Have you seen the movie Bad Moms?

Oh my gosh, so funny. Not very flattering of Dads so go with girlfriends for sure. The movie does a great job of illustrating the problem modern moms face. Somewhere around the invention of “Baby Einstein” we picked up this idea that being a “good mom” means taking responsibility for our children’s mental, physical, emotional, social, and academic needs. We so desperately want to be “good moms” that we kill ourselves trying. We have created an impossible, idealistic goal that we will never achieve. We will never have perfectly healthy, happy, whole, content, responsible, friendly, kind self respecting kids who get perfect grades. If you did have this perfect kid, you would be calling me up and saying, “Torie, I think something is wrong with my kid. She’s like, happy all the time, she never makes a mistake, she’s always courteous and kind and gets perfect grades. Something’s got to be wrong with her.”

We aren’t meant to raise perfect kids, nor are we meant to be perfect parents. We are here to love, accept, grow and appreciate them and ourselves, while we stumble through this crazy thing called life.

In the movie, Bad Moms, you can see how the oldest daughter takes on the stress and perfectionism from her Mom. This is the one thing the girls at my summer camp all complain about, the expectation to be perfect. When we Moms don’t make mistakes but take care of everything: cooking, cleaning, coordinating, school work, income needs, etc. Kids learn that unless they can do it perfectly, they shouldn’t even try. Sometimes messing up, dropping the ball, forgetting things, or being an irresponsible Mom is the BEST thing we can do for our kids. They look at us and think, “I could do better than that!” and they start trying.

The lead character in the movie hits her breaking point and her world starts to implode. You don’t have to wait for the shit to hit the fan before making some changes in your life. Listen to that nagging voice that says, “I can’t keep going like this” “something needs to change”. Listen to your body that tries to communicate through physical pain, rashes, IBS, headaches, etc. Pay attention to the whispers of discontent and instead of tuning OUT, tune IN.

Laughter is always the best medicine so grab a Mommy friend and go see “Bad Moms”. After the movie, ask them:
1- “Imagine you won a great mom award, what would make you worthy of that title?”
2- How do you know when you’ve been a bad mom? Let’s say you yelled, ask “Is it true that a good mom would never raise her voice, ever?” “How many times would a mom be allowed to yell and she could still be considered a good mom?”
3- See if you can come up with contradictory definitions. For example, one Mom might say “A good mom provides high quality, nutritious foods without artificial colors and flavors.” Another Mom might say, “A good mom provides foods that are quick, easy and fun so other kids will want to come over to your house.” or “A good mom makes sure the kids are ready for school with a healthy breakfast, homework completed, and lunch made.” Another mom might say, “A good mom expects their child to take responsibility for getting up and out the door in the morning with all supplies necessary for the day.”
4- How much of your definition of a good mom/bad mom was formed by your own mother? Where are you similar and where are you different? How did your mom’s area of expertise, or lack of it, effect your own beliefs and beliefs around what makes a good mom?

The most powerful influence on your daughter’s life.

You work hard, taking care of everyone and everything. You are responsible and you get things done. You’ve been invited to a super fun event with super fun people. It’s right up your alley: relaxing, interesting, inspiring, and will leave you feeling more like yourself when it’s done. Sounds good, right?

But here’s the thing…..it costs money AND it requires you to be away from your children and regular duties for a day or two.

If you are like many Moms, you’ll hear yourself saying things like “We don’t have the money”, “I can’t afford the time away” “I can’t leave my children” “Who would take them to school?” or “I’m fine, I’ll just stay home, I don’t NEED to go.”

Now picture this…..Your child has been invited to a super fun event with super fun people. It’s right up her alley: relaxing, interesting, inspiring and will leave her feeling more like herself when it’s done. It costs money and requires her to be away from her regular duties for a day or two.

If you are like many Moms, this is an easier thing to say yes to. We like spending money on our children. Their happiness is our happiness. It’s no big deal if they miss their night to do dishes or have to reschedule their dentist appt. We are happy to facilitate their fun, but struggle to allow ourselves the same.

The problem is, MOMS are the most powerful influence on daughter’s lives. Not friends, not TV, US. She is watching US to learn what it means to be a woman and a Mom.

What is the message our self-sacrificing sends to our daughters? 

That other people are more important than you are? That it’s ok to sacrifice your wants and needs for the sake of others?  That it’s okay for us to earn money and work hard, but when it comes to spending it we aren’t worthwhile? That life is about hard work, doing for others, and not about having fun, exploring new ideas or new experiences? That the older you get, the more boring and serious your life becomes?

