In general, I don’t mind how other people parent. As long as your child is not in danger, you can make decisions as you see fit. Bottle or breast, separate rooms or together, fruit or Doritos for breakfast when you’re exhausted from being up with the baby all night.
I do have a few requests of other parents, though. Hopefully I’m not adding to any to-do lists. I actually want you to stop doing things, and those are these:
1. Stop cleaning up before play dates.
My house is definitely in worse shape than yours. I don’t care if you want to spend a few minutes with your feet up instead of cleaning before we come over. My kids and your kids will just dump that bag of Legos all over the floor anyway. Save your cleaning for when someone important comes over. Right now, it’s just me, and I’m just as much of a mess as you are. Let’s clink some mimosas to that.
2. Stop pretending life is perfect.
You can admit that you’re having a hard time. Life is hard. Life with kids can be really hard. It’s OK to say it and talk about it and even whine about it to me. I’ll listen. I have probably felt the same way as you do at one point or another. Feeling guilty because you got annoyed when your spouse got sick instead of acting sympathetic? I get it. Wish your kids would just adjust to the time change already? Me, too, girl, me too.
3. Stop comparing your kids to other kids.
Milestone guidelines are good in that they can help parents identify a potentially serious issue. These “standards” are also terrible because few children adhere to them precisely. Late bloomers are common, and there’s nothing wrong with them. So what if your friend’s 1-year-old is singing the alphabet already? It doesn’t make your kid delayed. It means your friend sang that song 1 million times and the baby finally picked up on it. Good for her and good for you for realizing that it’s OK that your kid didn’t start singing the ABCs until she turned 2.
4. Stop worrying that you post too much about your kids on social media.
I love seeing your kids’ faces and hearing about the funny things they do. Yes, I know you have a few friends who say things like, “Ugh, I can’t stand when parents only post about their kids. Don’t they have a life outside their children?” Well, I know I do, but a snapshot of my son is so much cuter than the face I make when I’m deadlifting twice my bodyweight. Stories about my kids don’t invite criticism the way political posts do. So either look at my kids or scroll on, because these posts aren’t going to stop.
5. Stop the mommy wars.
Please. Pretty please. Ignore posts on social media that have the sole purpose of making a group of mommies feel bad. Don’t participate in conversations that criticize parents for their choices when those choices don’t adversely affect the children. Ask questions if you don’t understand something instead of assuming it’s wrong. I’m happy to talk about why we made the decisions we did. I’m not happy when someone suggests that having a homebirth meant I didn’t care if my baby died (true story).
6. Stop putting pressure on yourself.
Ha. Impossible. But, maybe find ways to relax, like taking time for yourself. Talk to other parents who can reassure you that yes, what you are going through is normal, and yes, you are a really good parent. It’s good to want to be an awesome parent; it’s bad when you beat yourself up over a dumb mistake that doesn’t mean much in the big picture.
I hope I didn’t add anything more to your full plate.
Oh, one more thing: Stop worrying that taking the time to read this meant you were ignoring your kids. It’s OK to ignore them once in a while.