Things I Don't Do
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
A few years back, there was a trend in the homeschool world for bloggers, youtubers, and podcasters, in which parents posted lists titled, “Things I Don’t Do.” These posts were letting other homeschool parents know that the beautifully curated Instagram feeds -- those that we are constantly comparing ourselves to -- were actually tiny, silent, facades that didn’t exactly reflect reality. These posts let us know that behind the scenes, these homeschooling parents were actually letting a lot slide.
I was so relieved to hear these women I admired so much, admit to letting their children play video games all day, forgo a winter coat because of sensory issues, eat only watermelon for dinner, or to never doing math with their kids (GASP!). I felt liberated. Instead of feeling like a failure for the myriad of things I wasn't doing, I felt empowered to let a lot of things go.
There is endless content on social media – especially in the parenting zeitgeist – that is focused on all the things we could/should be doing. Yet, parents of PDA children are already doing so much to accommodate their kids. So much, in fact, that it can feel like they don’t have a choice in how they live their lives.
To other PDA moms, the first thing I would say is that they are Goddess superheroes because of all they do. But secondly, I would like to remind them that there are some things we have a choice in. We have a choice in what we don't do, and what we let go of.
Today I'm going to share a list of the Things I Don't Do, in hopes of giving you that same liberating feeling I had years back.
In our home, we don't worry (too much) about homeschool law. I know that my child is learning well above and beyond what is required of us by law. We don't need to check off boxes or make it look like traditional "school" by meeting hourly requirements for each subject in order for meaningful learning to happen. We do what works for us and that often looks very different than what is "required."
We don't do math every day. Math is Owl’s least favorite subject, so we do it once a week. Daily would cause tears. In general, and emphatically, if something causes tears, we chuck it out the window.
We don't do school during the week of my period. This needs no explanation. Instead, we snuggle, read loads of books, and watch movies and documentaries. Or I just rest the whole week. Or I catch up on projects that make me feel whole. It's so thoroughly enjoyable.
Additionally, we don't do clothes. Owl mostly wears pajamas.
Because of their sensory issues and demand avoidance, we barely do haircuts or combing for that matter. In fact, my Mom just had a "talk" with me about Owl’s appearance. In response to her concerns, I couldn’t help but laugh and send her some videos on PDA. I explained that I'd rather have a happy kid than a "groomed" kid. Furthermore, I think my kid is adorable in pajamas and scruffy hair.
I don't get offended (mostly) when my Mom calls me to talk about my kid’s appearance. I can laugh about it now. That's not to say that while having these conversations my eyes don’t roll so far back into my head that I can see my brain.
Baths are weekly or biweekly. Owl has anxiety about bathing alone and even if someone is sitting in the bathroom with them, it can be too much. So, we simply limit it. This will likely change once puberty rolls around, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to the funky years. Lord give me the strength.
We don't do social events. I got tired of being accused of being either a helicopter parent or a neglectful parent by people I didn't actually like anyway. See ya, birthday parties, holidays, weddings, and reunions. Hello, freedom.
I don't do doctors’ orders. I take them as loose suggestions and then do my own homework and run them through a PDA filter before applying them to our lives.
We don't do schedules. Schedules were killing me and accomplishing nothing in our house. Out the window they went. If things don't get done when I think they should, I just move on with my life.
We don't do a bed time. Owl is a great sleeper and gets plenty of rest so I don't push the time thing. Owl stays up late some nights and sleeps in some mornings. So much agony -- my own personal agony -- has been avoided by not having a bedtime.
I try my best not to do Blame, Shame, or Guilt (BSG), this applies to me as well as to the rest of the family. Of course, I'm human and have tons of years when BSG was deeply ingrained in me, but I'm learning to catch myself. It serves no one. Especially my kid. So, I'm not doing it anymore!
I'm a hyper-responsible person. I refuse to blame myself, shame myself, or carry around guilt for being a human who has a child whose brain works differently than a typical child’s. It took a deep, dark night of the soul (one I was not sure I'd come back from) for me to realize that I was killing myself with BSG and I'm done.
I'll leave it here for now. There is definitely more I don't do. And there are days when I drive myself and everyone else crazy because I am doing too much and I get caught up in "should-ing" all over myself. But I keep coming back to letting myDself, and everyone else around me, off the hook.
We have more choices and more freedom than we think.
I'm giving you all permission to let go of what isn't serving you.
If it's not serving you, it's not serving your families. You all deserve the freedom and choice. Maybe that's what our kids are here to teach us. Maybe they are here to liberate us, if we let them.
What don't you do? Please share.
Lily is a mother of a 9-year-old child, Owl (they/them/their), with the PDA profile of Autism. Owl is also gifted. Lily currently lives in Georgia with her husband where they Unschool Owl full time.