feeling bad for my senior

Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

Episode #65 – It’s hard to watch my child be sad

Question of the Day:

“I feel so bad for my high school senior. We just found out there will be no school for the rest of the year. She had so many things to look forward to: dance recitals, prom, graduation and all the parties and celebrations surrounding the end of year. My daughter has worked SO HARD throughout high school, only to have it end so abruptly. She didn’t get to say goodbye or mentally prepare to never see friends, teachers, or high school again. The first week at home was great. She needed the rest and seemed to enjoy the break. But now, she has lost all motivation. Even when she has the opportunity to connect with friends online, dance or work on school projects, she does the bare minimum. 

She’s grumpy, laying around in her sweats, moving from bed to the kitchen to the couch and I feel so bad.”

I’m still exercising, getting outside, working from home and I would say my social life has actually improved as I now have more time to connect with friends I wasn’t seeing regularly. How can I help my disappointed, unmotivated teen, feel better?

Marlene

 

Parent Educator Answer:

If we set the Coronavirus aside and just take a look at what’s developmentally normal for 17-18 year olds, what we typically find is a fundamental shift in identity. You’ll hear parents talk about the dramatic changes their teens make during these years when it comes to maturity, responsibility, confidence, and social acceptance. 

Most of us go through about 4-6 major transitions in our lifetime. I’m not talking about a season of life, but a fundamental change in who you are and how you see yourself. The senior year of high school to the first year of college is very often the first major transformation. They are letting go of the old self: the child who lives at home and follows rules that someone else has set for them. 

This transformation into the responsible adult is not easy or pretty. It’s not uncommon to hear some parents complain about their teens “crapping in the nest before they leave it” or struggling so much the first year of college that they end up coming home.

 

Because we’ve been through a few transitions already, we know that there is a great and exciting life on the other side of this transformation. 

Think of it like a caterpillar transitioning into a butterfly. All through childhood, your baby is becoming a bigger, fatter, smarter caterpillar. Changing for sure, but fundamentally the same species, a kid. At some point, usually during the end of adolescence, your caterpillar starts to change. The first step in this transformation is the building of a cocoon. This helps them feel safe enough to fall apart. To dissolve the old self. If you break open a cocoon, you’ll find a liquid, caterpillar soup. The old self needs to completely dissolve in order to re-build into a newly formed adult. 

In Finding Your Own North Star, Martha Beck identifies the predictable stages we all go through when transforming from our old self to our new self. 

 

Square 1: Falling Apart – Dissolution of the old identity. 

Sometimes this happens slowly over time where we gradually outgrow our old life. People outgrow marriages and careers. We get 9 months to grow into our new identities as mom but even then there is a lot of falling apart that happens that first year we have a baby. 

Other times we get thrown into square one with no warning. A death in the family. A diagnosis. A global pandemic.

Your daughter has been thrown into square one without her consent. Her identity has been stripped 

 

away. The only choice she has is to let go of the old self. To say goodbye to the high school student, the dancer, the friends and acquaintances she will no longer see on a daily basis. Many of us fight and cling to hold on to the old ways because the new ways are so vague, uncertain, and confusing. 

The fastest way through square one is right through the middle of it. To feel all the feels. To mourn and grieve and be sad. To swear and complain and lay around in your PJ’s. The mantra Martha Beck offers that always seems to help is, “I don’t know what the hell is going on, and that’s ok.” 

The caterpillar doesn’t know why it feels the way it feels, why it doesn’t want to eat anymore, or why it’s spinning a cocoon. It just follows its instincts. Eventually, the grief, anger and disappointment will pass and she will move on to square two, dreaming about what’s next. 

 

Square 2: Dreaming and Scheming 

The caterpillar has imago cells; an image of the butterfly it’s meant to become. I believe we also have things imprinted in us; talents, interests, and proclivities we are meant to explore. We have places we are meant to visit and experiences we are meant to have. 

You’ll know your daughter is entering square two when she starts redecorating her room, changing her hair, clothes, or somehow trying on a new identity. You’ll hear her say things like, “I think I’ll join ____ club in college” or “I applied for a job at ____” .  The mantra for this phase is “There are no rules and that’s ok.” 

 

Square 3: The Hero’s Saga

This is the hard work we must go through in order to feel grounded in our new identity. In our caterpillar metaphor, this is becoming a butterfly. Once it is formed, the butterfly needs to push and kick and struggle to break free of the cocoon. If you were to come along and help free the butterfly, it would die. The struggle is an important part of becoming a fully formed and healthy butterfly. 

The struggle for an adolescent entering adulthood can look like: getting a flat tire, missing a deadline, washing a load of laundry with strawberry chapstick, having roommate conflicts, oversleeping and missing a test, SO MANY THINGS! 

The mantra to help get through square 3 is “This is harder than I thought it was going to be and that’s ok.” (Post this mantra near your phone during her first year of college!) 

 

Square 4: The Promised Land

The fully formed butterfly. The responsible adult. There are still minor things to learn and adjust to but you feel pretty solid in your identity. You no longer need your parents in the same way. You trust yourself to handle new and difficult situations. 

So the answer to “How can I help my daughter feel better?” is to be a compassionate witness. 

Allow her to feel as terrible as she needs to feel. Use emotion words and reflect back what you think she’s feeling and thinking: “It’s so disappointing. This quarantine is scary and frustrating.” 

Let her know she isn’t alone: “There are so many kids your age feeling isolated and frustrated about this whole situation.”

Mirror her body language and voice tone, but don’t “fall down the well” with her.

 

Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way? Beware of “Falling down the well.”

 

It’s so hard to watch our kids suffer and not be able to do anything about it!  We have this strange cultural belief that says: “My job is to make sure my kid doesn’t suffer.” We think “suffering is bad” and “a good mom should be able to prevent their child from experiencing too much negative emotion.” When we think this way, we feel helpless. Nobody likes feeling helpless so we jump in and try to help by either telling them what they should do to feel better, or feeling bad right along with them in solidarity. 

When we see someone we love suffering, sometimes we do this by “jumping down the well” with them. Our kid has fallen down a well of despair and we commiserate. We feel bad WITH them so at least they feel like they aren’t alone. 

