I was once upon a time a preschool teacher, and I thought I was pretty tough. But having two very stubborn two-year old boys just about broke me. I quickly learned that the tools to handle a classroom of 20 were not going to help me here. As my frustration peaked to an overwhelming all time high, I realized I needed a new game plan.
New game plan; let go of the battles I don’t actually care about to have more energy for the important battles I do care about.
What I don’t pick: What my kids wear daily.
I’ve talked about this before in my Capsule Wardrobe for Young Boys and Minimal Wardrobe for Young Girl.
Everyday I tell my kids to go get dressed, they go up to their room, and then they pick out whatever they want. Noah generally comes down in jeans and a shirt. Cole loves sweat pants and a t-shirt. Ella loves a puffy pink dress and leggings. I just don’t care if their outfits match or if they look super put together. It’s been a lot of fun seeing what they enjoy wearing.
What I do pick: If they are dressed appropriately for the weather or occasion.
I do feel that it is important to teach my children that there are special occasions where it is respectful to dress a certain way. There are also those times when it’s below freezing out and my boys want to wear shorts… There are those times I need to step in.
What I don’t pick: How much my kids eat off their plate.
I do need to say that my kids don’t have any illness that causes me to pay attention to how much they eat. If they did, I would of course have a different policy. As of right now I make each of my kids plates of food, and they either eat it or they don’t. I make healthy homemade meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so I know they are going to eat something healthy eventually.
What I do pick: They are grateful for their food, and dessert is only given if they eat a healthy amount of food.
I think it is important to be grateful for the food you receive, even if you’re not the biggest fan. Grumbling about something that is on their plate isn’t tolerated. But I don’t mind if they politely tell me that they don’t like a certain food. It doesn’t mean they get a special meal, but I do try to make foods everyone likes.
They do have to eat a healthy amount of what’s on their plate in order to get dessert, not everything but a healthy amount. It’s not a fight though. The generally know how much they will need to eat but sometimes will ask if they have eaten enough for dessert. There are times when the answer is, “not yet”. But it’s not a fight or discussion at all. They can either keep eating or accept that tonight they will be skipping over dessert. Either way I’m not fighting anyone to eat, they’ll get hungry eventually and I’ll have a healthy meal ready for them then.
What I don’t pick: How well my kids make their beds and clean their room.
In the beginning of our bed making journey I showed them how I think a perfectly made bed should look. Is it reasonable to expect a four year old to fold down the blankets perfectly and have the bed looking crisp? No. But they love the accomplishment of completing the task. So when I ask them to make their beds I don’t nit pick or critique how the blankets are folded. I focus on supporting their accomplishment and let them know how proud I am of them for taking care of their things. This is also my mentality for how they put away their things.
What I do pick: They give solid effort to preform all tasks to the best of their ability.
I am constantly making sure that I’m not asking anything above and beyond what is reasonable. But there are those times when they need pushed or corrected. Sometimes I will call them back into their room and ask, “Hey man, did you really try your hardest?”. Most of the time they’ll say “no” and give it a quick fix. Then there are times when it takes a more of a conversation. But this is the important moment to focus on, not if they bed is perfectly made.
The best days are when one of the boys will come over and say, “Hey can I help you?”. Those moments make me happy.
What I don’t pick: My kids getting their clothes dirty while playing.
This one was easy for me to let go of. I love my kids being able to play in the mud and dirt. That’s one best parts of being a kid. I made a conscious choice about two years ago that I didn’t care if my kids clothes got super dirty. I would just spray it with some stain remover and wash it eventually.
But because this is our rule it means that I am also intentional about not spending a ton of money on clothes that I know are going to be worn hard. So when inevitably a shirt has taken its fair share of beatings and rounds of mud fights I have no problems just throwing it away.
What I do pick: If I can prevent a stain I will.
With all of those things being said above, there are times when if there is a way I can prevent a stain I will. This generally only applies to when we are painting, or if they are small and can’t be trusted with spaghetti. Spaghetti dinner nights for a two year old generally means they are in their underwear at the table for dinner.
There are a ton of small other battles I don’t pick but these are the main four I have let go. I have no doubt that these will evolve over time. I would love to know what battles you don’t pick or pick with your children. Let me know down below in the comments!