Episode 38 – Time Anxiety
“From dawn to dusk, I am working. Constantly rushing from one activity to another. Getting the kids out the door and me to work. In the afternoons, I’m running to get them to soccer, buying groceries, taking phone calls, checking emails. By the time my kids are in bed, I’m exhausted. All I can do is zone out in front of the TV.
I’m sure this sounds typical, like every other working mom, but my problem is…I feel like it’s not enough.
I work 14 HOURS A DAY, and then get annoyed with myself for “wasting time” at night.
The constant pressure and stress about being late and feeling like there is never enough time, is too much. Even on the weekends it is difficult for me to relax.
This may be typical, but it’s starting to affect my sleep and my ability to enjoy my life. I see my son starting to stress out about being late and I don’t want to pass this on to him. How can I shake this feeling that whatever I do, it’s never enough?” -Amy
It sounds like what you have is “Time Anxiety”. Time Anxiety shows up in 3 ways:
Current Time Anxiety
The daily feeling of being rushed. Fear of being late and disappointing someone. Fear of being early and wasting time. This panicky and overwhelmed feeling comes from trying to control something we have no control over. We think this makes us responsible, productive and reliable but it really just causes us to feel stressed and anxious. The underlying belief is that we must maximize our time or we are doing it wrong.
Future Time Anxiety
Worrying about what could happen in the future. These moms struggle to feel contentment in the moment for fear that “the other shoe will drop”. If I take a day to relax, more work will pile up. We love our kids so much we start imagining something bad happening to them or how we’ll cope when they move out of the house.
We are so afraid of feeling a negative emotion in the future (regret, sadness, loneliness) that we start practicing it now. The underlying belief is that being afraid of the future will somehow alleviate our suffering once the future arrives.
Existential Time Anxiety
The sense of time slipping away and our existence, as we knew it, ending. This can show up as a fear of death but also a fear of losing our looks, our youth, or our kids. Moms can also fear losing opportunities to get back into the workforce, switch career paths, try new things, take risks, etc. The underlying belief is that time is running out.
Parent Education Answer
Overcoming time anxiety is difficult because it shows up is so many areas of life! The best answer to how to reduce your stress around time, is to work with a life coach or therapist who has experience with time anxiety.
Step One – Accepting
Time stresses us out because we don’t have control over it and we think we should. Accepting that the passage of time is outside of our control and letting go of our fears is step one.
I had a lot of time anxiety before I found life coaching.
My biggest triggers were fear of wasting time, not getting enough done, and being late. I remember driving with my kids in the car and being so upset with myself for not leaving sooner, for taking the slower route, for not checking traffic.
I was beating myself up, in front of my kids. My oldest was already showing signs of perfectionism: not trying new things if he couldn’t be good right away, throwing fits if he lost a game, etc.
The lightbulb went on for me on this drive. I realized my kids were picking up on my habits and I didn’t like it. From that day on, I have learned to forgive myself when I’m late. It’s as though I believed stressing about being late made be a better person. If I was flustered, remorseful and apologetic, they wouldn’t think poorly of me.
I was so worried they would think I was disrespecting them, and it bothered me that I couldn’t control their perception of me, so I just disrespected myself.
Step Two – Undoing Fearful Thoughts
Undoing our fearful thoughts is step two. But if I tell you to stop thinking about how much time you have left here on earth, how you are going to regret wasting time and to relax around being late, suddenly time is all you can think about. You need someone else, outside your brain, to help you dissolve the thoughts that are making you anxious.
Letting go of the ILLUSION of control, shrugging your shoulders and saying “oh well, late again”, will make you feel vulnerable. No one likes feeling vulnerable, so we cope by taking control of how we spend our time.
I have a teenage client with time anxiety. Whenever she isn’t studying, she feels guilty and stressed. She struggles to relax, have fun, sleep because she perceives it has a slippery slope to failure. Stress is never the ticket to success, it’s just the ticket to more stress. Working hard with enthusiasm, joy, passion and love are much more effective emotions to work from.
Step Three – Overcoming Time Anxiety
The third step to overcoming time anxiety is to take a look at the thoughts you are thinking whenever you are stressed, and get clear on your VALUES.
What is most important to you in this life?
How do you define a successful day?
What emotion do you want to be rooted in while driving kids to soccer?
How will you know when the cost of the activity outweighs the benefit?
How do you want to feel in the mornings before school?
You really do have a choice and committing to your values, instead of your fearful thinking, will help you feel better.
Life Coaching Answer –
What gets in our way from:
- accepting the things we cannot control?
- dissolving negative thinking?
- committing to our values?
When we are scared, our brains think there is a REAL EMERGENCY. We don’t have time to look within and uncover our fearful thoughts and values!
Our sympathetic nervous system gets activated: hearts start racing, blood rushes to our extremities, body is tense, jittery and ready for action. This is not the time to try to analyze your thoughts and think about your values! Your brain thinks it’s going to die!
In order to overcome time anxiety, you’ll need to take a look at your thoughts in your brain when you are relaxed and safe.
If your anxiety is bleeding into nights and weekends, you may never have a time you feel relaxed and safe. If you did, the last thing you want to think about it is the stuff that triggers your anxiety!
Anxiety likes to stay hidden. It doesn’t want you to talk about it! So it will say things like,
“It’s not that bad.
“I’m no different than anyone else.”
“How is talking going to help?”
“I don’t have the money to hire someone.” or, the classic
“I don’t have time to deal with it!”
These all will feel true but it’s really just fear. Your brain will think talking about the anxiety will make it worse, but it won’t. We live in stressful times, in a stressed out country and learning to manage your fearful brain is SO important and worthwhile.
