I occasionally get enraged over how much stuff my kids have. I get mad at them, myself, their grandparents, and capitalism.
The thing my kids have the most of are Legos, little pieces of plastic that just keep getting manufactured, thanks in part to us. I hate this.
But a few months ago, we were going through a rough phase with my younger kid where nobody was getting along. I found him in the basement one day, jamming away quietly with the Legos by himself. And I realized something. While the amount of plastic crap is real, the kids really play with these toys. It keeps them quiet, and they build little imaginary scenes with them. They’ve taken what they’ve learned from Lego books and Outschools and have made new things on their own. And it’s one of the things that my kid with ADHD can lock into and enjoy and do the damn thing on.
So I’m just going to let this one go. Stop raging about it. The Legos will eventually get donated to some other kids someday. We are still able to put them away. Most importantly, I have plenty of other things to be mad about in the meantime.
What’s a family life battle, big or tiny, you have graciously chosen to walk away from?
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I have given up the fight on what defines a breakfast food. Ritz crackers? Goldfish? Pair it with fruit and it's not THAT different from cereal.... right??
I gave up on trying to get my inlaws to like me!! It's been very freeing. I'm a bit unconventional for their taste and I used to try so hard for their approval. Having kids was the point when I was like - I don't really care what your opinion is here because I'm doing this our way - my kids are 6 and 3 now, and they don't really question our methods anymore and really enjoy having our kids over, so I feel like just leaning info my confidence helped with that. It also helped me let go of the fact that they let them stay up until like 10 or 11 and watch soooooo much screens when the kids sleepover. They are small nightmares after, but that's my husband's problem LOL not my parents, not my problem!
One more: my parents being annoyed that I don't call them more. I've just decided to let it go. I have twins and a full-time job. They are retired. The phone works two ways!
One more thing! I want an inverse thread! What hill(s) are you dying on? lollollol
I give zero fucks about screen time guidelines except for shutting everything down at what I consider a reasonable time (11PM for the teen) on school nights. My 11 year old self-polices this very well so I'm not worried about him yet, but the teen needs hard boundaries (thank you Apple Family settings.) The time I probably spent talking on the phone with friends, watching must see tv, and reading Star Hits magazine would now be done on a phone or tablet. The only time I restrict access or shut things down earlier is when grades fall below a C.
I also let the kids be sort of pigs with their rooms as far as toys/clutter/clothes. Just no food and no scope creep into the main living areas. If they are clean, on time, and can find stuff with whatever system they have in their minds, I don't get involved. And Witches, the best possible threat you can make to a teenager is "I'm going to clean your room while you are at school/practice/otherwise out of the house."
I could not give one last fuck about what my kids wear. As long as it's cleanish and you're dressed mildly appropriately for the weather, bye bye. I use to fight with my youngest kid EVERY SINGLE MORNING about clothes/not having anything clean to wear because she is very sensitive to fabrics and fit, and only likes to wear one specific style of baselayer pants (i wont even get into the threadbare hand me down undies.... we're down to 4 and not for long). And we only have 3 pairs of these pants.
So guess what? Now I make sure to do a load of laundry on Sunday and a load on Wednesday night and we are good for the week. Some of them are patched (I LOVE YOU NOSO PATCHES), all of them are stained. Do I care? Actually, yes. Do I fight about it anymore? No.
I used to rip my hair out every time we attempted to get everyone out of the house on time. It's the subject of one of my recent poems. But I'm slowly learning to breathe and deal with the chaos as calmly as possible.
WILL WE EVER LEAVE THE HOUSE?
Surely the greatest test parents face,
Is to leave the house on time.
You dream of all the family members,
Standing by the door in one neat line.
Ready to step across the threshold,
Is there a chance we could leave early?
But as the clock starts ticking,
The atmosphere turns surly.
And it’s as if all this is new,
Have we never tried this thing before?
Put on our coats, laced up our shoes,
Explored the world outside our door?
The same chaotic ritual,
Begins to play out all over again,
As I shout angrily up the stairs:
“We have to leave at half past ten!”
