Break Your Own Parenting Rules Once in a While

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Illustration for article titled Break Your Own Parenting Rules Once in a While

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Setting reasonable rules and boundaries, which you then enforce consistently, is the cornerstone of good parenting. On the other hand, life is tedious right now. It’s all dark and dreary and distanced, and we could use a little fun. Which is why it might be time to bend your own rules a bit.

I’m not advocating that you throw bedtimes permanently out the window or allow the children to throw food at the walls to see what sticks. But nothing delights a child more than a parent who randomly starts jumping on a bed, or declares that tonight, we’re eating ice cream for dinner.

As Pam J. Hecht writes for the Citizen Times:

Going a little off the rails can be cathartic while teaching skills like being flexible, flying by the seat of one’s pants and thinking outside the box. It can also boost parent-child bonding.

If this means that one must have a random sword fight with light-up foam sticks at bedtime, so be it. It could also involve the hurling of laundry in a rather creative game of indoor tag (after which a crash course in folding becomes necessary) or a random pillow fight to break a somber mood. Whatever you do, aim for laughter and a respectable dose of silly.

Here are some ways to break your own rules and get out of the un-fun rut you might find yourself in:

  • Have a popcorn fight. It counts as a food fight but is not terribly messy.
  • Bring “outdoor” toys inside. I see no reason not to Hula hoop in the living room right now.
  • Let them eat chips in their bed, crumbs be damned.
  • Allow them to create new rules for the day that you must follow, and watch them get drunk with power.
  • Draw pictures on each other’s arms, legs and faces with (washable) markers.
  • Right when you’re about to put them to bed, say, “Never mind, let’s stay up late and watch a movie instead!”
  • Let them do the messy activity you despise and typically refuse. (Maybe it’s slime, maybe it’s crafts with glitter.)
  • Have a massive pillow fight or stuffed animal fight.
  • Tell them to splash as much as humanly possible in the bathtub. Drench that bathroom, who cares.

Be safe, of course. And you know your kids best—if staying up late one night will wreck them for the next three days, that’s probably not a rule worth breaking. But bending the rules a bit here or there might be the mental break you (and they) could use right now.


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