How do I get my family to pitch in and help me?

How do I get my family to pitch in and help me?

Today’s question comes from Elizabeth –

I’m tired of doing all the work! I have 3 school aged kids, a capable husband, a house, 2 dogs and 2 pet rats. When I signed up to be a stay-at-home mom, I did not realize the ridiculous amount of driving, cooking, cleaning, responsibility and work involved with this job! I wanted to be involved with my kids lives, but lately it feels more like slave labor! How do I get my family to pitch in and help me so I can get a frickin’ break?”

I think every mom can relate to this. I remember sitting around with a group of moms talking about where we feel “not good enough”. Some moms felt they should cook healthier and more often, some felt they should clean more, volunteer more, earn more, entertain more, you name it, someone felt bad about it. What we realized is that most of our ideas directly correlated to our own mothers. I grew up in a chronically clean house, so I think mine should be clean, but we didn’t have people over much so I feel super accomplished in the entertaining department. Think what a gift we give our daughters if we drop the ball in more than one area! Score a point for imperfect parenting, your daughters will thank you some day!

I know it SEEMS like your overwhelming responsibilities are the problem. That if your family just stepped up then you could feel better, but that is not the core issue. I’m going to guess that if you had housecleaners come, or your family offered to take over the cooking, or you had a night out, you might feel better for a little bit, but the next day your thoughts would wander right back to “Why do I have to do all the work?”

 

Parent Education Answer – To get your family to pitch in, you ask, assign, and expect. Ask your oldest to walk the dogs, ask your middle to take over folding laundry, ask your youngest to empty the dishwasher. Ask them for help often, assign them a designated chore, and show them how you want it done. Let them see you happy and enjoying your chores. Create a chore chart and keep it up. Just like you taught them to put seat belts on in the car. Consistently, calmly, with the same boring expectation every day.

My hunch is you’ve tried this already so you know it won’t last because your energy isn’t aligned yet. I know it seems like them helping out more is the answer, but if they stepped up, you would think things like: “It’s more work to teach you how, it’s easier to just do it myself.” “That’s ok, I’ll do it.” “He won’t do it right.” “She’s exhausted after school and sports.” “I like doing it my way. ” “I’d rather he do his homework.”

 

The Life Coaching Answer – We need to clean up the mind clutter to get to the core problem. Let me ask you, “How do imagine you would FEEL if your family suddenly swooped in and took over your responsibilities, doing everything beautifully and happily?”  Clients usually would give me one of two answers. Either: appreciated! grateful! ….Or…. lost and aimless.

If you imagine you would finally feel appreciated, this tells me that you are not saying nice encouraging things inside your head. Your thoughts may be filled with “Have to’s” and “shoulds” causing you to feel more like a slave: powerless and imprisoned to your to-do list. Feeling appreciated is OUR responsibility. We need to make sure we are expressing gratitude and appreciation for the work we do.

If you say “lost and aimless”, this tells me that you’ve stopped growing; a very common thing for busy stay home moms. If your calling in life was solely to be a stay home mom, you would feel fulfilled by this job. You might get tired, but take a night off and you’d feel rejuvenated and refreshed.  If you have a calling beyond this role, you’ll start to feel frustrated, irritable, and look for reasons to explain your negative emotion. Frustration and discomfort are what move us to take action. If you want to live a bigger life and make a change but you aren’t, then the endless to-do list is a convenient excuse and distraction.

This used to happen to me, before I started my business. I would hyper-focus on the dishes, how much I hated doing dishes and how unfair it was that my husband did NOTHING while I did EVERYTHING. I agonized over doing the dishes because I was afraid a perfectly clean house would make me feel aimless and purposeless. Now I either do the dishes, or I don’t, but I don’t THINK about the dishes because my brain is full of creative ideas and projects and the rest of my life is fulfilling.

