Should you give your child everything on their wish list?

Making our kids happy without making them feel entitled

Don’t you loving reading kid’s wish lists or letters to Santa? It’s so easy get a picture of what the child is like and what his interests and priorities are. If a kid can’t create a wish list, it’s a warning sign of low self worth and depression. It is SO important for kids to be able to ask for what they want, and believe they are worthy of receiving it. img_2686

As parents, our desires often get buried under the daily to-do list and we lose touch with what we really want. The feeling of yearning, of wanting, is very valuable and I’m often coaching my clients into reconnecting with this feeling. We need it to know who we really are and what’s next for us. It provides us a road map for our life. WANTING is wonderful, but you might want to read this before indulging your child in all of their desires.

None of us wants to create entitled kids but we all want to see our children happy. Watching their face light up when they open that gift they were so hoping to receive is OUR reward for all the hard frickin’ work! Let’s start by admitting that giving kids what they want is about US, wanting to make our kids happy so we can be happy.

What creates the “omg this is the best present ever” moment we all crave, is when the child is hopeful, but doubtful. It’s the surprise element that helps the child feel loved, seen and heard. If you always buy your child everything on their list, they lose the surprise and appreciation. Then, opening the gift just turns it into a checklist. When children expect to receive everything on their wish list, it changes from a “this is my heart’s desire and yearning” to an “here’s an errand I expect you to run for me”. Yuck.

Sometimes kids want gifts just because “everyone else wants them or has them”. Games, clothes, electronics, etc. can act a social marker between kids. If the kids your child likes and wants to be friends with, all talk about xbox, your child will want to be able to speak that language, talk about the latest games or levels, and feel accepted by his peers. This is a valid reason to want something, especially during the pre-adolescent years when they are trying to establish their identity.

My daughter has wanted UGG boots for years. Spending that much money on something that will make her (naturally hot) feet sweat and that she will grow out of quickly, is really hard for me. With so many better alternatives, the cost goes against my values. Helping my daughter have a sense of belonging and connection with her social group is aligned with my values, so I’m delegating to Grandmas and hope they can resolve the issue for me. 

“Something you want, Something you need, Something to wear, Something to read”

Remember, Christmas is for US. We do most of the work which means we can make it whatever we want it to be. By filling their stockings with deodorant, nail clippers and socks, you can make their “wants” that much more exciting. Giving practical gifts remind them that the “magic of Christmas” isn’t about the gifts themselves but the surprise, the traditions, the togetherness and the energy of giving.

So just be sure, if you are indulging your child in their desires, that you don’t do all items every year and you give them plenty of opportunity to experience yearning. There are many things that make the holidays special, make sure you aren’t sacrificing your own happiness for the sake of your children’s wish list. 

So what’s on your wish list Mama?

The only problem you will ever have

Friendship problems can be confusing, overwhelming, and very common. But really, all problems boil down to just one thing: The problem is we think we shouldn’t have problems.

Friendship problems are here to help us grow. Our problems teach us about empathy (for ourselves and others). They help us figure out who we are, what we like, and what we are willing to tolerate. Conflict helps us to let go and move on, or bring our relationship to a deeper level. Conflict teaches us the importance of advocating for ourselves and communicating our needs in a respectful way. Friendship problems are a super important learning opportunity!

Nicole* could feel her friends pulling away. They started sharing secrets and planning things without including her. They were still kind to her but she felt left out. What should she do?

Shay* was ready to branch out and make new friends. She loved her old group but was ready for something new. Despite her efforts, her old friends were not interested in bringing in any new ones. Shay didn’t want to hurt her old friend’s feelings, but she felt pulled to expand her social circle. As she did, her old friends got mad and unfriended her. Shay wants to shake off the guilt and sadness she feels so she can enjoy her friendships but she doesn’t know how.

