It’s been a while since I’ve written something that’s been weighing on my heart. I’m trying to be better about getting it all on “paper” for you all, but today I wanted to talk about over parental control. I’m talking about the act of gaining control of yourself as a parent. Obviously, parental control typically refers to the act of having control of your kids actions such as internet searches, television, etc., but we often forget about ourselves.
With my first daughter I tried to be included in everything little thing she did as a toddler. Our circle of friends had constant park playdates during the warmer months, and indoor playdates when the weather was bad. My #1 concern was that she was socialized with other kids since she was an only child at the time. Parental control really had no meaning to me at that time – and then I had a second child.
Parental Control (for the parents) – Setting Limits
Once my second child got to the preschool age, I learned that I had to have more control over my own life because it was so easy to, in a sense, compete with other parents and overcommit to things. Not only was I already involved in everything my first child was doing (class parties, sports, dance class, birthday parties, playdates), but I was also signing up for every little thing that came up for my youngest. Before I knew it, I was spread so thin and didn’t have time to get things done around the house (or work on my blogs).
I realized that I was horrible at setting limits. Why was I bad at setting limits and having parental control? Because I’m an overachiever.
Here’s a great paragraph from an article I read recently,
“For most women, the problem goes back to childhood. Most girls are socialized to be helpful, accommodating, and polite in groups. If they can help out, they are taught that they should, even if it pulls them away from something they’re already doing or something they really wanted to do. And if they don’t pull away to help, they’re called selfish, uncaring, or self-centered, which usually leads to feelings of guilt over not being a “good girl.'”
It only occurred to me in the last year that it was okay to pull away from things. I am learning to equally divide my time between myself, my husband, and my kids. Although I am room mom for my oldest’s class, they are getting to the age where they don’t need me too much and don’t have too many class parties. And with my youngest’s preschool class, I sign up for the class parties that I feel excited about rather than feeling obligated to sign up for all of them. And when I don’t feel like I want to participate physically, I help out in other ways by sending party supplies.
I call this negotiating.
Negotiating Your Commitment Level
Let’s look at some ways that we can “negotiate” our commitment level and take control.
As mentioned above, if you don’t feel joyful about volunteering for a class party, ask if you can donate supplies. This is a great way to feel involved without spreading yourself too thin. Another way to be involved is to plan playdates that you know you can attend. Don’t worry about going to every single playdate and activity your circle plans. Instead, ask your group if you can plan one every few months. That way you know you can attend and you aren’t committed to every gathering.
Feeling Satisfied with your Decisions
At the end of the day if your level of overcommitment, or even your lack of commitment, doesn’t satisfy you as a parent, you are free to make adjustments. If one month you are extremely busy running from event to event for your little ones, but the next month you are mostly free, that might be a great compromise. Or if one of your kids mentions that they would like to see you more in their class or at their sports practices, see what you can change in your schedule to make that happen.
We don’t have to do it all, parents, and our kids will not hate us for scaling back a bit. Take control over your parental duties and become a more joyful participant in your kids activities.