A couple of months ago, I was at my weekly mom and baby meet-up where we go around the room and talk about what’s happening with us and our babies. I shared how I wanted to get my daughter more comfortable taking a bottle, but at the same time I didn’t have the energy to really work on it. “I should be pumping more and giving her a bottle, but it’s just so much easier to nurse her,” is what I shared.
The group leader responded, “Don’t say should. You’re doing enough.” And she was right. I wasn’t even thinking about how hard I work to nurse my daughter. And of course, getting her on a bottle will eventually be helpful to take some of the load off of me, but at the time I was content with what I was doing.
It’s easy to feel the pressure that you should be doing more. There will always be someone, whether it’s a friend, family member, or stranger asking, “Does she take a bottle? You should work on that.”
Another mom in the group shared more advice: for everything you’re doing, you can probably think of five more things you should do. Forget about the shoulds. You can’t do it all, and you also shouldn’t try to do it all.
It’s true. There will always be more to do. And since that session, I’ve been working to re-frame the way I see things.
I avoid the word should and instead focus on all the things that I am doing. With my breastfeeding versus pumping experience, yes, I wanted to work on the bottle situation, and when I have the time and energy, I will eventually get to it. But nursing a child is also a lot of work. To add in pumping and the cleaning of pump parts between feedings is no easy task, and while part of me thought I should be doing it, it didn’t mean that I needed to.
As mothers, we all have a long list of things we “should” be doing.
But we need to remember what we are doing is enough. Maybe there is a load of laundry to fold, dishes to wash, homemade baby food to make. Many of us feel the pull to do all of these things, perhaps it’s what we envision as a well-run household. But it’s not all about that. We also need time to celebrate what we already do.
It’s common in the age of social media to see what other parents and their kids are doing and think you should be doing that too. The comparison game is real. On the one hand, social media is a great way to get inspired and to learn new things, but don’t read too much into it. While scrolling, try not to ask, “should I be doing all of those things too?” It can cloud your vision of all the things you are doing.
Plus as we know, social media only tells one part of the story.
I’m still working on removing the word should from my vocabulary. It’s one of those things that you don’t realize how much you say it until you start paying attention. Just yesterday, I wanted to work out, but I also had a very messy house. Part of me said I should be cleaning, but the stronger voice said no. Why should I use this precious free time to clean? The cleaning can be done later, or perhaps someone else can do it.
We want to do the best we can, for our children and for our family. It’s common to get wrapped up in a never-ending quest to do all the things.
The should thoughts don’t really end, and I still catch myself thinking of all the things I should do or that I could do differently. At the end of the day, I ask myself, am I doing enough to put my daughter first and to be the best mom I can be?
If the answer is yes, then I’m doing enough.
Read More: The 5 Parenting Mantras I Use Most