Like most moms, I try really hard to be a good parent. And like most moms, I have some successes and some regrets in the parenting arena. My oldest is about to turn twelve, and my youngest is five. I’d like to say that in the seven years between them (in which I also had a girl, now 9), that I’d learned ALL THE THINGS not to do again as a parent, but this truth is, it took me a little longer than that. And although I KNOW I’ll have more to add to this list in the future, for now, here are the top 5 things I’ve done for my kids that I’ll never do again!
1. Answer questions for them.
My first child was very chatty, so I didn’t think much about answering for him if another adult asked him a question. After all, it often made the information-gathering process much more fast and simple, right? Well, then my daughter came along and with her came a significant speech-language delay. Putting words in her mouth was NOT an option, as every answer we possibly could coax from her was for a time, a minor miracle. However, believe it or not, I still find myself answering for my youngest sometimes—and it’s a bad habit I’ve SWORN to break this year! Our kids need to be able to express their own thoughts and opinions, and not feel like they are only extensions of their parents.
2. Make more than one meal at meal times.
Yeah. I did this. For years. Partially because I have one very picky eater and partially because I have one with food allergies. But this past spring, I said ENOUGH!! And I began making ONE thing that EVERYONE could eat, and if they didn’t eat it, well…they didn’t eat. Best decision EVER! It has so simplified my life, although I will admit, sometimes dinner times can be a struggle. But still. My little Snowflakes need to know that they can’t always have what they want, when they want it.
3. Clean their rooms.
Confession: I’ve never been good at keeping a clean bedroom. I’ve also never had one with a whole lot of room or storage space. When my kids were little I’d clean up their rooms, but for the past few years they’ve been old enough to clean up their own messes. So if they want to have friends over, they’ve got to make sure it’s tidy—or no dice, and they’re completely on their own for that. Now, when I have friends over…I just shut my bedroom door. But I’M A GROWN-UP, dangit! 🙂
4. Do their school projects.
I have watched countless times as moms carried PERFECT projects into school while my kid carried in a project that…looks like an 8-year-old did it. Fine. With. Me. I more than my share on the first couple of my oldest’s school projects and after that I washed my hands of it. If the assignment can’t be done by the child without a large amount of parent work, it shouldn’t be assigned. This policy has not bitten me in the butt so far, so I’m sticking with it!
5. Perform the little tasks of daily living for them.
Ok, so obviously I am not going to zip my 12-year-old’s coat for him, but when he was little, being my first kid…I mistakenly let him get to age 5 without being able to do a whole lot for himself. Because…I did EVERYTHING. I guess I forgot to read the parenting books that said you shouldn’t still be dressing him at age 5. WHOOPS! Poor kid. Fortunately, once a helpful pediatrician pointed that out to me and I started making him get dressed, open doors, do his seat belt, etc. on his own, he caught on pretty fast—and that’s one mistake I did NOT repeat with my younger two!
That’s my short list of practical parenting mistakes that I won’t be repeating—what’s on yours? I’d love to hear it in the comments, so I can avoid making those mistakes as well! 🙂