I need a break from mothering

Episode 72 – I need a break from mothering.

Don’t wait for catastrophes for you to get a break from mothering. If you are tired, stressed, overwhelmed, fuzzy brained, anxious, restless, appreciated, moody, annoyed, confused or feeling lazy and inadequate, it’s time to take a break from mothering.

Top excuses why moms don’t take breaks from their kids even though they desperately need to.

They need me.
It’s my responsibility to stay.
I’m the only one that knows how to do things right.
They will be unhappy without me.
There will be hell to pay later.
I’m fine. I don’t need it.
A good mom should always be around.
I don’t know what to do with myself.
It’s scary to leave them.
I will take a break as soon as someone else steps up.

These beliefs sound convincing, responsible and logical. The problem is when we believe them, we stay trapped. We ignore our higher self and it’s desires, push through and get back to work. This creates a prison we don’t even know we are in. A prison where we feel trapped and powerless to break free. Our loved ones can see the prison walls we have created, they don’t understand why we don’t just walk out the door. When we believe these thoughts, it keeps us from noticing these walls we have built around ourselves. Brick by brick, thought by thought, year by year, we use these excuses to stay stuck, overwhelmed, exhausted, without knowing how to break free.

Believing that your job is to always be available to your kids and that they can’t function without you is a god complex. A god complex is an unshakable belief characterized by consistently inflated feelings of personal ability, privilege, or infallibility. Worry is trusting too much in your own power. Kids need to believe that they live in a safe world filled with many people in this world to depend on. Kids need to trust themselves, to be alone enough to solve their own problems, make mistakes and develop resilience and resourcefulness. When we are always available, we rob kids of the opportunity to figure out life on their own.

 

The first step to breaking free of this mental prison is to notice that you are in one. Notice where you get jealous or judgemental of other moms leaving their children. Notice when your brain complains, “must be nice to spend the day on your own, doing whatever you want to be doing”. Your higher self is trying to get your attention through your longings and desires. Ask yourself, “What am I yearning for?” and let your spirit answer with the thing you need most to restore balance.

The second step is to ask yourself, “When I think the thought, ‘I have to be with my kids 24/7’, how do I feel? What has this belief cost me? What have been the negative consequences of thinking this imprisoning belief?

The third step is to question your beliefs. Take the 10 excuses listed above that keep you from taking time to yourself and turn them around to the opposite.
I need me. They don’t need me.
It’s my responsibility to leave. It’s irresponsible to stay.
I’m the only one who knows how to do things wrong. I’m NOT the only one who knows how to do things right.
I will be unhappy without me. They will be happy without me.
There will be joy to pay later. Things will be easier later.
I’m not fine. I do need a break.
A good mom shouldn’t always be around.
I don’t know what to do without myself. I will know what to do with myself.
It’s scary not to leave them.
I will take a break as soon as I step up.

What percentage of your daily activities come from obligation? If you are spending more than 50% of your day doing things out of obligation, it’s time to take a break and rebalance things.

What’s the difference between solitary confinement and a silent retreat?

Both give you three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and peace and quiet.

The only difference is freedom. When you have choice, this time alone is considered a reward. When you don’t get to choose, it’s a punishment. Your days need to be spent with choice and freedom in order for you to feel balanced and happy.

I suggest you pick a day this week, and just disappear for the day. Get in your car and drive. Explore a new area, visit a friend who lives far away, get take out and have a picnic lunch with your favorite author. Listen to an audiobook. Talk to your best friend from college. Go for a hike. Take a day to yourself. Tell your family you will be out of cell range and turn off your phone. Be gone for 8 hours. Let your kids miss you or relish in your absence. Let them learn to rely on themselves and discover their own resourcefulness.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we are free.

 

 

Maybe your logical brain agrees that taking a break is a good idea but putting this into action feels too scary. Some moms are addicted to being needed and feel anxious when they take time to fill up their own cup. If taking time for yourself feels indulgent or triggers your feelings of unworthiness, try these workarounds:
Schedule a short doctor’s appointment but grab a bite to eat first and go for a long walk with your audiobook after.
Offer to house sit for a friend so you feel helpful.
Tell your family that your friend isn’t doing well and that you need to check in on her.
Create a secret project. It could be something for your family, a kid’s birthday or the house but you have to work on it in private.
Get a job or start a business that requires time to focus on yourself. Use “working” or earning money to trick your brain into giving you some time and space.

Slowly work your way into honoring yourself until it becomes comfortable to admit it.

Quote of the Day: “You do not need to be good. You do not need to walk for miles on your knees through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” Mary Oliver

Post a photo from your day off in the Supermom Facebook Group. We need some peer pressure and encouragement from each other to take a break from mothering.

My kid hates online learning!

Episode 71 – Help! My kid hates online learning!

Dear Torie, 

 I have four kids that are now online schooling: a 7th grader, two 5th graders and one kindergartener. My older kids are successfully working with their teachers and getting the work done for the most part. 

My kindergartener struggles with the online format. He doesn’t like to participate much on the Zoom calls. I have to keep an eye on him because he has started to mute the audio and video and run off to play during the calls. They also post instructional videos for the daily worksheet and a story. If I turn my back he forwards through parts of the instruction. To try to get out of doing work he has even started experimenting with lying for the first time, “Mom, I watched that video last night while you were sleeping,” and “Mom, I already did that worksheet and then recycled it.” 

