Rules and structure are what keep us afloat- especially in my house. We have daily schedules with pictures that make them easy and fun for the kids to follow. We have a meal-planning schedule that makes it easy to know what to cook each night and what to buy at the grocery store. The kids don’t complain about what’s for dinner, because it’s on the schedule. In fact they are excited to check the schedule and know what to expect for dinner each night.
My most fundamental parenting rule has always been to do what ever is best for me and my child at any particular point in time.
Sometimes, I am so rooted in rules and structure that I forget my most fundamental rule.
Judah, age 15 months, still nurses anywhere from 2-4 times a day. It was my plan to wean him by the time Shimmy and I leave for our long-awaited trip to Hawaii in March. By that time Judah will be close to 17 months. That seemed like a reasonable time to stop nursing. I had a mental schedule of when to start cutting out nursing sessions. But now that it’s time to start, I don’t want to. And I doubt Jude wants to. I think about it, struggle with it, every time I nurse him. So I’ve decided to nix my schedule. I’m going to let things happen organically and hope for the best. I can reassess when the trip gets closer. And when I get back from the trip, if I want to try to pick up nursing where I left off, and Jude does too, we can nurse indefinitely.
Lilah, age almost 4, has been having some sleeping issues. For weeks, she wakes in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep. Which means, neither can I. For the first week or so I did everything by the books. I walked her back to her room; I reassured her; I made a chart for incentive to stay in her bed all night. It wasn’t working. Then I decided to break the rules. I let her sleep with me two nights in a row when she woke up. The next night we both slept in her bed when she woke up. A small part of me was worried about establishing bad habits and patterns, but a larger part of me just wanted to sleep. It felt like the right decision. This morning she woke only minutes before our established wake up time. She finally got to put the first sticker on her chart!
For Sophie’s birthday this year we forwent the usual large birthday party. We had a smaller party with just family. I brought cupcakes to her classroom on her birthday. The next day we broke the rules and let her skip school. We got our nails done, went out to lunch, and went shopping at the mall. It was fantastic to break with convention and avoid the big party.
Rules are great, and most of the time, very necessary. But rules can be broken, and sometimes that is very necessary too.