7 Parenting Rules I Break And I Don’t Feel Bad… Anymore

“Rules are not meant to be broken.”

Blah blah blah. Before I had kids, I had my life all spelled out, including how I would be the perfect parent. Parenting is super easy, manageable, and predictable as long as you are consistent with your rules. Yes, I actually believed that hogwash… until the kids came. Then I realized something really important about myself…I’M HUMAN. It’s funny, I never really considered that in all my pre-planning of my perfect life with perfect kids. I never considered the scenario of parenting being trial and error. Or that I would be too exhausted to consistently uphold rules. Or that breaking those standard rules might actually be fun and add some spice to the monotony.  I never considered I would have the audacity to venture off from the status quo and…dare I say…. live a little. Before I had kids, I was a strict and no-nonsense parent.

“They say…”

To my surprise, parenting was the exact opposite of predictable. Just when I figured out one aspect, a tornado would blow in crumble my little house of cards! At first this would bother me. I often compared myself to others that always seem to have it together and I would feel inadequate as I tried to perfectly instill every parenting rule “they say” you need. Who is “they” anyway?

Related: How I feel About Parental Advice From Non-Parents

It wasn’t until I had my 3rd child that I realized, I’m perfectly okay breaking parenting rules and no longer feel bad about them! Honestly, I just don’t care. Like, AT ALL. And I don’t feel bad that I don’t care. The pressure to uphold rules all the time threatened my own sanity and had me forever doubting and stressing myself out. Like, who has the time?!  I’m done with that stress. The best part about breaking rules is that it often puts a smile on the kids’ faces and that is priceless. I can remember my mother announcing it was bedtime and we would whine and complain. My dad would say, let’s get in the car and take a ride! We would ride downtown and back, with the windows down and the music blasting. I’m sure my mother wasn’t too thrilled, but we had the time of our life and it is one of my best childhood memories. I am so happy my dad broke the rule so my sister and I could live a little.

I recently decided that I want to parent with the windows all the way down and the music all the way up!

Parenting rules I break:

  1. They stay up past their bedtime. I know this makes some parents cringe, but I don’t care if they sometimes break this rule. It is totally worth it to them to run one last lap around the house or slide in an extra cuddle with daddy before we make them officially go to bed. Yes, ideally I would prefer for them to go to bed early like the kids on TV. But this is not a battle I choose to fight every night anymore.
  2. I slip them a cookie before dinner. The universal parenting rule says no desserts before dinner. Sometimes I slip them a cookie while I’m getting dinner ready. Who cares! If it holds them over and their little eyes can dance, I’m okay with it. Plus, it buys me a few more minutes to finish the meal without them pulling on me and asking repeatedly, “is it ready yet?.” Here, just eat this cookie and go!
  3. They watch TV. You want to binge on Blaze and the Monster Machines? Fine. But seriously, it gives me some time to get myself together, and I like many of the lessons the shows have now-a days. I can remember in my day, cartoons were violent and borderline ridiculous. But thanks to Blaze, my son knows what centripetal force means and so do I! If the show has a learning component and keeps them entertained, it’s fine by me.
  4. Sometimes I allow them to tantrum. Well not in public, but at home, yes. I sometimes allow a tantrum to run its course, judge away. Over the years I’ve realized that trying to beat a tantrum is like trying to fight a California wildfire with a handheld fire extinguisher. It makes them angrier and me more furious and then we both melt down! No thanks. When I realized my daughter self-defuses when I become calm, I stopped fighting her. So I do the opposite. I let it ride out and simmer down. When it’s out of her system we move on.
  5. I don’t force them to eat foods they hate. I can remember my grandma forcing me to eat beets and cottage cheese when I was 7 and I’m pretty sure the gagging and dry heaving scarred me for life. I think about it often and the thought still makes me shudder. I hear this was quiet common back then, as parents expected/demanded children eat everything placed in front of them.  And what was the point? I still won’t touch a beet or cottage cheese. Forcing food just isn’t necessary. My grandma meant well, but I told myself I would never force my kids to eat foods they don’t like. There are so many other foods to choose from, I rather help them choose another fruit or veggie that doesn’t ruin them for life.
  6. I let them talk back. Well sort of. I mean, not in a disrespectful way, but I do allow them to communicate their feelings of pleasure and dismay. It helps them become stronger negotiators, communicators, and just smarter in general. I don’t believe in silencing children, I think having healthy dialog is important even at an early age. Respectful self- expression was allowed in my parent’s household and I think I turned out okay 🙂
  7. I don’t let them think I’m perfect. They see me laugh, cry, hurt and angry. They see that their mom is a human with feelings and not above mistakes. I teach them empathy by showing them that sometimes mommy hurts too, or mommy gets disappointed in life. I don’t pretend to be a perfect parent and I let them know that I am growing as well. They see my smiles and know I am genuine. They see my prideful glances and understand I want to be happy like everyone else.

Related: New Mom Basics: The Art of Saying “No”

They survive, I survive.

So yeah, that sums up where I am! I’m a great mom most of the time, and a good mom all the time. Breaking rules just makes me….human. I make mistakes and I no longer beat myself up. My kids will be great either way! They survive, I survive, and we have a little fun in between. Rules ARE meant to be broken. Sometimes, anyway 🙂

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I am a career-driven mother of 3 dedicated to the health, spiritual, and emotional well-being of moms.