When I ask him why he isn’t wanting to do the work he says he doesn’t enjoy it (especially the writing). I sit with him during instruction and work with him on the worksheets. He is resistant to my help. I am not trained or gifted in teaching academics. I’ve tried to motivate him in different ways, but he just isn’t into it. The firmer I get the more resistant he becomes. He would rather play with the microscope, play board games, help with cooking projects, water the garden, or build something. 

Please help! Demmari

 

Parent Educator Answer – Multiple Intelligence Theory. 

 

When most people think about intelligence, they think of high test scores, good grades and IQ. We generalize intelligence into one category however, in 1983, Howard Gardener, a developmental psychologist at Harvard, outlined eight major types of intelligence.

 

In his book, Frames of Mind, Gardener proposed, “We have this myth that the only way to learn something is to read it in a textbook or hear a lecture on it. And the only way to show that we’ve understood something is to take a short-answer test with an essay question thrown in. But that’s nonsense. Everything can be taught in more than one way,” 

 

This theory became very popular with educators and parents because it reflected the reality of what we see everyday. One child isn’t “smarter” than the other, they are just smarter in different ways. 

 

The eight different kinds of intelligence are:

  1. Visual-spatial intelligence (puzzles, art, diorama)
  2. Linguistic-verbal intelligence (reading, big vocabulary, accents and languages, verbal humor)
  3. Mathematical intelligence (intangible math inside the head, logic puzzles)
  4. Kinesthetic intelligence 
  5. Musical intelligence
  6. Interpersonal intelligence (empathy, charm, manipulation)
  7. Intrapersonal intelligence (self awareness, quiet confidence)
  8. Naturalistic intelligence (keenly aware of patterns in the environment, high empathy with animals)

 

When it comes to your kindergartener’s disinterest in online learning, Demmari, I would propose that he has strong kinesthetic intelligence or is too young and developmentally not ready for online learning or both. 

Young children gravitate towards things that naturally help them learn. If these Zoom calls were a good way for him to learn, he would enjoy them. 

I’m primarily an interpersonal learner. I learn best by talking and collaborating with others. If I had a strong personal relationship with my teacher, seeing her on Zoom would be highly motivating for me. But put me in front of a computer or text book alone, and I will struggle to understand the lessons being taught. FOR SURE I would lie and say I read the chapter just so I could go to a study group and learn alongside my friends.

My husband could not learn his multiplication tables until his mom put them to music. The numbers didn’t mean anything to him until they were associated with a note on the piano.  As a kid, would my husband have lied to get out of doing math worksheets? He still does!  It’s May and I’m still waiting for him to finish his portion of our taxes. 

Everyone lies to avoid doing things they don’t want to do. How many times have you said that you had plans in order to avoid an unappealing social invitation?  I hear myself say that I’m too tired to exercise, even though I know exercise boosts my energy. I suggest viewing the lying as his way of communicating how much he dislikes Zoom and worksheets. 

At school, teachers try to have lessons that appeal to all learners, but it’s difficult to meet everyone’s needs. At home, it’s much easier to cater to the individual learning style of your kiddo. 

There are many ways to accomplish the SKILL the teacher wants him to develop.

  • If the teacher wants him to write so he can practice the skill of communicating ideas, your son can dictate his thoughts to you or tell a story on video. 
  • If the skill is to practice the fine motor formation of letters, he can draw in mud, shaving cream, sand, Play-doh, sidewalk chalk, or mustard on a sandwich. 
  • To practice phonetics and word sounds, he can jump rope while you sing a rhyming song, or play a rhyming game. He can bounce a ball for every letter in a word and practice sounding it out. 

There are many ways to teach the skills needed and your son is showing you what he likes and how he learns best. Without the social elements of school to motivate him, keep it easy on yourself and try to incorporate skills into the things he already enjoys doing. It’s more important that he ENJOYS learning. Follow his lead, keep it playful and fun, and remember that everything he’s doing naturally is growing his brain and capacity for learning. 

 

Life Coaching Answer: Your inner people pleasing rule follower. 

What gets in the way of following your kid’s lead and trusting that the things your kid naturally wants to do are enough? Being a people pleasing rule follower. 

I’m going to guess that inside this momma there is a formula for success: “Do what you are told, and all will be well.” This “rule-following” comes naturally to her and has served her well. If MOM was to disregard instructions, ignore the teacher, not turn in her assignment, this would be extremely uncomfortable for her! NOT doing what she’s told would be ignoring her inner compass. Just as worksheets and Zoom calls go against her son’s inner compass!

The key here is to let mom be mom, and kid be kid. If mom wants to show the teacher she is an obedient rule follower, she can log him in everyday, but let him walk away when he gets bored. Mom can communicate with the teacher the skills he is working on like cooking, gardening, and building. Mom can create an environment conducive to her son participating in school assignments, but she can’t make him learn. 

The scary part is that mom may need to advocate for her son by contradicting the teacher’s requests. 

