How can I encourage independence in my clingy kiddo?

How can I encourage independence? episode #16

Question – “My daughter constantly follows me around the house always wanting my attention. I give her A LOT of attention! I’m a stay-home Mom and we are together all the time. She even follows me into the bathroom. I’ve tried “filling up her tank” just to see if she ever gets enough but I found the answer is NO. When my husband gets home and I try to leave for the gym, she clings and whimpers, begging me not to go. In fact, she does this any time I try to leave her with anyone. Sometimes the guilt and hassle isn’t worth it, and I cave in and stay home. Sometimes I feel imprisoned by a cute and loving jail warden. How can I teach my daughter to be more independent?” – Allison

Parent Educator answer –

I love how this question is worded. This shows such keen awareness that the situation is a pattern of her DAUGHTER’S. When kids behave this way, it can really lock moms in without them even realizing it, so I’m glad Allison is aware and wanting to change. I don’t hear mom beating herself up thinking she should do more, be better, etc. I love that she experimented with “filling up her daughter’s tank” and can feel confident that not having enough mom time is not the issue. My favorite part is her final question, “How can I TEACH my daughter to be more independent?”

Teaching is a process. It takes time, patience, and clear explanations and repetition. You teach your children how to treat you. This doesn’t mean they are going to do it perfectly right away, just that you are committed to doing your part as teacher.

When we see clingy behavior in children, it’s a sign of anxiety. It’s great that your child feels comforted by you, it’s also important that your child feel comfortable away from you. Anxiety can be caused by many things: modern society, a genetic predisposition, even a stressful birth; so we’re not going to waste our time arguing that your child shouldn’t feel anxious.

3 things NOT to do are…

  1. Don’t sneak out without telling them. 
  2. Don’t have long goodbyes or wait for your child to give you permission to leave.
  3. Don’t avoid anxiety provoking activities.

4 ways to increase your child’s comfort and stability, which will increase their independence and (eventually) decrease their clinginess.

  1. Predictable Routine – All kids benefit from structured routine but, anxious kids especially can  benefit. They might even ask every morning, “What are the plans for the day?” Have a chart with pictures so they can predict “cuddle and read with mom time” “play independently time” “screen time”. You can also have routines for each day, Monday is library. Tuesday is gym. Wednesday is playgroup.
  2. Encourage deep relationships with other adults and children. Invite your child’s friend over after school every Friday. Go to the park with Dad Sunday morning or play games with Grandma Sunday night.
  3. Transitional objects – If your child doesn’t have a transitional object, give them one. Tell them it will make them feel safe. A beautiful stone to slip into his pocket or a soft feather. Whenever he feels anxious, they hold onto the object. When he is clinging to you at the door, remind him of this special object and its’ special powers.
  4. Reduce narrow focused attention – When we are nervous, our eyes lock into an object like a lion stalking it’s prey. School and screen time encourage narrow focus attention. A lion spends 95% of its day in diffused attention, this is important for humans, too. Diffused attention is a recuperative state that helps our brains calm down and feel at peace. Staring into space and daydreaming shift the brain into diffused attention. Try hard not to interrupt your child when in this state. You can encourage this diffused mental attention with music, art, and nature based movements. Experiment with turning off electricity, watering the garden, and classical music and see what calms your child the most.

Life Coaching answer – When your child is clinging and pleading for you to stay home, it is SO HARD to leave!  They pull out all the stops, filling us up with love, making us feel wanted and needed. Instead of reciprocating with love and devotion, we break their hearts, causing them suffering, tears, and misery!

Many moms fall into this trap because they think, “I am the only one that can help them feel better.” This belief keeps kids locked in anxiety, believing they are only safe when mom is around. Mom feels so needed and valuable that she forgoes her dreams and passions, trapping her in a limited existence.

The best thing Allison can do is to manage her own anxiety and set up a regular, predictable routine around leaving her daughter. The thoughts that will keep her stuck are “She needs me” “I can make her feel better” and “It’s not right to let her suffer”

We have this idea that our kids shouldn’t suffer- that they should always be happy and if they aren’t we are doing something wrong.

This is our primitive brain talking. Our higher brain knows that sometimes we need to make parenting decisions that our children aren’t going to like- that we can forgo that temporary ‘false joy’ for long term well being.

