My kids are staying up too late!

Dear Torie,

“I am wondering what type of consequences to set for my 10 year old daughter. She shares a room with her 12 year old sister. I am having the toughest time with them falling asleep at night. From the moment my husband and I kiss them goodnight, it is almost an hour and a half before they are asleep. The repetitive getting out of bed and coming to us with all sorts of things: “I am scared about a show I saw or snakes under my bed”, or whatever! They have twin beds and will try to get in each others beds to “help calm each other down but rarely this works”. My girls are thinkers and thus when they lie down both of them are ruminating about the day, etc. 

I am getting to bed too late and unable to have down time.This frustrates both my husband and myself.

I struggle as to either take away things (what would those be—don’t want to take away play dates as those are important for building social skills for her right now) or reward (marble jar, or no?). I like to intrinsically motivate my children but this is affecting the whole family and I’m unsure what to do.” 

I asked Andria what she has tried that worked or didn’t work and she told me what consequences her kids currently valued. She also added: 

“The 10-year-old wants to use my 12-year-old as a coping mechanism to help her fall asleep. My 12-year-old being the compassionate, nurturing person she is, will go and lie with her. And then….they start bickering about the stuffed animals on the bed, etc.”

 

Parent Education Answer: 

How to get kids to fall asleep at night? 

Let’s take a look at what you have control over, and what you don’t. 

You cannot make your children sleep. You cannot stop them talking, climbing into each other’s beds, or coming to find you. You cannot turn off their brains for them or make them feel tired and peaceful. 

You can control what you do when they come to your bedroom asking for water, attention, etc. You can help them create an environment that is conducive to rest and relaxation. You can HELP THEM problem solve THEIR issue of busy, overstimulated brains and a sister who sacrifices her sleep to try and help her sister. 

This is such a classic Supermom question. I define a Supermom as someone who is very involved with their kids, loves mothering, and tries really hard to do everything right. We tend to think every problem our kids have is ours to solve. If you find yourself banging your head against the wall, unable to effect the change you want, chances are, it’s because you are trying to solve something that is not your problem to fix. 

We live in an anxious, overstimulating culture, visual and auditory information coming at us all hours of the day, without enough physical movement to process, purge and rest in the non-verbal, creative part of our brains. Generalized anxiety is highest in rich countries like the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. You could solve this problem by moving your family to a poorer country with lower levels of anxiety, relaxed people, reduced mental stimulation, and an abundance of nature and watch your daughters drift peacefully off to sleep at the end of a day.

If that isn’t on your bucket list for 2020, let’s move to something else you have control over. 

You could help your daughters create an environment that is more conducive to rest and relaxation. For example: 

-No media input an hour before bed. 

-Time for the girls to sit, talk, and process the day with each other. 

-Do yoga stretches together to get them out of their heads and prepare their brains for sleep. -Meditate together or listen to a guided visualization designed to help prepare the brain for sleep. 

When it’s time for them both to sleep, it sounds like having something for their brains to think about would help. Because you mentioned your girls are “thinkers” you might try a bedtime story podcast like Be Calm on Ahway Island or the Stories Podcast. (Listening to things like podcasts and audiobooks doesn’t count as “screen” time because listening activates the areas of the brain that are good for us.)

The idea is to address the core issue of your daughters’ busy brains at bedtime, rather than seeing it as a discipline issue that requires consequences, and to empower THEM to experiment and figure out what works for them and what doesn’t. Making sure they get enough exercise in the day time or doing calming yoga stretches before bed can help get us out of our brains and into our bodies. 

You might consider giving your 12 year old permission to ignore her sister. Can she wear noise cancelling earphones and read a book in her bed? She is trying to be kind but her “helping” isn’t working. It’s teaching the 10 year old to look to someone else to solve her problems instead of learning that she has the ability to calm herself down. Just like Momma thinks this is her problem to solve, older sister might be thinking the same thing. 

 

What else do you have control over? 

You get to decide what time YOU go to bed and how to handle it when they get up and come to you. You can model for your 12 year old what it looks like to ignore the 10 year old. Not in a mean way, just a way that makes it really boring and unrewarding for her to get up and come to you. 

If your kids are getting back up after bedtime and coming to find you, the trick is to be non-reactive. If you want to discourage this, you don’t want to be overly kind and affectionate, or overly annoyed and exhasperated. If getting up to see mom is as boring as staying in bed, they will lose motivation.

If your daughter comes to you and finds your door locked, you taking a shower, reading, or sleeping, it’s going to naturally steer her away from getting up out of bed. If you say you prefer your children to be intrinsically motivated, this is how you help create it.

 

Life Coaching Answer: 

What will get in the way? 

End of the day fatigue and the feeling of losing control. 

At the end of the day, we are TIRED. All we can think about it is “When am I DONE?” 

We want to have nice, quality time with our precious ones, give love and cuddles, and then pay attention to ourselves for the first time in 23 hours. 

