"Don't cry over spilt milk"
We've all heard this saying over and over again. We know it in logic, but why is it that we continue to get caught up in the small stuff until we boil over or break down.
I can literally feel it in my body when I have attached myself to certain outcomes and hang onto the picture in my mind of how things were 'supposed to go'.
I clean the house and expect it to stay tidy. I go to bed and expect to get a full night's sleep. I ask the kids to get dressed and expect them to comply straight away. I expect to eat my dinner without having to get up. I picture the nice long, hot shower I'm going to have without having the door opened. I picture being able to watch Oprah without noise.
None of this happens every single time the way I picture it. In fact rarely does any of this happen. Yet I continue to hang onto the picture in my mind that says it 'should' happen this way and then get all cranky when it doesn't.
I think it's time to just let go, relax, realise that this is the reality of parenting and that there is NOTHING I can do about it. NOTHING, I say. I mean I can sit here and go over and over in my head all of the reasons why I should be able to do things uninterrupted and how annoying it is that I can't and how in the good old days I could do this and do that and be free.
However, and this is the cold, harsh reality of parenting that we MUST accept if we are going to stop motherhood stress, SOMETIMES THINGS AREN'T GOING TO GO TO PLAN!
As a mum we are constantly going to be dealing with fights, messy houses, changed plans, literally spilt milk, tantrums, sleepless nights or broken sleep and noisy, whingeing children.
This is the downside to being a parent and it's not going to change. However what can change is your mindset. You have the choice to get bogged down in all this 'not getting what you want' mindset, or you can start to train your mind to look at things in a different way.
Here are 5 things that can help you to do this:
1. Look at what you ARE getting out of that situation. What is the benefit of this situation either for you or your child (they are learning, you are learning, they are healthy, this happening means......., etc)
2. What can you do about the situation? Yes this has happened (reality), so what am I going to do about it, rather than let your thoughts go into that unproductive internal rant that only leads to stress.
3. How can I set me and my kids up for success? If it's a meal without interruption or a shower, how can you set it up so that it happens that way, rather than you just expecting it to miraculously occur (denial!). How can I manipulate the situation to get what I want (this is where bribery....er....sorry....I mean negotiation is awesome, or distraction).
4. When things don't go the way you expected them too, recognise that the picture is now different to what you had envisaged in your mind and let it go. That picture you had is not reality. What you are experiencing is the new reality. You MUST accept this reality to stop your stress and do not let your mind get into that destructive conversation about your preferred outcome. Once you accept this new reality, then go back to point 2.
5. Smile. Seriously, this will make you feel better. Keep that smile pasted on your face until you start to feel better. There is a lot of power in this tip, so try it when you feel yourself getting stressed out. Try to think of something funny that happened in the past while you are doing it too, as this will help the smile feel authentic.
At the end of the day, motherhood is full of some of the most unbelievably rewarding and gratifying moments life could offer, yet it is also filled with the biggest challenges life could offer.
It is always going to come down to our mindset and what we are saying to ourselves that influences how we feel about these ups and downs and it is this mindset that I urge you to (and continue to myself) work on over and over and over again so that you can enjoy more of this motherhood role instead of getting stuck in 'what's not happening'.
For more information on how to change your mindset, purchase your copy of The Happy Mum Handbook.