Of course we want to avoid negative emotions unnecessarily, but being willing to choose discomfort for long term well being is a really important life skill.

We endure discomfort for a high intensity exercise class for the long term gain of fitness.

We endure boring subjects in school so that we can pursue a major that interests us.

We tolerate uncomfortable dental appointments for the long term benefit of healthy teeth and gums.

The buddhists say life is suffering. So, trying to keep your child from suffering is trying to protect them from life. Believing you can protect your kids from emotional discomfort is believing you are more powerful than God.

Kryptonite – “I’m tired”

This is a sneaky one. Thinking the thought or saying the sentence “I’m tired” seems like you are just stating the facts. But try it out for a minute, how do you feel when you think the thought “I’m tired”? TIRED!! When you feel tired, you act lethargic, and don’t seek out energy inducing activities! It’s not like you rest, take a nap and the feel energized. It seems so legit that we don’t even argue it.

Energy is something we create more of, through exercise, rest, sleep, food, etc. Many Supermoms use the thought “I’m tired” as a way to avoid doing hard things and taking action towards their goals.

Supermom Power Boost schedule a vent session

Sometimes all you need is a good vent session. It’s tempting to turn to our husbands at the end of the day to complain about everything that went awry. Most men are wired to fix problems so when unload our challenging day onto them, they try to tell us what to do. This is not what we want to hear! We just want them to say, “Oh honey, I don’t know how you do it all day, that sounds really rough.” Instead they say, “Did you try putting her in time out?” “Just tell your boss no.” or “You shouldn’t let her get to you like that.” This makes us aggravated and frustrated because all we need is a little compassion.

To get a power boost, try scheduling a “vent session” with a girlfriend. Most women naturally commiserate. We vent, we get our frustrations off our chest. They tell us about their challenges, we feel better. Venting with other moms gives you just the fuel you need to make it through another day. We don’t want to be told what to do to fix our problems, we just want to feel seen, heard, and supported. You can try telling your husband, “I just want you to listen and not fix.” but girlfriends are the best power boost I know of.

Quote of the day – 

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” Thich Nhat Hanh

How to motivate your child

How to motivate your child in one simple step

Today’s “parent education” answer is a fabulous way to motivate any child or adult so keep listening even if today’s question isn’t reflective of your situation.

Today’s Question: “My son is quite smart and capable, but not motivated in school. He does his homework but forgets to turn it in. He could get top marks in his class but seems content with mediocrity. It bothers me that his grades don’t reflect what he’s capable of. How can I motivate my son to care more about his school performance?” Jen

Life Coaching answer: There is one simple thing parents can do to motivate their kids. There is also one thing that will BLOCK kid’s motivation that I think could become a problem for Jen here. Beware of attachment to ego.

When kids are little it’s not unusual for their success to feel like our success. Someone tells us how cute or polite our pre-schooler is, we say thank you. When our kids act out in public, or bite some other kid on the playground, we feel embarrassed. The line between where they end and where we begin, is blurred.

As they grow into their own person, it’s helpful to stop taking credit for their amazing-ness and stop blaming ourselves for their missteps, however tempting it may be. When our ego gets attached to their academic performance, their athletic performance, their drive or lack of it, we create a messy situation. Our ego will fight like crazy to stay in tact and often kids will sense our attachment to their success and deliberately sabotage themselves to take off the pressure and stay in control in their lives. When we can see them as a separate individuals, allowing them take credit for their successes AND failures, it keeps us sane. We have the privilege to guide our children but not steer their lives.

Parent Educator answer:

One day, I was on a road trip with my family, and my kids called from the backseat asking, “Mom, wanna play a game with us?”

I responded, “No thank you, I’m enjoying reading my book.”

“What book are you reading?” they asked?

“Oh, it’s a fascinating book, I’m absolutely loving it. It’s all about play and how it shapes the brain, opens the imagination and invigorates the soul.”

My astute kiddo responds, “So you would rather read a book about play than play a game with your children?”

I pause with stunned realization, knowing the answer is yes, but also aware of how strange that answer sounded. I WOULD rather read about play! Why? What was motivating me to choose reading my book, over playing game?