It is REALLY HARD to implement these strategies at this time of day. 

Under stress, we regress. Most of us default to either overly authoritative or overly permissive. 

When Andria is tired, her default seems to be to look to consequences, “What can I take away” which is another way of saying, “I want there to be an action I can take to feel in control.” If we think, “There’s nothing I can do, I have no control over when they go to bed.” isn’t going to feel good either. 

We think, “I just need to get them to sleep and then my husband and I can relax.” 

We put our ability to feel relaxed and enjoy the evening in the hands of our ruminating, chatty children. This doesn’t work very well. Any time we try to control something that we don’t have control over, we will get frustrated. 

Instead, focus on the things you DO have control over. 

What time you go to bed.

How you feel.

How you respond to their problem.

Whenever a mom is wanting to change up a bedtime routine, I suggest practicing it early in the day. Make a game out of it. Walk through the steps of the new routine before everyone is exhausted. Take pictures of the kids: brushing their teeth, getting their jammies on, doing yoga, etc. When night time comes, you just have to remind them of the new routine that they already have a positive association with. 

Supermom Kryptonite – Thinking every problem is ours to solve.

It is so easy to get stuck in the habit of fixing our kids’ problems. When they were younger, it seemed like everything fell on our shoulders. This is too much weight for one person to carry, especially since problems will increase as life becomes more complex. When kids adolescence starts, it’s good to practice letting go of trying to fix things. 

You might notice moms start to lose their status as the one and only “She who must be obeyed”. Kids give more credence to teachers, babysitters, coaches, youtubers, often even Dad’s status gets elevated over Moms. You might give your daughter the same advice as her gymnastics coach, but your words fall on deaf ears while the young, pretty teenager’s words get put on a pedastal. 

Trying to maintain that “mother knows all” status can drain your energy when, developmentally, your kids are more interested in guidance from peers, older teens, young adults, or relatives who aren’t so involved in their daily lives. 

In Andria’s case, she can encourage her daughters to solve their own problems (ask an older cousin or babysitter for suggestions) and/or delegate to an external resource like an app or podcast designed for tweens. There are many: Calm, Insight Timer, Simple Habit, Headspace, that have bedtime stories, progressive relaxation, or other auditory ways to facilitate sleep. The goal is to cultivate your children’s resourcefulness, and show them that many people can help them accomplish their goal. 

 

Supermom Power BoostDelegate!

Want to know how to get your kids to eat broccoli? So did social scientists. They discovered one of the most effective ways is to sit your child down at a table and have them watch an older teenager (of the same gender) sit across from them and happily devour a bowl of broccoli. No talking, just role modeling. 

 

You can use this natural tendency kids have to listen to outsiders to your advantage. 

Email your pediatrician before an appointment asking her to mention the importance of vitamins, sunscreen, or exercise or whatever you are tired of nagging about.

Email your child’s teacher or coach asking him to please praise your son for making mistakes and trying new things because you are working on developing a growth mindset. 

Ask your friend to compliment your child on something her new haircut if he is feeling insecure. 

Find a youtuber or “influencer” who preaches self love and care. 

Ask your niece to come over and help your daughter organize her bedroom. 

Have an uncle you trust, talk to your son about safe sex and respecting women. 

You do not have to be all things to your children! Utilize your village and expand your child’s circle of trust. This encourages independence, resourcefulness, and a feeling of safety as your child grows into adulthood. It also frees up your time and energy, helping you feel supported by your village.

 

Quote of the Day:

“Embrace it. Especially because of the lives we live, a lot of times other people have to care for our kids and you have to have that mommy time. Get your sleep!”  Jennifer Hudson

Teenage sugar addict

Teenage Sugar Addict

In Episode 49, I answered a question from Tina about her pre-teen daughter possibly dealing with sugar addiction. This topic isn’t talked about much in parenting circles so I thought it would be good to dedicate another episode to it. After the last two weeks of chocolates, candy canes, gingerbread houses and cookie decorating, let’s start the new year off with a teenage sugar addict.

Mia is a 17 year old who realized sugar was affecting her negatively and completely gave it up in middle school, ON HER OWN!

I was curious if there was anything her mom said or did that helped her come to this conclusion. Tune in, or better yet, have your sugar crazed kiddo tune in, to learn HOW and WHY Mia completely stopped eating sugar.

You’ll learn….

-How she realized sugar was causing her problems.

-What it was like to completely go off and what it taught her.

-How she copes with peer and family pressure to eat sugar.

-What her parents did that was helpful, and what didn’t help at all.

Happy New Year!

kids calm down

Nothing I say gets my kids to calm down

Episode 51 – Nothing I say gets my kids to calm down

Dear Torie,

I have four-year-old twins that are delightful most of the time. They are full of energy and love to chase each other around the house, wrestle with each other, scream, etc. The problem comes when I need them to calm down.

