The 16 Rules of Hot Mess Parenting

16 is the arbitrary number I landed on, so that must mean there’s only 16 rules. Welcome to the final day of Hot Mess week; we have spent over 4000 words and 5 days discussing all sorts of messy parenting items. On Monday we looked at the two words transforming media motherhood (Hot Mess, if you didn’t catch that). Tuesday we dove into how a Hot Mess accomplishes housework in a constant and disheveled state of chaos. Wednesday we explored how a Hot Mess might raise a baby and Thursday we followed that up with raising a child. It’s Friday, Friday, Friday, so I’ll shut up now and let you enjoy these 16 tenets of Hot Mess parenting.


  1. Food is Food – In the land of the Hot Mess, French fries with ketchup are knocking down a serving of vegetables each. Even if dinner turned out to be Go-Gurt and Goldfish, food is food and dinner was served. The kid won’t go hungry.


  1. Sleep is Optional – Parenting messiness and disorganization coincides with ample amounts of sleep deprivation. No worries about sharing this frustration with others, one look at our faces and anyone will know.


  1. Punctuality is Optional – It doesn’t matter if it’s soccer practice, Thanksgiving dinner, or a funeral, a Hot Mess will always arrive fashionably late.


  1. Delegation is a Great Executive Decision – There may be moments when you need Daniel Tiger, the Paw Patrol, or Dr. McStuffin’s to provide 10-15 minutes (or hours) of supervision while you grab a nap, take a shower, or weep softly in the closet.


  1. A Diaper is an Outfit – Matching outfits and pretty bows are for Instagram and the family down the street; on the Hot Mess block, kids are allowed to run around in diapers and still be labeled as adorable.


  1. Cars Are Trashcans – Well, not literally…but it can be forgiven if there are fast food bags from three weeks ago crumpled under the seats, 1700 Cheez-Its in all directions, hundreds of ripped pages alongside every kid’s book ever written, and a mold farm growing in the crevices of the car seats.


  1. Kids First! – Not necessarily in the affectionate intention, but the kids always need the most attention; if all eyes are in the kids, I can wear the same t-shirt for 6 straight days with greasy hair. Win-win.


  1. Houses are Not for Show – A house party right as you’re moving in is acceptable (take pictures to capture what could have been), but otherwise guests are only invited over once a year—if that. Maybe it’s Christmas, maybe it’s Easter, maybe it’s a birthday…but the house is only getting cleaned and presented on an annual basis.


  1. Liquids are Flexible – There are no strict rules for appropriate hours of indulgence. Sometimes that means coffee at 8:00 pm. Other times it means wine at 8:00 am. Do as you please.


  1. Spouses are Scapegoats – Sometimes we unite as a Hot Mess Family; other times we throw each other under the bus in times of adversity. But a good fall guy (or gal) can go a long way to preserving sanity.


  1. Judgment Free Work Zone – Hot Messes who work require a forgiving place of employment. Sometimes there will be vomit on my dress clothes; other times I’ll be giving a presentation with eyes bloodshot to the point of external concern. And still other times I can’t manage to tell the difference between black and brown in the morning.


  1. Siblings are Versatile – Let’s face it, you’re not having more children for the joy of it, you just realize that a sibling can serve as a babysitter, a diversion, and even an extra parent as times go along. Supposedly families used to be large to help out on the farm; now we have large families to raise large families, I guess.


  1. Sharing is Caring – A Hot Mess always empathizes with their child. Or perhaps “acts like their child” is the better expression. When the baby is going through a crying phase, so is the parent. When the toddler is throwing a tantrum, a Hot Mess might do the same.   If the kid needs a nap, the Hot Mess can’t help but follow suit.


  1. Sleep Ends Justify the Means – It doesn’t matter what it takes to get half a night’s sleep, a Hot Mess parent must go to all lengths. Co-sleeping, couch sleeping, 6:00 pm bedtimes…it’s all on the table.


  1. Kids are an Excuse…for EVERYTHING – It doesn’t matter if you’re running late, skipping weddings, leaving social gatherings early, or trying to get away with murder, kids are the perfect excuse for everything.


  1. Survival is Key – As we’ve keyed in on all week at ParentalGrit, Hot Mess family life is all about moving forward and surviving to parent another day. Some say the journey is the reward…well, let’s see what the reward is first.

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