When I first became pregnant, I had a clear picture in my mind of what motherhood would look like: My house would be immaculate and my children would prefer books over TV and, of course, be well behaved at all times. Not long after my son, Isaac, was born, I quickly figured out that my fantasies about parenthood would never match the reality. That realization became even more apparent after the birth of my strong-willed, spirited daughter, Gillian, who, despite her overall sweet nature, challenges me every day.
In addition to making peace with the fact that my house will never be clean again, I’ve also realized that my kids are not little automatons (believe me, it took a long time to figure that one out). For better or worse, both Isaac and Gillian inherited my stubborn streak, which, from time to time, sets the stage for fierce parenting battles where we all end up in tears. Over the years, I’ve learned there are some battles that just aren’t worth fighting over with my kids—nitpicky things that I now know to let slide.
Here are three battles I refuse to fight with my kids:
1. What clothes they wear
When my kids were little, I loved shopping for them. Their wardrobes were full of matching onesies and adorable accessories. When Isaac and Gillian started developing their own unique styles and clothing preferences (code for “dressing in crazy outfits”), it was hard for me to stand back and let them wear what they wanted to. But I did. For years, my daughter wore princess dresses and PJs to the grocery store and, most days, my son would walk around with a bike helmet on his head (in case of impromptu family bike rides, which are common in our house). My only rule: They have to feel good about their bodies in what they are wearing—and if it happens to be a tulle gown, so be it.
2. Whether they brush their hair
I have a bit of an embarrassing confession: Until recently, our family didn’t own a comb or a hairbrush. Gillian had very little hair for the first few years of her life, and my own naturally curly hair is impossible to brush. For this reason, it’s not surprising that Gillian hates combing her hair—it’s a habit she has never been forced to pick up. Instead of brushing, she puts hair clips in and asks me if she looks beautiful—and my answer is always yes. My only rule: Their hair needs to be washed (and even then I let that slide sometimes to help deter lice infestations).
3. Whether they eat all their vegetables at dinner
Let’s face it: Feeding kids is stressful, and dinnertime is the most challenging time of the day for most families. I consider myself lucky in that Isaac and Gillian aren’t overly picky eaters and willingly try a wide variety of foods. That said, they both have very different palates when it comes to veggies: One child prefers them cooked, while the other likes them raw. Complaints about the texture of vegetables are common at our dinner table. For this reason, I refuse to make my kids eat their vegetables because I know that, over the course of the day (and the entire week, for that matter), they’ve eaten plenty of fruits and vegetables at other meals. My only rule: They need to take a bite of everything on their plates.
Motherhood: I’ve learned it’s a lot of give and take. As someone who routinely sweats the small stuff, learning to let things like veggies and matching socks slide is difficult for me, but it makes my kids happier and, in turn, I’m happier, too.
Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences of giving up her big-city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband while staying home to raise their two young children. Read more Run-at-home mom posts or follow her @JenPinarski.
My spirited child makes me a better parent>