I scratch my daughter’s back.

I read to her.

I lay on her floor until she falls asleep and then I tiptoe over to the door and quietly try to turn her doorknob, so it doesn’t create that sqeeeeeeeak sound when I make my exit.

If she hears me, if the doorknob decides to clink despite my efforts, she yanks herself up and out of sleep and PANICS. Where are you going? I can’t sleep? Why aren’t I asleep? Don’t leave!

I’m hoping this is a phase. I tell myself it’s temporary, but she has developed sleep-stress and it’s exhausting for me, for my husband, and most importantly, for her.

Because, she thinks, if I’m tired, I won’t feel good tomorrow.

If I’m tired, I won’t perform well in school.

If I’m tired, the teachers will get mad at me for losing focus in class.

If I’m tired, I won’t have the energy to play with my friends.

She’s seven and already, the weight of the world and all its expectations are on her.

The part that worries me is her workload only goes up from here. Soon, there will be book reports, group projects, quizzes, standardized tests, and “read these 60 pages from your book by tomorrow.”

She’s only seven and she’s already feeling pressured to play an instrument, join a sports team, and learn a second language.

She’s only seven and she’s trying to navigate complicated peer relationships and adapt to different audience expectations.

She’s only seven and her body is telling her it’s too much.

My husband and I talked late into the night wondering how to help our child manage all the stuff that keeps piling on her.

How do we raise a kid in the 21st century and protect her from some of these 21st-century expectations?

While neither of us is an expert on handling childhood stress, we put a plan together and that is . . . 


WE ARE DONE forcing her to spend an hour on homework after spending the previous seven hours in a classroom.

WE ARE DONE letting a state-mandated standardized test stress her out. In fact, we will gladly let her skip school that day if necessary.

WE ARE DONE making her participate in after school activities if she doesn’t want to.

WE ARE DONE forcing her to do more than she is capable of. Her mental health comes first. Her happiness comes first. She comes first.

ALL of our children, yours and mine, come first.

At some point, as parents, we need to say enough is enough.

Enough homework, enough testing, enough pressure to be perfect, enough forcing them to have the achievements of adults when they are, in fact, still children.

There is no achievement in the world that is worth sacrificing our kids’ health.

Absolutely none.


Originally published on Mommy Owl by Lauren Lodder

Lauren Lodder

Lauren Lodder earned her BA from UC Berkeley and her MA from CSUF. Before becoming a freelance writer, she taught writing and literature classes at the college level. Her work has appeared on HuffPost, Scary Mommy, BuzzFeed, Grown and Flown, among others.