Multicolor Play Dough and Ripped-Up Books
The first time my sons started grabbing different colors of play dough and smashing them together I had no idea what to do. Do I ask them to keep the colors separate? Do I let them mix all the play dough into one big swirly mess?
I was seriously conflicted. I had recently been to my sister-in law’s house, and all of her play dough was pristine! It was soft and malleable, and clearly her kids only played with one color at a time.
And why are everyone else’s books so beautiful? Like, in mint condition? Our books are mangled and ripped and covered in food products. During bed-time stories, I sometimes have to make-up the words because an ENTIRE PAGE has been ripped out of the book.
I know all kids are destructive and messy, but I do have this excuse: I have three boys. Disgusting, dried-out, mixed-up play dough? Three boys. Carpet covered in unidentifiable stains? Three boys. Scuff marks and dents all over my walls? I have three boys.
Every day my son plays a game that involves jumping from one couch to another, using the padded ottoman as an occasional springboard. He’s pretending he’s a superhero. I hear cute, little phrases like “I’ll save you!” or “Quick! To the submarine!” while he bounces around on the couches. While I know that jumping on the couches is something many parents might disallow, I’ve decided to let it be. It burns his energy and provides a creative outlet. He’ll happily play for long periods of time while I fold laundry or clean up the kitchen. The only downside? Our couches are getting incredibly floppy and soft.
“When the kids are older, we’ll buy new couches!” I say. I say this about a lot of things. I’m kind of worried that when the kids are older we are going to have to buy a whole new house.
Picking My Battles
In all seriousness, we have to pick our battles. We have to decide what we are going to fight for and what we are going to “let go.” What issues will we put down our meal and stop our conversation to confront, and what issues are we going to “let go”?
For example, I’ve decided to allow “mild rowdiness” but stick to my guns on treating each other with kindness. I’ve decided to let go of the proper care and maintenance of toys but diligently teach my kids to look for ways to help others.
We fight hard to enforce and teach our kids about the things that really matter to our family, but we also let our kids scooter in the house. We’ve got multicolor play dough. And our Mr. Potato Head has no eyes. But we have a loving home, and (most days) we have really happy kids.
What are the things you enforce at all costs? The things you’ll set down your drink and stop your conversation to confront. And what are the things you’ll let slide for the sake of peace and fun?
Share in the comments, and tell me I’m not alone!
Originally published September 2019.