What?!? How did this happen? How are we mere days away from school starting again? (Also the baby turns one year old this month, meaning technically she will no longer be a baby. Boo, sniff, cry, sob.)
We have been rocking summer vacation at my house; I am sorry to see it winding down. We’ve enjoyed the lazier mornings (camp drop off at 8:45 am seems so much easier than school drop off at 7:55 am!), the long hours of daylight, the extra popsicles, and the complete and utter lack of homework.
We’ve been a little more relaxed about our house rules, too. I haven’t been on my kids as much about keeping their rooms clean, we’ve let the screen time creep up a little bit on weekends, and I ordered pizza for dinner twice last week. We’ve even blown off some of our normal extracurriculars like ballet and tennis.
Best of all, though, is that I don’t feel guilty about any of this. Because the Wall Street Journal backs me up. I recently read this article on bending the rules occasionally, and it’s one of the most level-headed, least crazy parenting articles I’ve seen in a year. Go on over to their website and check in out in full; it’s worth the read.
The takeaway is that flexibility is a good thing, and extremely rigid parenting is not. Both the psychologists and pediatricians interviewed for the article agree that bending the rules occasionally is healthy for both parents and children; one asserts that “disruption and parenting mistakes… help kids develop resilience.”
And one doctor points out that absolute inflexibility can signal that parents are not necessarily listening to their children. Sometimes when a kid is asking for candy in the morning, it’s not about the candy. It’s about “needing the undivided attention of a parent”. That makes a ton of sense to me; I’ve seen this in my own kids on myriad occasions.
A real benefit to occasional rule-relaxing that the article doesn’t mention is that – speaking as a mom – it’s hard to enforce the rules all the time. It’s hard to be the Household Police Force and constantly be on my kids to clean up their rooms, finish their math homework, practice their musical instruments, drink their milk. Sometimes I just want to toss it all out and feed them ice cream for dinner.
You guys, the Wall Street Journal is saying it’s OK to occasionally feed your kids ice cream for dinner. And if we can’t listen to the Wall Street Journal, who can we trust?
This isn’t about giving in to temper tantrums; no one interview for the article advocates that as a good practice. And it’s not about leaving basic safety rules by the wayside; my kids will continue to wear their seat belts and reapply their sunscreen, forever and ever, ad infinitum. But done with a little forethought, the experts agree that bending non-safety-related rules now and then can be great for you and healthy for your kids.
So I plan to make hay these last few days of summer and relax a bit if we can manage it. I’m going to let them stay up a little late, eat an extra popsicle. After all, #HomeworkIsComing. And we need to rest up and get ready for it.