“You’re wearing odd socks. Your jumper’s inside out.”
“And where’s your other shoe?”
“Quick. Go and find it in the car.”
“No, you don’t have time to use the loo!”
“We need to leave. We’ll miss the train.”
“This dawdling has to end.”
“Where’s your Zipcard? In your coat?”
“What do you mean you lent it to your friend?”
“Has anybody made sandwiches?”
“Where did you put the cheese?”
“Wait. You can’t go out wearing shorts like that,”
“You’ll absolutely freeze.”
Our deadline passes. We’ll catch the next one.
“But please no more lengthy preparations.”
We start to blame each other,
There are tears, recriminations.
Finally, we’re ready,
But now I can’t find my phone.
And my charger, my bank card, my glasses.
“You know what? Let’s just stay at home.”
This is not an issue anymore, but when my kid was 2 (he is now 8) he went through a phase where he REFUSED to change out of his pajama top in the morning. Changing into pants was fine, but changing the shirt? Not happening. And one day my husband and I looked at each other and just…shrugged. It was still a shirt, right? So we left him in his previous night’s PJ shirt every day (he was OK changing into PJs at night). When he started preschool he accepted “daytime” shirts again, and now at 8 it is soccer jersey or bust.
No occasion-specific gifts for anyone outside our immediate family.
No birthday parties until my kid can actually ask for one himself, unprompted.
No more parenting influencer accounts.
Bedtimes. My kids are 15 & 12 and get themselves up every morning. As long as they are getting out the door on time and not pulling straight Ds in school, bedtime is at their discretion in my book. We're now letting "natural consequences" of late nights do the teaching.
I think the pandemic really led me to lots of fewer battles “picked.” (I have teenagers so this is older kid stuff.) Screen time, junk food, homework, not wearing a hat in winter? Well... it’s not great but it’s mostly fine.
Oh boy yes. I have worked hard on myself to accept the garbage bin. The thought of landfills short circuits my brain, it’s too upsetting, so instead I… keep the little plastic garbage in my house? One of our school friends works for the garbage company & somehow seeing how easy going he is about it, & hearing about how they employ sorters to keep stuff in the recycling whenever possible, has helped me let go.
So many things! I don't make my kids wear pajamas, they can just take their shower at night and put on whatever they want to wear to school the next day. They can eat whatever they want for breakfast...or not eat at all. And I recently gave up on bugging my son about filling out his school reading log every day--we read every night, but having to "log" it and write thoughts about it every day was making both of us miserable.
Now that I write these out, I realize they are all morning things! That must be when I have the least patience (plus we have a deadline because the kids take the bus).
I mean let's be honest some days my entire life feels like a concession to how I would actually like things to go.
You don't have to wear your cub scout uniform to cub scouts unless it's absolutely required for an event, even though more than half the kids and a good number of the adults there wear them every time -- for all the meetings where 5-9 year olds are just running around and adults are telling them to stop and doing the activities themselves. It doesn't affect your learning and nobody is taking pictures. It literally doesn't matter, and I'm sure not wearing one.
Lately I've been focused walking away from on the battle in my own head, and making it stop. Why didn't I send that email? How was my tone? Why didn't I become the doctor my dad wanted? Was my old boss right about xyz? Early days, but it is so nice.
Can someone please convince my husband of the efficacy of the approximately 9 million pounds of callico critter/sylvanian families tiny plastic we have in our house because 1) she plays with it ALONE for HOURS! and 2) his parents (mostly his dad) bought it all?
I relate to this. I try SO hard not to buy plastic, I post on buy nothing before buying plastic items but Legos are something I’m fine buying new even though I realize they are a “no new plastic” loophole… sigh
This is such a good question! Tidiness has a direct correlation to my sense of calm and for 11 years I have fought the kid chaos in our NYC apartment. Recently, I decided I can no longer care about their bedrooms. Zero fucks left to give. Now, after they're off to school in the morning, I blissfully close their doors and say "Not my problem." I still get twitchy over it once in a while, but by and large, it has been blissful to let this battle go.
