Lazy Parenting 101

Someone asked me what my plans for Holy Week and Easter weekend were. I started rambling about how my husband will be working 12-hour days, so I’ll be heading to my parents’ house since taking all the kids to Mass solo is nearly as brutal as The Hunger Games Trilogy. Oh, and I love being with my extended family as well.

“My 2-year-old does okay at Mass if the baby’s not attached to me but when I’m holding him, she immediately wants to be held, too. Then she starts asking to nurse – loudly,” I said.

“So are you tandem nursing?” this fellow mom asked.

Thinking this mom, whom I don’t know all that well, might either start to categorize me as a weirdo for nursing an almost 3-year-old or might be getting ready to canonize me as Saint Mommy, I quickly explained, “Yes, but it’s just because I’m a lazy mom, and all this nursing helps with spacing my babies.”

“I completely understand!” she exclaimed.

We went on to discuss how neither one of us ever planned to follow a set of rules for parenting or to subscribe to expert So-and-So’s mothering ideology. Instead, we wanted to pave a parenting path that worked the best for ourselves, our husbands, our children, and our family as a whole.

For me, this means taking the easy route and doing things like nursing my children for a long time (because natural weaning is a whole lot easier than parent-led weaning in my experience), sleeping close to my babies (and oftentimes my older children as well), and tucking kiddos into Ergos when puttering around the house or when on-the-go.

This style of parenting may intimidate some people. I don’t know why because the truth is I really just practice lazy parenting.

Allow me to explain.

My 90-year-old nana has recently been asking me when I was going to start solids with Thomas. The boy has clearly not missed too many meals, so it’s not that she was concerned about malnutrition. She just thought he might sleep for longer stretches if he was getting some more food in his belly (something that has never proven to be true for my babies; they don’t start sleeping through the night until they’re ready. It doesn’t matter how much food-food they’re gobbling up).

“To be honest,” I confessed. “I hate starting solids. That means I have more messes to clean up, and I’ll have to sit down and feed him instead of just nursing him whenever and wherever.”

See? Lazy parenting!

Now I have started to put him in the high chair during dinnertime, so I don’t have to hold him and have him knock my plate onto the floor when he spasmodically decides to grab something that looks new and fun (and everything looks new and fun to him these days).

I often give him some slices of homemade whole wheat bread that are slightly frozen to gnaw on. Even the bread is made the lazy way with this excellent bread machine and recipes from The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook: A Master Baker’s 300 Favorite Recipes for Perfect-Every-Time Bread-From Every Kind of Machine.

At 7 months, Thomas is very happy with his new mealtime  experience. I’m dreading having to start feeding him all three meals. Ugh. The mess! The time! I was so lazy with Mary Elizabeth (my third child) that I didn’t give her one nibble of solid food until close to 10 months.

Before I champion lazy parenting any further, I have to stress that one area of parenting that demands more work than laziness is discipline. It is not beneficial to mama or anyone to resort to yelling or coercive discipline in order to get kids to do what we want them to do right this very minute. Yelling is a not-so-nice form of lazy parenting.  It’s not effective either – at least not in the long-run. (I speak from personal experience, I’m afraid.)

Yes, it’s emotionally exhausting (and sometimes physically exhausting – and dangerous, too; be careful to not get kicked in the tummy) to calmly wrap your arms around an explosive child with flailing limbs. It takes effort to notice and encourage good behavior and to be less coercive and to use positive approaches rather than empty threats. It’s tough to be consistent and to let your child deal with the natural consequences of not listening when you asked her to put her soccer jersey in the hamper and she forgot so now she has to be smelly and dirty, and you worry her jersey’s tainted state will be a poor reflection of you when, in reality, it’s a reflection that you’re sticking to your guns and imparting a valuable lesson about obedience.

So, yes, discipline is one area where I strive to stop being a lazy parent. Being gentle but firm and consistent zaps a lot of Mama’s limited stores of energy, but it’s well, well worth it.

Losing control more often than you’d like? I understand. Really. I had a nasty case of postpartum depression after baby number 3. It was not a glittery gold time in my life. Praying, humbling myself and asking for help, as well as reading She’s Gonna Blow!: Real Help for Moms Dealing with Anger helped a lot. I’m a big fan of this parenting blog as well. Good stuff.

