How to feel in control

When my kids were little, I spent a lot of time in the Land of Crazy. It felt like the quality of my days was completely in the hands of my child. Would I get to have any “me time”? Depends on the nap. Would we get to run errands? Depends on her mood. Would I have a good day or bad day? It depends on how happy and cooperative my children are. I felt like I had so little control over how I spent my time. It was exhausting and robbed me of my ability to enjoy myself throughout the day.organized play room

I thought I was the only one who struggled with this until I was giving a talk to a room full of pre-school Moms and I showed them a photo of an organized play room. There was an audible sigh throughout the room as Moms fantasized about a beautifully designed toy room with organized bins. (Hmm…interesting I thought to myself. There is a Universal feeling all these Moms are longing for, what is the feeling they yearn for that they think a clean and organized playroom will give them?)

Control.

Control gets a bad rap. No Mom wants to be labeled a “control freak” or a “micromanager” but you also don’t want to be “out of control” or “always in control”.  However, striving for control isn’t a bad idea. Having control over one’s life is a key indicator for happiness and helps blur the lines between work and play. The problem is, many of us try to control things we have no control over:

1. We argue with reality.

My house shouldn’t be so messy.

I am done with this cold weather.

You should get better grades than this!

2. We try to control other people:

The kids at school need to be nicer to my daughter.

The coach needs to give my son more play time.

My kids need to stop bickering.

My husband shouldn’t watch so much TV.

2. We try to change the past.

You should not have said that.

My Dad shouldn’t have left when I was a kid.

I should not have eaten that entire bag of potato chips.

3. We try to control the future:

People need to realize what an idiot Donald Trump is.

I wish my dog would stop peeing on the carpet.   

I don’t want anything bad to happen to my children.

If you are trying to control something you have no control over, you’ll know it because it doesn’t feel good. You get frustrated, angry or annoyed because you are giving away your power. Overtime this leads to a pervasive feeling of helplessness and powerlessness. A big yuck for the human psyche.

The good news is that “gaining control” isn’t as hard as you think. Go to a room in your house that bugs you (my teenage son’s room comes to my mind, yikes!) and pick ONE THING you can take action on. Instead of waiting for someone else to straighten up the shoes, change the lightbulb or hang up the wet towels, make this yours, to own. Don’t take responsibility for the whole house, just create calm by taking responsability for one small. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, go look at your beautiful sock drawer and admire your handiwork. Build on your success by moving to another small area, preferably one that is small but really bugs you. 

One thing we always have control over is our MIND. Notice how it feels to think the thoughts above, even if they are true, they create negative emotions in you. Increase your happiness and personal sovereignty by making peace with reality.

“I trust my teenage son to be messy.” “Kids are supposed to leave their shoes everywhere, that’s what kids do.” “I give Donald Trump permission to be an idiot.” “I can teach the dog where to pee.” “I’m pretty reliable when it comes to bingeing on potato chips.” “Girls sometimes are mean, and sometimes are nice.”  “People say dumb things sometimes and that’s okay.” “It’s impossible to never be late.”

You can avoid The Land of Crazy by taking control of your actions, your emotions and your mind. Don’t dismiss control because it has a bad reputation. Controlling something you actually have power over feels, well, empowering!

Do you get party anxiety?


Twas the dawn of Thanksgiving and all through the house,

not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The coffee was brewing, the fridge full of food,

this Mommy was dreaming of feeding her brood.

With visions of Pinterest and culinary delights,

the Thanksgiving table would be quite a sight.

Pretty place settings with fall colored linens

would welcome our guests as candlelight glistens.

The food will be prepped with effortless ease,

and presented so the palette and eyes will be pleased.

This Mom puts on music to chop and to peel,

not knowing her expectations are completely unreal.

Two hours later the house is a frenzy,

with dishes and messes and football on tele.

“Clear off your bowl and take out the trash”

yells mother to all who can hear the tongue lash.

“Clean your rooms and get dressed, there is company coming”

the kids run and hide because they know what is brewing.

That joyful mom who started the day

is fussing and stressing and falling away.

The party anxiety she tried to avoid

is slowly arising to soon be deployed.

“Where is everybody and why aren’t they helping?”

(perhaps to avoid all the panicky yelling?)

