I get credit in some circles for “being a good parent.” This makes me feel great, but here’s the secret just for you: my best parenting techniques are quite lazy. Anyone could do it.
Housecleaning. Your house will look the same whether you pick up toys twelve times a day or just once after the kid has gone to bed; save yourself the trouble unless someone you need to impress a guest. Who wants to nag a kid about cleaning up all the time? Easier to do it yourself later. (In her book, Naomi Aldort advocates modeling cleanliness, talking about it as one of your values, and children will eventually feel interested in joining you.) Sure, I clean the kitchen every morning, but that’s something I do for me. On the other hand, we sweep and mop the floor a lot around here because my kid thinks its fun. One kid with a brush and a bucket of sudsy water means that Lazy Mom gets to read a magazine while the girl has a blast Snow White style.
Free-Range Parenting. This is the ult in laziness. As long as I can see my child, it’s fine (and at home, audio range suffices). I give her as much space as possible to explore and play. Is this support of her cognitive development which also fosters independence, or an opportunity to nip off and check Facebook? You decide. When out in public, who wants to follow a kid all over the playground, or wear out one’s voice yelling at her to “come back here?” I’d rather sit on a bench and only get up if she’s out of sight or needing help. She has much younger legs and I’m in view; she can come find me. Maybe Lazy Mom can read a book while she’s playing.
Why Have that Fight? So she wants to swing on her stomach; take off her shoes to walk across a gravely patch; move rocks outside the restaurant from one decorative bed to another; stack sugar packets; eat food with the wrong utensil; wear her shoes on the wrong feet; or mix salt into her drink. Some moms might be all over that shit with a correction or a lecture. But Lazy Mom lets it roll. The kid will put her shoes on if the rocks hurt; some other kids will move the rocks around again tomorrow; as long as I put the sugar packets back there’s no harm in it; she’ll either learn more dexterity using a spoon with noodles or she’ll give up; and she won’t drink salty water if she doesn’t like it (and a little salt won’t hurt).
Cave on the chocolate. She gets to have two pieces of milk chocolate every day. Sometimes three if I don’t feel like dealing with whining. The occasion must be teatime, which remains after nap despite her efforts to instigate it at all times of day, but she knows I won’t budge on that. I’d rather not fight about sweets, so chocolate is just a part of our lives. Lazy Mom doesn’t buy junk food and thus doesn’t have to fight with the kid about eating it. Having a regular chocolate infusion means less pandering for sweets overall, so Lazy Mom gets to keep some peace of mind. And eat chocolate, too.
Hug a whiner. When the kid is whining, obviously wanting my attention and really can’t wait for me to finish the grocery list, I have a choice. I could get bitchy and vent my frustration. I could argue with her about how I need five more minutes. I could yell at her, resulting in a much less lazy afternoon for us because a stressed-out kid is no fun. Instead of wasting energy getting all het up, I scoop her up for a big hug. My girl feels like she got some attention, I got a snuggle, and nobody had to waste all that energy in a wrangle. Lazy Mom can move on to other things, like playing with her phone.
Relaxed pottying. Oh man, I am super lazy about potty stuff. We do cloth diapers, but I rarely use diaper covers with them because it’s too much work. So I end up changing my daughter more often because I can tell instantly when she’s wet. Thus, she’s never had a diaper rash. (Laziness win!) Even washing the diapers and the DIY baby wipes is a lazy thing, because I don’t ever have to run to the store for more. I have a washer in my house and the kid likes to put things in the dryer, so it’s a snap. And potty training is the ultimate lazy, because then she can run around without pants on and I don’t have to change her at all. It’s easier to wipe up a puddle of pee than change a wet diaper. We don’t fight about the toilet timing, either. Sure, we talk about it, but I don’t force her to sit on the potty every two hours or whatever. She’ll do it when she’s ready, and Lazy Mom would rather do some yoga every two hours instead.
Ditto bedsharing and weaning. Breastfeeding on demand and bedsharing: both super lazy. For years I just rolled over when the baby needed to eat at night. There’s no worrying about whether my toddler is asleep, having nightmares, or about that strange noise she made in the middle of the night because she’s right there and I don’t have to get up to check. Baby-led weaning and transitioning to a separate bed on her own timeline are also super-convenient. Why not make the kid do all the work and take these milestones at her own pace? Lazy Mom would rather sleep.
Minimal babyproofing. Babyproofing is so much work. After establishing the obvious things (baby gates on stairs, sharp/harmful objects out of reach), Lazy Mom would rather stay in the room with her child (and maybe a magazine) than have to worry about what trouble the kid might be getting into. Tidying up to make sure that inappropriate objects are out of sight: also good for Lazy Mom because then I don’t have to feel oppressed and stressed out by clutter. (Babyproofing with beanbags: definitely lazy.)
Talk less, validate more. Oh, it’s super tedious to jump in with an explanation every time. And Lazy Mom gets bored doing most of the talking. Asking questions expends much less energy, and the answers can be quite entertaining. You’ll get the most bang for your buck with phrases like, ”what do you think” and “tell me about it.” As for validating, it meets the Lazy Mom criteria for minimal effort bringing maximum outcome. Sure, you have to use your brain to figure out the core of the issue, but that’s a fun challenge. Validating a kid’s feelings defuses tantrums, increases the feeling of trust in the relationship, and teaches a child both how to recognize feelings and cope with them. This means less work for Lazy Mom in the long run.
Offer choices and encourage problem-solving. Lazy Mom doesn’t want to have to decide! And a kid who feels some sense of agency in her life is easier to be around. Not to mention, one of my favorite fights to avoid is the one where my daughter really wanted milk in the green cup and I didn’t ask which cup she wanted. Lazy Mom can save herself 15 minutes of tantrum on that one just by offering a choice. As to problem-solving, why do I have to be the only one trying to come up with solutions? Work shared means more lazy time for everyone!
Fortunately, my laziness is backed up by smart people like Carrie Contey, as she describes in this video about understanding toddlers in new ways. Or John and Myla Kabat-Zinn in Mindful Parenting, and Alfie Kohn’s unconditional parenting. Or perhaps the word I want is laissez-faire, without all the French Revolution connotations (see Wikipedia for more). Creating a harmonious system based on attention, respect, and the prioritization of freedom and curiosity means happiness for everyone. A “yes environment” means less stress and strife, making more time for Lazy Mom to kick her feet up.