#MomLife: Pick your battles

My son and I got into an argument Tuesday morning because he wanted to wear the same pants that he wore all weekend. I insisted he change his clothes, and he insisted the various pairs of pants I presented were not good enough. One pair was too short, one pair was too big, one pair wasn’t the right color, and the last pair were too shiny. 

Yes, you read that correctly, too shiny. 

After about 20 minutes of back and forth he happily got into the car wearing the same pants he had worn all weekend. So did I lose that argument? Nope, I chose to pick my battles. 

When you have children no one tells you that you will be fighting with a tiny version of yourself everyday over trivial things that are much more important to them than they are to you. No one warns you that pants can and will be too shiny one day, and perfectly acceptable the next. No one shows you the right way to hand a toddler a snack or that there is in fact a wrong way. So here I am warning you, and telling you that it is OK to pick your battles. 

Picking your battles doesn’t mean you are giving into your child’s wants or that you are spoiling them. It means you don’t have the energy to deal with the argument, so you make the conscious decision to let it go and move on. With my son, who has Sensory Processing Disorder on top of Autism, it means I have to carefully assess every situation, and decide what is best for the both of us. At times that means I have to let him wear the same pants three days in a row. I don’t have to like it, but I accept it. 

There will be moments where the stress of the situation becomes unbearable. That is the moment when you have to decide if it’s really important. I’m not suggesting you become a person who gives into everything, I’m just saying not every argument is worth crying over. I’m certainly not a perfect parent. I’m a mess and I’m not afraid to admit it. But I do know when it is time to say no, and when it is time to say yes. 

I have to look at the situation closely and ask myself, “Can this be solved quickly before it turns into a meltdown?” If I’m in public, I have to ask myself if the meltdown is worth the fight or if we can solve the problem to avoid it. Ninety percent of the time I can fix the situation by merely suggesting a solution, but the other 10 percent is when things get dicey. That’s when I have to really analyze things, and decide if I’m going to be the one who gives in or if I’m going to stick it out until one of us comes out on top. 

I am by no means an expert on picking your battles. But I do have 13 years of parenting experience to fall back on and I’ll tell you what, I have lost more than I have won. But my children are alive and happy and healthy, and I haven’t lost all of my hair yet. 

Picking your battles allows you to get your child’s attention. It shows them not every argument is worth fighting over. Some things are just not that important. When you are overwhelmed with stress over an argument with your child just remember to access the situation, and pick your battles. I promise you that everything will be OK if you decide to ignore this one.

Steph Hightree is a hot mess mom who is fueled by stress and too much caffeine. She is a Three Rivers native who talks about the good, the bad, and well, everything else about parenthood.

Any views or opinions expressed in “#MomLife” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Watershed Voice staff or its board of directors.