By Megan Hughes

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My kids started back to school this month. After homeschooling for most of last year, I was both extremely ready and very reticent for them to go to back to school. I love the slow flexible days of summer, swimming classes, adventures, hours on end of imaginations running free in our backyard. I just love having my babies close.

I also have very high energy kids, including one with special needs, that require a lot of attention. So I’m a person school also brings a welcome respite from the intense energy and attention of summer. My kids require the kind of attention that frequently finds me whipping around to yell- I mean, calmly calling out singsong admonition- “stop climbing the fence please!”, or “NO spraying the neighbors with the hose!!” Or “do NOT throw anymore of your sisters toys into the neighbors back yard!!” “Don’t you sass me!” Is another classic. They are as precocious with their language as they are with their play.

When sharing stories with other parents about my kids creative playing/exploring habits, I often have heard something to the effect of, “whenever my kids are being extra crazy, I just thank heavens mine aren’t as mischievous as yours!” Or, “My kids would NEVER dare do that kind of thing.” Ummmm, thank you??

For clarity, we do discipline our kids, as it is often implied that we must not if they are so “crazy”. We have clear boundaries and rules at our house. We have consequences for actions, both good and unpleasant. We focus a lot on choices and natural consequences attached to their choices. I repeatedly outline options for them and the consequences that will follow their choices.

They are learning that following set boundaries and rules is more freeing than not following. They are learning, but they’re kids, so the learning curve is often painfully slow. Two of my 3 kids (the 4th will likely follow suit but she’s only 2 so we have yet to see with her) have very little regard for consequences- they could care less. If they were to write a collective memoir it’d likely be titled something like, “I Do What I Want; Consequences be Damned!”

The thing is, I don’t think of my kids as overly mischievous or naughty- well, sometimes I do- but for the most part I think my kids are just very curious and extremely creative in how they explore their world! We don’t do a lot of screens at our house because I want them to be outside. Maybe if we used screens more often they would be less inclined to get into less desirable things – like climbing the refrigerator to sit on top and throw Batman weapons at sisters, or break the child locks to get the diaper cream and coat themselves in it, and other such shenanigans.

But I would much rather them be playing with hands-on toys and developing their gross and fine motor skills, problem solving, imagination, etc. I even want them to be bored sometimes! Do I love the endless messes and frustration of some of their chosen activities? I shout forth a resounding NO! But I understand it just comes with the territory.

I have my days where I’m ready to pull my hair out in sheer exasperation. I am no where near a perfect parent. I have more days than I’d like to admit where I wonder if I’m doing every and all things wrong as I parent my kids.

I have physical limitations that mean I can’t be as high energy and active as I think my kids need. My house is often not as tidy as I would like. I’m trying to learn to focus more on the quality of my relationships with each of my kids than the state of my house and how Instagram worthy our activities are. I’m far from perfect, but I am trying to accept my best efforts as perfect enough for us.

I’m trying to learn to focus more on the quality of my relationships with each of my kids than the state of my house and how Instagram worthy our activities are.

Our kids have such a short time to be unencumbered by adult responsibilities and worries. So maybe they’re the only one of their friends without a phone, or a gaming console. Maybe they don’t know the latest tv show everyone is talking about at school. I’m okay with that. And I’m okay with them disagreeing with me about how fair that is for them. I want my kids to get the absolute most out of childhood as they can (as I am sure all of you do too! ), even if that means they are getting into more hi-jinxes than most.


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