It could be time for bed, I’m on a phone call or the play is escalating to the point where someone is going to get hurt. I tell them to calm down but nothing I say matters to them. I ask them to be quiet, explain why they need to come upstairs, threaten to take away a privilege, nothing I say gets them to calm down.

Last weekend I said, ”If you don’t calm down I’m going to walk out this door and leave you.” They laughed at me and told me to go away. I’m devastated. When they get like this, it feels like they don’t need me or want me around. How do I get my four-year-olds to calm down and listen to what I have to say? Hayley

Parent Educator Answer:

The fact that your kids are having so much fun playing together that they don’t want to stop is a good problem to have. There are many moms who WISH their kids ignored them because they are having so much fun together.

To answer your question, “How do I get my four-year-olds to calm down and listen to what I have to say?” you need to think like a four year old. They are having a FABULOUS time playing with their sibling. Why would they give up something so exciting to do something boring like calm down? Why would they WANT to listen to you? What’s their motivation?

You can imagine preschool teachers run into this all the time. The energy in a class of unsupervised 4 year olds would be combustible! How do teachers get kids to calm down enough to listen to them?

The top 5 tricks for pre-school teachers are: singing, playing music, physical movements, puppets and whispering.

Teachers know they have to create something fun and interesting in order to get a kid’s attention. If you really want to get your four-year-olds to calm down and listen to you, put some music on and start dancing. Once they join in with your fun, then you can slowly wind them down with slower music, singing, lead them into a game on the floor.

You can also try whispering secrets into one kid’s ear. The other child will want to know what she’s missing out on. Then you can whisper something silly into her ear. Both kids will be calm in 30 seconds flat.

But this won’t work for you until you do a little life coaching.

 

The Life Coaching Answer:

You’ve got this thought inside your head that “Nothing I say matters.” This is TOXIC and will keep you from implementing any strategy or tip. Think about if that were true; that NOTHING I SAY MATTERS. It’s awful. As humans we need to know that we matter, especially to the people that are closest to us.

You might say to me, “I don’t really think that nothing I say matters, I know I matter to my kids”, but that thought is in your subconscious. You might be able to practice the above strategies once or twice, and they will work, but you won’t keep it up.

We like to be right. When we have the underlying belief that “Nothing I say matters” we feel dejected, which makes us speak in a quiet, boring, self-defeated way that causes our kids tune us out. We get to continue to believe the thought “nothing I say matters.”

Confident Leadership

Children are sensitive to the energies we give out. They like to follow adults who have calm, confident leadership energy. In order to find your confident leadership energy, you’ve GOT to loosen the grip this toxic belief has on you.

As soon as we tell ourselves to stop thinking something, suddenly it’s all we can think about. Instead we wiggle the thought. We poke some holes in the theory that “nothing I say matters.” If you discover a toxic belief that you don’t want to believe any more, ask yourself these questions.

Are you absolutely sure that not one word you have ever said, has ever mattered to anyone alive on the planet? Of course not! Do a mother’s words matter to her children? Therapists have made careers out of helping people deal with the words their mothers said to them!

Is it kind? Would you ever say it to someone else? Hell No! It’s so mean!

Does it give you the results you want? Does it help you get attention and feel like you matter? It may have at some point in your past. Growing up, if you told your mom, “I’m going to walk out of this house and leave” she might have rushed over, given you big hugs and begged you to stay. Or maybe you had a boyfriend who you would threaten to leave if he ignored you and it worked. He would show up with flowers and apologies and tell you how much you meant to him.

Whether it worked in the past or not, the truth is the thought “nothing I say matters” is not giving you the results you want with your kids.

Can you see any reason to continue thinking it? Do you like believing this about yourself? What would you like to believe about the words you say to your kids?

How  the brain plays a part

What happens is the brain thinks a thought: “I’m not good enough.” “Nothing I say matters.” or “Nobody likes me.” It’s not thinking logically or scientifically, it’s just a random, self-defeating thought. But then we think it again, and again, and again.

This synapse in the brain is starting to myleinate. We’ve thought this negative thought so many times that it becomes a belief. It FEELS true, even if it’s not. The brain likes to be efficient.

When your children are ignoring you, your brain finds a convenient and efficient path to make sense of it. It doesn’t find the most kind, helpful, or truthful path, just whatever is most efficient.

In order to wiggle a toxic thought, we need to make this synaptic connection inefficient. We do this by pointing out all the ways in which it is illogical, unhelpful, mean, and misaligned with your goals and values. But we also need to discover its benefit. Why did you pick it up in the first place? How is it serving you?

Then we make a better thought right next to the original one.

Empowerment

You get to decide what you want to believe about yourself. Imagine for a minute that you truly believed that your words mattered to your children. Imagine you had tremendous power to hurt or uplift your children. How do you think you would feel? Important? Empowered?

