More. Defined as ‘something more than she expected’ or greater than what is already. A concept so prevalent in our society, a concept that defines our choices and our thoughts. But why? Mothers with young children are particularly vulnerable to the concept of ‘more’.
My facebook feed is full of posts from mothers in groups asking if their child’s sleep is normal. The anxiety and questions they raise are fair and just in a society that values conformity and arbitrary milestones and markers of a child’s growth and development. However, it strikes me as odd these mothers (I’m yet to see a father ask the same question) don’t recognise their question is the same as so many others, and feel affirmed by this. In fact, I see so many mothers continuing to feel concerned and worried that their child isn’t conforming, despite evidence that there is really no such thing as one standard path of development.
I myself have fallen victim to this worrying; having anxiety about development is par for the course when you have a child with additional needs as they definitely do not conform. I worried so much about Ripley’s sleep when he was little (less than 12 months) and felt so inept that I could not get him to sleep independently or for longer stretches of time. Now I look back on it and recognise that not only did he have multiple factors preventing good sleep, but many parts of it were biologically normal infant sleep behaviours. Things like catnapping or waking frequently, they can be so normal. And children who sleep solidly from a young age, that can be normal too! Lucky for those parents; but unlikely to be anything they did specifically.
In fact, there is plenty of evidence that sleep training doesn’t result in better sleep, and many that do sleep train, end up having to do it over and over again after ‘leaps’ or periods of intense development occur. Tracy Cassells talks about whether sleep training works in a lot of detail on her website.
So I want to ask you, mama, you are so tired, you are sick of worrying, so why don’t you stop? Just stop?
I have embraced simpler living and minimalism as a tool to reduce worry and anxiety. For me, eliminating clutter and freeing up my money and time for the things I enjoy is crucial to reducing my worry and anxiety. I have a range of friends who have adopted a similar mindset, and I have a range of friends who haven’t. So many people feel comfortable being busy, working full time or having a lot of debt. That’s OK. The Barefoot Investor often says, if you can’t sleep at night, then you know you have to make a change. The only problem I have with this is sometimes you are worried underneath and you don’t want to admit it to yourself. Sometimes you might be sick and tired of worrying underneath the armour you put on every morning. Sometimes you might wonder if spending so much money on clothes, food, nice cars and fancy holidays really makes you happy?
But, there is a problem with this theory: sometimes you are worried underneath and you don’t want to admit it to yourself. Sometimes you might be sick and tired of worrying underneath the armour you put on every morning. Sometimes you might wonder if spending so much money on clothes, food, nice cars and fancy holidays really makes you happy?
Women throughout history and particularly in the past 150 years have fought hard for equal rights. We still don’t have them worldwide, and things like domestic violence, glass ceilings and equal pay for equal jobs are things we still continue to fight for, but we do have many choices. Being overwhelmed by choice is not an uncommon phenomenon. Having to choose from two crappy choices: such as working for little money due to the cost of childcare or staying home with crazy kiddos when you’d love some adult time, they are two difficult choices. Not everyone can stay at home on a single income because it depends on the income and your choices. But having a better lifestyle, with less stress, more time and more money doesn’t only come about from increasing your income. You can decrease your costs and your expectations and end up with more of everything.
If you are worried and anxious, sick and tired of maintaining the lifestyle that you think you need, take a moment to reflect on what you really want from life, and set out a path to get you there. Not only will you be so pleased once you see the benefits, but your kids will reap the benefits from a happier and contented parent.