Rules schmules.


I’m a rule follower.

As a child, I only ever got in trouble at school for talking too much (go figure.) – unless you count that one Saturday school my sophomore year for too many tardies (again. go figure.). I’ve been known to make the extremely persuasive argument, “Rules are there for a reason!” way too many times to count.

And if I see you walking in the out door at the grocery store, well, you can bet my friendly Midwestern passing-a-stranger smile will dim a bit. (A bit. Because while I’m a rule follower, I also have manners, okay? Which…big surprise, given that manners are pretty much rules for being polite. Consistency, people: I have it.)

But these days I feel like all I do is break rules. (Not at the grocery store entrance. I am civilized, thank you very much.)

Never wake a sleeping baby.
Don’t let your baby sleep too much during the day.
You can’t sleep train a newborn.
Start sleep training now.

Breast is best.
Formula is fine.
As long as you feed your baby, who the heck cares?

Keep lights dim at night and avoid interacting with her.
Babies don’t care about lights.
Why on earth wouldn’t you interact with your baby?

Sleep when the baby sleeps.
Trim her fingernails when she sleeps.
No abdominal exercises for six weeks.

Okay, well, let’s be real. That last one I can handle – and then some. Though the sight of my post-baby belly makes me cringe (or cry, depending on the level of still-surging hormones I’ve got going on at the time), this lady is not counting down the days until I can break out an Abs of Steel video.

But the rest of it? Yikes. If there is one thing new motherhood has reminded me, it’s that there are simply no rules for some things – and motherhood is one of them.

We try so hard to box ourselves in with rules and checklists and 15 Ways to Be the Perfect Mother, don’t we? And if it’s not motherhood we’re trying to define with parameters and deadlines and expectations out the wazoo, it’s marriage or career paths or self-improvement or jeans size.

It’s as if, by giving ourselves rules to follow, we believe we can control things just a bit more. As if we can rule-follow our way into knowing what we’re doing, into accepting ourselves, into loving our lives as they are.


I really like rules. They help me figure out what to do and, when I follow them, prove that I’m doing the right thing, that I’m on track, that I’m good and smart and doggone it…

But rules don’t really help when life flies off the rails into uncharted or un-rule-able territory. (See what I did there? I made up a new word. THAT is not following the rules, now, is it?!)

Rules might make me feel good when it comes to being a grammar queen or grocery store protocol stickler, but when facing a four-week-old who refuses to sleep between 9pm and 2am? Or a niece with cancer? Or a job that’s been terminated? Or a house that’s flooded? Or a million other things THAT JUST HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE?

Well, then I say, RULES SCHMULES. And if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to wake up my baby, feed her a bottle of formula (gasp!) and hope it makes her sleep tonight.

What rules need to be broken in your life?

{Photo by Biking Nikon SFO}

8 Comments Rules schmules.

  1. February 13, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    I like rules, too – I like to know what to expect. My husband is notorious for going in the out door or out the in door. When he does it when he’s with me, I want to go through the right door without him. It just feels SO wrong.

    But I am willing to break the rules if need be. And I do often.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect February 23, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      Yes, Patty, that’s it! Rules help us know what to expect! (Which, for ME feeds into my controlling tendencies because I think if I know what to expect, I can control things a bit…)

  2. Sarah February 13, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I love the tagline of the Ask Moxie blog — you are the best parent for your child. There are rules, but they’re YOUR rules, that work for YOUR family, not some external rules that other people try to put on you based on their children, their experiences, or what they wished they had been. Right now, I’m breaking my rule that dinner needs to be a home-cooked, includes all the food groups, etc — with a picky preschooler and a baby, and a husband that works late/some nights, I’m doing good if I can just get my son to eat ANYTHING.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect February 23, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      A season of eating anything never killed anyone, I say! And YES to being the best parent for our children – I love that, too!

  3. Jessica February 14, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    I’m a rule follower too- which makes it so, so hard when things just don’t go as planned. The rule I’m struggling with most right now is the “kids shouldn’t have more than X hours of screen time each day.” (I say “X” because I don’t even know the current recommendation- 2 hours??) My almost 5-year-old watches way too much tv and plays way too many video games, but sometimes when I have to deal with the baby I need to know he’s occupied. I choose screen time over taking the chance that he’ll flood the bathroom or pull every piece of clothing out of his drawers or God only know what random thing he’ll come up with. Rules schmules indeed!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect February 23, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      We are definitely struggling with screen time limits here, too! Annalyn had a major meltdown today when I wouldn’t let her do anything with a screen – even after I reminded her of the TONS of other fun things she could do. We’ve gotten so reliant on TV and Kindle Fire that we’ve both forgotten how to do anything else!

  4. Betsy February 17, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Oh I’ve missed your posts, Mary! I agree with you that somehow four week old babies don’t go by any rules. We definitely can’t box THEM in!

    Rules to break for me right now? That my house needs to be clean and uncluttered and that meals need to be balanced. I’ll have to break these rules because my husband just left for a two week trip.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect February 23, 2014 at 8:48 pm

      Thanks, Betsy! I’ve missed writing and chatting with all my reader-friends!! Are you hanging in there while your husband is out of town?

Comments are closed.