I used to do this with my husband. He’d come home from work complaining about how stressful his day was and I would find the most stressful parts of my day and share them so he’d feel supported. Nice idea, but it doesn’t work. Husbands want to come home to a peaceful, happy house. It’s the reason they work so hard in the first place, to provide a good home to their family. 

When he would come home stressed only to find me equally as stressed, it made him feel worse. 

When moms feel as bad (if not MORE devastated) than their teens, it doesn’t make the teen feel supported. Your teen doesn’t want a mom who is suffering. This is her pain, and her suffering. You don’t have to be happy that your daughter has fallen down a well of despair, but you can still enjoy the beautiful sunshine and throw her a rope once in a while. You can be compassionate – “that really sucks” and “I’m sorry your senior year got ripped away from you” – but still live your life with joy and optimism for yourself and for her future. It feels awkward to be happy when your child is suffering. You don’t have to be happy about her suffering, but you can help her find purpose and meaning in it. 

When you can’t be happy, making meaning is the next best thing. Inside your head, believe that this experience will make her more compassionate to others who suffer, more resilient to future upsets, more adaptable to handle this uncertain and ever-changing world. 

When a mom shows compassion and believes that good things will come from this bad experience, it provides a safe harbor from the stormy seas. Your teen may not be ready to move through square one as quickly as you’d like her to, but when she is ready, she will know where to go to find a safe, happy, and peaceful harbor.

 

Kryptonite – Mental Prison

At the end of the last podcast, I mentioned to the client I was coaching to make sure she doesn’t mentally imprison herself. During this “shelter in place” quarantine, it’s especially important not to feel trapped or stuck. 

I used to do this to myself when my kids were little. I would think things like, “I can’t leave the house.” “I have to stay here.” “I can’t do what I want.” These thoughts create the feeling of helplessness and powerlessness. 

Just like in the question above, thoughts like “I should be able to help my daughter and I can’t.” or “She shouldn’t have to deal with this (and she is).” create a helpless or powerless feeling.

Humans are meant to be free. When we believe we are powerless, it does terrible things to the human psyche. It is much better for our psychological and emotional well being to think, “I can leave the house but I choose not to because I love my family.” or “I want to stay home because I prefer it to the potential consequences of walking out.” 

If you’ve got a depressed, anxious, stressed, or disappointed person living in your house, you are not powerless. You don’t have to feel what they are feeling. You can feel peaceful, happy, grateful, or whatever you want to feel, even if no one else feels the same. 

Let yourself be that safe harbor where your family can come home after spending time on stormy seas.

 

Power Boost: Are you ready for an upgrade?

The other night at the dinner table (we’ve been having a lot more family dinners now that there are no sports), one of my kids asked what the difference is between a version 1.2 software update and a 2.0 software upgrade. My husband explained that a small software update (the kind which adds numbers after the decimal, includes small improvements, bug fixes, and minor enhancements. A Larger software upgrade means to improve something to a higher standard. It provides significant changes and major improvements. It’s an entirely new version of the same software program. 

As we grow up, we are constantly updating. But, about 5 times in our life, we go through a major, version 2.0 upgrade. Martha Beck talks about this in terms of our identity; a letting go of the old self to make room for the new self. 

For many of us, this Coronavirus has created too many bugs in our software. For high school seniors, athletes who play spring sports, parents who have lost their jobs, suffered economic blows, this Coronavirus may require a major version upgrade. For kids and parents who are LOVING this quarantine and don’t want to go back to their old ways, they may be ready for a major upgrade. 

Today’s Supermom Power Boost is to talk to your friends, teens, spouse, and parents about how many upgrades they’ve gone through in their life. Because of moving countries, states, cities, and schools multiple times before the age of 10, my husband says he’s up to version 9.0. I had a very stable childhood so my first upgrade didn’t come until I was 20. Living on my own, getting married, becoming a mom, overcoming anxiety, becoming a life coach, brings me up to version 5.2.or so. It was interesting to hear my daughter say she’s still on version 1 and my son say it was his senior year of high school that moved him from 1.9 to 2.0. 

What version of you are you on? Life coaching transforms my clients into new versions of themselves. If this Coronavirus is giving you too many bugs in your software and you feel like things aren’t working the way they used to, perhaps you are ready to let go of the old version and make room for a significant upgrade in your parenting, career, or relationships? 

Quote of the Day:

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of those depths.” Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

 

  

Feeling appreciated, even with a critical spouse

Episode # 64  I want to feel appreciated – coaching session

Do you struggle to feel like your spouse really appreciates all the work you do?

Are you a stay-home mom but feel like you have to “pull your weight”. Working really hard to do everything right, thinking you haven’t EARNED self-care?

Then this episode is for you!

Listen in as I coach a new mom into feeling worthy and deserving of the great life she has.

We all come to parenting with an invisible manual of what makes a good mom. This manual contains beliefs like:

Kids get good grades, eat healthy well-balanced meals, and are respectful and obedient.

Moms keep a tidy home, organized and cook delicious meals. Moms are patient with their kids, creative and love every moment of parenting their children.

When we don’t think we are living up to our perfectionistic picture of what a “good mom” should be doing, we feel guilty, inadequate and put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be better.

 

This anonymous client, wants to feel appreciated even when her husband makes a critical comment.

When he criticizes something, she feels like she’s not measuring up. She worries that her husband thinks he made a mistake when he married her.

 

Circumstance – Husband makes a critical comment

Thought – I’m not measuring up. He made a mistake by marrying me

Feeling – scared (brain goes into the fight, flight or freeze response)

Action – compare & despair, pretend everything is ok, tell herself I shouldn’t be so sensitive, try extra hard to be perfect, withdraw love from husband, put pressure on, ignore own needs.

Result – You both are in critical brains instead of coming from love.

 

Marriage is unpredictable. We have no idea what’s going to happen in the future. All we know is in the past he chose to marry you, and right now, he is choosing to stay married to you.

 

Circumstance – Husband makes a critical comment

Thought – I can love him.

Feeling – loving, affectionate

Action – What do you LIKE about the meal? Shift both of your brains out of criticism and into love. “What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?”

R – Feel more loving and generous. Both enjoy the marriage more.

 

When you are in fear, you also can’t feel loving. Release the fear and you both get to enjoy feeling loving towards one another.

