There is this ad where the kid won’t eat the lovely balanced meal the mom cooked for him so the plain-Mom-like-person-wearing-slacks hands him a PediaSure milkshake and then proceeds to stare at him while he drinks his hydrogenated vegetable oil ambrosia; all googley eyed, happy and relieved having achieved the prime directive. Whoa. Children will eat when children are hungry. Don’t sabotage yourself by giving them lots of snacks. Embrace the idea of hunger as a metaphor for striving and for anticipation. A child that never knows hunger will never know satiation either. Do your best to make something healthy and tasty and then let it go.
2.Lying to your friends
When we light heartedly chuckle about our children’s unwillingness to go to bed when it’s actually got us out on the roof threatening to jump or we refuse to admit we let the kids watch movies just because they enjoy it in all its passive, escapist glory (just like we do) we play along in a malevolent charade. Not only does is make you a liar, which is bad, it contributes to this idealized vision of motherhood that has been bonking women on the head for decades. Sometimes this job sucks and it’s sucks worse than a “real” job because 1. you actually care and 2. Because it never fucking ends. Anyone that judges you for being overwhelmed occasionally has bigger issues to fry...so to speak. This goes for SAHM blogging, too. Displaying a life sponsored by Glitz Retouching Services cheapens the experience, makes it more about marketing than sharing and more about hubris than support. It’s transparent. It’s boring. It’s more than a little pathetic.
4.Comparing yourself to other moms
Some us like to craft while others would rather stick the scissors in their eye. Some of us like scheduled, organized activities while others get hives contemplating being on time for a dentist appointment 3 weeks from now. Some Moms have $$$, some don’t. Some moms like volunteering at the kid’s school. Some moms think that entirely misses the point of having a kid in school. Some moms are deeply disturbed, unfulfilled, consumerist alpha assholes who need to be reprogrammed. We all have different gifts and different challenges and we all have horrible days when we do horrible things we regret and great days when we do it all right. We can’t be all things to all people. We’ll succeed at being the best of who we are when we stop trying.
5.Reading parenting magazines
Parenting magazines are lightly veiled vehicles for consumerism. They play upon your fears and concerns in order to make you buy them. (Will crying it out KILL your baby???) They try to make you feel like an inadequate parent so you will buy them. (Don’t throw out that 2 liter bottle! Make this fun Easter themed bunny-bank! Don’t you like fun, BEATCH?) They exist to sell advertising, it’s how they make money and they exist to make money. Plus, they are full of dumb ideas like utilizing the vegetable sculpture arts to entice kids to eat. They extol the virtues of the kids eating the vegetables (no shit) as well as the delight you will find in the process. Pause. Blink. Pause. There is some disease of affluence meets inertia of the overly-entertained argument to made here but this activity is dancing so far over on the ridiculous side of the Insane Things Some Magazine Editor Thought Up to Sell Magazines tracks I can’t be bothered. In 99.9% of the cases, the answer you seek would be better put to a friend, your pedie or your Mom.
6.Let your kids watch ads (or ads disguised as shows)
Consumerism is an empty hole, a dead end street, an incapacitating mechanism to subvert creative thinking, analytical ability and the appreciation of the truly meaningful experience of life. Teaching a child to associate happiness with the acquisition of material objects is teaching a child to dig a hole of entitlement and perpetual dissatisfaction they will never emerge from. I would sooner let my kids eat raw chicken while running in the street with scissors than I would let them get bombarded by advertising.
7.Materially rewarding good behavior
I bet this was a parenting magazine idea. Doing the right thing is required and expected. Praise a child when they make a good choice, that’s how they learn. Social approbation is the single greatest influence on behavior. By creating an expectation of material reward for good behavior, we imply that it is optional and begin a game of rising stakes for good behavior. Not only does this contradict the pursuit of household peace, it primes your kid to do the least for the most. Wall Street, here I come!!!
8.Give your kids too much say
Kids like limits. They like them so much they like to visit them, push them and test them all the time! A child should only be empowered to influence events over which they can reliably make good decisions. My 6 year old picks out her own clothes, the book she wants to read and the movie she wants to watch. If I allowed her to pick what she wants to eat she’d eat nothing but cheese and goldfish and need to be surgically un-constipated. My 4 year old picks out his own shirt. If I allow him to pick out the whole outfit he will pick 2 shirts and 3 pairs of socks and then scream bloody murder when I say he can’t wear them. If I allowed him to pick what he wanted to eat he’d ask for one thing and then scream bloody murder because he actually wanted the other thing. Kids want their parents to be in charge. It frees them up to be kids. Throw ‘em a bone once in a while but you’re the grown up.
9. Forgetting to say thank you to the breadwinner
There would be no SAHM without the go to work Dad. Finding common ground when two people are involved in such different and separate spheres can be challenging. In our house I am all things domestic; kids, money, house, car you name it. It was hard for my husband to hand over those reigns and it’s also hard for him to get pulled aside all the time and told “we aren’t doing it that way anymore”. Say thank you as often you can. Offer to get them a beer when they get home and say “How are you?” It’s the little things.
10.Not demanding/accepting respect for the work you do
Being a SAHM is the hardest job out there and it’s the most important. No jobjob holds you more accountable, punishes your mistakes or rewards your success more viscerally, tests your tolerance of ambivalence and self doubt or pushes you to do your best like being a SAHM. In spite of this, being conditioned to equate monetary rewards with good job performance taints our perception of the value of what we do. So say it loud, say it proud and give yourself a pat on the back and a break.