As you eliminate the “have to’s”, “need to’s”, and “should’s” from your vocabulary, you’ll recognize that you are free to make a change. This can be scary for a lot of people so having a life coach during this stage is super helpful. Start noticing what lights you up and where you feel excited or jealous of others. Make a list of 20 things that seem fun to do, learn, or try. Make sure you don’t imprison yourself with rules or expectations, keep it light and playful. If you figure out what your soul is calling for next, write 10 ways to make it happen.

You will be amazed at how much easier responsibilities become when you’ve got something exciting to think about and you aren’t trying to hide from yourself. This is also the perfect time to engage the cooperation of your family in the household chores. Once you know where you want to spend your free time, it’s easier to delegate and engage the cooperation of your family.

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Denying or ignoring your calling. We think our calling is going to be this lovely little whisper through the clouds or that it’s going to glide in on a rainbow, but often, it’s the source of your greatest suffering. I can’t tell you how many clients say, “I have no idea what I want to do with my life.” and I reply with “Well, if you DID know, what do you think it would be? Immediately they know the answer, “I’ve always thought about being a writer, architect, park ranger, nurse.” They are just scared of judgement, taking action, you name it. We fear self identity and that’s ok. Just ACKNOWLEDGING what you want is HUGE. Tell the mirror, tell your journal, take the time to acknowledge what you want and it will boost your energy.

 

Supermom Power Boost: Eliminate “I have to”, “I need to”, or “I should” from your vocabulary, and replace them with “I choose to” “I intend to” or “I will”. I will unload the dishwasher. I choose to make dinner for my family. Remember that you get to do whatever you want! You don’t have to pick your kids up at school. There are consequences to pay, but you are choosing the action because you prefer it to the consequences.

If you’ve got something bubbling up for you that might be a little scary, or you feel like your brain is stuck and won’t let you be playful or dream, schedule a free life coaching call with me at: www.lifecoachingforparents.com/work-with-me

 

Quote of the Day – ”Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

How can I motivate my son to do his homework after school?

Episode #3

How can I motivate my son to do his homework after school?

Today’s question comes from Lyla:

“My son is in 6th grade and isn’t motivated to do his homework. He does the bare minimum to get by. Everyday after school, I suggest, plead, scream, command (depends on my mood) that he GET his homework DONE so he doesn’t have to think about it anymore! All he wants to do after school is get on his skateboard. You’d think that would motivate him to get his homework done! When I make him to sit at the kitchen table with his books after school, he dawdles, complains, and argues with me. If I don’t say anything, and just let him ride his skateboard, he’ll pull his books out at 10:00pm and fall asleep shortly after. How can I motivate my son to do his homework after school?”

This is such a great question because it’s the classic example of Mom having a perfectly logical and reasonable solution to a problem. Getting the homework done after school is a great idea. The problem is, it’s not working. 

Lyla asks the question, “How do I motivate my kid?” but what she is really asking is “How do I motivate my kid to do what I want them to do?”

Parent Educator Answer – Motivating kids is about finding THEIR currency. Most kids want to get good grades, they just may not want to do the work required. Motivating kids is about finding out what works for them and this takes trial and error.

You can try no video games during the week, pulling out a favorite snack during homework time, sitting down at the kitchen table with them to do your own work. When the possibility of video games is available, it keeps the brain flooded with dopamine and can make it harder for kids to do the boring tasks of reading and homework. Eliminating the option can help. If the lure of free skateboarding time isn’t working, then it’s time to try something else.

The most important thing is to avoid a power struggle and get on the same team as your child. When our kids hit adolescence, it’s helpful to switch from being the authority with all the answers, to the coach and cheerleader, asking “How can I support the player?” They are so wired to rebel against parental authority, they might refuse your idea just because it’s your idea. 

Answer compliments of spiritual teacher, Byron Katie –

There are only 3 kinds of business: my business, your business, God’s business (Universe)

My business – Creating a conducive environment for homework (distraction free zone, quiet music, relaxing). I can create natural consequences for poor academic performance like hiring a tutor, meeting with the teacher, or reducing cell phone access. I can reward the EFFORT, not perfectionism.