I am a rule following people pleaser and I had to do this when my daughter was in first grade and it was TERRIFYING. I had to tell this very kind teacher that I was taking my daughter off homework. She was crying everyday after school and stressing herself out. I was a reading specialist and I knew that the best way to sabotage a kid’s success in school, was to teach them hate reading. My daughter has a very strong will, so when she disliked something, everyone knew it. When I tried to read her stories before bed she would chuck the book across the room. When we’d walk into a library for my son (who loved books), she would start screaming until I took her outside. I KNEW that taking my daughter off homework was the right thing to do but it was still scary to tell the teacher I would be purposefully disobeying her. 

When the teacher asked about doing homework in second grade? I said, I would deal with that when I got there. All I knew was that it was more important to me that my daughter liked school and learned to like reading. She was so exhausted trying to do everything right at school, that she needed recuperation time at home to do her own things and listen to her own ideas inside her own head.

Everyone says kids are our greatest teachers. I think the best learning comes from kids that trigger us and force us to grow sides of ourselves that we didn’t know we had inside us. Raising kids who are different from ourselves gives us the opportunity to become stronger, more compassionate versions of ourselves. 

 

Today’s Supermom Kryptonite:  Listening to outside authority.

There’s nothing wrong with looking for answers outside of ourselves, unless we do it as a substitute for trusting our own gut. It’s easy to get stuck in a tailspin of advice: all coming from different people, all making sense, but all contradicting each other. 

When you go looking outside yourself for answers, only adopt them if they align with your values and what you know to be true from your personal experience. 

To help out a fellow rule follower who likes to do what is expected of her, I’ve compiled wisdom from teachers I admire and respect. I shared Demmari’s  question with them and took excerpts from their answers that aligned with my personal philosophy so she can get non-contradictory advice from more than one expert. 

A word of wisdom from Ms. Twomey

“His age group is not able to focus on Zoom or even understand what it is or why they have to do it. I would advise that mom take the skill highlighted in the worksheet and incorporate it through play or one of the cooking projects she does. By March, in Kinder, almost the entire curriculum has been taught and it’s just practice from here. I would completely forgo the Zoom and the worksheets, and just read, practice handwriting, do some mental math and play, play, play.”

Here’s what Ms. Rodezno has to say: 

Conscientious parents will try to have their kids do EVERYTHING the teacher gives because they are worried their kids will fall behind. More important than completing all the teacher’s assignments is to build and strengthen the parent/child relationship. It would be good for the parent to use this time to let the child explore other interests: cook together, dig holes in the garden, get dirty and build things. The academics will be there when he goes back to school. 

Advice from Miss Young: 

“Kindergarteners should not be doing more than an hour of work a day. Smaller chunks of work time would be best, 10-15 minutes at the most, followed by one of the activities he’d rather do like building or helping cook.

Focus on what your son is interested in. All the activities you mentioned he gravitates towards are great for his development and learning. School is supposed to be social, focused on play and learning, not just from the teacher but their peers, too. So much of what we do in the classroom cannot be transferred to an online platform.”

 

Supermom PowerBoost – Task Management

Today’s power boost comes from Mrs. Densmore-Thomas. She says, “It sounds like Demmari’s kid is looking for some control and wants to do age appropriate things. Worksheets don’t fit that bill.” 

She suggests a simple project management system using sticky notes. You write the tasks on Post-It’s, and he moves them from “to-do” to “doing” to “done”.  Kinesthetically and visually he can see that he is accomplishing tasks.

To-do lists aren’t very pretty. By making it physical and colorful, you are appealing to kinesthetic and visual-spatial learners. 

Having a simple system to track tasks is great for any age. If you’ve got a middle schooleror high schooler who gets overwhelmed with assignments, using a visually appealing, simple system to track what they have and haven’t accomplished is super helpful. 

We like a sense of accomplishment because it gives the brain a little hit of dopamine. This dopamine is the reward center of our brain and keeps us coming back for more. Which means the more dopamine your son produces from school related projects, the more he will want to DO school related projects. 

 

Quote of the Day:

“Until now, most schools in most cultures have stressed a certain combination of linguistic and logical intelligences. Beyond question that combination is important for mastering the agenda of school, but we have gone too far in ignoring the other intelligences. By minimizing the importance of other intelligences within and outside of schools, we consign many students who fail to exhibit the “proper” blend to the belief that they are stupid, and we do not take advantage of ways in which multiple intelligences can be exploited to further the goals of school and the broader culture.”

Howard Gardner in The Unschooled Mind: How Children think and How Schools should teach.

Stress Eating with Kwavi Abeygaye

Episode #70 Stress Eating under lockdown with Kwavi Agbeyegbe

Question of the Day:

“I AM DOING BOOTCAMP-RUNNING AND HIIT- EXERCISES ON MY TREADMILL-EXERCISING WAY MORE THAN I DID WHEN I WAS TEACHING 1ST GRADE FULL TIME BUT I AM STILL GAINING WEIGHT. 

I EAT HEALTHY BUT WHEN I TRY TO FOLLOW WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING TO LOSE WEIGHT AND FOCUSING TOOOOOO MUCH ON FOOD, I AM EATING MORE. 

Torie asks: When you eat and you aren’t hungry, can you identify the emotion you are trying not to feel? 

