RSS Feed

Author Archives: katesurfs

4 Easy Steps to Raising Earth Conscious Kids

Posted on

The environmental impact of raising a child in a western country is like 10 times greater than raising a child in a developing nation (I’m not entirely sure on that statistic, but you know what I mean). Our kids eat more, they have more stuff, own more clothes, they waste more and travel more than kids ever have before. I personally know many people who have made the choice not to have children mainly because they feel guilty about the carbon footprint their offspring leave behind.

I’ve realized that teaching children to care for the environment goes beyond telling them to switch off the lights when they leave the room or taking shorter showers. It goes beyond using cloth nappies and toilet training early. It’s about creating long-term environmentally conscious citizens of the planet. Its about every one of us contributing to a solution.

1. Teach children about consumerism.

It’s nice to buy second hand toys and clothes, but tell kids why you’re doing it. Yes, you save money, but you’re also recycling! And, when you buy something new, where will it be in a week? A month? A year? Where did the thing you’re buying come from? Do you really need it? Was it made ethically or not? Who made it and in which country was it manufactured in? There’s some great topics of conversation here. What you’re doing in the long run is educating little conscious consumers by bringing up these questions. You don’t need to overwhelm kids and guilt trip them every time they want sometime. But, it’s good to raise their awareness.

2. Eat less meat and grow a veggie patch and buy local.

Kids are naturally curious about their food. The meat (and dairy) industry is estimated to contribute about 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Believe it or not, scientists say that the meat and dairy industry contributes more to global green house gasses than the automobile industry! Plus, there is a lot of waste produced by farming animals. Even people who reduced their consumption of meat, significantly reduced their carbon footprint. Eating vegetarian food is really easy these days. Our family is vegetarian and it’s really no biggie. Also, kids LOVE growing food. It’s not about being able to grow enough food to make it worthwhile, it’s more about planting the seed of consumer awareness. Even a small veggie patch can produce a lot of food. And, I’ve grown a lot on just my balcony. Or, see if your town has a community garden. Kids who play and work outside have a greater respect for the planet too.

3. Take up less ‘space’.

We’re a 5 person family and we live in a 2 bedroom apartment in a town. By living where we do, we take up less space and leave more space for wildlife and nature. We have less paved surface areas (like driveways) because we share our living space (our building) with 9 other families. I know not everyone is jumping up and down to squash their family into a small apartment, and many people already have their homes, but how much space do human beings really need? The dream always seem to be a bigger house. But, do we need a bigger house to fit everything? Or, maybe do we just need to get rid of some stuff we already have and we would fit comfortably in the space we’re already using.

4. Cultivate a sense of sharing and belongingness.

When my kids ask me for the last bite of my food, that I was looking forward to eating, I usually give it to them. Why? Because I want them to feel like ‘what’s mine is yours’. When they’re about to finish the last cookie, they’ve learned to first ask everyone if it’s ok if they have the last one, and if not, they break it into pieces to share. Of course, it doesn’t always happen as beautifully as that, but that’s general idea. When we see a piece of trash on the beach, we pick it up. If there’s a community service clean-up project we can get involved with, we sign up. If we see someone who needs help, we stop to see what we can do.

Sharing and belonging are what every human being craves in this world. We all want connection and understanding. We all want to know that we are all sharing the same responsibilities. Caring for the environment starts with that feeling of belonging to the whole world and to all the people who live here! If kids are raised with a sense of connection and belonging, there’s no way they can grow up to trash the planet.

7 Reasons Why I Won’t Be Celebrating Earth Day Until 2027

Posted on

I started writing this informative Earth Day post on how it’s easy to teach your kids to be eco friendly. It’s easy, I was writing, all you have to do are a few simple things to help reduce you and your children’s carbon foot print!

Eat less meat, turn the tap off… teach your children about consumerism.

