Spilt Milk Moments — 5 Things You Can Ask Yourself to Turn Burning Into Learning.
Spilt Milk moments are a part of motherhood. Sometimes they are BIG and OBVIOUS, sometimes they are small, snagging at your awareness with a little gut-tug of “Oh, something about that wasn’t right.”
So can we do something with those moments to evolve our behaviours, to glean a sense of progress amongst the repetition of chores, to choose new responses rather than trip ourselves up on the same old habits and humps? Here are 5 simple self-inquiry questions I shared in a contribution article to Happy Mama Magazine recently. These simple questions can yield enlightening results and turn the burning moments of motherhood into learning that grows your wisdom, joy and sense of purpose.
I used these self-inquiry questions in a recent spilt milk moment, and found they were the difference between having a tangled, anxious holiday, or one focused on appreciation and ease.
The spilt milk moment occurred on holiday with wider family when I publicly volunteered my daughter to do the vacuuming. Tepid compliance would have been good enough but her glaring displeasure was plain for all to see. This moment of civil disobediance was particularly sharp-edged, because I could see that her effort would be appreciated, after all this was everyone’s holiday and we’re all supposed to pitch in and ENJOY IT!!! Uh oh.
My inner “relaxed holiday-taker” packed her bags in a flash, and my “anxious worth-prover” set up camp in her place. This anxious, controlling part of me is not someone I want to be on holiday. This part of me gets all tangled up in mixed motives and sinks her own boat doing the right things for the wrong reasons.
It’s one of those snaggy spilt milk moments.
Lots of mums have told me they appreciate me dissecting my mothering in the open, because it helps to know they’re not alone, and it also helps to hear how self-inquiry sounds when someone else does it. So let’s walk through these self-inquiry questions together and see what I discovered, because I wouldn’t offer you anything I haven’t tested on myself.
- What concerns you about this spilt milk moment?
- What is underneath your concern?
- What do you notice when you reflect on this?
- What are you reaching for?
- How could you use this spilt milk moment to focus your practice and cultivate more of what you want in your life today?
What concerns me about this spilt milk moment?
That my daughters’ grumpy response will be chalked up against her, or me, as a character-flaw.
That I don’t know what to do. Do I take my foot off the gas and reduce pressure on her to avoid the ugliness, or is that just giving in, and being ruled by her mood? Or do I take her on,
wear the mother-pants, put my foot down and dish out some consequences?
I’m worried that I’ll be judged for having non-compliant kids, and that my family will think I should’ve done better teaching my child to contribute willingly.
What is underneath my concern?
Underneath I realise I wanted her to put points in the family’s behaviour bank to protect her, and me, from the judgement that comes with a contribution low-score.
What do I notice when I reflect on this?
I notice that I’m wishing she’d just get off the wi-fi and offer to help, be amazing and impress my family with her compliant and willing attitude. OMG. Who am I kidding and what am I thinking!?
I thought the moment was about my daughter’s glaring behaviour. But I see now that I was throwing my daughter under the bus of my own anxiety. It was a tangled request. No wonder she glared at me, and no wonder I felt caught.
What I am reaching for?
Instead of judgment, resistance, and anxiety I want to cultivate acceptance, appreciation and reassurance.
I’d like to find a way to work with my daughter that teaches her about contribution respectfully.
How could I use this spilt milk moment to focus my practice and cultivate more of what I want in my life today?
I have an intention for myself for the holiday! When I notice my daughter doing something voluntarily that contributes to the family holiday in any way, I will let her know that I see and that I value and appreciate her offers.
I will practice noticing when I get anxious, and disentangling myself from the need to please others.
Phew! I feel clearer, empowered in the face of old patterns, and more of the mother I want to be. My “relaxed holiday-taker” returns smiling and unfolds two deckchairs, one for herself and one for her new holiday companion. Transformed from the “anxious worth-prover” I have grown my friendlier and easier “appreciative worth-builder”.
Spilt Milk Yoga is the process of making space to think and feel through why we do what we do, and coming to know ourselves through meeting the challenges of motherhood. When we understand more about what is behind our unconscious responses we can consciously cultivate new options for ourselves. This inner Q and A brings us toward our own wisdom, connects us to our joy, and refreshes our sense of purpose as we live each day.
If you have a burning spilt milk moment big or small that you’d like to transform into learning run through the self inquiry for yourself, write down your answers, and see what emerges. If you have any questions Amy has put my contact details in my bio.
All best with the many spilt milk moments mama’s. I hope this helps. Xxx Cathryn