“ANXIOUS, NERVOUS, I THINK ‘AM I DOING ENOUGH AS A TEACHER?-WAIT I SHOULD BE DOING MORE VIDEOS, TEACHING ONLINE, ETC.” ARE MY OWN KIDS DOING THEIR WORK? I NEED TO CHECK IN WITH ELDERLY GRANDPARENTS. UGH I FEEL TOO HEAVY TO WEAR SHORTS. UGH…..STRESS BASICALLY IN A NUTSHELL.”

 

Here to help me answer today’s question is Kwavi Agbeyegbe:

 

Kwavi is a Weight Loss Coach and Retreat Creator that helps successful women manage their health, mindset and waistlines so that they can shine and thrive.

If you want to dream about traveling to some luxurious places while under quarantine, check out her retreats. The Simply Vibrant Life, is an empowering, educational and fun retreat which has been hosted in Thailand, Morocco and Bali. 

At the foundation of her work as a Certified Weight Coach is the belief that there has to be a deep love for oneself, an intimate and positive relationship has to be cultivated. 

Kwavi is a wife and mother to 2 teenage boys. She is a blogger with the Huffington Post and Thrive and has been featured on CBS, NBC, Best Self Magazine and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

 

On this episode we talk about…

Under lockdown, many moms are using foods to reward themselves at the end of a hard day. We can’t go out for a massage or glass of wine with girlfriends so food is the easiest reward to turn to. How do we stop using food to reward ourselves?

 

 

 

 

www.kwavi.com
www.kwavi.com/stop-overating
Instagram – @kwavi_tv
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/kwavitv
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kwavitv

 

 

I can’t stand to watch my family relax

Question of the Day:

Episode #69 – I can’t stand watching my family relax!

“Help, Torie! I have turned into a mom nobody likes being around, including myself. My husband is furloughed, my kids (11 and 13) are doing some sort of half-assed online learning, and I am going NUTS! I cannot STAND to see them relaxing! They should be exercising in order to stay in shape for their sports. They should use this time to learn, grow, explore interests they don’t have time to explore otherwise. My son should be using this time to study, read and get caught up since he struggles academically. At the VERY LEAST, they should be helping me clean the house, work in the yard, learn to cook and do laundry! Watching my family lay around all day is a huge trigger for me. I can’t help but yell, nag, bark orders, clean frantically around them in hopes they pick up on my not-so-subtle hints. I am constantly fuming at their laziness, either internally or externally.

I do have enough perspective to know that this is MY issue. When I have a moment to step out of my fury and observe them, what I see are three happy individuals. They are LOVING this break and genuinely happy to lay around the house doing very little. Why can’t I let my family relax and enjoy this break from their busy lives?”

Melanie

 

Educator Answer:

First, I want you to notice that your family relaxing has triggered your brain to go into fight or flight. When our nervous system goes into fight, flight, or freeze, it’s because our brains think we are in danger.

I talked in a previous episode about the polyvagal theory and comparing our nervous system to a traffic signal. The red light is the freeze state, saved for when our brains perceive high danger. The yellow light is the fight/flight state, worrying, arguing, frantic cleaning are signs of being in this medium fearful state. The green light is our playful and restful state. This is the most desired state to be in, where we want to engage socially with others and we feel calm and peaceful. It sounds like your family is in the green, relaxed state and you are in the yellow state of fight or flight.

The circuits in your brain, Melanie, have connected idleness with danger. The first step in dealing with this situation is to have compassion for yourself. When your kid is scared of monsters under the bed, you show compassion, it’s the same with yourself.

Somewhere in your past, you had an experience where idleness connected with danger. Or as we life coaches like to say, “What fires together, wires together.” Your past experience could be as simple as…..

  • Laying on the couch watching TV as a kid and having your mom walk in and make you get up and do a chore. You learned that every time you relax, something will come along to take it away.
  • Babysitting your younger brother was easy until he got his head stuck in the stair railing and you learned bad things happen when you take time to relax.
  • Your mom had depression and spent hours everyday in bed. You wished she was like other moms, who took their daughters to extra curricular activities and social events. You learned “relaxation” looks an awful lot like depression.
  • You were a mediocre athlete until your coach threatened to kick you off the team. You kicked into the fight/flight response and your performance skyrocketed. You learned to equate relaxation with mediocrity, and anxiety with success.
  • You were an “excitement seeking” extrovert growing up in a family of quiet introverts. You learned that staying at home relaxing was more like imprisonment for your free spirit.

It’s not unusual in our culture to equate relaxing with laziness, and laziness with disrespect and/or failure. Many of us who grew up with the “protestant work ethic” learned that we must EARN our value by doing hard work. Many Supermoms hold the belief that it’s not ok to relax when there is work to be done. Our culture puts

high value on hard work as a path to worthiness.

These beliefs are exhausting because, as humans, we are wired to have ample time to rest and play. Thinking, “I can only rest at the end of the day when I have worked hard enough” is like saying “My value as a person is tied to how much effort I put in.”

But every Supermom I’ve coached who has resistance to relaxation, also secretly craves it.