Now what about the family bed? Is it always the picture of calm and beautiful bedtime bliss? No way. Sometimes there’s a pinkie toe dangerously close to entering my nostril. Sometimes there’s a snoring 2-year-old. Now I do find baby Thomas irresistible to snuggle with, but I also can’t imagine having to stumble out of bed three or four times each night to nurse him. Instead, we cuddle close and when he squawks, I roll over and pop in a breast. Easy peasy.

But what about that big girl who still nurses? Well, a few months ago when she was asking on the hour to nurse, I decided it was time to gently wean. She didn’t end up completely weaning though, but she now only asks to nurse once or twice during the day and then she wants to nurse at bedtime. It is so stinkin’ easy to get her to bed now. She gets so excited about “mama’s milk” and cuddle time with me that she sometimes asks to go to bed starting at around 6:30 p.m. She nurses for 10 minutes at the most and passes out, and I’ve successfully taught her that she’s not allowed to ask for mama’s milk during the night because the 24/7 diner that is me needs to make sure it has enough liquid gold for baby brother who can’t eat yummy stuff like ice cream.

She still says my milk tastes like a “tandy bar,” and she’s just so sweet during our bedtime routine. I’m not ready to let it go because I love how she snuggles. However, I also love how easy it is to get a very stubborn child to bed. Lazy parenting, once again, my friends.

As for toting kids around in the Ergo, well, why should I try to spend all that time rocking sweet Thomas to sleep when tucking him in a carrier close to me is equivalent to giving him Ambien? Wearing him as an accessory knocks the litte guy out. He’s close to mama. He smells mama. He feels mama. Life is good. No sense fighting sleep.

Oh, and why do I insist on bringing my baby everywhere even to out-of-town conferences, even on a beach trip to celebrate my husband and my 10th wedding anniversary? Well, I do enjoy my little man’s company quite a lot (like his daddy, he’s a very easy-going guy, and I find him quite fetching as well), but I also can’t imagine the grueling work of pumping pints of breastmilk. It’s much easier to give it to him straight from the source.

I shouldn’t even have to mention the obscene indolence of choosing to regularly nap with my baby and/or toddler. It’s not for my precious children, folks. It’s a good excuse for me to zone out and put the laundry on hold. I used to be horrible at “sleeping when the baby sleeps,” but I’m getting lazier with each child. Bring on the naps! Nirvana.

Wait a minute. How about natural childbirth? That doesn’t sound like lazy parenting. That sounds like masochism.

Nope. I’ve been blessed to give birth naturally four times now. I know this is not possible or the ideal for every mom out there, but for me it means shorter labor and less problems breastfeeding. Non-medicated births are often shorter than average, and there’s some research showing that babies born naturally have less challenges latching on.

***Don’t you dare feel guilty if you opted for an epidural and/or if you had a natural childbirth and still had a marathon labor and a newborn who initially had no interest in nursing. The point of this post it to make people laugh and to avoid putting moms who might practice extended breastfeeding or pop out wee ones sans medical interventions on a pedestal. Let’s not take ourselves so seriously, mamas. Laugh a little. Be lazy! Be happy!***

I realize this style of parenting may not be for everyone. Some of you are probably far more motivated than I am to scrape off high chair crust. More power to you. But I just love my lazy parenting. Best of all, my children seem pretty pleased with it, too.

*Are you a lazy parent like I am? Share your most favorite lazy parenting tip.


Enter the Conversation...

28 Responses to “Lazy Parenting 101”
  1. Kate says:

    Me! Me! My favorite bit of lazy parenting advice is that (as I see you’ve already got figured out) babies don’t need storebought cereal, purees, or complicated schedules when it comes time for solid food. There are a couple of things that make sense to wait to introduce (nuts, for example), and you have to keep an eye on your munchkin while they nom in case they get more in their mouth than they can handle, but most babies do fine with soft foods and little bits of whatever you are eating at the moment, even before they have teeth. That gag reflex that makes them spit everything out down their chin when you shove an over loaded spoon in? Natural protection against choking. And it is so much easier when you don’t have to stock or serve a different food for baby than the rest of the family is eating.

    I was delighted when I found out there’s actually a name for this – Baby Led Weaning or Baby Led Solids.

