Should we stop using should? Yes we should.
What a terrible word. Who would have though such a strange little, seeming harmless word could in fact inflict so much guilt, shame and heartache on mothers everywhere.
- I should be…
- We shouldn’t be…
- He should be sleeping by now…
- She should be on the bottle by now…
- He should be better at breastfeeding…
- I should know how to…
- At 6 months shouldn’t they be…
- At 12 months she should…
Good grief, it’s horrible to see the power of this little word reduce intelligent, thinking, responsible, mature women to tears and misery on a daily basis. There is no should. Sure, there is a basic guideline that some midwives, doctors, paediatricians or (insert other “expert here”) have put together for new mums to refer to and ponder in the wee hours of the morning when baby isn’t doing whey he/she “should” be. But really? When did we stop listening to our gut? When did we stop using our own process of deduction and instead immediately google everything to find ‘the’ answer and another ‘should’ to try to live by? Its exhausting to think about, let alone live through.
I really urge you mums – be kind to yourself. Try, really try to rid this awful, insidious little word from your vocabulary and life. There is no should. The notion of should is directly implied from and tied to someone else’s experience or opinion, not yours. By all means, listen to friends, or valued people in your life, but please avoid adopting their should’s into your life. It doesn’t help and it sure as hell won’t make you happy on those big dirty stone days. (You know how it goes – some days are diamonds, others are big dirty great stones).
I get to see these days in my work role and have very mixed feelings about it. First and foremost I feel very privileged and proud that I have provided an environment that women feel they can let it out, be themselves, ask for help and seek some comfort or reassurance from other women. Secondly it rips my heart out as I feel their pain and wish I could do more to help. Thirdly I wish and encourage women on these days to just take a deep breath, ignore the shoulds and do whatever they need to do for themselves to get through that day.
If baby needs to be held, sometimes it helps to just go with it. Forget what you had in mind that you “should” do and just make a cuppa, sit somewhere comfy and get through the next hour, afternoon or evening. If the pram works, just pop bub in and go on an adventure. If baby passes out in the car, pull up under a big shady tree, recline your seat and have a sleep yourself. You would be amazed how much better you feel after a 20-30 minute power nap.
Keep water, a book, nappy change, spare clothes, wipes, food anything your need in the car so whatever arises you are both comfy and happy as can be.
Honestly some of my most refreshing naps were in the car. Aircon in the summer, nice warm sun in the winter, what’s not to love about that? My number two was a shitty day sleeper at home but get her in the car and bam. I had some great little spots that I knew so would just make a beeline there and pass out for a bit myself. I’m sure an expert would tell me I ‘shouldn’t’ have done that but it worked for us. We both got some much-needed shuteye and more importantly Katie got a much better version of mummy afterwards. I am not very patient, rational or calm when sleep deprived.
Whatever you need, work out how to get a dose of it on those stone days. Ask friends, training buddies, your mum, other family, but stay off the net and don’t listen to shoulds.
Yes you are, but reading that how do you feel? I love this and it couldn’t have popped up at a more relevant time for me. Yesterday I took the ‘day off’ to accompany my daughter to her school swimming carnival. Of course, I had at least 48 other things I coulda, woulda, shoulda been doing but as she is 9, and explicitly asked me to go with her I figured my invites are going to be ever decreasing as she discovers the embaressment that parents seem to bring as they age.
Let me say I had a feeling too. My daughter is one of the most determined girls I know. Honestly I love this about her. She decides she will do something and there is no holds barred, she goes for it, all in. Anyway, she had been extremely excited for days and kept telling me she was going to win some ribbons at this carnival. She asked me to go but I had work plans and a training ride I wanted to do that day so originally thought I couldn’t attend.
The morning swung around and I heard her voice in the dark explain to her daddy that she had to go to the toilet but didn’t turn the light on as she didn’t want to the light to wake her up. She needed to get back to sleep so she had energy for her carnival tomorrow. No sooner had she left the room but my alarm went off signalling the beginning of my long list of what I wanted to do that day. But I considered her words, thought of her little face, her excitement and wondered how many more carnivals I would get begged to go to. How much longer would she want me around. So I got up, put the kettle on, tucked her in and hit some of the work I had planned for that day at 5.15am.
We went to the carnival and she loved having me there. I watched her come second in the heats of freestyle, back and breaststroke. I got to see her little face when she touched the wall and hug her when she got out. I talked her through some strategy for the finals and when the time came screamed her name till my voice was hoarse. My little determined girl claimed first place in the final. We were both absolutely thrilled. I was proud as punch, she set her sights on something and went for it – boom!
I fucking love that kid. She amazes me. My heart has a physical solid feeling when I write that. Its tangible.
Anyway, the point is my day was not ‘productive’ as per the definition so many of us define our lives by. I missed my training ride that I had planned for two weeks prior, I made no headway in my studies, there were no business updates or progress as planned. But my daughter and I had a solid day. We made wonderful memories and I am so grateful. I will never forget that little face when she realised she won. Her eyes when I was giving her some tips, taking it all in. Her overflowing joy and self-assuredness as she trotted off to the marshalling area. Giving the winner a high five before she even got out of the pool. Her rallying her friends, giving and receiving support and congratulations. Her nerves as she approached the finals. I’ll take that over productivity any day.
Productivity is great, especially if you have a goal in mind. Productivity gives direction and measures your performance which can provide a great sense of achievement. This is all positive and most people feel a productive life is a satisfying one I get that. If some of this productivity is balanced with some down time and “lets throw plans to the wind” time it’s all good. I wholeheartedly believe it’s the non-productive times in your life that will be your favourite memories. These times will be what makes you smile, laugh and feel loved when you reflect on your life.
The post final face!
So often as mums we put all our efforts into our bub putting our own needs last, if at all. We think this makes us a good mum or don’t even think about it at all we just respond and do what we think we need to for baby without a second thought. Everything we have, selflessly goes to the baby. This happens with money too. We happily spend every cent we have on bub. We won’t think twice about spending if we think the baby needs it, or it will help with sleep, feeding or let’s be honest make them look cute!
But when it comes to spending money on ourselves we struggle. We forgo spending on ourselves even if we actually need something and In flies the guilt and the questions –
“Do I really need it?”,
“ I shouldn’t spend that on me when I’m not earning”,
“We are only on one income”
For the most part, these questions could field spending on ‘stuff’ that maybe no you don’t need like a house item or another set of something you have. But to cut spending on your own health, fitness, peace of mind, sanity, and sense of self is just ludicrous. Devoting time and money to your health and wellbeing is essential, not a luxury. Our health and happiness should be a priority over pretty much everything else.
A happy mum is far more important and beneficial to a bub than the latest thing or the most fashionable and expensive pram. A happy mum is in a better mindset to handle all that baby throws at her with a smile. A happy mum doesn’t cost much money. A group fitness class, a yoga class, a pair of runners to walk with the pram or start running with a friend, pool entry and coins for the crèche are all a happy mum needs. Whatever gets you moving, gets your bloody pumping and endorphins flowing is time and money well spent. For a happy you and a happy baby.
Prioritise and budget YOU into your life. Start today. You wont look back and you will be surprised at how big a difference such a little shift can make.