Parenting Rules I’ve Broken More than I’d Care to Count


Let me preface what I’m about to say with a very open and very honest, “Moms rock,” campaign. Moms do rock (except the ones who don’t). Moms are the single most able, capable, inspiring, strong, sensitive, caring, loving, motivated, productive people to ever walk this earth, and they are literally awesome. I’m a mom; I know how hard we work and how much we do and how much we can handle. And I know that just when we think we can’t handle another, “Moooooooommmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyy,” we somehow find the patience and the strength to go clean up whatever just happened in our lives. We. Are. Awesome.

On that note, I’m such a bad parent. I mean, really, so bad. If you read parenting books or have some sort of picture in your mind of what a great mom looks like, she’s not me. I mean, I look great; I’ll give you that. I’m just vain enough that I always put on my makeup and do my hair and get dressed in something stylish, and my kids love me. But that’s about as far into good parenting as it gets for me. I fail myself and my expectations on a regular basis – and I’m sure my kids. However, they are happy, healthy, thriving little people; all four of them. My oldest will be 7 in July, my ‘middle’ will be 4 in March and my twins will be 1 two days before her 4th birthday. My husband and I have been married 10 years this year, and we have more fun now than we ever did in the past. But that’s because we break all kinds of parenting rules more than I’m sure we’d like to admit. But you know what? That’s the beauty in parenting; as long as they are alive and relatively free of injury at the end of the day and happy, you’re good to go. That means we rocked the day as parents and that’s all that matters. That said, I’m sure some mom shaming is about to happy. I’ll just say this to mom-shamers; I don’t care. My kids are clean, healthy, beautiful, happy kids who are intelligent, well-cared for, well-traveled and they have a life that’s filled with nonstop fun. Your opinion on my parenting rule-breaking means not a darn thing. I’m not perfect, and neither are you. So let’s go ahead and just admit that we all fail and break rules; it’s more fun.

I’m not a Pinterest Mom

It’s too messy and I don’t have the patience for endless arts and crafts. We have grandparents that love that kind of stuff, so our kids do that stuff with them and at school. Frankly, I don’t want to clean up after a glue-fest. I just want them to color with real crayons on real paper that won’t make a mess and just give me 5 minutes to use the restroom. By myself.

Television in the Bedroom (and television all the time)

My kids – with the exception of the twins – both have televisions in their bedrooms. You want to know why? Because if we have to hear Dora the Explorer screaming at us with her stupid map ONE MORE TIME, we’re going to lose it. So, they have televisions. And when they want to watch something we hate, they go to their rooms. We get peace and quiet and the ability to hear ourselves think while Dora and her repetitive annoyances bother other people instead of us.

Bed Time

For those of you who do the co-sleeping, attachment parenting thing; good for you. For me, I need that 2 – 2.5 hours of quiet time in the evenings after the kids go to bed. And in our house; they go to bed. There is no game playing. No, “I’m thirsty, I’m hungry, I have to go potty,” stalling technique. We’ve made it clear from day one that bed time means bed time and our kids have never given us an issue with that. So that’s not really the rule breaking. That’s my awesome claim to motherhood. The rule I break is the television in the room; we let our kids think their super awesome behavior warrants a half hour of television at bed time. It does not. They go to bed a half hour earlier than usual and watch television for a half hour. They have no idea; and I’m never teaching them to tell time.

Healthy Diets

They eat what you eat. Well, yes, in theory they do. And as people who eat healthy meals and take care of ourselves, we should be so much better about this. But we have a picky 1st grader and a 3-year-old who will eat anything not attempting to snack on her first – and even then I’m not sure she wouldn’t try to eat it first. We get lazy sometimes and we make other food for them (what, like I’m supposed to give my toddler oysters on the half shell?). And sometimes breakfast is pancakes from McDonalds or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Sometimes it’s a chocolate chip muffin. Sometimes it’s edamame, raw pasta noodles and carrots – because how do you tell a toddler she can’t have veggies at 7 am? At the end of the day, they don’t always eat what we eat; but they eat. And with four kids, any eating is considered a parenting win.

I Don’t Wash Bottles

No, seriously, I don’t wash them between uses. I just rinse them out and call it a day. I also let kids eat their food off the floor if it is dropped (just to clarify, I am an anal retentive neat freak, so I have the world’s cleanest floors) and I didn’t rinse pacifiers with babies 2-4 and that’s only because baby 1 didn’t take one. I don’t wash sippy cups between beverages unless one had milk in it that I can smell when I open it. Gross? Sure. Time saving; yes.

Breast Feeding Wasn’t Best

I’ve always had a small issue with breast feeding as far as production was concerned. I’d produce a lot the first few weeks and then BAM! Nothing. So I’d quit. It doesn’t bother me. But with the twins, I really did just quit after about 6 weeks. It was just too much. I pumped when I could, but with four kids, two of which have to be taken to and picked up from school every single day (they frown on not doing that, you know) and a full-time work-from-home job on top of parenting newborn twins, caring for a house, coaching my daughter’s cheer squad and being a good wife and daughter and friend and daughter of God, I didn’t have time to do anything but pump and breast feed. So I quit. Oh my.

I Put Myself and My Husband First Sometimes

At the end of the day, my kids are most important. But I don’t always put them first. In fact, sometimes I ignore them and pretend I don’t hear them. Sometimes I flat out refuse to do something for them because they’re being lazy or just plain annoying. And my husband and I go on date night. We utilize babysitters. We go away overnight without the kids. We are rebels. We like time away. It makes us better parents. It makes us love the kids more. Sometimes, we put ourselves before our kids. And that’s important to us. Someone once said to me that our kids are on loan from God and that once we raise them, we are done. Our spouses, however, are here forever and we need to make sure they want to be here forever. We never forgot that. We love our kids and would do anything for them, but we do have a life outside of them that includes going to dinner and ordering a bottle of wine and deliberately stalling so that we get home after they’re already in bed. Look at us.

Rules We Never Break

With all (okay, some) of my rebel rule-breaking on the table for everyone to see and very likely judge, I’d like to mention a few parenting rules I never break – ever.

Manners – my kids will not be rude little monsters. They will and do always use their manners and it is non-negotiable.

Grades – school is the most important and my kids will perform well and respect their education.

Bullying – it’s not nice and we don’t tolerate this behavior in the least.

Love – we tell them we love them in the morning, at bed, before school, when we leave them and about a thousand other times throughout the day. They know we don’t always like them when they’re not behaving, but they ALWAYS know we love them.

Lying – not allowed, ever.

Car Seats and Bucking Up – They will stay in their seats until they are so big their butts don’t fit anymore, and none of our vehicles even start until everyone in them is in a seat belt.

Responsibility – they have it. We give them little jobs and tasks and we require they complete them.

Respect – it’s not an option not to use it and not to have it.

Kindness – it’s the golden rule.

Laughter – is a requirement. There will be a lot of laughter and a lot of fun in this house whether they like it or not. But they do, so that worked out pretty well for us.

Judgment – it’s hard not to, but you never know what others have been through and therefore you do not judge. You don’t have to like everyone, but you will respect them and their differences.

Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images


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