  2. Amber says:

    Amen, sister!!

    I type this one my iPad while wearing my sleeping 6 mo old in an ergo with a napkin draped over his head just in case I drip my lunch of chicken rice soup. :-)

  3. OH. MY Goodness. I had to stop reading to jump down to comment (and I’ll read the rest of your post in a second!) but I also nursed way past 6 months (still nursing!) because of family planning and it was easier than all the mess and effort of sitting down and feeding my kids and CLEANING them. I also confess to giving my babies (when old enough to grab food), when I did finally use the high chair, easy to self feed foods so I did not have to sit there and spoon feed. I felt so guilty for these feelings till this moment. I’m not alone…and, when I see it from another perspective (your eyes) and know you are not a bad person – I know that I’m not a bad person! I may like the easy (lazy?) way…but I still am good…ha!

    ok…back to reading the above…I’m sure I’ll comment again! But, thank you for being so authentic!! Love it!

  4. Ok back – and YES – we co-sleep because I can just roll over and nurse instead of getting up! Popping in some “boob food” at night is so nice!

    And ha! I travel with my wee ones to avoid pumping too. I pumped and pumped when I was a working mother, and I got so sick of it. I applaud all those who pump!

    Oh – and I love when Gift jumps into bed to nurse in the morning, because with Lovely able to serve breakfast to her sister, I can stay in bed longer by nursing Gift and then letting him go off and play. I can snooze, read my Lenten book, etc. before finally facing the day. How lazy is THAT??!!! My 8 year old making breakfast on many weekdays?

    Loved this post! Thanks for the laughs and head nods in agreement/understanding! Love you dear friend!

  5. Kris says:

    My last 3 didn’t eat any solids until about 10 – 11 months (except the occasional cheerio or teddy graham) mostly because they weren’t terribly interested and I was too…… LAZY(!) to bother with baby food. Too messy, too expensive, etc., They went straight to table food. I also got rid of the highchair and just went for the booster seat you attach to a chair. Again, too lazy to clean the highchair. All of my children showered with me when they were toddlers. Too lazy to deal with a separate bathtime. I am also a firm believer in napping with the baby. Several children had “quiet time” well past the napping stage for themselves so Mommy could “rest with the baby”. Under penalty of severe and slowly painful torture if they made a peep! And I nursed well into their 2nd years. My boys were super active as toddlers, and lost interest in nursing before age 2, but only when they were ready.

  6. Miranda says:

    One of my dear friends stayed with us for about 5 days a short time ago. She (obviously) doesn’t have children yet and couldn’t understand why mine were clothed in only diapers and underwear most of the time. In truth, because I’m too lazy to do all of the laundry!! I’ve never looked at “laziness” in such a positive way before!! hahaha, thank you!!

  7. Christy says:

    My favorite lazy parenting tip is saying no when the kids ask me to play with them. Not all the time — I make sure to check in with each of them individually, and I spend a good deal of the day on the floor with Legos. But most of the time, my first answer is basically no, in the form of “Why don’t you ask [sibling] to play with you?” And as a result (or so I like to think) my kids are each other’s best friends and quite good at entertaining themselves.

  8. Erin A. says:

    I loved reading all these tips! I just had my first baby (almost 7 weeks old). What I have learned from all of you is that doing what works is more important than doing what “everyone” says you “should” do. I have gone through ups and downs and been hard on myself when what worked for my friends’ kids/parents/in-laws/in the books doesn’t seem to work for my little girl and I. I have to keep reminding myself that babies do not come with manuals. Thanks for the encouragement!

  9. Oh goodness. Nursing seems to have worked a little too well on the baby spacing front, so we are trying to at least cut back to just a couple times a day, and it is such a pain dealing with tantrums and bedtime and naptime without nursing (maybe bedtime should be the only time each day…hmmm). I realized I am pretty worthless at calming my son down without nursing him (my husband commented “it’s like a drug…and he’s addicted!”) And we moved him to his own bed and it is such a pain too. He doesn’t go to sleep well and he doesn’t stay asleep well. I get way less sleep now.

