It’s time to settle.
Specifically? It’s about giving up the shoulds.
Shoulds are boundaries we don’t actually want to set.
Shoulds are expectations that belong to other people.
Shoulds are the things we think we ought to be doing. But dread.
Should your kiddo be doing summer math? Should you be reading to them every day? Relaxxxx. Don’t take things so seriously. All those shoulds—just ignore them.
We ignore the shoulds well enough on vacation. Making sure the kids are eating well? Getting them to bed on time? Monitoring screen content? Ppppphhhhfffft. That’s the whole point of vacation. To take a break. When we’re away from the house it’s easy to let go of normal rules and routines.
But when we try that at home it often comes with an avalanche of guilt, remorse, shame.
Not. This. Week. This week we’re going to practice a home vacation from shoulds. A should staycation. (Dare we call it a shouldcation?)
Put down the shoulds. Really, really let them go. Walk away. Do nothing, nothing whatsoever about them. For daaaaaaayyys.
Now. Now that you’ve had a break from the pressure of the shoulds, it’s time to look for the real-to-you ways to get things done.
For me? I know I should exercise. I know my dog should exercise. I really should take my dog with me when I exercise. But here’s the deal: while she is snuggly and sweet with humans, she is a disaster with other dogs. And there are plenty of them on the roads where I live. So the idea of taking her with me prevents me from going at all. There’s just enough anticipatory dread that I never manage to get my shoes on. It seems like such an impasse. Except. Except there is more than one way to exercise a dog. Including throwing a ball for her endlessly in the yard. So I get out and exercise in the early morning hours, and she gets hers later in the day.
For you? Maybe math isn’t your thing. But baking is. Plenty of opportunity to talk about fractions, addition, or multiplication in the kitchen. Maybe reading at bedtime when everyone is melting down is not your idea of heavenly. Read at breakfast instead. Or play an audio book in the car.
Wherever the shoulds show up at your house, look for ways to move them. In fact, grab a piece of paper. Fold it in half, lengthwise. Start a list. Label the left-hand side ‘shoulds’. Write them all down. Study them. Consider them. Turn them inside out.
Now label the right-hand side. [Oh, no. no no no. noooooooo. I have no idea what to call this second column. Seriously. I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with something clever. Witty. Memorable. Anyone have any ideas? Anyone? Anyone? Not feeling altruistic? Let’s up the ante a bit. A free 30-minute one-on-one session for whomever comes up with the cleverest name. ReadySetGo.]
On the yet-to-be-named right-hand side, write down the ways you can turn the should from what others value to what matters to you.
And where do the shoulds show up for your kids? Ask them. It’s an unusual question—probably not one you’ve posed before—so you might be surprised by just how much they have to say. Their lives may not be quite as long as ours, but they’ve collected plenty of emotional baggage labelled ‘should’. Listen well. Chances are you’ll recognize their shoulds—it reads as a list of the things that push you apart. But now? On the other side of the page? There’s a ready-to-go list of ways to pull you back together.
Shoulds. Who needs them? Not us. We’re taking a shouldcation. Maybe it will last for the rest of the season. Fingers crossed. Here’s to your Summer of Love.
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p.p.s.s. worried you should read the past weeks?
And the joy of week 2.