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Your parental permission slip

As parents, we are our own worst critics. Every one of us feels as though we should be doing more, doing things better, spending more quality time with our kids, teaching them more life lessons.  With all this, we feel we should also spend time on ourselves, maintain our own identity, and cultivate our passions.

Being a parent is hard.

The one thing I’ve learned through parenting my own two kids is that it’s okay to be a little less than stellar on occasion. You must accept that you are human; you will make mistakes – everyone does. The key is to learn from these mistakes and then move on.

As parents we should give ourselves permission to:

1. Let our kids be kids.

They really and truly grow up too fast. While it’s important to teach good manners, respect and kindness, a day full of rules and regulations really isn’t any fun. Relax a bit and focus on what really matters. Let them experiment, make mistakes, and play the way they want to.  Relinquish control and let them be kids.

2. Leave a mess.

It’s really okay to leave a bit of a mess, with toys strewn about the place and the beds unmade. If you’re a stay at home parent, this can be a bit tougher because you may consider this part of your job description. If you’re having a particularly tough day, aren’t feeling well, or just want can’t spend every single second with your little ones, it’s okay. Give yourself permission to leave the mess and clutter and just relax.

3. Ask for help.

It’s okay to ask relatives to watch the kids for an afternoon or for a day on the weekend if you need a break. Ask your mom, sister or friend to come with you for doctors’ appointments so they can watch the kids in the waiting room. Your family will no doubt be thrilled to spend time with your little ones, and the kids will love having someone new to talk to or play with.

4. Hire a babysitter.

This is a tough idea to wrap your head around, especially if you’re a stay at home parent. But it is okay to occasionally hire help. I don’t need to remind you how much quicker and easier it is to get stuff done without the little ones in tow. Use these several hours to run errands, focus on a hobby, or search for part-time work. Whatever it is you need to do, it’s okay to do it without your kids.

5. Sleep in.

Photo by Ali Edwards

Although I’m a huge fan of waking early to get myself ready for the day, I really enjoy the times I allow myself to just sleep in. Not everything has to be taken care of, set up or ready to go each and everyday before the kids get up. Being well rested can make the whole day a lot more enjoyable. You’ll likely have more energy, more tolerance and patience.

6. Let our kids play by themselves.

I hear so many parents say they feel bad about letting their kids play by themselves, but it’s okay. Actually, I think it’s a good thing for kids to play by themselves. When my kids play without me, I see them trying to figure things out for themselves. They do things in a way that I wouldn’t have thought to do myself. They aren’t constrained by my “rules” or my way of playing. They test things out and are perhaps a little more adventurous than they would be otherwise.

A lot of the things we do as parents are done with the best of intentions. We want to do the best we can to set our children up to succeed and thrive in life. We are so often too hard on ourselves — we really do need to give ourselves permission to release some of our self-imposed rules.

What will you give yourself permission to do as a parent?

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  1. jeanie cullip

    Thank you so much for this blog posting, I think we all need to give ourself permission to ….. so often we forget, thank you for the reminder.

  2. Megan

    I always stress & worry about not spending enough time with my kids especially now that my 2nd is here. Ever since he was born I’ve stressed over not being able to spend enough time with my oldest. I feel like I am mourning the loss of a best friend because I miss the days where it was just her and I. I know I will find a new path as a mother of two as many have done before me – though it also makes me cherish more the times she cuddles up with me and wants me to hold her.

    On the topic of letting them play by themselves. I guess I dont have much patience for toddler play. I let her play a lot by herself and our time doing things together is usually her helping me around the house while a few times a day I will sit down on the floor with her and play. Our favorite time now is the hour after I put the baby down and before she goes to bed. I think its her favorite time too. Sometimes we play and chase each other around while other days we just cuddle up and watch some TV.

    In the end these days go so fast as I am reminded today by the advent of my daughters 3rd birthday. They grow so fast that we really do need to remind ourselves to stop and sit on the floor and pretend to be a baby or cook breakfast at 7pm – because these are the moments that fifty years from now we will remember.

  3. steadymom

    What an encouraging post, Sherri! You’re so right, sometimes we just need to chill out and go with the flow.

    (And I just got out of bed at 7:30 😉


  4. Julie

    Great post!

  5. Megan@SortaCrunchy

    Thank you so much for this, Sherri! This is one of those articles I need to print out and keep where I can see it. I especially struggle with #2! It is so, so hard to leave clutter for me, but our house always feels clutter-y anyway, which causes me a lot of stress. Thanks for encouraging me towards freedom this morning!
    .-= Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Hope (on my kitchen window) =-.

  6. caroline starr rose

    It is so important to let children play by themselves. I think sometimes we are so concerned with entertaining our children we forget to teach them to entertain themselves. This is a gift that will serve them all of their lives, as everyday life always has pockets of downtime.

    Great post!
    .-= caroline starr rose´s last blog ..YA List by Topic and Lost Discussion =-.

  7. Trisha

    Letting kids play by themselves is so much fun! Invest in costumes for the 4 – 7 year old group and you might not even need a netflix subscription! They’ll entertain you for hours.

