When to stay consistent or try something new?

Today’s question:

I really want my son to eat healthy but he is such a picky eater. It drives me crazy that he’s so resistant to the foods I like to cook. I keep presenting the same foods to him hoping he’ll come around, like the experts suggest. I have heard that the definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over again but expecting a different result.” I’ve also heard that when it comes to parenting, consistency is key. When something isn’t working, how do I know when to stay consistent, or when it’s time to try something else? 

– Stacy

This is such a great question and demonstrates how mothering is more of an art than a science. It really comes down to what works best for you. The most important thing is for YOU to ENJOY your kiddos. If their idiosyncrocies start driving you crazy, or you “bending over backwards” for them causes resentment, then this 

is more of a reason to change than some arbitrary rule.

It was Einstein who is credited with saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.” He was not home with kids trying to get them to eat their broccoli.

The Parent Education Answer: 

If you lay down a rule like, “no dessert unless you try everything on your plate,” then you certainly want to be consistent. When parents are consistent in their rules, it makes kids feel safe and helps them respect your authority. You want your kids to believe you when you say things, and being consistent in words and actions is crucial.

The conventional advice for picky eaters is to sit down together as a family. Children learn by imitation so letting them watch you enjoy your food is great modeling. Always include at least one thing on the plate that you know your child likes. Encouraging your child to cook with you and help prepare meals helps the foods become more familiar. Make food friendly and fun-looking. Play games with food. Some kids need to taste a food ten times before it becomes familiar.

A study was done in England trying to figure out the most effective way to get a non-broccoli eating child, to eat broccoli. What they found to work the best was to have a teen of the same gender, sit down across from the child and happily devour a bowl of broccoli without ever speaking a word to the child.

One of the things that worked for me was understanding my child’s unique pickiness. My son was a “true” picky eater. He had some sensory motor integration issues and was hypersensitive to sounds, touch and textures. Realizing that this wasn’t his fault gave me compassion and patience. Here are 3 tips that worked for cooking for a kid with a sensitive palette.

  1. Cook and serve foods plain and separate so he can anticipate the textures of each item.
  2. My kid was so repulsed by new food, he had a hard time looking at it. We first worked on keeping it on the table, then his plate, then touching it, then eating it. When something is a big task, breaking it down into micro-steps can really help.
  3. Once we got him comfortable eating chicken, we built on it by offering pork, but called it chicken. Expand their palette by offering foods of similar textures. Mashed carrots could expand to yams to pumpkin pie.

My daughter was picky in a completely different way. She didn’t have a sensitive palette, just a strong will and strange opinions. There were times she would only eat red food, or she’d eat mac n cheese everyday for two weeks and then never again. We called her a “pig-a-tarian” when her diet consisted of salami, sausage, and bacon, but shortly after, she turned into a sugar & carb loving full vegetarian. This fickle eating drove me crazy because I never knew if she would eat what I served her. It did help when I noticed she had a three-day cycle. She would barely eat anything for two days but then pig out roughly every third day.

Because she seemed impossible to please, it was easier to let go of trying and just cook the things I wanted to cook for the rest of the family. 

The life coaching answer:

So, how do you know when to throw in the towel on a rule you have set which doesn’t seem to be working? How about 2 weeks. Or, just, whenever you feel the urge to stab yourself in the eye with a kiddie fork.

Supermom sanity has to be priority number one. Your child is not going to starve himself to death. Nutrition is important, but your mental and emotional health come first. It’s easier for a kid to eat when they are relaxed, not having a stressed-out-crazy-lady monitor ones protein intake.

In order to prioritize your sanity, you need to pay attention to how you are feeling. How do you act when you feel stressed? What are you trying to control that you have no control over? What are you ready to let go of? We get so focused on our kids, we forget to pay attention to how we feel. Priortize this and everything else will become easier.

A word of warning, make sure eating doesn’t become a power struggle. If you cling really tightly to how your kids should eat, it will probably become an area where they push back on and rebel against you. If this is your situation, email me and I’ll address it on another episode.