At the end, I mention the Supermom Challenge. With all of us stuck at home with kids, I think now is the perfect time. The 7-day Supermom Challenge is all about reconnecting with yourself, paying attention to what you want and need. Mark your calendars for April 20 – 26.

SIGN UP FOR THE SUPERMOM CHALLENGE

Staying sane at home with kids (COVID-19)

Question of the Day:

Any suggestions for how we all survive the next 3+ weeks without school due to COVID19? How do we stay sane?

Jacqueline

Parent Educator Answer: 

Staying home with kids for 3+ weeks is actually a neutral circumstance. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this even though most moms would agree it’s a recipe for insanity. What Jacqueline’s question showed me, is that her brain had gone into fight, flight, or freeze. 

The fight, flight or freeze response is our brains natural instinct when faced with a life threatening situation.  Our brain can’t differentiate between real life and imagination. Whatever she is thinking and imagining how the next few weeks would be, it’s a very fear inducing picture. 

The way fight response shows up for Supermoms during Covid 19:

  • Yelling at your family to wash their damn hands, not go outside, disinfect, etc.
  • Getting annoyed with kids for not doing enough school work, making too many messes, just about everything.
  • Fighting with husbands over the distribution of labor in the home, leaving the house…everything.
  • Arguing with reality. Blaming. Rebelling against recommendations. 

 

The flight response shows up for Supermoms by:

  • Busily moving from one task to the other, anything with a sense of urgency. 
  • Getting annoyed with kids for not working hard enough.
  • Emotional eating, drinking, or other avoidant activities.
  • Calling everyone you know.
  • Ignoring requests to stay home.
  • Intellectual action: researching, worrying, planning, anticipating future problems.

The freeze response can look like:

  • Moving slowly, not really accomplishing anything.
  • Binge watching netflix or news channels 
  • Over sleeping, feeling lethargic, zombie mommy mode
  • Not feeling fully alive or present. 
  • Difficulty making decisions or thinking clearly. 

 

I can’t help Jacqueline unless I know what exactly she is scared of.

If Coronavirus social distancing is leaving you worried or anxious, the first step is to ask yourself what specifically you are afraid of and why you are afraid of it. Sometimes you need to ask “why” a few times to get down to the core fear. 

Here’s Jacqueline’s response to my question, “What specifically are you afraid of?” 

“For me, I am most concerned with staying patient, especially with my 6 year old who struggles to follow instructions and is often very needy.

With school and camps in the summer we get a break from each other regularly enough to stay sane. Several weeks together seems daunting!

I don’t want to resort to screen time but need to get my own work done. Setting boundaries with her about time for me is challenging. 

I wish this could feel like a gift of time with the kids but I don’t enjoy parenting much, so it fills me with dread. So many people are going to be worse off so I hate to complain.”

Now that we know her main concern is “losing patience” we can dive into the life coaching answer. 

 

Life Coaching Answer:

What Jacqueline doesn’t realize is that the thing that’s scaring her the most is what she is going to say to herself about herself when she loses her patience. It’s always the biggest fear. We think our children dying is our biggest fear, but people die. Death and grief are normal parts of the human experience. The WORST thing that will happen is what we will say to ourselves if they die: “I shouldn’t have let her go to the park.” “I should have been more diligent with the hand washing.” “I failed as a parent.”

What are the scary things Jacqueline will say to herself when she loses her patience with her daughter? I don’t know, but I’m going to guess it’s something like, “I messed up.” “I’m not a good mom.” “I’m failing.” It’s the shame and guilt that follow that kind of self berating, that is making this shelter-in-place seem unbearable.

Jacqueline says, “I don’t enjoy parenting much so it fills me with dread.” But the cause of dread is the thoughts she will have about herself in the future. When she attempts to do something like set a boundary with her child but are filled with dread, worried about the beating you will give yourself after, it makes it really hard to set that boundary. 

Kids can sense our wishy-washy energy and dismiss it. When we’ve got an “inner mean girl” inside our heads that we don’t have control over, it makes it hard to parent from calm confidence. 

What I work with my clients on, is recognizing this “inner mean girl” and learning how to work with her. Say hello to her, but don’t let her be in charge. This is your brain and your life and you get to decide how you want to feel about your parenting. 

Feeling guilty sucks. Sometimes we think guilt is a sign of being caring and conscientious but it doesn’t help you parent effectively. Your daughter deserves to have a mom who is confident, peaceful, and joyful. Make a decision to speak nicely to yourself no matter how imperfectly you parent. Set the intention to support yourself with kindness and compassion, especially during this crazy time. 

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Thinking life should be “business as usual” 

 

So many moms are stressing themselves out trying to be the perfect homeschooling parent while continuing to do a seamless job working from home. If ever there has been a time to let perfectionism go it is NOW. 

We are so accustomed to following orders and doing what we are told that it’s natural we would try and bring that into a pandemic. We learned how to be successful in life by jumping through hoops, getting good grades, doing what others expected of us, and obeying expectations. 

The SCARY and BEAUTIFUL thing is that there is NO RIGHT WAY to move through a global pandemic. Other than STAY HOME, we get to figure out what works for us. There is no right or wrong here. 

Can you have kids playing in the background during client calls? of course! 

Do you have to homeschool? Absolutely not. 

Can you be in the kitchen during conference calls? How else will your kids eat? 

Won’t your children fall behind if they don’t stay on top of their school work? Every child will fall behind.

Can your kids go a week without bathing?  MINE DID!

There are no rules to surviving a global pandemic; and that’s ok. Create a structure if that feels good to you. Let your kids sleep, cry, play, and do whatever they need to do to adjust to this new normal. 

We have no idea what will happen at the end of this. Our economy is falling apart. Certain infrastructures will not survive. The skills you and your kids will need in the future are resourcefulness, passion, curiosity and being open to opportunities. 

My highest hope is that kids will use this time to explore their own interests and discover their passions. With this break from school as we know it, I would love to  see a mini-renaissance. Children will discover their own creativity, explore art, music, and other pursuits ignited by curiosity and passion, not from external authority. 

