Just a few weeks ago my 4-year-old demanded (as opposed to asking) ice cream for lunch. Because the kid detests sweets, I knew what she really wanted was a bowl of ice cream she could stir – it’s her favorite. But I can’t give her that even though she’s not going to eat it, because my 7-year-old ice cream-aholic would have a fit. Lunch first, food to play with later. I’m sure you all know how that went down. Not well.
She screamed, she kicked. She had a full on meltdown in the dining room. She went to the freezer and got the ice cream. I took it and put it in the freezer of the beer-rator fridge in the laundry room and locked the door. She melted once again and lost it. After 43 minutes of listening to her scream and following her around the house to make sure she didn’t decide to throw anything or push a baby or something, I realized that I should have just given in and let her have the ice cream. Why? Because she’s a stubborn little monster (I very innocently have no idea where she gets this) who will not give up until she gets her way, and I have three other kids and a job that requires my attention throughout the day. I don’t have time to chase her around the house to make sure all people and belongings are treated with respect.
But at that point, I couldn’t give in. It was too late. Give in that long into the fight and lose forever. I had to stand my ground. It took this kid 1 hour and 7 minutes to chill out, eat her pasta and move on from the ice cream. Which she did as if nothing in her world was wrong. Me, on the other hand; I felt like I just waged a war. But I did not give in. Yay me. In that moment, however, when I was behind, stressed and overwhelmed by the sheer stubbornness of this kid, I began to realize that sometimes you just have to give in. Not because you want your kids to end up spoiled rotten, entitled little brats, but because you need to maintain your own sanity. That’s when I began to take note of all the moments I should give in to my kids and let them win.
When they’re getting dressed
I gave up fighting Miss Ava over her clothes about a year ago. Really, do I care if her shirt matches her leggings or if she wears her twinkle toe light up shoes every single day, to church, to school, to shop, with everything? Yes, I absolutely care. But does that matter? Nope. She’s happy, no one is upset and screaming, there is no arguing. It’s just not that important.
When they’re arguing over which toothbrush to use
My kids have 230940677979 toothbrushes. Why? No idea; grandparents and the dentist, I believe. What this means for me is that I’m constantly in the toothbrush battle with them. I want them to use a new, clean one, and they want to use the one that they think is prettiest at the moment. Know what? As long as they are brushing their teeth, do I care that much? Not particularly.
When they’re arguing over food
My husband and I love certain foods that are kids aren’t all that fond of (except our 4-year-old; she has an advanced palette) and I just don’t feel that it’s all that important to argue with them. If they don’t want seasoned broccoli, I’m fine making theirs a bit separately so that it has nothing on it. They’re still eating it, so I’m cool not fighting about it. Their way isn’t that bad, after all.
When you’re sick
I’ll be quite frank; with four kids, they can do whatever the heck they want when I’m sick so long as I don’t have to do it for them. I’ll worry about the repercussions of that one later on. Because, seriously, I have no desire to make myself feel any worse.
When they’re sick
They want ice cream for breakfast when they haven’t eaten in 3 days? Fine; whatever. Will my doctor agree with me? Not medically, but as a parent he thinks it’s fine. If they’ll eat something after that long, give in. They’ve been sick and miserable, so let them have what they want.
When you’re late
I have four kids. I work from home. I don’t have time to be late to anything because it throws off my entire day. What this means is that we have to pick our battles in the morning. You don’t want to brush your hair? Fine; you’re the one that looks homeless, not me. I give up caring.
When it doesn’t matter all that much
At the end of the day, I don’t care who picks up the toys in whose room, as long as they’re picked up. If my 7-year-old does it all because she doesn’t want her younger sister to get in trouble, I’m going to let that go. It’s done, no one is upset and my 4-year-old is going to learn a very valuable lesson about it one day. Karma will get her.
When it’s not important to me, but is to them
My daughter has been dying for a pair of high-top skechers twinkle toes and I’ve been trying so hard to get her to change her mind about high-tops. But guess what? She wants them so badly, and who am I to tell her she can’t pick her own school shoes? It’s not that important to me, but it is to her. And I remember those moments.
When it’s health related
My kids don’t want to go to the doctor when they don’t feel well, ever. So when they ask to go to the doctor because something is wrong, we acquiesce. Even if we can’t tell something is wrong, them asking to go to the doctor means that something is wrong and it’s not worth the argument. It’s always worth cancelled plans, missed school or whatever else. If they’re asking, it’s important.
When it’s about independence
Kids need to feel independent. It’s how they grow. So sometimes, when the root of the situation is this, we have to give in and make sure that they know that we want them to embrace their independence. It’s important to us and to them.
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