Please join me for a mother/daughter workshop and tea, all about female friendships on Saturday, Nov. 16th from 1:00 – 4:00. You and your 10-14 daughter attend together for this helpful and fun mini-retreat. We’ll use our friendship issues, conflicts and girl drama to learn some important life lessons and build skills around empathy, self-compassion, positive self-talk, asking for what you want and standing in your power. Games and activities will help reinforce the lessons. Tea and goodies will be served and the cost is $60. per mother/daughter pair. ($30. individual price). This afternoon workshop will be held in my home so space is limited!

Reserve your spot today by clicking here:

pre-teen girls texting while hanging out at their school

*Names changed to protect these sweet girls

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?

Why won’t my kids help me clean?

I’m always reminded of my homemaker shortcomings when my kid’s friends are over and they come to me in the kitchen and ask, “Where should I put my dirty plate?” They have a puzzled look on their face as they stare at my cluttered kitchen counters and full sink, trying to figure out what my system is (I don’t have one).  These kids are trained. These kids are helpful. These kids help their parents clean.

Welcome to summer (and volleyball double days)
Welcome to summer (and volleyball double days)

My kids are perfectly comfortable walking away from the dinner table leaving their dishes as they are. Despite multiple reminders, they still leave dirty socks everywhere, cereal bowls on every flat surface known to mankind, wet towels on carpet, beds, or most recently, our wooden dining room table.

I’m going to give 5% of the blame to my daughter’s strong willed, rebellious personality and 5% to my son’s ADHD/disorganized brain. The remaining 90% is all my fault. This is good news because it means I can change it anytime I want. We teach our kids how to treat us, our home, and each other. Here is what I have found are the Top 5 Reasons Why Kids Don’t Help Their Parents Clean.  If your kids aren’t jumping up to help you clean, see if any of these sound familiar. If you didn’t help YOUR parents clean when you were a kid, see if any of these sound like truth for you. (and sign up for my “Organize My Home” Boot Camp here!)

  1. You prioritize fun. There is one common denominator Moms who always have clean houses share, they like to clean. If your house is not clean, it’s probably because you don’t enjoy cleaning it. You have fun in other ways, and without realizing it, you might be teaching your kids to dislike cleaning, too. You see cleaning as an unwanted chore and your kids may have picked up on that, and they, too, want to prioritize fun. Read this blog on how to make chores more fun.
  2. Do your kids start out cleaning with you, and then quietly disappear? It could be they lose interest or it could be that your energy changes when you start cleaning. Maybe you get frenetic and panicky (hostess neurosis, anyone?). Some parents get authoritative and bark orders, some complain about what they are doing while they are doing it. If your energy turns negative, your kids are going to hide from you.
  3. My house cleaner’s daughter refuses to clean her house because her Mom is too perfectionistic. If there is a certain way you want things done, and on a certain time frame, and you are pretty picky about it, chances are your kids will rebel. Kids often rebel any time they feel powerless or when they can’t be themselves. Some personality types have an even stronger need to put their stamp on things and do things their way. A controlling Mom with a rebellious child will always butt heads.
  4. You prioritize other activities. There are many days during the school year when my kid’s schedules are busier than mine and I feel bad asking them to do anything else. When we prioritize our kid’s school work, sports, and social activities, it’s only natural that they learn cleaning isn’t important. If it is important to you that your kids to learn to help out, clean up, and build basic life skills, use summer time and weekends to focus on the fundamentals.
  5. You like doing it all. Some Moms “do it all” and wear it like a badge of honor. They might SAY they want help but when someone tries to help out, all this Supermom sees is the faults and inadequacies in the attempt. She will hear herself saying “it’s easier if I just do it myself”. While this is true, her ego has become attached to the pride and martyrdom she gets out of doing more than everyone else. If this is the case for you, recognize that you have gotten exactly what you wanted and now, with awareness, you have the power to change it.