If they ask for TV time, I just say yes. Sometimes even if they have already had some earlier in the day. Honestly, I'm a film studies professor, so who am I kidding? Let them watch.
I do not purchase birthday, mother/father's day, or christmas presents for my in-laws. My husband is 100% responsible for those. My sisters and I do group gifts for our side.
I do most of the household chores and mental labour. I accept this because my husband does 100% of meals and yard work. I will give him a hug and commiserate about how he doesn't know what to make for dinner for the 400th night in a row (he does all the shopping but refuses to meal plan, child can be picky, I can be picky, he is picky but refuses to admit it). But I will not feel guilty when I, for example, did the research, conferred with friend parents, and sat online for 90 minutes last week during work hours in order to register for summer camps. And have filled out every single school form that has ever come home. Etc etc etc.
Why are we still buying Happy Meals? They're unhealthy, not enough food, and he doesn't even open the toy anymore. The toy gets donated, still in the little bag. But they make him happy. $4 in an otherwise whiny moment. Okay! We'll keep donating McDonald's toys. Maybe some child wants them.
Re kids and stuff, 100% yes agree and also our basement is covered in Legoes and everyone got Lego for Christmas and bday this year. Tho 11yo has stopped asking for Lego so he didn’t get any.
Re clothes my middle has worn the same outfit more or less every day for the past 2 years. We sized up for this school year, luckily old navy is making the same active t and shorts. I’ve let go of worrying about how dirty is the outfit bc even tho we have a few copies of it at this point he likes th comfort aspect of day 2-4 of wearing. Whatever. He is comfortable, mostly clean and it’s fine.
I have also let go of brushing kids hair every am. I brush their curly hair after/in the bath/shower and it’s good til next bath night.
I no longer give a single shit about what time the kids get to bed on any night of the week. We can fight them for hours, or we can not fight them for hours, but they will not go to sleep until they actually go to sleep.
Every year the school sends home a helpful paper outlining what times certain ages of kids should be in bed for certain wake-up times and it's always about 3-4 hours earlier than the seven-year-old usually goes to bed.
But since she's getting straight A's, is physically healthy, isn't falling asleep in the middle of the day, and her behavior problems boil down to "talks too much in class"...she's fine?
As for the toddler, let's just say the seven-year-old nicknamed her "Cocaine Bear." Good luck getting her to sleep until she damn well wants to.
It took me so long to be able to let go of control at mealtimes. Our three year old isn't necessarily a fussy eater, it's just she doesn't really care whether it's time to eat or not.
My wife and I would get so frustrated that she'd eat a meal well one week, then the next week we served it up again, she'd act as if we just offered her the contents of her potty. We'd worry that she'd got for days without eating a full meal and that it was going to affect her growth or whatever.
But doing more research into it, we've just taken a less is more approach with regards to encouraging at mealtimes. I realised it was probably also to do with my own issues of wanting to control certain aspects of her routine. Once I realised that, and realised that if she's hungry, she'll eat - mealtimes became less of a battle.
I've given up on cooking for myself and my husband. By the time the littles are fed & in bed, I don't have the bandwidth to think about what we should eat, much less cook. We each fend for ourselves and make it work. It's been freeing.
I have noticed this too about having enough building toys in the house. Frequently I will find the 5 year old quietly sticking things together from his plastic stashes of blocks, etc, while the rest of the house reads or cooks or whatever. Buys us all some peace and independence. Here for the (selective) crap! And dream of a giant bonfire one day 😅 lol that Dorothy gif 👏 And/but I have re-dedicated myself to weaning some of the incredible abundance that comes into the house from others. Thanks for the thought but no thanks on the responsibility!
Putting clothes away. There are so many skills my child has been diligently working on successfully, clean laundry being put away falls under the "nice to have" but not a necessity. And I'm not doing it for him. And the world will keep spinning. Note: sweaty/dirty/gross clothes is another story. In the hamper or in the wash, kid!
This is a great list. I don't have one that I've walked away from. It's more like, I walk away from ALL OF IT, especially some weekday evenings. LOL. Screens, mess, eating gummy bears? LALALALA.
Then, I try to regroup.