One afternoon I walked into the bathroom and found the lid down, something my youngest had been doing to “protect the cats from falling in and drowning in the toilet.” I flipped the lid and jumped back, startled by a sudden shock of color, sure it was a spider about to attack me. It was not a spider. It was a large, green Killington Mountain euro sticker, and it made my toilet look like something you’d find in a frat house toilet or see at the mall.
My oldest daughter stepped into the bathroom, grinning proudly. “Do you love it?”
I’ve always tried to create what I call a “’70s-light” childhood for my daughters. They write in chalk on the garage floor and hang ribbons from the stair railing. They have a fort out back that they can do whatever they want with, one that has things that might otherwise qualify as trash tucked on windowsills and hanging from the ceiling. We craft outside the lines, goofing around with leftover ribbons from presents and the crazy molds that come with Amazon packages.
We do try to have some structure that keeps us from living in total chaos, which is to say that my husband and I have certain parts of the house that we try to keep somewhat free from daughter-sprawl. There are bins for their shoes and places they are supposed to put their backpacks and homework. There are chores—sock matching, dishes, cat litter—that sometimes get done. Like everyone else, we are a work in progress.
I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but for our family, the ’70s-light style of parenting has been the way to go. We might be a little messier, and we might bend a few more rules than would be comfortable for some, but living this way means my girls have more freedom to roam and explore and stretch the limits of their creativity, and it means my husband and I can let go and not stress about always being the enforcers of rules that none of us really want to follow anyway. After more than 10 years of parenting, my husband and I have discovered that sometimes it’s better to just roll with it.
Here are just a few things we don’t get upset about that other parents might:
This one took a while. My husband used to fight it, but it’s the super craft ingredient and has a 100% cure rate for sister squabbles. “Want to do a project with glitter?” is always met with screams of enthusiasm.
2. Unmade Beds
Life is too short to spend three minutes every day making a bed. Besides, a made bed is so much more impressive after many days of unmade beds.
3. Towels on the Floor
This is only a problem with one of our three daughters, so when I find discarded towels I take it as a kick in the pants to bathe the dog and cats.
4. Writing on Mirrors
No one is coming into our upstairs bathroom, so if it looks more like a backseat window after a long car trip with a dog, I don’t really mind. I know that after every shower there will be some sort of “I love you” message on my mirror, and that is totally cool with me.
5. LEGOS Everywhere
If there are LEGO communities set up in the corner of every single stair in the house, it means my girls have been playing and inventing. The placement in the corner means they’re at least trying not to injure us Home Alone style.
And, as for the giant sticker that I thought was a spider trying to kill me, I’m really looking forward to one day telling my girls the story of how our toilet got tagged with “The Beast.”
Yep. We left it there.