Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins
Things I have said in the last twenty-four hours:
“Yes, you can each have a popsicle.”
“Yes, you can play outside.”
“No, you may not have your own phone. Or iPad. Or computer.” (Someday, surely! But today: no.)
“Yes, you may bring a snack. No problem.”
“No, you may not stay up another hour, even to read all the books. Not tonight.”
I have plenty of experience with deciding who has permission for what. I bet you do, too.
What’s harder is to remember to give OURSELVES permission.
And if we don’t give ourselves permission to try new things, to experiment, to maybe even be a little weird, we can’t be all of who we were made to be. We end up living stuck in a box marked “what’s allowed,” and that is a small place to be.
But you were made to be who you are for a reason, and you might as well give yourself permission to be that person. My best choices—for my family, for my kids, for our homeschooling adventures, for myself—always come from giving myself permission to be who I really am.
Willing to give it a try? Experiment with giving yourself permission for these three things today.
Permission to do it differently
You know what’s great about the internet? You can see what everyone else you’ve ever met is up to today! You can find out what the local public schools are teaching, how the private school down the street does things, and what homeschool looks like for every Classical / Charlotte Mason / unschooling / gameschooling / Waldorf / Montessori / online- learning / charter-schooled / interest-driven family on the face of the earth! Or at least all the ones on Instagram! Oh wait, that’s maybe NOT what’s great about the internet.
It’s never been so easy to compare ourselves to the people around us—which means it’s never been so easy to worry you’re not doing it right.
But this is the first time anyone has ever lived your life. This is the first time anyone has ever raised your kids. No one else is an expert on what will work best for YOU. Which means you don’t have to do things the way ANYONE ELSE does. You can do things differently.
Is this scary? YES it can be. Because if you’re copying someone else’s way of doing things, well, even if it doesn’t work, at least you followed directions. Doing it your own way is way more vulnerable—it requires telling the truth about who you are, what you believe, and what you think is right… and then doing it, even if other people don’t understand.
But we can do hard things. Even this one.
You can give yourself permission to do what works for you and for your family, even if it looks totally different from what everyone else is doing.
Permission to bring yourself into the picture
I used to think I had to get through a giant list of responsibilities every day BEFORE I could think about things like what I needed or wanted or how I felt.
There are just so many things for us grown-up people to take care of! Work, school, dinner, being an informed citizen, making sure everyone has clean socks… I mean, they’re all important things. It’s just that they will fill up all available space until there isn’t room for anything else.
But guess what? You are who you are for a good reason. You are a person who needs things (maybe quiet? Maybe conversation? Maybe a nap?), and you are allowed to plan your days so that you get what you need WHILE everyone else gets what they need, too. You don’t have to wait until the baseboards are dusted and the kids have won all the spelling bees and you’ve achieved inbox zero. You are allowed to plan for your own health and wellbeing NOW, right alongside everything else that’s going on in your life.
Permission to get it wrong
What? Get things WRONG? Who wants permission for THAT? Okay, well, it might sound like the exact opposite of what you want, but hang with me a minute here.
You need permission to make mistakes. When you feel like you have to get things Exactly Right all the time, you can’t try anything new. (You know why? Because when you’re learning something new, you don’t know how to do it right yet.) If you don’t have permission to make mistakes, you don’t have room to experiment. You can’t take chances, and every change feels risky.
I get it! No one really wants to make mistakes. But mistakes mean we are being brave and trying new things—and that means we are learning and growing. I want to be learning and growing pretty much forever, and it’s something I want my kids to see me doing, too. I can’t do that if I’m not willing to make mistakes. That’s why I think we need permission to get things wrong.
None of that comes easily, at least for me. But what I discover every time I’m willing to give myself permission is that life on the other side feels freer. Everything feels simpler. I feel more comfortable in my own skin. My kids and I all have room to be ourselves. For that, I’ll keep trying to give myself permission every day.
Where do you get stuck when it comes to giving yourself permission? Or is it something you do all the time, no problem? I’d love to know!
Friends, Melissa’s new book, Permission Granted, is available for preorder!
The publisher describes it like this: “Melissa Camara Wilkins invites you into her journey of discovering the profound simplicity of dropping the pretenses and allowing ourselves to be fully human – flaws and all. This is a story about making life simpler by letting go of who you think you’re supposed to be and becoming who you really are.”
If that sounds like just what you need, preorder yours now so it arrives on your doorstep the very first day it’s available!