Since embarking on this whole "homeschool experiment", I feel like that nagging voice inside my head - criticizing and second-guessing everything I do - has shifted into overdrive. It used to rear its ugly head from time to time telling me things like "You should really know how to sew on a button" or "That chicken you cooked was overdone" or "That laundry has been sitting there for a week - are you EVER going to put it away?" It used to be that I ignored the nagging and dismissed those things as no big deal. I've got two young kids and a husband. Never-ending laundry is part of the deal. sigh...
But over the past few months, I feel like that voice is questioning EVERYTHING - my organizational skills, my teaching skills, my parenting skills...and cooking chicken? I've completely given up. But with the other stuff? Those are things I used to feel pretty good about...not that I had mastered any of those skills by any means, but the voice wasn't there.
As I've thought about it and OVERthought about it, I've figured out that THAT is my problem. Overthinking. I've been putting way too much pressure on myself - thinking that I need to make this the best homeschool experience ever, feeling I need to justify my decision to do this to others and myself, and fearing that I'm going to let my kids down if I'm not doing some awesome activity every second of the day. It's ridiculous, I know. My kids are six and four. They are happy playing with playdough. And even though, deep down I know that - the negative chatter is still there, and it annoys the heck out of me.
So I've been trying to get rid of the "mental clutter" as it's called in the Bag It Up Resilience activity on the Fishful Thinking website. I love how these activities that are designed to build up our kids are helpful for parents to do too -
Bag it Up - You can help your child to take stock of the "mental clutter." Start by sharing an example of a negative perception that you want to get rid of. Write the perception on a slip of paper and then put it into a bag labeled "throw aways" and then toss it in the garbage. After you've given your example, ask your child to come up with examples of his or her own.
My kids are still young enough that we haven't done this activity together yet, but I wrote my own list. The idea of throwing those self-criticisms into the trash is empowering! And lately, when that inner critic starts chatting it up, that's what I've been trying to think of - balling up those negative thoughts and throwing them away. Not that self-criticism is always a bad thing. It can help us improve and be better people, but when we focus too much on the negatives and not enough on the good things we are doing, the perception we have of ourselves can get pretty out of whack.
So Ms. Self Critic - who cares if the chicken is overdone? I can make a mean batch of Rice Krispie treats any day of the week - blindfolded.
*For more on fighting that inner critic, check out this month's Fishful Thinking newsletter by Dr. Karen Reivich.
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