When my twin girls were 18 months old, for reasons still semi-unclear to me, I decided that trying to teach a twos preschool part-time was a good idea. Really, I did. I would wake up super early to get myself and my girls ready, then rush to greet twelve more children–close in age to my own–which included diaper changes and lap holding, feeding and cleaning– yep, pretty much twins times 12. Again, the reasons I thought this was a good idea: unclear. And yet, I ignored any poking thought that told me it was going to be too much, and instead, argued those naysaying doubts down by telling myself, “It’s only part-time. I can do anything two mornings a week,” or, “It’s so convenient; the girls are a mere three classrooms away,” and, “It’ll feel good to be making money again.” Were those statements all true? Yes. Was I still stressed, miserable, and wondering what the heck I was trying to prove? Yessss. Looking back, I now see that although the job looked like a fit on paper, as soon as I tried it, I knew it just wasn’t working. I can see all of the myriad reasons why the job just didn’t make sense. Lately, and perhaps it’s Passover hangover, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of things making sense– especially for mom– and I’ve decided…no, I’ve decreed by all the powers of a blogger that be, that all moms need an eleventh commandment: Thou Shall Only Do What Makes Sense.
For the past several months—and per my amazing therapist’s recommendation— I have been living and operating, wife-ing and mom-ing and friend-ing and human-ing only by what makes sense. It’s been a complete game-changer in terms of helping to reduce my stress and anxiety (which I’m sure are at relatable levels for you, or any other mom with multiple kids under age anything). Based on my experience, I’d argue that doing only what makes sense will directly increase your ability to be happy, find joy, and be/live in the present. I’m not overly religious, but girl, I bow down and hallelujah to this credo every day, and I’d urge you to as well.
Take a look at your planner, or wherever you attempt to keep what I’m sure is a packed schedule of juggling balls all in the air. Is everything you’re doing absolutely necessary? And, if it is necessary, is what you’re doing the best, most sensible way to do it? I want you to consider a few areas of your life where you may or may not be making sense, and then, urge you to consider some alternatives, that well, do make, yep, sense.
So again, with a little non-pious decree, I implore all moms, Thou Shall Not:
Try to Make a Job That Doesn’t Work with Your Kids, Work for You: Teaching a toddler class was not the last time I would try–and fail–to go back to work as a mom. I also attempted to rebuild my freelance writing and editing career (just now beginning to, possibly, take hold), as well as tutor, teach after-school enrichment classes, and most recently, teach middle school English. I am now working part-time at my dad’s dental practice (insert shameless plug: Pinnacle Peak Dentistry). It’s not a forever job, but my latest gig is the only job that’s actually made sense for me to do with the needs of my children. I don’t panic if one of my kids gets sick and I can’t go into work. I don’t break into a cold sweat thinking about the four to five hours of grading I had every weekend as a teacher. My new bosses allow me to fit my hours into the pocket of time I have between drop-offs and pick-ups.
Women are picking up more of the slack than ever with invisible work, and what you once thought, in theory, would work, may or may no longer fit for you and your kids. If you’re having professional-life induced panic attacks too (see my story with that here), consider taking a foray into a job that allows you the work/life balance you need.
Obsess Over Arbitrary Measures of Body Size: I’ve written a lot about my food issues and battles with my body image and with the scale. I used to weigh myself every single day, until pretty suddenly I realized that it didn’t serve me in any positive way, and therefore, didn’t make any sense to continue my daily practice. I ditched the scale a year ago, and I feel so much better on a daily basis. I’m beginning to realize that fixating on clothing size is pretty damn useless and nonsensical too, due to the crazy inconsistency with sizing today. Lastly, I’m not sure if you can relate to this one, but I’m guessing you can: I found social media typically left me feeling “less than” when it came to my appearance (and other things like my parenting or homekeeping), so not too long ago I made a conscious decision to drastically reduce my social media consumption. I’d argue that for most of us, the time we spend on social media does not equal a similar amount of time spent feeling good– if scrolling Instagram no longer makes sense to you, girl, delete the app and give your swiping finger a break.
Parent Like The Mom Next Door: Susie Homemaker might be alllll Pintrested out, but that doesn’t mean you have to be. Consider alllll the hot-button parenting issues that we lose sleep worrying about: screen time, healthy snacks, formula feeding, homework load, etc. If it makes sense for your kids to eat chicken nuggets and watch their iPads every night, for whatever reasons, that’s okay! As long as they’re happy and loved– It’s. All. Okay. Heck, look at all the school choices we have in Arizona– traditional, charter, project-based learning– there’s no “right” school, only “right fit” schools. The same, I think, goes for all parenting. There’s no right or wrong, just right or wrong for you.
Worry About Things of Which We Have No Control: Girl, there is a whole HOST of little things that have never made sense to me like why people try to fold fitted sheets, record sports games they already know the outcome over, or attempt to clean their cars when they absolutely know their children will proceed to cover in crumbs and dirt the second said children get in their cars. Daylight savings time always seems crazy, as does the endlesssss number of times my kids can watch (and sing along to) Encanto.
Truly and more seriously though, there are a whole lot of big things that don’t make sense in this messy and chaotic world. For instance, I am floored that some lawmakers seem more concerned with what teachers say in schools than trying to figure out how to actually KEEP teachers in schools. I am amazed that people try to legislate what women do with their bodies instead of fighting to give women access to more resources and health care, paid maternity leave and mandated postpartum mental and physical therapy. I am appalled that some people argue against who other people marry or what gender they identify as when there are BIG problems, like oh, our climate careening rapidly toward an unlivable state for all of us. Seriously, if we’re going to worry about anything, let’s make it protecting our freaking planet and not going to moral or physical war with each other!
But, here’s the thing about all of those aforementioned, ironic wonders: We have very little, if any, control over those issues. And in that vein, you know what my therapist taught me also doesn’t make sense? Consuming myself with worry, sadness, frustration, rage, and heartbreak over things I can’t control day to day. Recently, one of my favorite people in the world, educator and mindfulness expert Jill Leshin, sent me a clip of Dr. Benjamin Hardy discussing how we can live a more playful, present, and full life. One of the keys, he argues, is to implement “strategic ignorance,” basically, “pruning” out worries and fears that don’t somehow serve us or that we don’t have any direct control over, because ruminating on those worries or fears only makes us less able to connect with others and be our happiest, healthiest, best selves.
And that’s ultimately the point. Do what makes sense to you, and only what makes sense to you. So the next time you get an urge to vacuum or fold your fitted sheets, take a moment to pause and consider adopting my eleventh commandment.
Makes sense, right?