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Rules tend to be such an integral part of every parent’s day that we institute and insist on them almost intuitively. We spend each day—every day—explaining and repeating to our children how they need to act.

We learned these rules as children and we, in turn, teach them to our children. We are pleased when they follow them and quick to correct them when they break them.

The question is, do we as parents abide by the same rules we expect our children to follow? Or along the way, have many of us forgotten the rules we have on repeat?

The other day I heard a mother say to her little girl, “Slow down!” I smiled. I say it to my boys a hundred times a day. Then my smile quickly slipped when I thought how I constantly tell them to, “Hurry up.” Nudging my little one through the door to make it to his classroom on time, I wondered when was the last time I slowed down.

So, for all of us parents who recite the rules but don’t always remember to follow them, here are six to keep in mind.

Slow Down—When our children run, we tell them to slow down because we don’t want them to miss seeing something, trip, and get hurt. It’s the same for us when we speed too quickly through life—we miss the small important moments, get tripped up on what’s not important, and eventually hurt from what we’ve overlooked. Slow down. Hug them. Listen to them. Enjoy them.

Worry About You—After listening to my son bemoan that I wouldn’t let him climb up the slide like his friend, I responded with the mother’s mantra, “Worry about you.” We have all said it, but do we do it? Or do we also compare, compete, and complain when we don’t have what a friend has? Instead of constantly evaluating how we measure up, perhaps we also occasionally need to hear the words, “Worry about you.”

Be Appreciative—We tell our children all the time to be grateful for what they have, especially in the middle of one of their “I WANT IT” meltdowns. But how many times do we take for granted our own blessings, especially the little ones at our feet and in our laps? Yes, we may want the hot bath and long nap, but we are lucky to have our kiddos. Be appreciative.

Sit And Eat—Since the time they can sit up at the table, we remind our children to sit and eat. After all, it’s good table manners as well as the best way to digest and enjoy your food. Yet, we mothers eat in the car, at the counter, or while feeding a baby. So, here’s your reminder—sit and eat.

Go Play—Playing is actually a rule in our house, and it’s an important one. Kids need to use their imaginations, run, skip, and create. Active play reenergizes, teaches and inspires not only our little ones but also us. So, put down your pen, put away your broom, and go play.

Go To Bed—This is the most commonly disobeyed rule by children and parents. We often marvel why our kids fight bedtime even when they are sleepy-eyed, yawning, and having a mini-meltdown. Yet, we will do one more load of laundry, scan social media (again), or watch thirty more minutes of TV when our minds and bodies are in desperate need of sleep. So next time you yawn, and feel your eyes drooping—go to bed.

Remember, we take care of them by taking care of ourselves. And we teach them best by doing what is best. So, although it isn’t always easy try to follow the rules you recite. It will not only make better kiddos but also a better you.

Sherry Parnell

A full-time writer, personal trainer, and professor, I am the author of Let the Willows Weep and Daughter of the Mountain. An alumnus of Dickinson College and West Chester University, I live with my husband and sons in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania. I am currently working on my third novel entitled The Secrets Mother Told.

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