How mums can rock their unique shade of grey
As parents we all want to get things right, right? But what does that actually mean? Who’s right and who’s wrong? Is it really so black and white?
I’ve been pondering this one recently – surely there’s no one size fits all.
Look at other cultures, countries, demographics - if they do things differently are we assuming that they’re all wrong? That they’re bad mothers? I think we all do things differently and we have our strengths and weaknesses too. Some people really prioritise breast feeding…but do so glued to their phone. Someone else might be best friends with Cow and Gate but won’t look at social media at feeding time. Who is absolutely right? Who is wrong? What does this even mean???!
Does the mum who tries to do everything right but at the detriment of her own wellbeing make a perfect mum? I personally don’t think so. We are a vital component in the mix and if we’re bashing ourselves with a stick the whole time that can’t be a good thing. I think it’s time to give up bashing ourselves and each other for not being ‘perfect parents’ or mums that can do it all. Lets face it none of us do everything perfectly. You wouldn’t be human if you did.
Not going quite to plan
It’s also so easy to see our deficits and ignore what we do awesomely well. I managed 4 weeks breast feeding…yep 4 weeks. While there were reasons for this I felt (and was made to feel) a borderline abusive parent for stopping so soon. What the !!!?? This had a catastrophic impact on my wellbeing that of course affected my family. I completely discounted all the amazing good stuff I was doing – it didn’t even register. Now before the backlash and rampage I’m not saying that breast feeding isn’t good, beneficial or important. What I’m saying is that it’s an example of how sometimes, for whatever reason, things don’t work out as planned and a parent may be doing the best they can with what they’ve got.
Time to tune in
Likewise, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to going back to work. I’ve seen women blanch when their friends return after the minimum amount of time. I’ve also heard how mums that have opted to stay at home feel they ‘should’ be doing something more, that they should be in a high flying career. This is why it’s just soooo important to tune into who you really are, what you want, what works for you and your family. There’s no right or wrong way….just your way.
So if things aren’t so black and white, how can we enjoy living in our own perfectly unique shade of grey?
Here are some thoughts about enjoying life more.
Sometimes it can feel awkward when people ask you about the thing you either don’t want to discuss, you’re not sure of or that you haven’t come to a conclusion about. This is where pre-planning a clear ‘statement’ answer you can dish out in multiple situations can come in handy. For example, if you’re undecided about your next career steps then saying something like “I’m looking into my options at the moment …” is a perfectly honest, straightforward and respectable answer. No need to delve any deeper than that.
Not everyone is going to agree with the way you roll – your shade of ‘grey’ - but really owning what you’re doing in life can really help to override criticism both from yourself and from others. It’s totally refreshing when you see someone who is really comfortable with where they’re at. It’s like they’re not putting themselves up for judgement. It’s inspiring to be around people like this even if their lifestyle choices aren’t for you.
According to whom?
If you’re on the receiving end of criticism or ‘advice’ that’s making you feel bad remember you don’t have to listen. Most advice or criticism is an opinion right? You don’t have to accept it or agree. This is also true when your ‘inner critic’ kicks in.
You can use certain questions to help you evaluate criticism so you don’t take it on face value. For example, ask yourself where might this be coming from (is the source of the criticism biased in any way). Where’s the evidence for what they’re saying (or for what you’re saying to yourself)? What’s the alternative view (what would someone else say)?
If you’re on the receiving end of criticism or ‘advice’ that is causing you grief there’s a simple 2-step tactic you can use to diffuse the situation.
- Rather than arguing or disagreeing with the person simply agree with them. This diffuses the situation straight away.
- After you have agreed with them state what you are doing or what you want to do.
Here’s an example:
Critic “You should be there to pick up the kids…”
You “I’m sure you’re right but we’re going to use the after school club a couple of days a week as they love it.”
Keep repeating the process until they abate. By agreeing with them “I can see that’s a good idea, I can see how that works for you…” you’re not resisting what they’re saying or creating conflict. However, you’re also clearly stating what you’re doing and your individual standpoint.
Try it, it works!
Accept your flaws
It’s easier to accept yourself warts and all when you consider that human beings are not perfect – imperfection is a fundamental human trait. I’m not perfect but I am perfectly human.
Find your tribe
Surround yourself with supportive people – particularly if you’re going through a period of change. Find your tribe and people who accept you for you. We’re not all the same and that’s ok.
I hope you’re rocking your unique shade of grey! If you’re not sure what your unique shade looks like then get in touch and lets find out.