Stay at home Mums can equally feel stressed. They often place expectations on themselves that as they're not at work they should have a beautiful home. They expect themselves to do everything for the family because that is their "job". They feel guilty when they don't get it all done.
At the root of these concerns are the "should's" and "shouldn'ts" that cause us stress:
- I should attend my children's school events
- I shouldn't allow parenting to get in the way of my work
- I shouldn't allow work to get in the way of parenting
- I should be able to manage my home
- I shouldn't drop the kids off in my pyjamas
- I should feed my kids home cooked food
- I shouldn't feed my kids crisps
- I should read with my children everyday
- I shouldn't shout at my kids
As you can see, the list is never ending.
And the result? The constant feeling of chasing our tails and running to stay still. Life feeling like it is racing past us. A nagging feeling of disbelief that our children's lives are passing so quickly and yet there is so little time to enjoy them.
That can be another "should". "I should be enjoying this"!
Perhaps these feelings are trying to give us a message. Perhaps it's time to take things a little more slowly and examine some of these beliefs and the effect they're having on our mental health. Perhaps it's time to work out if there is a better way and see if we can implement it.
Understand the "Should's"
The first step in feeling a little less stressed is to recognize what you are telling yourself about this situation. Is there a "should" or "shouldn't" - such as the ones listed above - at play here? Guilty feelings are often an indicator that there are.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you should be doing something?
Where does that "should" come from?
Is it perhaps something that you've inherited from your family? My Mum was always stressed about what people would think if she had an untidy house, and for a long time I felt the same way.
Is it perhaps something that you've picked up from social media, advertisements, the news, or the people around you? An example of this is children's food. There are a lot of blogs and news items telling mothers what they "should" feed their children.
Are these "should's" your own? Or are they other people's?
Understand the Fears
Underlying these "should's" is the fear of getting it wrong. What does that mean anyway?
The "should's" and "shouldn'ts" are about proving to other people that we're OK. We are people who can run a house, a home, a job and a family. It's a breeze!
It's about trying to be acceptable to other people and fearing rejection.
It's about the fear that if other people reject us, that means we are unacceptable and no good.
It's about listening to other people's opinions on what we should be doing rather than deciding for ourselves.
There is a Better Way!
How about freeing yourself from the heavy burden of "should's"?
How about trying to work out what is important to you, free of the expectations of others?
How about deciding what you want to work towards in terms of your life, and putting plans in place to do so?
If you begin to honour yourself - what you truly want for yourself and your family - it is a lot easier to let go of the fear of rejection.
This is a daily task. It involves reminding yourself each day of what is important to you and finding small ways to work towards your life goals. So you decide your priorities. You decide where you want to focus your energy. You take responsibility for what you want your life to be.
As you take responsibility for yourself, the opinions of others becomes less important. You have less time to worry about what other people think because you're too busy working towards your own life goals.
If you'd like to talk this through with me in more detail, do please get in touch.