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Playful Self-Discipline: My Responsibility Or Not?


There are days when the children won’t eat their dinner, don’t want to play nicely with  each other and want to jump on the bed instead of lying down peacefully and going to sleep.

On these days it’s easy to grit my teeth and moan about the unreasonable expectations and responsibilities involved in motherhood.  Yes, it is difficult to cope with what seems like an INSANE amount of shrieking.  But a big step towards keeping my life happy is keeping my expectations realistic, and that includes realistic boundaries and responsibilities.

For example:

  • It is my responsibility to prepare and serve healthy, nutritious meals to my family.  It is NOT my responsibility to make sure they love everything I cook or even to make sure they eat a specific amount.
  • It is my responsibility to find and share interesting books, skills and experiences with my children as they show readiness, and to help them overcome any challenges they may face in learning those things.  It is NOT my responsibility to make sure they have mastered any certain thing by a certain age.
  • It is my responsibility to model positive conflict resolution skills, treat my family with kindness and ensure my own needs are met so I’m as patient and compassionate as possible.  It is NOT my responsibility to prevent all fights, micromanage behaviours, control the relationships of other family members or take ownership of anyone else’s mood.

Even without taking on things that really are not supposed to be on my plate, parenting full time is a pretty massive responsibility.  But trying to be in control of everything is a sure-fire recipe for stress and burnout.

On a related note, I noticed that I was grinding my teeth, feeling anxious, irrationally irritable and had strange headaches.  I cut out coffee and ta-da!  Feeling much more calm.  Apparently moderating my caffeine intake is pretty high on my list of responsibilities. I hope this is a temporary restriction because my goodness, I do love me a good cuppa joe. But feeling like a reasonable human being is even better.