When kids lose motivation to do well, it’s often because their parents have such high expectation and they feel such pressure, that they purposefully rebel against them.

Your business – What, how, and when you kids do your homework. I can sit at the table and put books in front of you, but I cannot make you read.

God’s business – If school is interesting or boring, hard or easy, it’s God’s business.

Do they like to work hard? Are they detail oriented?  Fast or slow? Are they competitive or collaborative? We can help our kids to appreciate who they are and how they best learn. Do they learn best in groups or alone? Or when they are outside and moving? Be careful not to argue with reality, wishing your kid was wired differently. Once you’ve figured out what is God’s business, you can let it go. There is nothing good to gain from arguing with it. 

 

Staying in “my business”

Movement helps kids process their learning. What if skateboarding is helping him integrate the information he’s already taken in? As our kids grow, we want them to have a good understanding of who they are and how they best learn. As moms, our job is to recognize that there is no right or wrong way. What works for us may not work for our kids, and that’s ok.

What gets in your way when you think about giving up your authority? Do you have a fear of letting go control? It’s really common with Supermoms. But trying to control something you have no control over puts us into struggle. 

At sixth grade, Lyla’s identity is still very enmeshed with her son’s grades and behavior. Her ego is probably tied up with her son’s performance and it’s a great age to separate. How can you still be a good mom while your kid has a D in math? Just because your child has a bad report card, doesn’t mean you get a bad report card as a mom.

You can separate out your ability to feel like a good mom, from your child’s grades, by staying in your own business and the things you have control over. This will allow you look deeper at the issue to understand why he is struggling, without making either of you feel like you are doing something wrong.

The most common thought moms have when their kid has bad grades or isn’t doing his homework, is “I’m not doing a good enough job as a mom.” We think we need to do MORE! This, naturally, gets us all anxious, trying to control the situation.

Circumstance – My kid isn’t doing homework

Thought – I’m not doing enough as a mom / I should be doing more

Feeling – anxious, embarrassed, insecure

Actions – do more, yell, plead, encourage, restrict, get more involved, overreact 

Result – We don’t sound like a coach or cheerleader. We seem needy and attached. Our child HAS to great their grades up in order for us to feel calm.

Instead of the thought, “I’m not doing enough as a mom”, what if we changed the thought to something like ….“He’s showing me what works for him and what doesn’t” ?

Feeling – calm

Action – observe, pay attention to, learn more about who he is, what works, and what doesn’t.

Result – You both are learning more about how to help the “player” win at the game of school. 

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Unproductive worry. Productive means there is an immediate action step to take. Ask yourself, “Is this productive worry or unproductive worry?” If I’m worrying about his bad grade, I could email the teacher, ask a friend for a tutor recommendation. If there is no immediate action step to take, let it go. 

 

Superpower Boost: Only try to control things you have control over. Figure out what here is mine, yours, The Universe’s. Example: 

My business: The food I buy, cook, serve and store in my house.

Their business: What they put into their mouth.

God’s business: They have a sensitive palette, hypo-sensitivity, hyper sensitivity, sugar addiction. 

Make sure you only try to control the things you have control over. You always have control of the thoughts you think, the feelings you feel, and the energy you bring to the relationship. If you want your kids to obey, make sure you stay in calm, confident energy.

 

Quote “Pay close attention to the particular thought you use to deprive yourself of happiness”  Byron Katie

How do I get my teenager to be nice to me? 

Episode #2

How do I get my teenager to be nice to me? 

Question from Amber:

“I have a great teenager. He’s hard working, fun to be around, nice to his sister, in fact, he’s nice to everyone, except ME. When I sit next to him on the couch, he gets up. When I try to hug him, he ducks away. The other day, he was helping his sister with her math and I said, “Thank you so much for helping her, that is so sweet of you.” He immediately stopped helping and walked away. Everything I say is wrong in his eyes. I’m just want to feel close to him and love him and he won’t let me. I expected some teenage rebellion, but the only thing he’s rebelling against is ME. How can I get my teenager to be nice to me?”