As Glennon Doyle Melton says in her book Untamed:
“Must be nice.”
“Must be nice to rest in the middle of the damn day.”
“Must be nice to feel worthy of the space you take up on the Earth without hustling to earn it every minute.”
“Must be nice to rest and still feel worthy.”
“I want to be able to rest and still feel worthy, too.”

In order to allow your family to relax without it triggering your fight or flight response, we’ve got to convince your brain that relaxing is safe.

 

Life Coaching Answer:

When a Supermom is afraid of relaxing, we start by connecting with her deepest desire.

There is the anxious part of Melanie’s brain that is saying, “All I want is for them to step up, work harder, move more and do more. I can’t rest until they are stressed like I am.”

But there is another part of her brain, underneath the anxiety that says, “I wish I could relax in the middle of the day and not be afraid. I wish I could be more fun and playful.”

Her deeper desire is to overcome her fear of relaxation. To do this, she needs to find evidence that it’s safe to relax.

If you struggle with permission to relax, try these exercises:

  1. Think about a time in the past where you relaxed, laid around, and still felt like you were being true to yourself.
  2. Remember the last time you caught yourself staring into space for a few minutes. Did anything bad happen or did life continue normally?
  3. Think of a mom you admire and ask her if she ever relaxes in the middle of the day. Ask her if anything bad happened when she did it.
  4. Think of an accident that happened in the last few years: your child got hurt, the dog got out, you started a grease fire in your kitchen. Were you relaxing at the time? Did your relaxed state CAUSE the accident?
  5. Write a list of the benefits of relaxation: improved immune system, better sleep, more creative ideas, improved memory, etc.

The brain likes concrete evidence if it’s going to entertain an alternative thought like, “Relaxing is safe and good for me.” Once your logical brain is on board, decide to make learning to relax without stress your “Coronagoal”. Repeat to yourself, “I want to learn how to relax without being afraid.”

Then, try some exposure therapy. When someone is afraid of elevators, spiders, or airplanes, therapists are taught to help clients by using exposure therapy. Exposure therapy slowly and gently exposes a client to the feared object or experience, while keeping the brain in a relaxed state of social engagement.

Imagine sitting in the sun for one minute without guilt or pressure. Then set the timer and do it easily with no pressure. The next day, try watching TV for two minutes. Focusing on your breath will keep your brain calm and relaxed. If you start getting anxious, back WAY up and make the step much smaller.

I know it seems like kids laying around the house being lazy is the bigger problem, but you can’t motivate or inspire positive action from a fearful emotion. It will cloud every interaction you have with them. Focus on yourself first. Learn to shift into playful social engagement any time of day. Then, when your family sees you HAPPILY “shifting from yellow to green,” you will be more likely to inspire them to emulate you.

Supermom Kryptonite – Trying to do exercise you don’t enjoy.

This lockdown is such an excellent time to learn about ourselves. If you ever heard yourself say, “I would exercise more if I had more time,” you may now be realizing that this just isn’t true.

Every BODY likes exercise. If you hear yourself say, “I don’t like exercising”, it may feel true inside your head, but your body will disagree with you. What keeps us exercising on a regular basis is finding the movement that brings the most JOY.

Some people enjoy competition and camaraderie but get bored when they exercise solo.
Some people enjoy gentle stretching, dancing, or gardening.
Some people enjoy repetitive movements like biking, running, walking.
Some people enjoy recreational play like frisbee, spikeball, horseback riding, or flying kites.
Some people love a good sweat and intense workout.

Be sure not to lock yourself into a singular definition of exercise for you or your kids. Let everyone in your family seek out the activities they truly enjoy. When you love what you are doing, it’s easy to build a habit of physical fitness that will last a lifetime.

 

Supermom Power Boost: Social Distancing Outdoor Games

Many states have opened up restrictions on certain outdoor activities. With beautiful spring weather, it’s a great time to get outdoors. While playgrounds and group sports are still discouraged, here are some games that follow social distancing guidelines. Your kids can get together with their friends, cousins, or neighbors. You can meet up with another family and play them on open fields, neighborhood streets or empty sport courts.

  • Speedminton – like badminton, but with a weighted birdie and heavier rackets. The shuttlecock flies farther forcing social distancing.

 

  • Bocce ball or classic corn hole if you make sure to only touch your own balls or beanbags.

 

  • Wear one glove to pick up the shared ball and play tennis or pickleball.

  • Ever wanted to pick up golf? Now is the perfect time as golf courses start opening back up.

 

  • Classic frisbee or Kan Jam. Just make sure to wear gloves and/or wash hands after touching the shared frisbee.

 

Get a boost of energy by enjoying some spring weather and playing outdoor games, with friends and families.

 

Quote of the Day:

“A woman becomes a responsible parent when she stops being an obedient daughter. When she finally understands that she is creating something different from what her parents created.” Glennon Doyle Melton

My teens won’t hang out with me

Episode 68 – “My teens won’t hang out with me” with parenting teens coach, Allie Irwin.

Does it seem like your teens don’t want to have any fun?

Do you feel rejected because they won’t play with you?

Listen as life coach and host of the Parenting Successful Teens podcast, Allie Irwin, coaches Torie on surviving lockdown with two teenagers who won’t play with her.