 

 Supermom Kryptonite: Cognitive Dissonance

You can see how these two thoughts “be consistent” but “don’t do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result” are competing with each other. This cognitive dissonance feels uncomfortable and makes us feel stuck and confused, not knowing which action to take. If you have an area of your life where you feel uncomfortable, stuck, and confused, look for some contradictory thoughts and see where you can make a decision. Making a decision on either side will feel so much better. I did it while writing this blog. I was feeling really tired and wandering around my laptop, looking at facebook, and avoiding beforeI stopped myself and said “just choose one”. I chose the question I would answer and what to write about, and then took a nap. Then I wrote the rest.

Indecision drains us. “Should I go to the gym or walk the dog?” It doesn’t matter, just choose one. “Should I sign myself up for a life coaching program or sign my daughter up for music lessons?” Give yourself the freedom that comes from committing to a decision today, knowing you can always change your mind.

 

Supermom Power Boost: Taking care of #1

Most of my clients have a hard time putting their needs before their kids. Do you know anyone whose mom doesn’t take good care of her mental, emotional, financial or physical health? It is such a drain on the child. The most important gift we can give our kids is our own health and happiness. Today’s Supermom Powerboost is to cook what you enjoy cooking. Go to the movies by yourself. Send yourself flowers. Do something to honor and appreciate yourself. This is not the job of your kids or husband but you can teach them how to treat you.

Once a month, I would get the Oprah magazine in the mail. In the next few days, I would find an opportunity to go “out to dinner with Oprah”. It was so lovely not having to cook or do dishes. I got to choose exactly what I wanted to eat and read what I wanted to read. We can get so hooked into focusing on the kids, that we forget to focus on ourselves. I highly recommend building a routine around self care so you don’t have to hit the boiling point every time you need a break. Create consistency around “mom time” and the kids will get used to it and won’t cling and cry like they can do if they aren’t accustomed to it.

Why am I so tired?

Today’s Question:

Today’s question comes from almost every one of my clients. So many moms have a hard time articulating what’s bothering them. They say, “My kids are on my nerves,” “I feel off my game,” or “I feel lost, stuck, bored, easily annoyed.” Whatever they say, it all seems to fall under the umbrella of TIRED. This is why I named my podcast and facebook group “Supermom is Getting Tired.” Not that my clients think of themselves as Supermoms, but they work so hard and put so much pressure on themselves to get things done and do everything right that I chose this title for them.

I find that there are 5 reasons why Supermoms get tired that have nothing to do with sleep, exercise, nutrition and hormones. These are invisible forces (kryptonite, if you will) that make moms feel like they are being dragged through their day, going through the motions, and not feeling fully alive. If you ever feel like a zombie mommy, wondering why you can’t seem to enjoy your life more, today’s podcast is for you.

5 reasons why Supermom is getting TIRED:

1. You are arguing with reality.

Wishing things were different than they are, will drain your energy. This shows up as thoughts like, “My kids should play together nicely and they don’t.” “My daughter shouldn’t resist going to bed at night.” “My son shouldn’t play so many video games.” “My husband should help out more.” “My mother-in-law shouldn’t be so nosy.

It’s like we have this invisible rule book in our brain that says how everyone and everything should behave, and we get annoyed when our rule book isn’t followed. This rule book shows up with ourselves, husbands, our in-laws, other parents, bosses, co-workers; we even have rules about how our pets should behave!

For me, this showed up a lot with my husband. My Dad was the most organized, self-disciplined, and reliable man on the planet. An engineer by trade and an upholder tendency, meant if he said he was going to do something, he did it. Religiously. Every night before bed, like clock work, he would walk around the house, locking the doors and windows and turning off all the lights. When I got married, I expected my husband to assume this role. However, I married an impulsive, serial entreprenuer with ADHD and a

rebellious streak. This means he does NOTHING on a regular basis. Any kind of routine makes him feel imprisoned, even if it’s something he wants to do. I’ve been married over 20 years and I still wake up to find every light on in the house. It took me YEARS to realize that my husband will never do things the way my Dad did. He will never do yard work or put the garbage cans on the curb on a regular basis, but he can do a year’s worth of yard work in one day when the mood strikes. My husband is an amazingly talented, skilled, creative and fun-loving man but it can be hard to remember that when I’m stuck wishing he were more like my dad. Aligning your expectations with the reality of your experience, will give you so much more energy and appreciation for the life you are living.

