I recently read a terrific blog post by a favorite Mom blogger. It was her rules to live by.
Here are mine, not necessarily in order.
1. Make the house a place where you can always be you: This is most important - The house is a safe zone. This is one that I learned from my parents. There is so much out there to make you feel lousy. Kids tease kids. You wear the wrong shirt, you say the wrong thing, you are grumpy or tired. The house should always be a place where you can tell silly jokes, dance wild, laugh, be mad or grumpy, sing a crazy song about your love for sharks, wear your pajamas all day long, eat crackers until you simply can't do it anymore. But no matter what, you can be yourself. You can grow and be happy and confident around your family.
2. Family dinner every night: It can be simple. You don't have to cook. Hell, you don't even have to order take out. You can have deli meat and crackers and trail mix for dinner. But sit down with each other until everyone is done. Talk. Share. Connect.
3. Tv for 30 minutes MAX: Unless you are watching a movie, that should be it. The average child watches tv for six hours a day now. Tv off.
4. Avoid commericialized toys and products as much as possible: Period. I don't want that in my house. There is so much commercialization out there - all Nickelodean, Disney, Noggin, and even PBS market to kids. Marketing, marketing, marketing. Plastic makes for cheap toys. Batteries make kids use less imagination. We don't need to buy plastic that will fill some landfill someday. I'm not saying I will only buy the fancy wooden toys for my kid, but do we need Spiderman bedsheets, toys, books, clothes, coloring books, and fruit snacks? Hell no. We can fashion a Spiderman out of play dough and Liam is as good as gold.
5. Don't lie: This is more for when Liam is older, but still. I don't care if it hurts or is wrong, I want to hear about it. Really. I mean it. But don't you dare look me in the eye and lie to me. I will swallow whatever it is that is going on in your world and we can communicate.
6. No cable: Period. It just takes longer to figure out that there is nothing on. Time suck.
7. Go outside at least once a day every single day: Simple. Go outside. Explore the World. Connect. Play.
8. Every adult needs times for themself at least once a day: This can be as simple as cooking a meal for the family by yourself or setting aside a half an hour everyday to read in the family room. It is so good for kids to learn to be by themselves and play by themselves. Too often we feel like we have to teach with our children or play with our children all day for them to feel our love. But we are not respecting ourselves as parents or as individuals (because we are individuals as well as parents) if we do that. We are not allowing our kids to be bored and they need to be bored so they create new games or figure it out on their own. Grab a (big) glass if wine and cut the veggies. Or grab a cup of tea and read a book for a little while. Slow down. You'll all appreciate the time.
9. Mind Your Own Business: Simply put. If it doesn't concern you, it doesn't matter. This is something that I learned from my Dad: Act like a safebox to secrets. If someone shares information, a hard time, or a secret with you, it is not yours to share. It is not your business to share. Think of their secret like it is a book they are showing you: they indulge, share with you, but when they leave, they leave with their book. They leave with their secret. There are certainly exceptions to this rule - a friend of mine recently applied to grad school. It was almost a sure bet that she would get in. She had told most of our mutual friends about it. When she got in, I felt safe sharing that information with our mutual friends because it was so well known. But a divorce? Pregnancy? Couples problems? A friend venting about another friend? Even a hard day with some difficult details. It is not mine to share.
10. Don't Judge: Simply put. This ties into the mind your own business rule.
Concerning parenting: Before I had kids, I judged ALLLLLLLLLLLLL the parents around me. It's easy to look at that kid in Target that is screaming and see that Mom that is completely ignoring him or her and judge. But look closer, that Mom is probably exhausted. Parents and people are always judging each other. Why are they wearing that? That kid looks filthy! It's late - put your kid to bed! Your kid is SO LOUD! Your kid has TERRIBLE MANNERS! The thing is, you don't know. You have no idea what is going on. That child might be having a bad day, that child may be sick, that parent may be sick, that parent may have four other kids at home who have been SCREAMING ALL DAY! Or worse, that family could be going through some hard times of their own and need your sympathy and not your dirty looks. We need to stop judging as parents, because whether you are a stay at home parent with six kids at home all running around or a working parent with a nanny all day, it is frickin hard. We need to stop judging and reconize that we are all in the same boat. And that boat can be beautiful, hard, loving, angry, sweet and cuddly, and screaming and crying. It's easy to say "If that kid was mine, I would do this..." or "MY kid NEVER did that!" or "MY kid ALWAYS did this!" Because your kid probably does do that or did do that, so back off.
Concerning life: Simply put, if it's not nice, don't say it at all. If you don't know the person, don't do it. Who cares what that person is wearing, how much weight they gained that year, who they married or what house they bought? Who cares what religion they follow, who they hang out with, who comes to their house, or what car they drive? If you DO know them, don't do it. Who cares?
Gossip and judgement are ugly. It makes you look ugly. It makes the people around you look ugly. It makes your friends feel ugly. Because if you are talking like that about people you don't know, what are you saying about the people you do know?
I am not perfect at all. I am not a perfect person or mother. I mess up - watch more tv, don't go outside, judge, and I am sure as hell that I will end up messing Liam and future children up in some way because I am not perfect, but I try. And I don't care if you have cable, buy commercialized toys, or never have family dinner together. Seriously. I love it that you might disagree with me. I love it if you agree with me. That's great because these differences make the world and the people in it stronger. The most important of all of these rules is to love your child, love your family, and love yourself. Follow your own family and what you think it right. Trust yourself and the choices you make. If you do these things, everything will be alright in the end.
Do you have rules for yourself? What are they?