Supermom Kryptonite – Scarcity
Scarcity is an incredible motivator. When kids think there isn’t enough of mom’s attention to go around, they will fight and scream for it. When we plan to start a diet on Monday, we’ll eat extra calories on Sunday. You can use scarcity to your advantage but make sure you are using it, don’t let it use you.
I’m running out of time will always stress you out. Try switching it to, “I have plenty of time”.
Or use scarcity thinking to help you slow down and enjoy the moment. “I don’t want to miss these precious moments with my kids” can bring your attention to the present and out of future/past thinking. Being in the present moment always feels better.
Power Boost – “Oh, Well”
I was taking a parenting class specifically geared towards raising kids with “perfectionism, giftedness, and anxiety” and the teacher taught me these two magic words, “Oh Well”.
She said it was important to model using these words often with our kids.
“Your friend doesn’t want to play with you right now?” Oh well.
“You lost the game AGAIN even though you tried your best?” Oh well.
“Your sister is cheating and changing the rules?” Oh well.
But I found these words to be especially helpful for ME and my time anxiety.
“Late again”? Oh well.
“Binge watched an entire season on Netflix?” Oh well.
“Didn’t get anything accomplished today?” Oh well.
Try it out and see if it helps your inner perfectionist calm down and relax a little more.
Quote of the Day:
“Time you enjoyed wasting, was not wasted.” John Lennon
Question of the Day: Stealing, sneaking and lying about it
“Thanks so much for the podcast! I am really enjoying you approach and using it with my kids has helped a lot. My almost 8 year old has been sneaking and lying for a couple of years now.
I used to keep candy around the house but stopped because she would steal it and keep it under her pillow or bring it to school.
She steals little toys from school, toys from her sister and friends, and I even found $40 in her nightstand that she stole from my wallet.
A couple of months ago she took our house keys without asking and lost them–she lied about it at first and then confessed. Nothing I do seems to help.
When I confront her, I tell her to just ask for what she wants. She apologizes and seems remorseful — or maybe worried/scared because she is “in trouble”. I tell her that she’s down a bad path with this habit that could end up with shoplifting and juvenile hall (catastrophizing?).
We have a bit of a personality clash because I am such a rule-follower. She is doing fantastic in school, her teachers rave about her but she does break rules sometimes. I am worried she will steal my jewelry next.
She does have a lot of jealousy over her younger sister and sometimes explodes if she feels that her sister is getting more attention. Please help! Esther
Parent Education Answer:
I want you to take a look at the things your daughter is sneaking: candy, toys, money, keys. She is taking treasures. Things that other people VALUE.
Kids steal things that others value as a way to feel that value inside themselves. For whatever reason, your daughter doesn’t feel treasured and thinks that taking other treasures will help her get this emotion.
The jealousy she has over her sister and the perception that she gets more attention all point to a feeling of unworthiness.
When adults feel unworthy, they often find external ways to feel more valuable. We might go shopping for nice things, shrink ourselves down to conform to society’s definition of beauty, or try to make people like us.
Think about it like this: It’s the end of a rough day, you are just settling in to watch your Netflix show.
The thought, “I have ice cream in the freezer” comes to mind. You promised yourself you wouldn’t snack at night.
Then you see that you don’t like what the scale tells you. You want to eat healthy food. Most of the time you resist the urge but sometimes, you cave. You say to yourself, “I deserve it” “I earned it” and you indulge.
It’s similar to what your daughter is doing. Most of the time, she resists the urge. Occasionally, especially when it’s been a particularly rough day, she gives in to the impulse.
Your daughter is showing you that she doesn’t feel good enough as she is. It’s easy to treat lying, stealing and sneaking as a moral issue but this feels like an emotional issue to me.
If it was a moral issue, she wouldn’t show remorse or try to hide it from you. She knows it’s wrong but she’s still looking for a solution to an internal problem.
Life Coaching Answer: Handling the Sneaking Kid
I love that you caught yourself catastrophizing and futurizing and yes, in a case like this it is SO EASY to do. What makes it hard to address this as an emotional issue and try to fill our daughter up with love, is because of what you are making it mean about her and you. Especially as a self described “rule follower” I can only imagine how awful this must be for you!
Embarrassment is “I did something wrong”. Shame is “I am wrong. I’m a bad person.”
It sounds like you are making your daughters stealing mean something that is causing you shame. Nobody likes feeling shame so we do our best to run away from it. The funny thing about it is as soon as you shine a compassionate light on it, it goes away. It can only live in the dark, when we aren’t acknowledging it’s there.
It’s easy to think: “My daughter is stealing & lying, she’s doing something wrong. She must be a bad person, therefore I must be a bad mother.”
When we believe we aren’t doing it right, and feeling ashamed, we want to stay hidden. We don’t want to ask for help.
The Love Tank
The only way to get her to stop, is to address the root cause. We need to fill up her love tank so it overflows with self worth and value. She needs to know what a treasure she really is.
I would start by taking her to a family therapist who works with children. For whatever reason, the love you’ve been giving her isn’t getting through. She can’t receive it. This is not a reflection on you, just a personality trait.
If she had an allergy, you would take her to an allergist. If she’s showing signs of poor emotional health, she needs a mental health counselor.
Kids are unique when they come into this world with their own paths. Sneaking doesn’t mean she isn’t a bad kid, but she is showing you that she needs inside help.
Understanding the Love Language
The second thing I would do is to understand her love language. There are a handful of books written about this concept that people give and receive love in different ways. The 5 love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, affection.