If you are feeling important and empowered how do you imagine you might act? What might you say? I think you would speak louder and clearer. You would probably look them in the eye, maybe put your hand on their shoulder and turn them to face you.

Knowing you had the power to hurt or uplift, you might be very careful with the words you chose and the energy behind them.

If you were able to change your words, voice tone, eye contact and body language in this way, what do you think the result would be? Do you think your children might be more inclined to listen to you?

We always have more power than we think we do to affect every situation.

Supermom Kryptonite: Abdicating the throne

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine you have a chair inside the center of your head. This is YOUR THRONE. No one else has the right to sit inside the center of your head and dictate what you think and do with your life. Yet so many of us ABDICATE this throne to our children, our bosses, husbands, parents, religions, or society as a whole.

Abdicate means to fail to fulfill one’s duty or obligation. Supermoms get so busy taking care of everyone else, that we forget it’s our obligation to govern our minds. We take responsibility for our actions, but we forget to declare dominion over our brains.

Abdicating the throne in the center of our head makes us vulnerable to anyone with a strong will or opinion to take sovereignty over our lives. This drains our energy, making us feel like observers in our lives, or worse, victims.

To boost your energy, kick everyone out of the center of your head and declare dominion over your life. You get to decide what you think about, what to focus on, and your belief about yourself. Make sure you are thinking good thoughts that give you the results you want.

 

Supermom Power Boost: What do you love?

For an immediate boost of positive emotions, try this from Martha Beck’s book The Joy Diet. Do it by yourself in your journal or try it with friends or family to bounce off their ideas.

What do I LOVE to look at?
Mountain lakes, sunsets on the beach, pine forests, babies faces, rolling green hills, aspen trees blowing in the breeze, puppies and kittens.

What do I LOVE the sound of?
The laughter of children running outside, a mountain stream, a crackling fire, a babies laugh, piano music, my kids cracking each other up. Silence.

What do I LOVE the smell of?
Lemons, chocolate chip cookies baking, chocolate anything, pine trees, campfires.

What do I LOVE the taste of?
Fresh fish and prawns, yellow curry, chocolate chip cookies, croissants, donuts, a good latte, truffles, bundt cake.

What do I LOVE to feel against my skin?
Soft baby blankets, soft baby skin, warmth from a fire, a massage, a warm breeze.

Your mind doesn’t differentiate between experiencing these things in real life versus your imagination. Just thinking about things you love brings you into pure joy and pleasure. Try this with friends or family and see if it doesn’t elevate the level of joy in the conversation.

Quote of the Day:

“When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.” Oprah Winfrey

Ellie Knaus

Attunement, Anxiety & Empathy with Atomic Mom Ellie Knaus

Attunement, Anxiety and Empathy with Ellie Knaus of Atomic Moms

Today on the Supermom is Getting Tired podcast, I’ll be interviewing Ellie Knaus of the Atomic Moms Podcast.

We’ll talk about how years of interviewing parenting experts has impacted her as a mom and the mindset that allows her to implement what she has learned.

Together we talk about attunement, empathy, and anxiety, and how they all interact to make parenting kids a challenge.

Do you worry about other people judging your children or your parenting? Then stay tuned for Ellie’s coaching question of the day.

Question of the day:

“It gives me so much anxiety when my two year-old calls everyone DUMB in a really mean way. It’s a word she learned from her six year old sister.  I get that it’s not personal. She’ll even say Minnie Mouse is DUMB. And Minnie is her BFF 4 Life. But other people get super wigged out about it. I tried not giving the word power by ignoring her name-calling for a few weeks now, but it’s getting old!” Ellie

 

Parent Education Answer: 

Ellie already knew not to give this word too much power and attention. She understood her daughter’s motivation for using it (attention and excitement) and that if she ignored it, it would go away.

 

Life Coaching Answer: 

When I’m coaching clients, I ask questions more than give answers. Because she was on the phone with me, I could ask WHY it bothered her. What was she making it mean, about her, that made it hard to let go of it.

For Ellie, it was her Nanny’s reaction and fear of being judged negatively by her. So many of us have this fear of being judged, but I’m going to let you in on a secret.

People judge.

That’s what they do. Some more than others and you have no control over any of it.

We think if we can do everything right, we can protect ourselves from negative judgement, but it just doesn’t work.

There may be times that kids embarrass us. Unfortunately, we can’t control them either. This thus leads to anxiety. Once you can allow the feeling of embarrassment to be there without resisting, there is no need for anxiety.

When I ask her how she WANTS to feel about her daughter using the word dumb, she struggles to answer.

I have her close her eyes and imagine two dials numbered 1-10. One labeled ME, the other labeled OTHER. When she adjusts the dials so that she pays more attention to herself than others, it feels better. It was great to get to demonstrate this live because it’s such a quick and easy way to feel better for empathic moms!

