Don’t forget to give back, TO YOURSELF, this holiday season

You’ve heard the saying “It is in giving, that we receive” and I know you get this.

You live it every day. You work hard so your kids are fed, clothed, clean, kind, warm, educated and happy. At the end of the day, you get to feel satisfied in a job well done and valued by your family. You love buying the perfect gift to see your kids faces light up. Doing for others, gives you joy. Up until a point.

If ALL you do is give, and you don’t do enough receiving in return, you fall out of balance. Falling out of balance shows up differently for different people: resentment, jealousy, overeating, overdrinking, for me, it’s recurring illness and chronic pain.

If you’re waiting for your family, co-workers or mother-in-law, to appreciate all you do for them, you are going to be waiting for an awfully long time.

Instead, follow these holiday hacks to start giving back to yourself this holiday season. They will help you feel appreciated and balanced after a season full of giving.

  1. My favorite Christmas tradition is checking into a hotel room BY MYSELF for two nights after Christmas. There is nothing quite as wonderful as a day where 100% of the decisions are based on what YOU want to do. Where shall you go? What do you feel like eating? What are you in the mood for? How long do you want to stay? LUXURY and a great way to make sure you still remember what your own inner voice sounds like.
  2. If you can’t take an overnight, take a day. Sun up to sundown. Get a good book, explore a new area, check into a day spa. The key is to not DO anything, just to BE, and enjoy being yourself in this beautiful world we live in.
  3. Buy yourself a present. If you are out shopping for others and you find something you really love, BUY IT and wrap it up!  Who says gifts have to come from others? You were very good this year and you deserve something beautiful. Put it under the tree and get creative with the tag. Sign it “Your #1 fan” “Your favorite admirer” write a nice note that says “for all you do”.
  4. Say thank you. If you work and work but never hear ‘thank you’, it’s easy to slip into resentment. Learning to thank yourself for what you do is an incredible life skill. “I thank myself for putting wrapped gifts under the tree for my children .” “I thank myself for upholding our family and religious traditions.” “I thank myself for donating toys and food.” “I thank myself for cleaning my house and cooking a great dinner.”
  5. Make a brag board. Write down all the things you did that you are proud of and post it on the refrigerator for your family to see. “Bought red shirt for the school assembly.”, “contributed to teacher gifts”, “drove on field trip”, “swept the kitchen floor”, “made chili for dinner”, “hung lights”, “folded laundry”. Doesn’t matter how mundane, it just feels good to write down all you’ve done and post it like a trophy on a shelf. Revel in your accomplishments and appreciate yourself.
  6. Celebrate your accomplishments! You made through the crazy holidays! You only lost one present, you didn’t burn the turkey, you remembered to water the tree, so many victories! Get together with your girlfriends and raise a glass to yourselves.

So if you are likely to overdue the giving and doing this time of year, create balance by giving yourself the appreciation, solitude and recuperation time you need.

“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.” 
― Parker J. PalmerLet Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

 

Have you fallen into the responsible mom trap?

Stay home moms are especially vulnerable of falling into these two traps but working moms can certainly find themselves stuck here too.

I asked a client the other day, “What percentage of your daily tasks are done out of obligation?” She figured about 90%. 90%!!! This is self imposed slavery!

Feeling like you HAVE TO do something traps the spirit and makes you feel powerless. “Shoulding” your way through life will wreck havoc on your energy and rob you of your own power and sense of authority over your life. It’s a mental prison and it takes it’s toll.

The most common reason why you hear moms say obligatory things like “I have to pick up your brother” “I need to start working out” or “I really should get a head start on my Christmas shopping” is because we want to feel important.

Many of us quit our jobs to stay home and raise kids and we need to prove that we are needed, valuable, and that our lives have purpose. The last thing we want is for someone to think we are sitting on the couch, watching reality TV and eating bon-bons. We take our mothering job seriously by filling our lives with obligations. 

If this sounds like you, the question to ask yourself is, “Have I accomplished my goal of feeling needed?

Can I check the box that says “I’m a responsible mom”?

If so, let’s check it and MOVE ON to something more freeing and empowering for the human psyche.