2. You are “shoulding” on yourself.

What is it about our culture that puts so many perfectionistic expectations on moms? Is it that we learned to put pressure on ourselves through school and our careers, that we then bring into parenting? Many moms think of parenting like it’s their job, meaning that they believe it should be hard work and that they are supposed to do everything right. The problem with this, is that kids learn by imitation and we are stressing them out when we aren’t relaxed, happy, and playful. There is no “right” way to parent but we put so much energy into trying to do everything perfectly that it leaves us exhausted.

Here’s the common problem that myself and many clients, find themselves in:

While folding laundry, you are thinking, “I really should get dinner started.” So you stop folding laundry and start dinner. As you are cooking you are thinking, “I need to send that email before I forget!” At the computer you see someone’s facebook post and think, “I’ve got to get our summer vacation plans started”. While researching vacation rentals, you think, “Crap, I have to go pick up the kids but I should have scheduled that doctor’s appointment while I was on the computer and paid that bill.

This scenario causes exhaustion for three reasons. First, we are putting so much pressure on ourselves with the words “have to, need to, should”. These words make us feel like responsible hard workers, but also prisoners. Second, when we constantly juggle and multi-task, we don’t get the sense of accomplishment and completion that so many of us crave. Lastly, our energy goes where our attention goes. When your body is doing dishes but your brain is thinking about laundry, your energy is split into two. If you are at work thinking “I’d rather be at home” or at home wishing you had a job to go to, you will exhaust yourself without even knowing how or why you are so tired.

 

 

                                                                                                                         

3. You are trying to control something you have no control over.

I know a Mom who has the thought “I can’t relax until my kids are happy.” With 3 dramatic kids, it’s a rare moment when all of them were happy. Which means she spent years believing she couldn’t relax. She feel

s like she always needs to be available to them should they need her for anything. She’s a loving mom and very close with her kids, but feels constantly fatigued and lost. She struggles to take time to herself or do things that she would enjoy. This mom thought she control their happiness.

This causes exhaustion for two reasons, the first is that she wanted her kids to be happy all the time. We are wired to experience a wide range of human emotions, about 50% of which will be negative. To live a real, human experience, we need to feel happiness, but also disappointment, sadness, anger, jealousy, you name it. The other reason trying to make kids happy causes fatigue is that people get to feel whatever they want to feel. Have you ever tried to cheer someone up or talk them out of feeling bad and they just would not budge? Some people WANT to feel negative emotion. We don’t get to choose other people’s emotions for them and when we try to control it, we end up feeling resentful, lost and TIRED.

 

4. You are resisting emotions.

Some clients have an area of their life that they really don’t want to think about. It could be a fight with a family member that they never reconciled or a job they got fired from which caused them embarrassment. Trying not to think about something that causes negative emotions is exhausting but it is very easy to

solve! If clients only knew how much more relaxed and energized they would feel for such little effort, they wouldn’t believe it! The problem is that these unprocessed emotions can be very sneaky and hard to spot. I’ll use an example from my own life.

I witnessed a horrible accident while on spring break in Lake Havasu. I was on a boat with a hundred other people, watching a couple people on their jet skis. One tried to jump his jet ski over the other one, hitting him in the head and causing his death. It was AWFUL. No one else on the entire boat seemed to notice, understand, or care about what I had just seen. I was shaken to my core. I wanted to go out there

to comfort or help somehow but I couldn’t. Witnessing this event was traumatic for me but I tried to leave it behind me. I never thought about it consciously but years later when I had kids and a swimming pool, I developed terrible anxiety that something bad would happen and they would drown. Anytime I was at a water park, ocean, or community pool, I had the thought, “It’s my job to make sure everyone stays safe” (even when life guards were on duty). This anxiety compounded when my impulsive, fun loving husband bought a boat for our family. I was in a constant state of fight or flight on that maiden voyage. My anxiety was preventing me from doing things I really enjoyed so I knew it was time to get over it once and for all. I was a MESS until I got some coaching and used my ACT tools to finally process the emotions of that accident I witnessed years earlier. Having a pool and boat ended up being a blessing because it gave me lots of opportunity to re-wire my brain to relax around water. Once I was able to process the emotions from witnessing this terrible accident, it FREED me in a way that’s hard to explain. It’s like suddenly I had access to a deeper level of relaxation and a reservoir of energy that I had never had access to before.

 

5. You are ignoring your calling.

We are all born with certain interests, talents, and proclivities. Our job, during our lifetime, is to figure out what these things are and to use them to make the world a better place. You felt called to become a mom, now that you have accomplished that task and soaked up your new identity as mom, it’s time to figure out “what’s next?” Many moms follow what culture suggests, but this can cause exhaustion if a mom is trying to live a life that isn’t right for them.