Our children will remember this “Coronavirus Quarantine” for the rest of their lives. Let’s do whatever it takes to make it a positive experience for them, and US. Let it be a time where you softened and they had freedom to explore. A time of independence where they learn to cook, do laundry, and trust that the answers they need to be successful in life have always been inside them. 

  

Supermom Power Boost – Netflix Party Workout 

 

My 15 year old daughter introduced me to a Netflix Party Workout. You can get the free Netflix Party Chrome Extension which allows you to watch a show while interacting with your friends. Once you and your friends have picked a show to watch together, go on Pinterest and search “Netflix workouts.” There you will see fun creative ways people have been turning their favorite shows into exercise programs. 

“Squat during every surgery on Gray’s Anatomy and plank when they talk about sex.” 

“Do a burpee every time Jim from The Office looks at the camera.”

“Five pushups when Sheldon states a scientific fact on Big Bang Theory.”

“Do ten lunges every time someone on Survivor finds an immunity idol”

“Ten jumping jacks every time ‘He who must not be named’ is named.” 

 

I love how this combines socialization, exercise, and entertainment. What I love even more is that this is something the younger generation made up on their own, demonstrating their resourcefulness, desire to stay connected and have fun.

 

Quote of the Day:

“The greatest danger during times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” Peter Drucker

 

Entertaining a young child so mom can work from home

Coaching Call – How to entertain a young child so mom can get work done?

Episode #58

Listen in as I coach a mom trying to keep her 5 year old entertained while she works from home.

Question of the Day:

Today’s Question comes from Carola Fuertes. Carola is a weight loss coach looking for parenting help for her 5 year old son. If you are ready for a compassionate approach to weight loss contact her at www.CarolaFuertes.com or www.naturalweightcoach.com

“My husband and I both work from home and our five year old is out of school for the summer. He is reckless, climbing up on counters, finding things that we’ve hidden, dangerous things like medications. For his own safety, I need him to stop getting into everything but he won’t listen to me. 

I explain to him why I have boundaries and he doesn’t listen to me or my rules. I like that he cares about what he wants and goes after it, but for safety reasons, we need him to obey. I can’t seem to make him do what I say. I feel powerless, frustrated and defeated. Sometimes it feels like he’s doing it to spite me which makes me mad. I might yell, throw a fit, put him in time out, but then I’m parenting in a way I don’t like.”

How can I stop my son’s reckless behavior without yelling?

 

 

 

Disrespectful kids leave stuff everywhere


Disrespectful kids leave stuff everywhere.

Question of the Day: Dealing with Disrespectful Kids

“My kids are so disrespectful! From the second they walk in the door, they throw their backpacks, shoes, jackets all over the house. They KNOW they are supposed to hang them up and put their lunch leftovers on the counter but they don’t. They leave it in their backpack until the food starts to smell disgusting. I am constantly on them to pick up their stuff, it’s exhausting. What do you when your perfectly reasonable requests are constantly ignored?” Jane

disrespectful kids leaving stuff everywhere

 

Parent Educator Answer: 

My first answer is to come to the Raising Responsible Kids online workshop on Saturday, February first! Here, I’m going to go over everything you need to know to delegate effectively. 

 

You didn’t say how old your kids were, but I’m going to guess they are school-aged and clearly old enough to master the task at hand. 

 

With little kids, you would want to be more instructive, “Put your sandwich bag in the trash and rinse your lunch box out in the sink.” With older kids, ask them before you get into the house if they know what your expectations are for their backpack, shoes, jacket, and lunch. If they say they do, then remind them with just one word. 

 

If you are like most Supermoms, we use way too many words. We nag, lecture, complain and it just makes our kids tune out and ignore us. It also annoys them, which makes them NOT want to do what we are asking. A simple one-word reminder: “shoes” or “lunchbox” should do the trick. 

 

If you watch them walk into the house and remind them with a word as soon as they drop their stuff on the floor, soon it will become a habit and they will do it automatically, If not, go back to the first step and ask them before they walk into the house if they know what to do with their stuff. 

 

Simple, easy, boring. So why is it such a challenge for SOOOO MANY OF US?

 

Life Coaching Answer: 

The reason these simple instructions are so hard to follow is because you are pissed! 

When we perceive our children’s behavior as disrespectful, we get MAD. The positive side of anger is to help us notice injustice. But to get kids to clean up, we need to be calm, patient, and confident. So what gets in our way from teaching our kids how to manage their belongings is our perception that the kid’s behavior is disrespectful. 

Are you absolutely sure that your kids are trying to disrespect you by dumping their stuff? If a handyman walked into your house and dumped his toolbox and coat by the front door, would you think it was disrespectful?

When you were lugging around a baby in a car seat, did you ever dump your diaper bag and car seat by the front door when you walked into someone else’s house? If so, were you trying to disrespect the homeowner? Of course, not. 

 

When you think your kids are disrespecting you, you get mad. You are short with them, you yell, nag, your tone, and posture changes. You lose the leadership energy that makes kids do what you ask. 

 

So often we want to quickly switch to a better feeling thought. We think, “anger is bad, patience is good. From now on, I will be calm and patient until they learn the routine.” and you do it for a day or two, but a week later, you are right back to feeling disrespected. Has this ever happened to you? 

 

If so, it’s time we honor the anger. It is true that the distribution of duties in the home is unjust. You have WAY more on your shoulders than anyone else, and it isn’t fair.

When we learn how to turn the dial up on our anger and allow it (away from the kids), then we also learn how to turn it down. Trying to suppress anger can last forever, but allowing anger to move through your body in a physical way, can only last for 90 seconds. 

 

Think about a toddler throwing a tantrum. Notice how PHYSICAL it is for them. They cross their arms, scrunch their face, clench their fists and stomp their feet. Find a private place and do it with me now.

Anger is a healthy and normal human emotion but, societally, women are not given permission to feel it or express it. Put your body into a position of anger: stand up, clench your fists, stop, hit the pillow on your bed.

It is 100% unfair that you do so much for these kids with so little appreciation in return. They will never know how much work you do for their lazy butts all day long. Really let yourself go there, feel the fire in your belly, swear, let it all out. 

 

After 90 seconds you might notice you feel better. Emotion is energy in motion. When we suppress it and try not to feel it, we distance ourselves from ALL the emotions. When we can fully allow anger, disappointment, and shame, we also get full access to joy, love, and peace.

