Parents who Give Up

I don’t know if the title of this post is entirely accurate, but here we go anyway. Several sanctimommy type friends and family members posted this, and it left me, for the most part, baffled. I believe it was taken from the status of some parenting Facebook page. I’m going to post it below, along with some thoughts of mine on each point.

Some parenting tips

1. Lower your standards for cleanliness and order.

Why would I do that? Just because I have kids and a husband and two cats doesn’t mean I can’t have a clean house. It just means I may have to put a little more effort in to keeping things tidy. I’m okay with that.
2. Did that? Lower them even more.

Again, no. Will there be spills on the carpet after our baby is born? Yes, but I will clean them up with the same attention to detail that I put in to getting the cat puke stains out. I’m not going to wallow in filth because I have a child. That’s disgusting.

3. Your house will never look like a magazine spread, period. Embrace that.

I’ve never really wanted my house to look magazine perfect. Shawn and I like to have nice furniture and, generally, be organized, but we also appreciate the comfort of a home that feels lived in as opposed to sterile. Having a child will add to that feeling.

4. No matter how many baskets you buy to contain toys, they will always be visible. Embrace the Toys ‘R Us/ frat house-chic decor.

The toys in our house are visible now. There are action figures, stuffed animals, Lego sets and Nerf guns everywhere. Bins aren’t for hiding, they’re for tidying. And for the record, there is nothing about my house that resembles a frat house. Frat houses don’t generally have their books/movies/games alphabetized or their couches and beds accented with throw pillows.

5. You can never have too many popsicles in the freezer. How many bad moods have been fixed by a simple popsicle?

Shawn and I don’t eat popsicles. They’re sugary, taste like fake fruit, and we’d much rather have something like apple slices with cheese. Why introduce our kids to something we never have in the house? (I’m not saying this is a bad thing to do, it’s just a personal preference thing for us.)

6. If you can’t change them, change your perspective. For example I read recently– probably on Satan’s website Pinterest– that toothpaste is great for cleaning things like faucets. So now when I go into the bathroom every day and see toothpaste splatter all over the bathroom faucet I think about how my children have done half the chore of cleaning for me. How considerate of them! Then I wipe it off while cursing.

I didn’t get toothpaste everywhere when I was a kid. Neither of us do now. It actually takes a lot of effort to get toothpaste all over the bathroom. I would be more concerned with what was happening during the act of tooth-brushing to make such a mess, and less concerned about the five seconds it takes to wipe down a faucet.

7. Those chores that no one ever wants to do. Decide if you would rather do it yourself, badger your child to it, or let it go. If you are confused about what to do, see Number 1 on this list.

Take turns with the crappy chores. That’s what Shawn and I do (when I’m not restricted from doing certain things because I’m growing a Tiny Human). That way, it’s fair for everyone, the kids get to see that even mum and dad take turns, and no one gets stuck with terrible jobs every week.
8. No one cares what is stuffed under your child’s bed, why should you. Unless it is old food. In that case, you should get a dog.

I used to hide things I didn’t want my parents to see under my bed, usually hidden by some sort of “mess”. I will always be curious about what’s lingering under there. My habits will always make me suspicious of certain things. It’s not the mess, it’s what’s in the mess.

9. If you have boys, your bathroom will always faintly stink like pee. Invest in some Febreeze and count down the days until they move out and you can go visit them and pee on their bathroom floor.

This is why my husband cleans the toilet and surrounding area. If you can’t keep it in the bowl, you get to clean the mess.

10. Don’t buy white furniture. Unless you enjoy screaming at your children every time they go near it.

White furniture, like white cupboards, are heinous whether you have children or not. My old house had white cupboards in the kitchen, and no matter how often hands were washed, they always had dirty smudges around the knobs. I’m against white furniture in general, as well as screaming at children.

11. However bad a situation might seem, one day it will be funny. I have a few for which I am eagerly awaiting for the funny to kick in. Any time now….

No. No it won’t. There are some things that will never be funny. Some things, like the ones that are embarrassing at the time, turn out to be funny at some point, but that just can’t be said for other things.

12. When your child is a young teen there will be nothing more embarrassing than your very existence. Use this to your advantage. Start planning early.

Start planning what early? How to embarrass them even more? How to use that against them? Why? Why not put that effort in to trying to forge a stronger relationship? That’s what my parents did, and it worked.