My client Teresa was an ivy league, super-achiever.  She knew how to be successful and rise to the top of any organization she worked for and her resume was impressive. Her job and family relied on her full time but when her girls were 4 and 7 she couldn’t deny this nagging voice inside her anymore. She was terrified, but finally admitted in a faint whisper, that she really just wanted to stay home, bake cookies and lead Girl’s on The Run.

To many of us, this does not sound sinful, but for her, she was going against her upbringing, her peers, her culture, everything she had been raised to believe her life should be at this stage in her life. Once she gave herself permission to want what she wants, and admit the truth out loud, she relaxed and had many creative ideas and options for the next stage of her life.

My other client, Mandy, was a stay home mom. She enjoyed it for many years but wasn’t feeling as satisfied as she once had. There was plenty to do, but she felt busy, but bored, tired and uninspired. She came to our first coaching call with the common phrase, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me”. She elaborated by saying, “I should be able to get more done. There’s all these tasks I keep procrastinating on. I just don’t feel like doing anything. I have a good life, why can’t I enjoy it more? I’m wondering if I should get a job but I don’t know how I’d find the time to do everything.”

When I asked her, “If you had no rules and no fear, what would you love to spend your time doing?

She answered “I don’t know.”

When I replied softly, “Well, let’s pretend for a minute that you did know. What’s something you always imagined yourself doing?

The line goes silent and the tears start flowing. It takes her a minute but she finally squeaks out a terrified, yet sacred, “I’ve always wanted to be a writer.

Ignoring a calling can be the source of our greatest suffering.

We try so hard to fit in and live out our parent’s expectations of us, but our calling never goes away. In fact, the longer you ignore this tugging, the more tired and irritable you will become. Accepting this calling often means going against societal expectations, otherwise you would have done it by now. When you start living a life that is more suited to your uniqueness, your brain is going to freak out. It will come up with every excuse in the book as to why you should NOT take action on your calling.

I’ve coached so many clients into lives they LOVE, where they wake up everyday feeling excited and inspired and so grateful they learned to overcome their fears and pursue their passion. I know the amazing life that awaits clients on the other side of those fears but they can’t see it yet. All they know is that it sucks to not take action, but it’s terrifying TO take action.

I love helping Moms become the hero in their own life and live a life without regret. This is my life’s calling. If you are feeling TIRED and want to get a glimpse of how much better your life could be, schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

 

How can I support my over-achieving teen

Today’s question: 

“I’m impressed, but also worried about my daughter. She’s 16 and has a 4.4 GPA, great friends, and excels in dance. She is amazingly driven, but averages 4-5 hours of sleep every night. Recently she got REALLY sick. Two weeks of flu symptoms so severe, she almost needed to be hospitalized. Now she’s back to her hardcore lifestyle. I encourage her to sleep and relax more but I’m wondering if it’s it all too much for her? Am I just finding things to worry about, or is there something I can do to support my over-achieving child?”   Marlene

Parent Educator Answer:

Our culture trains us to look for signs that our kids are on the right track. Developmental milestones when they are young, like walking and talking, grades, friendships, and extra-curricular activities when they are older. When your child is meeting all the societal expectations of success, it can cloud your judgement and make it harder to know if you should intervene or not. 

Here are signs your high achieving daughter could use some mama intervention:

  • -cranky and unhappy the majority of her days
  • -not celebrating accomplishments: deflecting and denying praise
  • -mean to siblings and parents.
  • -recurring illnesses that don’t seem to be contagious
  • -recurring physical pain
  • -acting out – doing something impulsive and out of character
  • -acting in – cutting, self-medicating, eating disorders, etc.

People have two ways to motivate themselves: love and fear.

I have coached teenage girls who are VERY hard on themselves. They have really mean inner critics that constantly tell them: “I need to work harder. I’m not doing enough. I don’t have time to relax.” Or they will say things to themselves like, “You are wasting your time. You have to do everything perfectly. You are going to fail, etc.”

Read these to your daughter and ask her if any of them sound like thoughts that bounce around inside her head. If she says yes, or if you see more than one of the warning signs, then she is using fear to motivate herself and it’s time to intervene.

