My husband and I have three boys so you’d think by now we would have learned how to get all Frozen and ‘let it go’ when it comes to kids and chaos. Not so! For some reason we still struggle with our lack of control (I like my new couch, dammit), but I also don’t like the mum I’ve become. So yep – it’s time to switch gears and stop acting like the Fun Police.
Is a nice house too much to ask for?
We recently did some major renovations and have a beautiful new home now. Do you think the kids care? Nope. There are already scuff marks on the walls, a chip out of the brand new Caesarstone kitchen bench top, and don’t even get me started on the stains on the brand new IKEA beige couch (shudder).
It’s so hard to find the balance between letting kids be kids (i.e. messy, wild animals) and enforcing some ground rules so the house doesn’t get trashed. The problem is that children often forget the rules, or are too young to understand them, or have accidents or are outright defiant – and then where does that leave you?
You’re shouting at them, or being way too pedantic about stuff, and still end up walking around cringing at all the nice things you’ve spent money on that are going to ruin and you can’t afford to replace. Of course, you could avoid buying new things or living in a nice house, but surely there’s a way to still have a beautiful home and children without being a big old meanie?
Dominating the air waves
Another area where my husband and I struggle is noise. Little boys are so LOUD! They shout and whoop all the time – I swear my middle child can’t speak at a normal volume. This is super annoying of course, especially when you’re sick or trying to concentrate, but where we find it the hardest is in relation to our one-year-old who still has two day sleeps and goes to bed early.
He suffered badly from reflux in the early months so not disturbing his sleep has been a high priority in our household from day one. But how can you expect little kids to play quietly and not get over-excited or accidentally bang a door? It’s impossible! And an unrealistic and unfair expectation. So, sorry baby, time to crank up the noise machine another notch and hope for the best.
Be prepared for consequences
Letting go is a much more relaxed way to parent, it creates less stress for you and the kids, and allows them to be, well, kids. However in all the fun and games, you need to be prepared for the fall out. For example, if you let the kids eat all their Halloween lollies before bed (like I did), they will not sleep. For hours. But if you’re ready and okay with that, then maybe that’s fine.
Or how about this? I discovered Mister 5 was wearing his full skeleton Halloween jumpsuit the other morning underneath his school uniform (I wondered why he chose to wear a long sleeved top and pants). In my efforts to stop being a party-pooper, I let him keep it on. MISTAKE. On the walk home from school I discovered he was busting to go to the toilet because he’d not been to the bathroom all day or drunk any water because he couldn’t unzip his costume from the back. Terrible! He could have wet himself in public, caused a urinary tract infection, or given himself a headache and not been able to concentrate properly from lack of water. To make matters worse, I discovered he also had his pyjamas on underneath the skeleton outfit and his school uniform. CRAZY!
Let it go – kind of
The lesson here I think is that parents should ‘let it go’ – but within reason. If children’s safety, health or everyone’s sanity is at risk – then dial it back a bit and find a compromise by allowing a teeny bit of chaos instead of the full blown effect. That way you’re not a complete buzzkill, control freak mama.
Now you just need to work out what you need to stress about and what to let go. Perhaps that one extra story past bedtime isn’t going to rock the boat, but eating ice-cream for every meal or having a giant paint party on the brand new carpet is NOT acceptable.
Sometimes, it’s important to remind myself that I signed up for kids which means I also signed up for a life of happy chaos that, despite all the frustrations and efforts in the world, I will never be able to completely control. And that’s okay.
So yeah, I’m trying. I want my kids to feel free and happy to experience all the things that are awesome about being young (with a few boundaries thrown in so it’s not a complete Lord of the Flies takeover situation) – but it does take a lot of effort.
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