Luckily, Dr. Stuart Brown had the answer right in my hands.

What motivates anyone to do anything is emotions. We are driven to seek pleasure and avoid pain. It sounds like Jen’s son doesn’t get enjoyment out of turning in his homework, or seeing gold stars posted on the sticker chart. Jen, on the other hand, does enjoy that. She sounds like she is motivated by accolades, competition and identifying herself as a high achiever.

Emotions are crucial to motivation and the one simple step I’ve discovered to motivate kids, is to figure out what is their PLAY PERSONALITY.

Dr. Stuart Brown identified 8 distinct play personalities.

If you can figure out your child’s top 3 play personalities, you’ll have key insight into how to make things more fun, and therefore more motivating, for your child.

  1. The Joker  – Play revolves around nonsense, practical jokes, pranks, silliness.
  2. The Kinesthete – If I’m not moving, it’s not play.
  3. The Explorer – Goes to new places, discovers, learns and understands new things.
  4. The Competitor – Enjoys competing and keeping score, plays to win.
  5. The Collector – Enjoys collecting objects or experiences (can be social or solitary)
  6. The Artist/Creator – Joy is found in making things.
  7. The Storyteller – Imagination is the key to play. Movies, dance, acting, reading, etc.
  8. The Director – Enjoys planning and executing scenes and events. Loves being in charge and in the center of the social world.

 

The reason I enjoyed reading about play more than playing, is that my top play personality is that of explorer. I love traveling and seeing new places, but also learning and discovering what makes people tick.

Jen probably has competitor as one of her top 3. She cannot understand why her son wouldn’t be motivated to turn his homework in. He might be an explorer, more interested in the act of learning, than proving to anyone else what he has learned. To motivate him, she can tap into his play personality. If he’s a collector….for every paper he turns in, she’ll buy him something to add to his collection.

If he’s an artist/creator…..he could design a creative poster or method to remind himself to grab his homework before he leaves the house.

If he’s a storyteller, pretend his homework is the important key he needs to bring to school to open up the world to a new dimension, saving an entire species of alien beings. 

If he’s a kinesthete, hide the homework somewhere in the house and play a game of “you are getting warmer” in the morning before school.

The director can put his little sister in charge of his homework. The joker can attach a joke to his homework assignments for his teacher to read or “prank” her by doing his assignment upside down or backwards.

I think part of the way we stay attached to ego is by thinking our kids should do things the way we would do them. As we let go of our expectations, and learn to see our children as separate from us, it actually helps us grow closer to them.

Understanding your child’s play personality will help you motivate them, but also appreciate what a unique and wonderful person they are.

 

Supermom Kryptonite – valuing work over play

I’ve always loved working. As a teen I loved babysitting, waiting tables, garage sales, you name it. As a child, my favorite thing to “make believe” was playing store, bank, library or house. Today, I’d rather sell raffle tickets at the school auction than just mingle and socialize. But the reason I love working so much is because it feels like play to me.

When we value work, for the sake of work, without honoring our need to play, it’s like burning the candle at both ends. We use up twice as much energy trying to motivate ourselves. We can do it, because our ego values hard work & productivity but it’s a struggle on our soul.

Imagine a dog digging a hole to bury a bone. This dog is focused, intensely digging, not distracted by anything around him. It looks like he’s working hard and he is, but he is enjoying it. He’s doing work that he’s meant to do, that’s aligned with his essence, and so it feels like play. It requires physical effort, but not psychological or emotional effort. I think this is what work is supposed to be like for us, too.

I’m not a kinesthete. Ask me to do yard work or mop my floors and I will move at a snails pace, dragging my feet and complaining the whole time. UNLESS, I’ve got people coming over for a party or my girls summer camp and suddenly I’m full of energy. The director in me loves creating fun events for others. Be careful not to value work, over play. Use play to make work more fun and aligned with your highest self.

Supermom power boost – Step out of your routine

Stepping out of our normal routine encourages our brains into a more playful state. Life coaching encourages playful transformation because you take an hour a week to observe your life from the outside in, looking at what’s working and what isn’t. Getting a change of scenery can also help to offer a new perspective.