The trick with teenagers is many are very resistant to thinking that something is “wrong” with them and they may shy away from counselors or therapists.

Life Coaching is a great solution. Teens have coaches who help them with their sports. Elite athletes still hire coaches because they can offer expertise and perspective to enhance their game. So there isn’t the same association with something being “wrong” with them. 

There is so much benefit to learning life coaching tools while you are young. You will save yourself years of suffering from the sneaky voice of the inner critic. In teens, this inner critic hasn’t been around long, so it’s easier to rewire that part of our brain, than it is with adults. Young brains are very malleable, so getting coaching while young would help her learn to support and motivate herself with love and passion for the rest her life. Knowing how to coach herself at a young age means that she will be happier, but also be a positive voice for her friends as she moves on to college and adult life.

Life Coach Answer:

Before mom can suggest any intervention for her daughter, she needs to make sure she isn’t worried. Worrying energy repels teens like crazy and will make her not want to listen or be around you. 

I see no problem telling her that some perfectionistic teens commit suicide when they get their first C in college, or when they don’t get into the premiere ballet school, or don’t win the scholarship they wanted, just don’t use it to fuel your worry.

Mama needs to let go of any thoughts around this being an emergency or her daughter “needing her help”. Instead, trust that she could go through her whole life this way and be very tired, but successful. Most of my clients have harsh inner critics and finally seek life coaching once their kids are born and they can’t do it all anymore. If you offer coaching to her, letting her know it’s a normal thing that people do to optimize their life experiences, she’ll eventually come around when the pain, illness, fatigue or frustration are too much for her.

What you can do to help, is to be mindful of your own inner critic and make sure your inner perfectionist isn’t fueling hers. Let her see you making mistakes and laughing them off. Encourage and model relaxation. There has never been a better time to lay around and do nothing.

Supermom kryptonite: busyness.

We live in a culture that reveres busyness. When a mom complains about being busy, all the other moms nod their head in agreement. We wear busyess like a badge of honor, but there is a cost to pay. Being busy robs us of our productivity and sense of well being.

As humans, we aren’t wired to be busy all day. How do we know? Think about the last really relaxing vacation you went on. Didn’t it feel good to do less? Think less? Accomplish less? The fact that doing less, feels good, means it’s more aligned with who we are meant to be. When we are busy, our brains are thinking about the past and the future. We end up spinning in circles, emptying half the dishwasher, doing half the laundry, drafting an email but not sending it. This unfocused, frenetic, busy energy does nothing for our productivity, efficiency, and joy. It keeps us out of the present moment but we do it, to keep our inner critic from rearing her ugly head to tell us we should be doing more.

 

Supermom power boost: honor a sabbath

The old fashioned idea of ‘honoring a sabbath’ could be very beneficial for today’s modern families. With lives full of places to be and things to do, taking time out to just sit and DO NOTHING is probably the smartest thing we could all be doing to improve our sense of well-being. But as soon as we sit to do nothing, our minds fill with all the things we ‘could’ and ‘should’ be doing. Or, we pick up our cell phones and find something to fill the void.

I propose a modern take on honoring a sabbath by setting aside 5 hours (or even just 5 minutes) every week, where no electronic devices are allowed. Where you and your family are forced to “do nothing” together. When the intention is to do nothing but just hang out together, it helps keep that inner voice at bay saying, “you should be doing something else.” 

When my family takes time to honor a sabbath this way, we go hiking, fly kites, go out to lunch, hang out in the back yard, make up silly games, etc. Slowing down and focusing on BEING instead of DOING, can make wonderful things happen that you can’t anticipate when you are busy.

Quote of the Day:“We are living under the collective delusion that in order to succeed we have to burnout along the way.” Arianna Huffington 

How to prevent “failure to launch”?

Today’s question: 

“My son is 16 and UNMOTIVATED. He gets by at school, but that’s it. He doesn’t play sports or have a job or even his driver’s license. I’ve given this kid every opportunity, and I’m resentful that he doesn’t appreciate it. I’m sick of nagging and trying to motivate him because clearly, it’s not working. I’m worried he’s going to be one of those “failure to launch” kids who’s thirty years old and just lays on the couch playing video games and smoking pot. This is unacceptable to me. How can I prevent a “failure to launch?” – April

Parent Educator Answer: “Failure to Launch” is a term used to describe a delay into adult independence and responsibility. Mom has a strong idea in her head of where a 16 year old should be (getting a driver’s license and job), but since he isn’t moving in that direction, she starts worrying about what this means for his future.

