If you run a tight ship, but still want your kids to roam wild and free then stick around.
Maybe it’s just at my house, but my kids don’t always do what you say. They aren’t predictable. They don’t always listen to reason. They are little people who are mostly obedient but who sometimes, just don’t give a rip what I say or do.
So that got me thinking…
What kind of mother am I? Not because I need to label myself. Not because I need to fit myself into a movement. But because I only have so much time, energy, and self-discipline each day and I want to put it towards the things that really matter to me. For our family. And I need to figure out just what those things are.
I write about why routine keeps me sane. I am diligent in creating a good atmosphere for sleep. I am not very spontaneous, and I don’t really like surprises. But does that make me a hovering helicopter mom? Actually no… I don’t think it does. I think it makes me a mom who uses the brain the good Lord gave her.
Is there balance?
I think I’m not alone in saying we mothers worry we’re getting it wrong. It’s why we judge each other even though we don’t care what the other person does. Schedulers worry they are being too neurotic and laid back moms worry they’re too undisciplined. But wouldn’t it be nice if each family could find a balance that worked? That everyone felt good about?
A balance that didn’t make everyone need caffeine to get to bedtime then sleeping pills to go to sleep?
I’ve come a long way (in a short time) in my motherhood journey, and I think I’ve found my balance. I’ve realized what I care about and what matters little to me. Where I can focus my energy and where I can save it. I’m not going to lie here, I run a tight ship. Or at least I try. Mostly with our routine, sleep schedules, and discipline. Why? Because I need it to survive. But even so, I don’t hyper-manage their every waking minute.
I care about their character, their heart attitude, and if they listen to me when I’m speaking to them.
And I’ve stopped stressing over much else.
A happy medium
In my home, this is where I’ve come to rest.
Disagreement and discussion are fine, but fighting and defiance are not.
I don’t care if the kids make a mess, but I expect them to clean it up.
I won’t fuss about their choice in outfits, but they need to put clothes on when I say “get dressed.”
They don’t need to finish their entire plate as long as they aren’t being snotty at the dinner table.
I’m not obsessed with uber early learning and memorization, but we do make reading a big priority.
They don’t always have to sit still and use “inside voices” but they must to tone it down when I say “Quieter!”
You get where I’m going here. I care that they are kind, respectful, obedient, and make good decisions. I try to train them to make good decisions knowing they’re going to make many bad decisions. After all, that’s part of learning about cause and effect.
So what’s in a label?
My kids are too young to ride their bikes anywhere so I’m not a free range parent, but I think maybe somewhere down the line I could be. Or maybe I think the term free range parent was only invented because we’ve gone so far away from common sense parenting.
So if you, like me, are trying to nail down your proprieties and wonder where everything fits, know this.
You can be the boss in your own house and not be a dictator.
You can expect obedience without being overbearing.
You can teach children self-control and boundaries without coordinating their every move.
You can let them run wild and free without being neglectful.
And you can let them be independent without being absent.
Ecclesiastes 7:16-18 says, “Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise— why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool— why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.”
I just stumbled upon your blog from facebook when I saw the mealtime battle post and I’m really enjoying it. This was a great post. I totally agree. It’s about building character not just perfectly behaved little kids. Motherhood is exhausting sometimes, but there are things we can do to keep our sanity. I’m all about the routine and schedule. It makes everyone in our house happier, and it’s so much more fun when the kids know the boundaries and can have freedom within them.
Rachel Norman says
Great comment, Emmy! Good distinction between building character and just trying to have perfect kids all the time. I’ve begun to think you can focus on “what matter” and still have a free house! Thanks for stopping by :)
Katelyn Fagan says
Yes. 100 times yes. My oldest are almost five, and I am definitely of the free range mindset. However, it is not because I am negligent, lazy, or it is simply “easier” to let the kids do whatever. Because, like you that is not how I parent. My ship probably isn’t as tight as yours, but we use routine. We have expectations. We teach responsibility. There are set rules that do not change. But, I also give my kids lots of free independent play inside and outside. I do NOT hover.
Rachel Norman says
I think we’re very similar like that, Katelyn. I run the framework – so to speak – of the house tightly, but within that am fairly relaxed. I don’t want to micro-manage and I flat sure don’t want to be doing everything for 4 kids when they are old enough to do it on their own!
Stephanie F says
Rachel, I came across your blog while going back to Childwise to find some solutions to some issues with my 9 year old son. I think of myself as running a tight ship but allowing appropriate freedoms I thought he had earned along the way. But now he has began lying about little things that started with , “have you brushed your teeth”, to lying about things the teacher says and other seemingly small things. I am struggling with understanding where the lies come from and reading some things that say it from too much pressure and responsibility. I still feel like the foundations I have laid down from Child Wise still are correct but I’m just not sure how to best handle the lying. Thanks for taking the time to write this for those of us looking for resources.
Rachel Norman says
Stephanie unfortunately mine aren’t quite old enough to go through this but I will say that I found recently my daughter was afraid to tell me the truth because she knew I’d get “frustrated” and in that moment I felt perhaps I held her to too high a standard. But again standards can be high if realistic right? I would Google babywisemom and lying because Val ‘ s blog has a lot on this and one of hers has given them a challenge!