Then, this morning, my 4 1/2 year old asked me for *the* fluffy dress from H&M. We saw *the* fluffy orange dress about 8 months ago, and she still remembers it. I told her, “But, you already have like 10 fluffy dresses… your dress-up drawer doesn’t even close! Why do you need another one?!” I took down the globe and I explained to her about the consumer chain of production. Where do the raw materials come from? Who makes the dress? How does it get to Australia? I took about 3 minutes to explain it, and she listened attentively. Then, she replied, “I still want the dress.”

What a joke. So, here’s seven reasons why I won’t be celebrating Earth Day until my son, who is a baby, is at least 10 years old.

  1. My kids stand in front of the open fridge for at least 18 minutes a day.
    You think I haven’t told them to close the fridge a hundred times? No, that’s right, because I’ve told them a thousand times.
  2. They take showers with both the hot and cold water running full blast.
    I’ve explained it before, yes, the water pressure is great when you do that… but who’s going to pay for the hot water?! ME AND MOTHER EARRRRTTTTHHHH!!!!
  3. Children are reckless consumers. 
    They want Elsa dresses, even though they already have at least 7. They want the sheet of ten stickers that are in a package the size of a cereal box because it looks big! They want the crappy plastic crap thing that I tell them will be in the garbage in a month… just because they want it. There’s no reasoning with maniacs.
  4. Going to the shops = Buying SOMETHING
    They don’t care what it is, but they have to buy something. ANYTHING! You cannot leave empty handed (of course we do most of the time). And heaven forbid the other one gets something and they don’t. I know you’re sitting there thinking that it’s my fault because I trained them to be this way. But, I promise, pinky swear, I’ve done everything I could to make them conscious consumers. But, it’s this force deep within them… THEY NEED SOMETHING! My 7 year old is sort of starting to get it… sort of…
  5. They waste food.
    Babies and toddlers especially. The baby literally throws food on the floor… at least when I forget to pick it up, he gets it later when he’s commando crawling around. Let’s not forget when they beg to put extra soy sauce on their food, then won’t finish their plate. I try to salvage the food and eat it myself, while my taste buds are burning from excess salt, trying to ignore the fact that they’ve made the food completely inedible. I’m doing it for you, Mother Earth *fist bump*. The thermos I found from last week, full of food and the leftovers I had to throw away because I forgot to put them away at night while I was wrangling kids to bed… I’m sorry Mother Earth.
  6. Disposables, Cloth and Laundry
    I thought having an extra child would mean that the amount of clothing I wash would only go up by 1/3. But, actually, the amount of washing I do has quadrupled. Scientists haven’t figured this one out yet. And even though I actually take my babies to the toilet (it’s called elimination communication), I still have to do a load of cloth nappies, plus all the other dirty, slobbery, food laden, baby vomit drenched clothes and sheets, every day. When I get tired of washing cloth nappies, I have the stash of disposables… which gets thrown away and stays underground for the next 5,000 years. Toilet training them early helps, yes… but I still couldn’t look my boss in the eyes, when she once told me that she decided not to have kids because of their environmental impact…
  7. The Boogie Man
    My kids leave the lights on in the other room at night because *IF* they have to go into that room, they need the lights to be on well and truly before they get there. If those lights are not on because I turned them off, and I happen to be reclining down in a comfortable position, I then have to get up off my carcass and turn the lights on for them… So, I let them leave the lights on (some of them).

P.S. The paper my daughter is holding is a picture of Donald Trump’s head photoshopped onto the head of an eagle who is pooping poo emojis over a famous Australian beach. My Read the rest of this entry

I Let My Kids Lie, Cheat and Win When We Play Board Games

Posted on

When I first read Aletha Solter’s book, ‘Attachment Play‘, I really resonated deeply with everything she said… Except… when she suggested that you let your child be silly and beat you at games or that you should let your child play the wrong rules if she wants to.

*Cue adult voice*

Losing is a part of life...” or “They have to get used to losing sometime...” or “If you always let them lie, cheat and win at games, then they’ll grow up to be egocentric, selfish brats.”

