Worry Less, Live More

When my child was fourteen-months-old, she had an aversion to shoes and preferred “walking” everywhere on her knees. I worried that she’d still be using this unconventional form of migration to cross the stage at her high school graduation. But alas, my once knee-shuffling child now has no problem wearing shoes and walks on her feet. (She sometimes even sprints … to the ice cream truck.)

When child was two, she was painfully shy and her bottom lip actually quivered if another child even looked at her the wrong way. I worried that she would always be overly sensitive and unable to stand up for herself. But alas, my once shy and introverted daughter is now a social butterfly (as described by her teacher) who often steps forward to stand up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves.

When my child was three, she had an extreme fear of dogs. I worried that she would continue to hyperventilate in the presence of any furry, four-legged creature. But alas, my once pooch-fearing child is now a great pet sitter for our neighbors and especially loves walking the dogs.

When my child was four, she had a disdain for forks and preferred eating everything with her hands. I worried that she would forever gnaw on her food like a caveperson. But alas, my once hands-on eater is now complimented on her polite table manners whenever she has dinner with family friends.

When my child was five, she couldn’t ride a bike and had no interest in doing so.

I worried that she would experience years of ridicule if she did not acquire this skill when all the other neighborhood children did. But alas, my once exclusive walker now takes bike rides with friends—the same friends who learned to ride far earlier than she did.

Are You Robbed of Today?

When my child was six, I saw a pattern of parental worry—needless parental worry. It occurred to me that much of what I worried about had a way of working out in time—in my child’s own time. And by living in a state of worry, I was robbing myself of the gifts of today.

My perspective of parenting changed when I wrote down these painful truths about Worry:

  • Worry can remove you from the most beautiful moments of your life … as if you aren’t even there.
  • Worry can steal meaningful experiences right from your memory bank … as if they didn’t even happen.
  • Worry can prevent you from experiencing happiness, passion, and joy … as if you merely existed, rather than truly lived.

Replace Worry with Trust

Worry took plenty of my moments that matter; therefore, I refuse to give Worry any more of them. Now when I begin to go down the path of worry, I stop myself by saying one word: Trust.

  • Trust that worrying will do nothing to change the outcome.
  • Trust that my child will be where she needs to be in her own time.
  • Trust that things will work out as they should.

And when I choose to focus on all that is going right in my life and let go of that which I cannot control, I am free to live more and love more in the precious day at hand.

How does worry rob you of precious moments with your children? What worries you the most? How might you let go to live more and love more? 

Published on: July 08, 2013
About the Author
Photo of Rachel Stafford
Rachel Macy Stafford is a certified special education teacher with a Master’s Degree in education and ten years experience. She shares her journey to let go of daily distraction and grasp what really matters on her blog Hands Free Mama and on Facebook at The Hands Free Revolution.
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Recent Comments

I suffer from anxiety and worry seems to control a BIG part of my life. I am very aware of how irrational most of my worry is but no matter how hard I try to get rid of it, it always creeps back in. Thanks for posting this – got out a good cry which I have probably needed to do for a long time.

This is what I am going to try to take away with me and practice:

“Trust that worrying will do nothing to change the outcome.”

It’ll be the biggest defining moment in my life if I could learn to just go with the flow and relax and make decisions without stressing over them…make a decision and just do it…easier said then done, but, I am going to try!

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” -Corrie ten Boom
This article is a beautiful expansion on the above quote. Love it. Thanks for sharing so eloquently what many of us parents need to hear.

I love that quote so much, Patricia. Thank you for such a lovely compliment about my article. I greatly appreciate it.

Thank you for this post, It got to me in the right moment. I am worrying A LOT about my child’s experience in preschool, he does not talk to me about what he did during the mornings there, he says he forgets what he did, his mood changes when he is at school, he behaves differently on vacation, he seems more tranquil, connected, willing to cooperate – he does not like doing homework. This worry has been going on for a year now, when he started, I immediately noticed a change. I live in a culture where sending them to school at an early age is perfectly normal, but I thought of home schooling him instead. I never materialized that idea, though, for various reasons. My concern is that something bad could be happening to him there and he does not tell me, he says he forgets what he does, and I have even thought that they tell him not to say anything, but then I think I am being paranoid, I will try to trust that he is in good hands, that he is respected and loved there too. I also hope he gets to love school one day. Thank you for your post again :) first time reading you.

Hi Carmen. I just want to share that developmentally, preschoolers can’t necessarily tell you what they did because they don’t necessarily have the memory in words that can be conveyed, and that isn’t unusual. You may get a lot more information out of him by asking smaller questions like ‘who did you play with’ or ‘what game did you play with Johnny today’? (Using ‘Johnny’ as a stand in name for whomever his best friend is…)

Thank you for sharing your concerns, Carmen. I commend you for knowing your child so well that you notice these changes in his behavior/mood as they relate to school. As a teacher, I would be perfectly open to a parent who wanted to come visit or observe child in the classroom. Maybe that would be a good step for you. As I said in my post, I believe it is important to let go of unnecessary worries, but that is not saying to ignore your gut instincts. When our children are not yet able to articulate their experiences, I feel it is important to make sure they are being treated well and safely. I wish you all the best.

As a therapist who treats patients with anxiety disorders, I appreciate this perspective. When we worry through life, we miss the best parts. Thanks-I always enjoy reading your essays.

Thank you, Kathryn. I greatly appreciate your kind words of support!