What’s inside: A surprising trick to lower your stress and actually make parenting easier. It might seem weird at first, but just wait until you see how your kids respond!
Today I’m sitting in the parent area at swim lessons while my youngest daughter is in her toddler class. I like to camp near the door to the pool room where it’s less crowded and I can spread out all our gear.
I’m comfortably settled in when another parent stomps over. He peered in through the glass door, huffed a little, and walked away. Impatiently waiting for our class to end? Looking for something he left behind in the changing station?
I didn’t have to wait long to find out.
Five minutes later huffy dad was back. This time he opened the door beside me and stopped — hovering next to me, halfway inside the pool room, intently watching his son taking his turn with the instructor.
Mystery solved. He just wanted a closer look, or perhaps to offer encouragement to his son when his turn was over.
Instead, huffy dad calls out across the pool, “Hey, if you catch him drinking the pool water, sit him out. He knows better.”
Huffy dad huffed back to his seat on the other side of the room and plopped back into his chair.
Huffy dad could now rest easy — he put his troublemaking son in check and all the other parents knew that his kid doesn’t drink that nasty pool water.
Is it really about the pool water anyway?
Let’s be real, pool water is the least of our parenting worries. (Or should be).
And even if some little bit of dirt or germs or whatever managed to survive the relentless assault of chlorine swirling throughout the water, it’s proven that early exposure to dirt builds our immune system. So maybe a couple sips is actually good for ’em.
What’s the big deal if a kid decides to do a little sensory investigation of the pool water? Kids have been drinking pool water since pools were invented. In a few years they’ll grow up, figure out that it’s gross and they’ll stop.
Something about the whole ten minute show at swim class today struck me as sad.
I don’t think huffy dad is a bad guy or a bad parent. I think he just got all wound up about something that doesn’t really matter.
And we’re all guilty of it.
When did we stop letting our kids be kids?
Kids are dirty. Kids like to do gross things. It’s just what kids do.
My youngest daughter told me she liked the taste of her boogers. And you know what? Scientists say that eating boogers is actually good for kids. So that’s one battle I choose not to fight.
However, I’m not a perfect parent either. Ask my husband and he’ll definitely tell you I’m too uptight. While I might not worry about boogers, there’s plenty that I do worry about.
Just last night after dinner I was finishing some things up for work. The girls were playing (loudly) in the living room. Screaming and running like banshees around the house type of playing.
“Girls! Quiet activities please!”
Eww. What lame old fart said that?
Oh, right. Me.
“Hey, they’re just having fun,” my husband reminded me gently.
And he was right.
It’s not them…it’s us.
We expect so much of kids today.
Kindergarteners go to school for a full 7 hours and have homework. I went to kindergarten half-day and we pretty much just played the whole time.
Second grade is the cut-off for recess at my daughter’s school. I definitely remember spending plenty of time on the playground all the way through sixth grade.
Kids need play.
Kids need time to just be a kid without some lame adult (that’s us) telling them what they’re doing is bad or gross or dangerous. (Unless it actually is legit dangerous).
Plus, all this this worrying and over-protective nonsense is stressing us out!
The surprising way to make parenting easier on yourself
Today when my girls’ pretend play started turning loud, I felt my shoulders automatically tense up. They started running. My brain went to work: they might fall, they might break something.
But instead of taking action, I did the opposite.
I did nothing. I let the girls act like kids, without my interference.
It felt a little weird doing nothing, but an interesting thing happened. After a few minutes, the girls stopped running on their own. They stopped hollering. They settled down without me saying a word.
Sometimes we make parenting harder than it needs to be. We try to do too much, to regulate our kids every move, protect them at every turn, restore order immediately.
Today, try something new. Make parenting easier on yourself.
Just let kids be kids for a little while.
It doesn’t mean you’re lazy or not doing your job. It means that you recognized the value in occasionally stepping back.
Your kids will be ok. You’ll be ok.
And they’ll have an awesome time.