Relaxed Parenting: Does It Mean I Don’t Care?!

I come up against this quite a lot, especially when I’m out with the kids. My family get how we parent, Mr C’s family get how we parent, our friends get how we parent. Not only do they get it, almost all of them agree that for the most part, the way we parent seems to work. I’m by no stretch of the imagination saying that we are amazing parents; far from it! I’m also not suggesting that ours is the only way – every single one of us, every family, every child, every person’s needs, is different. But the way that we choose to parent works for us, and it works for our kids. I suppose you could call it relaxed parenting, but there are many ways in which it is not relaxed at all.

Like a lot of mums, I feel judged quite often when I’m out in public with the kids. I think in general a lot of that comes from ourselves, and worrying that we are being judged rather than there actually being much judging going on. But there are definite occasions when I know for a fact that I am being judged for my style of parenting.

Letting Them Run Wild

When I say ‘relaxed parenting’ I don’t mean that in the sense of rules or boundaries. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m quite strict when it comes to the rules, boundaries, and expectations, and sometimes the odd wobble has me wondering whether maybe I’m too strict. Honestly though, I don’t think I am. Its these rules and boundaries which allow me to be relaxed in other ways.

What I mean by relaxed parenting is that I’m not all over the kids. I leave them to it. At our local soft play I close the childproof gate and I sit down with a cup of coffee. No judging to be had there as far as Amelia is concerned, she’s 3 and is perfectly able to play, rarely falls over, and is way past any biting or hitting stages.

Wills on the other hand isn’t yet 1, and I regularly get ‘the look’ from other parents as I close the gate and *gasp* take my eyes off him. His most recent pursuit there is to climb up to the top of the foamy soft play style slide and then let himself slide back down again. It’s quite high for a small one, I guess, and just last week I noted a few tuts and glances here and there. This was mainly because he found it hilarious to get almost to the bottom before letting himself fall backwards and land on his back.

Monkey boy!!! β€οΈπŸ˜‚

A post shared by MummyMamaMum (@mummy_mama_mum) on


But What If They Get Hurt?

I totally get that there are always elements of safety which should be considered in public play spaces. Don’t get me wrong, like most parents, no matter how much I’m ‘relaxed’ I always have one eye on my children. All the while he is laughing and enjoying himself, why would I step in and ruin his fun? He’s unlikely to hurt himself landing on the very well padded soft play floor, falling no more than about half a foot. If I felt that he was getting a bit too adventurous and trying to drop from half way up the slide, than naturally I would step in. If I felt that he was in the way of other children wanting to use the slide then I would (and did) step in.

Lessons For Life

Then there’s Amelia. I must admit I am judged less often these days when it comes to Amelia, because she is at an age where her independence is seen as a positive character trait rather than my neglectful-ness. It hasn’t always been that way though. I remember being sternly told off by a concerned chap who was utterly horrified that I should allow Amelia to tell meΒ when the green man appeared and it was safe to cross the road.

Most recently we have been working on understanding the concept of queuing for, and ordering, things in restaurants, cafes, and our fave – coffee shops. I have a very handy app which allows me to order my drink before we even get there and have it ready and waiting for me. So our routine is this; Amelia joins the queue and waits her turn while I collect my pre-ordered drink. When she gets to the front of the queue she uses a loud voice so that she can be heard and orders exactly this (her words, not mine)

“Can I have a babyccino please, in a cup that has a lid with a hole so that I can drink it, but can I put my own sprinkles on please?”

If I’ve agreed that she can have a chocolate coin, she scans an app on my phone to pay for it, other than that, warm milk is free so she’s set.

The Cute Factor

Most people find her ordering skills adorable, and she’s had lots of lovely positive comments. But there have been too many not so positive comments for me to ignore. One woman asked me why I wouldn’t stand with her in the queue, and told me that I seemed detached from my child and maybe I should worry less about drinking coffee and more about spending time with my daughter. Cheers.

The reason that I stand away from her while she queues is because I believe that knowing how to handle these situations semi-alone is going to be a valuable life lesson for her – one of many it’s my job to teach her. I am never more than a few steps away, and always on hand with an encouraging smile, thumbs up, and silent mouthed “you’re doing great pickle”.

Mistakes Are A Part Of Life

I let my kids make mistakes. I let them do things that I think might not end well (within reason) as long as I have made sure to fully explain the risk that they’re taking. I believe that we are creatures who learn best from our own mistakes, and I guess I base my parenting style around that. It’s not without its flaws, and we have just as many hiccups along the way as any other family. But I’d like to think that (so far) it seems to be working out for us.

Amelia is a very capable little girl, able to hold her own in a conversation (and a coffee shop). She knows what she wants, but also knows the value of sometimes having to wait for it. She understands that actions have consequences, both positive and negative. She knows that throwing a tantrum will result in a negative consequence, and while it doesn’t always stop her from throwing a tantrum, it does help her to accept the consequence.

Relaxed Parenting Doesn't Mean I Don't Care
At least while we’re packing Wills can climb inside the (mostly) empty cupboards to his heart’s delight!

