How does the saying go? I was a much better parent before I had kids. I'm not sure I'd say that's 100 percent true for me, since I knew exactly diddly-squat about child rearing prior to that fateful day when an actual human made its miraculous and only slightly horrifying exit from my personal body, but I can identify with the truth behind it: before I plunged into the great unknown of motherhood, I had a lot of ideas about how I'd raise my children.
Some of them have remained at the top of my priority list. The importance of laughter, for instance. Showing my kids that I love them through words, affection, and action. Dragging their reluctant butts to swimming lessons, even though I hate sitting next to a sweaty-ass pool.
But more often than not, my lofty ideals about parenthood have fallen by the wayside. Call it compromise, choosing my battles, or call it the reality of the trenches ... either way, here are some of the standards I gave up on a long time ago:
Feeding my kids nutritious foods at every meal. I used to think my kids would eat fruits, vegetables, proteins, and avoid processed foods at every meal. HA HA HA HA HA HA *wipes tear, doubles over* HAAAAAAAAAAAA. Well, I was blessed with two of the pickiest eaters on the planet, and while the 6-year-old has gotten better, I'm lucky if I can force a turkey dog and a handful of Goldfish crackers into the 4-year-old on a daily basis. There was a point when I would insist that my older son try everything on his plate, but after a thousand nights that ended with EVERYONE in tears, I decided I didn't want to die on that hill. My boys get separate kid-friendly meals each day, and while I sort of wish they had a healthier, more adventurous diet, I CHOOSE SANITY.
Quitting all diapers by a certain age. At one time I was convinced that I could make potty training happen on my schedule, not theirs. Could I have been more wrong? </Chandler voice> Man, I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to just chill the hell out, that each kid is different and some kids can't be bribed with stickers and that as endless as it felt, I wouldn't be scraping feces out of someone's underwear forever. To that end, I've decided not to care about a certain someone's reliance on night pull-ups. Sure, I could be waking him up every night and doing the zombie walk to the bathroom to life-coach him through a pee break and washing load after load of bedding and possibly making him feel bad about himself, orrrrrrr ... you know, not.
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Trying tons of new group activities all the time. I used to think it was important for small children to be exposed to all sorts of different sports and activities and classes and then I realized the reality of shelling out hundreds of dollars and driving to and fro in order for a preschooler to do a supervised "roly poly" down a gym mat. At this point, we do karate and swimming and that seems like PLENTY.
Dressing my kids so they don't look like hobos. This is a fine goal for any parent, up until the exact moment when your children want to dress themselves. Then they will appear from their bedrooms looking like they took a direct hit from an air cannon loaded with the Goodwill reject bin, and wow, hey, look at all the fucks you do not give.
Teaching the correct pronunciation for words. Yes, I suppose I should encourage my kids not to say "gots" or "what that is?" or "favoritest," but come on, that shit is adorable. My 4-year-old calls my laptop a "picuter." The other day my 6-year-old was talking about how our night-prowling cat had turned "nocturtle." NOCTURTLE YOU GUYS. Whatever I may have thought about the importance of teaching my children to use proper English, it's far less important than enjoying the charm of their kid-isms now.
What parenting ideals did you give up on when you had kids?
Image via Linda Sharps
Going to baseball games
Riding bike rides in the nice weather
Playing outside after work/school
Going for walks outside