I am out of order! All those “rules” I was taught as a child and have tried to pass on to my child? Gone. I am questioning the laws of parenting.
Our brains are wired to put all stimuli we experience into an order we can understand, process and memorize. If we are taught from childhood that there is a certain order to the way things are done, it is ingrained in our memory, and we subconsciously or consciously behave in the way we were taught. In turn, we teach that order to our children.
The other morning, I broke one of those rules of order when my child asked me to go outside to play. At six o’clock in the morning. At first, I took a deep breath to explain why we can’t go outside that early, but then I stopped. Why couldn’t we? Adults walk or jog or bike in the early morning, so what’s stopping us from going out to play? Out we went, and we had a wonderful, energizing time.
By breaking some of these rules, I have found that precious family time parents are all striving for. “Family game night” usually happens in the morning for us. Or we rock out banging away on her instruments just before bed. Quality time also doesn’t have to mean play time. My daughter has begun “helping” me with daily routines, such as cooking and taking out the trash. We are working and hanging out together.
Another rule we’ve broken is the one about what you should eat for breakfast. My child will eat anything for breakfast. From pasta – yes, pasta – to peanut butter and jelly to chicken nuggets. If you can have breakfast for dinner, you can have dinner for breakfast. As long as she’s getting her nutritional needs met and her tummy is full, why not?
And, incidentally, dinner is (almost!) anything goes as well. Sometimes we eat on the living room table instead of in the dining room. Hey, we’re at a table eating together. No one said where the dinner table had to be.
I have also brought the outside in and the inside out. Remember that one time it snowed this “winter?” We brought a pail of snow into the house. We have picnics in the living room on the floor. We have spread blankets on the grass to read.
Instead of the battles with your kids about the “right” way to do things, try doing something out of order. Let them lead the way, and go with it; you may be pleasantly surprised. Have fun with it. Be silly even. And have a little fun while you’re parenting.
Theresa Davis is a former early childhood educator and has worked in childcare centers for more than 15 years. She is also an adoptive mother, living and taking care of her family in the Capital District.