“The house is a mess and I still haven’t showered,

people will be here in just three more hours!”

“We need folding chairs and to sweep up the floor

and could somebody please fix this damn broken drawer?”

The problem you see is that no one can hear,

the family escapes to their rooms out of fear.

Fear that the orders and requests will not end,

that PANIC is this year’s Thanksgiving trend.

Mean party-Mommy who’s stressed and annoyed

is a tradition my family would rather avoid.

A glimpse in the mirror helps this mom to see through

to a frowning and messy and cranky old shrew.

Whatever happened to that joy filled mom,

that started the day with excitement and calm?

What am I really afraid of today?

So what if things aren’t perfect on this holiday?

I’ve allowed unwelcome visitors into my home:

Expectation and Perfection and they steal all the fun.

This holiday game is like playing a sport,

when it’s stops being fun then GET OFF THE COURT.

Nobody cares how pretty things look,

it’s me who wants it to be like a page in a book.

I need to remember on Thanksgiving day,

that this is a GAME I am CHOOSING to play.

Getting mad at my family for not joining in,

is silly cause it’s a sport they’d rather not win.

They don’t ask me to throw in a ball

or sub for the goalie who has taken a fall.

I’m the one who cares about creating the dream,

it’s okay they don’t want to be a part of my team.

I don’t want them to hate this sport that I love,

to hide out in fear when company comes.

So join me in toasting to holiday CHEER,

to cook and clean without any fear.

The only way to lose this Thanksgiving game

is to be so tense you forget it’s name.

HAVE A PEACEFUL AND JOYFUL THANKSGIVING!

p.s. let me know if you win the game!

do selfies create narcissistic kids

Do selfies make kids narcissistic?

Today’s parents are wondering if kids focus too much on taking selfies, becoming famous, and how many likes and followers they have, can it make them into self-obsessed, narcissistic children?

There hasn’t been a lot of research done on the effects of selfies and social media on adolescent development but it’s fair to say that narcissists LOVE the culture of social media. It’s probably not surprising to you that narcissists love to post a lot of photos of themselves.

When kids spend a lot of time on all screens (ipads/TV/cell phones) the one thing researchers all agree on is kid’s ability to empathize with others has been reduced, leading to the bullying problem and a world full of not-so-nice people. We can’t just blame screen time: whether it’s schools or home life, kids today have a reduced opportunity for free play, to hurt people’s feelings and watch the results, to learn turn taking and compassion, to learn to feel sad, angry and disappointed and take responsibility for those feelings.

So whether it’s at home, at school or online, there are things we can do to create a world full of nice people for our children to grow up in, and make sure our kid is one of them.

Narcissists pursue being admired by other people and expect others to notice their superior talents and abilities. They believe they are better than others and are entitled to special privileges. When they don’t get what they want or get embarrassed, expect to see a strong emotional reaction (watch reality TV and you will see this in action). Young kids are naturally self-focused and self-praising: “Watch Me! Listen to Me!”. Getting attention from their parents is what they live for. But before kids get on Instagram, the seeds of narcissism have already started in these two ways:

  1. Parents over-valuing their child and praising them in a way that implies they are superior to others. These kids don’t see anything other than their own brilliance. They believe what they have been told.
  2. Kids being so emotionally sensitive and experiencing rejection in such a way that they build a false sense of their own superiority. “If I am awesome and perfect, then nothing bad can happen to me and I will never feel vulnerable again.” 

Does your kid…..Throw a fit if she doesn’t win a game? Blame others when he feels negative emotion? Have trouble showing compassion for others? Not show remorse when she hurts someone’s feelings? Bends the rules to suit his needs? Blames others for her mistakes? If this sounds like your child ask him the two questions below. You might want to nip narcissism in the bud before your child turns into someone you don’t enjoy being around.

Do you think you are better than others?”

Do you think you deserve special treatment?

What we do know is parental warmth and love is powerful prevention and helps create kids who are satisfied with themselves. Kids don’t need to inflate their ego when they genuinely believe they are enough. Not perfect, not brilliant, just worthy enough for their Mom and Dad to love them. The message to send to kids is: “You are special to me.” instead of “You are special.” Deepak Chopra recommends instilling in all kids “You are no better and no worse than anyone else.” My favorite because it makes me laugh is ….”You are so special and unique! Just like everybody else.” 

