Stress Free Mamahood: Why Less is More

I’ve never really been interested in reading parenting books. I’ve got nothing against parenting books, they’re just not for me. Even when I was pregnant with my first child I already had an idea that my parenting wasn’t going to come from a book. Don’t get me wrong, it has nothing to do with me thinking I already knew it all. I was, and still am, fully aware that I will never ‘know it all’. It was because I knew from the day I just knew I was pregnant that instinct was going to be my best friend.

Over the last couple of months, though, I’ve stumbled across a couple of books which have spoken to me in a way I thought a parenting book never would, I think the thing with traditional parenting books that has always bothered me is that I kind of feel like I’m being preached to. I mean, seriously, why am I spending precious time reading this book that is essentially telling me how wrong I’m getting this parenting thing, and all the long winded ways that I should actually be doing things.

Let me tell you; I don’t need a book to tell me that losing my shit probably isn’t the best way to react to my 3-year-old when she lobs a packet of Haribo Tangfastics at a supermarket cashier because I dared to tell her no. I’m not really interesting in learning the supermama trick to getting my 1-year-old to keep his shoes on; if he wants to roll around barefoot then be free my boy. Aside from the fact that I’ve just reached that stage of parenting when I just can’t be arsed to put them on for the eighty-fucking-ninth time.

Do less. Aside from the fact that I've just reached that stage of parenting when I just can't be arsed to put them on for the eighty-fucking-ninth time.

The further along I get in my parenting journey, the more I find myself valuing the art of doing less. That’s how ‘I Don’t know Why She Bothers’ by Daisy Waugh managed to grab me last month. In fact, I connected with her message so strongly that I finished the book in 3 days. Anyone with 2 kids under 3 in their house will appreciate what that means! As with any human being, I didn’t quite click with some of Daisy’s opinions, but for the most part I just felt like she got me. Her message is clear; do less and everyone will be better, happier, and more relaxed as a result.

All of the faff that we impose upon ourselves as parents just isn’t necessary. What is necessary is keeping our kids fed, warm, and loved. The rest will come. All the extra curriculars, all the pressure to do more. And above all, I think what I connected with most was the idea that as modern parents there seems to be a pressure, or some kind of ideal, that we have to constantly be occupying our kids. There’s something to be said for just letting kids be. Let them explore, be free to make mistakes, to fall down and get back up again.

There’s something to be said for letting our kids be bored, and seeing what their brains conjure out of that boredom. I feel like we’ve lost the art of creating fun out of nothing, and that is something that is so integral to positive child development. I genuinely believe that creative adults are born of children who are given the freedom to explore their own imaginations, learn to solve problems on their own, and are free to become self-sufficient.

Do less. I genuinely believe that creative adults are born of children who are given the freedom to explore their own imaginations, learn to solve problems on their own, and are free to become self-sufficient.

Of course, the happy side effect of just doing less is that we, as busy, stressed out, knackered modern parents get to just do less too. imagine a day when you could sit on a garden chair reading a book while your kids happily played around you. They get muddy exploring the back end of the garden that no one else ever ventures into, and they get to feel that mud in between their toes because they refused to put their shoes on and we let them. You know what they’ll do if they don’t like it? They’ll ask to put their shoes on. You know what they’ll do if they’re cold? They’ll ask for a coat. And you know what they’ll get as a result of us sitting and reading a book? A less stressed mama who’s more relaxed and a happier parent as a result.

I’ve always had this kind of approach to parenting, but I have to admit that after finishing the book even I realised that I was stressing myself out over details that I just didn’t need to be stressing out abut. Amelia refused to put a coat on the other day to walk to nursery. It was early, and it’s October, but instead of arguing with her (because I was definitely fucking right) I simply said “Ok. Let’s go then.” I sneakily put her coat under the pram in case she changed her mind. We got all the way to nursery and she turned to me and said “See mummy, told you it was warm today.” Yes it’s a bit annoying that she was right, but she was right. And had she have been wrong she’d have asked for her coat and that would’ve been fine too.

Not having that initial argument before we even left the house made the whole day better. We enjoyed our walk and I felt a whole lot calmer for the rest of the day. I got on with some blog work while Wills explored the garden to his merry little heart’s content without shoes on. Because he kept taking them off, and so what? Did the world end? No, he just got dirty feet. And I got to drink a hot coffee. I might have even had two! He went for his nap happily, and Amelia and I enjoyed  lunch together after I’d picked her up. At bedtime I wasn’t dying to get the kids in bed so I cold have some peace, because I’d had time to be myself throughout the day, as well as being a mum.

Do less. That's what has hit me the most, I think; the idea that we don't have to completely give ourselves up to mamahood. We can be us as well as being Mum.

That’s what has hit me the most, I think; the idea that we don’t have to completely give ourselves up to mamahood. We can be us as well as being Mum.

