No television, reading for an hour each day, all organic and absolutely no fast food. Those were just a few of the rules my husband and I thought we would abide by when our first child was born.
Fast forward five years and three children later and the entire game has changed, including all of the above mentioned rules. Now I will gladly put on a television show for my 3- and 5-year-olds when the baby is napping so I can enjoy a coveted 22 minutes to myself.
We have learned through trial and error that being realistic about what we can-and cannot do-as a parent is much better for our sanity and our children's happiness.
I no longer beat my head against the wall if I have not had time to stop at the store and pick up something fresh to cook for dinner. I do not curl up in a ball every time I realize we are down to our last diaper and we have to make a late-night run to the drugstore-again. I no longer think I am a bad parent because I willingly allow my kids to watch television or play a video game so I can scrub the bathroom, fold laundry, or simply drink a cup of coffee out of a mug instead of a to-go cup.
I have accepted that there is no such thing as a perfect parent.
My husband and I are realistic parents. We aim high, but we have learned to shed the guilt when we have to adjust our original idea of what we once thought good parenting should be.
We no longer believe that we have sacrificed our children's acceptance into an Ivy League college because we cannot read to them for an hour each night. We no longer fear that our children will automatically become fat and lazy adults because we occasionally feed them chicken nuggets after ballet class.
Treats, television and video games are now all allowed in our house-in moderation, of course.
Collett Hudecek is a firefighter/paramedic and mother of three living in Chicago.