You might be giving your daughter words of affirmation, telling her how much you love her, but it’s not getting through because it isn’t her love language.
Perhaps hers is gifts? Or quality time if she complains about sister getting more attention? Read the book and determine her top two love languages so you can fill up her love tank in ways that she is more likely to receive.
The Urge Jar
The third thing I suggest is an urge jar. My life coaching teacher Brooke Castillo came up with this concept for her weight loss clients who were learning to resist an urge to overeat. I think this could work with your sneaking 8 year old.
Many teachers keep a marble jar on their desk and when kids behave, they put marbles in the jar. This works similarly only every time you resist an urge, you put a marble in a jar. There is something so satisfying about the clanking sound and watching it slowly fill up.
My hunch is that there are many times when your daughter feels bad about herself and DOESN’T steal, sneak or lie. Let’s reward those times by putting a marble in the jar every time she resists the urge to take something!
You can tell her that the marbles are symbolic of how much love you have for her. When she fills up her marble jar, she gets a reward of some kind.
Supermom Kryptonite – Motivation for Misbehavior
Not understanding a child’s MOTIVATION for misbehavior – such as sneaking – keeps us focused on the behavior. This is frustrating because nothing we try works because we aren’t addressing the root of the problem.
When we can’t understand our child’s behavior, we start catastrophizing, futurizing, making it mean we aren’t doing enough or they are bad kids.
The main motivations for misbehavior are:
- Display of Inadequacy
- Peer Acceptance
When we know our child’s motivation, we can find ways to give them what they want, but on our own terms.
Supermom Power Boost: Finding shades of gray
Many of us think in black and white terms. Stealing is bad, Giving is good. Lying is bad, truth telling is good. I’m either a rule follower or a rule breaker. Often, this black & white thinking ends up biting us in the butt. Try and make room, in your mind and in your vocabulary, for shades of gray.
We are all good moms, who occasionally say things we regret.
There are rules we like which we follow, and ignore ones we don’t.
At times we can be generous at times, and selfish at other times.
We are all kind people, who sometimes say mean things.
Finding the shades of gray, gives you room to be an imperfect human who is also wonderful.
Quote of the Day:
“Inside every child is an ’emotional tank’, waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally but when the love tank is empty, he will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior in children is motivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank'”. Gary Chapman
Ep 36 – Grumpy Kid After School
“Everyday after school, I feel like I’m walking on egg shells around my son. He’s 7 years old and in second grade. After school, the littlest thing can lead to a major meltdown. He says he HATES school and refuses to talk about his day. His teacher says he’s a great kid, learns quickly and follows every rule. When grandparents and friends ask him how he likes school, he shrugs and says, “It’s ok”. With me, however, he claims he HATES IT. It seems like he’s having a hard time coping and I miss my happy summer guy. How can I help him adjust to the stress of a long day in 2nd grade?” Kate
Parent Educator Answer:
The traditional advice when you have a stressed and grumpy kid after school is to start with the basics: food and sleep.
Bring a healthy snack in the car or offer one as soon as they get home.
Going to bed earlier in the evening could work wonders but don’t forget about the beauty of an after school nap.
Both my teenagers took to napping after school when they have time to squeeze one in, it’s not just for pre-schoolers.
Pay attention to what helps your child recuperate the best. Some kids verbally discharge the stress of the day (that doesn’t sound like your boy), some need to physically discharge by going to a park, jumping on a trampoline, or hopping on their bike and riding around the neighborhood.
It can be really difficult for young kids to transition from the structure of school to the freedom of home. It usually helps to have a simple structure to ease the transition. Maybe you can sit at the table, eat a snack and play a game?
When my son was in preschool, I would take him into the backyard and we’d peel and eat an orange. Don’t make it complicated, just a little structure and your calm attention can work wonders.
If you’ve got a cuddler, have him curl up on your lap in a rocking chair. Sing, play music or don’t say a word.
The fact that your kiddo is melting down at home shows you he feels safe and loved enough to express his negative emotions.
Wondering if zoning out on youtube or watching video games count as down time? Watch your child after it’s time to come off.
Does he seem calm, cool and collected or is on the verge of a meltdown? How kids react when screen time ends will tell you if it’s helpful or not.
One more thing, kids cannot learn effectively when they are stressed. Caring for his mental and emotional well being should take precedent over homework, especially if he’s doing fine academically at school!
Feel free to modify or eliminate homework until he is better able to cope with the school day. Studies show there are no academic benefits to kids doing homework, until middle school.
Life Coaching Answer:
What gets in our way from observing our kid and figuring out how he best recuperates from school? Our own stress!
When our child says, “I HATE school!” The first thing we want to do is talk him out of it.
“It’s not that bad, you don’t HATE school.” We want to say.
His statement bothers us. We think we’re doing something wrong if our child hates school.
We want our kid to be positive, optimistic and happy…..every day…..even when he is sitting on hard chairs, listening to a teacher talk inside four walls, dependent on 30 other kids to do what they are supposed to do.
Rather than dismissing this hatred, allow him to feel it. It doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong.
The Emotional Vocabulary
Once you have shown him it’s ok to feel whatever he feels, try expanding on your child’s emotional vocabulary.
Go through the alphabet and every day think of an adjective to describe school that begins with a different letter. School is Atrocious, Boring, Crazy, Demanding, etc.
This shows your child you are listening and validating him, without taking his drama too seriously.
Another thing that gets in our way from being this patient, peaceful, playful parent?
THEIR obnoxious, annoying, explosive, temperamental, selfish behavior!
When our kids are touchy and temperamental, we get touchy and temperamental, too! Emotions are contagious and when they feel stressed, we stress out too.