  • Getting swept away into a novel or spending time in nature are play states.
  • Attend a local cultural event for a holiday that is not one you are familiar with.
  • Learn to play a new game or understand a new sport.

Sometimes, stepping out of our routine is all we need to open ourselves up to our sense of play and imagination.

It is really common for Supermoms to lose their sense of play when there is so much work to be done. Stepping out of your routine, creating space for you, is a quick way to invigorate the soul and feel playful again. 

Quote of the day:What might seem like a frivolous or even childish pursuit is ultimately beneficial. It’s paradoxical that a little bit of ‘nonproductive’ activity can make one enormously more productive and invigorated in other aspects of life.” Dr. Stuart Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fighting kids – How to get my kids to stop hating each other

Episode #14

Today’s Question:

My middle school kids are constantly fighting. They are close in age (12 and 13) and used to be the best of friends, always playing happily together. Lately, however, it’s been awful. They bicker and are constantly picking on each other, trying to bring the other down. I really want my boys to be friends again! How can I get my kids to stop hating each other? Sheila

Parent Educator Answer:

If your children used to get along very well, that tells me you did a great job of staying out of their conflicts. Children who are at each other from a young age have figured out how to bring mom into the argument and triangulate the issue. When mom is involved, kids can use siblings to fight for power, control, attention, superiority, etc. (If this sounds like you, or you have other issues with fighting siblings, go to www.lifecoachingforparents.com/record-my-question and tell me about your situation).

There is a lot to talk about with sibling rivalry, and we’ll need more than one podcast to cover all the topics. 

For this one, I’m going to assume that Sheila is not getting involved, but is just bothered by having to listen to her two precious babies go at each other.

There are many reasons why pre-teens might start picking on their sibling when they didn’t before. I want to focus on the two most common and developmentally appropriate reasons for this sudden change.

  1. Adolescent angst. Puberty does a number on kids. The hormones cause stronger emotional responses and mood swings, making ‘walking on eggshells’ an everyday situation. Puberty also usually involves hanging out with people who constantly scrutinize and criticize each other’s appearances, performance, speech, and food choices. You name it, some adolescent is judging it. When kids are soaking up everyone else’s negative, insecure emotions like a sponge all day long, they ring it out when they get home. Who is the easiest person to target? Their sibling.

The question I would want to ask my kid is, “Does it work?” If they feel yucky when they get in the car, do they feel better after putting their sibling down and pointing out all their flaws? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, either way, teaching your child to reflect on their own words and actions is super powerful. 

Whether the answer to the question is yes or no, I would then ask, “Is there another way you can purge the yucky-ness of your day and feel better, that doesn’t involve picking on your sibling?”

Some kids purge verbally, by venting and getting it all off their chest. Some purge physically by hopping on their bike or shooting hoops. Spending time alone, taking a shower, writing in a journal, hanging out with friends, reading a book, are all ways pre-teens have found to feel better after being surrounded by negative people all day.

 2. The other reason why you might see an increase in sibling rivalry during puberty is your child (usually the older one) is wanting to create a bigger separation between himself and his sibling. This desire to be seen as older, wiser, different, and more mature grows really strong between 12-15. (This can be seen with twins as well). Adolescence is all about figuring out who you are and who you want to be? When kids are trying to figure out what their interests and skills are or which friend group they feel most comfortable with, they need to wiggle out of their child self like a snake shedding it’s skin. It can be hard for a pre-teen to know who they are if they maintain the tight relationship they’ve always had with their siblings, parents, or close friends. The pre-teen years are a time of rapid and massive growth and they need space to figure it all out.

It’s pretty common for kids to “cocoon” as they transform themselves from a kid into an adult. Cocooning can look like being in the bedroom or bathroom for long periods of time with the door closed, wanting more alone time, or cocooning with a best friend and excluding others. The sibling relationship connects to who they were as a child, some kids need to separate from it in order to become the adult they are meant to be. Fighting and constantly putting down a sibling is an effective way to separate.

It’s nice to know why things happen, but what the heck is Mama supposed to DO about it?