But, then, I tried it. I let them lie, cheat and beat me at the little games we played and I was astonished with the results. I took a deeper look into why I was holding onto this idea that I must always play by the rules and found that it was only fear of losing control that was stopping me from letting them act silly.

Board games are just that: they’re games. They’re not real life! Games certainly can teach you about life, but always trying to turn everything into a learning experience can just make everyone so uptight!

Kids get enough disappointments in life…

I thought of how many rules my children had to follow on any given day. I thought of all the times they appeared to be doing something ‘wrong‘ in the eye of an adult. I thought of how many instructions and orders my kids had to follow. All damn day. It’s ALL kids do! Follow rules. Listen to instructions.

Even in my very relaxed homeschool environment, my kids still have to follow family and society rules all the time.

So, if for a few minutes week, I let my kids break the rules, lie, cheat and win, imagine how relieved they are to have a little fun? How nice it is for them to let loose and jokingly do the wrong thing and get away with it. And, believe me, my kids KNOW that I let them win. They KNOW that I’m letting them cheat when they peak at their cards. They KNOW when I’m making a stupid move on purpose to let them win. They KNOW when I let them beat me up the hill (actually, the big kid can legitimately beat me up the hill now). They laugh. I laugh. I let them win!

They appreciate it.

And, I appreciate their attitude later on when they’re more cooperative at bedtime because of the time earlier when I let them do the *wrong* thing. It’s really amazing. The silly little games we play, actually helps my kids to be more adjusted, more cooperative and more pleasant little people. They’re much less likely to act up outside of the house because I sometimes let them ‘get away‘ with doing the wrong thing at home.

Kids don’t need a life lesson at every turn. Sometimes they just need to laugh, be silly, make a loving connection with another human being and take a break from all the rules and formalities.

They’ll get enough life lessons about playing by the rules. My kids know that I can be their safe space. They can do the *wrong* thing and it can be our little secret fun.

Nothing Can Disturb You More Than Your Own Mind

Posted on

I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I have a house, car, clothes, beautiful family, all that. But, I’m telling you, none of that matters.Even if you have everything you need, if your mind is upset, you can’t enjoy any of it!

Some days, I walk down the beach and watch the sunset and I’m in awe of life’s beauty. And, some days, I walk on the SAME beach. I have the SAME house to go home to and have the SAME beautiful things in my life, but if my mind is a mess, I can’t see a thing.

Luckily, I’ve been meditating for that many years that I usually catch my mind wandering and I can quickly snap out of it. And, over the years, I have far far less of the disturbing days than I used to have.

When I do snap out of it, it reminds me. It doesn’t matter what you have. No amount of money. No amount of things. No amount of beautiful scenery. No amount of relationships or success at work. NONE of it will make you happy if your mind is disturbed! This crazy mind jumps from here to there and there to here and back again. It will drive you insane!

So, we need to take care of that silly old mind of ours.

The funny thing about the mind is that you can’t control the mind with the mind. You can’t just negotiate with an anxious mind to make it calm. You can’t just tell your mind to stop planding so that you can drift off to sleep. You can’t just tell your mind to stop broofing over the past.

This mind is tricky!

You can practice mindfulness and awareness, but it takes an enormous amount of time and effort to control the mind that way.

The fastest and easiest way to keep the mind in balance is through breathing and meditation. I’ve been meditating every day for 15 years, and trust me, it works. It really works to help keep you happy.

Why?

Because breathing and meditation bring your mind to the present moment…. and if your mind is in the present moment, then you don’t worry as much. And, if your mind isn’t worrying as much, then it’s less disturbed and that means you’re more happy.

If you’re more happy, the people around you are happy. And, if you’re happy, the sunsets always look better!

A good meditation app I use sometimes is called ‘Sattva’ there are lots of free meditations on there. Also, the Art of Living foundation’s ‘Happiness Program’ will teach you the most amazing breathing technique called Sudarshan Kriya. The organization runs programs all over the world.

