Note to Tired Parents: Here Are 3 To-Do’s You Can LET GO
Have you ever noticed how many invisible “to-do’s” exist on your mental list of responsibilities? With the overwhelming amount of information and often conflicting parenting advice out there, it can be incredibly stressful to raise a child who isn’t on a typical path. The pressure. The guilt. Navigating and advocating -- on top of the rest of your life. It’s a LOT.
Sometimes, instead of doing more, it’s helpful to LET GO of the things that aren’t serving you.
Here are 3 invisible to-do’s you can take off your list:
Let Go #1: Worrying what others might think
Everyone from your mother-in-law to your Instagram feed has an opinion on parenting. If there were one right way to raise our kids, we’d all be doing it by now! Some people make nosy or negative comments when they see behaviors they don’t understand. Judgmental stares sting. But this is their problem, not yours. Maybe these people have nothing better to do. Maybe they’re trying to feel better about their own struggles. Perhaps they’re just misinformed…
Put together a collection of responses you can use so you don’t get caught on your heels. You can decide how much (if anything) you want to disclose. Then create some scripts based on different kinds of inquiries. For example, if a caring friend wonders why she never sees you, you’ll likely share more with her than the critical parent at the park.
Some people don’t have much capacity for compassion and understanding. You can choose to ignore them, offer a minimalist explanation, deliberately change the subject, or just laugh it off. Then send them on their way by silently wishing them well. Protect your own heart. Your calm response will do more to diminish stigma and misunderstanding than a heated emotional reaction.
Let Go #2: Striving to be a super-parent
Our society worships superheroes. But let’s remind ourselves: they’re not REAL. We all want to be the best parents we can possibly be. Many of us sacrifice ourselves in an effort to do more, be more, try harder. But shooting for the superhero model will only lead to burnout. Cut yourself some slack. You don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
Remind yourself that you’re only human and you’re doing your best. Carve out a tiny bit of time each day to nurture yourself - in mind, body and spirit. It’s easy to lose yourself in the swirl of parenting through tough times.
The greatest gift you can give your kids is your own emotional well-being. They’ll pick up on your inner strength, self-compassion and energy. Over time they will begin to reflect that.
Let Go #3: Trying to control your kids
Children are independent, sovereign beings. Think about it: from the very beginning, they alone decide when they will eat or sleep… or poop. We might wish we could control our kids’ choices, behaviors and traits, but (spoiler alert!) they are not our puppets. They aren’t mini versions of ourselves. They aren’t here to live out our unfulfilled dreams. Nor are they walking representations of our brilliant parenting. They are their own individual, glorious selves.
What we can do is support and guide them. Channel their strengths. Find ways to overcome their vulnerabilities. By offering connection, compassion, love and limits, we can help them grow to realize their full potential. We just have to trust in the possibilities.
Letting go of these invisible to-do’s will lighten your load in amazing ways. It might take some time to make the shift. Begin by just noticing. Do you have a tendency to pile these extra pressures on yourself? Then slowly but surely, give yourself permission to kiss them goodbye.
What have you decided to let go? Comment below!