Are you tired of the lists of things you should be doing better, larger, or more of in your life? I’ve got you covered. Here are 10 things you can stop doing right now.
Saying “I should…” about anything.
If your hear yourself saying a sentence that begins with the words, “I should…” I’m betting you don’t really want to do that thing. You feel obligated to, or you think someone else wants you to do it. If you hear yourself saying, “I should…” stop and decide if that is something you really need to do. When I do things that started with “I should…” I almost always end up resenting them.
If you say, “I should really do the laundry,” when your kids are begging you to come play, go play instead. The laundry will still be there in an hour. If you say, “I should really join this committee at my son’s school,” consider what else you might do with that time that would better feed your heart instead.
Eating off your kid’s plate.
In our house, the kid eats the same food the adults do, so at least I’m not tempted by butter pasta leftovers. But even when your kids aren’t eating high-carb foods, finishing off the leftovers before you wash the plastic plate isn’t doing your body any good.
Load up your own plate with the food that your body craves and needs, and in the proportions that are right for you. Leave their plate alone, even if you have to throw a bit of food away after the meal.
Shorting yourself on sleep.
It is so tempting for me, every single night, to stay up into the wee hours. I have always been a night owl, and I get a second wind between 10 and 11. But when I stay up late I always regret it the next day. Always.
Not enough sleep has been shown, over and over again, to lead to weight and health problems, memory issues, and can even cause depression. Not to mention, as sleep-deprived parents the world over know, lack of sleep leads to bad moods, short tempers, and generally bad days.
If your only “me” time is when your kids are asleep then use it efficiently. Carve out an extra half hour here or there for a project, but try to get within an hour of your needed shut-eye every night.
Using any of those parenting labels for yourself or anyone else.
Are you a helicopter parent? A tiger mom? A slacker dad? No, you are not.
Personally, I can pass through all of those styles and more in a single day. You are more than a label, and using those simplistic descriptions minimizes the complexity of humans parenting humans.
Believing anyone else has all the answers.
In a culture where everyone loves to give advice (even me), it is easy to believe that means somebody else must have the answers to your every problem.
Probably not. They might have the answers to the problems they had, but your issues are likely to be slightly different. Your kid is different than their kid, the way they communicate with their partner is different than what happens in your house, and they almost certainly manage their budget differently. And just because they have a great way to sort their email doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you.
That doesn’t mean you can’t look for ideas in what others – experts or not – are doing, but take responsibility for solving your own individual struggles. Not only will the custom fit work best, you will feel the awesome accomplishment of working it out on your own.
Putting off your dreams.
Some seasons of life, especially the ones that involves babies and small children, feel like go-go-go from pillow to pillow, with nothing left over for dreaming with, let alone taking steps towards making dreams happen.
But don’t make the mistake of turning away from your dreams entirely. You might wake up one day when your kids are grown and moved out and find your dreaming muscles are all atrophied and useless.
Make your steps realistic to the season of life you are living in now, but keep making steps.
Holding on to toxic relationships.
I don’t have a lot of time or energy to spare (see the note on dreams, above!). I don’t have anything left over to pour into relationships that leave me feeling drained, hurt, or negated.
If you have people in your life who make you feel that way, wish them well and let them go. If those relationships are family, you may not be able to walk away entirely, but create a buffer so they don’t impact your life so much.
Instead, surround yourself with people who will hold you up, believe in you, and show up with a latte just when you really need one.
Waiting for that supermom award.
Are you waiting around for someone (your partner, your parent, your child) to recognize how hard you are working, what an amazing job you are doing, or what a great parent you are?
Stop waiting. It is a bummer of a fact, but awards are not given for mothering. Even when you have those spectacularly awesome days when not only are the kids fed and alive at the end, but happy and clean as well.
Stop waiting for the award. You will only feel disappointed.
Trying to live up to Pinterest.
I love Pinterest, but I know not everybody does. I love it because I don’t follow boards that have beautiful, themed kids birthday parties, gorgeous spotless homes, or kid-free luxury vacations.
Instead, I follow people who are making crafts with their kids, cooking food in their crockpots, and making handmade shaving cream and lotion bars. In other words, doing the things I do already and would like to do more of.
There are so many beautiful, inspiring and shiny things on Pinterest that may not fit in the life you have right now. It can be a resource to help pull you toward doing more of things that inspire you, but don’t let it bury you in the feeling that your life is not enough.
We all have bad days. But don’t fall into the sinkhole of telling yourself you are a bad parent, not patient enough, not enough generally.
Yesterday I had to bodily force my daughter into her car seat while she screamed in my ear. It was not a shining moment. But it was brought on by her needing a snack and a nap and me being on a schedule. It was unfortunate and I’ll try to avoid that situation in the future, but it doesn’t make me a bad parent.
Cut yourself some slack. Forgive yourself for mistakes and bad decisions. Then move on.
What else would you like to quit doing?