A few months ago, or possibly even a year ago now (hard to keep track in 2020!), I was having a bad day. A really bad day. I was majorly sleep deprived with my youngest teething and my 3yr old well, being a 3yr old! I was in tears to a friend because I hadn’t been as calm as I wanted to be with my toddler. “I know better!” I was saying to her, “Why didn’t I do better?!” I was filled with guilt and felt like a bad mum. This day stands out in my mind because it highlights to me how much pressure I was putting on myself to do better, no matter what.
Over the past 5 years I have gathered all sorts of parenting information from books, blogs, podcasts, apps, friends and yes… memes! So much information on what to do and what not to do in order to be a good mum. That much information can get overwhelming – especially when you’ve had broken sleep for weeks that stretch into months, and you haven’t had a break in what feels like a year! Subconsciously, I was creating an ideal of the mum I should be pieced together from all of this information. And with more information coming, the ideal was getting bigger, and more confusing making it harder and harder to reach.
And yet, I had it in my mind that I needed to live up to this ideal every day no matter what – no matter how tired, exhausted or depleted. Basically, I was putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself and when I didn’t reach this ideal, I would beat myself up mentally and my sense of self-worth would plummet.
How is it possible to do better when being so self-critical? How can I be the best mum I can be if I’m putting myself down and putting unfair expectations on myself? I realised in order to do better, be better and feel better, I needed to be a lot kinder to myself.
If you’re anything like I used to be, you may find it difficult to praise yourself or show yourself kindness. If that is the case, think of it like this. You know your child’s favourite toy? The one that lights them up. That one toy that follows them everywhere and they cling to as they fall asleep. The one that you care for as much as your child does because you know how much they love it and how sad they would be if it were damaged or lost. Well, your child loves you a billion times more than they love that favourite toy… so you’d better take care of you!
Here are a couple of suggestions to help ease the pressure and show yourself kindness on the tough days;
First: Ask yourself a Few Questions to See Your Day in Better Context;
How much sleep did I have the night before?
Is my baby teething?
Are my kids sick or going through a growth spurt?
Am I feeling overwhelmed?
Am I worried about something or someone?
And in 2020 – How am I coping in lockdown and our new normal?
It’s important to ask ourselves these sorts of questions and really think about where we are emotionally and physically each day, to see how much we have left in the tank. Be kind to yourself on the days your tank is running low, by not asking too much of yourself.
Second: Change Your Perception of ‘Doing Better.’
Doing better doesn’t mean you have to be a Supermum every day.
Doing better can be letting go of expectations on the days you feel exhausted.
Doing better can be speaking to yourself the way you would to your best friend – with kindness, understanding and love.
Doing better can be reaching out and asking for help.
It can be allowing yourself to slow down and take things moment by moment.
And it can be taking time to appreciate you and all that you do in a day – especially if “all” you do that day is nurture your kids (For as we all know that’s much more important than anything else on our ‘to do list’).
By simply thinking in this way, you are taking care of yourself, valuing yourself and improving your self-worth – which in my opinion, is definitely “doing better.”
Having taken the pressure off myself, these days I feel a lot calmer. I have let go of the confusing, overwhelming ideal and have become more present. And because I no longer equate bad days to me being a bad mum, I’m a lot happier.
We’re all striving to do our best and the simple fact that you want to do better, shows how much you love your kids – and that makes you an awesome mum.
Much love and gratitude,