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15 Mommy rules you can pretty much ignore next year

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

Let’s get reasonable about parenting

You know those unspoken rules and expectations about being a mom? Stuff like "wear pants to school drop-off." Who really has time for that? We break down 15 mommy rules to joyfully blow off in the new year.
Mom at school drop-off

Overwhelmed by pressure to be a good mom? Here’s a little hint — if you love your kids, you’re doing fine. Start the new year off with less stress by ditching these 15 mommy rules.

1

Look presentable in the morning

Unless you’re heading to work, you get a pass on fashion before 9 a.m. each day. No one at school drop-off gets to judge you for the pureed applesauce you’re rocking as pomade. Once you have a chance to get caffeinated and go to the bathroom without an audience, you can embrace your personal style. Or not.

2

Help out at your child’s school

Not everyone is cut out to be class mom. If you’re not organized, you still have PTSD about school in general or you’re simply busy, don’t sign up to volunteer at school. Instead, find out what you can donate to the classroom. That way, you can just stick it in your child’s backpack. No socializing necessary!

3

Keep a scrapbook of precious moments

In 15 years, you’re going to want a record of these fleeting, magical days. Unfortunately, unless you have a house elf, that record is not going to build itself. The good news is there are plenty of ways to make memories. Do it your way, whether that’s an Instagram account or hastily scribbled notes.

4

Make dinner at home using whole foods

Knowing that whole foods are healthiest doesn't make them materialize on the dinner table. Set goals — such as not having delivery pizza four times a week — but don’t beat yourself up if you cut corners because of time and budget. Mom’s sanity has to trump culinary ideals once in a while. Or most of the time.

5

Decorate your kids’ rooms

What’s up with nurseries that are fancier than grown-up bedrooms? Unless your hobby happens to be home improvement, simmer down on the kids’ decor. Your kids are going to hate it all as soon as they turn 12 anyway. If you really want their rooms to look nice, get them involved with the decorating process and more importantly, get them really involved in the keeping-the-rooms-clean process.

6

Sew a Halloween costume

Handmade costumes? Sew what? If your sewing machine is gathering dust or if it happens to be nonexistent, go wait in line with the other parents at the Halloween store where the giant oozing zombie decorations are basically guaranteed to traumatize your kids. It’s a tradition.

7

Bake and decorate impressive birthday confections

Listen, we know Pinterest says that rainbow layer cakes are awesome. It’s true. Everyone secretly wants a rainbow layer cake. The problem is, unless you’re a majorly-skilled baker, that rainbow layer cake is going to be a hot mess. If you really want to try something elaborate, practice a few times first. But we won’t fault you for hitting up the grocery store bakery.

8

Don’t let your kids watch TV

Do you need to pee without worrying that your children are going to bludgeon each other? Turn on the TV. Do you need to make a dinner that requires a prep time greater than five minutes? Turn on the TV. No one thinks the TV is raising your kids. Trust your ability to gauge what is and is not a reasonable amount of screen time.

9

Have family dinner every night

If you don’t sit around at the table talking about your day and bonding over the minutia of school life, your children are going to grow up to be savage delinquents. At least, that’s what you've heard. Family dinner isn’t going to make or break the future. Bond with your kids when you can, even if that means turning off the radio and chatting on the way to baseball practice.

10

Enroll your kids in lots of enriching activities

Are you pushing your kids too hard — or not hard enough? Extracurricular activities can be seriously rewarding for kids. They can also be seriously time-consuming and ludicrously expensive. Next year, let your kids guide the whole after-school activities thing. If they’d rather come home and play with the neighbor kids, skip the interpretive dance classes and flag football.

11

Buy organic everything

It’s probably a good idea to strive for organic food options when it’s feasible, but don’t go overboard. Your kids don’t need organic clothes and backpacks. You don’t need to throw away everything you own so you can restock with glass bottles and organics. Pick and choose what works best for your family.

12

Pack adorable bento lunches

Unless you have a 5-year-old, penguins made of grapes and cheese aren’t going to be that impressive. While an unconventional lunch may be the easiest way to get some calories into a picky eater, you don’t need to make a masterpiece out of it. No one is judging you for best-dressed lunchbox.

13

Do Elf on the Shelf

Besides the fact that the Elf on the Shelf is inherently creepy, do you really want one more responsibility during the holiday season? What happened to Santa’s list? He’s checking it twice. That’s above average quality control. Threaten your kids the old-fashioned way. With coal.

Learn how to avoid being a helicopter parent >>

14

Send your kids to school in stylish clothes

There’s something to be said for fashionable kids’ clothing: You don’t have to try it on. But once the appeal of avoiding the dressing room wears off, you’re stuck with a diminished clothing budget you could have directed toward a cute scarf or those flats you’ve been craving. Shop sales and stick to clothes that wash well. Save the fancy outfits for special occasions.

15

Make lots of mom friends

Motherhood can be strangely isolating. Having children the same age may turn out to be the only thing you have in common with the other moms at your child’s school. Don’t feel defective if you don’t mesh with local mom friends. That’s what Twitter is for.

More on parenting styles

Should your child see you naked?
Should parenting require a license?
Why I skipped preschool altogether

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