Remember these tips to give your kids good self esteem and connecting them with others in meaningful ways:

Praise your child when you see them being vulnerable: “I loved the apology note you wrote to Grandma, I know it was hard for you and I think you acted very bravely.” “I loved the school project you did because it was so YOU. When you are creating something you love, it shows.”

Model mistake making – Show your kids how to apologize and forgive “I shouldn’t have told you you are better than others. I can see now it was wrong. You are wonderful, and so is everyone else.”

“What can you take responsibility for?” When you hear your child blaming others, ask them, “What part of this problem is yours?” Keep asking to the point of being annoying. You are breaking down their perfect facade so if they get mad, take it as a good sign. Fill up their tank with love and warmth later.

The Golden Rule is present in every religion around the globe so it must be worthwhile. “Treat others how you like to be treated.” is something that cannot be repeated enough.

If you need a little help with raising your kids to be an adult whose company you enjoy, click here to schedule a free discovery coaching session and we’ll see what’s getting in your way. Kids learn by imitation so if your parents didn’t model these teachings, it takes a little work to create something different.

Your kids are perfect, with lots of room for improvement.

Remember when your baby was 5 months old and would wake up fussing in the middle of the night. You would stumble in there grumpy as heck with your tattered pajamas, one eye barely peeking out from your crazy bed head, only to have your baby grin the biggest most admiring smile you have ever seen? It was like her little crib existence was sponge cake and you walked in bringing frosting, candles, and balloons. Her eyes lit up like sparklers as if to say, with enthusiasm and surprise, OMG it’s YOU!  YOU ARE THE BEST ONE EVER!

I think our job as parent is to do the same for our kids.

They WORSHIPPED us those first three years (five if you are lucky:). They did not care if we smelled, looked hideous, gained weight, hadn’t brushed our teeth, kept a messy home, wore unstylish clothing, had no friends and an empty bank account. It was unconditional love and it rocked. seriously awesome. This ENAMORED phase doesn’t last because the brain becomes more critical. In one day with an adolescent, you can hear “You aren’t seriously wearing that are you, Mom?”  “Why do you laugh so loud? It’s so obnoxious.”  “Why are you making that face?” I”m sure you could tell me more comments from your critical teens…post em here.

But how do we love our kids unconditionally, when we, too, have critical minds.  How do we communicate to them that “You are a wonderful, beautiful PERFECT creature that makes the world shine with your presence…..but can you please wear deodorant and pick up your dirty socks…..and wash your hands after using the bathroom….… and use nice words……and. and. and.

How do we show them they are perfect in every way, while still noticing LOTS of room for improvement?

The good news is LOVE is very different than perfectionism.

Instead of yelling from the sidelines, “You can’t miss those easy shots!” Talk after about what you loved.  “I love how you bounced back from those missed goals & didn’t let it affect you.” “I love how your whole team works so well together.”

Describe cause and effect: “When you speak that way to Grandma, she feels disrespected.” “When you apologize to your friends, it helps them forgive you and trust you again.” “When you shower and wear deodorant, people enjoy being around you more.”

Apologize and forgive. Please, PLEASE do this with your kids. I think our culture (especially politics) could use so much more of this. Apologize to your kids when you make a mistake and take responsibility for your part! 

“I know I lost my cool with you this morning and I’m sorry.  I got so frustrated because I’m really mad at myself for not being a more organized person. I want to do better with our morning routine and I’m not. I took it out on you and I’m sorry. Can you forgive me?”

“I’m sorry I made that comment about your outfit, that was not kind of me to say. Really, I was embarrassed because I worry about what other people will think about ME when you wear that. I should care more about what YOU think than strangers I don’t even know. Will you please forgive me?”

Forgive yourself. Many of us think that if I just do things RIGHT, I’ll be worthy of love. Without even realizing it, we pass this onto our kids. If I score enough points, get good enough grades, look pretty enough, then I will get love, approval and acceptance. Once we can forgive OURSELVES for having faults and love ourselves anyway, then we give this to our kids without even trying. If you’ve got something you avoid thinking about because you haven’t forgiven yourself for it, set up a free life coaching session and let’s get it done.