    Co-sleeping and nursing were so easy, I’m having trouble figuring out how to be a lazy parent to a “big kid” too :)

    I guess my lazy tip would be to cook whatever you want for dinner and serve an age-appropriate version for you kids (like when we make stir fry, we just give our son rice and meat and cheese and broccoli in a bowl and save the veggies that are choking hazards for ourselves, and if we eat something super spicy, like Cajun chicken last night, we leave some or all of the spices off of the toddler’s meal.)

  10. Andrea says:

    I haven’t done any sort of extended nursing, past 13 months at least. We always make it to a year, and then *I* start getting irritated, and we have to put an end to it. I wish I had the stamina to make it longer. OTOH, AMEN to every thing else you say here!
    I get great sleep, and my little man sleeps most of the night (I think) because I’m right there. Seriously, I don’t know how people sleep who don’t put baby in bed. There must be some amazing way someone figured out, but I haven’t got it! Either way, I like having him there. (I also have my first boy – he’s after 4 girls!)
    Anyway, I feel the same as you. I don’t feel like sleeping with the baby, wearing them in the Ergo, toting them along everywhere (I don’t have a pump. Can’t imagine when I’d use it?), waiting on solids, etc are heroic, it just makes my life SO much easier!
    I loved this post. :)

  11. Daria Sockey says:

    My lazy hint: Once you can’t avoid feeding the baby solids, there’s nothing like the ice scraper from your car for getting those dried up globs of food off the high chair.

  12. Oh Kate. Loved this post. No tips here. I can’t type much anyway single-handedly and I’m much too lazy to go put the baby down and risk her waking up. 😉

  13. Christy says:

    Haha-I’m definitely a lazy parent! When I try to explain to people who are anxious to feed their child solids by three months, or sleep through the night theres really nothing easier than saying I’m just lazy, I hate cleaning up their messes and sometimes feeding them at night gives me a more sleep-so sue me! I really don’t like introducing solids early, it seems like half my day gets sucked into feeding a baby and cleaning after a meal, so now I rely on baby-led solid food eating. When they show interest and want to feed themselves with their fingers the eating may begin! So far its worked great with my hungry, growing boys!

  14. Melanie says:

    Extended breastfeeding- check
    Co-sleeping- check
    Delay of solids- check
    Postpartum with #3- check
    Natural childbirth- check
    Baby wearing-check
    I could have written this post-although not as eloquently. Between our 4 kiddos I’ve nursed over 7 years and have co-slept the last 12. Lazy? Maybe, but everyone is happy and loved and very secure.
    You are right to embrace the style of parenting that works for you and yours. Wish someone would have given me that advice years ago when I acted like we didn’t sleep with our baby and of course didn’t ever mention that he was nursing as a toddler. Spread the word!

  15. Mary says:

    Oh, I am SO with you on the solids. It makes no sense for me to try to force solids into my babies and all three of them were at least nine months before really being interested. I have to hide a smile when I hear about mamas starting their four month olds on solids…oh, you don’t really want to do that, dear, because it gets old so quick!

    Ooh, my own lazy advice? Okay, sounds weird but CLOTH DIAPERS! Yes, in some ways they are more work but I NEVER have to worry about an extra thing on the grocery list, late night trips to the drugstore. When I’m low on diapers I stick em in the washer and press a button. For someone like me for whom any shopping is torture, this is economical and lazy :)

    And laundry? If it doesn’t smell or have visible stains, there is no way I’m washing it!

    Loved the post!

  16. Jennifer G. says:

    I wouldn’t call your parenting style “lazy”…..more like “loving”!!

  17. Melanie B says:

    Oh I’m a lazy mom too! Hooray for doing what works for you!

    After my Sophie had major food intolerances, I was in no rush to introduce Ben or Anthony to solid foods early. Anthony didn’t really have much in the way of solids until he was about 10 months and it wasn’t until he was about a year that he began to eat solids with any regularity. Then suddenly one day he was grabbing food off my plate at every meal and he just started to eat with the family. I did end up spoon feeding him a little bit at that point because he kind of had texture issues and I discovered that it was easier to get him to eat some foods if they were mashed with a fork and served on a spoon. Once he got to like the tastes then he started to be more enthusiastic about seeing some of them as finger foods, though he still likes soup the best.

    I went from thinking I *should* be co-sleeping with my first two and feeling guilty because I couldn’t get it to work to co-sleeping with my boys because it was totally the easiest thing I could do to maximize my sleep. Go figure.