There are MANY reasons why we are seeing an increase in “failure to launch” scenarios in our culture. 

It’s common in Supermom culture to do too much for our kids. Optimizing children’s opportunities and focusing on kids instead of parental happiness is unnatural, and puts stress on the family. When we use stress and fear to fuel our actions (we’d better sign up for music lessons, private coaching, tutoring or else we’ll be left behind) our kids don’t learn to motivate themselves out of joy, passion, or interest.

With downtime and boredom, kids learn to listen to their inner wisdom and what interests they want to pursue for their adult life. American kids have less down time than ever before. When every spare minute is filled with a text, tweet, or video game, kids aren’t able to hear what their wisdom is telling them.

Our perfectionistic parenting culture puts too much emphasis on ‘doing everything right’ and meeting societal expectations. It’s really hard for a kid to transition into a new version of themselves when they are afraid of making mistakes or failing. Some kids think the safest way to avoid failure is to not try. Avoiding new things is a common way of coping with the anxiety and fear that naturally bubble up as kids grow into the challenges of adulthood.

Our culture creates the perfect recipe for “failure to launch”. While podcasts like this are trying to change the perfectionistic, work hard and blame the mom culture, what can this mom do to help her (possibly) fearful, avoidant son?

Right now, nothing. Because her emotions are rooted in fear, everything she says or does will add to his fear, increasing his tendency toward avoidance.

Life Coach Answer: I know it’s easy to look at your son’s current behavior and “futurize” and “catastrophize” imagining that he will never change. When you do that, you put your brain into the fight or flight response believing there is an emergency to be addressed right NOW. This angry, fearful energy makes you nag, complain, cajole, and TRY to get him to do what YOU want. He picks up on your fear, making him increase his desire to avoid the world.

Before you can take productive action, you need to release the anger and fear. Why? Because emotions are contagious. When you are calm and confident, he will pick up on that. In order to face the many challenges that lie ahead of him, he needs to have confidence in his ability to achieve AND to fail.

First, recognize that in this moment, all is well. There are no immediate threats to your safety or to his. Breathe and notice that all the drama is happening inside your own head. You are using your imagination to create a dreary future scenario. You could just as easily envision ten other futures for him instead of the one you currently are.

Most moms dread this “failure to launch” scenario because of what they would say to themselves and to their sons if this situation came about. “I failed. He’s a failure.” So let’s make a commitment right here and now that, no matter what, you will focus on love. “I loved him with all my heart.” “He is still 100% lovable, no matter what.” “Even if he never lives up to his potential, I will love him.” “My job is just to love, the rest is up to him.”

Now that we’ve got you out of fear, you can actually say and do things that might help.

Encourage small steps, rather than criticize. Find something to focus on that is a sign of growth or forward momentum, no matter how small. “You found the DMV website today, YEAH!” “You were nervous to ask your friend about his job but you did it anyway, that’s great!” Praising or rewarding him every time he faces his fear is how we undo perfectionism. Then, he can learn to associate the negative feeling of fear, with a positive result.

Meanwhile, you can hold a vision of him being brave and bold, until he can hold it for himself. Picture him taking chances, being brave, and feeling scared but doing it anyway.

Moms can help prevent “failure to launch” by remembering that the number one way kids learn, is by imitation.

I was introducing a group of girl scouts to jumping rope and how to run into it while it’s moving and then start jumping. One at a time, each girl positioned themselves to run in; studying the rhythm of the rope, trying to decide the optimal time to go for it. Their facial expressions showed fear, determination, interest, hesitation, and courage. One girl stood at the ready, nervous but determined, waiting for courage to kick in. Her mom felt uncomfortable seeing her daughter so hesitant, so she ran into the moving jump rope and said: “Look, it’s easy, just do it like this.”

Immediately, this girl’s face crumbled. She folded her arms, walked off, sat against the wall, defeated, and would not try again.

This was such a lesson for me. That sometimes, our competence can actually drain the confidence right out of our kids.

If we want our kids to do new and scary things, what helps them isn’t telling them about our successes, but about our failures.  Instead of telling them about how you worked two jobs and got your license at 16, tell them about the D you got in Geometry and had to go to summer school for. Share that embarrassing story about asking that guy to prom who never actually answered you. Conjuring up your past mistakes and sharing them, might be just the thing your son needs to challenge himself.

