I’m trying to parent my first (and only child) like I might parent a second. Also known as the lazy way. And I don’t mean sitting my son in front of the television. As my best friend’s mom once said, “Put away the books and parent your child.” I like to think lazy is old-timey parenting to make her and my grandma proud.
Now that my 10-month-old is super mobile and on the verge of walking, most of the day is spent keeping him from killing himself. (After all, that’s pretty much a parent’s only job.) To do so, we guide and coax and distract him from dangerous interests (cords, outlets, the open oven), but we don’t limit his exploration unless there’s imminent doom (or, in the case of the cat box, imminent gross).
And for months he wasn’t showing any interest when I’d offer him organic, homemade mush. Who could blame him? But he also wasn’t reaching for my plate, so it wasn’t just the gruel that was unappealing to him. He wasn’t ready for food. But we didn’t stress. I figured he’d do it when he was ready; the kid wasn’t solely going to be on the boob until he’s 12. Suddenly, though, he wants to shove everything in his mouth. So he’s eating solids now. And I don’t have to do anything except cut it up into small, bite-sized pieces. Some call it “baby-led weaning.” I just call it the lazy way.
The same holds true for his toys. Sure, he has a few baby-friendly items (like a mini-piano from my parents and a wooden clacking walker toy). But his favorite “toys” are what we adults use every day. Wooden spoons. Measuring cups. Empty bottles. Junk mail. The drawer below the oven housing lids and pots and pans. He also likes the dogs’ feet, and chasing after the annoyed 15-year-old cat. His interest in these household items means he’ll stay occupied if I throw them his way, and I can get things done around the house. Thank jeebus for whisks!
Even the cloth diapers he wears are the lazy kind. They’re all-in-one pocket diapers, and all you have to do is pull them apart and throw them in the washer. I’m betting on the anecdotal evidence that cloth-diapered babies are potty-trained sooner to further underscore the laziness of this choice. I’m too lazy to worry about diapers for years and years.
Parenting the lazy way means trying to relax. Letting things go. It means not wilting in embarrassment when he cries in public and remembering that’s just what they do. It means picking up his toys and not even brushing them off before he puts them back in his mouth. It means sometimes you find things in the gutter and decide, hey, this is perfectly fine for my child. That’s where my son got his Sophie the Giraffe. I did run it through the dishwasher at least.
It also means you have time to worry about what really matters. Time to read to your child. Time to teach. Time to make wholesome food. Time to dance and giggle and belly laugh. Time to see the world as you once saw it. Time to pour yourself a beer after the kid goes to sleep.