Being a parent is such a tricky job. Every parenting experience is a brand new one. We don’t really know how to do it all the time. Also? Our kids don’t really know what they are doing either! With these delightfully freeing revelations in mind, why not whip the cobwebs out of the corners of your parenting approach, show yourself some compassion and make your mum days a little more positive and YOU-focused? Shall we begin?!
First, drop the guilt
Guilt. Ugh. If you’re a parent it’s very, very likely that you have navigated the mishmash of regret and responsibility that this big feeling entails. Possibly daily. Who knows, even hourly? Guilt is part and parcel of mum life, a life where we are always, always learning.
Realising that the nagging mum guilt is an important cog in the parenting machine means that you don’t have to see it as a negative. Guilt is proof that you care about your kiddo, that you are thoughtful, that you are keen to be self-critical when it counts. The trick is to not let the guilt get out of control. Guilt as a prompt to examine your parenting style and what you might like to tweak? YES! Guilt as a burden that’s weighing you down? No thank you.
When guilt raises its niggly head, remember to treat it constructively: Notice its focus and consider what you might do differently next time. Then, take a few deep breaths and then … move on.
Try a social media three-step
Chances are you’re reading this article on your phone right now and I’m so glad you are! Our phones are a total lifeline, a hub of information, a mine for inspiration. But what about when your phone is making you feel less than inspired? How about when scrolling sparks anxiety or envy or inadequacy or distress?
If this is you, I raise my coffee cup in a solidarity cheers. Social media, while having the very helpful power to bring us together, can also make us feel lonely and lazy and lacking in a whole bunch of ways. Luckily, we can perform some three-step first aid to ensure those tiny screens are not making us feel more stressed and less like us:
- Unfollow anyone that makes you feel bad about yourself. Don’t think about it too hard. Just do it. If anyone notices you can blame a pesky Instagram glitch – or simply tell them that you are trying to follow fewer folk.
- Aim for connection and inspiration, not comparison and consumption. Choose your followers accordingly. If you work on it, social media can be (mostly) friendly and creatively nourishing.
- Stay out of drama. Yes, it can be very exciting to be involved in an Insta-spat between two people you don’t even know, but is it really worth the effort? Especially if you are constantly checking back for further developments? Especially if it’s not even something you’re going to give a toss about next week? Not your circus. Not your monkeys.
Return to your roots
While we’re talking about shaking up our life for the better, how about shifting the focus to … YOU! Look at you! You are brilliant and interesting and – I have no doubt – an ace mum. So now is the time to reward that ace-ness with a reminder of who you really are (alongside being a parent) and what you love to do the most.
If reading that last sentence made you recoil in confusion because you’re so much mum at the moment, know this: You are not alone in this slightly lost feeling and finding your way back to some of the other bits that make you you is really simple.
Why not begin by thinking about the things you loved doing as a child or young adult. Write them down, make a list, let’s go! Once you have your list of things you loved back then, write another list, this time of things you love to do (but perhaps don’t have time to do) right now. These two lists will provide lots of clues about the things you are yearning for most.
Next, slowly and gently start thinking about where you can carve out some time to get started doing some of your favourite things. Perhaps you can arrange a couple of hours babysitting each fortnight? Do the same for another parent you trust? A sort of childcare exchange? If you have a partner, here’s where they can step up. Or perhaps you have a family member who would love to support your interests (and wellbeing) with a couple of hours babysitting?
There is no time like the present to get started with this, dear reader. Because you deserve to do happy-making things. And also … happy mum, happier kids!
Written by Pip Lincolne
You can check out the Pip Lincolne’s book here.