You want to do right by your kids. You want to raise them well. Every day, you're trying to make it happen and love your kids the best you can. And yes, it's a struggle.
But now I'm going to flip your world upside down. Since you’ve put in your best efforts, you now have permission to be a bad parent. Yes—you officially have permission to break out of what's expected every once in a while! You may now do what isn't “normal.” You may now be socially unacceptable. You and your kids may now conduct yourselves in such a way that is NOT Facebook and Instagram ready.
Everybody needs a Bad Parenting Day.
Maybe you've already had one of those days, and you know exactly what I'm talking about. They are the "We're Having Cereal for Dinner" days. The "Watch Movies/Play Video Games All Day" days. The "Yes, You May Wear Your Superman Costume to the Grocery Store" days. The "Visit the Germ-Infested Mall Play Area While Mom Reads" days.
Sometimes kids just need some time to chill, relax, and do nothing. Not every waking moment needs to be filled with life lessons. Not every errand has to go perfectly and get done in 30 minutes or less. Not every day has to be scrapbookable or postable on your favorite social media.
Kids have busy lives—even more so if they’re in school. They work hard all day, processing information and filing it away in those chaotic brains of theirs. They're learning how to play, how to stack blocks, how to brush their teeth, how to share, how to jump rope, how to identify the parts of a leaf, how to do algebraic equations. They need time to decompress from all that input and stimulation. And so do mom and dad.
We can't deny that adults could benefit from a “nothing day” every once in a while. Obviously, there are things that need to be done—lawns that should be mowed, homework to finish, etc.—but that doesn't mean that we can't stray from the routine sometimes. Everybody can use a break, and taking one doesn't mean that you’ve failed as a parent.
Let me repeat that: Taking a break (or even wanting a break) does not mean you’ve failed as a parent.
Think of the relief you could get from taking a 30-minute break away from whatever is going on to be alone with a few pages of your book or to spend time with God as you pray for patience and strength and peace ... and patience and patience and patience. After getting that moment of rest, you'll be more prepared to get back to the "serious" business of parenting.
Think of the relief your kids could get by taking 30 minutes before starting dinner to dance or blow bubbles or dig holes in the backyard for no reason whatsoever. I guarantee that those are the moments your kids will remember at the end of the day—not the mad dash to piano lessons or the finger-wagging lecture on watching too much TV.
If you're at your wit's end, I hereby give you permission to take a Bad Parenting Day as soon as is humanly possible. Chances are, both you and your kids need the break. And think of the memories you will make with the words, "Let's watch movies all day." Everybody will just sit and take turns picking movies, popping popcorn, snuggling in blankets, scrounging for lunch, and eating ordered-in pizza for dinner. That sounds like a heavenly day to me. It may not be one you'll Instagram, but it's certainly a memory that will have more impact on your family than the perfect chicken casserole served right on time.
Hmm ... maybe that's not very bad parenting after all.
Catiana Nak Kheiyn is the webmaster and editor of 412teens.org and regularly teaches other young writers through tutoring and workshops. When she is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two adorable children and three socially awkward cats. She approaches parenting as an everyday adventure, albeit an often bewildering one, as the little ones in her life are in a constant state of flux.