Allie Irwin is a life coach for teens and their parents, helping you give your teenagers the skills they’ll need to be successful in life – how to get along with people, take responsibility, work hard, ask for help, and more. Allie pulls from rigorous training in body language, personality science, lie detection, and life coaching to offer parenting strategies for keeping teens on track. With humor and hard science, she helps make the teen years a good time for all.

Torie says:

I thought I would take advantage of having Allie on the podcast to coach me on feeling rejected by my teenagers. Being a natural extrovert, this “stay at home” order has been hard for me. I was already working from home and love what I do, but when I want to have some fun on the weekends, my family members are the most convenient companions. I get jealous when I see other families going biking or hiking together. I’ve always  liked playing games with my kids or watching shows, but they wont do anything fun with me. They would rather stay in their rooms, talking to their friends over the internet.

Logically I get it. I know it’s developmentally normal and healthy for teens to want to hang out with their friends instead of their mom, but I don’t like feeling rejected on a daily basis. What happened during this coaching call really surprised me. 

 

Why am I so unproductive and lazy?

Episode #67- I’m not making the most of this time.

 

Dear Torie, 

I’m struggling during this Coronavirus quarantine and I don’t know why. In some ways it’s a dream come true! I’m getting paid the same while having reduced work hours, less responsibility, and no commute. The first week or two, I really enjoyed it. I got to have stress-free time with my kids, less rushing around, and no guilt. I’m doing the same things during week three, but it’s not feeling good anymore. I see people posting pictures of their newly planted gardens, cleaned closets, and creative homeschool projects and I feel like I’m not making the most of my time. I want to be grateful for this break and look back on this time and feel proud of what I accomplished, but right now I just feel lazy. How can I get myself unstuck and off the couch? I really want to feel productive again. Lauren

 

Parent Educator Answer: Let’s talk about The Polyvagal Theory. 

Polyvagal Theory is a new way to look at the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system involves your heart rate, breathing, digestion; things that are automatic. The job of this autonomic nervous system is to keep you alive. 

Neuroception is the way the we perceive our environment. Our brains are constantly evaluating whether people and situations are safe or dangerous. When you meet someone, your body decides if you like them or not before your brain does. Neuroception is what interprets your child’s behavior as disrespectful or typical. When you ask your kid to turn off the video game and he ignores you, your neuroception may interpret his behavior as “disrespectful, sending your nervous system into fight-or-flight.

We can, however, get neuroception wrong and it can have detrimental effects. Our bodies have a bias to seeing danger when there is no danger. Anxiety is indicative of an overactive neuroception system. If you or your kids have anxiety, it’s because you are perceiving danger when there isn’t any. 

Think of the nervous system as having three states like a traffic light. If you feel a situation is safe, the green light goes on. If you feel unsafe, the yellow light goes on. If you feel REALLY unsafe, the red light goes on. Your body changes based on how safe you feel. 

What does this have to do with Lauren’s feeling of being lazy and unproductive? What she describes in her question shows me her red light is shining. It sounds like her nervous system is in the freeze state.

The Green Light is “Social Engagement.” It’s where we feel safe and rested. In this state, we have increased facial expressions, increased eye contact, a lilting voice, our heart rate slows down. The social engagement state helps us be near our children without wanting to kill them. 

The Yellow Light is the fight-or-flight state. Our nervous system is expecting danger. This involves flat facial affect, heart rate increase, mis-reading facial expressions and misinterpreting the behaviors of others. When your kids aren’t doing their school work, your brain sees this certain future failure for both you and your kids. When your teen spends all day watching netflix in bed, your neuroception thinks he’s ruining his life and will have healthy relationships or a good work ethic. 

If you’ve ever watched your young kids playing sports, you can see kids in the green, social engagement state running around and having fun, while parents in yellow fight-or-flight mode yell at them to get their head in the game and focus on stealing the ball. 

The Red Light is the most debilitating. This freeze state implies certain danger. It’s the most primitive part of your brain. It causes your system to freeze, shut down, and play dead. From this state you can act friendly, but you don’t feel friendly because you don’t feel safe. You get cloudy thinking, difficulty concentrating, and slow movements if any at all. Tasks seem monumental. Your nervous system has taken over. It doesn’t ask for permission, it just does it. It’s not your fault. Your body is getting physical rest, but you don’t feel rested because you are dissociating from fear. 

Healthy humans bounce between green and yellow with ease. The reason play is so important for kids is it teaches them to glide between these states. When we move from red to yellow to green, we create resilience. 

My hunch is that Lauren’s red light is on and she is stuck in the freeze response. 

 

 

Life Coaching Answer:

What I see in Lauren’s question is a whole lot of judgement and pressure.

“Everyone else is doing better than me”

“I want to make the most of this time”

“I should be grateful”

“I feel lazy”

She could be in the fearful freeze state because of Coronavirus, too, but FOR SURE she is scared because she has a very mean drill sergeant inside her head ready to beat her up for not living up to some perfectionistic quarantine expectations. 

The first step is to recognize that her nervous system is not letting her do anything. This is a natural reaction to a hostile environment. When you believe you are in danger of getting beat up by your inner drill sergeant, the most important step is to seek safety. Make sure to make time for curling up on the couch with a good book, sitting by the fire petting the dog, taking a bath, or walking in nature. Whatever feels like safety, comfort, and joy is the first thing to do. But The trick is to do it WITHOUT GUILT OR PRESSURE. Right now, her inaction isn’t restful because she has too much fear, guilt, and pressure. How long can you enjoy restful sensory pleasures without guilt? Can you do 5 minutes a day? Then start there. 