Ellie thought she had two emotions to choose from: anxious or apathetic. Once she realizes she is in the driver’s seat of her brain, she decides to think the thought “My nanny thinks my daughter is so funny”. This helps her feel peaceful about her daughter’s “dumb” word, which allows her to ignore it more easily.

Today’s Quotes of The Day:

“You bore me with normal” Ellie Knaus’s post-partum doula

“When I sense into my children, we can be in a more relaxed state together .” Ellie Knaus

“Trust in your goodness, live out your greatness, rock on Atomic (Super) Moms.”

 

Is my child a sugar addict?

This episode’s topic: Sugar Addiction in Kids

sugar addiction in kids Is My Child Addicted to Sugar?

I’m struggling with my daughter (age 14) being so ungrateful and unwilling to help out.
I’m thinking I need to stop making nice meals for her since she’s not willing to make so much as a piece of toast for herself. She’d rather sit on her phone and, if I let her, she’ll go without eating or grab whatever sweet snack she can find.

It was important for me to teach my kids how to prepare healthy meals for themselves and my son will do it on occasion. We give him lunch money because when he buys lunch it’s healthy. My daughter, however, will just buy rice crispy treats and pirates booty or won’t eat at all.

I’m worried about her addiction to sugar and have thought about her seeing a nutritionist but, with the attitude, I’m thinking family counseling could be useful. Could sugar addiction be the cause of so much negative behavior? Tina

Episode 49: Sugar Addiction in Kids

Parent Educator Answer:

Let’s talk about sugar addiction. Many people might minimize it or laugh it off, but it can be a real problem for many people. This isn’t just “OMG I’m addicted to peppermint mochas,” It is a physiological addiction that affects the brain.

I am not a nutritionist nor an addiction expert but my son had an experience with sugar addiction so I’m happy to talk about it in simple terms, from a mother’s perspective.

The way I understand it, sugar releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a feel-good chemical that floods the brain and creates cravings. When the dopamine high from sugar wears off, withdrawal symptoms set in.

Understanding the Brain

The brain requires even more sugar to bring the same good feeling, creating a craving for sweet foods. Without the dopamine inducing substance, sugar addicts feel tired, restless, anxious or depressed, making the craving even stronger to alleviate the unpleasant feeling.

Signs of sugar addiction can be: headaches, lethargy, fatigue, craving sweet and/or salty foods, insomnia, hiding sweets, making excuses or deals regarding sugar, avoiding foods without sugar, turning to sugar when feeling negative emotion, going out of your way to get sugar and feeling guilty about sugar intake.

Could Tina’s daughter’s negative attitude be a result of sugar addiction?

Absolutely.

But being ungrateful and unwilling to help, could also be a normal teenage state of mind. If you are seeing that she is constantly negative, fatigued, lethargic, fighting with her brother, avoiding emotions, and seeking out sugar to the exclusion of other foods, the root of the problem might be sugar addiction.

In a way, we were lucky. When my son was 12, he had a QEEG done of his brain and they told us he had the marker for addiction, meaning his brain was wired similarly to the brains of people who struggle with addiction.

We thought this was good information to know before he goes off to college and gets exposed to alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Later, when he developed a terrible sugar addiction, we had already prepared ourselves and could spot the signs of addiction.

Predisposition

I learned that some people have a predisposition for addiction but you don’t really know what will trigger it. Whether it’s sugar, alcohol, video game addiction, gambling, or porn, it’s all coming from the same place: dopamine.

Different brains react differently. It is not a character flaw nor a sign of bad parenting. Getting frustrated with your child for not being able to manage her sugar intake is like getting mad at your child for having dyslexia.

I found a quote about addiction by Luke Davies. He defines it like this: “When you can stop, you don’t want to and when you want to stop, you can’t.”

In the case of my son, my husband and I sat him down and told him, “We recognize this is a real problem.  We love you, we are on your side and we will help you.”  I remember his Dad saying, “It’s the three of us, against the addiction.”

Once he was able to experience life without sugar and noticed how much better he felt, he felt motivated to manage it and his eating habits more.

Life Coaching Answer:

It can be agonizing to watch our teens struggle with a problem. We want them to change their behavior so that we can feel better and stop worrying so much! We think, “If you could just DO better, then I could FEEL better.”

Step 1

The first step to helping you get out of your own way is to acknowledge your maternal instincts or intuition.

Thank your higher self for alerting you to the fact that something isn’t right.

What happens is our maternal instincts start sounding an alarm bell. We try to shut it off by changing our child’s behavior. This doesn’t work, so we try to make peace with an alarm bell constantly ringing in our heads.

Instead of that, thank it for doing its job. Acknowledge that your instincts are picking up on something that needs addressing.

Step 2

Accept reality. Instead of saying, “She shouldn’t be acting this way”, accept that this is exactly what’s supposed to be happening.

Allow your teen to have problems. The reason you haven’t been able to solve this problem is that it isn’t yours to solve.