    With Anthony I recently got to the point that I decided to night wean out of laziness because I was losing sleep in a really bad way. It was far easier to suffer through a few nights of angry screaming than to continue to nurse a restless toddler every few hours when I couldn’t go back to sleep while he was nursing and sometimes not afterward either.

  18. Katria says:

    When people ask me why I breastfeed for so long I tell them that it is because I am too lazy to wean. Sometimes I feel like I should go into all the benifits of extended nursing but really they are a bonus for this lazy mama! my other faorite thing is to let my babies/toddler hang out in their diaper when we are at home. They are both cute and it saves on laundry!!

  19. Colleen says:

    For me homeschooling is the natural extension of lazy parenting. People always want to go on and on and on about how they would never have the patience to be with their kids all day. In all honesty, I could never have the patience to have them up, dressed, fed and out of the door at the wee hours of the morning. to interrupt a baby’s nap to sit in car line, to forego afternoons outside in favor of homework, and to stick to the same schedule every. single. day. I am much too lazy. Math in our pajamas, spelling while sitting at the river looking at clouds, reading road signs in the car…much more style. Lazy parenting indeed.

    • Kate Wicker says:

      It’s so funny that you mention this because I have friends who send their kids to school who always marvel at how I’m able to homeschool with young children underfoot. I always tell them I don’t know how they manage to get everyone out of the door looking halfway decent while not resorting to barking orders like a drill sergeant. Whenever we do have somewhere to go in the morning, I always dread it because the day starts out so much rockier than when we are just staying home to do school. Another lazy mama point for me. :-)

  20. Sarah says:

    This made me laugh even though I do none of these things. I have a lot of friends who do.
    I had to stop breastfeeding because my post partum depression was so bad and the only thing that made it bearable was getting a full night’s sleep. Also, my child was tongue tied and I had very low supply due to a hormonal imbalance. So for me, breastfeeding would have been a heroic effort. One I was not willing or able to make.
    It’s funny because before my daughter was born, I was deeply devoted to breastfeeding, co-sleeping, etc. etc. etc. if Dr. Sears ever said it, I was doing it. HA! Then I had a baby who couldn’t nurse, breasts that made next to no milk (thanks PCOS) and a baby who wanted nothing to do with a sling after about 12 weeks old and who never slept well in bed with us. Oh yeah, and I had to have an induced labor and medication (though I was able to deliver vaginally, thankfully!).
    Oh well! You do what works for your family, though I totally agree about not being lazy when it comes to discipline. I need to read that anger book you mentioned. I get so angry it’s kind of scary sometimes. I think the hormones make it worse.

    Cute post!

  21. Lynne Carr says:

    Kate, I love this! I don’t agree with all of it – I am actually at risk of being a pushy parent myself, and I’m in the middle of writing a blog post on that topic right now! But this made me smile. There’s room in the world for all kinds of parenting, and it’s not up to us to judge whether someone else’s style is right or wrong. I especially loved the description of the dirty soccer jersey – I have this with my 7 year old, but I usually give in and find a clean one because I am worried that it is still a reflection on me. Maybe I should just stop worrying!

  22. Oliveoyl says:

    This was me totally! My girls are now 21,18,and 15, and they are independent, sleep in their own beds, eat normal food, and very well adjusted. I breastfed for 11 1/2 years cause I was too lazy to wean them. :-)

  23. What a great posts!. Seriously why make parenting a more tiresome job? it should be as easy and stress-free as possible I believe. My lazy tip is letting my 5 year old entertain her 2 year old brother. Let’s face it she’s more flexible to roll around on the floor than I am anyway.

    I’m such a lazy parent sometimes. I believe laziness is just a way of using energy wisely to prevent parenting burn-out. I have ditched the superwoman parent ethos, and I am content with being the best parent I can, the easiest, laziest way i can be. It just plain sensible. I figure. I even wrote a post on my blog about this


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] as I’ve said before, it really just boils down to laziness. Weaning takes time and patience when it’s not child-led. I’m not ready to use up any of […]

  2. […] as I’ve said before, it really just boils down to laziness. Weaning takes time and patience when it’s not child-led. I’m not ready to use up any of limited […]

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