 

This is what we are trying to get when we complain to our husbands. We get annoyed because they tell us how to fix our problem when really we just want to feel felt. We want to feel like he gets the struggles and frustrations we went through that day. When we vent to our girlfriends or cry or go to a kickboxing class, we feel better after because we processed the emotion and moved it out of our system. 

 

Teaching kids to take responsibility for themselves is really quite simple. The problem is there are a lot of barriers that get in our way from delegating to them. We:

  1. label their behavior as disrespectful.
  2. think a good mom should be able to do all the work.
  3. don’t want to watch our kids struggle or suffer. We’d rather rescue them.
  4. want them to do it “right” the first time without the learning curve.
  5. feel bad putting more on their to-do list. 
  6. resist relaxation. We pride ourselves on being busy and overwhelmed. 
  7. want to feel needed. 

 

We will be working on these at the Raising Responsible Kids workshop, so please join. You will leave there with a clear strategy and an experience of being in calm, confident energy. You will learn how to talk to kids in a way that makes them want to obey you! 

Go to: lifecoachingforparents.com/workshop

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Over-parenting. Doing too much for our kids. 

I ran into my friend at the hardware store the other day, she was buying light bulbs for her son’s bathroom after noticing they were out. I asked if she was going to replace them herself or have him do it. She paused and looked at me incredulously, “Should I have HIM do it? I should! I shouldn’t even say anything, I’ll just leave the lightbulbs on the bathroom counter!” 

Mamas, her son is 20 years old. 

When our kids are little, we show we love them by taking care of them. Care and love are intertwined. As they grow into adolescents, we need to separate the two.

We need to stop caring FOR them so much. Continuing to do things for them that they are capable of doing themselves can delay their maturity and lessen their self-esteem. 

When we continue to take care of them, we treat them like the child they were instead of the adult we want them to become. Many teens will push back against our over-parenting and show us that it’s time to back off, others will not.

Many teens will continue to ask for our help because they lack confidence in their own abilities. Confidence comes from competence and the only way to build competence is to make lots of mistakes. 

If my friend’s son was living in a house with other 20-year-old men, they might live in a dark bathroom for weeks before someone thought to change a lightbulb. They might light a candle or use their cell phone flashlight before one of them decided to take action. This seems ridiculous to us as responsible adults!

The problem is so easily solved with a simple trip to the hardware store! But here’s the thing: something magical happens on that day he decides to go to the store, buy a light bulb, and screw it in without anyone telling him what to do or how to do it. The magical thing that happens when our teens do things by themselves without our input is self-efficacy. 

Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments. It reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment. 

 

Self-efficacy is a superpower. We know. We’ve got loads of it. We are super responsible and capable and it feels good! But, without even realizing it, we can rob our kids of self-efficacy because we aren’t willing to let them live in a dark bathroom, or get a bad grade on their report card, or go away to summer camp, or make a mess trying to cook something in the kitchen. 

 

Supermoms don’t like to watch their kids struggle. We feel like we have to do everything right, and having kids who suffer and struggle doesn’t seem right to our perfectionistic brains. Combine that with our need to feel needed and our love of taking care of our babies, it becomes really easy to stay stuck in a habit that feels good to us but is problematic for our child’s self-efficacy.

Over-parenting drains your energy because it keeps all the burdens of responsibility on your shoulders. It also creates this nagging voice in the back of your mind that says, “Shouldn’t my kids be doing more by now?” 

Learning how to watch your kids make mistakes and not make it mean anything has gone wrong, is one of the things we’ll work on in the Raising Responsible Kids workshop this weekend. 

If you think you err on the side of over-parenting, you need to join my workshop this weekend. 

Supermom Power Boost:  Get sneaky to restore balance

I have a client with a husband who loves golf. She gets annoyed that he takes off for 5 hours on a Saturday to go do his own thing. When we dug deeper, we discovered that if she was to take off for 5 hours on a Saturday to do something she loved, she would feel guilty.

She had the belief that a good mom should want to be with her kids every weekend. So instead of taking turns with her husband to do activities she loved doing on weekends, she just wanted her husband to be stuck at home with her. If she isn’t going to have fun, then he shouldn’t either. 

The problem with this belief that “self-sacrifice is good and self-indulgence is bad” is that Supermoms end up totally out of balance. Our instinct is to restore balance so we end up sneaking our indulgences, behind our own backs.

Since we struggle to proclaim, “I’m going to a spa for 5 hours every other Saturday” we indulge unconsciously by drinking wine, eating sweets, and staying up later than we mean to binge-watching Netflix. We mindlessly scroll through our phone as a way to give ourselves a break, instead of saying, “I’m going to order myself DoorDash and face time with a girlfriend for an hour.” 

Mommy Time

Instead of letting our subconscious try to restore balance in a way we don’t actually want, I recommend an illicit affair. I’m not saying to go cheat on your husband but go have an affair with your creativity. Call it “Mommy’s special time” but don’t tell them what you are doing.

Explore an interest, write your novel, paint or draw, wander around the city with no agenda, visit museums, eat whatever you feel drawn to, indulge in something frivolous and nourishing to your soul. The key here is it cannot be noble. It must feel indulgent in order to restore balance. 

Tell your family you are traveling for work, but really just enjoy the quiet cleanliness of a hotel room by yourself. 

Put your kids in the gym daycare, then lie in a lounge chair and read a book. 

Go on a silent retreat or yoga retreat. Take 5 hours and go dancing, skiing, or golfing. Park your car somewhere, write in your journal or listen to an audiobook while looking at a beautiful view. Tour open houses in a beautiful neighborhood.

I walk my dog on a popular trail near my house. Sometimes, when no one is looking, I start skipping. You cannot skip as an adult woman, without also laughing at yourself and feeling joyful. Or, if I’m listening to some catchy music, I’ll sneak in a few dance moves when I think no one is looking. 

I’m hoping this three-hour online workshop will be a stepping stone for you. If you can carve out three hours for a workshop on a Saturday to do something that is good for you and your kids, maybe next time you’ll take thee hours to do something fun and frivolous just for yourself. 

