When doing some things wrong means that you are doing parenting exactly right.
As moms we never know what we are doing. We are always doubting ourselves, always wondering what decisions we should/shouldn’t make. How do you know when your mom/parenting priorities are in the right place?
Questioning whether you are doing this parenting thing right???
At the end of any given day we may look back on our day and criticize ourselves. Pointing out the moments of ineptitude, of failure, of yelling, or even hiding. We believe that we are doing it all wrong.
Sometimes I look around my home at the end of the day and wonder what I am doing so wrong that my home doesn’t look Pinterest-perfect and my children don’t act like the Von Trapps.
Soaking up the sun while my children giggled in the backyard I was struck by the beauty of the setting sun, the free laughter, and the mess around us. For a moment I had a glimpse of how to be certain –absolutely certain—that I had at least a few priorities straight.
And, for me, having at least a few priorities—at least a few decisions—correct/in the right order at the end of the day felt like a major mom win.
As I looked around and saw signs of how I was probably doing everything wrong, I knew that I was doing everything right…at least right then.
Here are some sure signs that your priorities are in exactly the right place:
1. Your yard is strewn with toys.
Are they having a garage sale? Moving? Hoarders?
Well, maybe, but it could just be that my kids have enjoyed several hours of baseball, kite-flying, frisbee, swinging, bubbles, and stick throwing.
Those toys, games, and sports equipment strewn across the yard are more than just a mess. They are a glaring sign that your kids are having fun, your kids are enjoying the outdoors, that they are safe, and that they are young and innocent.
(If you want to know some of my favorite backyard toys, check this out.)
It won’t be long before they care about the proper form when hitting a baseball. In just a moment or two they will be too big for the swing set, and in the blink of an eye, they won’t want you to throw the frisbee, they will want to watch tv with friends.
So, for just this time, let the yard be a mess while they run giggling across the lawn.
2. Kisses from dirty faces.
My kids are gross. Want proof? Read this!
Although they are some of the pickiest eaters, for some reason, the same pickiness does not apply to licking, tasting, or biting things.
Couple that lack of discretion with the peanut butter and jelly that is left from their afternoon snack, and you have seriously dirty faces.
Pretty soon you know that one of those dirty little pigpen faces is going to skip up to mommy and ask for a kiss.
Sometimes you might use the moment to drag a towel across their mouth, and other times you might carefully avoid contact with the offending dirty face.
But, those beautiful dirty smiles are signs of carefree play, and the request for another kiss from mommy is a symbol of their trust.
There is nothing that my son likes more than running a car through the dirt, except a kiss and a snuggle from his mommy.
3. Laundry heaped in the corner.
Moms have a lot of laundry to do. I try my hardest to avoid it until a set time. And, when I do undertake to complete the daunting task, I try to complete it within 1-2 days.
Honestly though, a lot of the time, that laundry stays in a heap longer than that. Why?
Because I put it off to play cars on the floor or leave it sitting to make yet another mess in the kitchen. I know that my parenting priorities are in the right place when I put time with my kids before finishing the laundry.
Then, at the end of a long and fun-filled day, I look to that giant pile of 11 loads of laundry and realize that it didn’t get done. It didn’t get done because I took the time to enjoy my children and value the important things in life.
Sometimes it doesn’t get done because I spent way too much time snuggling and reading rather than doing housework. But, seeing it still sitting there and realizing that it is still sitting there because of the decision I made to be present…not lazy!…lets me know that I certainly have my priorities straight.
4. Netflix defaults to kid mode.
Does your subscription service even know that there are adults in the house? Sometimes I don’t think that mine does.
Do the suggested episodes, series, and movies all feature animated characters, singing, and dancing?
I feel like I spend an inordinate amount of time watching old sitcoms, b movies, and new series.
However, apparently, my movie subscription service doesn’t agree with that. Apparently, I spend so much time watching Bluey, Spirit, and Cars, that my movie subscription services believe that all viewers are under the age of 12.
Knowing that at least one inanimate service in our home believes that I don’t watch too much tv is at least a little reassuring and gives me the knowledge that some of my priorities are in the right order.
5. Dust on the furniture.
In our house, dust means two things. 1: the house is dirty, and 2. My daughter didn’t do a great job finishing her chores.
Although my preschool children are young, they still have responsibilities around the house. Despite the training I do with them on their chores, I fully understand that I am still the one who has to complete the chores.
That being said, sometimes I don’t do it twice. In fact, sometimes it goes weeks without being done.
I realized…awhile ago…that I have a tendency to overmanage my house! Letting some of the cleaning go, dropping a few of the household tasks gives me more time to concentrate on the important things.
Further, leaving that dust on the furniture (i.e. not letting my daughter see me correct her job) gives my daughter the chance to feel that she has value in our home. I don’t want to embarrass her for not doing the job to an adult level.
Looking at those uneven dust lines is a reminder that I need to let a few things go and that I am raising up responsible and contributing children.
Looking at those uneven dust lines is a reminder that my priorities, at least for the moment, are in the right order.
6. The refrigerator is covered in artwork.
If you have spent any time on Pinterest looking at cleaning suggestions, you know that one of the common ways of helping to declutter your home is to clear off the front of your refrigerator.
You know what happens when I put one of my kids’ masterpieces on the fridge? They show everyone; they beam with pride, and they feel loved.
You know what happens when I take a piece of artwork down?
My kiddos fall apart when one of their creations is removed.
Plus, despite the fact that their artwork doesn’t always match my décor, it always brings a smile to my face.
That messy handprint, the scribbled faces, and even the “family portrait” are all acts of love that remind me how little they are and how happy they are. I love the art on the refrigerator, and leaving it there, even when company is coming over, is one of the ways I know that my priorities are in the right order.
7. They cry for “mommy” or “daddy”
Tear stained face, wails and sobs. They come running to me or their daddy.
They know that we are their safe places. My kids don’t hold their feelings in or hide from us.
Instead, they come to us with their hurts, pains, struggles, fears, and innocence.
Knowing that your children trust you with the real fears and concerns of their little lives is reassurance that they need, love, and trust you. It is reassurance that you have done something right along the way.
8. Irreverent bedtime prayers.
Each night when we go to sleep, we take turns as a family praying about our day. The prayers are simple and short.
However, they usually contain phrases like: “Thank you for a FUUUUUUNNNNN day.”
Or, “thank you for mommy, and daddy, and brother, and sister.”
They are often wholly irreverent. (My daughter’s grade in reverence is still bad! Read more about that here.)
In these little moments, they are sharing with us the most important things in their lives even if they aren’t overtly religious or faith-based. We know in those little moments that our parenting priorities are in the right place when they share the people and memories that matter the most to them.
Hearing those little voices count their blessings is a blessing to me.
More than anything, it is a reminder that my parenting priorities are aligned somewhere.
So, how do you know when your parenting priorities are in the right place? It might not be when your house looks like the houses on tv. It might not be when everything is clean, calm, and orderly.
When you feel like everything is falling apart. In the moments when you feel like your home doesn’t look like it should or your toddler is acting a fool, look around at the mess, the refrigerator, the yard, the little handprints on the window and remind yourself that at least some of your priorities are in the right place!
Accept a slimy, sticky kiss. Add one more magnet to the fridge. And, hold that little one a little closer and a little tighter. Cherish knowing that these are the important things.