Be mindful of what you make your child’s behavior mean. If you think “This is terrible and he needs to change right now!” You are going to have an explosive, teary afternoon.
If you think, “I can show him how to relax” or “We are learning what works best for him” it can calm you down and keep you from getting pulled into the drama.
Do Due Diligence
One more thing I see parents getting pulled into is the idea that someone or something at school is CAUSING the stress.
Certainly, do your due diligence and make sure your child is physically and emotionally safe at school.
We hate things because of the thoughts we think in our mind. Our negative thinking, causes us to feel negative emotion, which makes us look externally for some cause of this problem.
It’s easy to find at school because there are so many imperfect teachers teaching imperfect curriculum to imperfect students under the supervision of an imperfect administration.
When we think that someone or something is causing our child to suffer, we get combative. We want to fight for justice. We think our cause is a noble one but it can really ramp up the suffering for ourselves and our child.
Blaming someone for our negative emotions makes us feel powerless. Suddenly, we become dependent on people we don’t even like to make us feel good.
Putting our ability to feel happy in the hands of others will always make us feel helpless and powerless.
Accept that school, teachers, and homework will always be imperfect. Your child gets to decide how he wants to feel about that. If he wants to feel hatred, that’s his choice. You get to decide how you want to feel about the fact that your child hates school.
Take charge of the things you have control over, and accept everything else is as it should be.
Supermom Kryptonite – Jumping down the well
When our children are struggling and suffering, sometimes we try to help by “jumping down the well” with them. It’s as though our child has fallen down a well and is sitting on the bottom calling “Mom, Help, I’ve fallen down a well!”
We spring to action and jump down the well to join them in their misery. Now both mom and child ae sitting at the bottom of the well, miserable. Now you both cry, “Help! It’s dark and cold down here and we can’t get out!”
You think you are helping but you feel worse because you have fallen down the same well. Your child feels better because he isn’t alone but also believes he can’t solve his own problems. You are stuck with solidarity but not solutions.
In order to ACTUALLY help your child, you’ll need to stay above ground. When you are above ground, you can see things from a different perspective.
You can offer suggestions, point out foot holds. You can remind him that there is a world outside the well worth working towards. If you are content with where you are, and believe in his capabilities, soon he will find his way out of the well.
When he does, it be HIS victory.
He gets to be the hero of his story, not you. Plus, he learns the meta skill of how to climb out of a well so when it happens again, he’ll know what to do.
Supermom Powerboost – Delegate
Sometimes our ego gets in the way and we think we should be all things to our kids.
If your child is struggling with the academics of school and taking him off homework isn’t a viable option for you, try delegating this job.
You could hire an educational consultant or tutor. You could hire a high school or college student to help. Grandma, your retired neighbor or someone off Craigslist can be responsible for overseeing your child’s homework.
Make sure your child approves of your choice because their motivation is HUGELY important. They may want older sibling to supervise or choose to Facetime their cousin or friend for help, great!
Watch and observe if your child needs help with the content, motivation, paying attention or just making it more fun, and delegate accordingly.
Quote of the Day:
“We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, a manufacturing model, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people. That being said, we have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture. Also, we have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it’s an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.” Sir Ken Robinson
Question of the Day: Empty Nest
“I feel so strange. My oldest just left for college, my youngest has started her junior year of high school. These are busy and exciting times but I’m nervous about the empty nest. I distracted myself with the busy-ness of college but deep down, I just don’t want to think about what’s next for ME. I’ve had the same job for ages and it’s fine. My marriage and my friendships are fine. My health is fine. Being a mom gave me purpose, adventure and community…..I loved it. But now what? I would like to be excited about the next season of life, but I don’t know how to get there.” Amber
Are you nervous about the empty nest? Go to https://LifeCoachingforParents.com and schedule your free coaching call
Episode 35 – We are being brainwashed:
Do you remember being pregnant and setting up the nursery, folding cute little onesies and socks? The anticipation of this major life event was exciting! We didn’t know what was going to happen. There were risks involved with bringing that baby into the world and keeping it alive. Women gathered around to help us prepare and celebrate this milestone event.
We were warned about the lack of sleep, the poopy diapers, the breastfeeding nightmares, but we didn’t care. We naively walked into this love-filled prison called parenting.
And it sucked!
And it was amazing!
We laughed and we cried.
Argued with our partners.
Lost old friends. We gained new ones.
Why did we think it was exciting instead of terrible?
In a word….HYPE
The media images made it look soft and sweet, lovely and clean. We saw adorable babies and cute little clothes Darling pictures of pastel-coloured nurseries and beautiful pregnant women.
The reality of being pregnant: nausea, swollen feet, stretch marks and peeing on oneself, never made it into these media images.
New moms spend a lot of money and companies want to capture this market so they create a lot of media hype. But we got a lot of hype from friends and family, too.
Everyone around us was excited for us. Telling us to savor the moments and enjoy it all.
Imagine for a minute there was just as much media hype about the empty nest. That every college brochure contained pictures of parents having the time of their lives. Sipping margaritas on the beach, hiking on beautiful mountain trails, enjoying outdoor concerts at wineries under sparkling lights.
Picture friends rallying around you, telling stories of how amazing their first year was. Jealous and excited for you to be saying goodbye to your college student. They agree it’s hard but plead with you to “savor every moment because it goes so fast.” They tell you, “You are going to do great”
Friends and family shower you with gifts. These gifts don’t add clutter to your home (moms at this stage don’t need more things), these gifts are experiences: An Italian cooking class, a bioluminescent kayaking tour, a road trip to explore the national parks, an intuitive painting class. Your presents are all about fun, friends and freedom.
