It was recently brought to my attention that I take parenting a little too seriously. The person who said this to me had the kindest intentions and wanted me to be aware that I didn’t have to try so hard all the time. As a stay-at-home parent who is in the early stages of beginning to work part-time, I have invested a lot of my previous energy in motherhood. In the back of my mind, I’ve always felt like since parenting is my ‘job’, I need to be flawless at it. This causes me lots of unnecessary pressure and stress. I think it’s time to take it down a notch. Maybe less reading parenting books and analyzing my children’s behavior and more having fun with them.
I’m not here to say that as parents we need to be super fun all the time. In fact I think it’s valuable to leave our kids to their own resources (minus electronics) and fend for entertaining themselves. I get a lot of pushback from my boys when I tell them to do ‘creative play’ and use their imaginations. What often starts out as frustrating for them usually ends up in them having a good time. Naturally, most of their imaginative play revolves around sports and random tackling, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay if it increases their fun factor.
I think our kids’ childhoods are an opportunity for parents to remember the joy of being alive. Living can be downright fun. I know, it’s hard to feel the fun when you have bills to pay and deadlines to meet and facing every, other, life-sucking demand that adulthood has handed us.
How about today, for just five minutes, forget all that stuff and have some fun with your kids? I find the quickest, fastest way to connect in fun with my boys is music. When I have to time my youngest in reading fluency for school, I set the time’s-up signal as a fun song. Once it goes off, it is an unwritten rule that anyone in earshot must dance. I love it every single time we do this. I want more of that and less obsessing that I’m not doing everything right. Granted, I’m never going to parent perfectly, but my dance moves are pretty sweet.
Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent