Having a growth mindset in motherhood means we are willing to learn new ways of doing things and go with the flow. As a mom, this mindset can serve us well.
“Nothing ever goes right for me. I may as well just quit.”
“It’s too hard.”
“What’s the point? Things never work out for me.”
These are some of the thoughts I have battled over the years. Even from a young age, I struggled with quitting games or sports that I wasn’t good at. I felt embarrassed that I was clumsy or couldn’t kick the ball in a straight line.
I didn’t like any plans I made getting messed up by life circumstances or other people’s plans. In fact, my need for control and perfection was so bad as a child that my mother had to ban the cleaning lady from going in my room. Each time I would go in and things were slightly rearranged, I would freak out and knock everything off the shelves in anger and frustration. Was I a brat? Probably. But I can also say that I had such a deep rooted insecurity that even these small interruptions in my environment were a big deal to me.
Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset
This mindset has not served me well through my life, and especially not in my path of motherhood. Being “stuck” in a fixed mindset means you have a hard time being flexible. Flexibility is a sign of good mental health. If we can’t be flexible in even seemingly small ways, then it may be more difficult to have good mental health. I know this was true for me. Recently I have started to take an interest in learning about growth mindset and have realised that I struggle with a fixed mindset.
So what is a “growth” and “fixed mindset?” As I described in myself above, a fixed mindset involves inflexibility. It is feeling like nothing will ever change (and being unopen to the possibility that it could). It is having an unwillingness to learn a new way of doing things. A growth mindset is having a mentality that we can always have a plan B. Having a growth mindset means we are willing to learn new ways of doing things, go with the flow, and allow changes to happen if they need to.
Growth Mindset in the Postpartum Season
How can this help us in the postpartum season? Well, my friend, the postpartum season is all about changes and learning new ways of doing things, right? Having a new baby, whether it’s your first or fifth, means that you are welcoming a new child with new personalities and challenges into your already existing family structure. This is going to change your world as well as everyone in your family’s world. In order to have good mental health through the early seasons of motherhood (and beyond), we have to be willing to try different things and not criticise ourselves (or others) for doing things differently than Perfect Penny down the street or Organised Olivia on Instagram. If we can have a growth mindset in motherhood, we will save ourselves a lot of heartache.
Curiosity Rather Than Anxiety
Perhaps having a growth mindset in motherhood would involve curiosity rather than anxiety. For example, the topic I would always stress about with each of my babies was sleep. Do I put them on a routine? Let them cry a bit? Hold them while they sleep? If I rock them to sleep, how will I then put them down with out waking them up? All these questions still cause a feeling of tightness and anxiety in my chest. There are no simple solutions to babies and sleeping.
If I were, however, to have a curious mindset rather than stressing over whether I am doing the “right” thing, the outcome could be more productive in the long run. Trying one method and being curious means that I won’t stress over whether it’s the “right” thing to do or whether it’s what I “should” do. Curiosity means that I am willing to shift or pivot if something isn’t working for me and our family and not feel guilty if and when that needs to happen. Fixed mindset means this must work or I am a bad mom. This must work or I am teaching my baby bad sleep habits.
We can bring a growth mindset of curiosity into all aspects of our mothering, and perhaps this will eradicate a bit of that mom guilt we feel. This also allows us to grow as mothers and as people, because we are willing to change the way we think and do things. We are willing to learn and try in ways that we can’t when we are stuck in the fixed mindset.
There is Always a Plan B
My son is learning some of this in school, although they are not calling it “growth mindset” and “fixed mindset.” One of the methods they have used is “There is always a plan B.” Once he told me that, we have used it several times to talk our way through things he was anxious and “fixed” about. I have even started to give myself pep talks when I want to quit or feel upset that something didn’t go the way I expected it to.
“There is always a plan B” means that if my expectation isn’t met, I don’t have to sit in the disappointment and beat myself up about the fact that it didn’t go according to my plan. Having a plan B means that I can pivot and change course with out stress or fear, because plan B is part of the plan if I have a growth mindset.
Have you ever heard of growth mindset/fixed mindset?