Parent Educator Tips for Sibling Rivalry 

  1. Stay out of it. As much as we would like to, we don’t get to decide what kind of relationship our kids are going to have with each other. Their relationship is their’s to figure out and we need to let go of any preconceived idea of what it’s supposed to look like. If your sister is your best friend, you might have expectations for your girls having the same close relationship and get really bothered when they “hate on each other”. 
  2. Protect their SAFETY. Wrestling and “horse-play” are great ways for kids to learn boundaries. When kids grow up “rough-housing” they learn about remorse, apologizing, inflicting pain, boundaries, and saying no like you mean it. Generally kids will stop on their own, right at the point where their sibling might get hurt. But, if they have triangulated a parent into it, or are using sibling rivalry to serve themselves in an unhealthy way, they may harm their sibling. Then, it is absolutely the parent’s job to protect the sibling.
  3. Treat your children as fairly as possible. If they sense favoritism, they may take it out on their sibling. Don’t compare: “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” Don’t label: “She’s the aggressive one, he’s the smart one,” and spend quality time with both.
  4. Let them see you resolving conflicts in a calm way with other adults.
  5. Establish house rules like “no hitting or hurting” or “no name calling”. Post them where everyone can see and have consistent consequences when those rules are not followed.

Life Coaching Answer –

Learn all you can about how to responsibly manage sibling rivalry but when it’s not working for you, life coaching comes in handy.

Kids fighting with each other is a circumstance. As much as she would like to, Sheila can’t make them change without the kids wanting to change. Wishing they would stop is like going outside everyday and yelling at the weather, telling it that it needs to be different. It might be true. You might be sick of the cold or rain, but feeling annoyed everyday because the weather isn’t they way you’d like it is fruitless and only causes suffering for YOU.

Sheila wants them to stop because she doesn’t like how she feels when they are fighting.

She’s probably thinking thoughts like…

“I want them to get along like they used to.” (arguing with reality)

or “They shouldn’t be so mean and hateful with each other” (too much negative emotion)

or “I don’t know what to do” (causes confusion).

These thoughts or similar ones cause negative emotions for MOM. It’s time to figure out what you have control over and focus on that.

How do YOU want to feel WHEN your kids are fighting?

You get to choose!

Do you want to feel confident? Think the thought “I know what to do here”.

Do you want to feel calm? Then think “I can trust them to work it out”.

Do you want to feel content? Think “This behavior is normal and temporary”.

When you are feeling a positive emotion, you will be more likely to implement the recommendations parent educators have to offer.

Before you are in the situation of your kids arguing, play it out in your imagination. Picture them fighting with each other, and imagine you are staying calm. Imagine evaluating the situation peacefully and objectively, “Do I need to keep him safe?” “Is he just purging the “yuck” he picked up during the day?” “Is he trying to separate himself from the family?” Observe the fighting with a scientific mind, then practice feeling calm/confident or whatever emotion you want to feel. Picture yourself taking action from that place. Imaging making comments appropriate to the situation like, “You guys sure like to fight” or “You must have had a pretty awful day today to be picking on your sister so much” or “Let me know when you are done fighting so I can make us a snack”.

You cannot control your children’s relationship but you can decide how you want to feel about it. When you stay calm, and model how to resolve conflicts peacefully, you are showing them another way.

Supermom Kryptonite – Mirror Neurons

We have mirror neurons in our brain that help us connect with the other people in the room. Mirror neurons are what make us smile when a baby smiles at us, or cry in a powerful “This Is Us” episode. When kids are “hating on each other” our default is to “hate on them” or “hate the situation.” We default to matching or mirroring the emotions of the people around us unless we do something deliberately different. We think,”You need to stop being so mean to your sister because it’s driving me crazy.” We think our argumentative teens are making us feel annoyed and frustrated, but our emotions are coming from our brain. Taking time to notice how we are feeling and deliberately overriding these mirror neurons is completely possible and a great thing to model to our adolescents. 

Try asking them, “How do you hang out with critical, insecure middle schoolers all day and not let it affect you?” They may not believe you if you tell them how mirror neurons work but this might plant a seed in your teen’s brain. When YOU learn to separate your emotions from your kid’s emotions, you will be modeling for them, how to separate from other people’s negative emotions. 