I think it’s time we start creating some HYPE around the empty nest.
If the dominant emotion about becoming a mom is LOVE. The dominant message about the empty nest would be FREEDOM.
The beautiful (and terrifying) thing about this stage of life is there ISN’T strong external pressure telling you what it should and shouldn’t look
like. Whatever your parents did during this transition, is probably what you expect to do. If you look around, you’ll probably notice many divorces happening in this stage. You’ll see people embracing long-forgotten passions, reinventing their careers, or taking up a hobby they always longed to try.
Just like a prisoner who is released from prison, freedom doesn’t always feel good. We find comfort in the familiar, rather than fully enjoying the freedom that comes with this stage of our life.
When too much freedom feels scary, we start saying things that make us feel safe: I have to pay these college bills, I can’t do what I want, No one will do it with me.
We settle back into our comfort zone, only without the love that filled it when our kids were younger.
Supermom Kryptonite: Not Understanding The Cycle of Change
In order to embrace this season of life and make the most of it, it’s best to understand the cycle of change that Martha Beck teaches. She claims that change always happens in a predictable pattern.
Square 1 – Death and Rebirth
Mourning your old life and exploring your new one. This stage often feels terrible (and most of my clients come to me during this stage). We feel empty and aimless. We can’t go back, and yet our future isn’t clearly defined yet. It feels terrible but it doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong. In fact, the mantra to help one through this transition stage is “I don’t know what the hell is going on, and that’s ok.”
This is your opportunity to choose a new identity. Without a lot of social pressures, you are free to tune inward and listen to what your heart really yearns for. Only if you follow this internal compass will you find happiness and excitement in this stage of your life.
Square 2 – Dreaming and Scheming
Once you have truly let go of your old identity and former life, and tuned inward to listen to your heart’s desire, you’ll start getting ideas for a life you are meant to live. You might see something on Facebook and think, “That looks fun” or you might get a picture of how you would redecorate your child’s bedroom. It starts as an image in your mind that lifts you up.
When you give yourself permission to dream and scheme, these inner visions will slowly become clearer in your mind. Eventually, you will know which action steps to take. The mantra for this cycle is “There are no rules and that’s ok.”
Square 3 – The Hero’s Saga
This is where the rubber hits the road. You take your dream from imagination into reality. Eight times out of ten, things don’t go the way we planned so the mantra for this stage is “This is harder than I thought it was going to be and that’s ok.”
If your idea is to start a business, move out of state, start dating again after divorce, or train for a half marathon, this mantra will help you through. It’s called The Hero’s Saga because this is what Joseph Campbell identified as the “Hero’s Journey” that folk tales, movies and books are all about. The trials and tribulations of square 3 make for really good storytelling.
Square 4 – The Promised Land
This is the stage where our dreams are finally coming true. The blood, sweat and tears of square 3 have mellowed out. You are now a runner. You are settled into your new job, home, or identity. There are minor tweeks and improvements but it’s generally easier to navigate.
The mantra for this stage is, “Nothing is changing and that’s ok.” Some people don’t like square 4 and will deliberately enter into square 1 (possibly in another area of their life) just to shake things up. Generally, though, this is where we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Supermom Power Boost: Finding a metaphor to represent your life
Today, I was walking through a garden with a big patch filled with pumpkin vines. It was full of bright pumpkin blossoms, big, sunshine yellow flowers, shining gloriously against the green vines. A few had started to close and on one, I noticed a small, little green pumpkin had started to grow.
I thought to myself, we are like these blossoms, happy and settled in our roles as a mom to our kids. When they leave the house, it’s like the blossoms are closing. It feels sad, it feels like a death, we don’t even realize that we are meant to become pumpkins.
These blossoms were never meant to permanently bloom. We were always meant to have a second stage of life, equally as important, lovely and exciting. Saying goodbye to raising children doesn’t have to be sad. You can be excited for this stage of life if you recognize how the cycle of change works and that being a pumpkin is just as good as being a flower.
All you need is a little hype.
If you find yourself feeling stuck in an empty nest, and aren’t getting the feelings of community, adventure and purpose, then hiring a life coach is a great idea. If you have this longing, then you are meant to have it!
Going after your heart’s desire will make your life exciting for sure. Just like the pumpkins, we are meant for growth and transformation. When everything is “fine” it’s a sign that you’ve stopped growing.
It sounds to me like you are perfectly set up for an exciting year. You just might need someone to help you across the scary parts to get to the amazing parts.
Got some goals you’d like to set for yourself? Schedule your free strategy call https://LifeCoachingforParents.com
Quote of the Day: (paraphrased)
“Don’t fear loss so much that you abandon yourself in order to keep things stable. Losses aren’t cataclysmic if they teach the heart and soul their natural cycle of breaking and healing.” -Martha Beck
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Question of the Day: Lazy Teen
“My 13 year old daughter is driving me crazy. She lays around all day like a lazy teen sloth, scrolling mindlessly on her phone. When I ask her to do something, she’ll say “ok” but never does it. I arranged my life around these kids so they could have the best opportunities to succeed. When I see how unmotivated and ungrateful she is I feel like I’ve wasted my time. I’m very hardworking and responsible and I just thought they would absorb my values. I feel disrespected when she lays on the couch, zones out, ignores me. I’m worried my daughter will always be like this and it’s too late to teach her to be different.”
This might be the most common complaint I hear from moms of teens. It really boils down to a generational culture clash.
