I am not naturally a “cool mom.” Which is mostly OK with me.
But I’d like to think I’m getting a little cooler hanging out with you.
I am by nature a little more anxious than I’d like to be. I’m an overthinker about LOTS of things so I enjoy being with friends who are more relaxed than me. Out of my husband and I, I am the risk-averse person. I know this impacts my parenting, so I’m working on ways to relax.
A few months ago a new friend invited us over for brunch. After brunch, the kids were playing together. I watched the kids get a giant bean bag to lodge at the bottom of a long staircase and gather mats for sliding. This friend kept on chatting as her kids built up the ramp and got ready to slide. The kids began to slide down and have a marvelous time.
I think my first impulse in my house would have been to shut the fun down thinking of bonked heads and damaged walls. But it was a great reminder to chill chill chill, and no one died and they didn’t destroy the house.
So I’m trying to figure out things I can ease up on. I’m not willing to compromise on car seat safety. These kids are going to be riding backward, in a harness to Junior Prom. Just kidding. Sort of.
I’m trying to consider that if an activity or choice is not a risk to their physical safety or our family values/morals, then it should be a yes or at least it should be given consideration.
Here are some ways I’m working on fostering my inner “cool mom”:
Having Friends with Different Aged Kids
I love having friends with kids who are older than mine. Their kids help me chill by keeping an eye on my kids, but not in a parental way. When my daughter was almost three, she had a best friend who had twin sisters who were seven. My daughter loved these girls, and I loved how they knew that she shouldn’t be jumping off a dresser.
On another occasion, we went to the splash pad and my friend gave their kids a longer leash to go play than I was going to give my daughter. It made me analyze at that moment why I would make her stay closer to me (no real reason), and so she went and roamed around with her friends.
I love learning from women and watching their parenting styles. Sometimes I learn that I can ease up and give my kids more freedom. And sometimes I learn that I don’t feel comfortable and won’t be letting my kids ride a bike around the pool with sparklers in their hands.
Encouraging Independence by Teaching New Skills
One of my friends told me her son had wanted to start cutting his own food after watching my daughter use a knife. She said she just started cutting his food when he was small and just kind of kept doing it. As her son asked to have a knife to cut his food, she realized he indeed was big enough!
My daughter definitely didn’t tell me how cool I was for letting her cut with a knife, but I put it on my cool points board in the teaching independence column.
Saying Yes When I Can
I feel like I used to be better with this when my kids were younger. But sometimes I just want to say “No,” because I don’t actually want to hear the guitar right now or deal with a mess right before dinner.
I’m trying to remember that if I can give more “Yes” answers and deal with the annoying things (deep breathing), the “No” will stand up more and be more impactful.
I’ve heard of an experiment where parents say “Yes” to everything their child asks for a day, and while I don’t think that can work long-term, I think it could teach that there are a lot more reasons to say “Yes” than “No.”
I’m on my way to being a “cool mom”; a mom who says yes to new adventures and lets life teach kids important lessons. As my daughters grow, I’m learning to back off and give them less supervision and more independence, so they can be the kind of women who know themselves and are open to trying new things.