The second trap we can fall into, trying to prove we are hardworking responsible moms, is commiserating with other hardworking, stressed out people.
It took me FOREVER to believe my husband when he told me that he wants to hear how easy and joyful my day was! He would come home from work and talk about how stressed and overwhelmed he was, so I would pick the most stressful part of my day and share back. Solidarity, it’s how women support each other. You tell me what’s bugging you, I tell you what’s bugging me, we vent, we laugh, we feel better.

What he was asking me to do instead felt so rude!
Girlfriend: “My kids are such slobs. They leave their stuff everywhere, complain about having no food to eat yet still manage to make a mess in the kitchen.”
Me: “My kids are delightful in every way. They never make a mess and if they do, they clean it up.”
WHAT!? That is NOT how we support people we care about! But husbands are different than girlfriends.

When we complain to our husbands, he sees our problems as something he needs to fix.  When we share our crises, mishaps and exhaustion of the day, even with good intentions, it makes him feel more depleted and wondering why he’s working so hard in the first place.

Focusing on the negative put us into our own mental prison instead of giving ourselves permission to fully enjoy those moments when everything is going smoothly and easily.

Can you check the box that says, “I’m a hard-working Mom”? If yes, let’s check it and MOVE ON to focusing on those moments in the day when you felt deeply relaxed, present in the moment, and truly grateful. Share THOSE moments with your husband. Then he feels like his hard work is worthwhile because his kids get to be with a happy, balanced mommy all day.

Are you ready to MOVE ON from hardworking, needed and responsible? Start by replacing “I have to” “I need to” and “I should” from your vocabulary and replace it with “I choose to”, “I intend to” and “I will”. You’ve earned your Supermom patch, it’s ok to kick your feet up, relax and do some fun things just for you.

The one thing stressed teens need from Mom and Dad

How helping fix problems and focusing on struggle can make it harder for our teens.

I had a hard time when I first became a Mom. Besides the normal, new mommy angst of “Am I doing it right?” I had a difficult baby. He had a hard time eating and sleeping. He needed constant movement, would get easily overstimulated yet easily bored and cried constantly. I needed support and I needed it bad. I joined as many new mom support groups as I could. One day, I found myself sitting in on a cement wall, alone, in someone’s backyard, watching my child, finally happy, sitting and playing with little rocks. The house was too noisy or crowded for my sensitive baby so I sat, exhausted, angry and lonely outside with the garbage cans and the dog poop. All the other moms were inside sipping coffee and chatting while their babies played happily on the floor.

Every once in awhile, a well-meaning Mommy would come out to check on me “You should come inside. He just needs to learn to deal with it. I’m sure he’ll get used to it after a bit.” A few minutes later, another Mom would come out, “You know what I do, I sleep with my baby, that way she feels secure and comfortable in the daytime.” After that I got, “What if you came inside and just breastfed him, then he’d feel comfortable and you could visit with us.” All the advice was valid and helpful but it just made me feel angrier and more alone. What I really needed was someone to say, “It’s really hard isn’t it. Some days just totally suck but you are such a good mommy. I don’t know how you do it all. Here’s a cup of hot coffee.”

I think we do the same thing to our teenagers. We underestimate the amount of stress they are under and we offer helpful suggestions and advice when all they really need for us to say “It is so hard and you are doing a great job. I am so impressed at how well you are managing. Here’s a cup of tea and a cookie.”

The more we can offer this kind of compassion and support, the better chance our teens have of developing their own compassionate “inner best friends” that encourages them through the tough times. Adolescence is the age where we start to develop our own “inner mean girl” who says things like, “What’s wrong with me?” “Why can’t I get it right?” “Nobody likes me, I’m stupid, ugly, fat, lame”, “I’m going to fail”, whatever. This inner mean girl will take charge and steer our life if we don’t get a hold of her and cultivate an equally strong inner best friend.

Kids learn by imitation so the best way to help them cultivate a kind inner voice is to hear us say it to them. In order to offer compassion to our teens, however, we first need to offer it to ourselves. Think about it, these kids of ours used to light up when we walked in the door, now they close it on our face! They thought we were beautiful no matter what we looked like, now they criticize our outfits, our hair, our singing, our choice of words (or is this just me and my kids?). Our babies have turned on us and that totally sucks! We used to look to their joy and exuberance to cheer us up at the end of the day, now we have to work hard to not be pulled into their negative spiral. No matter what we say, we are wrong. Our babies have done a 180 and it’s ok to give ourselves sympathy and recognize this is a hard phase for us, too.

