It’s no wonder mothers are burning out bigger than ever.
Overwhelmed with so-called parenting goals and objectives, strategies, systems, parenting styles, fashions, opinions, too much information and scaremongering.
And let’s not forget the utter fear that we’re going to fuck up our kids if we’re not doing things ‘perfectly’ right.
Yet the irony is if we let all that go…
Let go of all the pressure and fear…
Let go of the parenting styles and fashions…
We would be far better mothers.
Allowing ourselves to relax and actually enjoy being this! Their mother!
To see parenting as fun and lighthearted. To tone down the seriousness.
And bring in a bit more play – our kids would be delighted, to say the least.
So that’s why I’m writing this today.
To impart some comforting and constructive words if the societal pressure strikes you hard (and you believe the bullshit).
Parenting Goals and Objectives
First off – I am the biggest hypocrite. Let me lay it all down on the table!
I used to be very goal-oriented, especially when I was a new mama just 3 short years ago.
But since suffering badly from burnout last year following the birth of our second baby, I accept that I’ll NEVER achieve the goals I’d set myself no matter how hard I worked.
So I shifted my stance.
To recover from burnout, I stopped everything.
Under my husband’s orders, we went away for a week’s break in Wales, and I just stopped.
I cancelled my clients. Ended my well-being coaching career. Stopped marketing. Shut down social media.
Gave up on my endless chores – cleaning, washing and tidying constantly.
I stopped ringing people too and became a bit of a hermit for a good few months til my head got back together.
Eventually, I shredded the ‘good girl’ exterior I’d been living my entire life because I discovered how much better life was without it.
Ditched working full-time while mothering full-time (it’s impossible, so don’t try it).
I held my hands high and said, “I’ve had enough:” And therein lies my salvation.
Or, to be less biblical, I got my life back on track.
Long-Term Parenting Goals
What happened, in a nutshell, was that I shifted my focus from short-term, instant results that held me back to looking long-term at what I wanted from my life.
I damn well knew what I wanted when I was asked this question:
‘Could I attempt to visualise what I’d be thinking about when on my death bed in those last final moments?’
Ouch. Deep, huh?
I knew I wanted to remember and recall a rich, honest, deep relationship with my closest family – my husband and children.
I wanted to be alive every day, seeing reality for what it is.
Not in some cloud land where my thoughts take over my life. I didn’t necessarily need to be happy every day.
But just to be here, now, being present. That is what I want.
And I know my 97-year-old self reminds me of this when I get frustrated at my little boy taking forever to put his shoes on!
Some of the things I did to shift my focus included reconnecting with family members I’d lost contact with, which had left me heartbroken.
I also researched what makes for a healthy relationship with my children. Science wise.
How can I step up and be better to my kids when they need me in times of meltdowns and crisis?
I looked into child psychology and began understanding the fragile but ultra clever minds of very young children.
I started listening to a more positive role model and spending quality time reading their books rather than scrolling.
Also stopped watching the news – not that I don’t follow it, but I didn’t need to watch it so religiously.
Then I prioritised taking care of myself more and forgiving myself if something wrong happens, or if I don’t end up putting the laundry away for a week.
Have you ever asked yourself what you want long-term in life?
Or who do you want your children to see you as?
These are two powerful questions to ask yourself if stress feelings overcome you, or exhaustion, or any other modern-day ‘fast life’ ailment.
First off, we’re ditching goals here in this post. Goals as parents are out the door!
Instead, let’s invite our own version of ourselves and our life in our own words.
Not based on what’s happening on social media or what our mummy/daddy friends are doing.
It’s our own (as in your own) creation for you to design however you want.
Here’s an idea I wish to share that may help.
It’s particularly good if you’re feeling stuck, lost or anxious about raising kids and navigating life (aren’t we all?)
It’s a visualisation exercise, which I often do, to get me into a better mindset.
All you do is close your eyes, find a peaceful moment, and visualise the future version of yourself in the best way possible.
- What you want to do in 5 years’ time and who with?
- What are your children saying about you?
- How are you dressed and what state of health your body is in?
- Where are you living and in what environment?
- What activities are you doing or working on?
Spend a few moments getting clear on your future self, and this will largely help you in the now.
It’ll give you a different picture on your circumstances, putting you into power and ownership over your life.
The most important aspect of parenting is the relationship you build with your child.
The best parents I know take a light-hearted, down-to-earth approach, making parenting fun yet still sticking to their boundaries when necessary.
(As a new mom it can be hard to know if what you’re doing this right. If this is you – I recommend you read this.)
One shift for me is when I find myself getting frustrated. Being home alone all day looking after two little ones can take its toll. I always ask myself ‘what would effective parents do right now?’
And I found the answer to be… They take time out.
Just a 5-second escape from the chaos can give your mind that time to halt the trigger, calm down your nervous system, and get you back into a more controlled state of mind.
Also, asking what your child feels as a result of your encounter is always good.
I’m always reflecting, asking myself, ‘What did they just hear? How did I just make them feel?’
This helps me be a better mother, hands down.
My worries which keep me awake at night do not revolve around my kids funnily enough.
I worry about you! Their mother. Because these are my thoughts about modern motherhood.
- The health of the mother. Her sanity, her happiness, her physical body and her health are a result of how she’s feeling right now, and who knows how this may affect her in the future?
- The mother’s memories of this precious time of life with her children in 50-60 years time from now.
- The children. What will they remember from their mum feeling this way? And how’s it impacting them?
If there is any area of life where you want to do some goal setting, make it your OWN health and wellbeing.
Take the focus off your kids, and redirect that focus to yourself. Believe me; your kids will reap the rewards, as will you.
Positive relationships flourish when the individuals themselves are healthy.
Mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
A balanced diet is something we all hear about, but are you really eating right? If not, no wonder you’re low on energy and feeling ugly.
Heart disease is the biggest killer by far – and I don’t know about you, but I want to see my grandchildren’s faces light up when I cheer them on at sports day in 30 – 40 + years time.
Looking after myself now means I maximise my chances of making that happen. This is why healthy eating and exercise is essential to me.
At the end of the day, it’s only me who can make my life what I want it to be. Same for you! It’s only you who can do the things to make the things happen.
Here are some journal questions that might help you get started on this process of ditching parenting goals and objectives, and instead, liberating yourself and enjoying the freedom that comes with it!
- How do I want my children to think of me?
- What do I want my children to remember?
- Where do I want to be in 5 years’ time?
- What do I want my life to look like in the next 10, 20, 30 years?