Worrying, it’s something all parents do. I know I am guilty of it, especially when I lie awake in the wee hours of the morning with the silence of the house ringing in my ears. I worry about what I forgot to do, what I need to do, what I should have done, and what I already did. Let’s face it, parenting is hard. There is always something to be done, someone in the household who needs assistance, and many things to worry about including feeding your kids healthy food, your children’s friendships, and what other parents think about your parenting choices. Some worries are valid, but many worries are not worth your time and effort. What if you could learn to let these worries go?
Personal expectations. Before I became a parent, I had unreasonably high expectations for myself as a mother; I had things I wanted to do and things I declared I would never do. After my first child was born, I quickly realized that most of my pre-child declarations changed and were out of reach. “Let go of the idea that you will be the perfect parent because it won’t happen,” says mother of twins Aly Ridgeley. When you accept that you are doing the best you can for your kids at that particular moment, you will be able to cross worry off your list.
Guilt. Do you worry you don’t spend enough time with your children? Do you feel guilty you were not able to breastfeed a child, or you missed a child’s soccer game? Do you feel bad you forgot to remind a kid to grab their lunch on the way out the door to school? The guilt can weigh heavily, but let it go. It is okay if you miss your child’s sports game or school party. We all have to make choices in life and sometimes those choices can cause unnecessary guilt. Once a decision is made, move forward and let go of the feelings of guilt because they will only rob you of enjoying the present moment.
Outward appearances. A tidy house; a perfectly decorated home; an amazing wardrobe; all organic, home-cooked meals; the perfect marriage; smart, athletic, creative children; and a partridge in a pear tree. We all want this and we all want to be perfect in life, or at least appear that way to others. This picture is lovely, but it is not a realistic, reachable goal. It is easy to get caught up in what our family looks like compared to others. It does not matter if your children wear perfectly coordinated outfits. Is your child dressed in weather- appropriate clothing? Great. Does it match? It’s your lucky day. Social media puts so much pressure on us to keep up with what we believe others are doing. I have a secret for you: Pinterest is not real life and what most people post on Facebook is the best of what happened in their life that day, not what is a typical day or the worst thing that happened in their life to them that day. Embrace the fact that no one is perfect and nobody’s expecting you to be either.
What-ifs. As a parent, you may often worry about things that haven’t happened: What if a child gets seriously ill? What if they fall and get hurt? What if they don’t make the sports team? What-ifs are not worth the energy they use. Acknowledge all of the what-ifs in your head as unnecessary and detrimental to your well-being and decide not to waste your time worrying. Face the problems in front of you rather than worrying about issues that do not exist.
Comparisons. “Don’t compare yourself to other parents. Your family is unique. Your circumstances are unique. It would be like comparing apples to oranges,” says Lacey Rodriguez. “Do the best you can for your family and forget the rest.” Comparing yourself to other parents is never a good idea. Your parenting style for your children will always be different from others but your parenting style doesn’t mean it is bad.
Another pitfall parents fall into is comparing their children to their children’s siblings or other children their age. Each child has their own unique personality and will develop at their own rate. If you feel your concerns regarding a child’s development are valid, consult your child’s doctor for peace of mind.
Mistakes. Every parent makes mistakes and it is easy to spend time worrying about what you should have done differently. The past cannot be changed and although not easy to do, let go of things you cannot change. Learn from your mistakes and continue to do your best. You have permission to let go of past mistakes and teach your children to do the same.
Control. I am a recovering control freak. I wore down a little more with each child I added to my family. When my triplets arrived, it finally dawned on me that I am not in control. Once I realized (and accepted) this fact, a weight lifted off my shoulders. Yes, my husband and I are still in charge of the household, but I cannot control what happens in life. It’s a roller coaster. Instead of trying to steer the roller coaster, throw your arms up in the air and enjoy the ride!
Learning to let go of parenting worries usually leads to feelings of relief. If you remember that every family is unique and every parent handles situations differently, it is easier to relax and enjoy your family more.
Sarah, mother of six, has learned to let go of many things over the years to maintain a happy and functioning household.
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