Being a parent is hard. Not only are we responsible for keeping our children safe and healthy, but we are responsible to teach them values, hard work, independence, reading, writing, and the list goes on and on and on. It can be overwhelming and stressful at times.

When I was a child, I HATED some of the things my mom did as a parent. I vowed I would NEVER do those things with my own children. Well, jokes on me! I do most things EXACTLY the way she taught me and sometimes I hate to admit that she was right. My mom read a bazillion parenting books when we were growing up and did a lot of research on how to not raise ungrateful monsters for children 😉 I think her hours of reading kind of paid off 🙂

Here are 7 Ways to Avoid Damaging Your Children

#1. Don’t be too paranoid!

I grew up in a home with a mom who was the least paranoid parent I knew. She taught us to be cautious, but not scared for our lives. She allowed us to ride our bikes outside of our neighborhood, ride to the gas station on main roads, and play in the FRONT yard! Oh My! Those were the best memories of my childhood. We can’t let our fears make it so we keep our children on a tight lock down. They can sense our fear and it can create them to be insecure and nervous. It’s okay to tell your children to play outside and not come back in for a few hours! Mama has got to get shiz done! Let them explore, be creative and to come up with activities on their own. I’m not saying don’t check on your kids or be aware of where they are, but let them go! Paranoia has become insane, and I’ve realized it so much more now that I’m a parent. I will go to the park, and every mom will be all up in their kids grill. Sit down, Mom! Let your child play, meet new friends, and work on their social skills. Take this time to chillax! Grab yourself a Diet Coke and unwind. Your child is going to be FINE!

#2. Limit Screen Time

I LOVE screen time. For myself and for my children. It gives them time to relax and chill and it gives me a break from them. But obviously everything in moderation. I am not the best at this. There have been days where I’ve had a lot of crap to do around the house and the T.V. or iPad have been my saving grace. But, I’ve recently started having my oldest do a few chores in order for her to have her screen time. When she wakes up in the morning is when she wants it the most. But, before she can have it she has to 1. make her bed 2. Clean her room 3. Get dressed for the day (she would LIVE in her pajamas if I let her) and 4. Pick up any toys she left out in the playroom. I’m also going to start making her color/read/work on her letters/numbers for 20 minutes. This has worked awesome!! She does it quickly and usually without much whining or complaining.

#3. DO NOT feel the need to Entertain them 24/7

Kids do not need constant entertainment. They think they do, but they don’t. This is the time in their lives where their imagination is at its finest. When my family would go on road trips or when we would be in the car all day running errands with my mom, we would be constantly complaining about being bored. I remember my mom would always say, “LOOK OUT THE WINDOW!” And I catch myself saying it to my own children. We don’t need constant entertainment, the T.V. running or games being played on our phones. When my mom would say that to us (and mind you, we had a T.V. in our car back then), I would find my sister and I making up songs about the cars next to us, talking to my mom about life, or noticing and being engaged in my surroundings. Just like moms need silence in our lives, I believe kids do too.

#4. Teach them how to WORK

Saturday was NOT my favorite day of the week like most kids growing up. EVERY FREAKING SATURDAY at 7 am we were woken up by loud singing, the annoying vacuum, or my mom honking her horn at a sleepover to tell us to get in the car, we’ve got to start on our chores! Oh, how I loathed the thought of Saturday mornings. But, now that I’m older I thank my mom for teaching me how to scrub a toilet, dust the dressers, mop and vacuum the floors and really deep clean. She taught us the importance of hard work. In order to play with friends, we had to work first. Work hard to play hard. Saturday chores seem like a thing of the past, and you can tell! Children feel entitled to everything and don’t want to put forth any effort to earn it. I can see it with my oldest. That’s why I’ve started to incorporate chores for her to do in order for her to play with friends or buy a toy she wants. She’s learning how to work, along with learning the value of a dollar. Which leads me to my next one…

#5. Teach them the importance of being FRUGAL

My siblings and I ordered kids meals or shared meals everywhere we went until we were off the payroll. Mind you, my parents are well off, but my mom wanted to instill in us the importance of saving, not wasting, and the value of a dollar. I still order off the kids meal! I’m trying to help my wallet, but also my waistline 😉 Killing two birds with one stone here! It’s hard to not want to buy your kids everything. You want them to be happy. It makes you happy when they are happy. But, it can actually be damaging them. Teach them they don’t need every new toy that comes out, new game, new clothes, or that they need to order a drink every where they go (still working on this one). Teach them to save the allowance money they earn for something they REALLY want. It will teach them patience too. But, in order to teach them these things, we have to lead by example. It’s so hard, but so worth it. Kids aren’t dumb, they recognize when mom or dad spends a lot or doesn’t spend a lot. Practice what you preach! (I’m still learning this!)

#6. Do not plan your menu around your child’s desires

This can become so much more work than it needs to be. Cooking dinner or figuring out what to eat is hard enough, we don’t need 10 different opinions. I have done this one too many times and I vow to never to do it again. Whatever I’m making for dinner that night, that’s what EVERYBODY is getting. If they don’t like it, too bad. They will learn to like it. We don’t want children thinking they run the household and make the decisions. If we let our children decide the menu, it would be pizza, mac n cheese, and chicken nuggets every night. Children need to try new things, and don’t be nervous to make something because you don’t think they will like it. I made stir fry awhile ago, not thinking that any of my kids would really like it, but it’s one of their favorite meals (and it’s healthy!) Win, win!

#7. Your child does not need to be involved in a billion extra curricular activities

First of all, it’s expensive. Second, it can take time away from family and third, children need to enjoy being kids without all the pressure. Now don’t get me wrong, I think be involved in a thing or two is awesome. It teaches team work, they make new friends, it teaches them to work hard at something and to stick with it. I was involved in many different activities growing up, but there were a lot of times where I felt like it was too much. It was making me hate whatever I was involved in, because I felt overwhelmed at times. Try and find something that they REALLY truly enjoy and focus on that. It’s trial and error, but they will figure it out and it will be an activity that they look forward to going to and want to succeed at. They already have the stresses of school, homework, family life, friends and just growing up, they don’t need eighty different activities to add on top of it.

Now, I am definitely not a parenting expert or perfect at doing all of these suggestions. I fail at a lot of these all. the. time! But, I’m trying! These ways of teaching have become a big part of who I am today and if they will help our children grow up to be a little more independent, a little more humble, a little more frugal, and a lot better people, it’s worth the try!

And I can thank my mom for it.

xoxo Ashton


PS. I found this great Menu Planning pack that makes preparing dinner a snap. Click HERE

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