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Guilt-Free Parenting Shortcuts

Guilt-Free Parenting Shortcuts

By Dana DeMercurio

Regardless of whatever parenting style or parenting rules you thought you’d employ as a mom, sometimes you have to toss them out the window and rejoice in the fact that there is always a suitable alternative for you and your family. A mom wears many hats, and switching them out is pretty simple when it comes down to it. Here’s what we mean:

For “short-order cook” moms – You swore you’d never feed leftovers or frozen meals to your family. Meals from scratch would be your forte, and your kids would receive whatever meal their heart desired. Ah, what a quaint idea. For many working (and even stay-at-home) moms, this must sound like a complete nightmare. No one will grill you if you happen to serve a frozen meal one or two nights a week. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s why frozen foods are much more advanced and nutritious than they once were. Find low sodium options when choosing a meal for your family in the frozen-foods aisle, or pick up a bag of frozen ravioli or equivalent and simply add your favorite sauce. Even add frozen veggies as a quick side. Trust us, your kids won’t know the difference.

For “referee” moms – When your kids start fighting in the back seat over which radio station to listen to on the way to school, or when a sibling’s “borrowed” item goes missing and it becomes World War III, you swore you would be there to referee the situation and squash the constant juvenile bickering between them. Well, we’re here to say that letting your kids hash it out among themselves isn’t all that bad. Think about it: if you were mad and wanted to voice your opinion but where constantly told to “grow up” or “shut up,” it probably wouldn’t help your level of anger or annoyance. Sometimes it’s best to let your kids experience a heated debate followed by time to reflect upon the situation. Bring your children together after an argument and ask questions about their feelings and offer constructive solutions to their problems. Because pent up anger isn’t healthy for any member of your family, regardless of age.

For “clean freak” moms – “The kids will have their own playroom. The living room will stay clear of all toys and messes.” Quick question: how’s that working out for you? We can guess probably not that great. Kids make messes, it’s inevitable. Don’t limit their fun to just one room. Instead, reinforce your home with storage that is easily accessible for your kids and (more importantly) easy on the eyes, such as a toy chest or a pull-out storage unit with baskets for behind the couch. This way your child won’t feel alienated to one room in the house, and you won’t be stepping on Legos or Barbie Doll shoes when walking through the living room. It’s a win-win for everyone, even clean freaks.

For “no tech, no way!” moms – No video games, no TV and definitely no smart phones. That’s how you planned to raise your children. First of all, kudos for trying. Secondly, it’s impossible –which come to find out isn’t a terrible thing. According to KidsHealth.org, “TV in moderation can be a good thing: preschoolers can get help learning the alphabet on public television, grade-schoolers can learn about wildlife on nature shows, and parents can keep up with current events on the evening news. No doubt about it — TV can be an excellent educator and entertainer.” The operative word being “moderation” of course. Public programming and other quality educational media (academic video games, educational smart-phone apps) can be an amazing tool for children ages two and up. So try not to be a stickler and simply monitor your child’s daily consumption of media by limiting it to one to two hours a day.

The “dress to impress” moms – “I’ll never let my child out the house in a wrinkled pair of shorts or mismatched socks,” you said. “One must always be ready to make a good impression.” Again, kudos for trying. We hate to burst your bubble, but kids will be kids, and when you’re 10 minutes late leaving the house and little Bobby can’t find a freshly-pressed t-shirt, you’ll be retracting that statement before you know it. Parents aren’t perfect and neither are children. Caring too much about outward appearance can set a risky precedent for your child’s future, so letting him/her leave the house with purple socks and green shoes really won’t be the worst thing to happen in fashion. Give your kids options in the morning when getting dressed, and if their shirt isn’t wrinkle-free because it’s been sitting in a pile of clean clothes that haven’t yet been folded, just blame in on the seatbelt.

See, there’s always wiggle room.