1. Setting clear boundaries.
Kids love boundaries. They thirst for them. Routine makes life predictable, clear, and uncomplicated. Oh, they also make me happy, too.
2. Non-negotiable bedtimes every night.
This goes along with boundaries. Let’s be honest. Kids don’t have a self-regulating function. Lack of sleep wreaks havoc on children. It makes them into total nightmares. Why would you do that to yourself?
And let me be clear, early bedtime is also a selfishly smart thing to do to keep your marriage intact. I want kid-free time with my sexy husband every single night. By 8pm our booties are on the couch, coffee in hand, chillaxing to our favorite shows or having grown-up conversation.
3. Saying “no”.
There’s nothing wrong with saying “no”. It’s a part of life. And…
4. Saying “no” even when I can say “yes”.
Like when we go to the mall and there’s a carousel or if we’re at the Starbucks drive-thru and they’re begging for cake pops. Just because I can say yes, doesn’t mean I should make it a habit. What do the Rolling Stones say? You can’t always get what you want. Boom.
5. Leaving my children with a sitter.
Uh, date night much? And you know your kids have the best time with the sitter! Pizza? Games? A teenager? Way more fun than mom and dad!
There’s a chore for every age group. Mama ain’t yo’ maid. Plus, chores are a great life-skill teaching tool and lesson in team work. The family that cleans together has a mom that doesn’t lose her shit (as often).
7. Not caring that everyone else can do something that my kids can’t.
Go ahead, jump off that bridge.
8. Keeping our house rules no matter where we are, where we go, or who we’re with. And getting family and friends on board as enforcers.
It takes a village to raise your children and there’s nothing more aggravating that having to un-do damage from well-meaning family and friends who are easily manipulated by your ridiculously cute offspring. “But they really wanted to have orange soda!” “Oh, it’s only an iPad.” “They told us that they don’t go to bed early on Wednesdays.” Yeah, right. Get your village on board, and don’t be afraid to tell your kids that you’ve got eyes all over the place.
9. Requiring 100% compliance with manners.
“Thank yous”, “pleases”, “sirs”, “ma’ams”, “excuse-mes”, “may-Is”, and “your welcomes” are required at all times whether you’re talking to the Pope or you accidentally trip over the dog.
10. Enforcing the if-you’re-hungry-you’ll-eat rule.
I just went outside and looked on my roof. Nope, we don’t live at Waffle House. And nope, I’m not a short order cook. I make it. You eat it. Not gonna eat? You’re not that hungry. There’s always tomorrow.
11. Not getting my child their own personal phone/tablet/computer.
Have you seen what they do to their Barbies? Forget it. You wanna surf the net? You get to do it on Mom and Dad’s computer, in a common area, where I can keep an eye on you.
12. Making my children do 90% of their school work and projects solo.
Even when it’s painful. I already went to school. I’m a project supervisor not a worker bee.
13. Telling my children when they’ve done a crappy job.
It happens. Constructive, age appropriate criticism is important. It’s my job to ensure that my child learns the value of doing her very best which leads me to…
14. Making my children redo substandard work.
I know what rushing to go outside and play looks like when it comes to penmanship and homework (and chores). What did my parents always say? “Lazy people work twice as hard. Do it right the first time.”
15. Being proud of my children.
I might sound like a hard-ass, but in this house we bring our A-game and then we celebrate the hell out of our successes.
What things would you add to this parenting guilt-free list?