The Honest Reason Why Your Husband Needs a High Five For Accomplishing Stuff Around the House

Posted on

Yes, I’m going to make generalizations here and I’m going to stereotype. Yes, I do realize that this is not the 1950’s. But, there is a legitimate reason why your husband, or any man in your life, is looking for praise when he does something around the house.

It’s not because he’s lazy. It’s not because he wasn’t trained properly. (Debatable)

It’s because a man needs to have his ego pampered.

I know, I know, the feminists out there are rolling their eyes and possibly getting sick to their stomachs. But, it’s entirely true.

I used to get confused when my husband would announce that he’d taken the garbage out AND grabbed the laundry off the line before the rain. Like… seriously??? Why did he feel the need to tell me what he had accomplished?! Because, dude, I took the garbage out and grabbed the laundry off the line before the rain while I simultaneously cooked dinner, answered a spelling question, wiped a butt, fed the baby, and danced around holding in my pee! And, YOU want a pat on the back for doing some uninterrupted chores?!?!

It used to make me so confused and a smidgen angry…

But, now I know… men need their work to be acknowledged. In and out of the house, men NEED to feel useful and important. They need to feel like they’re clever and strong. An ego is that sense of ‘I am’…. and a man needs to have that feeling of ‘I am of GREAT use‘!!!

When a man doesn’t feel special, he gets deflated quickly. He starts moping around and gets unmotivated. He gets grumpy and lazy, and it’s a downward spiral, because the more deflated he gets, the less he does and the more his wife (or whoever) starts letting him know he’s grumpy and/or lazy (I’m raising my hand here: guilty).

So, next time your man puts away the laundry, or wrestles with the dishes, or the kids, or changes the lightbulb that you’ve been bugging him to fix for a week or year. Tell him THANKS! Tell him he’s clever and useful. Tell him you couldn’t have done it without him! (Even though of course you could have, and you could have done it without having to ask him 18 times). Hide those eye rolls the next time he announces that he took garbage bins out to the street! He really needs your help to feel special. Give him a high five and pat on the back. He needs it. It’s his nature. And he’ll be much happier if you occasionally pat his ego.

You’re welcome.

(The hilarious video below was inspiration for this post).

Respecting a Baby’s Space

Posted on

Babies are so cute! They’re so innocent and non-judging… they make lots of people feel the love, belongingness and connection that we all crave.

And, babies need to be picked up, handled and held for just about every activity they do! As an attachment style parent, I’ve had very close contact with my babies all day and night. Physical touch and connection is vital for a baby’s well being.

But where do we draw the line as to what is respectful to a baby’s body or what may be unintentionally violating a baby’s space? Shouldn’t there be a difference in how a stranger enters your baby’s space as opposed to someone the baby knows? And, just because a baby is smiling, does it mean that he’s enjoying the interaction?

I know, I know, again, baby’s are so cute! It’s hard to not want to tickle them or stroke their soft skin or ask to hold them or to squeeze them and poke all their round delicious parts. My son is just about to turn six months old at the time I’m writing this, and man, is he a ham! It’s hard for people to keep their hands off him!

But… babies are people, let’s not forget. Small adorable people, who can’t talk. Would it be ok to go around stroking a stranger’s cheeks? Or, if you saw a cute looking guy in the shops, would it be alright to stick your finger in his hand? No…

I don’t have the right to tickle, poke and prod or do anything that might make my baby feel uncomfortable. And, I feel like I need to protect my small person from other well-meaning people who can’t help but want to do the same.

I’ve had countless strangers approach my babies and try to get a squeeze, or a poke or a kiss! Even when my babies have been tucked away in the baby carrier, and I try to turn away, I’ve had people touch my baby’s toes, plant a kisses on my baby’s head, put a finger in my baby’s soft hand or stroke my baby’s cheeks (their cheeks are amazing, I admit).

