My name is Whitney Barnard, and I gave my kids ice cream for breakfast. It’s true; and I ate it, too. You know that “rule book” on mothering we all mentally refer to and none of us actually know who wrote it? The one that’s holding us all to a certain standard as moms, while making us feel entirely guilty when we slip up ever so slightly? Yes, that book. I threw it out the window last Saturday when I decided to give my kids ice cream for breakfast.
But this isn’t just about giving in at the breakfast table, this is about taking it easy on myself as a mom in more ways than one. Here’s four reasons I’ve decided to throw out the rule book when it’s necessary:
1. No one is an expert parent
I constantly read all these articles and e-mail insights from mom sites and parenting magazines, and honestly, the only thing they do is remind me of all the things I’m not doing enough . Then I remember that there isn’t one single person who has it all together. You know the saying “it takes a village”? Well that’s because no one person can do this on their own. Everyone has to call on someone at some point. Whether it’s your hubby, your mom, grandpa, or your sister—we all get by with a little help from our friends. Even all those “expert parents” out there must throw in the towel sometime.
2. "Mommin' Ain't Easy"
As moms, we beat ourselves up over the small things. Most of the time, our kids didn’t even notice what we forgot to do, yet we’re lying in bed mentally packing for the guilt trip that we’re about to send ourselves on. Sure, it’s in our nature to constantly feel like we could do things 10 times better, but it’s nothing to stress over. When you start to feel tired, take some time for yourself. It will help you reflect and clear your mind and see what’s really important: the moments. Not the planning, not the schedules, not the daily routine – the moments are what matters.
3. Your vibe affects your tribe
I’ve always read that your attitude and energy affect your child’s demeanor, and I personally find this to be 100% accurate. When I’m stressed or uptight and trying to make everything perfect, I find I’m much more irritable, short-tempered and short-sentenced, and my patience meter is at its lowest. Your kids notice this attitude change and try to adapt to the situation by creating similar behavior. When I start to feel stressed or pressured as a parent, I always step aside from what’s happening and just breathe. I’ll remind myself that things aren’t always going to go as planned (especially with kids) and that it’s ok if the schedule falls to the wayside for a day. No matter what: cool, calm and collective is always better than stressed, sad and suffering!
4. You’re only human
And your kids need to know it. It’s important to show your kids that often, mistakes happen, or things change andit's ok . When you try to do something and it doesn’t work out, it’s important to show your children how to react appropriately to these unforeseen circumstances. When plans fall through, I always explain the entire situation in “kid terms” as much as possible. This is always better than saying something like “we can’t do it today,” or “we’ll try again another time.” This gives your child the opportunity to digest what’s going on and see things from your point of view without getting upset. Most of the time you can sugarcoat your situation by offering a great alternative.
Which brings me back to ice cream for breakfast…
We were supposed to go to brunch at one of the boys’ favorite spots with a friend and her two boys. It’s this great little outdoor place where the kids can eat and play—at the SAME time. For my two-year-old, this is a dreamland. And then, it started pouring rain. Then, our breakfast buddies bailed. So, I decided to pull a never-before-seen mom card from of the deck: ice cream for breakfast. And voila, what brunch plans?