I try really, really hard not to tell other moms how they should parent. What I will do, though, is gladly share my own stories and perspectives in the hope other moms may relate. In fact, I think moms naturally want to do this for each other. After all, we’re moms, so apparently we're wired to care about the growth and development of others. That’s why I want to offer up this totally non-prescriptive but highly encouraged list of things you don’t have to accomplish as a mom.
For the record and of course, you can totally continue to attempt the following things if you want to (and while you’re at it, please consider creating a bullet list of just how you did it, because you could totally turn it into an ebook and probably make, like, a zillion dollars), but you have my permission not to. Motherhood is complicated enough without adding extraneous things to our to-do lists.
For the record, my son is 2 and I have a second baby on the way, so my list is very much dictated by what is and isn’t realistic when it comes to having a baby and/or a young kiddo in the house. Parents of older kids (or even kids with different behavioral tendencies) may have a totally different set of freedoms that are completely foreign to me. Either way, here’s what I encourage other moms not to worry about:
Watching Live TV
Shout-out to my partner, who literally turned off the Super Bowl in order to accommodate our toddler. Now, I can’t promise the same thing would have happened if different teams were playing, but I guess we’ll never know, will we?
Though, based on how I was banished to watching last year's presidential debates on my laptop with ear buds last year, I think we have a pretty good guess. Kiddos don’t appreciate when your attention goes elsewhere.
A Completely Clean Home
One room at a time? Sure. For example, the bedrooms and living room in our house are (currently) in pretty good shape. The kitchen? Not so much. With two working parents who actually spend a number of their working hours at home (with a toddler), dishes and toys and laundry will pile up.
Unless I get word that we’re getting an important visitor (like Oprah-level important), we have that “lived-in” look more often than we don't.
A Full Cycle Of Laundry In A Day
I recently saw a meme that said something along the lines of, “You mean some people wash, dry, fold, and put away laundry in the same day?” It made me feel like I’m not alone on this space rock we call Earth.
The days when all parts of the process actually happen are days when I'm celebrating with champagne. (Kidding. Definitely just kidding. Don't want that spray to dirty anything else.)
Watching An Entire Movie
I mean, if your kiddos are awake, chances are good you’ll run into the same issues watching movies as you would if you’re watching live TV.
If the kiddo’s asleep? It’s probably dark outside, and late enough that you will fall asleep. Yes, even directly after dinner in what can only be described as "late afternoon" time. Whatever.
Finishing An Entire Cup Of Coffee While It’s Hot
Good thing cold coffee still retains caffeine, right? Personally, I can’t wait for spring so my family can start brewing cold coffee again, because it’s nature’s perfect elixir and I don't have to feel bad about taking three hours to finish it.
A Clean Car
Hey, but at least you’ll get to often experience the joy of finding something you thought was gone forever three long months later. It was just trapped underneath the passenger seat of your car, behind discarded toys and books, obviously.
Reading A Book Or A Magazine Or A Newspaper
We have this game in our house when I try to flip through a magazine with my son in our lap, and he tries to tear out pictures and pages whenever something strikes his fancy. It’s actually a pretty terrible game, but at least we can play it sitting on the couch, unlike some of the other activities he’s into these days. I’ll take it.
A Target Run When You Leave With Only What You Came For
There are some classic mom-stereotypes that I actively try to resist. However, I cannot tell a lie: I do love some Target. The red carts. The joy of finding a clearance tag on something I wanted to buy anyway. The fact that they have everything, even my favorite body wash and indulgent planner accessories and our favorite brand of baby lotion and my favorite potato chips and cute toddler pajamas, all under one roof? I’m sold, just like their inventory (because I bought it all).
Someday, he’ll understand that I’m being sarcastic when I say things like, “Thanks son, my glasses needed more fingerprints today,” but in the meantime, I’ll just be over here squinting.
OK, I admit that sometimes I should just know better. Like, there was really no reason I should have tried to attempt to paint with my son while wearing a white shirt. There is no reason I should leave permanent markers on the counter top within his reach. However, you can’t always plan on things like thrown ketchup or splattered jam.
Unpulled Dangly Jewelry
I’m pretty sure my son views accessories as an open invitation. And actually, as long as we’re on the subject of him grabbing at things I’m swearing, the same goes for drawstrings. His grip is strong, too. Part of me wants to be proud, but at the same time I wonder where the Hulk tendencies are coming from (probably not my side of the family).