Obviously we all tell our children “no.” We tell them no toy at the store, or no they can’t stack up the pots and pans and use them as a ladder to climb up into the snack cabinet. We tell them no dessert before dinner and we tell them no, they can’t have a friend over tonight. We tell them no, they can’t get the paint out right now, and no, they can’t wear their Superman costume to the family Christmas party. Saying no to your kids is okay…
As a parent, whether we like to admit it or not, no happens often. It happens most days if not every day. In fact, it ends up being a lot of kid’s first word. But sometimes we forget that we can say no to other things too.
Society has changed, we know that. People raise their children starkly differently now than they did 50 years ago, and in a lot of ways that is a wonderful thing. We pay more one on one attention to our children now than they did back then. There’s a lot less spanking and violent or physical punishment accepted. We’re far more attentive to our children’s needs and emotions and less concerned with rearing “real men” or perfect housewives. We’re feeding them better food and taking far better safety precautions. We’re finally coming into an age where we’re raising our children to become loving, accepting adults. We’re finally treating them like the small human beings that they are, rather than our property.
All if this is great, wonderful news. However, it also puts a different kind of pressure on us parents than what used to be the norm. With all of the sancti-mommies and over-bearing Facebook groups, parents often times end up feeling like there are certain things we’re simply not allowed to tell our children no on.
It’s okay to say no to play to take care of yourself.
Now I am all for spending as much quality time as you can with your children. As a matter of fact, last year, I drastically uprooted my life and career so that I would be able to do just that. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that I can spend every hour of every day coloring or painting toenails or having a tea party. And you know what? It’s okay if I say no to that sometimes!
Because of the way that times have changed, and because of all the guilt-tripping, holier-than-thou social media mommies, parents are becoming conditioned to think that they should automatically drop everything around them to participate in whatever activity it is that their child is asking them to do. This is not true!
Sometimes, there are things that have to be done and there’s just no way around it. It’s not always plausible or even possible to stop the world just so you can have a tea party. Sometimes, you’re on a deadline and work has to come first for a few minutes. Sometimes the dishes and laundry are piling up or that grocery list is so far over-due that you’re already trying to figure out what kind of dinner you can make from a can of tuna, some frozen peas and half a jar of spaghetti sauce. Sometimes you just have crap to do. Sometimes, you’re just tired and worn-out and your brain is frazzled and you just want to take a daggone bubble bath or gossip on the phone with your girlfriend for an hour. And that’s okay.
As a parent, we naturally want to do the best by our children. It’s normal. We want to fill their days with quality time and educational activities and wholesome meals. We want to be able to juggle work, and our homes and our social lives and our children and we want to be able to do it all perfectly. But we can’t. And the more we try to, the worse it gets. Sometimes we have to stop and remember that while we are certainly parents, we’re also adults, and the responsibilities of adulthood definitely don’t disappear once parenthood sets in.
Chores and grocery shopping still have to be done. Work still has to be dealt with. And we deserve to squeeze just a pinch of social life in there somewhere as well. Sometimes adulthood simply has to take precedence over parenthood. Regardless of what that santci-mommy Shannon tries to tell you on your Facebook mommy page, it doesn’t lessen your parenthood, your love for your children, or make you some sort of crappy mother. It simply means that you recognize that life and the world around you doesn’t stop just because your daughter wants her nails painted. It means that you understand that you still have responsibilities outside of your child that have to be dealt with.
Your child will be okay playing on their own for a bit.
This is something that your children will need to learn and carry with them into their own adulthood. Things have to be done. We don’t always have time for playtime. Sometimes, there are important things in life and the fun things just simply have to wait. We don’t always like it, but it is the way it is. It’s part of growing up and being an adult.
So while I most certainly encourage you to spend lots and lots of quality time with your kiddos, don’t feel so guilty when the time comes that you just have to tell them no. Don’t beat yourself up when you have to take that work call instead of reading that book or watching that movie, or when you’ve got to straighten up the house instead of playing that game. Or even when you’ve just had such a long day that you need an hour to take a bubble bath and make a gossip call instead of playing dress-up for the 5th time today. It’s okay. Your kid will be okay.
Instead of guilt-tripping yourself and allowing those crappy momma feelings to set in, encourage them to do something on their own; color a picture, have a tea party with their teddy bears, or even watch a couple of those brain-rotting YouTube videos, maybe they’ll learn something. Give yourself a moment to do what you need to do. You can’t possibly be present with your child if that mile long to-do list won’t stop running through your mind. I’d far rather spend a bit smaller amount of time with my child where I can be present and attentive than large amounts of time where I’m constantly thinking and worrying about all the things I still yet need to do.
So the next time you’re elbow deep in dishwater and your kiddo is begging for you to color yet another picture, give yourself a break and remember that it’s okay to say no sometimes, even to the fun stuff.
My name is Andrea Thompson and I’m a home based freelance writer. I’m 23 years old, married to my best friend, and mother to a wonderfully independent and opinionated 3 year old girl and step-mother to a sweet seven year old boy. I live in a tiny, little town in Kentucky, where I spend my free time fishing with my kids.
Writing has always been my passion, which I followed through high school, and for a while in college. Life happened, and once I discovered we were pregnant, I switched directions; opting for the healthcare industry because of the stability.
Finally, years later, I was in a place where I could leave the day job that never truly made me happy, and pursue my dreams. I’ve built, and am still building, my writing career from scratch. But, I’m passionate and I’m good at what I do. And, in the end, I can prove to my daughter that she can do anything she wants with this life.