Then, people ask for cuddles…

If the baby is tucked away in the carrier, they won’t ask (thank goodness). But, if the baby’s out of the carrier and they ask, I don’t always know what to say. Saying ‘no‘ seems rude. If they could ask my baby and he could answer, then the answer would be straight forward. But, how do I know if HE wants you to hold him? This is not a game of ‘pass the baby‘, this is a little person with feelings!

How would I feel if a giant stranger, who looked, felt and smelled very different from my mother, picked me up? I’m not sure I would like it…

I love the most when people interact with my son by smiling at him and talking. That way, he can simply snuggle his head into my chest if he doesn’t feel like interacting. Or, he can choose to respond by smiling back. Sometimes my son smiles during an interaction with someone, but I have to look at his body language to know if he’s enjoying the interaction. Is he smiling, but tense and pulling and squirming away? Or, is he smiling with his body relaxed? If he’s relaxed, then I know he feels safe and comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, other people have definitely held my babies, I’m not that uptight and it’s beautiful when the holding is done with awareness. My parents just came to visit from America and my son spent tons of time on their laps. And, some of my good friends, that I see on a regular basis, get cuddles. But, people whom I don’t see often, I just don’t feel comfortable saying ‘yes‘ to when they ask for a casual cuddle. A cuddle is a very intimate thing, in my opinion!

It’s not just strangers who want to poke and prod babies, I think about how often my husband and daughters (or even I) may accidentally invade my son’s body space. My girls love him so much, tthe second I put him down, they’re all over him like white on rice! It’s a tough one, like I said, because babies need to be picked up, interacted with and helped all day long… and we do love to play with him. So, I try my best to nicely remind everyone to look and listen carefully at his cues to see if he starts feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed.

The whole idea of respecting a baby’s body in the way I’m talking about, is a very subtle concept. It’s not to say that we limit the touching or holding of our babies, because babies absolutely need lots of closeness. And, we should act natural around babies! But, is the touching and holding done with awareness? And, does the baby feel safe and comfortable?

We just don’t know what strong impressions are being made in a baby’s brain at such a young age. True, they won’t remember individual events, but they do remember the feeling. I want to make sure that down the track, my children grow up with the feeling that they have felt safe and respected.

I Hate Having Kids

Posted on

Sorry if I hold your hand too tight when we cross the street. Sorry if hover too much. Sorry if I ask you, “are you alright?” a few too many times. Sorry if I check all night long that you’re breathing. Sorry that I over react sometimes when I think you might get hurt.

What’s that cough? What’s that bump? Am I saying and doing the right things? I know I have to let you go and I have to have faith that you’ll be safe. But deep down, there’s always that nagging thought… I’ve learned to quiet that thought, but it’s still there. I’m not an anxious person, but you do something to me that defies everything I thought I knew about myself.

The same thing that brings you joy can also make you miserable. I KNOW this. If you told me this knowledge on life about anything else, I can get it. A new car that brings you joy, makes you miserable when it gets scratched. An exciting new job can get mundane after some time. A new love will turn old. A young beautiful body will get old and wrinkled. I know all this and accept it… but when it comes to my babies, it’s so different. I love you, I worry. I can’t help it. I love you so much that I hate it!

Living 10,000 Miles Away From the Grandparents

Posted on

I signaled to Margo (7) to close her eyes and go back to sleep. Then, I heard a whimper that quickly turned into a full blown sob. I sat down next to her stroking her forehead. For ten minutes, she blubbered, “I miss grandma and poppop!”. I miss them too sweetie…

After an action packed two week visit from my parents, Margo and my husband had just come back from dropping them off at the airport in Brisbane. We were all so tired from running around with them for the last two weeks, that we all had a big mid-day nap. When we woke (and after Margo’s cry) we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening, in mourning, while we watched the online flight tracker take my mom and dad, in a perfect little trajectory, far away from us, across the Pacific Ocean.