    Here’s a great tip I got from a taxi driver years ago…. hide a video camera in the playroom when the kids are playing and record those moments. He said he and his wife got the biggest kick out of watching how they played! My twins are 6 now so it’s easier to let them play by themselves than when they were toddlers. It’s amazing what they come up with….we hardly ever turn on the TV anymore.

  8. Melissa Gorzelanczyk

    Great to see you here, Sherri!

    Today I give myself permission: to say no and stick to my first answer.

  9. Jenni at My Web of Life

    Thank you for another timely post! I think that we moms are often too absorbed with our guilt trips. This is a great reminder that we are human and things don’t need to be perfect. Life isn’t perfect. In fact, some of my favourite family memories tend to focus on those imperfect moments!
    Thanks Sherri!
    .-= Jenni at My Web of Life´s last blog ..A Wake Up Call =-.

  10. Lindsey@ Mama Sews

    So encouraging! The last one about children playing by themselves is such an important one, too. I remember with my first one I was talking to my grandmother and said how I feel sad when I see my son playing alone as a baby and that I felt I needed to play with him. She squawked at me “why!?” Such an eye opening moment for me. I stopped fretting and let him explore playtime without me and let him learn to occupy himself. I learned that balance is key.
    .-= Lindsey@ Mama Sews´s last blog ..Eat you heart out =-.

  11. ami

    Like the others on this stream, I thought the permission slip you gave us on letting the kids play by themselves was so valuable. It’s so easy to get swept up in “being there” for our kids every second of the day – and sometimes thinking that means we have to be their playmates and their entertainment systems. I’m always surprised and gratified when my kids entertain themselves – and the games and schemes they derive without adult intervention are much more interesting 🙂

    I also think (on days when I’m thinking clearly) that it’s perfectly ok for kids to be bored.
    .-= ami´s last blog ..What would you risk your life, reputation or freedom for? =-.

  12. Sierra Black

    This is terrific, and exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you!
    .-= Sierra Black´s last blog ..And the Cat came back =-.

  13. Keilah

    I love your post. I have been re-evaluating my parenting lately and came to similar conclusions. I have been really trying to embrace the season my kids are in. I also like your post about waking up earlier. I am going to try too. I love the quiet of the house too.
    .-= Keilah´s last blog ..Day 4 -28 Days of Nothing =-.

  14. Rebecca

    Amen! So very true. I try to remind myself of these things all the time!

  15. Jackie Lee

    I work from home and when I allowed myself to realize I could let my daughter play by herself it opened up my whole world. I was able to see that being a work at home mom allowed me to be available to her all day ~ it didn’t mean I had to be interacting with her all day long. What a difference that makes! Thanks.

  16. Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists

    I’ll give you another Amen on this! It’s so hard to resist the urge to be overly planned with everything, but I think my kids benefit every time I just let things go and go with the flow.

    In fact, you know what? I was going to do a normal, balanced meal tonight. But, instead, I’m going to order pizza and tell the kids we’re having Pizza + Movie Night! They’ll plotz! Thanks for giving me this permission.
    .-= Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists´s last blog ..Assignment: Computer Desktop de-clutter, or, do this now, you’ll be glad later =-.

  17. Tammy

    This was a great article! Thanks!

    Sometimes, even when parents make these permissions for themselves, someone else will disagree. But it really doesn’t matter what someone else thinks! Example: I have an 11 mo. old, and I have a young girl come in twice a month (2 hours each time) and play with my daughter while I do my housework. It has been a HUGE help to me. I don’t have to worry about my daughter’s well-being while I get my heavy household chores out of the way, and my daughter is happy and having fun, AND the mother’s helper is gaining experience by being at my home. It’s a win-win situation! But my dear sister who is not married and doesn’t have children thinks that I shouldn’t need help! I’ve really struggled with my feelings towards her because it isn’t any of her business and even though she’s done a lot of babysitting over the years, she still doesn’t have a clue what’s its like to be a SAHM with an active baby who doesn’t like to take naps! So I just have to learn to let her disapproval go and continue to make decisions based on my needs not what others perceive my needs should be!
    .-= Tammy´s last blog ..~Happy February!~ =-.

  18. Tessa

    I give myself permission to say no to a lot of things. No to junk food requests, no to constant “look at me, look at me” requests, no to social engagements that will disrupt nap schedules, no to social influences that I believe are not age appropriate, no, no, no. I no that by saying no to some things, I make room for “yes” to more important things like quality time with the kids, and making healthy food, and letting them be relaxed, happy kids.

    I also give myself permission to be ok with how life turns out. I can’t plan and predict everything. Some days are awesome and some days are not, but that’s life. I’m ok with it.
    .-= Tessa´s last blog ..Sometimes it does work out =-.

  19. hairstyles for girls

    This is a great article! We need to be reminded that everything can’t be perfect. I sleep in almost every day, so I like how you think! I decided I am a much better mom when I get sleep.
    .-= hairstyles for girls´s last blog ..Elastic Heart =-.

