My absolute favorite activity is lying on the couch and reading a book or watching a movie. My least favorite activity? Playing with my kids. I mean, like, actually playing and getting down on the floor and pretending Barbies have thoughts and feelings and goals and plans. Ugh. Just punch me in the throat at that point. I loathe playing and I refuse to do it. I know, I'm terrible. Unfortunately, as a working mom of two and a wife of one, I don't get too many opportunities to be lazy, but being a lazy mom is the absolute best.
I discovered I was a lazy mom early on. I even remember the specific day. It was a nice spring afternoon, my daughter was 1 month old and was napping in her bassinet. A wave of guilt came over me and I thought, "I should really take her for a walk. It's a beautiful day." Quickly, another thought appeared and I was like, "But that's, you know, so much work." So, I compromised. I took her out back, parked her stroller in the shade, parked my butt in a chair, and opened a book. No extra moving for me, fresh air for her. Goodbye guilt, hello lazy afternoon.
Now, you may be thinking I'm neglectful and crappy, and I'm here to say you're totally entitled to that opinion. However, I believe my laziness has some unintended, albeit great, side effects, up to and including the following:
The Kids Are Independent
Strangers have praised my kids for their independence. "Wow, your 2 year old just plays by himself. That's amazing," someone recently told me. Now, I'm not sure if those comments were backhanded compliments, but I won't read too much into them.
My kids (who are 2 and 7) brush their own teeth, get themselves dressed, make breakfast, and put away their dishes. All I have to do is not do it for them. My 2-year-old son has learned to push the step stool around the kitchen to wash his hands, to grab a cup, and to get a drink and a snack out of the fridge. My 7-year-old daughter does homework on her own, makes herself breakfasts and lunches, and performs simple chores. I did not physically teach them these things, they learned on their own because I either did not have the time or the desire to help. I often guided with my words from a different part of the house, or from the couch.
The Kids Are Quiet
"Mommy is going to relax. Go play downstairs," I would say. And just like that, they're gone. There's quiet in my living room and there's zero interruptions. I get to read, they get to play.
The Kids Are Creative
Because I hardly play with my kids, they have learned to play on their own. From the moment they were able to keep themselves occupied, like before they could even roll over, I would childproof the entire area they were in and I would go do other stuff. I left them alone and they figured it out. They would chew on books, play with toys, or simply stare into the ceiling. They found ways to be creative without my interference.
The Kids Eat What's In Front Of Them
I refuse to cook different meals for each family member. I absolutely will not make separate meals for the kids and the adults. It will not happen. I hardly have the energy to make one meal. So, the kids quickly learned they must eat what is in front of them or go to bed hungry. I don't bend. It is what it is.
The Kids Are Helpful
When she was 18 months, my daughter tried to change her own diaper. Now, at 7, she helps her brother with whatever he may need. One night, while I was out at a birthday dinner for a friend, my husband became ill and had to lie down. By the time I got home, my daughter had already bathed herself and her brother. My kids help with dishes and laundry. I can lie on the couch and watch my daughter make herself and her brother peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The Kids Aren't Bored
Some days my 7 year old tells me she is bored and I remind her of the incredible world of childhood and how she has her entire brain to occupy her. She quickly remembers I am not here for her entertainment and disappears into her room. Suddenly, I hear music and she is singing and dancing. Other times she reads books, creates crafts, and plays "school" with her dolls. I call that a lazy parenting win.
The Kids Get Enough Sleep
This one is important. I am way too lazy (and selfish) to let my kids stay up late. After a full day of work and a full evening of cooking and cleaning, I want alone time with my husband before we both pass out from daily exhaustion. My kids are in bed by 8:30 p.m. at the latest. This means I get to be alone and lazy with my husband for a couple of hours, and my kids get enough sleep to prepare them for the following day.
The Parents Are Happy
I don't chase my kids around the playground. I don't follow them at birthday parties. I don't chauffeur them all weekend from one activity to the next. I put on cartoons on Saturday and Sunday morning so I can get an extra hour of sleep. I make sure the kids learn how to put on their shoes, how to use the toaster, how to load the dishwasher, how to organize their rooms, and how to fold their clothes so I never have to do any of that ever again. Because, well, I just don't want to.
Moreover, my husband and I benefit, too. We don't feel the need to jump up every time our kids need something. We aren't killing ourselves trying to do everything for them. We are much happier because we get some time to ourselves every evening.
Lazy parenting benefits everyone involved. I get to watch my shows and the kids still get to eat. My kids are independent and self-reliable because of my hands-off parenting. My kids are imaginative and adventurous because of my refusal to get off the park bench.
The best thing about being a lazy parent is that you are teaching your kids big lessons with minimal effort. That's living the dream, if you ask me.