It seems as though everything regarding your children needs your signature. You need to sign their homework, their behavior chart and their agenda for the day. If you want to go into the school, you need to sign in and sign out. To pick them up from daycare you need to sign them in and sign them out, both on the computer and on a piece of old fashioned paper. Birthday parties that involve bouncing, or any other chance of injury, require a permission slip. Play a sport? You, and your child, must sign a good sportsmanship agreement. Sign here, sign there, sign everywhere. It’s a wonder that going over to a friend’s house or a slumber party does not require a credit and background check.
But it’s all good, right? I make light of the situation, but we want our kids to be safe. We entrust them to other individuals for a period of time and we want to make sure that those individuals take our children’s lives as seriously as we do (and in my experience those I have entrusted have gone above and beyond to care for my children).
Not only do we give permission to others as it relates to our children, but we are also responsible for what our children do. We give our children permission for screen time, for dessert, for anything that is considered a “treat” or out of the norm. When they get older, permission revolves around time with friends, driving and curfew (aaahhh!).
Permission is part of being a parent – it’s what we do.
Now here we are at a fork in the story and we can go one of two ways with this. Road number one, we can talk about permission, kids, and raising them to make the right choices. Instilling in them values during this time of being able to grant “permission” so that when they are faced with a decision to make on their own they are grounded in right and wrong. But that is not the road we are going to travel in today’s blog. No my parent friends, we’re going to go the opposite way. We’re going to talk about how easy it is for us to dole out permission (or not) for our kids without a blink of an eye, but when it comes to granting ourselves permission we go into lock down mode.
Did I lose you? Is this a foreign concept to you? Granting permission to myself…..whuuuuhhhh? When was the last time you came in from a long day, sat down and did nothing before starting dinner/homework/dishes? When was the last time you left the drama at the office because you knew that you didn’t want it to influence your mood for the rest of the night? When was the last time you signed a permission slip for yourself? To do something that you wanted to do? That was more than going to Target or the grocery store?
New York Times Best Selling author Brene’ Brown tells a story about the first time she sat down with Oprah Winfrey to film an episode of Super Soul Sunday. Brene’ Brown is a researcher and professor and carries with her the responsibility of academia with her. Before arriving to the show, Brene’ explained that she sat down and physically wrote herself a permission slip to be in the emotion of the moment while filming the show. She gave herself permission to show her true self and as a result connected with Oprah at such an authentic level that not only was she invited back to do a second show, but she also met Maya Angelou (whom she had been quoting in her classes for years).
Why is it so hard for us to write a permission slip for ourselves? Why do we feel guilty if we are not the one watching our child? Why can’t we sit and do nothing or acknowledge that we need quiet time by ourselves? Why is it that we struggle to write a permission slip to go get a mani/pedi or have a glass of wine with an old friend? Or gawd forbid we make the time to take care of ourselves by exercising our body, making a healthy meal or getting the sleep our bodies crave. We think that we are too busy or that we don’t have the time. Is it that, or is it the guilt that is somehow associated with all of these things? What if we wrote ourselves our own permission slip, signed ourselves out, and took the time we so desperately need to refresh and reset so that we can be the best parent/spouse/co-worker/family member/friend that we can be?
Journal on this: Write a permission slip for yourself right now that you have to execute in the next twenty-four hours. What’s holding you back? Write it all out and make it happen.
p.s. Why do you think I know so much about this? Because I lived it. Because I was once a mom that didn’t give myself permission to do anything outside of family, work and home. I get it, I’ve been there and when you are there you feel like you are the only person who is feeling this way. Don’t waste another day denying yourself permission. Call me, PM me, email me, I can help you help yourself.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.