I’m the strict mom. I can hear my kids getting into something clear across the house with the washing machine buzzing in my ear. If they hear me coming to tell them to stop, they will often stop before I make it to the room. Often, not always.
I’ve set rules with my kids from very early on. I am not afraid to tell them no or set boundaries. While it may not be something they like, it is something that will benefit them. The world is not out there to tell us yes all the time. There are obstacles to overcome, laws, and societal rules to follow. While some rules are meant to be broken, some of them keep us safe and even free.
This is not to say I don’t allow my children freedom to learn their own lessons and express themselves. I’ve allowed markers, paints, crayons, and even chalk to be around my carpets. There have been glitter bombs in my kitchen and many a spill off a piece of furniture or other climbable object. There has been life… Overindulgence here and there with a healthy dose of reality to rein us all back in.
My children are at times spoiled with toys, books, or candies for no special occasion. Other times they are told if they want something special, they need to use their piggy bank money or do some chores to earn it. My husband and I have tried hard to strike a balance where we set all these boundaries without squashing our children’s spirits and personalities. Sometimes we are told we are ‘mean’ and rewarded with a tantrum. Sometimes we wish we could say yes, but know finances dictate that we say no.
Our children are well cared and provided for. They have more toys than they need; enough clothes that I could probably go almost a month without washing if I had to. Their bowls, plates, and glasses are always filled when their tummies demand food or drink. As most parents do, we often wonder if we are doing enough. If we’ve met all their needs and what we can do to better them. I think learning those boundaries is as important for ourselves as it is for our children. What they need and what we feel they need aren’t always the same.
I’ve always been a believer that money or possessions do not dictate a person’s worth. Children don’t need lots of toys or clothes (or things) to be happy. They don’t need to always do everything their friends do or attend every event they want to. They have to learn that life is about balance and choices or life is not going to be easy once they’re out of our reach. They need love, support, and guidance. They don’t need the world handed to them on a silver platter. An afternoon spent with a box of crayons and a cardboard box can provide a much richer learning and social experience than an afternoon of movies or plastic toys. Those abstract ‘toys’ provide social interaction, use of motor skills, critical thinking, and imagination. Finding those moments to enrich your relationship with your children is far more important than a trip to the store for a new toy. A toy that will likely be forgotten in a few hours – landing at the bottom of the toy box with all the other ‘treasures’ they’ve acquired.
My children do not currently attend a daycare or other preschool program. I’ve been ‘selfish’ in their young age and chose to keep them at home. They will likely attend pre-k the year before they start school. I’ve been asked by other moms why I don’t put them in the twice a week classes for more social interaction and to be honest, I sometimes I feel offended when asked. I feel like it’s a personal decision and a boundary that maybe others shouldn’t cross. There is certainly nothing wrong with those programs, I think most of them are great. It just isn’t the right choice for our family. My boys interact among each other all day. We do our own lessons and learning exercises. We play…a lot. I feel that I get four years to have my children to me, and then for the rest of their lives I have to share them with the world. They get four years of life where they mostly play, and then they have to sit still in classrooms and follow several sets of rules. They get four years of one-on-one time with their mom and dad in their home. Four years where we still interact with the outside world, but they have no ‘responsibilities’ outside the home unless we choose. Four years… I’m doing my best to fill those four years with fun, morals, creativity, rules, laughter, guidance… I’m choosing those four years to try my best to instill in them the values I hope they’ll hold precious and use to help them navigate the big world that is going to be theirs for the taking (and sharing) very soon.
I’m the strict mom. The one who sometimes says no to having dinner out or sneaking a treat. The one who says you can’t take out ALL your toys at once. The one who makes you clean up your spilled food and put away your toys. The one who says get off that, don’t say that, go to time out. I’m also the one who teaches about saying you’re sorry if you hurt someone, showing them that sometimes it’s okay to color outside the lines or make up your own rules to the game. I’m also the one who teaches that race, religion, and even sexual preference don’t matter. That all humans deserve a chance and that these things are not a reason to judge someone. I’ve asked my children to love and appreciate, but also respect nature and all those in it. To pause for a moment to watch the leaves fall or the flowers in bloom. I’ve even shown them how to blow bubbles in their milk…
I’m the strict mom…but sometimes I say yes. Yes to toy villages sweeping down the rooms and hallways. Yes to coloring your swing set with sidewalk chalk. Yes to color bombs in the bath tub and bubbles that spill over the sides. Yes to skittles before dinner…just this once.
My job as their mother is to love and to teach. The most amazing part is that they often do the same.