Once you are feeling heard and validated, we can take a minute to recognize that the teen years are inherently stressful. You have this body whose hormones are out of whack, that is highly tuned in to other people’s thoughts and opinions, who can spot a fake a mile away yet are surrounded by inauthentic teenagers. Our teens have brains and bodies that are wired to be outside, moving constantly, listening to their own internal voice, yet are sitting on hard chairs, between 4 walls for 7 hours a day, listening to other people’s ideas. Today’s adolescents are swimming in perfectionism and sometimes, all they need to get through another day is compassion.

Our teens don’t always need us to fix their problems or focus on the struggles with our helpful suggestions, sometimes they just need to know they can do it on their own. “You are doing an amazing job, I can’t believe how well you are managing.” “Do you know what a mess I was at your age?” “By the way, there is nothing you need to do today. The day is yours.” “I try to worry but when it comes to you, I just can’t think of anything. I just know your future is bright.” “You have such a good head on your shoulders, I know you’ll be able to solve any problems that come your way.” “How did I get so lucky to get such a great teenager?”

It’s not easy to let go of worry and control and start trusting our kids to figure things out by themselves. That’s why I created “Leading Your Teen” teleclass.

Would like some support figuring out whether it’s time to lean in or let go? Click here and I’ll tell you all about this 5-week class designed for parents who want to worry less, love more, and create a more peaceful relationship with their teens.

Discover your purpose

Are you too busy taking care of the kids to discover your purpose?

I want to tell you a story about an amazing woman I’ll call Sara. She has poured everything into her role as Mom. She volunteers for the PTA, hosts amazing birthday parties for her kids, makes cupcakes for the soccer team, drives a minivan and loves it. Sara is ALL IN on this Mommy thing. But at night, when the kids go to bed, she drinks a little too much wine and eats a little too many brownie bites. She’s happy with her life, but she knows something is missing. There is a nagging voice inside her head that knows she’s meant for more. Although Sara craves more purpose and meaning, every time she tries to figure out what to do, she gets confused, overwhelmed and filled with doubt. She doesn’t like feeling this way, so she fills her life with more distraction. “Let’s sign Kylie up for basketball and maybe being scout leader won’t be so bad.” The busier she is, the less she has to face this void that seems to be getting louder, despite the wine, kids and carpools.

Parenting our kids can be a really convenient, socially respectable way of avoiding our own calling. What Sara doesn’t realize is that this void, this nagging yearning for more, is her ticket to a really wonderful and exciting life! What keeps her stuck, is she doesn’t have the tools to walk through the doubt, the fears and the confusion. Here’s a typical conversation I have with my life coaching clients.

Client – “I have no idea what I want to do with my life.”

Me – “Ok, well, let’s pretend for a minute that you did know. What do you think it might be if you DID know what you want?”

Client – “Well, this would never happen of course, but if I could do anything, I always thought it would be fun to be a ______________.” (real estate investor, writer, event planner, firefighter, stay-home Mom, travel blogger, photographer, life coach, interior designer, nurse, etc.)

The client already knows what they want, or if they don’t have an exact job title, they can clearly describe exactly what they want. But discovering your calling and admitting it out loud can stir up a lot of fear. Fear of failure, fear of being who you are, fear of what other people will think, just fear. So instead, she talks herself out of it and gets back to focusing on the kids.

Parenting is a convenient decoy because it’s honorable, wonderful, difficult and very consuming. It’s only in those quiet moments, late at night, when we face ourselves, that we know we are hiding from our greatness.

What Sara doesn’t know, is hiding from her true calling, has a cost.  Overtime, she will start to become more negative and cranky. She’ll get frustrated with herself & her family, embarrassed that she can’t stop eating brownies or be happy with her current role. She might even focus in on or create another problem (health, weight, money, relationships, kids) all to avoid dealing with something that would be a such a wonderful part of her if she could allow it in!