Think of a typical 50’s mom whose teenage son starts wearing bell bottom pants, floral shirts and growing his hair long. Mom and Dad start freaking out because of what they are making it mean ABOUT THEM.
They feel embarrassed that they are raising a kid who is so disrespectful to their values. They think their child will be a loser who will never get a job because he doesn’t understand the importance of showing respect to authority through civil obedience. The kid just thinks he is making a fashion choice and adapting to new cultural norms.
Today we’ve got a culture clash between hardworking moms who demand a lot of themselves, and typically lazy teenagers who refuse to adapt to our stressed-out ways.
We also have a problem with kids who DO absorb perfectionistic values, work their butts off in school, stress about SAT’s and AP classes, and push themselves to be their best.
These kids don’t bother us hard-working mamas because we relate and it feels normal. (If your child’s stress does bother you, email me and let me know). Usually, we don’t recognize this as a problem until it threatens the mental or physical health of our kids.
There have been times when I catch myself telling my teenager to “try harder, work harder, live up to your potential, grab life by the horns, seize the moment, do more, put yourself out there, etc.“
In a nutshell I am telling my healthy, balanced teenager: “Can’t you stress a LITTLE BIT MORE so I can feel like a better mom?”
I hope my kids think I’m crazy and disregard my fearful pleas. If they don’t, I worry all they hear me say is “You aren’t good enough as you are.”
Parent Educator Answer: Let’s talk about normal adolescent behavior:
Verbal aggression / verbal jousting / arguing,
Difficulty tolerating the feeling of frustration,
Withdrawl from family (physically and emotionally) and increased interest in peer relations.
Sleeping longer and harder with an increased appetite.
Impulse control, risk taking and susceptibility to peer pressure.
Concerned with physical appearance
Fighting for independence and testing limits: ignore rules, argue rules, or refuse to obey rules.
Quitting things they used to enjoy
Changing Identity (gender, sexual identity, socio-political identity, etc.)
To Paula, I’d say congratulations. It sounds like your 13 year old has officially entered adolescence and is a typical teenager. Is it too late to teach her to be different? Kind of. She HAS absorbed your values. She knows what YOU want for HER. Now is the time for her to figure out what HER values are and what SHE wants for HERSELF.
Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way from peacefully raising a typical teenager?
Three things: Our ego, our expectations, and Futurizing & Catastrophizing
#1 Our ego
When we see our kids laying around, scrolling their phones and appearing like a lazy teen, we make it mean that we have failed in our job as mom.
Because when we have tried to lay around ourselves, kick up our heels and just hang out, we beat ourselves up for it!
We have this negative voice in our head that yells and keeps us from having too much fun or enjoying too much relaxation.
There are many countries around the world that would think this is insanity. That the best and most important parts of life come when we are relaxed, hanging out and savoring moments of doing nothing.
We want our teenagers to get busy, work hard and do something so that we can relax! We think we can’t relax unless everything on our to-do list is complete but this will never happen!
It’s possible that our teenagers are wiser and less susceptible to cultural insanity than we are. What if they are here to remind us of the importance of relaxation?
Can you imagine there is another lazy teen, somewhere in the world right now, scrolling on her phone while laying on the couch? Imagine that you see her mom in the kitchen and you think, “Wow, she is a really good mom.” “I really admire the things she is saying and doing.” In your mind’s eye, what do you imagine a good mom would say and do, while a daughter lays on the couch?
Notice that it is possible to be a good mom and have a lazy kid. In fact, you can be a good mom, no matter what your teenager does or doesn’t do. You are two separate people and it’s time to untangle your ego identity, from her behavior.
#2 Our expectations
Can you imagine there is a parent in the world who isn’t bothered by their teenager having a lazy day, laying around scrolling on their phone? It is possible.
When parents expect the teen years to be really dreadful, filled with sneaking out of the house, failing grades and back talking, and they see their teenager lazily scrolling on the couch, they feel relieved. It doesn’t bother them at all!
If your pediatrician told you that when your child turns 13, she’s going to need lots of time to zone out, lay around, and get physical and mental rest, and the best thing you could do as a mom is to encourage this sloth-like behavior, you would feel like a successful parent because your expectations would be different.
The problem is that we Supermoms have high expectations for our behavior, as well as our children. We think they will slowly, gradually take on more responsibility, more confidence, and become tall children we are proud of.
We forget, however, that no one self-actualizes at 13 years old.
That the teen years are filled with insecurity and fear as they try to carve out an identity separate from mom & dad.
It’s hard to remember that adolescence is the most stressful time in a person’s life (according to psychologists) and all the dramatic physical, social, intellectual and emotional changes cause them to need more sleep, more rest and less pressure.
Under STRESS, we REGRESS, and when moms can EXPECT imperfection, it’s easier to RESPECT imperfection.
#3 Furturizing & Catastrophizing
When we see any negative behavior in our teens, we want to be on the lookout for our brains favorite passtime, imagining a big, dark and scary future.
“She lays around ALL DAY”……does she really? Or is there an occasional potty break in there? Maybe a walk to stare in the pantry or leave the fridge door open?
“When I ask her to do something she NEVER does it”……Is that true or does it just feel true?
“I’ve wasted my time”…..Wow, can you imagine telling yourself that the last 13 years of your life has been a waste of time? That’s a pretty mean voice in your head who loves to beat you up, not one to listen to and believe.
“My daughter will ALWAYS be like this”. If we were to listen to that mean voice in your head, the end of this sentence would probably be, “…..and it’s all my fault.”
