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Let it Go: Save Your Parenting Energy for the Important Stuff

How much of your day do you spend ruminating over things that upset you, focused on an unhealthy obsession:  a backhanded insult from your boss, your ex’s critique of your parenting skills, a sideways glance from another parent?

Some folks are able to brush these things off quickly and go on with their day. But not me.

These encounters wear a groove in my brain as I play the scene over and over in my head, thinking and obsessing over who said what and on and on. This unhealthy obsession sucks so much energy out of me.

Being a single parent is the job of a lifetime and over-the-top exhausting, so why am I making these parenting energy withdrawals that can be avoided?

Expend Energy Wisely

I wake up each day with a certain amount of energy and a giant to-do list. My energy is finite so I need to guard it and dole it out wisely. Here is what I keep telling myself: As I happen upon situations during the day, I:

  • Try to be aware of how much thought I’m giving to the negative events.
  • Work hard to let go of ridiculousness and focus my energy on solutions and things that bring me joy.
  • Try to deal with things on the spot, rather than putting on a neutral face and then freaking out about it for hours afterwards. (I may occasionally do this. Okay, I do it a lot.)

I think that some of this comes with age, this ability to care less about the minor annoyances in life.

Learn to Let Go

Not the big things like verbal abuse or over the top rudeness, but I really need to examine a situation and determine whether it’s worth investing the energy to confront it or just let it go and focus my attention on something lovely.

Like my children. When I expend my mental energy on some ridiculous situation, I rob my kids of my good mood. So when a co-worker would make a flip comment about working less because I had a firm 5:30 pm daycare pick-up time when my kids were younger, I didn’t have to stew over this comment or feel frustrated that working through lunch went unnoticed. I could have handled this gripe another way and let it go.

I am learning to let it go. I’m learning to let go of the single parent stress. When I find myself focusing on those nasty comments, I visualize bashing my anxiety with a sledgehammer and think about my kids’ faces at the end of the day.

In that way, I am able to preserve my parenting energy for 5:30 pm; I will have lots of smiles and good nature left for my biggest fans. Because really, isn’t that the most wonderful place to spend my energy?

Life happens. People are rude and thoughtless. And sometimes we assume a comment is an insult when it’s quite possible we just viewed it incorrectly. Work really hard to let the minor stuff go and always remember this sage advice from Wayne Dyer, “How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.”

Renee Brown lives in Minneapolis with her two tall sons—Sam, 20, and Zachary, 18—and three obstinate felines. She is a senior account executive working in advertising and an avid reader, wine drinker, creative writer, and yoga enthusiast.

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