Better yet, let him see you trying something new. Have him teach you how to use SnapChat. Let him laugh at your ineptitude at his favorite video game. Or, use this opportunity to pursue something you have dreamt of doing but haven’t had the chance.

Thinking about starting a side-hustle? Now is a great time. Have you been wanting to cut out sugar, carbs, or meat? Why not try it now? Sign up for that half marathon. Start that club you’ve been wanting to start. Budget. Meditate. Make sure it’s something personally challenging to you so he can watch you struggle and stumble. This is THE best way you can help your son. It takes your attention off of him and gives you compassion, remembering that change isn’t as easy as it seems.

Supermom kryptonite: Futurizing & Catastrophizng

Futurizing doesn’t sound like a bad idea, “Isn’t it good to be thinking about and preparing for the future?”  Yes, we like to know what to expect, but many people only envision the worst case scenario (catastrophizing). Our brains can’t tell the difference between a real life catastrophic situation, and the imaginary one we create in our mind. We react as though the terrible thing we’re imagining is actually going to happen.

Try this, keep the worst case scenario in mind, but, just for fun, imagine the best possible scenario in the same detail as you did for your worst case. The vision in your head will be wrong either way, but it is much more enjoyable to imagine everything going perfectly. Now try imagining the funniest case scenario. Then, the weirdest. Then, the most boring. Choose to imagine the one that feels the best to you.

It’s easier to have a life coach help you separate your current, present reality, from your catastrophic future but this will get you started. Your imagination is something you control, why not put it to good use?

Supermom power boostCompassion.

When we recognize that our frustration is really about us and our fears, we can let it go and make room for compassion. Compassion is a wonderful emotion but we can’t access it when we are trying not to feel embarrassed or think that we have failed as a mom. Accept that your child will NEVER live up to his potential but you get to decide how you want to feel about him while he is struggling, learning, growing, failing and succeeding. Love and compassion are always great options that feel good. Embarrassment and shame will not give you the result you want, which is to feel like a good mom.

Quote of the Day: “We change, we grow up, we fuck up, we love, we hurt, we’re teenagers. We’re still learning.” – By Unknown Author

“When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog, so that someone in the house is happy to see you.” Nora Ephron

Go to www.lifecoachingforparents.com/work-with-me if you want help with your teen.

Why can’t I ask for help?

Today’s Question: I’ve got 3 kids, ages 1, 3, and 5. My oldest has special needs. Recently, I got the flu and was totally out of it. Before I could fully recuperate my kids all got sick. It’s been two weeks and I’m EXHAUSTED. Total zombie mommy, barely functioning, and yet…I STILL cannot bring myself to ask for help. My parents live nearby, I’ve got friends and neighbors who I’m sure would step in, but I struggle. I will die on the sword before I admit I can’t do it all by myself. What is the deal? If my friend was in a similar situation, I would love to take her kids for a couple of hours or cook her dinner. Why can’t I allow others to extend me the same courtesy?  Meredith

Parent Educator Answer: Usually I start with a parent educator answer, but today’s question is a little different. Parent education offers helpful advice and insights into child development and parenting strategies that work for moms and kiddos. In this case, Meredith KNOWS what she needs to do, but she can’t bring herself to do it. For this, we dive straight into the life coaching.

Life Coach Answer: We want to look into the feeling that she is trying not to feel which comes up for her when she asks for help.

The only reason anyone does anything is because of the feeling we imagine it will give us. We want to win the lottery because we imagine feeling totally free with endless possibilities. Many people avoid asking for what they want because when they do, they feel vulnerable and afraid of rejection.

Many Supermoms have the idea that they are supposed to be able to do it all; easily and well. Supermoms avoid asking for help because it brings up the feeling of embarrassment. That we have failed at achieving effortless perfection.

When we have the emotions of possible public humiliation, vulnerability, and failure coursing through our veins, it’s a recipe for inaction. Nobody likes feeling these emotions so we go back into our comfort zone, curl up into a ball, and ride it out.

Even though these feelings are coming from thoughts that are untrue, we still need to allow these emotions to move through us. Why?

