I’ve been called Mom for over 25 years now. The catch is that I still have two littles at home who are 6 and 11 years old. For the parents that feel like they might be caught up in the relentless rapids of life and parenting, I have good news. You do have some power. You can indulge in benign guilty pleasures because you’re the mama or the papa. And you don’t have to apologize, because you’re grown. You can do what you want.
Despite the hectic pace of life, parenting comes with some pretty sweet perks. And nobody can stop you, so pick your perks and milk the heck out of them. Here are some of mine:
- PAJAMAS – I want them as early as possible. Often I have to wait until “reasonable pajama times” like after 8:00 PM. Currently, 3:17 PM is my record earliest pajama change time after a workday. If someone else is picking up the kiddos and I have occasion to race home and do one thing, it would likely be to mosey my old bones into a well-worn pair of pajamas. I’m speaking of the kind that have no binding restrictions tugging across my waistline. They’re baggy, warm and slovenly. Oh how I love them.
- JUNK CEREAL – Buying Cap’n Crunch and Golden Grahams “for the kids” is another favorite shameless maneuver. There are just times when the only thing that will do the trick is a heaping bowl of childhood cereal. Yeah, you may have bought them with the kids in mind, but a snack of Crunch Berries after everyone is in bed is a soothing balm for the soul after a long day. The majesty of this is only amplified if you eat cereal in the aforementioned pajamas. And if you happen to eat all the cereal before the kids get any, you can go right back to the store for more.
- EMINENT DOMAIN OF EASTER AND HALLOWEEN CANDY – Hey, I carried and nourished you kids for 9 months. You can share. This was easier before the middle kiddo outgrew her peanut allergy. “For safety’s sake” we had to ensure that the Reese’s Cups weren’t mistakenly ingested by my little darling. And I may or may not break into candies that I’ve purchased before the holiday they are meant to celebrate even arrives. Snickers, Reese’s and Almond Joy are the most oft-filched candies on my list.
- CHILD LABOR – Making your kids do your bidding, like throwing stuff in the trash and getting the remote control, is part of the cycle of life. When you’re a kid, you have to do it, and when you’re a parent, you can make your kids do it. After all, you feed, clothe, and house them. Surely they can grab mom’s glasses for her from the nightstand and bring them downstairs. All the running around and work we do for them, they can help a mama out.
- RE-WEARING WHAT YOU WORE – I’m no stranger to re-wearing what I wear to church on Sunday to work on Monday to make life easier. I only wore it for a few hours in the morning and it’s still good, so I hang it up and re-wear it later. This helps me avoid the big production of scrambling through baskets of clean laundry in the morning. I’m sure I’m not the only one with baskets of un-put-away laundry hanging around. Right?
- HARNESSING THE POWER OF PAINT – Anyone who knows me knows that I love Bob Ross. He is the mellow, afro-wearing painter widely featured on PBS in the 1980’s and 90’s. Watching him whip up a whole landscape in under thirty minutes is mesmerizing and oddly soothing. I love using Bob Ross episodes to knock my kids out when they claim they aren’t tired. We found that his painting was an elixir for sleep quite by accident, but we’re not too proud to put it on when my loves are bouncing off the walls and acting a fool.
- LEFTOVERS – When leftovers are kept properly throughout the week, a “smorgasbord” is possible instead of cooking. When I was a kid, this was a frequent dinner. Around here, several nights’ worth of leftovers become a buffet with a zap from the microwave. We call this meal “ellos”. It cuts down on waste, saves money on takeout, and squashes complaining! With more than one choice, everyone is happy.
- PEDICURES – Sometimes slipping away for a pedicure is exactly what is needed. It may seem like a frivolous expense, but I am not much of a shopper and I don’t buy a ton of stuff for myself. Twenty-five bucks a few times a year on a pedicure is money well-spent. Particular perks? They have those massage chairs and help me avoid the awkward and painful contortion of trying to paint my own toes. It is a blissful 40 minutes’ worth of peace.
- TOILET TACTICS – Sometimes when I go into the bathroom, I stay longer than I really “need” to. I may read for a bit, make a phone call or scroll online. It’s like a sacred shrine of solitude, most of the time. At times, my kids track me down and accost me from the other side of the door. However, at this point in their lives, a stern “I’ll be in here a minute” is enough to send them scurrying until I emerge. Shameless, I know, but sometimes a little silence is worth such lowbrow tactics.
And you don’t have to apologize, because you’re grown. You can do what you want.
So friends, this confessional/advice column is designed to let you know that I am pretty shameless. Though I adore my kids and do a lot with and for them, sometimes a little shortcut or escape is in order. I hope you can carve out a little time and luxury for yourself. After all, parenting is hard work.