Just as our wardrobes need a detox, so do our expectations!
When a woman expands her identity to include motherhood; her world is injected with an overwhelm of societal and cultural expectations; as she is challenged with the weighty pressure of what it means to be a ‘good mother’.
In my first two years and seven months of motherhood; I had three children. I was expecting myself to get ‘mothering right’; whilst trying to be the best possible wife, daughter, sister, friend, and company leader.
My expectation was to be there for everyone else. But had forgotten how to be there for myself.
A joint survey by Healthy Women and Working Mother reports 78 per cent of mothers prioritise the needs of others; often at the expense of their own wellbeing. I saw this in the sacrifices of my own mother; and within the thousands of mothers I worked with over the decades as a Speech Pathologist and Parent Educator/Coach.
Whilst facilitating a wellness workshop with a group of mothers recently, I asked, “So… what do you expect from yourself?”
There was a long pause. This seemed a different question for many of them to process.
Then came a stream of replies including; getting dinner ready, helping with homework, kids bath time, earning money… and so it continued.
These were all expectations of what they were expected to DO.
But, what about the expectation of what you expect yourself to BE? And how do you ensure your expectations are well and truly yours?
There is a strong relationship between our expectations and our well-being. So keeping your expectations in healthy check; ensures they are working for you, rather than against you. Wondering where to start?
Flourish for Mums 21 ways to thrive with self-care and acceptance shares a Four Minute – Expectations Health Check (of our inner world).
We can get caught up in the world of expectations; they are super unique and potentially large in number.
Yes, there are outer world expectations such as:
- Survival: shelter, safety, food, water, income
- Physical items/ objects: ‘stuff’ you can buy
- Experiences: concerts, holidays etc.
We want to focus here though, on our inner world expectations.
On a good-sized piece of paper, draw a line down the middle, to form two columns. Label the first column, ‘myself’; and insert the words I expect myself to…
Set a timer to two minutes. What are the expectations you hold for yourself?
Press start on the timer – list those expectations as quickly as they come to mind; avoid any overthinking. Once the timer sounds – stop writing and read over that list.
IMPORTANT: For each item in the list; ask yourself; is this what I expect from myself – or more so what others expect from me?
Choose the top three that matter to you most- ensuring they are what YOU expect from yourself. Consider these your core self-expectations. Reflect on how you practice these, on a day to day basis. Are they practiced realistically?
Now repeat the activity in the second column; labelling it ‘others’
Delving deep into your expectations and detoxing those which no longer serve you; is both a powerful and liberating way to honour your self-nurture. And importantly; it changes the wellbeing narrative, for us, as women who are mothers, and also for our children.
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