Follow Your Heart - free yourself from the unwanted 'shoulds'

We cause ourselves a lot of stress in our parenting journey when we choose to listen to the voices ‘out there’, rather than that little voice inside of us. 

The dreaded 'shoulds'

When our heart tells us one thing but society is loudly offering contrary advice (whether or not we’ve asked for it) we lose faith in our own instincts and adopt the dreaded ‘shoulds’ - 

It feels right for me to hold my baby as she sleeps but she SHOULD be in her own bed; 

I want to feed him as soon as he wants fed, but I SHOULD stretch the time out longer;

I want to stay home and just bask in our time together but I SHOULD be out with baby, socialising and keeping them entertained. 

Do you recognise yourself in any of these ‘shoulds’?  You probably have a list of your own, and unless we train ourselves out of it, our internal battle between our real wants and our ‘should be’s will continue right through our children’s lives. 

What we need to do is notice when the ‘shoulds’ are creeping in and be bold enough to question them. 

Is this my Mama heart speaking or someone else’s ‘should’ talking?  Why should we be doing it that way and not what my instincts are telling me?  What makes the voice behind the should worth listening to?  Why do I lose my own innate confidence when a should confronts me? 

In a shortened form, we can ask ourselves, why should I?  Who says I should?  Is it their place to direct me?

Free yourself from the unwanted 'shoulds'

The ‘shoulds’ are often said aloud.  Listen to any conversation between parents and you will hear examples. 

Once you decide to take a stand against this word and all that sits behind it, your ears will be tuned in to notice whenever it’s said.  You can catch yourself mid sentence and alter your message, and gently point out to others how unhelpful the word and concept is when they use it about themselves.  You can liberate them, just as you’ve set yourself free from unnecessary and pressuring expectations. 

We also need to catch the ‘shoulds’ we don’t utter aloud.  Our thoughts have huge power over our feelings and mood. 

SHOULD, when used to knock us off course, needs to be removed from our parenting mindset.  We are particularly vulnerable to it in the earliest stages of parenting but it is not limited to babyhood. 

Being confident in our parenting role is difficult, especially when we feel under scrutiny and are never short of people willing to share their opinions that may contradict our own. 

These days it is not just the in-person conversations that make us ‘wobble’ in our beliefs.  Social media is an added stressor if we take everything we read as truth, and more valuable than our own inner voice. 

Surround yourself with the wanted 'shoulds'

So, in what context is a ‘should’ alright to guide us as heart centred parents? 

We SHOULD be treating our baby/child as a partner who has their own personality, voice and rights. 

We SHOULD remember that the time goes fast, and there is no such thing as too much holding, too much love or too much connection. 

Finally, we SHOULD know if we are following our heart, then this choice we have made, whatever it happens to be, is right for our family, our baby and our situation. 

These ‘shoulds’ are different.  They build us up and give us permission to work with our child in our way. They are different for each one of us and each child. They depend on OUR circumstances, and OUR needs. Let’s recognise the difference and eliminate the unhelpful.