In this blog post, I will be exploring an aspect of parenting that has plagued many of us (mothers and fathers alike) and continues to do. For me, it is probably the part I enjoy the least; it can lead to gut wrenching scenarios playing in my mind of situations I have little to no control over. I’m talking about the dreaded “w” word – worry. If there is one thing most parents have in common, it is dealing with worry.
We all know that worrying has never solved a single issue in the history of the world. It can cause unnecessary mental anguish and torment we could all quite frankly do without. But that has never stopped anyone from bordering on its territory. In fact, some of us darn right reside there on a consistent basis. Born out of our need to make sure our children will be okay in a world that isn’t always kind, safe or pleasant, we can worry when we come to the realization that much of what happens in life is not in our control at all. No matter how much you tell your child to look both ways before crossing the road, you cannot control whether a raging lunatic driving recklessly will appear on the scene. This can be scary, especially when they are out of your sight.
I once asked a friend who has a child a few years older than my first born, “Do you get to a point where you stop worrying about them?” To which she responded, “No, you just worry about different things as they get older.” Well, that sucks, was my next thought. At the time, I felt like I was stuck in a never-ending cycle and prison of worrying – is he sleeping too much? Is he eating enough? Is he hitting his key milestones? You name it, I worried about it. As a first-time mum, I didn’t know what to expect, and having lived life relatively carefree up until that point, it was a ginormous shift of mindset for me. I recall sleepless nights where negative thoughts would play on my mind; I’d worry, and then worry about worrying too much! All this combined with the stress of motherhood made the first few months a strange stage for me.
On the positive side, having a second child has eradicated some of the outrageous things I used to lose sleep over as a first-time mum. I put it down to experience, having more confidence in my ability to keep a little baby alive, well, and happy, and some practical steps I’ve established. I recall an incident (which I can now laugh about) with my son as a newborn where he was simply coughing from drinking too much milk in the middle of the night. My paranoid and stressed-out mind deduced that he was choking. Cue the screams for help and cries for my husband to go and wake up our neighbors, since neither of us knew how to perform infant CPR and the ambulance would simply take too long to arrive. My poor (and patient) husband took one look at the baby, who at this point was yawning and dozing off back to lala land, and knew his wife was from another planet. Thankfully, no such incidents have occurred this second time round; a few months in and there have been no superfluous visits of the childrens’ A&E department.
For my own peace of mind and sanity, I have purposefully sought out ways to remove needless anxiety from my parenting journey. It was inhibiting me from enjoying the days and precious moments as a mother and I made the decision that enough was enough.
“Do not worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.”
As a Christian, I believe my bible when it says I should not be anxious about anything. Prayer is my key to releasing my fears and worries and committing them to a God who is in control. I may not have all the answers or be able to control every situation, but He has the final say. This alone fills me with a sense of calm and assurance that I can breathe easy, pray, and let God handle whatever it is that I cannot.
Ask: What Advice Would You Give Yourself?
This is a simple practice. If the tables were turned and a friend was driving themselves to an early grave worrying about everything, what would you tell them? Thinking things through from a perspective outside of yourself can put things into context and help you realize that it is not that serious.
Speak To A Trusted Sounding Board
We can all probably identify one person in our day to day lives that is a voice of reason and will not hesitate to put us back in check when we begin to lose it. If you don’t have such a person, I strongly recommend you find one. Speaking to a trusted friend/acquaintance, having that support system, and having a listening ear can help relieve some of our worries. Sometimes all it takes to overcome our issues is simply hearing how we sound when we explain it to an external source. Other times, we need this person to slap some verbal sense into us.
Focus On The Positives
Sometimes when a creeping (usually random) worrying thought tries to encroach on my psyche, I just shut it down immediately. Entertaining negative scenarios and ruminating on them only feeds the beast until it has you backed up and cornered. I focus on the positives and what I can control. Anything outside of this is not my business; I refer myself back to tip number one.
In the few years I have been a parent, I can say that 99% of the things I worried about have never come to pass, and I very much doubt they will. So, mummies, let us not rob ourselves of the opportunity to enjoy every part of our journey (even the toddler tantrums); life is short, and it loves the liver of it. Let’s live and continue to thrive… without worrying.