Warning: Accepting who you are and forgiving yourself for being a flawed human being may cause embarrassment to your teens. Spontaneous affection, obnoxious laughter, bold outfit wearing and funny faces can result, but when you are filled with that same unconditional love your baby poured on you, you won’t care. Prepare for the eyes to roll and the “OMG Mom, you are so embarrassing.” We get to give back to our kids what they gave to us, even if it’s dorky. “OMG IT’S YOU!  YOU ARE THE BEST ONE EVER!”

The fine art of escaping your children

Like many Moms, I have a hard time prioritizing my needs, over my kid’s needs. It’s just too easy to think, “I’m fine” “I don’t mind missing yoga again” or “I don’t really need to take time for myself.” I used to have a hard time spending money on myself. The hardest thing was to PAY a babysitter to then spend TIME and MONEY on my own frivolous fun. Before I became a Mom I used to judge those mothers who spent lots of time away from their kids and couldn’t wait for them to go back to school. Now my back to school happy dance is an annual event and right now, I am sitting in a hotel room, spending money and time by myself.

Having mental rest is my #1 trick to a happy, purposeful life. After having so much kid time this summer, my brain gets full of their thoughts and ideas, making me feel tired and overwhelmed. Some people can ignore everyone around them and just tune into themselves. I envy them, but I act more like a sponge, soaking up other people’s emotions, energies and thoughts. For me to wring myself out and have access to me, I need to escape.

The first time I escaped, by myself, I spent the day at beautiful Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. I was hanging on to sanity by a thread. I felt so guilty over needing the break and then so selfish over taking the break, that I could barely relax after an 8 hour spa day. What turned the corner for me was this: “Would I ever hire someone to look after my kids, who never took time to herself?” “Would I trust a nanny to watch my kids 40 hours a week if I knew she ONLY worked and never rested or played?” NO! That sounds unhealthy and unbalanced. Yet here I am, trusting myself to “be a good Mom” on very little personal time!

For the last five years, I’ve been taking a getaway weekend by myself about once a year. At first I brought my sister along, or used points to pay for the room, to make me feel less selfish and guilty. Now that I see how beneficial it is for me to be alone, I indulge it. To eat what I want, when I want, without cooking, cleaning or hearing complaints is HEAVEN. To go to bed when I want and sleep as late as I want feels fabulous. The best part of these weekend escapes is I get access to ME: To think my own thoughts, be inside my own head, plan out my year, dream about the future, spend time in nature, HEAVEN! I still hear myself say to my family, “Why don’t you come with me?” or “I don’t have to go, I can just stay home.” It’s like I forget how much I need it until I get it. If you are spongy like me, and need solitude to wring out and feel whole again, take these four steps and give your kids the whole and healthy Mama they deserve.

The Art of Escaping involves 4 steps.

  1. Setting Boundaries. It doesn’t matter how small you start but you MUST be the one to carve out time for you. It could be you are unavailable after 11pm. It could be Sunday mornings between 8-10am. The first Wednesday night of every month is yours to do what you want. Stick to this boundary like you are stopping your child from running into the street. It is not negotiable. They will pick up on your level of conviction and respect your decision (once they’ve tested you a few times).
  2. Doing nothing. In our hyperproductive world it’s popular to worship BUSY. But constant busy-ness distracts us from our inner world and inner guidance system. To feel whole and mentally calm, try giving yourself permission to do nothing. Accomplish nothing. Wander. Be. Go where the wind takes you. Start with ten minutes and work your way up to a whole day. It feels like being a kid again .
  3. Give generously – Money has an energy to it and isn’t meant to sit and stagnate. If you have trouble spending money on yourself, think about giving it to other people. Help people be who they are meant to be by paying them to massage you, cook for you, teach you about wine, make you pretty, play with your kids. You make their day by letting them fulfill their purpose here on Earth.
  4. It’s not about you. You are here, doing some important work raising kids, spreading love and uplifting your corner of the world. You escaping to get quiet time, isn’t really about you. It’s about pushing the refresh button on you, so that you can be whole and healthy and show your kids what it looks like to be their best and enjoy their lives. Taking time to care for yourself is a gift you give your family. Do you know anyone who had a mother who didn’t take great care of herself?  Ask them what it would have felt like to have a Mom who supported her own physical, mental and financial well-being.