Learning to Do Less. To Be More.
Do you carry around a list of belief of what you have to do or what you believe is expected of you but if you stop to think about it, those beliefs are just robbing you. Of time. Of energy. Of joy.
My aha moment started when I couldn't find the olives in the grocery store. It was a different store. I was tired and wanted to be done but we can't have tacos or pizza in our house without olives. And then right in front of me was a display. Like a taco Tuesday display. Because that's a thing now.
But the display only had sliced olives. You wouldn't think this would give me pause but I've always bought whole olives and sliced them myself. Not sure how it started. Or even why. Maybe to save a few pennies? Don't remember. I just did it without question.
Until this week. Because I could only find the sliced olives. As I stood in my kitchen and opened that can and put those sliced olives on the pizza, I thought what have I been missing . This was so easy. And fast. And maybe even a little freeing.
See I love to cook and bake and make goodies from scratch. But somewhere along the way that became an identity I gave myself. And that identity now felt like a cage.
I'd always made things from scratch. Like I didn't know any other way. I don't say this as a badge of honor. Simply fact. Somewhere along the way I adopted this belief that was who I had to be. No matter how busy. How stressed. Or how much I didn't want to make cookies or pie or cake for a family gathering. Or I wanted to serve grilled cheese or pancakes for dinner.
The thought of not making pizza crust from scratch would cause me actual stress. Like there was tiny hidden cameras in my kitchen that would tell the world that I was cheating. Because that's what if felt like.
Cookies. Granola bars. Birthday cakes. Donuts.
I had to noodle my own zucchini. Peel and chop the butternut squash. Applesauce. Chicken nuggets. French Fries. Tomato sauce. Popsicles.
It became exhausting. And no longer fun. It was like I was carrying around this thick suit of armor to hide my imperfections behind. The expectations and perfections that I'd placed on myself. The idea I was letting everyone else down. And that felt impossible to give up.
And as I stood there with my can of sliced olives, I thought of so many moms and how we place ourselves in this space of doing because we believe it has become our identity. We've removed choice. Or space for our needs. and wants. and desires.
The mom who's room mom of her child's class year after year because she's the one who volunteered that first year. And now she feels this unspoken expectation. Or the mom who does Pinterest worthy birthday parties every year because she did it one year and everyone raved and talked about how they can't wait to see what she does next year. Or the mom who is the ultimate team player at work and continues to take projects with a smile because everyone depends on her.
I'm not saying that if you truly enjoy being room mom or throwing themed birthday parties or advancing your career or slicing your own olives, you're not amazing. But it's those roles we take on out of sense of obligation based on who we believe we have to be. How we believe we're seen by others. We feel speaking up or stepping out of those roles would be letting people down.
And we're exhausted. And resentful. And stressed. And maybe we don't even know why we're feeling like this.
I didn't. I didn't realize how much I wasn't enjoying dinner prep anymore because it had become this lengthy ordeal of trying to manage the kids and spend an hour getting dinner ready. (that chances are nobody ate anyway)
But in that moment with my sliced olives, I realized I could let this go. I didn't have to be or do anything that wasn't giving me joy. And I could take this new belief into other areas of my life.
I'll no longer apologize (at least to myself) for saying no to a project or commitment. I'll choose things that make me happy. Or give me extra time with my family. Or things I just plain don't want to do.
And I'll hold those boundaries even if I'm questioned. "No" can be a complete sentence. We need to stop apologizing and justifying and feeling guilty.
I'm going to spend more time Be-ing and less time Do-ing. Being present. Being mindful. Being peaceful. Being joyful. More time playing and laughing and cuddling.
For me it starts this weekend with my son's birthday party. We've ordered (gasp) store bought pizza. The only theme is having fun. And his cake (although I'm making it because he asked) is simple. (unlike the tractor, "boat in water with treasure chest" or police car of birthdays past). And I'm good. Because tonight I can sit and enjoy movie night with my boys. (and those voices that tell me I'm not doing enough can go on vacation~ permanently!)
I've streamlined the meal planning and prepping. I've minimized what I make from scratch. And I'm happier. Because I have a few extra minutes for crazy dance parties and chase in the yard.
I challenge you to examine where in your life are you leaking energy. and time. and joy. Something you are doing that you'd be saying no to if you didn't feel guilty. Obligated. Pressured.
What can you say no to this week? or month?
What will you do with your extra time?
In those moments, when the guilt creeps in. . .
what can you say to yourself to remind yourself how amazing you are and nothing you do defines that.
If this seems impossible. Or you don't even know how to start peeling the layers back. If you feel overwhelmed in parenting and want to bring more joy. Be supported. Start here.
P.S. I still don't quite understand how all this came from a little can of sliced olives.
Irene is a certified parenting coach who is passionate about creating peace in parenting and opening parents hearts to what is possible in their family. She works with clients 1-1 and offers support through her digital course, The Peaceful Parent Playbook. She is host of the private Facebook Community, The Moms Hive. She is inspired to help moms let go of the doing that leads to the overwhelm and more “bee-ing” in peace, joy and a love for parenting.