Supermom Powerboost – little ones

Even though you can override other people’s negative emotions by setting a clear intention for the feeling you WANT to feel, most of us don’t want to work that hard. If you are surrounded by cranky adolescents, go hang out with some little ones. Babies, pre-schoolers or any pre-pubescent kiddo is a joy to be around (especially when you aren’t responsible for their well being). When adolescent angst hit my home, I got myself a part-time job at an elementary school. It’s much easier to deal with argumentative teens when I spent the day with happy children who write me love notes and get so excited when “Mrs. Henderson” walks by. Do you have nieces or nephews to play with? Could you volunteer once a week or invite the neighbor kids over for a holiday craft? You don’t want to ride the emotional roller coaster of adolescence along with your kiddos. Find ways, like hanging out with small children, to keep you separate and balanced so you can be your best self for your teens and pre-teens.

Quote “Siblings: children of the same parents, each of whom is perfectly normal until they get together.” — Sam Levenson

Why am I so tired?


Today’s Question:

Today’s question comes from almost every one of my clients. So many moms have a hard time articulating what’s bothering them.

They say, “My kids are on my nerves,” “I feel off my game,” or “I feel lost, stuck, bored, easily annoyed.

Whatever they say, it all seems to fall under the umbrella of TIRED. This is why I named my podcast and facebook group “Supermom is Getting Tired.”

Not that my clients think of themselves as Supermoms, but they work so hard and put so much pressure on themselves to get things done and do everything right that I chose this title for them.

I find that there are 5 reasons why Supermoms get tired that have nothing to do with sleep, exercise, nutrition and hormones.

These are invisible forces (kryptonite, if you will) that make moms feel like they are being dragged through their day, going through the motions, and not feeling fully alive.

If you ever feel like a zombie mommy, wondering why you can’t seem to enjoy your life more, today’s podcast is for you.

5 reasons why Supermom is getting TIRED:

1. You are arguing with reality.

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

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

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

When I got married, I expected my husband to assume this role. However, I married an impulsive, serial entrepreneur with ADHD and a rebellious streak.

This means he does NOTHING on a regular basis. Any kind of routine makes him feel imprisoned, even if it’s something he wants to do.

I’ve been married over 20 years and I still wake up to find every light on in the house. It took me YEARS to realize that my husband will never do things the way my Dad did. He will never do yard work or put the garbage cans on the curb on a regular basis, but he can do a year’s worth of yard work in one day when the mood strikes.

My husband is an amazingly talented, skilled, creative and fun-loving man but it can be hard to remember that when I’m stuck wishing he was more like my dad. Aligning your expectations with the reality of your experience will give you so much more energy and appreciation for the life you are living.

2. You are “shoulding” on yourself.

What is it about our culture that puts so many perfectionistic expectations on moms? Is it that we learned to put pressure on ourselves through school and our careers, that we then bring into parenting?

Many moms think of parenting like it’s their job, meaning that they believe it should be hard work and that they are supposed to do everything right.

The problem with this is that kids learn by imitation and we are stressing them out when we aren’t relaxed, happy, and playful. There is no “right” way to parent but we put so much energy into trying to do everything perfectly that it leaves us exhausted.

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

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

Three Reasons For Exhaustion

First, we are putting so much pressure on ourselves with the words “have to, need to, should”. These words make us feel like responsible hard workers, but also prisoners.

Second, when we constantly juggle and multi-task, we don’t get the sense of accomplishment and completion that so many of us crave.

Lastly, our energy goes where our attention goes. When your body is doing dishes but your brain is thinking about laundry, your energy is split into two. If you are at work thinking “I’d rather be at home” or at home wishing you had a job to go to, you will exhaust yourself without even knowing how or why you are so tired.

 

 

  

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

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

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

This causes exhaustion for two reasons, the first is that she wanted her kids to be happy all the time. We are wired to experience a wide range of human emotions, about 50% of which will be negative.

To live a real, human experience, we need to feel happiness, but also disappointment, sadness, anger, jealousy, you name it.

The other reason trying to make kids happy causes fatigue is that people get to feel whatever they want to feel.

Have you ever tried to cheer someone up or talk them out of feeling bad and they just would not budge? Some people WANT to feel negative emotions.

We don’t get to choose other people’s emotions for them and when we try to control it, we end up feeling resentful, lost and TIRED.