Deliberately sneaking in an indulgent pleasure will help you feel balanced. When we feel some equanimity, we don’t need our husbands and kids to suffer along with us. They can have frivolous fun and so can we. Next time you go to a hotel room, try dumping your stuff on the floor, kicking off your shoes and not caring where they end up and see if it feels like indulgent fun to you. 

Quote of the Day:  “Do anything, but let it produce joy.” Walt Whitman

My kids are staying up too late!

Today’s Topic: Kids Staying Up Too Late

Dear Torie,

“I am wondering what type of consequences to set for my 10-year-old daughter. She shares a room with her 12-year-old sister. I am having the toughest time with them falling asleep at night. From the moment my husband and I kiss them goodnight, it is almost an hour and a half before they are asleep. The repetitive getting out of bed and coming to us with all sorts of things: “I am scared about a show I saw or snakes under my bed”, or whatever! They have twin beds and will try to get in each other’s beds to “help calm each other down but rarely this works”. My girls are thinkers and thus when they lie down both of them are ruminating about the day, etc. 

I am getting to bed too late and unable to have downtime. This frustrates both my husband and myself.

I struggle as to either take away things (what would those be—don’t want to take away play dates as those are important for building social skills for her right now) or reward (marble jar, or no?). I like to intrinsically motivate my children but this is affecting the whole family and I’m unsure what to do.” 

I asked Andria what she has tried that worked or didn’t work and she told me what consequences her kids currently valued. She also added: 

“The 10-year-old wants to use my 12-year-old as a coping mechanism to help her fall asleep. My 12-year-old being the compassionate, nurturing person she is, will go and lie with her. And then….they start bickering about the stuffed animals on the bed, etc.”

 

Parent Education Answer: 

How to get kids to fall asleep at night? 

Let’s take a look at what you have control over, and what you don’t. 

You cannot make your children sleep. You cannot stop them talking, climbing into each other’s beds, or coming to find you. You cannot turn off their brains for them or make them feel tired and peaceful. 

Knowing What You Can Control

You can control what you do when they come to your bedroom asking for water, attention, etc. You can help them create an environment that is conducive to rest and relaxation. You can HELP THEM problem solve THEIR issue of busy, overstimulated brains and a sister who sacrifices her sleep to try and help her sister. 

This is such a classic Supermom question. I define a Supermom as someone who is very involved with their kids, loves mothering, and tries really hard to do everything right.

We tend to think every problem our kids have is ours to solve. If you find yourself banging your head against the wall, unable to effect the change you want, chances are, it’s because you are trying to solve something that is not your problem to fix. 

Anxious Environment

We live in an anxious, overstimulating culture, visual and auditory information coming at us all hours of the day, without enough physical movement to process, purge and rest in the non-verbal, creative part of our brains.

Generalized anxiety is highest in rich countries like the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.

You could solve this problem by moving your family to a country with lower levels of anxiety, relaxed people, reduced mental stimulation, and an abundance of nature and watch your daughters drift peacefully off to sleep at the end of a day.

If that isn’t on your bucket list for 2020, let’s move to something else you have control over. 

Helpful Tips With Kids Staying Up Too Late

You could help your daughters create an environment that is more conducive to rest and relaxation. For example: 

kids staying up too late

-No media input an hour before bed. 

-Time for the girls to sit, talk, and process the day with each other. 

-Do yoga stretches together to get them out of their heads and prepare their brains for sleep. -Meditate together or listen to a guided visualization designed to help prepare the brain for sleep. 

When it’s time for them both to sleep, it sounds like having something for their brains to think about would help.

Because you mentioned your girls are “thinkers” you might try a bedtime story podcast like Be Calm on Ahway Island or the Stories Podcast. (Listening to things like podcasts and audiobooks doesn’t count as “screen” time because listening activates the areas of the brain that are good for us.)

The idea is to address the core issue of your daughters’ busy brains at bedtime, rather than seeing it as a discipline issue that requires consequences, and to empower THEM to experiment and figure out what works for them and what doesn’t.

Making sure they get enough exercise in the day time or doing calming yoga stretches before bed can help get us out of our brains and into our bodies. 

You might consider giving your 12-year-old permission to ignore her sister. Can she wear noise-canceling earphones and read a book in her bed? She is trying to be kind but her “helping” isn’t working. It’s teaching the 10-year-old to look to someone else to solve her problems instead of learning that she has the ability to calm herself down. Just like Momma thinks this is her problem to solve, older sister might be thinking the same thing. 

 

What else do you have control over? 

You get to decide what time YOU go to bed and how to handle it when they get up and come to you. You can model for your 12 year old what it looks like to ignore the 10-year-old. Not in a mean way, just a way that makes it really boring and unrewarding for her to get up and come to you. 

If your kids are getting back up after bedtime and coming to find you, the trick is to be non-reactive. You don’t want to be overly kind and affectionate, or overly annoyed and exasperated. If getting up to see mom is as boring as staying in bed, they will lose motivation.

Now if your daughter comes to you and finds your door locked, you taking a shower, reading, or sleeping, it’s going to naturally steer her away from getting up out of bed. If you say you prefer your children to be intrinsically motivated, this is how you help create it.

 

Life Coaching Answer: What to Do with Kids Staying Up Too Late

What will get in the way? 

End of the day fatigue and the feeling of losing control. 

At the end of the day, we are TIRED. All we can think about it is “When am I DONE?” 

We want to have nice, quality time with our precious ones, give love and cuddles, and then pay attention to ourselves for the first time in 23 hours. 

It is REALLY HARD to implement these strategies at this time of day. 

Under stress, we regress. Most of us default to either overly authoritative or overly permissive. 

When Andria is tired, her default seems to be to look to consequences, “What can I take away” which is another way of saying, “I want there to be an action I can take to feel in control.” If we think, “There’s nothing I can do, I have no control over when they go to bed.” isn’t going to feel good either. 

We think, “I just need to get them to sleep and then my husband and I can relax.” 

We put our ability to feel relaxed and enjoy the evening in the hands of our ruminating, chatty children. This doesn’t work very well. Any time we try to control something that we don’t have control over, we will get frustrated. 

Focus on the things you DO have control over. 

What time you go to bed.

How you feel.

How you respond to their problem.

Whenever a mom is wanting to change up a bedtime routine, I suggest practicing it early in the day. Make a game out of it.

