This morning I finished mapping out our family calendar for the next four weeks and let me tell you there is not a lot of white space. Softball games, orthodontist appointments, school holidays and birthday parties are just a few of the things filling up our time in the weeks ahead. And of course, none of what’s on the calendar factors in all the other “stuff” that requires our time and attention like homework, tests and school projects. And then don’t forget all the family obligations that will naturally build up around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. With so many things clawing for your attention, it’s normal for it to feel overwhelming. If you’re anything like me, you mentally remind yourself how much “fun” all this is, but physically your body collapses into bed, exhausted every night.
Mental reminders can be your best friend, keeping you on schedule, checking off the to-do’s and making sure everything is going as planned (as much as you possibly can). These mental reminders are kind of like the angel sitting on your shoulder – they look out for you and encourage you as you go about your day. We all know how the story goes, while the angel sits on one shoulder, her nemesis sits on the other. The nemesis wears a scowl and likes to use a word that starts with sh…. Do you know what it is?
This word likes to run frantically through our brains. It unabashedly applies itself to every area of our lives; no topic, person or situation is off limits. This word paralyzes many to a point of indecision, unable to move forward or backward.
During these days when life gets busy, the “shoulds” seem to get louder. Your stress-level is already high, and one carefully placed should is enough to send the Jenga tower of your to-do list toppling over. Or the other thing that happens is you go into auto-pilot – never questioning the “should”, just doing it because it is what “should” be done.
So what do we do to save ourselves from the tidal wave of “should”? Simply by being aware of how the “should” influences you and controls your perspective will allow you the space to reconsider the “should” of the situation.
The thesaurus provides some very interesting synonyms for the word should including consider, enjoy, experience and feel. How do we really know if we should do something until we consider our own thoughts? Do we ever contemplate if the “should” is going to bring us joy? Maybe we need to experience it for ourselves before we know if we should, or should not, do it? And how can we ever make a decision on what to do if we don’t think about how it makes us feel?
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.