The second step is to get her body moving. Instead of trying to shift from red straight to green, get into yellow first. Deliberately moving your body can activate the fight-or-flight or response. Wiggle your fingers and toes, run around the block, punch a pillow, or dance it out. If you’ve ever seen an animal in the wild go into the freeze response, the first thing they do is run and shake like crazy. It’s easier to feel rested after the physical exertion of running. So for Lauren, it’s time she embraced the fear and found an activity to move her into the yellow, fight-or-flight state. 

We don’t want her hanging out in the fight-or-flight fear state. To spend too much time here will compromise your immune system, rob you of creativity, patience and joy. We just want to be able to move through the yellow into the green, rest-and-digest state of social engagement. From here, we view our world as a friendly one. We don’t take our kids misbehavior personally. We have access to our calm and resourceful higher brain that connects to our values and desires.

 

The third step would be to deliberately take deep breaths with long, slow exhales. This is one part of this autonomic nervous system we have control over. How we breathe can shift our nervous system into a green, relaxed state. Doing yoga, chanting, tai chi and breathing meditations are wonderful for helping us shift into social engagement. This is the state your higher self yearns for, where we can find amusement, creative problem solving, and have more fun. 

Once she is calm, we can start working on these pressurizing thoughts coming from her inner Drill Sargent. Our culture has really bought into the idea that productivity is the key to a successful life. When you’ve got the whole globe slowing down this ideology that if “I’m not producing, I have no value,” has got to go. The idea that we are “good” if we work hard and that play is a luxury has cost us a nation of overwhelmed moms and anxious teens. IT’S TIME TO TAKE OFF THE PRESSURE!

The goal is to move freely and fluidly into and out of the yellow and green states, saving red for the most dangerous and severe real life circumstances. We aren’t taught how to do this so we get stuck. 

Play is the tool we need to move our nervous system from green to yellow and back again.

 

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Thinking play is a luxury.

I hear clients say it all the time:

“I need to be more productive.”

“I have to get it done.”

“If you are well enough to lean, you are well enough to clean.”

“I should be getting up early to workout.”

“I can’t play until all my work is done and the kids are happy.”

This culture we have been indoctrinated into makes it seem like play is a luxury reserved for the unique individuals who ever get through every item on their to do list. This belief causes us to lose our resiliency and to perceive danger when there isn’t any. 

Play is the cornerstone to a healthy nervous system, immune system, and good emotional and mental health. It’s also important for building healthy social relationships. In Play, one of my favorite non-fiction books, Dr. Stuart Brown defines play as having these qualities: “Stepping out of normal routine, finding novelty, being open to serendipity, enjoying the unexpected, and finding pleasure in the heightened vividness of life.”

This is a tough state to get into when you are afraid, so we want to find easy, gentle ways to get play back into your life. If you have resistance to play and rest, start small by making work more fun. Watch Netflix while brushing your teeth. Play music while cooking. Find one thing you can do with your kids that feels like play to both of you. Reading books, playing cards, building block towers will feel like productive mothering. Work your way into sensory activities that are good for the soul but have no practical purpose or goal. The more you start to incorporate play into your life, the less likely you are to get stuck in fight, flight, or freeze. 

 

 

Power Boost –  Invoke the FIGHT response

 

If you’ve got rambunctious kids at home who are getting stir crazy, these are the perfect energy releasing activities for them, and energy boosting activities for moms stuck in fight, flight, or freeze. 

The easiest thing you can do is lay on the floor and let your kids come pounce on you: wrestle, roll around, pin them down, squish them with your body. 

Take wet washcloths and throw them hard onto the ground. Even better if you can get up higher on a ladder or balcony.

Pull a mattress off a kid’s bed and put it in the living room and watch your children go at it like wild puppies. 

Blow up balloons and on them or squeeze it between your arms or legs until they pop. 

Stomp on cardboard boxes or aluminum cans.

Howl like coyotes.

Have a contest to see who can throw a plastic fork onto the lawn the farthest. 

My kids have survived sliding down the stairs on snow saucers by putting pillows and pads at the bottom

Dragging each other from room to room on blankets or by foot. 

Hang them upside down by their ankles

Everyone puts on Dad’s clothes and shoves pillows under the shirts and bumps tummies like sumo wrestlers. 

Let them cling to your ankles and try to walk on hard floors while dragging them. 

Rip and tear old phone books, newspapers or magazines. Make a HUGE mess on the floor then have the kids sweep up after. 

 

Not only is roughhousing and physical play good for stressed out moms, it stimulates neural growth in the brain responsible for memory, learning, language, and logic. When I worked as an intervention teacher for kids delayed in reading and math, we always started with gross motor skills. Kids learn to read much easier once the corpus callosum is closed, connecting the two hemispheres of the brain. The activities that get the two hemispheres of the brain to talk to each other are things like swinging, spinning, hanging upside down, balancing, bouncing and catching balls, jumping on trampolines, riding bikes, and roughhousing. Pretty much everything kids under 7 naturally gravitate toward. 

