Years ago, I was friends with an older woman who cared for her grandkids during the day. A mom of 8 grown kids, she had so much wisdom to share with me when I was a young mom raising preschoolers.
One day I confided in her how worried I was about one of my kids. My child was suffering and it seemed like there was nothing I could do about it. I asked her for her advice.
“If I had known how much I was going to worry,” she told me, “I wouldn’t have had 8.”
That stuck with me. Especially because implicit in her statement was the reality that she was still worrying, even though her kids were grown up and had families of their own.
I am a worried mom. No matter how good things are in my family’s life, there is a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me what could — and probably will — go wrong.
I am an expert prognosticator when it comes to worst-case scenarios. I worry about everything from big picture concerns like my kids’ overall health and happiness, to minutia such as who they sat with at the lunch table that day.
Yes, my oldest is a junior in college and I STILL worry about who he sits with at lunch.
I’ve worked hard to learn ways to counteract my natural tendency to worry and I want to share those with you today.
Question Your Thoughts
This one is based on “The Work” of Byron Katie, and it involves asking yourself a series of questions that get to the heart of whether the painful thoughts you are thinking are actually true. I encourage you to google Byron Katie and try it, as it’s an extremely powerful way to disengage from worry and observe it as merely an unpleasant thought.
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
I’m a big believer that a lot of our emotional struggles as parents come from not getting enough sleep. We as a society underestimate the importance of sleep. But research shows that people who sleep for short amounts of time have more worry, negative thoughts, anxiety, and depression (among other things). So get your full 8 hours.
Be Kind to Yourself
Remind yourself that whatever happens in life, you can cope. Write down a few affirmations that remind you to be kind to yourself. I like these:
• I breathe in calmness and breathe out nervousness.
• This situation works out for my highest good.
• Wonderful things are unfolding before me.
• Things always work out for me with ease and grace.
Although I’m not religious, I love the expression “Let go, let God.” And sometimes, when I’m worried like crazy, it’s a huge relief to do so. Let it go and let your higher power – whether it’s God, Goddess, the universe, nature, whatever — worry about it for you. Know that the universe has your back and that you are supported every day. To do this, try writing your worry on a piece of paper, and then burn it (outside, of course), releasing its energy from your body, out into the universe.
How do you handle the inevitable worry that comes from being a parent?