Trying to resist an emotion is exhausting. It’s kind of like boiling a pot of water on the stove: putting a lid on it does not make the boiling go away. In fact, it gets louder and messier, eventually spilling over or burning the pan. Before Meredith can take action, she needs to allow these emotions to move through her.

The way we do this is to ask ourselves: “what does embarrassment feel like?” “Where in my body do I feel it?” Be sure to keep your breathing slow and steady while noticing how the emotion manifests in the body. Does it feel warm or cold? Heavy or tight? Does it feel like a solid, liquid, or gas. Ask yourself enough questions that you have a really clear image of it. Your brain isn’t going to want to do this. You will be tempted to think, analyze, judge, interpret, or change the subject, but if you can keep your full attention on the physical sensations in your body without going into your head, it will dissipate.

It is much easier to do this with a life coach so if you struggle to do this on your own, that’s perfectly normal! If you want to try it out, get in touch at: www.lifecoachingforparents.com/work-with-me.

Try the same thing with the emotion of vulnerability. Pay attention to the differences between the embarrassment and vulnerability. Do they feel different? Is one in the solar plexus, the other in the throat? Try it again with failure. When you understand the process of allowing emotions, you are free to do anything because there is no fear. The worst thing that will ever happen to you is a negative emotion, so learning how to allow emotions will set you free. You will feel so much more confident knowing you can handle anything that comes your way.

Once you’ve processed this emotion, you can take a look at the thought causing it. It’s probably going to be something like “I have to do everything right” or “I should be able to do this on my own.” Certainly, our Supermom culture supports this thinking, but is it true? Is it helpful? Would you ever say to another mom with three sick kids: “You should be able to do this on your own?” No, it’s not nice! So why is it ok to say to yourself?

It feels good to help others, especially when they need it and appreciate it. If you have a friend who is overwhelmed and having a hard time that asks you for help, how do you feel? Most of us feel happy to help. It increases positive emotions. You feel happier and your friend feels grateful.  When we don’t ask for help, we’re creating more negative emotions. Does our world need more negative emotions? No! We need more positivity. Saying no when someone offers help, is interrupting the flow of kindness and positivity.

When the clerk at the grocery store offers to carry your groceries and you say no, it’s like saying: “I reject your kindness and refuse to allow you to feel good about yourself today.” We do it because we like the feeling of being a Supermom: juggling three kids, a shopping cart, and ten grocery bags. When we choose stoic heroism over gratitude and appreciation, we cut off the flow of kindness and support that is trying to uplift our energy. It is in giving that we receive, but it is in receiving that we give. 

Asking for help is humbling, but not because we NEED help. Of course Meredith can do it all, she was doing exactly that! It’s humbling because it is admitting that we aren’t perfect, as our current culture suggests we should be.

Askng for, and recieving help take courage. It’s taking a stand and saying, “I am human, I like support, community, and time by myself. I want a reciprocal amount of giving and receiving. Our culture is out of balance and my inner mommy wisdom is saying so!”

 

Supermom kryptonite: Perfectionism

Most people don’t think of themselves as perfectionists because their house isn’t immaculately clean, but perfectionism is really more about all or nothing thinking. “I either do everything right or I’m a total loser.” “I’m either a good mom or a bad mom.” Trying to perfect is exhausting because it’s impossible to achieve. The moms and daughters in our culture are swimming in perfectionism and they don’t even know it! When everyone else thinks they have to do everything right, perfectionism feels normal. Give yourself permission to be an imperfect human. Celebrate your mistakes. Laugh at them. Compete with your family to see who messed up the most. It’s a tricky thing to recognize the perfection in the imperfection, but it’s more genuine than trying to be some idealized and flawless version of yourself.

 

Supermom power boost: Practice Receiving

When your life is all about giving and taking care of others, you probably feel needed and purposeful, but also pretty tired. To balance out the giving, one must receive. For some of us this takes deliberate practice. Say yes when someone offers their help. Say thank you when someone compliments you (even if you disagree, try to receive it as a gift rather than deflect it). Ask for, and receive a massage. Indulge in other sensory pleasures like wine tasting, spending time in nature, curling up in front a fire with a book, listening to beautiful music, or indulging in an afternoon nap. Write yourself a thank-you note and give yourself a thank-you gift for doing such an amazing job for your family.

 

Today’s Quote: “Accepting help is a sign of strength, asking for it is a sign of maturity.” Tal Gur