Women are hard on themselves, very hard. We tell ourselves everything that we should be doing: lose ten pounds, make the kids eat their veggies, argue less with your partner, go to bed earlier, volunteer more, make time to meet up with girlfriends, learn how to cook salmon. Whatever your shoulds are, they are likely unrealistic, setting you up to feel disappointed and depressed.
With 2016 almost half over, I think a better route to take is to give up what we shouldn't be doing:
1: Keep stuff "just in case."
You are never going to wear that jean jacket you bought ten years ago, you are never going to read that copy of Go Set a Watchmen, and you loathe those curtain panels you found in clearance. Gather up some of the items you see that you know are your "in case" things and either sell or donate them promptly. It's such a relief to say goodbye to things you won't miss.
2: Get your greens via a pill.
Greens aren't meant to be dehydrated and condensed and packed into a pill. We all know processing foods to that extent isn't healthy. Don't fool yourself. If you can't stomach a daily salad, throw some spinach and kiwi into the blender with some water and drink a green smoothie with your kids. Your digestive system and energy level will thank you.
3: Judge other moms.
I have found that most moms are doing the best job they can, in that moment, with the resources they have. You may not agree with another mom's choices, and that is ok. As a mom of three, I have my hands full with my own parenting dilemmas and decisions, and I certainly don't want someone meddling in my business. The next time you see another mom, offer her a smile or a word of encouragement. You will be happier, and so will she.
4: Say "yes" out of guilt.
Before you accept an opportunity, one that will demand your time and attention and energy, contemplate if the opportunity is something that will benefit you and your family. If the answer is no, perhaps a "no, thanks" is in order, or a "maybe later." You don't need to offer a reason why you are declining. Just say no with a smile and go back to your business.
5: Listen to kiddie music.
Whether it's "The Wheels on the Bus" or "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," do not continue to succumb to listening to horrid children's music. Make a kid-friendly playlist (meaning, songs with no four-letter words) and enjoy! Consider that you are educating your children on different genres of music, or, at least, the sick beat of your favorite 1990s music.
6: Put off your dream.
Remember this time last year? You were yearning to take the plunge: start a business, take a hot yoga class, or learn about wine tasting. How do you feel having not yet done it? This year, commit to pursuing one of your dreams, no matter how big or small.
7: Make your bed, fold your laundry, or another ridiculous chore.
What is the point of folding underwear or old t-shirts? Why make a bed that will only be disheveled by the children's jumping twenty minutes after you make it? What chore is a waste of time, something that you hate doing? Whatever it is, commit to stopping. You'll have a few extra minutes in your day to do something more important, like drinking a green smoothie.
8: Neglect delegating.
If you have able-bodied kids and a partner, start delegating the things you've voluntarily taken completely upon yourself. Dump all the clean laundry on the living room floor and have the kids find their own laundry, take it to their rooms, and put it away (preferably unfolded, see point #7). Come up with a chore chart if you must, but stop taking everything upon yourself.
9: Ignore your body.
Had headaches for months? Have your periods been irregular? Feeling blue? Whatever your body is telling you, listen. Make an appointment with a medical professional and figure out what's going on. You won't regret pouring this energy into making yourself feel better and making sure there's nothing that requires treatment.
10: Embark on a crazy fitness routine.
Every few months, a new fitness regime rises to popularity. Most who buy the supplements, invest in the DVD set, or commit to six months' worth of crossfit training don't stick with the program. They are left with less money and disappointment. Choose something you love to do, and do it. Don't worry if it's trendy or not.
11: Respond to every passive-aggressive question or comment.
Your sister-in-law doesn't agree with you breastfeeding your two-year-old. Your neighbor doesn't like that you leave your kids' bikes in the yard overnight. Ask yourself: what will happen if I choose not to respond? Or if you do respond, try a conversation-ending, "Thanks for your thoughts." Not every comment or question is worth your time and energy, especially not those social media comment wars.
12: Continue to put up with that one thing that's driving you crazy.
A friend of mine hates the beige paint color in her living room, and every time I see her, she brings the paint color up. This is the year to do something about it: paint the walls, ditch all the too-small skirts in your closet, get a better tattoo put over that Spring Break one you got twenty years ago. Stop ruminating over that one thing, and do something about it.
13: Read a book or watch a show just because everyone else is.
I'm a former writing teacher and English major. I don't like Shakespeare or classic books as people assume. I love Sophie Kinsella's shopaholic series and memoirs, neither of which is very scholarly but I find immensely enjoyable. If you catch an episode of Game of Thrones and cannot stand it, don't keep watching it! If People magazine (not a book, who cares?) and the TCM channel are your favorites, even though everyone else is still talking about the last episode of Parenthood, do your thing.
14: Use your phone when you drive.
Using your phone when you drive is as dangerous as drunk driving. Commit to putting your phone out of reach when you drive and focusing on getting your family from point A to point B safely. Not using your phone isn't just about you not being distracted, but also about being aware of distracted drivers who may be illegally and unsafely using their phones while they drive.
15: Wear uncomfortable clothing.
Whether your underwear is a size too small, you hate the feel of dress pants, or scarves make you sweat, ditch the clothing that irritates you. Commit to only buying clothing that makes you feel good and look good. You have too much to do during any given day to be itchy and sweaty.
16: Dog on your partner to others.
I see so many social media posts complaining about partners who don't help around the house, don't co-parent, don't communicate (ironic?). If you are having relationship problems, take them to your partner, first and foremost, and then together, seek professional help. A relationship problem is never solved by taking the problem outside the relationship. Plus, you will lose your partner's trust and respect if he or she finds out that you've been belittling behind his or her back.
Small, simple changes can make a world of difference! Go forth and rock your life.