The parent educator answer: 

A teenager’s job is to fire their parent. A parent’s job is to earn a place at the kid’s board of director’s table. It sounds like your teenager is doing his job. He’s telling you, mostly through body language, your work here is done. I don’t need mommying anymore. I don’t need your approval, hugs, attention, or anything that makes me feel like a boy. I’m ready to stand on my own two feet and be a man, take responsibility for my life and I can’t be that man when I have the same relationship with you that we’ve always had. The parents job then, is simply, to let go. Easy, right? 

The life coaching answer:

Easier said than done. 

Some helpful questions to ask are: “WHY is it so hard to let go?” “What am I making the fact that he pulls away from me mean?” and “what is it that I really want?”

Let’s take a look at the facts of the situation: He stands up when you sit next to him. When you try to hug him, he ducks away. He tells you that you are wrong. These are just neutral facts.

Can you imagine another mom might not be bothered by this? She might think, “Finally, some time to myself!” or “Fine! He doesn’t want me around, I don’t want him around.” or maybe she wouldn’t notice or care?

The reason this is bothering you is because of what you are making it mean. 

Right now, with his behavior, I’m going to guess you feel annoyed and frustrated.

We all have a default emotion, something we feel easily and often. Underneath this is a hidden, more vulnerable emotion, one that we try really hard not to feel. 

My hunch is that what Amber is making her son’s behavior mean is: “I’m losing him” and the feeling she’s trying not to feel is sadness.

Some moms have no trouble with sadness but many of us avoid it and get annoyed instead.

In this case, Amber doesn’t want to think about losing her baby boy, so every time he pulls away, she clings on tighter. She feels more and more vulnerable as she tries to control something she has no control over. She thinks, “If he would just be nice to me, then I wouldn’t have to feel insecure.” She’s putting all the power to feel secure and happy, in the hands of her rebellious teenager who is trying to DISTANCE himself from her. The more he pulls away, the tighter she holds on.

The solution to this isn’t to “make him nicer” but to acknowledge the truth of what is happening here.

You are losing your little boy. The relationship you had with him will never be the same. It’s ok to grieve the loss of the wonderfully close relationship you had with him. 

This is not to say you won’t have a relationship with him. It’s just time for the relationship to evolve. Right now, you can’t say or do anything right because of the ENERGY you are bringing to him. It’s so one sided.

When this was happening to me, I was so confused. My husband helped me see it this way…

“It’s like you are his stalker. It doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it. You could be the most perfect mom on the planet, nobody wants to agree with their stalker. No one wants to hug their stalker.” 

The way to get your son to be nicer, is to pull your energy WAY back. To grieve the loss of the relationship you had. Treat yourself to a vacation for all the work you put into raising him. Give yourself a certificate, a trophy, something to signify that your work is done and it’s time to change the power dynamic from you as authority/ approver/holder of wisdom and put you on the same level as your son. You are both imperfect, learning, growing, and changing.

Here are 4 tips to help you let go of your teen so he doesn’t need to push you away.