Your daughter needs to be involved and motivated. She needs to experience the problem as hers, with you and Dad there for support, love, and guidance. Find the facts of the situation and deal with them head-on.

Step 3

Drop the Rope. Right now you and she are on opposite ends of the rope, playing a game of tug of war.

She wants sweets. You want her to eat healthily.

The more you pull in your direction, the more she will pull in the opposite. It’s hard, I know, but it is so helpful to drop the rope and walk around to her side of this tug of war game.

Let her know you are here to support her. Her guilt, although invisible, is a big part of the problem.

Once she knows you are on her side, and that it’s not her fault she has this predisposition, she can start releasing the guilt that is keeping her stuck.

Think about how you would handle it if you found out she had dyslexia. You wouldn’t be mad or expect her to fix it on her own.

You would help her find resources, outside experts, encourage her to be patient with herself.

Once you thank your intuition, accept this as HER problem that might be with her for the rest of her life, and get on her team, then you can move to step 4.

Step 4

Hold a higher vision. It is really easy to see problems our teenagers are dealing with and catastrophize and futurize.

It feels to us like an immediate problem we need to fix or else bad things will happen.  This intensity, however, will only make your daughter pull harder in the opposite direction.

Parents can help their struggling teen by imagining that their struggle has a purpose. I found it very helpful to believe that my son would use his challenge to help others.

Imagine she will overcome this someday. Communicate this belief with her.

Tell her that overcoming this will deepen her compassion for others and give her a broader understanding of the world.

Let your daughter know that you believe in her ability to do hard things, ask for help, and prioritize her health and happiness.

We aren’t meant to go through life without problems, but we are meant to grow because of them.

Let her know those good things wait for her on the other side, and you are there to support her every step of the way.

Supermom Kryptonite – “Putting on the cape”

Many of my clients are excellent at “putting on the cape.”

They see their child suffering in some way and they “put on their Supermom cape” and fly to the rescue.

We love feeling capable and saving our children from problems; we were made for this! But sometimes we don’t have the resources necessary to help our kids solve all their problems.

Expecting to be able to solve any problem your child ever has will drain your energy. You will know if this is your situation because everything you tried hasn’t worked.

It could be that it’s your child’s problem to solve.  All you need to do is drop the rope and join her support team.

It could also be that your child isn’t capable of fixing the problem on her own. It’s time to add outside experts to the panel. Just make sure it’s all of you, against the issue.

If we are dealing with addiction, we are dealing with a brain that has been hijacked. Getting professional help can be life-changing.

“Putting on the cape” and trying to do everything FOR our teens will drive us both crazy and exhaust us. Instead, hang up the cape, step into your daughter’s shoes and try to see things from her perspective.

Supermom Power Boost – Do something impossible

When my son’s Naturopath described the cleanse she wanted him to go on (no sugar, no gluten, no dairy), my first thought was “There is no way I could do that”.

Of course, there is nothing like the health of your child to motivate you. My husband and I didn’t feel right asking our 12-year-old to do something we wouldn’t do ourselves so we put ourselves on a cleanse. No sugar, gluten, dairy, no coffee, no alcohol, NO FUN!

But it was FASCINATING.

I learned so much about my eating habits. Something about the hormonal change made me feel weepy and wacky. I didn’t miss sugar at all, which surprised me, but I missed corn of all things.

My husband LOVED how he felt: clear-headed and energized.

My favorite thing that came from this experiment was doing something I never thought I could do. When you have the belief “I could never do that,” and then you do it, it makes you wonder “What else am I saying I could never do, that I’m fully capable of doing?”

If you want a boost of energy, try a cleanse. Or bungee jump, take a vacation by yourself, start a blog, something where you currently think, “I could never do that”. Do whatever crazy thing strikes your fancy just to prove to yourself how capable you truly are!

Quote of the Day:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The Serenity Prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous

Depleted and Burned Out Mom

Feeling depleted and burned out? This episode is for you.

Episode #48 What to do when you feel depleted and burned out?

“What do you do if you feel completely depleted as a parent and you feel like you are just kinda burned out as a mom? I have given so much to my kids, starting when my first son was born, and 6 years later I’m completely depleted. Now I don’t like the version of me I am. Somehow I feel like I’m not showing up as my best and I don’t know what to do to change it.” Carrie

My heart goes out to you. I have totally been there and I think it’s wonderful that you have enough self-awareness to notice how you are feeling, identify it, and ask for help. This is a big and very important first step.

It also gets me excited! I know exactly what to do to help you get back on track. I feel like helping moms find their way is my life’s calling, and I KNOW how much better your life is going to get from this point on. If you relate to Carrie, schedule your free coaching call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com

Parent Educator Answer

Conventional wisdom on this topic of what to do when you feel depleted and burned out as a mom leads me to talk about the two dreaded words for Supermoms: self-care.

