When it comes to parenting our 6-year-old, my parenting style is a mix of researched knowledge, motherly intuition, and Daniel Tiger truisms. Like the Silly Putty stuck in the bottom of my handbag, I can reshape any of those styles to meet the needs of my kid at any given moment. My husband, on the other hand, has one style: The Fun Guy. This style has been cramping my style for years. Well, that is, until recently. It's weird to admit it, but the tables might have finally turned. He might've found the approach that's working best for our family right now.
When I was pregnant, I read all the things and created a workable schedule so my husband, newborn, and dogs would know what to expect on a daily basis. Not only is it a proven fact that routines help a kid with their development and provide emotional security, but they also help keep their mom sane. With this stable itinerary in place, the planning part of my parenting style could stay on top of bedtimes, bath times, and meal times at all times.
We are a calmer household when we follow a plan, but this plan doesn't always come to fruition. See, there are the unplanned and spontaneous antics of my husband that derail my serene timetable every time. This usually involves some sort of indoor water-balloon tournament long past bedtime hours. Like a moth to a flame, our 6-year-old is drawn to his dad's playfulness, which makes my job trying to keep this family on task as impossible as it is asking the mom of a toddler to sit down for a second.
Because our parenting philosophies don't mesh, conflict occurs between us. I don't feel heard over all the loud playing going on, and this triggers a deep irritation within me. I turn into a cranky taskmaster trying to keep our agenda met. I begin to resent my role as a constant grinch. I don't like giving out stern reminders, and that's when I can feel the tension settle in my stomach. I feel totally unappreciated. Why am I the only one who cares about the little things like eating, sleeping, and personal hygiene?
At least this was what I believed until we all started isolating together. "Everyone's job is important, we all help in different ways," Daniel Tiger says. I had no idea how accurate this statement was until I truly watched my kid's father take on playtime like a boss. Since my family and I have been social distancing together, my husband's fun is exactly what my only child needs. I can see now that our kid desperately needs the stability and joy that playtime gives him way more than he needs bedtimes and bath times. (Well, he still needs bath times.)
For the longest time, I believed my style to be the best. It created a harmony that kept us all in tune, and I saw my husband's style as an impediment to that synchronicity. Now I see that these two methods are a complement to the other. I'd taken away the value my husband's playful attitude brings to our child, and that wasn't fair of me. Daniel Tiger would be so disappointed.
Being a parent with my husband during isolation taught me all about the fun that's waiting to be had when we go out and create it. Once all this distancing becomes a distant memory, I'm not going back to my old hardcore taskmaster ways. Daniel Tiger says to keep trying until I get better, and this is why I'm going to add fun to my bag of parenting tricks. With my husband taking the lead, my kid is learning to connect through imaginative play in a time when connection is scary for him. My husband's play is keeping my kid's heart open — and for this gift, I'm thankful to the man I married.