32 thoughts on “Stress Free Mamahood: Why Less is More

  1. I love this, I flip flop between stressing over every little problem and taking the “eh, fuck it” attitude. I’m usually a bit happier when I’ve given up so I might need to rethink my parenting technique. They’re generally pretty good kids, I think I just need to calm down and let them be!

    Thank you for linking up to #RVHT, it’s back tonight after I had a quick break to get married!

  2. I have never read a parenting book but I feel like I need to read this one. I’m awful for feeling all the mum guilt if I don’t do loads of exciting days out and toddler groups etc with my baby when really he is happy at home with me just playing with his toys. I have slowly started to put less pressure on myself to do as much stuff and I am feeling happier for itxx #blogcrush

    1. It feels great when you take a step back a bit, doesn’t it?! Also, why do we spend all our money on toys of the kids are never home to play with them, haha?!

  3. I haven’t read many parenting books but I definitely agree with the sentiment with this – I do get caught up in doing too much with my daughter. I fill our days with days out and rushing from A to B…it certainly makes life seem more stressful! Thanks for linking up to #dreamteam

    1. I love doing hints with the kids that we all enjoy, but I think it’s more when every second of their days is filed with a task or group or activity that it gets too much. Xx

  4. I flippin’ love this. I think I’d like this book too. Like you I never bought a single parenting book, I didn’t even own a weaning recipe book. Instinct is best. The idea of not sweating the small stuff hugely appeals. Some of my worst days are because I picked a fight similar to you coat situation. And it wasn’t needed. We live and learn and I think I’ll be taking a page out of Daisy’s book from now on. Thanks for linking up to #ThursdayTeam hun, it’s lovely to have you x

  5. I think you’ve made a really important point here, we immerse our kids in technology, clubs, activities that they rarely have opportunity to get bored and think for themselves. There is definitely something to be said for free play x

  6. This book sounds brilliant. I’ve been avoiding baby books and parenting manuals but this one sounds like it speaks sense! Totally agree with the point about not stressing little details, I often waste time debating stuff with my toddler that I should just let go! X #thursdayteam

  7. I need this book! Funny, this post spoke to me because I had two exactly identical moments with my fearsome toddler today – the coat row and the garden with no shoes thing. Both times I let her ‘win’ begrudgingly, but reading this made me see, that perhaps we were both winners.

    Need to read more…

    Thanks so much for linking to #coolmumclub

    1. That’s the thing; I think we’re all having these rows! You know that saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” that’s kind of how I’m choosing to Parent hahaha!! Xxx

  8. Aaah, what a refreshing post!! I didn’t read any books when pregnant either, then got loads when a few months in, I decided I was getting it all wrong. My husband found me crying over them one day-they’d not only confirmed I was doing it all wrong, but made me feel like I was so inadequate I shouldn’t even be a parent! We threw them out! I flit between wanting everything my ‘own way’ with the kids, and the ‘I can’t be arsed with this shit’ anymore’ approach…! The book you read sounds fab, I think I need it in my life!!

    1. Honestly, I’d highly recommend it, for the overwhelming feeling of “yes! I’ve got this mamahood thing doooown” if nothing else! There were definitely bits I couldn’t relate to, but most of it was spot on!xx

  9. Some of these moments made me laugh. I’m on both sides of the fence. I’ve just written an Ode to Gina Ford because I’ve had a great experience using her routine but like anything it will be different for everyone. I also used to teach kids out of the school system and have learned a lot of techniques from ‘experts’ but also a lot from tried and tested means. I love when you let her walk without her coat. I always found when a young person was having difficulty, I’d ask myself, is this person at risk if I pull back and listen? I’d sit down in silence and let them communicate when they were ready. Often by letting them take the lead, they’d discover so much and it was a better outcome. #DreamTeam

    1. Love this comment! We have a fairly steadfast daily routine that I really think helps both me and the kids in other less structured parts of the day. I’m talking the basics; breakfast time, lunch time (followed by nap or quiet time) and bedtime. The rest is up to them! And I love that about are they at risk; that’s basically my principle too I just don’t put it as politely!! I kind of live by the mantra that if it won’t kill them back off and let them get on with it! Funnily enough, she walked all the way to nursery today without a coat, but complained she was cold. I have her the options (coat and be warm or no coat and be cold; you can hangers your mind

    2. Oops – (you can change your mind) she was adamant no coat and when we got to nursery she said to me “Mum…. even though I don’t like wearing my coat I think I’ll wear it on the way home cos it’s a bit cold today.” Sorted!

  10. I found this very interesting. I flip between constant worry and letting them be free – picking my battles I tell myself in my head. It doesn’t always work this way of course, but I like the idealism of letting them be free and they are so much happier and far more likely to listen when you do get assertive about something. Well at least that is what I hope! We are just entering the realm of a 3 year old so I may change my mind by next year! 🙂 #bigpinklink

    1. Haha, yeah it’s not always as easy as it sounds! I often find myself bugging and arguing with the kids over things that really aren’t that important and have to remind myself! Good luck with the 3’s!!xx

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