As you find fun ways to move your body and work up a sweat, make sure NOT turn this play into a pressure filled activity that you “should” be doing. 

 

Quote of the Day: “I have found that remembering what play is all about and making it part of our daily lives are probably the most important factors in being a fulfilled human being. The ability to play is critical not only to being happy, but also to sustaining social relationships and being a creative, innovative person.” Dr. Stuart Brown

Stages of quarantine-mom-burnout

Stages of Quarantine Mom Burnout

Episode #66

 

Stage #1 Denial – This won’t last long or This is going to be GREAT!  I’ll clean out the basement, plant a garden, repaint the kid’s rooms, do some yoga videos, it’s going to be GREAT!

 

Stage #2 Life Simplified – There is some adjustment but overall, it’s been good. The kids are sad, missing friends, but settling into the new routine. There is time for family dinners, game nights, movies. Overall stress level is reduced. For the first time in years, you are getting 8 hours of sleep and have time for puzzles and baking. 

 

Stage #3 – Self Care Where? – You can’t remember the last time you looked in a mirror and it shows. No one knows what day it is. You get through the day on coffee, fruit snacks and mac n cheese. You feel numb. The kids are happy but the self care is lagging and you are starting to turn to your vices: alcohol, food, worrying, scrolling on your phone or obsessing about the number of covid cases. 

 

Stage #4 – Chronically Cranky. The kids zoom calls and google classrooms are a headache. The constant cooking and cleaning up is going to cause you to blow your top. You are snappy and impatient with your kids, making you feel like a bad mom. Your house is impossible to keep clean and you are pretty sure it’s your husband’s fault. You get annoyed easily and yearn to escape the prison of motherhood. You are doing everything right on the outside, but it doesn’t feel good on the inside. 

 

Stage #5 – Supermom Burnout. You go through the motions of your day without feeling fully alive. On the rare occasion someone asks you what you want, you cannot find the answer. You have disconnected from your spirit and don’t know how to feel like you again. You may try self medicating with over-eating or over-drinking or be prone to crying fits, recurring illness or chronic pain. You may struggle to get out bed at all. It’s best to seek help before this stage. 

The best time to come to sign up for the Supermom is Getting Tired life coaching program is when you find yourself in stage #3 or #4. Certainly, life coaching is helpful during stage #5 but you may require more intervention and it may take longer to get you where you want to be.

This Coronavirus quarantine is the perfect time to go through the Supermom is Getting Tired 12 week coaching program. It will interrupt the negative pattern and get you aligned with your higher self. 

There is nothing worse than feeling like you are out of alignment with your own values. When you know you are capable of more, meant for more, and you stay stuck, this self-betrayal feels awful. Nobody wants to be snappy and yell at their kids. Nobody wants to feel like their kids, boss, or messy house has control over them. 

We want to feel loving towards our families, not annoyed by them. We want to have a close relationship with our kids as they grow but we can’t unless we have a close relationship with our higher selves. 

When clients go through my coaching program, they connect with their deepest desires. That part of them that believes they are good enough as they are. The Supermom is Getting Tired Coaching program moves you from the constant struggle to “to do more and be better”  to a deep contentment that all is well. If you are ready to let go of the effort and struggle so you can focus on how much you love your family, schedule your free discovery call today. 

Go to www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

Here’s what to expect from life coaching:

Step One – Relief! You start feeling better right away! 

Moms put so much pressure on themselves, but this pressure is invisible and very familiar, so it’s difficult to remove it without the help of a life coach. During our coaching sessions, we will release fear, anxiety, perfectionism, guilt, or whatever your biggest obstacles are to peace. You’ll still slip back into old patterns but you will stop beating yourself up for it. You start having compassion for yourself, you give yourself permission to make mistakes and be ok with it. You feel like yourself again: present, patient and at peace. 

 

Step Two – Stepping into your power

As you regain a sense of peace and control over your life, you’ll notice you aren’t so snappy and reactive with your kids. Your house may look the same, but it doesn’t bother you anymore. You handle parenting issues with calm and confidence, not every time, but you don’t beat yourself up about it. As you bring your attention back to self care, the self-sabotaging behaviors you felt guilty about go away. When you lay your head down at night, you feel satisfied and proud of your accomplishments. This stage is about stepping into your power and recognizing how much ability you actually have to affect change.

 

Step Three – Excited about your future!

You’ve implemented self care and parenting practices that keep you feeling peaceful and joyful. With so much more creative energy, you start to dream about your future. You start thinking about ways to have more fun, pursue your interests, and take on career challenges that you were too tired to think about before. Whether it’s organizing your home, asking for a promotion, taking a writing class or going on family hikes every weekend, your life becomes more aligned with your values and who you want to be. You realize the world is yours to create however you see fit. Life feels friendly, supportive and fun.

 

If you are feeling fearful, anxious or worried, it is so important to address it and learn the process of releasing these fears.

If you are stage #3, #4, and especially #5 now is the PERFECT time to sign up for the Supermom is Getting Tired, 12 week coaching program. It is life changing and will give you the tools you need to improve any area of your life.

Now is the perfect time. Are you ready? Go to www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me