13. Do not paint any walls in your house with flat paint.

Of course not! Flat paint is not for walls, ever. You could also say “Don’t paint your walls dark/white/etc or cover them with wallpaper.” You can’t just stop everything because you have kids. Paint with eggshell and know there are going to be dings in the walls at some point, whether you have kids or not. The chip in the dark brown paint in my bathroom came from my father-in-law, not a child.

14. Be okay with letting your kids stumble sometimes. Whether that is turning in an assignment late because they didn’t do it or wearing an outfit so hideous you have trouble looking at them without laughing.

This one I actually agree with for the most part. Your kids need to be their own people and make their own mistakes. The important things is for them to know that you love and support them no matter what happens. You can guide them all you like, but shit is going to go down at some point. Be there when it does, and help where you can.

15. Noise cancelling headphones are great for blocking out whining, bickering and the endless episodes of Spongebob.

I’m hoping this point isn’t serious, because that just isn’t safe. Having a chronic illness and a husband who does online gaming have taught us a few things: He needs to be able to hear me in case I can’t get to my phone, and I don’t always want to hear what he’s doing; keeping one headphone off works perfectly for us. Also, if you don’t want to watch Spongebob, don’t put it on. Introduce your kids to awesome cartoons like Adventure Time, Ruby Gloom and My Little Pony instead. 

16. The crayons will break and it is okay to throw them away rather then save them to make some sort of craft that involves the hair dryer. In fact, I give you permission to not feel guilty about all the crafts you know you will never do.

Why throw out the broken crayons at all? They’ll still colour without the pointy end, and melting the stumps in to new shapes and colour combinations is fun and fast. I highly recommend it.

17. Your children will not die from eating the occasional hot dog or frozen pizza. And by occasional I mean more than you are really willing to admit.

Of course they won’t. We do just fine when we have a meal from a box (hamburger helper is awesome when you add fresh veggies), so why would they?  

18. If your children are driving you crazy arguing with each other, start an argument with them. Then your children will bond over their mutual hatred of you and be quiet.

This is another one I hope isn’t serious. Yes, let’s teach our kids to start arguments for the hell of it, just because we can. That sounds like a crucial life skill, and a totally productive thing to do. I am also super keen on fostering my child’s hatred of me.

19. Children do not appreciate top sheets or high thread counts. Buy neither.

I loved having a top sheet, and I knew that a high thread count meant softer sheets. Your kids will appreciate what you appreciate, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Nice sheets are the shit.

20. Homework time is the worst time of the day. Help your kids and yourself by having a designated time and a quiet place to do homework. Preferably in a neighbor’s home.

If you think homework is the worst time of day, so will your kids. Definitely have a designated time and place for it, but also have a positive attitude. It works wonders.

21. Just say No to ironing.

I always have. That’s what my steamer is for. I also used to love helping my mum iron when I was a kid. I only started hating it after I discovered the joy and ease of steaming my clothes.

22. Last, but not least, a glass of wine and some really bad TV makes everything seem a little better.

I hate bad TV and I don’t drink. This point doesn’t apply to me, or Shawn as he doesn’t drink wine. We prefer books, and conversation enjoyed while cooking dinner. 

This list, when it was originally posted, may have been meant to be humourous. I’m not sure. I do know that several people who reposted it took it very seriously. For them, it was validating all the things that needed to be validated about their parenting, and they had to post it on a public forum so other people would know that there was someone else posting on a public forum who agreed with them. Yikes. Just be secure in your choices, on your own terms. This list bugs me because I disagree with most of it, not because of who posted it or because of the fact that this is the way they’re choosing to parent. Just because I don’t agree doesn’t mean other people can’t.

I suppose I just don’t understand the people who have kids and give up trying to have an orderly, nice home, and a relatively stress free day. It runs in the same vein as people who get married and “let themselves go.” Why? Why would I stop caring about myself because I got married? I don’t put make up on for my husband. I do it because I like to. I’m not going to stop caring about our home or, again, myself, after the baby is born. If anything, I’m going to make an extra effort to set a good example for the Tiny Human so they will learn to be neat and organized. I’m also going to keep in mind that everyone has a different definition of what neat and organized means for them.

And I know, a lot of people don’t go in to parenting with the idea that they’ll give up. A lot of people are juggling many things: work, kids, husband and home. I’m lucky enough to get to stay home with the baby, but I’m still going to be handling my illness, my baby, the house work and whatever else I decide to take on. Having an awesome husband helps, of course, but I will not give up on the things that we want and love about our life because we are becoming parents. I’m not changing myself: I’m simply adding something else awesome to the mix.

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