pajamas.)
5. Celebrating their fifth-grade graduation at McDonald’s.
Yes; this is where my son wanted to eat immediately following his fifth grade graduation. It was not my first choice, but it was his. And since it was his day, what he says goes. We still invited lots of family, we all still dressed up and it felt special to him. It was what he wanted, so that is where we went — and he was over the moon. Isn’t that all that matters, anyway?
6. Getting in more than the recommended 2 hours of screen time a day.
We exceed this every. single. day. Even on beautiful days. I need the down time that comes with putting my kids in front of a screen. They seem to need it, too. It gives us all a chance to regroup until all hell breaks loose again.
When I think about all the things that matter in life, none of these things do. Not really. What matters is that we are raising kind, decent human beings. Kids who want to learn, grow, experience, and feel alive. I want to give that to my kids and I do. I don’t care if they aren’t wearing underwear or matching socks. They are swimming their childhood, their brains are like sponges, and that is where I need to focus my energy; on providing an environment that is interesting and challenges them with much bigger things than where we should celebrate their fifth-grade graduation.More On