  1. Love more, care less. When kids are little, love and care go hand in hand. Care involves food, clothing, hygiene, how they spend their free time, etc. As they grow into adolescents, mommy taking care of them, thinking about their food, clothing, hygiene, etc, feels overprotective. Teens want to care for themselves, so learning to separate love and care is an important milestone for Supermoms. You will always have “mother’s eyes”. You will always be able to spot potential hazards, ways he could do better, chores that need to be done, better food choices to make, improvements in hygiene, appearance, and ways he could challenge himself more and increase his potential. Probably until the day he dies you will be able to notice these things. The trick is to love the imperfect teenager he is today (without futurizing and catastrophizing), and care less about the details of how he’s living his life. Focusing on loving more, while caring less about them, will set them free to grow into independence.
  2. “Would I say that to a roommate?” You are co-habitating with your son, so using a roommate analogy will help your relationship step into adulthood. You might ask your roommate “How did you do on your test?” but you wouldn’t ask “Did you study?”  You wouldn’t say to a roommate, “Thank you so much for helping your sister with her math” because you are interjecting yourself into his relationship. A simple “You are so nice to your sister!” would be enough. You can ask your roommate to take out the trash but you wouldn’t get weepy if they didn’t feel like hugging you.
  3. Focus on yourself. The question, “Who am I if I’m not his mommy?” sends us into an identity crisis. Think about how the lives of your parents changed after you moved out and see if it’s something that looks appealing to you?  If not, you are probably going to cling even tighter. Create a vision for yourself separate from your roll as mom. Supermoms are very involved with their kids lives and the thought of not being needed or wanted in the same way can cause us to panic.
  4. Create a vision of yourself and your future that excites you. Do you want more time for creative projects? More time for outdoor adventure? Do you feel like learning a new skill, taking on a new challenge, or pushing yourself to play bigger in your life? Is there anything you enjoyed but put on hold when the kid’s activities took over?  Use your imagination to create a picture of your future that is fun and energizing.

Supermom Kryptonite: Letting your teenager take the emotional lead in the home. When we put our ability to be happy in the hands of our teenagers, we ride the emotional roller coaster along with them. If you think: “I can’t be happy until my teen is” it will exhaust you. Instead, you decide how you want to feel and let your teenager follow your emotional lead. 

Supermom Power Boost – Use your creativity (photography, crafts, etc.) or at least use your imagination to create what you want.

Quote“Live out of your imagination, not your history.” Steven Covey

 

How do I get my kids to listen to me?

Episode #1 “How do I get my kids to listen to me?”

Today’s question 

“I feel like I walk around all day barking orders. ‘Pick up your shoes, turn off the TV, finish your homework, clear your plate.” I’m exhausted from the constant negotiating and push back I seem to constantly get and want to know, how the heck do I get my kids to listen to me?”  Christina

The Parent Education Answer

For 30 minutes a week, I teach English to kids who are new to the country. Getting kids to listen is to me is very important and the technique is quite simple. You crouch down to their level, use very slow and deliberate speech, look them in the eye, make sure you are speaking clearly and repeat yourself if necessarry, check with them to make sure they understand, and ask them to repeat what you said after you.

If Christina was to do this, I’m sure her kids would listen to her. It would be hard not to! But what Christina is really asking, is how do I get my kids to OBEY me?

The Life Coaching Answer (how to make actual, long lasting change)

I think the reason Christina is feeling so frustrated and exhausted is because she has the belief that “They should just do what I say.” When we have the thought “They should do what I say AND THEY AREN’T,” we get frustrated and annoyed. When we feel this way, we nag, complain, maybe even avoid asking for what we want because we assume we aren’t going to get it. When we act this way, we aren’t coming from our leadership energy. Kids are wired to follow a calm, confident leader. When we have the thought: “they should obey me,” and they aren’t doing it, we lose our confidence and authority. The kids pick up on our wimpy, angry energy and are more likely to ignore and avoid us.

If we want to change this dynamic, we need to question the thought “They should just do what I say.” Is it true? Are you absolutely sure it’s true that kids should obey every time, immediately, without negotiation? Try changing your thought to something that doesn’t argue with reality, but accepts the actual situation instead.

“I’m so glad I have a normal kid who doesn’t want to do chores.”

“I can trust my kid to ignore me the first time I ask.”

“She is showing me I’m not in my calm leadership energy.”

The times you feel calm and in your leadership energy is when to request something from your child. Look her in the eye, slow your speech, and ask for what you want.