I used to have a hard time leaving my kids, spending money on myself, or even recognizing how it would benefit me. It was like the anxiety and stress of taking the time away, wasn’t worth the imagined reward. My husband had to make me go. My parents had to give me money. It wasn’t until I started taking time away that I realized how valuable it was and what it felt like to be ME again. Sure I could indulge in a pedicure or Moms night out, but when it came to something personal and expensive, that was only important to me, it was hard. Now, I love going to life coaching events, yoga retreats, mastermind weekends, even traveling by myself!

I’m noticing this same difficulty come up for Moms who would love to join me at my Mastermind Event in Austin, TX but haven’t had the experience of taking time away and spending money on things that feel like fun.

Here’s what it boils down to…Would you want your daughter to live the life you are living? 

Of course we want our daughters to be hard working, self-sufficient, and giving, but we also want them to believe they have the right to relax, play and have fun.  Imagine what it would feel like to spend three days, just focused on you and your future. Eating what you want, being inside your own head, thinking your own thoughts, using your creativity, learning new life skills, connecting with other amazing women who share your passions, feeling more energized and excited to come home to your family. If my Mastermind Event in Austin doesn’t sound right for you, use your imagination to create a fun, inspiring, re-connecting event for yourself. Your daughter is watching to see what is expected of her as a women, why not make it fun.

If you are stuck in the SuperMom trap like I was, here are three steps designed to help you remember what it feels like to be responsible AND have fun. To be YOU and MOM.  

  1. Do Nothing. Designate a day, an afternoon, or if this stresses you out, a half hour.  Start with whatever feels comfortable and set the intention to do nothing. You can be outside, inside, in the bath or in your car, the important thing is to be alone and DO absolutely nothing. When so much focus is spent giving to others, it’s hard to even know what you need. Doing nothing will help your focus turn inward so you can just check in with your children’s mom and ask “How are you doing? Are you getting everything you need? What do you want? What’s missing?” Stare into space, be with yourself, stop trying, stop doing, just be.
  2. Spend imaginary money.  If you HAD to spend $50. on YOURSELF today on something only you would benefit from, what would you spend it on?  How about $500.?  $5,000?  $50,000.?  You are not aloud to save it, it must be gone by midnight. Find an amount that is slightly uncomfortable for you, and mentally spend it every day. This helps you loosen up and re-connect to the fun and frivolous side of you. When we focus attention on what we want (with fun energy), we feel heard and validated. Plus, we are more likely to actually get it.
  3. Create imaginary free time. Imagine you when you go to bed tonight, instead of sleeping, you get to have an adventure. You will wake up in your bed, fully rested and your family will have no idea, but you get to have a secret adventure every night. What would it entail?  Where would you go? What would it feel like? What sights would you see? Let your imagination run wild, even if it’s hard at first, keep at it oh responsible one. If you took my SuperMom Quiz and your result was Octopus, it’s time to work out your “ME” muscles and have more frivolous fun. 

If you want a big leap instead of simple steps, I’d love to have you join me for my Launching Girl Leaders Mastermind Event in Austin. You can stay for Martha Beck’s Gathering on the weekend as well.

Let’s have fun, the children are watching!

Are you being lied to?

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Walter Scott

Nobody likes being lied to but when we lie to ourselves it creates a lot of confusion and discontent. We get the feeling that something is wrong, but we can’t pin point exactly what it is. Before we can improve the quality of our lives, we have to identify what the problem is. This starts with telling ourselves the truth.

The problem is, our brains tell us all sorts of crazy things that may or may not be true. It can offer contradicting thoughts that drive us crazy like, “I have to quit my job.” “I can’t quit my job.” or “My daughter could benefit from extra support services.” “My daughter is going to be fine.” How do you know which thought is the truth and which one isn’t?Truth

One of my teachers, Martha Beck, developed a tool called The Body Compass that helps us tune in to our truth.  We life coaches call it, “the gateway drug to your essential self.”  My SuperMom clients find it helpful because when you are good at what you do, it’s easy to confuse external validation and success, with internal joy and purpose.  When you are optimistic, hard working, and people depend on you to take care of them, it creates a smokescreen to our truth. You feel drained of energy, have trouble sleeping, gain weight, develop chronic pain or illness, you know something isn’t right, but you can’t figure out exactly what it is. The Body Compass is a tool you can use everyday to help you figure out which activities are energizing and life-giving, and which are weighing you down.

Click here and listen in as I teach a client how to use this body compass tool.  She has an optimistic personality and is quick to say “Everything is fine” but her body tells her otherwise and the more she denies it, the louder and more painfully it speaks. Notice how she resists the negative readings she gets from her morning run, driving her daughter to practice, and the girl scout meeting.  We think of our intuition as our best friend, and it is, but when we ignore it and deny it, it becomes the cause of our greatest suffering.

Listen to this 30 minute recording, then do your own body compass reading and see if you can tune in to what is true for you.

