11 Things You Don't Have To Do When You Have A Toddler (Even Though People Say You Do)

There are exceptions to nearly every parenting rule, at least from what I’ve noticed in my short time as a mom. From how to feed your kid to how your kid to be sleeping to how you should, inevitably, handle the toddler years; people have opinions. So. Many. Opinions. Now that I have a toddler, I've realized that there are more than a few things you don’t actually have to do with your have a toddler. I can't tell you how relieved I was when I made this ground-breaking realization, because man, talk about pressure. This discovery was as relaxing as it was empowering.

Personally, I like to ignore as many parenting rules as possible (as long as they don’t affect my child’s safety or well-being, of course). For example, sometimes we even let him take a few sips of milk after he brushes his teeth at night. I know, I know, we really live on the edge at my house. At least it’s not orange juice, right? We’re not total monsters.

Still, it can feel like every mom around you is doing some of the same stuff when it comes to toddler-rearing and when you're not following suite, you start to second guess yourself or feel defunct or start to think that you're doing your toddler a disservice. You're not, I assure you, so in the spirit of easing minds and letting mothers off the hook, I thought I’d offer up a handy-dandy cheat sheet of what actually isn’t all that important, at least not in my book. Spoiler alert: you may want to start stepping away from Pinterest, and scrolling past everyone’s summer photo album uploads. Just a suggestion.

Crazy, Elaborate Arts And Crafts

I mean, I like keeping my kiddo engaged and intellectually stimulated as much as the next mom (read: a lot), but I'm not going to clean up glitter and risk getting glue everywhere every day. That's just silly.

Exception: You like crazy, elaborate arts and crafts.

Providing Complicated And Meticulously Prepared Meals

It never fails, as soon as I present him with his fancy dinner, like quinoa and spinach or something with squid ink (kidding), he ignores it and goes for cheese cubes.

Exception: You like meticulously preparing meals.

Using Ice Cube Trays As A Snack Organizer

This is the most aspirational of aspirational parenting images I have ever saved. Like, even the fanciest of fancy restaurants don't give you twelve or fourteen options when you order an appetizer platter (or maybe they do, and I just go to the wrong places?). Still, we are feeling good when we have, like, five varietals of snacks in the cupboard.

Exception: I'm sure there is one, but I can't think of what it would be.

Letting Them Tear Into Birthday Cake While You Take Photos

Maybe I'm losing fun points, but my kid doesn't even appear all that interested in cake right now. Perhaps we'll give it a try next year, but probably not.

Exception: You enjoy cleaning.

Letting Them Finger Paint

The one attempt at finger painting I've set up left me literally putting paint on his hands and then pushing his hands onto the paper like he was a human rubber stamp. We've not tried since.

Exception: You really like cleaning.

Taking Them On A Vacation, Or At Least An Elaborate Day Trip

Someday, when he understands the difference between a puddle and a water park, I might reconsider this one. For now? We'll take the puddle.

Exception: You were going to do the thing anyway, so you might as well bring them and then spend an extra 90 minutes sitting in a parked car with the air conditioning on, so they can nap.

Posting Pictures Of Them Online

It might feel like everyone is doing it, but they're not. I promise.

Exception: You like sharing pictures. Or you have the cutest kid in the world and you know you're doing the world a disservice by not sharing images. (*cough*)

Buying Super New And Expensive Toys All The Time

I mean, at least they come in boxes that kids prefer anyways, right?

Exception: You just can't help yourself, everything is cute.

Any Other Insanely Complicated DIY Projects You Saw Online

I know, I know, converting that bunk bed into a bouncy castle doesn't look all that hard. I understand the appeal.

Exception: DIY is your jam.

Comparing Your Kid To Someone Else's

Your kid is always the best anyway. I'd save yourself the energy it takes to compare to go make yourself a celebratory beverage.

Exception: Your doctor is using the comparison for an important reason.

Comparing Yourself To Other Moms

Nobody wins. Whatever side of them you see on a regular basis is not the side that their kid sees, and that's the only important thing when it comes to their mom skills.

Exception: One doesn't exist.