I’m still not a fun mom. I told you this about a year ago, and I’m here to say it again.
How do I know this? My children clearly let me know. How do I REALLY know this? My children’s friends have said it too.
Do I care? No. Being the Not Fun Mom is fine with me.
As gathering restrictions related to Covid-19 have loosened and our children have been able to hang out with their neighborhood friends more, I have settled back into my Not Fun Mom persona.
I want to be really clear here… my kids are great kids. And for the most part, they get along all the time. For the most part only, since they are kids after all, and random tiffs are bound to happen. Their friends are also terrific. I have no problems with these children. I just need them to know that I am not here to play, or entertain, or to be their friend.
How am I certain I’m not a fun mom?
I’m particular. And my husband is even more particular. We like our yard (entire property really) a certain way. We also don’t like gum stuck to our grill (yes this has happened on several occasions, and our children don’t get gum). Our children know this, but the neighborhood kids do not. And why would they when it isn’t their home? Our kids know not to dig in the dirt at the end of the driveway that my husband works hard on, or to rearrange the deck furniture that I just organized. So, when my kids have friends over, I’m constantly telling our kids what not to do. I would never directly scold another child for my idiosyncrasies. My own kids are fair game.
Noise control. Without fail, my children will walk outside and make as much noise as possible. Part of it is simply being a kid, but I know deep down a larger part is that they want the neighborhood kids to hear them so they will come out and play. I get it, I wanted to play with friends when I was their age too. But do they have to be so loud?
Rules. My children let me know I make far too many rules. My biggest one when they go outside and I’m inside is that they stay in the yard. To me, it’s pretty simple. It’s about safety. I want to be able to see or hear them if I’m doing the dishes, laundry, or working. When they leave the yard, I can’t hear or see them. This is where I’ve heard from their friends that I’m not fun. They’ve never said it directly to me, but I have overheard it from the kitchen window while they are in the driveway. Which provides another compelling reason for me to keep my kids in the yard. I hear all the gossip, and I firmly believe children shouldn’t have big secrets from their parents. Again, they are all great kids, but to them, I’m not being fun.
I say no. A lot! No, they can’t leave the yard. No, they can’t go play in the water. No, they can’t have a specific snack. No, they can’t ride on the bike trail when I’m not outside with them. I’m convinced the neighborhood kids always hear me saying NO!
I even recently caught them whispering about me saying no. Does that mean I’ve officially arrived as a parent? Where’s my crown?
What do I do to help myself take a step back?
The thing is, I don’t mind being a Not Fun Mom. I really don’t. My children’s safety and well-being are not negotiable to me. I do realize, however, that I need to allow my kids to develop some independence. And I have taken some steps to make myself pull back.
A timer for myself. When my kids stop listening to me and invite the whole neighborhood over, I set a timer. I won’t go out immediately and remind my children what they originally went out to do. I give them 30 – 45 minutes before I do the first gentle reminder. It’s hard for me, but good for them. They need that time with friends.
Gentle reminders. Reminders to myself that my kids aren’t hurting anyone or themselves when they bend the rules a little. Because this really is what’s most important right? They need to be kids. I need to remind myself that they aren’t little adults and they don’t think like me. They just want to be outside exploring and having fun. They will need to become independent, so why don’t I loosen the reins a little bit? As I said, this is a good group of kids and I have to gently remind myself to take a step back.
Say yes a little more. Or maybe just say no a little less. Either way, I need to open my eyes up more to what my children want rather than what I want. As long as they are having safe fun, I should be able to step back.
Ultimately, I’m not worried if kids think I’m fun, but I don’t want to be known as the mean mom either. I also want my kids and their friends to learn how to make safe, healthy, good choices without me there yelling about what’s right. Eventually, they will all be independent and living on their own, and my job is to prepare them for this, not to make them dependent on me to make decisions for them.
This is my hang-up, not theirs. I need to remember that their childhood does not need to resemble mine. I played quietly by myself (mostly because I had no close neighbors and I was an only child). I didn’t make messes. I didn’t have a lot of rules, because I didn’t push my parents on their parenting parameters. Or so they tell me.