7 Times It’s OK to Break Your Own Parenting Rules
Go ahead, bust out that iPhone
You’ve swaddled and sleep trained, babyproofed, Bjorned and banished screen time. You even sprang for the nontoxic diapers with the chic, subtle print. But when you’re staring down the barrel of a meltdown in the middle of your cousin’s wedding, what do you do? Here, seven situations in which the parenting rule book can must go out the window.
In the delivery room
The situation: You have a birth plan. It may include such phrases as “no drugs” and “vaginal delivery” and “playlist.” Your body, your baby and/or your doctor may have a different agenda.
The quick fix: Embrace the chaos. It is hereby prohibited to beat yourself up for abandoning whatever it was you thought you wanted. After all, when everything is said and done, the only thing you’ll care about is that beautiful baby (and possibly the fact that you’re wearing the most obscene pair of disposable undies ever conceived by the human mind).
On a plane
The situation: You’re on a six-hour flight and it’s pretty obvious that your child’s seismic shrieking is grounds for an emergency landing in Reno.
The quick fix: Your usual enemies--sweets and screen time--are your BFFs at 30,000 feet. If they (and some very public aisle bouncing) fail, take the baby to the back of the plane, where the hum of the engine may soothe him (or at the very least muffle his screams). And know this: Every person who has ever had a child feels your pain and sympathizes.
On a road trip
The situation: After several bouts of carsickness, three stops to pee in a field and the 17th round of the same Dora album, your car is starting to morph into a high-velocity Hoarders episode
The quick fix: Nap schedule? Three solid meals? No new toys without consulting the sticker chart? Buh and bye. The key to car travel is changing it up: Audiobooks, unfamiliar toys (musical instruments are proven attention-grabbers), favorite snacks and even a different grown-up in the backseat can all break up the monotony.
When you’re already running 20 minutes late and she’s throwing a tantrum
The situation: It’s 8:29 a.m. Breakfast consumed: Zero. Socks: Lumpy. Shirt: “Disgusting.” Entire My Little Pony collection: Definitely coming with. And she will not, under any circumstances, be putting on that coat.
The quick fix: Keep it light. Since separation anxiety could be fueling her rebellion, try to soothe rather than scold. Get playful (“Let’s have a race to see who can get dressed faster!”). Sidestep the word no (“Will you be bringing the gold pony or the turquoise pony?”). And if all else fails… bribe, baby, bribe. A breakfast of Pirate’s Booty and M&M’s never kept anyone out of Harvard.
At a wedding
The situation: During the most romantic moment of the bride and groom’s self-penned vows, a voice is heard bellowing “Go ah-WAY!” And that voice is coming from your lap.
The quick fix: If you had any expectation that your kids would sit at a table to eat, kiss relatives they’ve never met before or actually wear a clip-on bow tie or glitter Mary Janes, let it go, Elsa. And always have an exit strategy for when they really start wailing.
When they’re sick
The quick fix: It’s Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood; you’re just living in it. More than two hours of screen time in a single day--though not necessarily every day--will not have damaging long-term effects on your child’s cognitive or social development.
In a restaurant
The situation: You’re hungry. Your kids are hungry. But you simply. Cannot. Cook. Tonight. And, perhaps smelling your exhaustion pheromones, your kid decides that this upscale American bistro would be the perfect setting to lose his inhibitions, appetite and/or mind.
The quick fix: Now is not the time for Table Manners 101. Before disaster strikes, bust out your bag of tricks (peekaboo-ready scarves, crayons, finger puppets). And request the check--along with to-go cartons--at the same time you order. That way, you can be ready to run out the door at the drop of a hat.