Walk through the steps of the new routine before everyone is exhausted. Take pictures of the kids: brushing their teeth, getting their jammies on, doing yoga, etc.

When night time comes, you just have to remind them of the new routine that they already have a positive association with. 

Supermom Kryptonite – Thinking every problem is ours to solve.

It is so easy to get stuck in the habit of fixing our kids’ problems. When they were younger, it seemed like everything fell on our shoulders.

This is too much weight for one person to carry, especially since problems will increase as life becomes more complex. When kids’ adolescence starts, it’s good to practice letting go of trying to fix things. 

You might notice moms start to lose their status as the one and only “She who must be obeyed”. Kids give more credence to teachers, babysitters, coaches, YouTubers, often even Dad’s status gets elevated over Moms.

You might give your daughter the same advice as her gymnastics coach, but your words fall on deaf ears while the young, pretty teenager’s words get put on a pedestal. 

Trying to maintain that “mother knows all” status can drain your energy when, developmentally, your kids are more interested in guidance from peers, older teens, young adults, or relatives who aren’t so involved in their daily lives. 

In Andria’s case, she can encourage her daughters to solve their own problems (ask an older cousin or babysitter for suggestions). She can also delegate to an external resource like an app or podcast designed for tweens.

There are many: Calm, Insight Timer, Simple Habit, Headspace, that have bedtime stories, progressive relaxation, or other auditory ways to facilitate sleep. The goal is to cultivate your children’s resourcefulness, and show them that many people can help them accomplish their goal. 

 

Supermom Power BoostDelegate!

Want to know how to get your kids to eat broccoli? So did social scientists.

They discovered one of the most effective ways is to sit your child down at a table and have them watch an older teenager (of the same gender) sit across from them and happily devour a bowl of broccoli. No talking, just role modeling. 

You can use this natural tendency kids have to listen to outsiders to your advantage. 

Email your pediatrician before an appointment. Ask her to mention the importance of vitamins, sunscreen, or exercise or whatever you are tired of nagging about.

Email your child’s teacher or coach.  Ask him to please praise your son for making mistakes and trying new things because you are working on developing a growth mindset. 

Ask your friend to compliment your child on something her new haircut if he is feeling insecure. 

Find a YouTuber or “influencer” who preaches self-love and care. 

Ask your niece to come over and help your daughter organize her bedroom. 

Have an uncle you trust, talk to your son about safe sex and respecting women. 

You do not have to be all things to your children! Utilize your village and expand your child’s circle of trust. This encourages independence, resourcefulness, and a feeling of safety as your child grows into adulthood. It also frees up your time and energy, helping you feel supported by your village.

 

Quote of the Day:

“Embrace it. Especially because of the lives we live, a lot of times other people have to care for our kids and you have to have that mommy time. Get your sleep!” Jennifer Hudson

Depleted and Burned Out Mom

Feeling depleted and burned out? This episode is for you.

Episode #48 What to do when you feel depleted and burned out?

“What do you do if you feel completely depleted as a parent and you feel like you are just kinda burned out as a mom? I have given so much to my kids, starting when my first son was born, and 6 years later I’m completely depleted. Now I don’t like the version of me I am. Somehow I feel like I’m not showing up as my best and I don’t know what to do to change it.” Carrie

My heart goes out to you. I have totally been there and I think it’s wonderful that you have enough self-awareness to notice how you are feeling, identify it, and ask for help. This is a big and very important first step.

It also gets me excited! I know exactly what to do to help you get back on track. I feel like helping moms find their way is my life’s calling, and I KNOW how much better your life is going to get from this point on. If you relate to Carrie, schedule your free coaching call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com

Parent Educator Answer

Conventional wisdom on this topic of what to do when you feel depleted and burned out as a mom leads me to talk about the two dreaded words for Supermoms: self-care.

To me, a Supermom is someone who goes ALL IN on parenting. We try super hard to do everything right for our kids, not realizing that our expectations are a bit perfectionistic. Our thought is that a good mom “does everything right for their kids.” There is no “it takes a village” for a Supermom! We assume a lot of responsibility (even if that means managing our nannies, husbands, housekeepers and grandparents while they help us!). If our kid needs us, we. are. there.

This type of vigilant, hard-working, self-sacrificing parenting can only last so long before it becomes depletion and exhaustion.

Caring for our kids makes us feel capable and responsible but when it comes to caring for ourselves, it’s a struggle.

Self-care can be defined as the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness.

Self-care can be anything that gives your mental, emotional, or physical health a boost:

Sitting in the sunshine, folding laundry while watching your favorite show, yoga class, going for a walk, getting together with girlfriends for a “vent session”, scrapbooking, playing piano, or singing.

Self care is very individual but includes taking care of your body’s health (exercise, massage, and nutrition), your mental and emotional health (meditation or life coaching), social support (friends, online groups, even authors and TV shows) and most importantly, connecting with YOURSELF.

Here are examples of ways my clients take care of their bodies:

Yoga, swimming, dance class, running, soccer team, tennis, etc. Also, putting on favorite music and dancing while cleaning, walking the dog while listening to a favorite podcast, starting a hiking club, or joining a stroller walking mom group. Don’t forget about eating healthy, taking care of your hairdo, putting makeup on, receiving massages and mani/pedi’s. Going to the chiropractor, acupuncturist, esthetician, anything that puts loving attention on your body.

Here are examples of ways you can take care of your mental and emotional health:

Meditation, life coaching, counseling/therapy, online support groups. Even finding authors you resonate with, TV shows that light you up, movies that speak to you. Online support groups like Supermom is Getting Tired, venting with girlfriends (anything with girlfriends!).

Most right brained activities give our brains a break. Pick your favorite: doing puzzles, creating art, playing or listening to music, reading books or listening to audiobooks, cooking, decorating, designing, organizing, gardening, window shopping, crafting, planning a vacation, daydreaming.

You certainly don’t have to do all of these, but I have never seen a depleted mom who has a regular habit of prioritizing self care.

The most important self care you can do when you are feeling burned out and depleted is to RECONNECT WITH YOURSELF.