The problem arises when we ask our kids to do things SO THAT WE CAN FEEL GOOD. We think that if they would step up and do what we are asking then we could feel relaxed, calm, and appreciated. When we do this, we are putting our ability to feel good into the hands of our disobedient child. Not a great plan! Instead, take responsibility for your emotions first and don’t wait for your kid’s obedience in order to feel the way you want to feel.

When we take responsibility for our own emotions, we have more control and increase our chances of getting what we want.

The energy of leadership comes from our posture, voice tone, facial expression, and eye contact. The thoughts we think are what effect these things. If we think, “My kids will comply when I’m in my calm, leadership energy” and we focus on the things we have control over (posture, voice, feelings, etc.) we are more likely to get what we want. If we focus on things we don’t have control over (what our child says, does and feels) we feel yucky and are less likely to get what we want.

Today’s Supermom Krpytonite: EXPECTATION (the secret energy drain you might not know is making you tired). Listen to the story about my daughter on Halloween and how stressed out I became with the innocent thought: “This supposed to be fun.” Align your expectations with reality to help you feel at peace with any situation.

Today’s Supermom Power Boost: Decide ahead of time how you want to feel. Don’t put your ability to feel good, in the hands of your child. Take responsibility for how you want to feel BEFORE negotiating with your kiddo.

Today’s Quote:

“Expectation is the MOTHER of all frustration.” Antonio Banderas

Spending the holidays with annoying people

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead to an understanding of ourselves.” Carl Jung

So you will be spending the holidays with an annoying family member you don’t like.

You think it will be better this year. You won’t let them get to you.

As soon as you see this annoying person, you tighten up. You look away, then remember you are trying to be polite. You smile, say hello, engage in enough small talk so that you can avoid them the rest of the night without appearing rude. It works for a little while…until the wine kicks in and the comments come out….

Trumps latest political tirade. Your son’s behavior. Your daughter’s weight gain. The passive aggressive bragging about why they are better than you. The off-color joke. The rude comment.

You feel yourself starting to lose it. Promising yourself you won’t do this again. This is the last time.

You. are. done.

This holiday tradition happens in many homes around the country. But the best way to deal with it is before the event begins.

Instead of avoiding the issue and pretending like everything will be fine, use your past experience to predict and plan for the future.

I know it seems like THAT person is the annoying one and if they would just behave appropriately, then you could enjoy the family gathering. But THAT PERSON isn’t the problem.

The reason we get so annoyed is because of who we become when we are with them.

We don’t like tensing up and “making nice” when we don’t feel like it. It’s easy to get annoyed with ourselves for not saying the right thing at the right time. We wouldn’t be so bothered by them, if we acted in a way we admired. The reason that person gets under our skin is because of how we act when we’re around them.

The best way to stay true to yourself, no matter who is around or what they are saying, is to give other people permission to be who they are.

Give your uncle permission to think Trump is the lord and savior of our country.

Give your aunt permission to make passive aggressive comments about your unruly children.

Allow your Dad to raise his eyebrows at your spending habits.

Trust your Mom to make comments about your weight.

Give your brother permission to brag about his expensive splurges.

Expect your boss to make inappropriate comments about your co-worker.

Write down everything ridiculous thing you think might happen at your holiday party. (Doing this with a friend doubles the fun!)

Then watch the party unfold and your brain stay calm. This activity keeps you from arguing and getting annoyed “He’s an idiot, She shouldn’t say that, that is NOT OK!” to feeling satisfied, “I knew he was going to say that”.

This creates a win-win scenario for you. You either get to be right, or you get to have a peaceful evening without getting triggered by idiots.

You get to decide what you think, how you feel, and how you act. When we spend time with annoying people, it doesn’t feel like we have control over this. Allowing other people to be idiots, allows us to be ourselves, and stay in control.

If you struggle to stay calm and true to yourself around certain family members, schedule a free discovery call and let’s get you reconnected with your higher self, no matter who is around you.