It’s a loooong flight to LA… then it’s another six hours to Newark.

Back to the weekly Skype calls. Back to the three or four packages a year full of goodies from America. Back to no more hugs or books or meals together or drawing together… boo… hoo…

We’re not forced to live where we do. When my husband and I came to Australia, nine years ago, on my student visa, we had no clue we would end up loving it so much here and wanting to stay. Life just sort of happened (as it does) and in no time at all, we found ourselves with good jobs, three kids, a house, and a lifestyle that suits us perfectly. A lifestyle that would be impossible to recreate if we moved back to the east coast of the USA, where we both grew up.

Because of how far we live, it’s not exactly easy to hop on a plane back to visit all too often. We’ve done it twice in nine years, it’s exhausting. Buying plane tickets for a whole family while living on a reduced income is the limiting factor. One time, we went five years without seeing them! That was a tough one.

So, after years of bugging them, they finally came!!! For the first time since having children, I had some sort of extended family in MY home. It was so awesome. We drove each other nuts at times and did way too much sightseeing. The kid’s schedule was completely out of whack, and we were all tired, but it was also so good. They rented a holiday apartment in the same building as ours, just upstairs, so the kids and everyone could run back and forth.

It’s pretty crazy how efficient you get at surviving without the grandparents around. Now that I’ve had a taste, it makes me sad to think that it can’t happen more often. It’s nice to just have someone there. Another outlet of energy for the kids. A different adult to interact with. Of course, having my mama and daddy around is pretty cool too… even though I haven’t seen them much in the past decade, who knows you better then your own parents?

Oh yeah… we were all so so sad when they left. It hurt, there were lots of tears.

I think it’s human nature to be on the move and to want to find a place to live that suits your needs. Our ancestors populated the planet somehow, and that would have been done by leaving ‘home‘. I always think of my husband’s grandmother, who came alone to America from Russia in the early 1900’s. It was a one way ticket back then. No hoping on a plane to visit your parents for the holidays. No Skype. If you were lucky, a letter here and there, until the wars came and you never heard from your parents or extended family again. So… we are lucky in this day and age that we can visit and stay in close contact. Moving to the other side of the globe is not the end of the story these days!

The one good thing about having a condensed visit was that everyone cleared their schedule (almost) and we all had nothing to do except hang out with each other. We probably had more quality family time in two weeks than we would have had in an entire year, had we been living only a few hours away. And, since we rarely get to see each other, everyone was on their best behavior to make the time as enjoyable as possible. We all had so much fun because we had to make every day, minute and second count!

While it is sad living so far away, it’s definitely possible. You have to sort of create your own family for the times when you can’t have your real family around. And, when you do get the chance to see your family, it’s usually short and sweet!

The Day After Daddy’s Days Off

The day we spend in recovery…. This is the day the house is its biggest wreck. Don’t ask me how or why, because we haven’t actually spent much time at home to mess it up. We’re always out, running around having fun. But, without fail, the day after my husband’s weekend, the dishes are piled high, there’s crap all over the floor, I’m up to my armpits in dirty laundry and the kids are absolutely knackered. We need an entire day off just to recover!

Luckily, I don’t have to go to work on those days, (or most days for that matter)! What do mothers do who have to go to work, ‘the day after’?! How do they survive??? When do they find time to clean up the nuclear fallout, because it takes me almost the entire day! (I wonder if it’s the same for stay at home dads the day after their wife has the day off?)

We homeschool and I work part time and casual. The days I’m home with the kids, we seem to enjoy a good rhythm. We usually do just enough to not get exhausted, we stay pretty emotionally connected and tidy up at least enough to clear a path.

But, when daddy’s home, it’s too exciting!!! All the rhythm and the rest and the order that the kids and I follow all week, gets thrown out the window! It’s a tricky thing to negotiate everyone’s needs on a normal the day. But on a daddy’s ‘off’ day, everything just goes ballistic. It’s just not fair! There isn’t enough time!

