I think we can all attest to falling victim to Superwoman Syndrome sometimes (or most of the time). While the name is kind of sexist and wonky, the sentiment holds true. Basically, moms are trying to do too much too often and we’re worn the fuck out. We can’t do everything or be everything, yet somehow society tells us we should.
Fortunately, more of us are giving the middle finger to the bullshit, sexist notions that fuel “Superwoman Syndrome.”
Now, I’m all for self-improvement and growth, but too often that’s couched in images of perfection (whether we realize it or not). We add things to our goals list, without realizing that do accomplish those things, something else will need to fall off the list. We need to say “nope” to the things that don’t matter to us so that we can say “yes” to the things that do.
This time of year folks are all abuzz with their plans for the new year. We’re gonna meditate in the morning. We’re gonna train for a marathon. And we’re gonna meal plan so we can make healthful home-cooked meals every night, dammit.
Except nope. Nuh-uh. Not gonna happen. At least not for me.
Which is why I’m loving this mom’s idea of creating an “I Don’t” list.
“We all have an ‘I Don’t’ List. And every one will be different,” Holly Wainright wrote in an article on Mamamia that’s taking the internet by storm. “Most of us don’t have endless choice about what we do and what we don’t. Often there’s simply no one else to bloody well do it, so prioritising gets brutal.”
Wainright makes an important point that some of the things on our personal “I Don’t” list are possible because of the privilege we have. This is absolutely true. It’s also important to note that everyone’s “I Don’t” list is different, and one person’s list is no judgment on another’s. We all have different priorities and interests – and that’s okay. This is about creating some semblance of balance in our own life, not about judging how someone else balances their own.
So following Wainright’s lead – and in the spirit of my own penchant for anti-resolutions each new year – I’ve created my own “I Don’t” list, and I encourage you to do the same.
1. I don’t get eight hours of sleep each night (or even seven hours, for that matter).
2. I don’t meal plan.
3. I don’t make home-cooked meals most nights.
4. I don’t use nightly face creams. (Most nights, I don’t even wash my face… I know, I know.)
5. I don’t floss every night.
6. I don’t meditate.
7. I don’t stretch or do yoga.
8. I don’t supervise my kids’ homework.
9. I don’t volunteer at my kids’ school.
10. I don’t participate in Facebook groups.
11. I don’t eat a balanced diet. (I’m a carb-loving vegetarian.)
12. I don’t “network.”
13. I don’t do crafts with my kids.
14. I don’t remember birthdays until it’s too late to call (or a day or two later).
There you have it – my “I Don’t” list. Admittedly, I could make a corresponding “I Do” list of all the things I’m able to do because I’m not consumed with these other things, but they don’t really matter – at least not to anyone but me and my family. Not to mention, every one of our “I Do” lists would be a mile long, and we all know this. We don’t need the reminder that we’re doing a million things. But we do need permission to stop doing those things that are overwhelming us.
So this year, maybe skip the New Year’s resolutions in favor of an “I Don’t” list. Get comfortable with it. Celebrate it, and fight the urge to feel guilty about not doing it all.
I sure don’t.