To me, a Supermom is someone who goes ALL IN on parenting. We try super hard to do everything right for our kids, not realizing that our expectations are a bit perfectionistic. Our thought is that a good mom “does everything right for their kids.” There is no “it takes a village” for a Supermom! We assume a lot of responsibility (even if that means managing our nannies, husbands, housekeepers and grandparents while they help us!). If our kid needs us, we. are. there.

This type of vigilant, hard-working, self-sacrificing parenting can only last so long before it becomes depletion and exhaustion.

Caring for our kids makes us feel capable and responsible but when it comes to caring for ourselves, it’s a struggle.

Self-care can be defined as the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness.

Self-care can be anything that gives your mental, emotional, or physical health a boost:

Sitting in the sunshine, folding laundry while watching your favorite show, yoga class, going for a walk, getting together with girlfriends for a “vent session”, scrapbooking, playing piano, or singing.

Self care is very individual but includes taking care of your body’s health (exercise, massage, and nutrition), your mental and emotional health (meditation or life coaching), social support (friends, online groups, even authors and TV shows) and most importantly, connecting with YOURSELF.

Here are examples of ways my clients take care of their bodies:

Yoga, swimming, dance class, running, soccer team, tennis, etc. Also, putting on favorite music and dancing while cleaning, walking the dog while listening to a favorite podcast, starting a hiking club, or joining a stroller walking mom group. Don’t forget about eating healthy, taking care of your hairdo, putting makeup on, receiving massages and mani/pedi’s. Going to the chiropractor, acupuncturist, esthetician, anything that puts loving attention on your body.

Here are examples of ways you can take care of your mental and emotional health:

Meditation, life coaching, counseling/therapy, online support groups. Even finding authors you resonate with, TV shows that light you up, movies that speak to you. Online support groups like Supermom is Getting Tired, venting with girlfriends (anything with girlfriends!).

Most right brained activities give our brains a break. Pick your favorite: doing puzzles, creating art, playing or listening to music, reading books or listening to audiobooks, cooking, decorating, designing, organizing, gardening, window shopping, crafting, planning a vacation, daydreaming.

You certainly don’t have to do all of these, but I have never seen a depleted mom who has a regular habit of prioritizing self care.

The most important self care you can do when you are feeling burned out and depleted is to RECONNECT WITH YOURSELF.

Most moms who find themselves in Carrie’s shoes say something like “I feel like I’ve lost myself.” If you have a life full of self-care activities, it’s hard to feel burned out and depleted because you have to pay attention to YOU and notice whether your activities feel good to you or not.

depleted and burned out mom

Life Coaching Answer – What gets in our way from self-care?

SO MANY THINGS!

Has neglecting yourself become a habit? Are you believing self-care isn’t important? Do you think you have to be with your kids 24/7? Are you “too tired, burned out and depleted” to do something that GIVES you energy? Are you unsure which self-care activity will help you feel better? Do you think taking care of yourself somehow takes away from caring for your children?

When I first started going through my life coach training program with Martha Beck, there were difficult questions that I could not answer.

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”
“If you could not care what people think, what would you do ?”
“What do you really, really, really, really want?”
“What is your wildly improbable goal?”

I didn’t know how to dream about possibilities for myself. I didn’t know what I wanted.
Yes, I could tell you what my kids want, what my husband wants, what parents wanted for me. I could even tell you what I was SUPPOSED to want. But I had never asked myself those kinds of questions and so I couldn’t come up with any answers. I didn’t know how to dream about what could be. How could I ask for what I want if I didn’t even KNOW what I wanted?

The way I start my clients back into this journey is of connecting with themselves is this:

Imagine you had a secret bonus day snuck into the middle of your week. You fall asleep like normal but in the morning you wake up in a different bedroom in a different location. The rest of your family will stay asleep while you get to do anything you want to do, without anybody knowing. There are no rules and no judgements on this dream day. You can wake up next to Brad Pitt with Zach Efron massaging you and Justin Timberlake serenading. Even laws of physics don’t matter. If you want to wake up in Hawaii and fall asleep in Italy and the time zones don’t make sense, no worries.

Reconnecting with Self when Burned Out and Depleted

If Carrie was on the phone with me, I’d ask her to close her eyes, and before she opens them in this new bedroom, I would ask her to notice what the sheets feel like. Are they silk, flannel, or cotton? Then I would tell her to imagine opening her eyes and noticing what color they are.

I don’t want you to THINK about what color or texture you want them to be. I want to bypass your thinking brain and move into your intuitive brain that already knows what you want. Our brains block us from KNOWING what we want because we think “I can’t have that”, “It’s not practical”, “I’ve always preferred something else” or “What will people think”. Send your thinking brain away for a bit and just notice what you see in your mind’s eye when you think about your ideal, dream day.

Notice what the sheets feel like, notice what color they are. Put your feet on the floor and notice what kind of flooring there is: wood? Carpet? Tile? Then stand up and walk to the window, what do you see when you look outside? Describe the view.