My husband works really hard, has really long hours and is always too exhausted to do much when he comes home from work. So, on his days off, it’s tempting to do as much fun stuff as possible. He’s not the type of person to lounge around (nor am I). We do like to have our fun,,, but there’s always hell to pay the next day.

So, here I am writing this, it’s the evening of the last day of my husband’s weekend. The kids have collapsed in bed, in an exhausted pile of unmet needs combined with too much excitement. If you need me tomorrow, I’ll be in my pajamas, wading knee deep through debris and wiping away tears…

But, we did have fun.

Let Them Throw Sand! (Sometimes)

We were on the beach and it was very windy. There was nobody close by. My girls were throwing sand and pretending to be Elsa, blasting their magical powers and creating ice! The sand (ice) was flying through the air for a good distance. We live in Australia, what do you expect, they’re desperate to see snow!

I let them do it because there was no one standing down wind. But, a little nagging voice in my head said, “If you let them do it once, they’ll always want to do it!

*Shut up little voice!*

I remember so clearly being told as a kid that: “If we let you do it once, you’ll think you always have a license to do it! So NO!” Whatever it was that I was asking for, I forget now, but I always remember that response.

Oh, how I used to get so outraged! The feeling that I wasn’t trusted to use my own judgement, made me furious and frustrated!

And, I understand why adults used to say it, I mean, nobody gives adults a child rearing manual with step-by-step instructions on how to handle every scenario. So, ‘no‘ is often a safe answer…

The truth is, behaviour that is undesirable in one setting, may be perfectly acceptable in another. I realised that my daughters had an amazing ability to use their better judgement, providing that their needs for connection and understanding had been met.

If I always try to control their every move, when the time comes that I really need them to listen, they might not, because they’re so sick of me always saying ‘no‘!

So, when I say ‘no‘, there’s generally a good reason why. If I can let them do whatever it is that they’re asking to do (throw sand for example), then I certainly do. If it’s not appropriate to throw sand, I tell them not to.

I also allow my kids to complain, cry and rage when I say ‘no‘, but the answer  is still ‘no‘. Allowing them to express their feelings about the answer is an important part of the process of democratic parenting.

My kids can’t throw sand at people, but I let them throw sand sometimes.

They have to hold my hand across the street sometimes and other times I let them walk across by without holding hands, if it’s not busy.

Most of the time, they can wear whatever crazy outfit they picked out, but I just won’t let my four year old wear a sweaty poofy dress-up when we go out, only because then I can’t clip her into her car seat!

I let my kids binge on junk and sometimes I say no.

Sometimes, I let them buy whatever they want at the shops and sometimes I say ‘No‘.

If I can give them a good back scratch before bed, I do it, and if on other nights I can’t, then so be it.

Sometimes I let them run amuck… and sometimes I don’t.

What’s interesting is that allowing for variety seems to create more cooperative children!

My kids are never really confused by this apparent change of rules or inconsistency. If anything, they’re relieved that the answer isn’t always ‘no‘. In fact, they almost always ask my permission before doing something, even if they know there’s a chance I’ll say ‘no‘… because often there’s a chance that I’ll say ‘yes‘.

They won’t lie or hide things because they know that I’m mostly fair when it comes to their requests. They don’t feel so desperate when I do have to say “no“, so they’re less likely to act out.

Allowing for variety does make parenting a little more tricky in the short term. If the answer isn’t always ‘no‘, that means there’s room for negotiation, and negotiation takes effort. BUT, I imagine them as adults. Imagine they’re given a situation that’s unfair, do I want them to sulk away thinking they have no chance?? No way! I want them have the skills to use their voice and to understand when to speak up and possibly when to shut up.

Wouldn’t life be boring if we had to eat the same foods every day?? Well, that’s how I feel about rules at home. There needs to be some variety. There needs to be times when we can let our kids do things that they normally can’t do. That way, when the time comes when we need their coperation, they’re more likely to give it.