“It’s too late to teach her to be different” is probably true but it’s coming from a voice in your head that really wants to throw you under the bus. It’s the same voice that keeps you from joining her on the couch and saying, “Yes, let’s kick up our heels and watch some Tic Tocs. Teach me how to play wordscapes or Brick Breaker. How do you use the face swap filter again?
You’ll want to build a relationship with this mean voice in your head. Notice she is the one that won’t let you rest, wants to tell you what a bad mom you are and how your kids are losers and it’s all your fault. This voice is creating a lot of unnecessary drama and keeping you from enjoying THIS stage of your life.
Decide how you want to feel, while raising perfectly imperfect teenagers, and get this mean voice out of the driver’s seat of your brain.
Once you’ve moved this voice out of the way, you can remind yourself that, though she may appear a lazy teen, this is a TEMPORARY phase in your teen’s life and you can help her through it by being compassionate to the needs of her growing body, mind and spirit.
Supermom Kryptonite – blame
Blame is like cookies. It tastes good in the moment but too much, over time, leaves us feeling a little sick.
When we think, “If my kid would change I could feel better.” we get a temporary reprieve from that mean voice in our head that wants to beat us up.
We think, “It’s not me, it’s them” and we get a break. Over time, blaming someone else for our emotional upset leaves us feeling powerless and helpless to change.
Thinking my teenager’s lazy, rude behavior is all my fault doesn’t feel good either.
First, question the thoughts that are saying that her behavior is wrong and bad. Once you are feeling neutral about the behavior and have quieted your inner mean girl, you can ask, “How am I contributing to her behavior?” and “What do I have the power to change?”
Supermom Powerboost – Understanding your energy cycles
Now this question is not asking, “How long can you relax before the mean voice in your head tells you you are lazy and wasting time.”
The question is, “What are your natural energy cycles?” Do you feel energized in the morning but drained in the afternoon? Do you feel tired after eating carbs and energized after yoga class?
Having a compassionate understanding of your energy cycles will help you recognize you and your teen are different people.
Help your kids get to know their natural energy cycles. Do they feel drained after being at school all day? Does it help them feel energized to socialize after school, nap or be alone for a while? How many hours of social media can they enjoy before it starts to drain them? Are 2 back-to-back Netflix shows rejuvenating but 4 are suppressing?
Help your child get to know her own energy cycles with compassionate curiosity and self-awareness. When you can honor your own energy cycles, you’ll find you have the power boost you need to help your daughter discover hers.
Quote of the Day – “Teen “addiction” to social media is a new extension of typical human engagement. Their use of social media as their primary site of sociality is most often a byproduct of cultural dynamics that have nothing to do with technology, including parental restrictions and highly scheduled lives. Teens turn to and are obsessed with whichever environment allows them to connect to friends. most teens aren’t addicted to social media; if anything, they’re addicted to each other.”
Danah Boyd, author of “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.”
Question of the Day: Middle School Worries
Today’s question is from a mom worried about her son starting middle school.
“My son is starting middle school and I worry about all the things he’s going to be exposed to. Vaping, drugs, girls, social media, bullies, online porn, you name it, I worry about it.
He is such a happy, sweet boy and I don’t want his peers to ruin his innocence. Part of me thinks I should talk to him about some of the things he’ll be exposed to. But the other part of me thinks I should keep quiet and let it unfold as he experiences it.
How can I prepare him for the big, bad world of middle school without scaring him or giving him more information than he is ready to handle?” Catalina
Parent Education Answer:
I think there are many parents who share the same middle school worries and apprehension. I heard this a lot from the parents who came to my classes on “How to Talk to Kids about Sex”.
They wanted to be the ones to tell their kids about how babies are made but they get nervous about taking away their innocence. Rather than saying the wrong thing or giving too much information, they end up saying nothing at all.
In a way, your instincts are correct in not talking to him from your worrying energy. Emotions are contagious and you telling him about your fears and all the middle school worries could do one of two things:
– Scare him. He might mirror you and become equally worried and stressed.
– Reject you. Kids don’t like the energy of worry. He may disregard your helpful information and not want to listen to you, be around you, or confide in you later, if he thinks it will worry you.
I believe knowledge is power. This could be a great opportunity to inform him of things he will be encounter. But keep in mind that only if you are in a calm confident energy.
Benefits of Information
When parents inform their kids about vaping, sex, drugs, etc. before they are exposed to it, there are many benefits:
- Kids learn they can talk to their parents about anything that comes up.
- When your middle schooler hears something taboo, he doesn’t need to rely on peers or youtube to answer questions because they already received information at home.
- Talking about personal, important things builds trust and brings you closer.
- Middle schoolers are surrounded by peers willing to give their opinions and judgments easily. When they also have the voice of their parent in their head, it helps them make an informed decision.
- Kids tend to rise to our expectations. If we expect them to do drugs and get bad grades, they probably will. If we expect them to encounter such, but not partake in unhealthy activities, they probably will do that.
Format of Discussion
Think about this format when talking to your kid about difficult subjects: information, consequences, opinions, choice.
Let’s take online porn as an example.
Information: Porn is short for pornography. It refers to visual materials (mostly digital these days) containing explicit display of sexual organs and/or activity intended to stimulate erotic feelings (as opposed to aesthetic or emotional). Showing pornography to children is considered illegal and obscene.
Consequences: Some people experience it as harmless and healthy. Others experience it as addictive, exploitative and damaging to relationships.
Opinions: Your Dad and I don’t want you watching it because it’s going to give you an unrealistic picture of what sex is like in a real relationship. When you are in a real relationship someday, we want you to experience the best of it. This includes emotional intimacy, companionship, friendship and love, not just the physical aspects of sex.
