My kids and I had a talent show in the living room this morning. We each took turns either singing a song, pretending to play the piano, dancing, or play-acting martial arts. The house is messy. The dishes weren’t done. I have an acrylic paint stain on the carpet that is waiting for me to clean. But this is how I parent and I like it. I like being with my kids and spending time enjoying their company in the morning before getting to the chores. It helps me feel grateful. I want them to feel the bonds that they have to each other and to learn that spending time with each other is as important as any work to be done.
If you could see the inside of my van, you would be horrified. In college, we used to go a bar that served free peanuts you shelled yourself and then dropped the shells on the floor. My van looks like that floor, except instead of peanuts, it is the remnants of every kid-friendly food. I let my kids eat in the car, because it is sometimes the only place they are sitting still long enough to eat.
For other moms, this style of parenting might be excruciating: playing games or dancing while there was work to be done. A van filled with crumbs and wrappers.
But they’re not me.
There is value in different ways of parenting. But the real value for you and your kids is how YOU parent. Letting them see you. Letting your style flourish. Doing what works. There is joy in expressing yourself through parenting and, yes, parenting is an art form. Your style is unique to you.
You create something with your children through the design of your days with them. They learn how to bond and prioritize, how to balance play and exercise and work and thought. But they also learn by watching you navigate your day. And your way of doing things is great if it works for your family.
Likewise, it is good practice to check your horror at how other people parent. For me, seeing kids at a playground in pressed, spotless clothes while their mom shouts, “Oh, now look! You’ve gotten dirt on your shoes!” is a real test for me. Or toddlers with gigantic bows as big as their heads and lacy skirts who look like they want to tear everything off and run naked in the grass. It helps to be curious, be accepting.
No family is the same. And most likely, you are doing it just right.