I’m freshly jobless and have been in a somewhat pensive mood over the last few days. In a strange way, having more free time has made me reflect more on the way we use our time and the sheer amount of pressure us mums (and dads) put on ourselves. Modern life is stressful and anxiety and depression are prevalent in our society. A day doesn’t go by without me hearing someone say how stressed they feel. What would happen if we looked at things a little differently, I wonder?
No matter where you look in life, there are lots of things that are likely to make you feel stressed. When you have a child people have opinions on whether you should go back to work – and if you do, you’ll find more people that have the opposite idea! As well as trying to be the best parent you can, there are always so many other plates to spin too. I personally find it impossible to work as well as keeping the house perfectly tidy and clean all the time, whilst keeping up with a beauty routine every single day without fail along with looking after a young child.
So why stress it?
Why are we putting so much pressure on ourselves, trying to live up to a ‘perfect’ ideology? One where we all look like supermodels, have showroom houses, flashy cars, the perfect job and still have the time to spend time with our family and friends? I often look around my home in despair. Despite buying it 6 years ago, I tend to look at the negatives. Instead of thinking “Wow, we did really well to budget everything and achieve that at 20 years old”, I think about all the decorating we haven’t done and how awful the living room looks. When I should be relaxing on the sofa, I find myself looking at all the things I dislike about the place.
The funny thing is, it could have been decorated by now if we hadn’t made decisions to live life. Things like getting married, having a baby and going on holiday have all got in the way up til this point. So why am I stressing about it so much? People come round once in a blue moon, yet the things we have done are all so wonderful and I’m glad we did them.
I think what I’m trying to say is, life isn’t perfect. We make the decisions we feel are best at the time and live with whatever consequences those decisions may have. Instead of stressing so much, we need to remember to live in the moment. Do all of these things really matter that much? It’s good to be ambitious and strive to be a better person, but to what detriment? There has to be a point where we draw the line, otherwise we will be miserable.
Why do we do it?
I think a big part of the problem these days is social media. We see these beautiful homes and perfect people on Instagram and start comparing ourselves, whether we mean to or not. It seeps into our subconscious minds before we even begin to think about what has been done with lighting and Photoshop on these images. Whenever I see a woman in a bikini, I always think “Oh, I’ll never look like that in a bikini again thanks to my stretch marks”. But does it really matter? I’ve delivered a beautiful child and my husband loves me just the way I am.
Even pictures of homes aren’t a real representation of real life, especially when you have young children! I’ve seen people show images from their Instagram before next to an image of the bigger picture – which is a lot less perfect and has a lot more clutter than the photogenic snippet they’ve shared with the world. On a similar note, I don’t think it’s important to stress about everywhere being spotless all the time, a la Mrs Hinch. Sometimes I get in a real cleaning mood and do run around enthusiastically with Zoflora and a minky, yet other times I really cannot be bothered. As long as your house is clean enough, I don’t think it matters. I’m a firm believer in going out and enjoying the sunshine with your kids, especially at this time of year! Housework can come later, memories can’t wait to be made.
How can we combat it?
Well, it’s a difficult one. One way is to have a social media detox, where you take a break from social media for a while. I’ve tried to do this before, but got serious FOMO (fear of missing out). Sometimes other people put stress on us. Some you can walk away from, however, others you can’t.
I think arguably the best way is to try and live in the moment and practice mindfulness. Try to make the most of each day, spending time with your loved ones and doing what you enjoy. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect the whole time. Life is a strange, unpredictable rollercoaster and you never know where it’s going to take you, so why spend your time stressing about shining a tap when you could be listening to your baby giggling on the swing? Try to be grateful for what you have and think about the positives. Striving for more doesn’t need to be stressful.
The Mum Conundrum