If you relate to Sara and countless other Moms who yearn for more than just motherhood, take 10 minutes of quiet time, pull out a journal and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I really, really, really, really want?
  2. What is the feeling I’m trying not to feel?
  3. What’s the worst thing that could happen if I followed my dream?
  4. What would I dream if I knew I could not fail?
  5. What would I do if I could not care what people think?

These questions will get you started. But it really does help to have some outside perspective to help you see where you are blocking yourself from your own happiness and success.

Don’t waste time, schedule your free discovery call today. www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

How to stop yelling at your kids

3 steps to stop yelling at your kids and end morning mayhem.

Do you know this scenario?

“COME ON, HURRY UP! It’s time to GO! Stop playing around, you’re going to be late for school. For the last time, GRAB YOUR DAMN LUNCH! You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached to you! I’m LEAVING NOW. Get in the car already!”How to Stop yelling at your kids

The first five minutes of the car ride is angry and nagging, justifying our frustration, but by the time we get to school we’ve calmed down enough for the guilt to start creeping in. We might even squeeze out an “I love you” or “Have a good day” before they leap out of the car, happy to get away from such a cranky mommy. For the next hour, we feel like shit. “Why am I such a bitch?” “What a horrible way to start the day.” “What’s wrong with me and why can’t HE JUST HURRY UP so I don’t have to yell!”

The first step to stop yelling at your kids, is to understand why you do it in the first place. Yelling releases tension and energy. Keeping our feelings of frustration inside doesn’t feel good, so like steam escaping from a boiling pot, we release it by yelling. We feel better in the moment, but worse later on.

The second step to stop yelling at your kids, is to find the thought that causes your feeling of frustration. Emotions come from our thoughts. We can’t change our feelings but we can change the thoughts we think. If we find that a thought isn’t true, helpful or is resulting in something we don’t like, we can replace it with something more helpful.

Some of the more common thoughts Moms have that cause yelling are…
“He should move quicker” “He’s doing this on purpose” “Yelling is the only thing that motivates her.”
“We’re going to get in trouble” “This is embarrassing” “I can’t be late” “I’m never late” “I should have gotten up earlier” “You are trying to drive me crazy.”

The truth is, everyone is late sometimes. Some kids are naturally fast movers, and some kids naturally move slow. It’s human nature to move even slower when we don’t want to go somewhere. I notice that I move slower whenever I feel pressured. I don’t do it on purpose, but it explains why I was always chosen last in P.E.

To argue that kids “should move faster” isn’t helpful. It’s like arguing with human nature.

The third step to stop yelling at your kids is to accept things as they are. “My kid moves slowly in the morning.” “I get up later than I want to.” “Even when I try my best, sometimes I will be late.” How do you want to feel about these facts? You get to decide. You can feel frustrated, or you can choose an emotion that doesn’t lead to yelling, like peacefulness. Try the thought, “I want to be peaceful and efficient in the mornings” and see if it affects your emotional state in a positive way.

Once you are feeling calm and accepting about your mornings, your mind is more open to new ideas. Try these yell free life hacks to get kids into the car in the mornings:

Have a morning soundtrack. Play the same music set every morning so kids know that when Michael Jackson starts singing, it’s time to be dressed and eating breakfast downstairs. When Pharrell starts singing “Happy”, it’s time to get your shoes on and into the car. Practice on the weekend so they know the routine and reward them (and yourself) after three consecutive days of yell-free mornings.

Keep a “late happens” kit in the car so there’s no excuse to stress. This ziplock bag can contain a hairbrush, hair band, granola bar, sunscreen, deodorant, sugarless gum (for bad morning breath), a pen for signing last minute permission slips and a few dollars for buying lunch.

Have fun helping the kids create a morning routine poster. Include funny photos of them pretending to brush teeth, eat, or use the toilet. Encourage your kids to decide what would work best for them in the morning (maybe they need to go to bed earlier in order to take more time in the morning)? Buy them an old fashioned alarm clock so they can be self motivated and rely less on mom. Learning to switch your thinking will keep you plenty busy. 

Make the car a nice place to be. My daughter loved her chewable vitamin so I only let her have them in the car. A frozen waffle folded in half with peanut butter and a glass of milk makes for a quick & easy breakfast to go. Get the heater going, play some nice music and give your kids the happy, relaxed mommy you want them to have in the mornings.

If you want to stop yelling but haven’t been successful, schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me