Hubs has a cousin who once enthusiastically told the family that he liked going to his grandparents house because there were “no rules-ies.” I love this quote. It happened long before I was in the family, but I heard the story and the quote and added it to my list of quotes. (*Side note: There is actually a document that exists in my family with our “famous quotes.” My family is INSANE about quotes/stories. We have a ridiculous amount of family stories with quotes to match and we use them all of the time in our day to day conversations. When hubs first started hanging around us, he was so confused- there were too many quotes and catch phrases and he just couldn’t keep up. Now, of course, he knows all of them, backstories included). I’m always glad to add another to my list and I find that I can use “no rules-ies” in a lot of situations!
While vacationing with hubs’ grandmother (the very same grandmother referenced above), we followed the no rules-ies philosophy pretty strictly! Case in point:
But really, if I’m being honest, hubs and I sort of follow a no rules-ies philosophy at home, too. Obviously we have some guidelines around health and safety, and general well being, but for the most part we try to say yes as often as possible, and not have too many arbitrary “rules” that we have to enforce/follow. Being flexible comes with a lot of great rewards and this style of parenting has worked well for us so far (21+months in). Will things change as FVB gets older? Of course! Will we still say yes as often as possible? Of course! Will people judge us and think we are too permissive and are raising a self-centered, entitled child? Absolutely! Will we care how others view our parenting choices? Not a bit.
When I was teaching Pre-K, I followed a similar philosophy and gave the kids a lot of autonomy to make their own decisions by encouraging them to ask themselves this question: “Is what I want to do going to cause a problem for anyone else?” If the answer was no, I would say nine times out of ten, they could do what they wanted. If the answer was yes, you didn’t have to totally give up, you just had to think about creative ways to still do what you wanted, WITHOUT causing a problem for others. I loved watching 4 and 5 year olds puzzle this out for themselves, and I look forward to trying this one day with FVB. For now, though, I try it with myself when FVB is choosing activities. It requires a little tweaking when using it as a adult with regards to a 21 month old. Here’s how it might play out:
Activity: Running on a low, narrow-ish wall, with little regard to balance or ability to navigate such wall, with minimal fear of falling
Analysis: Will this cause a problem for anyone else? Hmmm…..well, it could cause a fall, which may or may not result in a cracked skull, broken bones, or concussion. I’d say that would be a problem for FVB AND me. Is there a creative solution to make this a possible activity? Why yes! I could run around the wall NEXT to FVB in order to either catch him when/if he falls, or to be the closest person near him so that when asked later in the hospital about the incident, I would be able to truthfully say “I was watching him THE WHOLE TIME!”
Can I say yes?: Yes! (*this turned out fine, as most things do)
Activity: Getting into Great-Grandma’s pool for the fourth time in one day
Analysis: Will this cause a problem for anyone else? Hmmm…..well, depends on how you define “problem.” Is a big problem for me/hubs to get him (and ourselves) in and out of swim suits? Not really. Is it a big problem to get into a cold pool after your body has JUST warmed up in the sun? I mean….not really. Not on the top of my list of favorite activities, and does cause a bit of discomfort, but not really a problem. Is going through several swim diapers per day a big problem? Not when they need to be used up before vacation ends!
Can I say yes?: Yes! (also turned out fine, hubs did most of the submerging and I stayed in the sun- WIN/WIN)
Often times I find that the actives that FVB wants to do aren’t necessarily a problem for him, or me, or anyone really, so much as they are repetitive and (just being honest) boring. Ask any parent who stays at home with their child, and they will most certainly tell you the same. Things can get a little monotonous. FVB’s new favorite winter activity, for example, is shoveling. He has a small sized shovel and loves taking off his mittens and pushing snow around. I try to take him outside most days, and it’s cold. So that borders on causing a problem for me; standing outside in the snowy cold is not my idea of a good time. And after awhile of not wearing his mittens, it can definitely be a problem for him. But, we manage to find a happy medium on the amount of time spent outside and I think we are both (mostly) satisfied with the arrangement (there are times when I do have to carry him in sobbing “shovel,” but that’s not typical).
And I’ll leave you with one last picture, one that perfectly sums up (for me) the experience of breastfeeding a toddler. This is me, on a piece of playground equipment in Texas where we recently visited my sister. FVB had a pretty difficult time managing his emotions during this trip (separation from Daddy for a week, figuring out how to play with his older/bigger/rougher cousin, and being in a new environment), so he wanted “milky” a lot. When in doubt, whip it out!