Worry is often present in our lives, but never more so than during motherhood.
Ironically as the saying goes, ‘worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere’.
In the newborn days and even beyond, parents can be consumed with guilt and concern about their parenting abilities, and spend nights lying awake over analysing every new parenting decision made earlier that day.
Later down the path of parenthood, you may have more confidence in your ability, but you’ll still probably spend hours worrying about whether your child is happy, and whether you are giving motherhood your absolute best.
Some worry is almost unavoidable. You will also fret over whether your children are happy and secure, whether they are safe, and whether you are doing a good job and giving them the best start in life.
There are some things, however, that you can stop worrying about right now. Here are just a few of them:
#1: The Mess
Childbirth can be a messy business — most people are aware of that — but people don’t realise that what comes after is messy too.
Your house will take on the appearance of a ransacked den, as you spend your days desperately searching for clean muslin cloths amidst the rubble of breast pads, soft toys and tiny mismatching socks. Each time you have a visitor you will either spend hours cleaning up before they arrive, or spend hours worrying about what they thought of you after they leave. Stop worrying about it, mess is a part of motherhood.
So what if you haven’t seen your carpet in months? A quick glance at your smiling baby will remind you that you are doing a great job. And remember – nothing is permanent. This is nothing but a stage that will pass. Before you know it, your little one will be moving out of home and you’ll miss the toys strewn across the room and a happy baby playing amongst them.
#2: Other People’s Children
It’s the curse of motherhood, no matter how many times you say you won’t, you can’t help but compare your kids to their peers. When another child rolls over first, you worry if yours is falling behind. When other babies learn to crawl whilst yours sits still, you wonder if she is lazy. With each new milestone comes a whole new set of worries. Let go of this now, it’s not helpful to your child and it’s certainly not helpful for you.
All children are different. Can you tell which grown up rolled first or last? Nope. Rolling first doesn’t make you a genius, nor does rolling last make you a slow learner. So, why worry?
#3: Not Living Up To Your Pre-Motherhood Expectations
During pregnancy, and maybe even before, you probably had a very vivid picture of what sort of mother you would be. You had also probably decided what sort of kids you would have. And now you may be dealing with the disappointment that you haven’t quite lived up to those dreamy goals.
Perhaps you gave up breastfeeding sooner than you expected, or maybe your kids spend more time in front of the television than you ever thought you’d allow, or maybe your kids can’t sit quietly through a four hour train journey. It doesn’t matter. Really, it doesn’t.
Whatever your pre-motherhood conceptions were, get rid of them now. Back then you had no idea how hard parenting was, or how tired you would get. Now you are learning first hand about all things parenting, and what you feel and know now is worth a million times more than the ideas of motherhood you held back then.
#4: Not Being Perfect
Life isn’t perfect, it’s really not. No matter what Pinterest might have you believe, nobody lives in a perfectly tidy house, with angelic children, and drinks only the recommended amount of wine each week.
That photograph of the beautiful living room you pinned was taken after a giant clean up that included picking raisins out from under the sofa cushions. The amazing toddler craft activity you saw a blogger write about probably took hours to set up, and almost certainly ended in a tantrum of some description. Stop worrying about perfection, it’s an unattainable goal. What you see isn’t always what you think.
#5: Kid Style
That coat looked so adorable in the magazine, but now that it’s covered in chocolate buttons, paint and snot it is a little less appealing on your child. The hairband looked cute in the store, but your child refuses to brush her hair first.
No matter how many adorable matching outfits you buy for your child, she only ever wants to go out in her Elsa dress. It doesn’t matter, let it go (ahem). It doesn’t matter whether your child has a picture-perfect bun, dresses like Harper Seven, and looks adorable on every outing. It matters that she is having fun, going on adventures and enjoying her childhood.
#6: Taking Shortcuts
There are 24 hours in a day, but the average mother needs at least double that to get everything done. There are mouths to feed, bodies to dress, pennies to earn, and stress to release. There is a mountain of laundry, a library book to find (help) and a birthday cake to bake. There are also adventures to be had, games to be played and stories to be read.
Don’t beat yourself up about taking shortcuts that free up time. Whether you buy a fancy dress costume instead of making one from scratch, opt for ready made baby food to save you hours in the kitchen, or have a cleaner to help keep your home feel more livable to you – let go of the guilt. You’re simply paying for someone else’s time when you don’t have enough.
#7: Age Appropriate Behaviour
Parents spend a ridiculous amount of time worrying about age appropriate behaviour. Only months later, with the benefit of hindsight, will you realise that your time would have been better spent catching up your favourite television show.
First off, babies snatch. They just do. Your baby is not a bad person or a future criminal, he’s just a baby. Toddlers have tantrums, you aren’t a terrible mother and he isn’t unhinged, he’s just a toddler.
Children fight for independence, it’s an important part of brain development, learning and growing up, it’s doesn’t mean you’ve done a terrible job or that he hates you, just that he’s growing up.
As adults we know what we know because we were taught how to do them, and you have to learn from somewhere. See everything you do as an opportunity to teach your child something new — even if some of those lessons have to be taught over and over again. We learn by repetition and what we see.
#8: What Other People Think
One of the hardest aspects of parenting is parenting in public. All of a sudden, the opinions of every stranger in the vicinity seems to take up your every thought, and you may even find yourself tailoring your parenting to this. Don’t.
Ignore the on-lookers, and instead be true to yourself and your child. Who cares if a lady you don’t know thinks you’re making a rod for your own back, or if the old guy in the shop thought you gave in to a tantrum? They don’t know you, and your parenting won’t impact on their future. Be the sort of parent you want to be, no matter who is looking.
Easier said than done, but financial worries are something that cause a lot of lost sleep. No matter how much you have, you will always wish you had more. There will always be something else you could spend money on. Instead of spending time worrying about all the things you can’t buy or do, spend time focusing on the things you can. Enjoy what you have, and seek out adventures that cost nothing but your time. Value memories, not things. Because only your memories will stay with you forever.
#10: The Future
There’s a saying that explains when you live the past, you end up depressed, and when you live the future you can end up anxious. But if you live in the now, your life will be so much more peaceful.
You simply cannot know what the future holds. It’s impossible. Worrying about it means that you waste away time being miserable, so instead of wishing away your years, try to focus on being present in the moment. Make the most out of right now, and then in the future you won’t look back and regret wasted time. Plan for the future, but don’t lose sleep over it. If you need help, look into mindfulness and meditation, which is great for calming the mind.
You’re doing great, mum and dad. We all love our babies very much, and do the very best we can with what we have.
By not worrying about these things listed above, you can be more present and enjoy more moments with your children, which fly by oh so fast. You’ll wish you didn’t worry so much, because you all turned out just fine.