Most moms who find themselves in Carrie’s shoes say something like “I feel like I’ve lost myself.” If you have a life full of self-care activities, it’s hard to feel burned out and depleted because you have to pay attention to YOU and notice whether your activities feel good to you or not.

depleted and burned out mom

Life Coaching Answer – What gets in our way from self-care?

SO MANY THINGS!

Has neglecting yourself become a habit? Are you believing self-care isn’t important? Do you think you have to be with your kids 24/7? Are you “too tired, burned out and depleted” to do something that GIVES you energy? Are you unsure which self-care activity will help you feel better? Do you think taking care of yourself somehow takes away from caring for your children?

When I first started going through my life coach training program with Martha Beck, there were difficult questions that I could not answer.

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”
“If you could not care what people think, what would you do ?”
“What do you really, really, really, really want?”
“What is your wildly improbable goal?”

I didn’t know how to dream about possibilities for myself. I didn’t know what I wanted.
Yes, I could tell you what my kids want, what my husband wants, what parents wanted for me. I could even tell you what I was SUPPOSED to want. But I had never asked myself those kinds of questions and so I couldn’t come up with any answers. I didn’t know how to dream about what could be. How could I ask for what I want if I didn’t even KNOW what I wanted?

The way I start my clients back into this journey is of connecting with themselves is this:

Imagine you had a secret bonus day snuck into the middle of your week. You fall asleep like normal but in the morning you wake up in a different bedroom in a different location. The rest of your family will stay asleep while you get to do anything you want to do, without anybody knowing. There are no rules and no judgements on this dream day. You can wake up next to Brad Pitt with Zach Efron massaging you and Justin Timberlake serenading. Even laws of physics don’t matter. If you want to wake up in Hawaii and fall asleep in Italy and the time zones don’t make sense, no worries.

Reconnecting with Self when Burned Out and Depleted

If Carrie was on the phone with me, I’d ask her to close her eyes, and before she opens them in this new bedroom, I would ask her to notice what the sheets feel like. Are they silk, flannel, or cotton? Then I would tell her to imagine opening her eyes and noticing what color they are.

I don’t want you to THINK about what color or texture you want them to be. I want to bypass your thinking brain and move into your intuitive brain that already knows what you want. Our brains block us from KNOWING what we want because we think “I can’t have that”, “It’s not practical”, “I’ve always preferred something else” or “What will people think”. Send your thinking brain away for a bit and just notice what you see in your mind’s eye when you think about your ideal, dream day.

Notice what the sheets feel like, notice what color they are. Put your feet on the floor and notice what kind of flooring there is: wood? Carpet? Tile? Then stand up and walk to the window, what do you see when you look outside? Describe the view.

What do you feel like doing? Do you want to go out there? Get dressed? Have a cup of coffee and sit on the porch? What would feel most delicious to you?

After you do your preferred activity, then what do you feel like doing? What would you eat for breakfast on your ideal day? Would you prepare it yourself or just have it magically appear?

When you feel ready to get dressed, notice what type of clothes are in your closet and what you feel most drawn to wear. Once dressed, what will you do or where will you go?

As my clients imagine this fantasy day, I am listening for themes. Is she craving solitude or company? Is she yearning for adventure or peace? Does she want recognition and validation? A way of expressing herself creatively? Sensory rich experiences, physical activity, or rest?

I have no idea what my clients need to feel better and enjoy their lives more. I just ask the questions to get them out of their own way so they can find out for themselves.

Once you start paying attention to the feelings and activities you are yearning for, take a look at the beliefs that are keeping you from going after them.
“I have to put my kid’s needs before my own.” and “I don’t know what to do.” are probably the most common and toxic beliefs.

Steps to Take

The smallest step I recommend you take is to set a timer on your phone 5 times a day asking yourself the question, “What am I feeling?” (Notice it’s not HOW). Try and come up with a one word emotion. Even if you don’t have an answer, just asking yourself the question will get you back on the path to reconnecting with you.

A bigger action step I recommend is right now, book yourself two nights in a hotel room by yourself. When you have a full day away from your daily life, to do whatever you feel like doing, and no one else around to distract you, ask yourself and answer the question, “What do I feel like doing?”

To be able to go where you want, eat what you want, go to bed when you want, read or watch whatever you want is HEAVEN and such a necessary step to get back to feeling like you again.

Supermom Kryptonite – Putting yourself last

It is a slippery slope. In order for babies to survive, we have to put their needs before our own. Toddlers will get into all sorts of trouble if moms don’t supervise them diligently and constantly. Taking care of our babies fills our brain with oxytocin which bonds us and feels amazing. We love making our kids happy and seeing the world through their eyes. There are moments when ignoring ourselves and focusing exclusively on our precious ones feel amazing. Taking care of someone else can give purpose and meaning like we’ve never had before.

But there is a cost to getting into the habit of putting the needs of your children before your own. When no one asks us “How are you feeling?” “What do you want for dinner?” “What do you feel like doing today?” We stop asking ourselves these questions. Our families and our friends start asking about the kids instead of asking about us. Over time, we feel depleted and lost because WE aren’t front and center in our lives anymore. We lose connection with our essence; our spirit. Getting it back isn’t difficult, it WANTS to come back, but it does take time and attention.

I created a Supermom Challenge to help moms who feel lost and depleted, reconnect with their essence. It’s 15 minutes a day of journal exercises to reconnect with yourself and what you want. Right now I share it with my clients but I’m going to open it up to everyone and do it as a new year’s resolution challenge inside my Supermom is Getting Tired Facebook Group.

Supermom Power Boost – Forward Momentum

A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. When you are feeling really burned out and depleted, it can be hard to make big changes, even if you really want to.
If you feel like you are drowning, the trick is to make one small change to start the momentum going in a positive direction. Let’s say you binge watch netflix and drink wine every night and you’d really like to go to the gym instead. This can feel really overwhelming and hard to do.
Start by changing one small thing, like watching netflix and drinking wine in the bathtub. Try switching to sparkling wine, going to a movie theater, or switching up your routine by showering and getting your pajamas on first.

Changing one small thing will get you out of your rut, create some new synapses in the brain, and give you some forward momentum. Once the ball is rolling in a good direction, your positive emotions will give you some confidence and motivation to keep you going.

Quote:
“Self Care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.” Katie Reed