But It’s My Job To Protect Them

Actually, I guess what I’m saying is that, no, I don’t believe it always is. My instinct, like most parents, is to always protect and shield my children from harm, physical or otherwise. But actually I think that a huge part of my role as their mum is to teach them how to protect themselves. If that means they have to make a few mistakes long the way, then so be it.

I love my kids more than anything else on this planet – no words could ever truly describe a mother’s love. I would take a bullet for them, ten times over. But do I want them to always believe that someone else will take the fall for them? No, because that isn’t real life.

My kids enjoy pure, unadulterated, and uninterrupted fun throughout most of their days. They are hilarious to watch and to play with, and they’re great company. Will I ever stop taking every opportunity to teach them something valuable about life? No, probably not. Do I feel they’re too young to have to know these things, or that I’m taking away a part of their childhood? No, not really. If anything, I firmly believe that I’m enhancing it, by giving them the tools and knowledge to have that uninterrupted fun safely.

19 thoughts on “Relaxed Parenting: Does It Mean I Don’t Care?!

  1. Can’t believe someone would say that to you in a coffee shop when you’re clearly a few feet away in case anything happens. I think you have a great outlook on parenting, if we “overparent” they will never learn anything, kids absolutely learn from their own mistakes. They don’t remember us parents saying No don’t do that but they will remember bumping their head on the table because they didn’t duck under it… this post thanks so much for sharing with #StayClassyMama

  2. I totally agree! We are all doing what we do, in the best way we know how! I know that the way I approach things isn’t for everyone, and for some people I know that the hints I’m not so relaxed about raise just as many eyebrows as the things I’m like “meh, they didn’t die…” about!!!xx

  3. You sound very balanced and sensible and your kids seem to be thriving. On the soft play point I do get frustrated at parents if their child does something that needs a response – like pushing another kid or crying because they’ve fallen – and their mum is nowhere to be seen. So I think as long as you’re aware enough to come running you don’t need to be hovering all the time. I wish I could leave mine to it but my three year old boy is sadly not as advanced when it comes to social niceties and he’ll basically bulldoze his way through anyone and everything if I let him. My one year old is in contrast a bit nervous so I tend to spend my time dodging between the two to either save a child from the threenager or save my baby from being squashed! One day I plan to be sat there with a coffee kind of relaxing! #blogcrush

  4. So much love for this, like you say we all parent differently based on what our children need from us. It sounds like your parenting style is very similar to mine! My girls learn much better when given a bit of independence and space but they always know I’m not far if they need me. Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x

  5. I’m not an overly strict parent myself. I have rules and boundaries because they aren’t just important for my boys as children but they are important in life and you seem to understand that as well with your own kids. Like helping them develop their independence. It’s an important life skill to learn and you’re teaching them that skill in your way, which, as you say, works for you. This is what’s important about parenting though and too many people don’t seem to understand. We all have our own parenting styles. It doesn’t make anyone good or bad at parenting. It’s about what works best. I used to be one of those parents who were constantly surrounding my kids when they were small but that was because of some personal issues that I had. Once I got over those issues my parenting style relaxed more and I learned to let my kids do their thing, within reason. I got judged for hovering then when I stopped I got judged for sitting back and letting them play. You can’t make others happy. That’s pretty much impossible. So just be. For what it’s worth, I think your style is pretty fanstastic! #blogcrush

    1. I literally could not agree with you more on this! It’s so true that we each do what works for us, whatever that may be. I guess it goes back to the ever present argument about the way that we constantly judge each other, and I guess in a way it’s hard not to sometimes. Imagine a world when we all just accepted each other’s differences -I feel like I’m about to slip into my Miss World speech about world peace… Well, a mama can dream! Thank you so much for your lovely comment!!xx

  6. Fantastic post! Parent-judgers are the worst, aren’t they? I think you’re doing a great job. You’re absolutely right. They need to learn from their mistakes and develop independence, and what’s the worst that could happen? I once had a confrontation with another mom at Starbucks who would just not leave me alone because she thought it was dangerous for my son to climb on a 3 foot high stool. He’s 5. I ended up telling her, “You know what, you can raise your kids, and I’ll raise mine.” The end. It’s none of their business how you choose to raise your kids. That photo of your daughter with the coffee is hilarious! #bigpinklink

    1. It’s frustrating isn’t it?! Like do you think I would let them do it if I thought they were going to seriously harm themselves?! Thanks for your lovely comment xx

  7. We have just moved to France and I am already encouraging them to order things in their new language. We home educate and it has amazed me to see how much more developed they are now than when they were in school being told what to think, how to feel and so on.

    1. Wow moving to France must have been huge! It’s great that you’re encouraging that! I can totally see how that would be the case, and I’m seriously considering home schooling mine…xx

  8. I totally agree. Teaching children to pay for themselves in shops, queue and interact with people etc isn’t lazy, neglectful or whatever, it’s teaching them valuable life skills. They’re going to have to learn them eventually so may as well start them young!

    1. I’m glad to hear from someone who agrees! I think the worst thing for me is people who view it as my laziness when in actuality getting to the point we’re at now has been anything but lazy haha!!x

  9. I couldn’t agree more. Hovering over kids constantly just makes them, and you, nervous. Get a coffee I say and a toasted cheese and ham sarnie! I think that as long as they know you’re near by, it is only bringing out the best in them.

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