What do you feel like doing? Do you want to go out there? Get dressed? Have a cup of coffee and sit on the porch? What would feel most delicious to you?

After you do your preferred activity, then what do you feel like doing? What would you eat for breakfast on your ideal day? Would you prepare it yourself or just have it magically appear?

When you feel ready to get dressed, notice what type of clothes are in your closet and what you feel most drawn to wear. Once dressed, what will you do or where will you go?

As my clients imagine this fantasy day, I am listening for themes. Is she craving solitude or company? Is she yearning for adventure or peace? Does she want recognition and validation? A way of expressing herself creatively? Sensory rich experiences, physical activity, or rest?

I have no idea what my clients need to feel better and enjoy their lives more. I just ask the questions to get them out of their own way so they can find out for themselves.

Once you start paying attention to the feelings and activities you are yearning for, take a look at the beliefs that are keeping you from going after them.
“I have to put my kid’s needs before my own.” and “I don’t know what to do.” are probably the most common and toxic beliefs.

Steps to Take

The smallest step I recommend you take is to set a timer on your phone 5 times a day asking yourself the question, “What am I feeling?” (Notice it’s not HOW). Try and come up with a one word emotion. Even if you don’t have an answer, just asking yourself the question will get you back on the path to reconnecting with you.

A bigger action step I recommend is right now, book yourself two nights in a hotel room by yourself. When you have a full day away from your daily life, to do whatever you feel like doing, and no one else around to distract you, ask yourself and answer the question, “What do I feel like doing?”

To be able to go where you want, eat what you want, go to bed when you want, read or watch whatever you want is HEAVEN and such a necessary step to get back to feeling like you again.

Supermom Kryptonite – Putting yourself last

It is a slippery slope. In order for babies to survive, we have to put their needs before our own. Toddlers will get into all sorts of trouble if moms don’t supervise them diligently and constantly. Taking care of our babies fills our brain with oxytocin which bonds us and feels amazing. We love making our kids happy and seeing the world through their eyes. There are moments when ignoring ourselves and focusing exclusively on our precious ones feel amazing. Taking care of someone else can give purpose and meaning like we’ve never had before.

But there is a cost to getting into the habit of putting the needs of your children before your own. When no one asks us “How are you feeling?” “What do you want for dinner?” “What do you feel like doing today?” We stop asking ourselves these questions. Our families and our friends start asking about the kids instead of asking about us. Over time, we feel depleted and lost because WE aren’t front and center in our lives anymore. We lose connection with our essence; our spirit. Getting it back isn’t difficult, it WANTS to come back, but it does take time and attention.

I created a Supermom Challenge to help moms who feel lost and depleted, reconnect with their essence. It’s 15 minutes a day of journal exercises to reconnect with yourself and what you want. Right now I share it with my clients but I’m going to open it up to everyone and do it as a new year’s resolution challenge inside my Supermom is Getting Tired Facebook Group.

Supermom Power Boost – Forward Momentum

A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. When you are feeling really burned out and depleted, it can be hard to make big changes, even if you really want to.
If you feel like you are drowning, the trick is to make one small change to start the momentum going in a positive direction. Let’s say you binge watch netflix and drink wine every night and you’d really like to go to the gym instead. This can feel really overwhelming and hard to do.
Start by changing one small thing, like watching netflix and drinking wine in the bathtub. Try switching to sparkling wine, going to a movie theater, or switching up your routine by showering and getting your pajamas on first.

Changing one small thing will get you out of your rut, create some new synapses in the brain, and give you some forward momentum. Once the ball is rolling in a good direction, your positive emotions will give you some confidence and motivation to keep you going.

Quote:
“Self Care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.” Katie Reed

Mindfulness

This week’s podcast: Mindfulness

Episode #47 Interview with Hunter Clarke-Fields, Mindful Mama Mentor

Are you familiar with the mindfulness movement? Mama mentor, Hunter Clarke-Fields is here to talk to us about how to use mindfulness to become the mom we want to be.

She is the host of the mindful mama podcast and author of the soon-to-be-released book, Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting.

You can find her at www.mindfulmamamentor.com

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Starting Mindfulness

Using the words “I can’t”.

“I could never to take 2 nights away”

“I could never send my 9 year old to summer camp.”

“It’s my daughter’s soccer game and I can’t miss that.”

Try to eliminate the words “I can’t” from your vocabulary. When we say “I can’t,” we give away our power and authority over our life. Consequently, this makes us feel helpless and powerless.

 

Supermom Power Boost: Mindfulness as a Habit

Switch “I can’t” to “I am choosing”.

“I am choosing not to go on vacation by myself.”

“I’m choosing not to send my child to summer camp.”

“I’m choosing not to miss my daughter’s soccer game.”

This small change will get you back in the driver’s seat of your life. There is a cost to thinking “I can’t do what I want”. Reminding yourself of how much power you actually have is a huge boost of power.

mindfulness