Sometimes I suck all the fun out of Laylee’s world, not allowing her to sign up for every single club at school, telling her to stop reading and get some sleep, or slowing her insane candy intake. I tell her that it’s my motherly duty to save her from herself. Sometimes I wonder who will save me.
When I was a kid, it was my mom’s job but now that I’m older, she doesn’t try to boss me anymore and she shouldn’t. I’m the person with ultimate authority over my actions at this point so if anyone’s going to save me from myself, it’s me.
Here are a few pieces of advice I give to my children that I’d do well to pay closer attention to myself:
- Do not overschedule yourself – I’m in a constant fight with my kids, especially Laylee, to limit their activities. They want to do everything all the time and then complain when they’re stressed or tired or don’t have time to pursue their childhood. So I tell them no. All the time. Then I spend an hour on the phone complaining to my sister about how busy I am because of all the things I chose to fill my schedule with.
- Never give up on your dreams – I just completed a novel I’ve been working on for the past year and now I’m doing rewrites. There are times when I just want to set fire to my computer and walk away. If my kids walked away from a dream that easily, I’d kick them.
- Perfection is getting back up and trying again when you fail – If I don’t exercise one day, I have the tendency to curl up with a jar of M&Ms and say, “Well, I guess I don’t work out anymore.” I’m starting to learn what I’ve told my kids for years – jump up when you fall down and try again. You haven’t failed unless you’ve stopped trying.
- Put down the candy – Do you ever force your kids to eat vegetables but “forget” to put any on your own plate? Yeah. Me neither. But if I did, I would do well to force myself to eat as healthfully as my children. As their mother, I feel a responsibility to make sure they are well nourished. I should feel that same urgency for myself.
- Go to bed – I frequently find Laylee reading in the bathroom at midnight or Magoo sneaking a DS to bed with him. They groan when it’s bedtime and do anything within their power to avoid it. I look at the dark circles under their eyes and put my foot down. Bedtime is pretty sacred around here… for kids. For adults, we think of bedtime as something to inflict on small people. But looking at the dark circles under my own eyes, I think it’s time to say no to one more chapter, or one more episode, or one more blog post, or one more page of text on my novel. I need to learn to go to bed.
How about you? What things have you told your kids a million times that you should really be telling yourself?