It happened this weekend, as I was stripping my 2-year-old of her pee-soaked, poop-filled swimsuit. “Motherfucker,” I sputtered. “I can’t get this fucking thing off of you.”
She blinked at me as the words sank in. For a second I felt a sharp twang of horrible, embarrassing regret. I imagined myself in front of the Court of Pinterest-Perfect Parents and predicted my sentence: TERRIBLE MOM.
But then I remembered my beloved grandfather spitting out “goddammits” in between sips of his gin and tonic as we sat outside on plastic chairs, enjoying the lingering summer sun. As a kid I loved hearing those words shoot from his mouth, angry and passionate and real. So it was settled then, in that moment: Being a realistic, human, flawed mother was way better for myself – and my kids – than forcing myself to be a mom-bot who only says “drat!” when things go terribly wrong. Swearing in front of my kids might make me the worst mom, but at least I’m the fucking best at it.
There’s no better time to hone your terrible parenting skills than in the summer, so go on, give these imperfect parenting tips a try. You may find you – and your kids – are a lot happier as a result.
Swear in front of your kids. Go on, fuckin’ go for it. They’re going to learn the words eventually, so it might as well be from you. And hey, you’re an awesome mom – surely you can turn it into a teachable moment about why and when we say certain words (and, er, why and when we don’t). Not to mention, you’ll give them great story fodder for years to come, as they recount over and over again the time you emerged from the shower to scream about them getting “popsicle juice on the fucking couch” while wearing nothing but a towel on your head.
Let them eat popsicles. With sugar. Every day. I can feel the horrified stares of the other moms at the playground as I follow my kids to the ice cream truck parked nearby. They’d be just as appalled at my freezer packed full of Otter Pops at home. Yes, the sugar gives my young daughters the energy of pubescent One Direction fans who’ve just bumped into Harry Styles, but guess what – IDGAF. They’re fun and delicious, and taste so much better than that healthy frozen mess of yogurt and fresh fruit I totally bailed on making. Those stupid recipes people share on Facebook and Pinterest are just there to shame you. Click “close,” and go enjoy some frozen sugar and chemicals instead.
Send them outside to play, while you stay inside to enjoy the air conditioning. It’s hellishly hot out, and while your kids might cool off by dipping half their bodies into the water table, there’s no reason you need to be hovering nearby as you sweat out enough water to cure California’s drought. Summer vacation is your vacation time too. Enjoy it. Inside.
Turn the TV on and leave it on, for hours. Dear God, is there anything more glorious than vegging out and watching hours of TV? Kids expend a lot of energy in the summer, and nothing feels better than lying on the cool, air-conditioning-kissed couch as episode after episode drones on by. (I know this because I just marathoned Outlander, and then re-marathoned Outlander, because I am an adult who can choose her own path in life.) Of course kids should play, but they also deserve their fair share of pure, lazy relaxation.
The pool counts as a bath. So does the sprinkler. And the ocean. And no bath at all. If your kid gets wet once a day in the summer, that counts as a bath. Yes, even just washing his/her hands meets the requirements for summer cleanliness. Let them get dirty – joyously, wonderfully disgusting. Let them get so gross you can’t believe you’ve let them get this gross, and then let them get even grosser. Summer is about letting it all hang out, so go ahead and let them skip the bath. Instead, sit your kids on the couch with the TV on, popsicles in hand, and stand back and marvel at what a great fucking job you’re doing raising them.