Modern parenting, especially mamahood, seems to come with a list as long as your arm of things you really should be doing in order to be a “good” mum. I genuinely don’t believe that all of it is entirely necessary, and I’d go so far as to say that a lot of it is just making our lives more stressful.
Mum guilt is huge, and I doubt you’ve ever met a mum who doesn’t give you the knowing nod when it’s mentioned. There are so many things to feel guilty about, and almost everyone has an opinion on the rights and wrongs of parenting. But those opinions are often only serving to compound the mum guilt, and is it really worth it?
Stop Doing These Things Now For a More Stress Free Day!
1. Occupying their every waking minute.
Free play is arguably one of the most important things for kids in terms of their development. I could go on about it for hours, but to be honest if there’s anything that makes enjoying a hot cup of coffee while the kids get on and play, then I’m in!
And the best way to encourage free play? Start them young! The younger that kids are left to their own devices (within reason) the more independent, resourceful, creative and imaginative they become. And the sweeter the coffee tastes, too! Win, win.
2. Pinterest worthy crafts.
Ok, I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a sucker for a beautifully crafted piece for my mantelpiece or wall. There’s nothing more satisfying than photographing my kids next Monet, but really is it always worth it? Inevitably, I get stressed out when it all goes to pot, the kids don’t really enjoy what they’re doing because every aspect of it has been micro-managed, and they don’t really gain anything from it either.
When left to their own devices with some crayons, sticky bits, maybe even a bit of washable paint and glitter (argh!!) kids’ imaginations run wild. I lied when I said there’s nothing more satisfying than my kids Monet; their hand crafted Picasso’s which have had zero input from me, and were made while I was drinking all the coffee are way more satisfying. As is watching their beautiful imaginations grow and develop.
3. Micro managing.
That leads me quite nicely on to micro managing in general. Macro manage, by all means! Routines are great, and we live by ours. But there’s a lot to be said for allowing it some wiggle room. I learned this very quickly after my first, and I am a lot less rigid these days.
My youngest has definitely benefitted from a more relaxed approach, and I am less stressed out on a daily basis because of it. Bedtime is bedtime, dinner time is dinner time, and nap time is around the same time every day. Ish. If he seems like he needs another half an hour, then I go with it. I’m not rushing around at lunch time every day because he absolutely must be in bed by 12, instead we go at our own pace. Invariably he makes it fairly known when he’s hungry or tired, and that works for me.
The funny thing is, having a soft routine has done just the same job as the stricter one I had with my eldest. My youngest is never more than half an hour outside the times I’d expect him to be hungry or tired, so our routine feels pretty set in stone, even though it’s not. Works for me!
4. Arguing Over Trivial Things.
Alright, this one is easier said than done sometimes, and I totally get that. And sometimes what’s trivial might not seem trivial. But since I gave up worrying about how other people perceive me as a mum, I’ve found that I argue with my 3yo a lot less about things that really don’t need to be argued about.
A prime example of this is wearing her coat. So it might not seem trivial, because it’s fucking cold right now and she really should be wearing a coat. But the reality is that she’s adamant every day that she;s not wearing it. I gave up arguing one day, hung the damn thing on the pram, and we left. I made sure she knew that if she felt cold she could put her coat on, and she did after about 5 minutes.
Every day is now the same. She tells me “I’ll just go out first and test how cold I feel.” Sometimes she asks for her coat, sometimes she doesn’t. The way I see it is if she’s cold she’ll ask for it, and on the days she doesn’t, shes clearly not that cold! Giving her the responsibility for her own body has eliminated a daily 10-15 minute argument which always ruined our mornings.
5. Beating Yourself Up.
You are a human being, as are your kids. Human beings are not black and white, and they don’t always act, behave or react in the way we would expect them to. Sometimes for obvious reasons, sometimes for ones we can’t quite put our fingers on.
So you’re having a bad day, it happens. So you were short with your kid, it happens. You got frustrated and yelled – oh well! A bad day is just that; a day. By all means learn from it (were you arguing over something trivial that you can eliminate?!) but don’t dwell on it. There’s no need, and trust me when I say that when your kids are all grown up they won’t remember that one time you shouted.
There you have it. 5 things I genuinely believe you can stop doing right now for a more stress free, guilt free day! What things have you given up on doing, or do you feel like you need to give up some of the stuff? Let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts!