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Saying No to “Should” and Yes to “Could”

Saying No to “Should” and Yes to “Could”

I recently overheard a mom talking about her child’s upcoming birthday party. “My son wants a dinosaur theme, so I scouted Pinterest,” she told her friend. “Oh my goodness—there’s a ton of amazing ideas.” Then she described what she’d seen online—ideas for a dinosaur-shaped cake, invitations, room decorations, party favors, games, and costumes.

“I really feel like I should do these things to create a fantastic memory,” she continued. Then she paused. “There’s only one problem: it would cost a small fortune. Besides, I don’t know where I’d find the time to get everything ready.”

If it had been appropriate for me to break into the conversation, I would have encouraged this woman to resist the pressure to pull off a party fit for a prince. I might have said, “Let go of what you feel you should do. Relax. Look at your budget, your time, and your energy, and then focus on what you could do to make your son feel special.”

Social media bombards us with tweets and blogs about how to be the best parent, the best spouse, the best homemaker, and the best juggler of a gazillion balls. We should be able to do everything, and to do it with pizzazz. But that’s not reality.

Reality is that we’re not perfect. Neither do we live in a perfect world. We have limitations, and we need to respect them. Learning to define the difference between what we should do and what we could do in any given circumstance helps us face our reality without succumbing to pressures and expectations whether actual or perceived.

Rather than struggling with what she should do, this mom would be wise to list the things she could do to create a fun birthday celebration without overextending herself. For instance, she could forego paper invitations and invite the guests by phone or social media instead.

Rather than stress over creating a dinosaur-shaped cake, she could bake cupcakes, buy frosting and dinosaur-shaped sprinkles, and let the kids decorate them. Rather than sweat over take-your-breath away decorations and favors, she could buy helium balloons with a dinosaur picture on them and use them for double duty—decorations and party favors.

Succumbing to “I should do this or that” often heaps pressure and false guilt on us. But turning it around to “I could do this or that” invites us to explore doable options and restores inner calm.

Now that’s something we could all do, yes?

By: Grace Fox is a popular international speaker, global worker, and the author of eight books including Tuck-Me-In Talks With Your Little Ones: Creating Happy Bedtime Memories (Harvest House Publishers). She’s the mother of three married children and grandma to six precious kiddos. Visit to learn more about her books and resources. You can also subscribe to her newsletter and devotional blogs there.

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