We get to teach our kids how to treat us and the home they live in. Teaching involves lots of repetition, with no guaranteed outcome. If you want your kids to help you clean more, start by enjoying it more yourself. We’ll be uncovering lots of secrets in the upcoming teleclass, “Organize My Home”.  We’ll work with your natural personality to help you get the results you want. We’ll uncover your obstacles to getting your children to help you clean. By the end of this “Organizing Boot Camp” you will have learned to experience more joy and meaning, while cleaning and maintaining organization in your home. Read more about the “Organize My Home” boot camp here. 

Early bird pricing discount ending soon!  Save $50. by clicking here. 

Excited for summer? or dreading it….

We are on the final countdown till summer and I am matching my kids’ excitement with equal amounts of dread. I’m looking forward to some fun getaways with family, and of course my Girls Summer Camps (3 spots left!) but all those empty days on the calendar are sending me into a panic. How about you? Do you come to life in summer or do you wilt under the never-ending demands of vacation time with kids? IMG_1142

If you are like me and feeling daunted by summer, let’s make a plan to prioritize sanity and make sure Mom gets the most out of this summer, too.

Understanding WHY summer is hard is the first step. For me, a big reason is a lack of structure. I seem to be the lone J in a house full of P’s. In the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment, the ‘P” or Perceiving personality type loves to have open expanses of time with nothing on the calendar.  Perceiving types (my husband and kids) love spontaneity and the opportunity to follow a whim. The ‘J’ or Judging personality type (me) loves structure and plans. My ESFJ personality type feels more relaxed when there are plans on the calendar. This stresses the rest of the family out. Whenever I put their preferences before mine for more than a day, I go a little bit insane. I can create a structure without anyone else knowing, but often I don’t. It’s more difficult for me to follow through with my plans in the summer, since no one will know if I flake, but I remind myself that I always feel better if I stick to my plans.

The second reason I go nuts is my lack of alone time. I am used to having the entire school day by myself to focus on my clients and work projects. I run errands and grocery shop by myself, I listen to my music and my podcasts. I get to think my own thoughts inside my own head…it’s heavenly!  But then summer comes and the kid’s energies creep into me, replacing my own thoughts and feelings with theirs. With my spongy personality type, it’s important that I make time to be alone every day. Decide what your minimum baseline is and make sure you meet it every day. If you hear yourself say, “I’m fine, I don’t need it today”, do it anyway to maintain sanity.

– 45 minutes a day to eat lunch outside and read a magazine

– 2 hours of watching TV before bed.

– 20 minute bike ride

– 30 minute journaling and meditation

– 60 minute morning jog or workout

You can always take more but being consistent is a great gift to yourself and your kids. You teach people how to treat you. If you do it every day with clear, confident boundaries, your kids will it is non-negotiable and respect your time.

The third reason I enter the land of crazy is that I’m an extrovert and I like to have other people around me. My introverted kids love being home all day but I need more stimulation and companionship than just my family. I would love it if other Moms invited me to do things but usually it’s my desperation that leads me to do the coordinating. Sometimes, when I’m feeling yucky, I start assuming everyone else has plans and doesn’t want to see me. I am always glad when I get out of my own way and schedule social get togethers with friends.

Under stress, we regress, and usually end up being overly permissive or overly authoritative in our parenting. Whenever we aren’t parenting as well as we know we can, we feel even worse. Have a list of things to do if you start slipping into The Land of Crazy:

Unlimited media day, cereal for dinner, invite your friend over, go to a movie or children’s museum, put earphones on so the kids know you can’t hear them, set a timer and declare “drop everything and read” hour, have a project to work on like a jigsaw puzzle or putting photos in albums, make kids play outside for an hour, have a jar of activities they can choose from or a jar of chores, have kids make a movie to post on youtube for Grandma, go to the pool, whatever you think will work best so you get a break. Write it down so when you are spiraling down, you don’t have to try and be creative.

Problems arise when we ignore our personality type in order to please our kids. Moms deserve to enjoy summer just as much as everyone else. Take this personality assessment to learn more about yourself and create a summer that suits who you are.