This year I have one child in elementary school, one in middle school, and one in high school. I need to chill out a little if we are all going to make it through the year in one piece. I need to remember I am not a drill sergeant and it’s okay if I forget something and make a mistake, the week is still going to go on, the school will not kick us out, and I will still be the average parent that I am today if I slip up because we all do from time to time.
So there are a few things that my kids have told me I need to relax about, and you know what? I am going to listen because they are absolutely right. Sometimes I spend so much energy thinking about pointless things that literally don’t matter much. So, this year, I’m vowing to do these things so I stress much less.
1. I will not get upset when my kids write on themselves. All three of my kids come home quite often with a smiley face on their hand, arm, or neck. They like to draw on their fingernails. Apparently it is a fun way to pass the time. I am constantly making them go wash it off immediately. I don’t know why but I can’t stand the way it looks. Then I tell them they aren’t allowed to write on themselves, or allow anyone else to write on them. My son once asked me why it bothered me so much. I told him I didn’t like the way it looked he reminded me that we don’t judge others on their looks. He also shared how much he liked it when his friends draw a smiley face on his hand. And he’s right; it’s not a big deal. Draw away, kids.
2. I will not force them to eat breakfast. Now before you go thinking I am a neglectful mother, I have fought my kids on eating breakfast every morning for years. They leave for school at 7 a.m. and they are just not hungry. I remember as a tween, I was never hungry that early in the morning either and my parents never made me eat. I can’t tell you how much food has been wasted in our house because I’ve made them breakfast and they just don’t eat it. I am tired of the fight every morning, so I am letting it go. If they get hungry enough, they will learn and start eating breakfast.
3. I will no longer insist that my kids wear matching socks. Or socks period. Another subject that causes tension on my house. My kids can never seem to find two socks that match, they hate wearing them, and honestly, it takes them longer to put them on their feet than it does for me to do my entire morning routine. They can go without, we will all live.
4. I will not stress if we don’t make it to every event. My eldest child will be 14 in a few weeks and I always used to be diligent about making it to every parenting meeting, open house, sporting event, birthday party, and the like. I literally cannot keep up anymore now that my kids are getting older. It is okay if we don’t make it to a meeting. It is okay if we are late. And it really is okay if they decide to give up extracurricular activities they’ve outgrown. It will just leave more room to do new things (or old things, like lie on the sofa in my underwear eating ice cream while they play outside).
5. I will no longer monitor their homework. Yes, I want to be involved to a point, but if they need help, they need to ask. If they get something wrong, I am not going to correct it for them. If they have had enough and homework is a battle because they’ve been at it for over an hour and don’t understand the way I am explaining it to them, it’s time to walk away and send the teacher an email explaining we tried our best, but we need extra help.
I’ve tried a few of these things very casually, but I am serious about truly letting them go this year. They are small things that aren’t going to have a huge impact. And you know what will make us all happier? If I back off a bit and take the time I would be stressing out about silly things and put my energy into important things like sending my kids to school with more school supplies, checking in with them each day about their behavior at school, and reminding them to be kind.
Because these are the lessons that will stick with them a lot more than if they are wearing matching socks or sporting a smiley face on their hand.