Your Big-Ass Permission Slip

You aren’t just raising a child. You are preventing colon cancer. You wake up every morning to pave the road to an Ivy League education.

Face it: before you get out of bed in the morning, you hoist the weight of the world on your shoulders. As a working mom, your job is to save the universe.

How do you handle all that pressure?


It’s a lose-lose situation. You get up early to prepare the perfect, organic, gluten-free, Instagram-ready lunch then…you open your email to learn how you are doing it all wrong.

(photo credit: Katie Smith/Unsplash)

I respect what you are doing. I just have a little suggestion from one parent to another:

Back the fuck off.

Seriously, Simon says to…

… take one giant step backwards.

I am pulling out a post-it and scribbling you a BIG ASS PERMISSION SLIP (hat tip to Amy E. Smith at The Joy Junkie).

permission slip.jpg

You have my permission, as a Licensed Psychologist and a parent who has been there…

to back. the fuck. off.

What your kids need right now more than parkour lessons or Mandarin immersion is for you to learn how to DO LESS.

What your kids need more than anything is for YOU to be centered and calm and in control. Let them run around for a change. Press PAUSE on the chasing and the yelling.

Stop wrangling your kids like alligators down in the mud and choose to be the horse-trainer standing tall in the middle of the ring.

Even if you are (let’s admit it, shall we?) kind of addicted to being a stress-junkie, you have to put down the hot glue gun for tomorrow’s school project. Go ahead, put it down. It’s not helping anyone.

The stress that sparks off you is only adding more tension to your kids’ already way-too-stressful little lives.

If you want to turn that burnout-ship around, here are three things you can do today:

1. Forgive Yourself

Let’s start with a BIG ASS PERMISSION SLIP to forgive yourself for being an imperfect parent. If you are like me, you had zero training. I wasn’t always paying attention in my first 18 years when I had my best chance to observe real parents at work.

While you’re at it, here’s an extra BIG ASS PERMISSION SLIP for your partner. They are doing the best they can. They may seem like they don’t care to learn more. They may be stubborn. But really, like most of us, they are scared that they are fucking it up. All the time. Give them a break.

2. Back away from the saw blade

You can’t keep going at this pace. You can’t be productive if you never breathe or hydrate. No factory can run 24/7/365. There are times you NEED to take the saw offline for sharpening (hat tip to Stephen Covey).

If you want to be the best parent you can be, you will need to carve out time to take care of yourself.

When you do it for the first time, you may see a HUGE difference in your attitude as a parent. You will wonder “why didn’t I do this before?”

Then.. when you make the commitment to yourself to take self-care seriously, you will start to model this behavior for your kids.

3. Mistakes = Learning

My last BIG ASS PERMISSION SLIP is for you to give to your kids. If you can give yourself permission to be an imperfect parent, you CAN give your kids room to fail (yes, I said it). Take a moment to reflect on how many successes and failures got you to this point in your life. Now subtract your screw-ups and missteps from the picture.

Would you be who you are? I wouldn’t.

The biggest turning points in my life came from tragedy and mishap. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Give your kids permission to stray from the path. Real learning CAN happen when we shut up, stop structuring everything, and choose to stop filling their little heads with knowledge.

You don’t need to home school or “un-school” your child but you DO need to check out some of the new ways that parents are finding to educate their children.

Let them be imperfect learners. Ease up on your need to control everything they get to do and see.

WARNING LABEL: Every single force in the world (schools, experts, Pinterest, your relatives) are in on the scam to make you feel like you are doing too little. That is a recipe for stressed-out parents AND stressed-out kids.

I am privileged to have helped thousands of parents and kids communicate about the things that matter the most: pressure, expectations, and risky behavior.

Now I help working moms write their own Big-Ass Permission Slips.

To learn more, click here.

Robert Zeitlin