  20. Britney

    Wow did I need this today! Thanks for the encouraging words. Some days I’m overwhelmed but still afraid I’m not doing enough. I really just need to take a breather. Thanks Simple Mom!

  21. Vina

    Thanks for the post Sherri. I especially like the “leave a mess” advice, because I tend to be a little bit overzealous in trying to keep things in order around here. 🙂
    .-= Vina´s last blog ..On Doctors and Vaccines: A Mother’s Confession =-.

  22. Julie

    I love the “let them play by themselves” advice. I actually try to incorporate some play alone time for my kids everyday, but I do feel guilty at other times if I am not giving my children my full attention. I now have permission to let them play alone.

    PS I like your advice about allowing mess, but if I take this too much to heart personally it just makes me more stressed!
    .-= Julie´s last blog ..The “Good” Wife =-.

  23. Moms working at home

    If you’re like most moms, you’re always looking for ways to spend more time with your family. The best way to do this is to find work from home jobs for moms.

  24. Working at home mom

    I have been a stay-at-home-mom for a long time. But especially when they have been home for a lot of days in a row, I can definitely stand to take a break from them, and they don’t mind getting away from me, either.
    .-= Working at home mom´s last blog ..Rocky Road to Ecuador =-.

  25. Tiffany

    As my older kids have grown into teens, it’s tempting for me to blame myself for the mistakes they make instead of letting them own the mistake. It’s my job to teach them to learn from their mistakes and failures and move on from there. I give myself permission to let my kids own their mistakes and the consequences that go with it.
    .-= Tiffany´s last blog ..Golden Chicken Enchiladas =-.

  26. Kat @ Inspired To Action

    Such good words. It’s crazy that we need to be reminded of such simple truths.

    But we do.

    I give myself permission to shut up. (Yeah, I’m all harsh with myself. I have thick skin.) I don’t have to teach my kids ALL the time. They can learn lessons for themselves. In fact, they usually learn them better that way.
    .-= Kat @ Inspired To Action´s last blog ..The Value of Faithfulness =-.

  27. Diane

    Thanks for the great post! For any mothers out there thinking about hiring a regular baby sitter (idea #4), I want share how happy I have been since doing this. I waited until my twins were 18 months old and I finally felt comfortable leaving them with someone other than family. I hired the 21 year old daughter of an acquaintance, someone who I’ve known for years. She comes every other tuesday afternoon and every other saturday night. That means that twice a month I can run errands, have coffee with a friend, or like I did last Tuesday, sit in the coffee shop just blocks from my house all by myself and read. It’s a few hours a month I can have all to myself and let me tell you, those hours are truly glorious! It also gives my husband and I two date nights a month so we can have dinner or play games at a friend’s house.

    Our families were always really great about helping with baby sitting , but my husband and I realized that we were only getting a sitter when we had a function to attend or an appointment to keep. We never had a sitter without a prior commitment. Having our weekly baby sitter allows me/us to do something spur of the moment, whatever we feel like doing. And my kids are developing a great relationship with our sitter and have begun to look forward to her visits.

    And for those mom’s who think they can’t justify hiring a baby sitter because they are stay at home moms, I would say we work pretty hard most of time and the 3-4 hours a week that I have to myself are absolutely justified!
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..Almost 2 =-.


    Oh yes so true ALL OF IT! It seems like more and more there is so much pressure on all of us moms to be PERFECT. To have it all together all the time, to somehow not need anything. I think we need to start a new movement of moms that relax and enjoy our days instead of rushing around trying to do everything for everyone at once.

    Thanks for reminding all of us to let go of the pressure!
    .-=´s last blog ..Who Says You Can’t? =-.

  29. Chris

    Yeah, thanks for saying that! Geez, coulnd’t agree with you more, being a parent sure is exhausting, but it’s funny cause giving ourselves a break is sort of what our kids want to. If we let them play by themselves and focus on ourselves a bit more, they will feel less nagged and like they are more independent, and then everyone is happier. So, yes! Let’s give ourselves all a break, and indeed recognize us parents are mere humans too. 🙂
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Discount Tire Stores =-.

  30. Renee

    I give myself permission to not follow the schedule. It’s more stressful than it is helpful to set the tone of your life to a stop watch. I also give myself permission not to care what other people think when my daughter is up way past bedtime.
    .-= Renee´s last blog ..Reflections – January 2010 =-.

  31. Murat

    I make room for “yes” to more important things like quality time with the kids, and making healthy food, and letting them be relaxed, happy kids.

  32. Natalie@Online CNA Training

    Thanks for saying all of this.. Being a parent is very hard to establish but you have to because you are now taking a great a responsibility ever in your life.. our kids can make us more stressful but most of the time our kids are the most healer right? Especially when son or daughter are very sweet and lovable.. A simple thought from me..

  33. Olivia Bell

    My parents are very strict in giving me a permission to go somewhere when I was a teen, but then I’m in twenties now I’m happy that they allow me to do of what I want to do. I know that being a parent is not an easy lifetime role, I know I will become a parent soon and for sure I’m a little bit strict to my children.

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