Choice: We realize we can’t control what you view on the internet but we hope you choose will things that uplift your spirit and not watch things you feel you should hide. We also want you to know, you can come to us if you ever have concerns or you encounter something that feels weird or icky online.
Life Coaching Answer: Handling Middle School Worries
What gets in our way from being this calm confident parent discussing these middle school worries and informing our child of unhealthy risks of middle school? FEAR.
Fear of what could happen, fear of letting go, fear of how other kids will behave, fear of losing the child you have known, fear of him getting hurt, fear of watching our baby suffer, fear of not being able to help him solve his problems, fear dressed up in multiple outfits.
When we feel fear in the absence of immediate threat, we struggle because there is no productive action step to take.
It helps to know that fear is an instinct to keep us (and our loved ones) out of harm’s way. We are hiking, we see a snake ready to strike, we freeze. Some crazy person running towards us yelling, we run away.
Hence, our brain’s fear response is brilliantly designed to keep us safe, except for when there is no clear reason for our fear.
When we feel fear, yet everything around us appears safe, we go into our heads and try to figure out why we are scared. We look for an explanation for our fears: school shootings, bad guys, drugs.
The news will give us plenty of logical reasons why we have this fear. It makes our worries seem valid and important.
Fears and Worries
Worry pretends to be helpful. It makes us feel like we are DOING something productive but we aren’t. All we are doing is making it harder to help our children navigate a fear-filled culture with confidence and ease.
In order to prepare your child for some of the negative things he might be exposed to in middle school, you’ll want to release these middle school worries and process the fear.
Fear is just an emotion. It is energy in motion and it shows up as a vibration in the body.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath and notice what fear feels like and where in your body you feel it. The more you stay with this feeling, without having the need to run away from it, the easier it will move through you.
Our brain thinks we’re going to die but if you look around you, and all is well in this moment, it’s safe to process this feeling so that you can return to a state of calm.
From the sound of things, it looks like your son is healthy, happy and safe. He is going to school in one of the safest countries in the world, in one of the safest times in history. He’ll be with other kids who have been raised in a safe environment, having all their basic needs met.
Worrying gives you the illusion of safety, but it really doesn’t help.
Once you’ve allowed yourself to feel the feeling of fear without reacting to it, you’ll notice you feel calmer.
This is when you want to engage the brain and ask, “What do I need to think and believe in order to talk to my middle schooler calmly?”
“I want him to have knowledge so he can make his own decisions.”
“This is good information to know” might be a helpful thought.
“I trust him to make good choices.”
“I’m earning my good parenting sticker today”
“I want to be the kind of mom who can handle tough subjects.”
Once you are feeling calm and ready to give your child “Information, Consequence, Opinion, Choice”, you may need some additional resources.
Middle school is a great time to shift from being the person with all the answers, to learning things together with your child. Which is handy because a lot of us don’t know about the dangers of vaping, social media, or today’s potent marijuana options.
Marlene Mahurin from Nevada County’s Tobacco Use Prevention and Education program, recommended a great video to watch with your kids. I will post a few of my favorites but I encourage you to look through Google on your own. Find a few to watch that you think will resonate with your child’s personality. Just be mindful of who is publishing the video.
Common Sense Media has GREAT videos and is a resource you should know about from school shootings to sexting https://www.commonsensemedia.org/
The Nevada County TUPE video on vaping http://nevco.org/programs-services/tupe/
Sex Education (for 9-12 year olds) http://TimeforTheTalk.com
Gender Fluidity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udI-Go8KK2Q&feature=youtu.be
Sex Education (for parents and high schoolers) https://youtu.be/L0jQz6jqQS0
How to ADHD https://howtoadhd.com/videos/
Today’s Supermom Kryptonite – Your media diet.
Just like the food we eat impacts us, even if we don’t notice it immediately, the media we take in affects us, too.
If your media diet consists of Fox News, Criminal Minds and CSI, it’s no wonder you feel a lot of fear. If your media diet consists of Queer Eye, romance novels, this podcast and video chatting with friends, you probably feel a lot of peace. In order to stop worrying, try changing your media diet.
I remember going to bed one night and noticing I felt gross. It felt like I had just eaten a bunch of junk food but I hadn’t. I realized the “junk food feeling” was because I just watched 20 minutes of “Housewives of Whatever County” before I went to bed.
This show might be just what you need at the end of the day to lift your spirits. That was what I thought, but it wasn’t healthy for me.
Especially before bed, I have to be very careful about what I take into my brain.
It’s amazing how easy it is to keep up with current events without ever watching a single newscast. Thus, I limit my social media exposure and seek media that uplifts me. That way, I can maintain peaceful energy for my clients, and kids, to come home to.
Supermom Powerboost – Allowing your kid to experience negative emotion
- It is common in today’s perfectionistic parenting culture to believe that it’s our job to protect our children from having any negative emotion ever. We genuinely want our children to be happy and successful, every second of every day, forever. First, because this is what we think a good mom would want. Second because we don’t know what to do with ourselves when they have a negative emotion.
When we understand that allowing children to “feel all the feels” is IMPORTANT and NECESSARY, then we focus on what we want to feel WHILE they are feeling sad, disappointed, angry or scared. You can:
- allow your child to feel a feeling without taking it on as your own.
- feel proud of yourself for letting your child have a negative experience.
- feel satisfied knowing that this negative experience is teaching him lessons he could never learn on his own.
Trying to ensure that your child only has positive experiences and emotions is exhausting. In contrast, allowing your child to experience negative emotions, (without making it mean anything has gone wrong), will free you and boost your energy.
Quote of the Day:
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” Leo Buscaglia