I’m on a rant. I’ll admit it. Here in Ontario, Canada, our provincial government has just brought in new sex education curriculum. Ontario sex curriculum hasn’t been changed since 1999. Before cell phones, ‘sexting’ and google. It’s a whole new game.
So how do we as parents provide great sexual health education (and we need to – knowledge is power!)? Can parents support teachers to guarantee all kids in our neighbourhoods get the same “talk”? Having a good standard education curriculum means that teachers can provide context, researched answers and support to students struggling with gender identity, body image, substance misuse, or at-risk sexual behaviour. All good things, say I.
So How Do We Do It? Without making it AWKWARD?
- We can avoid the BIG talk by having lots of little talks. While the kid is relaxing in a bath. When we are on a long car drive. In the grocery store. In the forest listening to chickadees call out for “friends”.
- We can start with the basics. There is great benefit in having simple scientific names for our body parts. It means we count all our body parts as significant and lovely (not ignored): knees, noses and testicles. If something hurts or someone hurts us, we have the words to describe the experience.
- Curiosity is wonderful. Questioning and a love of learning can take us a long way in this life. We can learn together. By answering questions we let our children know we want to have these conversations. We want to be the person they go to for answers. (Also it’s good for them to know grownups don’t have all answers all the time.)
- We can create spaces for gender fluid and understandings of gender diversity. As soon as my child started kindergarten, gender norms became a constant conversation: “Boys can wear dresses”,“ Some boys have vaginas.” We need to acknowledge difference and teach allyship. Allie’s best friend corrects other kids who use the wrong pronoun. I love this little activist.
- It’s okay to feel uncomfortable talking about SEX. As children, we probably didn’t get adequate sex education. We can acknowledge this with our kids. And we can do better.
Let’s actively set the bar low. Let’s take the pressure off crafting and scheduling and having clean houses. Let’s just play and be spontaneous and not feel bad when we do less because we’re tired or having a bad day. I won’t make you feel bad about it. And you won’t make me feel bad about it. Deal?
Then there are the little voices in our heads. Let’s shut them up with a good massage or a trashy novel. I give you permission.
As I’m sitting down to write this, I’m pondering a nap. My child is home sick with the flu but after an active morning (bouncing and jumping and happy to be home all day), they’ve passed out on the couch in a spontaneous flu body crash.
The ultimate busy parent question: Do I now nap? Or do I fall prey to the “dirty laundry, night school homework, filing and starting my taxes” list in my head? So I’m writing my blog. I should nap.
So here’s what I’m proposing. There are not enough hours in the day. We’re all feeling badly about not being “super mom”. I’m not going to feel bad about it anymore. If my kid is alive and fed and relatively happy by the end of the day, check mark for me. Next time someone tells me “You are amazing”, or “I don’t know how you do it, being a single mom”, I’m going to take the compliment (grudgingly) but don’t you dare compare yourself to me. My bar is set low. And I’m going to let my “anti-super-mom” flag fly.
Top Six Tips for the Anti-Super-Mom (aka Realistic Expectation Parent)
- Thinking about the dirty laundry? Check the back of the drawer for that last pair of clean pants. Or put the laundry in the machine (the tidy effect), but don’t turn it on.
- Can’t decide if you should grocery shop or wash the floor? Go for a pedicure. It’s a good deal for approximately $25 and you get to sit in a massage chair for an hour.
- Burnt out on cooking dinner? I always double proportions and throw some in the freezer. Options!
- Having a bad day? Feeling exhausted? Turn off the phone and go to bed with your kid in the early evening. Nothing like a 10 hour sleep to give some perspective. It’s not too bad!
- You and the kids are out of sync? Too much difficult behaviour and too many petty quarrels? Crank up some music and have a dance party. Everyone gets to burn off steam and be silly together. Music makes everything better.
- Don’t know what activities a super-mom would have prepared? Don’t prepare! Go outside! A walk down the street leads to all kind of adventures. You can meet some neighbours together, find an old wasp nest, pet a dog, build a snow fort/twig fort. No prep work required!
Update: Now Allie is watching TV and blowing their nose. I just took frozen leftovers out of the freezer and made more coffee. Everyone is good. Below is my messy corner. Boxes of things to be filed, sorted, sent to the second hand store. Honestly I never get to it. But it’s in the corner. I rarely look at it. I will not be shamed. Neither should you if you have one too.