I remember hearing it for the first time. One of my kiddos was 5 or 6 years old when I left them with a friend for a bit. When I returned I heard this, “She was so great! Absolutely precious. No problem at all.”
Maybe at your house, lady! Meanwhile, you know this child will turn into a Disney villain before walking in the front door back at home.
Why Your Kids Act Better When You’re Not Around
As a mom, it always makes me feel proud to know my kids behave respectfully when I’m not around. It’s like a validation of sorts. It makes me feel like I’m a good parent because my kids know how to act when I’m not hovering over them, reminding them to say please and thank you.
But, once those precious, well-behaved children are back with me, they are, and I say this with love, nut jobs.
I wanted to understand this problem, so I began to research it. Here’s what I learned. It’s actually very simple.
You are their safe place to land.
That’s it in a nutshell. That one sentence tells you everything you need to know.
Think about it this way. When you are at a friend’s house you almost definitely act “better” than at home. You are gracious and patient and kind.
It’s only when you get home that you rip off your bra, put on your ugly sweatpants, and yell at your kids for leaving their socks in those gross little sock balls all over the floor.
You’re safe in your own home to be who you are. Your family loves you, even in your ugliest sweats. They’ll forgive you when you mess up and they know you’ll do the same.
Why would your kids behave any differently? Sure, they are wilder and grumpier and more obstinate with you than they would ever dream of behaving around almost anyone else.
At home, they know that whatever whackadoo thing they do, no matter how awful, mom will still love them. Even if she yells a little. Even if she threatens everything short of forcing them to live outside among the wolves.
I promise you, they know you’re definitely not going to throw them out in the cold. You’re their safe place.
Bobby’s mom, however, has made no such promise. Who knows what will happen when SHE has to pick up the jelly beans your precious child spilled all over her floor? Your kids are smart enough to know they’d better not take any chances. Better pick those up with a smile.
You’re Trusted. You’re Loved.
From now on, maybe you can feel a little bit blessed that your kids aren’t as perfect at home as they are at school, at a friend’s house, or even with grandparents. Thank goodness that on some level, they understand they don’t always have to be “on.”
Can you imagine? Being perfect when you’re a guest in someone else’s home, only to leave and still have to be perfect? Exhausting!
So in short, I hope you’ll try and think of this behavior as an “I love you, momma.” You’re doing a good job. Take the win, even though it may not look like a win at the moment.
Liz is a just a mom trying to keep it real about how little she sleeps, how often she gets puked on and how much she loves them. You can find her here every day writing about real-mom moments.