• Tue, Jan 1 2013

A Parent’s New Year’s Resolution: To Stop Worrying So Much About My Parenting

New Years ResolutionIt’s that time of year. Everyone’s deciding whether they’re going to join a gym or start a diet or finally ask their boss for that raise. I have plenty of life goals that I could label as New Year’s Resolutions for the next couple of weeks. Instead, I have a very simple resolution that I think desperately needs some attention. I want to stop worrying so much about my parenting.

On the last day before winter break, my husband called me from the school car line. “Do you know anything about pajama day? At drop off, they asked Brenna why she wasn’t wearing her pajamas?” I was instantly terrified. How had I missed that on the calendar? Now my little girl was the only one in regular clothes while all of her friends were giggling in their nightgowns and slippers.

It was downright astonishing the level of frustration and guilt I felt over a missed dress-up day at school. I immediately packed up some pajamas and headed over to school, hoping that my daughter’s teacher wouldn’t mind the interruption. I furiously sent a text to my mother, who works at the school, lamenting that I somehow missed the notice about pajama day. Before I could even reach the school, my mom called and said, “Brenna’s class isn’t doing pajamas today! Mine is!”

I was frantic over a dress-up day that didn’t exist. I was already chastising myself for not paying more attention to the newsletters. I was flipping through my day planner, seeing if I missed the day or wrote it down somewhere else. I was promising to use my day planner with more regularity. All over a pajama day at school.

The fact is, these parenting freak-outs happen more often than I would like to admit. One day over winter break, I asked my daughter if she wanted to get out her new train track to play with me. She responded, “No, I just want to watch a movie.” I couldn’t believe it. My child was turning down playtime for a movie? For television? This had never happened before.

Before I could help myself, I started worrying about the amount of screen time my daughter was getting. Two half-hour television shows a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. We throw in the occasional movie as well. Was it too much? Was I lulling my daughter into couch potato status? Maybe we should institute screen-free weekends to make sure that we weren’t overdoing it.

I completely ignored the fact that our family had been go-go-go for days. There were dozens of new toys. We were getting over the flu. It was all a little crazy. My daughter’s request for downtime probably wasn’t more than a simple need for a little relaxation. That’s what winter break is supposed to be, after all. And yet, I turned this one incident into a huge concern, an indictment on my parenting.

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