 

4. You are resisting emotions.

Some clients have an area of their life that they really don’t want to think about. It could be a fight with a family member that they never reconciled or a job they got fired from which caused them embarrassment.

Trying not to think about something that causes negative emotions is exhausting but it is very easy to solve!

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

I witnessed a horrible accident while on spring break in Lake Havasu. I was on a boat with a hundred other people, watching a couple of people on their jet skis.

One tried to jump his jet ski over the other one, hitting him in the head and causing his death. It was AWFUL.

No one else on the entire boat seemed to notice, understand, or care about what I had just seen. I was shaken to my core.

I wanted to go out there to comfort or help somehow but I couldn’t. Witnessing this event was traumatic for me but I tried to leave it behind me.

I never thought about it consciously but years later when I had kids and a swimming pool, I developed terrible anxiety that something bad would happen and they would drown.

Anytime I was at a water park, ocean, or community pool, I had the thought, “It’s my job to make sure everyone stays safe” (even when lifeguards were on duty).

This anxiety compounded when my impulsive, fun-loving husband bought a boat for our family. I was in a constant state of fight or flight on that maiden voyage.

My anxiety was preventing me from doing things I really enjoyed so I knew it was time to get over it once and for all. I was a MESS until I got some coaching and used my ACT tools to finally process the emotions of that accident I witnessed years earlier.

Having a pool and boat ended up being a blessing because it gave me lots of opportunities to re-wire my brain to relax around water. Once I was able to process the emotions from witnessing this terrible accident, it FREED me in a way that’s hard to explain.

It’s like suddenly I had access to a deeper level of relaxation and a reservoir of energy that I had never had access to before.

 

5. You are ignoring your calling.

We are all born with certain interests, talents, and proclivities. Our job, during our lifetime, is to figure out what these things are and to use them to make the world a better place.

You felt called to become a mom, now that you have accomplished that task and soaked up your new identity as a mom, it’s time to figure out “what’s next?” Many moms follow what culture suggests, but this can cause exhaustion if a mom is trying to live a life that isn’t right for them.

Client Teresa

My client Teresa was an ivy league, super-achiever.  She knew how to be successful and rise to the top of any organization she worked for and her resume was impressive. Her job and family relied on her full time but when her girls were 4 and 7 she couldn’t deny this nagging voice inside her anymore.

She was terrified, but finally admitted in a faint whisper, that she really just wanted to stay home, bake cookies and lead Girl’s on The Run.

To many of us, this does not sound sinful, but for her, she was going against her upbringing, her peers, her culture, everything she had been raised to believe her life should be at this stage in her life.

Once she gave herself permission to want what she wants, and admit the truth out loud, she relaxed and had many creative ideas and options for the next stage of her life.

Client Mandy

My other client, Mandy, was a stay home mom. She enjoyed it for many years but wasn’t feeling as satisfied as she once had.

There was plenty to do, but she felt busy, but bored, tired and uninspired. She came to our first coaching call with the common phrase, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me”.

She elaborated by saying, “I should be able to get more done. There are all these tasks I keep procrastinating on. I just don’t feel like doing anything. I have a good life, why can’t I enjoy it more? I’m wondering if I should get a job but I don’t know how I’d find the time to do everything.”

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

She answered, “I don’t know.”

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

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

What is your calling?

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

We try so hard to fit in and live out our parent’s expectations of us, but our calling never goes away.

In fact, the longer you ignore this tugging, the more tired and irritable you will become.

Accepting this calling often means going against societal expectations, otherwise, you would have done it by now.

When you start living a life that is more suited to your uniqueness, your brain is going to freak out. It will come up with every excuse in the book as to why you should NOT take action on your calling.

I’ve coached so many clients into lives they LOVE, where they wake up every day feeling excited and inspired and so grateful they learned to overcome their fears and pursue their passion.

I know the amazing life that awaits clients on the other side of those fears but they can’t see it yet. All they know is that it sucks to not take action, but it’s terrifying TO take action.

I love helping Moms become the hero in their own life and live a life without regret. This is my life’s calling.

If you are feeling TIRED and want to get a glimpse of how much better your life could be, schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

 

Why can’t I ask for help?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Supermom kryptonite: Perfectionism

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

 

Supermom power boost: Practice Receiving

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

 

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