Playing the Parenting Game


My husband is a college golf coach. During the season he has a crazy busy schedule. His team only spends about 30 days out of the entire year competing in tournament play but the remaining 300+ are spent preparing for those 30.

Working out.
Modifying equipment.
Team building.

The 30 days are important because that’s when results matters, but it’s the other 300+ that actually determine what those results will be.

Sometimes I wish it were that way with parenting. I wish there were only certain days of the year that really counted and all the other days were reserved for preparation. But, the truth is, when it comes to having kids every day counts. And preparation is still important.

Let’s be honest – some days I am more prepared than others. I remember a day a couple of years ago when we had been out of town for several days and I was running on much less than my preferred 7 hours of nightly sleep. I found myself falling into bed at midnight after a 16 hour day. When my head hit the pillow I knew there were still piles of laundry in my closet, dirty dishes soaking in the sink, a sparse selection of food in my refrigerator, and no organized play space for my kids to step into the next morning. In other words – my house was a wreck and my mental state was headed in the same direction.

To make matters worse, I knew I needed as much sleep as possible so my usual 5:30am alarm would have to be silenced. Oh, what a tough trade-off. It’s tough for me to trade in the early morning time of preparing my heart and mind for the day in exchange for extra rest. I really hate to make that swap but you have to know when your body has physically reached its limit.

Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling particularly prepared when my little people opened their eyes to begin their day.

The morning wound up looking a lot like this…

and my bed looked a lot like this…

I tried my best to hold things together but it was a rough morning. The kids watched a little too much T.V. while I tried to tidy up and make breakfast. My brilliant plan of leaving the trashed house behind majorly back-fired when both kids had meltdowns over who was sitting where in the car and I had to follow-up on my threat to ditch the park and send them to their room for not obeying me. (Don’t you hate it when you promise consequences that are actually a punishment for you too!?)

I slipped back into my old terrible habit of yelling. Ugh – I cringe. I only did it once out loud but a dozen times more in my head.

After taking a few moments to compose myself a lightbulb went off and I realized the one thing I didn’t seem to have time for was exactly what we needed. I declared it time to head to the back yard and play.

It’s true, as a mom I don’t have hundreds of days of the year to prepare for the handful of times that will really count for my kids. I have to make every day count whether I’m prepared or not. That’s the bad news.

The good news is this – the only person keeping score is me. And I’ve really got to stop that. We are all on the same team and the only competition I truly face is my own unrealistic expectations of myself. Come on, I know you’ve got them too. Goodness. When will we learn to give ourselves a break?!

I didn’t need a clean house, an elaborate homeschool lesson and 30 perfect minutes of quiet time to win that day.

Sometimes you are more prepared than you think you are.

Sometimes you have to leave behind the mess and the unrealistic expectations.

Sometimes running and laughing and kicking balls and rolling in the grass are all you need to turn a bad round
into a good one.

Sometimes parenting is a game that you just need to get out there and play.

Elizabeth Maxon on FacebookElizabeth Maxon on Instagram
Elizabeth Maxon
Elizabeth Maxon is wife to Joey and homeschooling/working mama to Lucy & Oliver.  She lives on the edge of the woods in her hometown of Clemson – which also happens to be her favorite place on earth.   She can routinely be found avoiding housework by reading books, writing stories, tending to her garden, and gathering friends and family.  She is the author of Onederland: A Mother’s Story of Finding Hope in Hard Places and begin - a crash course in spiritual disciplines.  Find her @elizabethmaxon or

Comments are closed.