One day a week, order pizza for dinner or let the laundry go

Keeping my kids on track has always been one of my top goals as a parent.

From the little things — like making sure they get out the door on time and harping at them to do their homework before they watch television — to the big things — like encouraging them to earn good grades and attend college someday — staying focused feels critical. It’s like adolescence is one direct path to adulthood.

But if keeping my kids on track is how I define my success as a mother, then I’m screwed. I have no control over my kids’ choices or future happiness. It’s like that advice you hear at mommy/maby groups: “You can’t make them eat. You can’t make them sleep. You can’t make them poop.” You can’t plot your children’s futures either.

For me as an adult, being on track means specific things. At the stay-at-home-mom level, I have day-of-the-week plans that I follow:

Household chores

Mondays: Change sheets

Tuesdays: Clean the bathrooms

Wednesdays: Dust

Thursdays: Vacuum

Friday: Laundry

Saturday: Shop for groceries

Meal plan

Meatless Monday

Taco Tuesday

Wheatless Wednesday

Throwback Thursday (leftovers)

Fish Friday

Spaghetti Saturday

Sunday Chicken Dinner

If I followed my plans, my house would be clean and I would always know what’s for dinner. The problem is I don’t follow my schedule. At the beginning of the week I have great intentions, but by Wednesday I veer off into the unknown.

And let’s not talk about exercise, cutting down on sugar or budgeting. I need a sticker chart that says, “Yay, Jenny! You Adulted!”

If I can’t stay on track, then how can I expect my kids to, especially now that there is finally sunshine? All I want to do is be outdoors, soaking up the Vitamin D. Should I really force my kids to come back inside and clean their rooms?

At a deeper level, maybe this whole “stay on track” mentality, is not only onerous but also discriminatory.

Every brain is different, and so is every child. Some kids knock it out of the park in terms of traditional success. Their parents post pictures of their sports trophies on Facebook or celebrate their 4.0 report cards. Everyone cheers.

Another kid might wake up, eat breakfast and put their dishes away, and it’s a huge victory because the teenager is depressed. The simple act of getting dressed can be a sign of improvement, but better mental health is not something people brag about on social media.

There is no one “right” way to be a person. There is no right way to be a child or a parent — or even a right way to plan a day of the week, for that matter.

Instead of staying on track, perhaps my focus should be on what needs to be done at that moment for the people in my life to be healthy and happy (me included). If that means ordering pizza for dinner, so be it. Bring out the hammock! This mom is on track for a nap.

Jennifer Bardsley is author of the books “Genesis Girl” and “Damaged Goods.” Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal.

Talk to us

More in Life

The all-new Kia Sportage X-Pro model comes standard with all-terrain tires and 17-inch matte black off-road wheels. (Kia)
2023 Kia Sportage has two new models aimed at the outdoorsy

The X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige have all-terrain tires, all-wheel drive, and all kinds of ground clearance.

Women came from all over the Pacific Northwest to “glamp” and raise money to send girls to Girl Scout Camp from Sept. 16-18. The next opportunity to glamp at Camp River Ranch will be Sept. 8-10, 2023. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Women’s glamping retreat raises money to send local girls to camp

I’ve been the camper, the counselor, the Girl Scout leader and the mom. Now, I was the glamper.

People stroll along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, one of Europe’s most interesting historic walks, as Edinburgh Castle looms in the distance. (Rick Steves' Europe)
Edinburgh, the cultural heart of Scotland, packs a cultural punch

Once a medieval powerhouse, it is today one of Europe’s most lively and festive cities.

Dan Neumeyer peers out the window of his Hummingbird Yurt. (David Welton)
Otherworldly structures constructed on Whidbey Island

The small buildings — yurts, with a Western twist — were built by Earth dweller Dan Neumeyer.

Mark Hall, center, and Casting Crowns perform during the Dove Awards on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Casting Crowns performs in Everett, while Graham Nash drops by Edmonds.

All ears: Mukilteo couple provides surgery for kids born without ears

Dr. Prabhat and Trish Bhama are part of a HUGS volunteer team providing treatment for microtia in Guatemala.

MyMyToyStore.com owner Tom Harrison at his brick and mortar storefront on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Near-death experience planted seeds for downtown Everett toy store

Former attorney Tom Harrison survived 9/11. It caused him to ask what’s important in life. Today, he runs MyMyToyStore.

2021 Dodge Ram 1500 TRX (Dodge)
2021 Dodge Ram 1500 TRX

The latest salvo is the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX Crew Cab 4x4 pickup.

Mazda CX-30 Crossover (Mazda)
2021 Mazda CX-30 Premium Plus

The crossover seats five adults and delivers the freedom to match active lifestyles.

2022 Kia Sportage Hybride SX Prestige

The 2022 Kia Sportage is marketed as the “ultimate urban SUV.”

Planting containers in the shoulder season

September and October can be tricky times of the year when it… Continue reading

Presented by the Edmonds Driftwood Players, Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” — a murder-mystery that is the world’s longest-running play — will run through Oct. 2 at Wade James Theatre in Edmonds. (Photo courtesy Dale Sutton)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

MUSIC Mill Creek Summer Concert Series: The music concludes with Big Dog… Continue reading