As parents, we are our own worst critics. Every one of us feels as though we should be doing more, doing things better, spending more quality time with our kids, teaching them more life lessons.  With all this, we feel we should also spend time on ourselves, maintain our own identity, and cultivate our passions.

Being a parent is hard.

The one thing I’ve learned through parenting my own two kids is that it’s okay to be a little less than stellar on occasion. You must accept that you are human; you will make mistakes – everyone does. The key is to learn from these mistakes and then move on.

As parents we should give ourselves permission to:

1. Let our kids be kids.

They really and truly grow up too fast. While it’s important to teach good manners, respect and kindness, a day full of rules and regulations really isn’t any fun. Relax a bit and focus on what really matters. Let them experiment, make mistakes, and play the way they want to.  Relinquish control and let them be kids.

2. Leave a mess.

It’s really okay to leave a bit of a mess, with toys strewn about the place and  the beds unmade. If you’re a stay at home parent, this can be a bit tougher because you may consider this part of your job description. If you’re having a particularly tough day, aren’t feeling well, or just want can’t spend every single second with your little ones, it’s okay. Give yourself permission to leave the mess and clutter and just relax.

3. Ask for help.

It’s okay to ask relatives to watch the kids for an afternoon or for a day on the weekend if you need a break. Ask your mom, sister or friend to come with you for doctors’ appointments so they can watch the kids in the waiting room. Your family will no doubt be thrilled to spend time with your little ones, and the kids will love having someone new to talk to or play with.

4. Hire a babysitter.

This is a tough idea to wrap your head around, especially if you’re a stay at home parent. But it is okay to occasionally hire help. I don’t need to remind you how much quicker and easier it is to get stuff done without the little ones in tow. Use these several hours to run errands, focus on a hobby, or search for part-time work. Whatever it is you need to do, it’s okay to do it without your kids.

5. Sleep in.

Photo by Ali Edwards

Although I’m a huge fan of waking early to get myself ready for the day, I really enjoy the times I allow myself to just sleep in. Not everything has to be taken care of, set up or ready to go each and everyday before the kids get up. Being well rested can make the whole day a lot more enjoyable. You’ll likely have more energy, more tolerance and patience.

6. Let our kids play by themselves.

I hear so many parents say they feel bad about letting their kids play by themselves, but it’s okay. Actually, I think it’s a good thing for kids to play by themselves. When my kids play without me, I see them trying to figure things out for themselves. They do things in a way that I wouldn’t have thought to do myself. They aren’t constrained by my “rules” or my way of playing. They test things out and are perhaps a little more adventurous than they would be otherwise.

A lot of the things we do as parents are done with the best of intentions. We want to do the best we can to set our children up to succeed and thrive in life. We are so often too hard on ourselves — we really do need to give ourselves permission to release some of our self-imposed rules.

What will you give yourself permission to do as a parent?