It was Saturday night, 11:30 pm and my three year old was nowhere close to being ready to pass out for the night. He had a late nap and this was my consequence; a wired child. He had been watching the IPad most of the afternoon triggering the lateness of said nap.
My tired brain was struggling and then the mom guilt started. I should have taken the IPad away, I should have put him down earlier, I should have done the dishes, I should have worked out and the spirals of the “should have’s” kept coming. Midnight rolled around and my sweet boy was fast asleep while I lay awake feeling like I failed at the entire day.
Does this sound familiar? Mom guilt is certainly not a new concept, is so real and apparent in our lives. Not sure if generations before us felt it quite like we do because, to be honest, they didn’t have the eyeglass into the rest of the world as we do. When I wrote Embracing my Hot Mess Mom-ness, I was trying to let go of this mom guilt. Stopping the madness of comparing myself with all my mom friends both in real life and on social media, but I want to take it a step further. I want to stop using the word should in my house.
Sounds silly huh? Think about it though, how many times to those negative thoughts that poke at our imperfections contain the word should? I should do the dishes, I should monitor my kids’ screen time, I should eat organic, I should work out, I should lose the baby weight, I should be over loss… etc. The list can be a mile long. Now, what happens when I take the should out? I embrace my loss, I like playing with my kids, dishes need to get done, I will work out, I am doing my best, I am making progress… See! Look how different that looks and even feels! I woke up this morning deciding to focus why I am doing certain things rather than I should be doing them.
Getting rid of the should’s helped me take the expectations out of chores, behavior, and even my blog. I didn’t get irritated at my husband for not pitching in on housework because he took six loads of laundry to the laundromat. I was able to see the progress my 12-year-old has made when I asked him to clean up his room and help with some basic chores without sulking, or how my toddler says please and thank you without being prompted all the time. Being mindful of not using the word should; did all of that for me. I was able to embrace my people for who they are rather than how they should be and see myself for the strong, independent woman I am rather than how I should be.
Try it, just for a day. When you feel the “should’s” creeping into your head alter the sentence, remove the guilt and move forward; see what difference it makes for you.