Write a number line across the page like this:

-10 ——————5——————- 0 ——————5—————–+10

Spend a few minutes thinking of the worst thing that ever happened to you. Really hold it in your mind with full sensory detail: sights, sounds, smells, etc. Notice how your body reacts to the memory of this event. Describe the physical sensations in your body without analyzing or interpreting it and write it down. Look for tension, heaviness, nausea, emptiness, crumpled and small. Describe your sensation in a few words: “Whole body cramp” “Pain cashew” “Cement body cast”. This is your -10, write it down.

Then shake off the feeling and the memory and bring to mind your best experience ever. Whatever comes to mind when you think of the greatest thing that ever happened to you, fill your mind with the memory and notice how your body reacts. Scan your body from toe to head and describe how your body reacts to this memory “floating upward” “falling onto clouds” “solid and calm”.  Write it under the +10.

Now you know how your body says “YES” this is right for you, and “NO” this is wrong for you. Write a list of 5 things you have to do today and assign them a number on the number line. See if you can notice any differences between what your head thinks, and how your body reacts. Try writing down the names of 5 people, 5 foods, 5 chores, just learning to practice this tool is SO valuable to learning to listen to your gut, your intuition, your truth.  Don’t judge or interpret your readings, just notice. You may get a different reading tomorrow and that’s okay. Your body holds the key to what is right for you, learning to listen to it will benefit you the rest of your life.

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!

Are you diversified?

Normally it’s financial planners who are telling us to “diversify our portfolios” but it’s also a good idea when it comes to maintaining sanity as a parent. It’s risky to put all your money in one investment, just in case it doesn’t do well. We diversify our investments to ensure our financial success. If we want success in other areas of our life, it makes sense to diversify them, too.

Let’s say 99% of your life’s joy and purpose comes from being a Mom. You love it. You devote your time and your mental and emotional energy to your kids. It’s your identity and your social life. Then they move out. You are left with a big empty hole. You weren’t diversified.

Take Sally, a busy mother of twins. Her self care took a back seat when her two premature angels showed up. She was lucky if she snuck in a shower. But at the end of the very hard and tiring day, she would collapse on the couch and reward herself with a brownie, or two, or ten. She was very deserving of self care, nurturing, and a reward for her hard work, but she wasn’t diversified. Chocolate brownies was the only way she cared for and acknowledged how much she was doing. Six years later, that reward has turned into a punishment because she is unhappy with how she looks and feels. She doesn’t want to eliminate her only source of self care, because she doesn’t have any other way to replace it. 

When we don’t diversify our joy, our self care, our purpose or our social life, we get this nagging voice in the back of our head. It whispers to us that “this could backfire someday” or “I need more”.

It’s easy to spot in others. Remember that girl in college who completely loses herself in her boyfriend? Or that friend who is so addicted to work they don’t have time for anyone or anything else? They weren’t diversified.

You’ll know you are not diversified if you lose your mind when someone tries to take away your ONE source. I remember throwing a huge fit because SOMEONE MESSED UP MY SCHEDULED RECORDING OF SURVIVOR!  It was one of those times where your whole family stares at your with mouths open because clearly this was your problem and not theirs. My reaction was so disproportionate to the severity of the infraction but at the time, to me, it felt completely justified. Last week Survivor did not record and I barely reacted at all.  Because my joy and self care are now diversified, I’m able to shrug my shoulders and say “oh well”.

How can you diversify your joy?  Your sense of purpose? Your social life and self care?  It’s easier than you think. Here’s some ideas I’ve gotten from my brilliant clients that I love.

“Running errands without kids is MY TIME. I put on my favorite music and sing out loud without anyone telling me to stop. I listen to audio books or blogs and revel in MOM time.”

“I love trying out new recipes. I decided to cook for ME instead of the kids. I let go attachment to what they chose to eat or not and just focus on cooking what I love, for me.”

“Whenever I walk the dog, I pay attention to what’s around me. Leaves changing colors, the wind against my skin, the sounds I hear. I deliberately try not think about anything but just notice what I see, smell, hear, and feel. I always come back feeling recharged.”

“My girlfriends are my top priority. I live with a husband and three school age sons. Between sports, school, and my house and my job, I NEED my girlfriend time. I plan it. I carve out the time for it. I prioritize getting together.”

“I found work that allows me to have lots of creative time by myself. Someday, my needs may change and I’ll want work that is more social or aspirational, but for now, while my house is chaotic and full of activity, it’s a great balance.”

“I love shopping and I love Christmas so the month of December is awesome for me. It’s summertime with the kids home where I really need to pay attention to my self care. I want to be a good Mom so I do the things that help me be successful at that: I make time for scrapbooking, get massages, and schedule life coaching sessions with Torie.”

How can you diversify your joy?  Your self care? Your social life or sense of purpose? Are you ready to try life coaching and see how it can help you? Sign up for a free discovery session here.