Got Homework Hassles?

Lana* was going crazy trying to get her daughter Olivia* to stick with a homework routine. She couldn’t understand why it was so hard to just get it done! She tried sitting down with her right after school, but hours later, after cajoling, bribing, reminding, she would only be half way though. So Lana let Olivia go outside, ride her bike, have a snack, then set her up at the kitchen table while preparing dinner. No luck. Arguments, delays, and stalling still happened. So she let it go until after dinner. No TV, no ipad, until homework was done. Sometimes it worked and she did it, sometimes she would fall asleep, but often she ended up doing it on the bench during recess the next day or staying up too late at night. Lana couldn’t understand why it was such an ordeal! Olivia’s brother just came home and got it done without any hassle or drama.   

Olivia is a rebel when it comes to meeting expectations. The thought of having a scheduled time every day to do ANYTHING made her not want to do it. She doesn’t mind doing her homework when it’s her idea and she’s in the mood. She could be getting her books out and sitting down at the table, but as soon as Mom says, “Oh good, I was hoping you would get your homework done now.” It made Olivia the Rebel think “I was going to do my homework, but now that you want me to, I can’t.”

Noah* was a hard working kid who liked to follow the rules at school. He had every possible sticker on his chart and was appreciated by every teacher he ever had. He was diligent with his homework, always doing his best to fulfill every expectation. Sometimes, this was hard for his Mom to watch. He could spend two hours on an assignment that should take 20 minutes, trying hard to get it right. Mom would plead with him, “Tell the teacher you don’t understand it.” or “She doesn’t want you doing this much homework, it’s time to stop, even if you aren’t done!” or “I’m writing her an email right now telling her you are only doing half the problems, it’s past your bedtime.” No matter how logical her arguments were, Noah wouldn’t hear them. He had one mission, to complete the assignment as directed and it was exhausting for his Mom to watch.

Noah is an Upholder. When expectations are on the table, he rises to them. Whether they are his own expectations “I want the most stickers on my chart” or someone else’s “You are to complete all 20 problems”, he will meet that expectation no matter what. These kids are great at creating habits but when you want them to deviate, they can seem rigid and stubborn. Logic and reasonable arguments do not persuade Upholders to deviate from their routine.better than before

I am obsessed with Gretchen Rubin’s, book Better Than Before, where she outlined these four different tendencies when it comes to fulfilling expectations. This should have been required reading before marrying a rebel!  When you have the same tendency as your family members, life is easy.

I am a Questioner, so raising a Questioner son was simple for me. Questioners don’t follow external expectations unless they also align with their internal expectations. When my son asked me “Why do I have to go to school?” I had well thought out, logical reasons that made sense to him. Questioners make all external expectations, internal, or else they won’t do them. Just because a doctor tells you to take a vitamin, isn’t reason enough for a Questioner (like it is for an upholder). Questioners need to do their own research and come to their own conclusions before deciding the doctor is right. The most frustrating thing for a Questioner child is the old parenting phrase “Because I said so”. For Upholder parents (like Olivia’s Mom, Lana) it is reason enough. If you want your child to get good grades or go to church every Sunday, find reasons that tie to their sense of logic or morality and chances are greater they will adopt your expectation as their own.

The fourth tendency is an Obliger. Obligers are great at meeting external expectations but struggle to meet internal expectations. If you are an Obliger, you might never miss a work deadline, always give your best effort on PTA projects, and never forget a carpool, but trying to exercise regularly or floss your teeth can prove a huge challenge. For kids, this shows up as people pleasing. Obliger kids are usually easy to raise, are great with homework, but problems arise as they enter adolescence. Ella agrees to spend the night at her friends house even though she doesn’t want to and cries while packing a bag. Nathan ignores his best judgement when playing truth or dare, doing something stupid just to please his friends.

Getting to know how we react to expectations, internal and external, can help us accept ourselves for who we are with appreciation and compassion. Understanding the tendency of our children, helps us argue less, enjoy parenting more, and create positive habits. To learn more about ways to work with your natural tendency, check out Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before, listen to her podcast, Happier, or take her quiz by clicking here. 

*names have been changed

Have you learned these five powerful life lessons?

I’m offering a free call about the important life lessons girls can learn from friendship drama (it’s going to be SO GOOD, check it out and sign up!) but it also got me thinking, you can learn these life lessons from work stress, parenting, or any kind of relationship challenge. Take a look at these five life lessons and see if you have mastered them yet. You’ll know you are still learning if life keeps slapping you upside the head with the same lessons over and over again. 

  1. People get to do whatever they want.  This life lesson drives us all bonkers because life would be so much easier if people would just do what we tell them to do!  But as we all learned, you can’t make a baby sleep, eat or poop, if they don’t want to. You also can’t make people like you, be nice to you and you can’t make your husband remember Valentine’s Day. You can’t make bosses treat you fairly. You can’t make your husbands pick up his socks or take out the trash. You can’t even get kids to get their homework done, if they don’t want to.  Just like the book, “He’s just not that into you”, realizing “People get to do whatever they want” will set you free.  It helps you stay in your power, and take control of the things you actually have control over. If you get frustrated with how other people are behaving, then life is still trying to teach you this lesson.
  2. The only constant is change.  One thing we do that helps us feel safe in the world is we categorize things into two categories: black & white, good & bad, mean & nice. The problem is, life isn’t black and white. There aren’t “mean girls” and “nice girls”, we are all just girls, sometimes we say mean things, sometimes we say nice things. Believing we are only one or the other, sets us up for perfectionism and self-hatred. People are always evolving. Your best friend today might change her mind tomorrow. Your boss thinks you are great today, so she gives you more work tomorrow. You are feeling good financially so you move to a nicer neighborhood, now you feel poor. Black & white thinking gives us the ILLUSION of safety, but an easier way to go through life is to remember we are constantly evolving and to focus on how we want to grow.
  3. Feel your feelings. If you are fully engaged with life, you are going to experience negative emotion. We don’t get to pick and choose some feelings and not others. To be fully human and feel fully alive, we need access to our full range of emotions. When friendship drama happens, or any challenge in life, it’s a great opportunity to learn how to feel a feeling all the way through. Where in your body does that feeling show up? What color is it? Does it have a texture? Does it appear to be solid, liquid or gas?  Getting really familiar with your emotions creates a long lasting and trusting relationship with yourself. You aren’t dependent on other people to act a certain way because you know, the worst thing that can ever happen to you is a negative emotion and you’ve got it down. Once you realize you can feel any feeling that comes your way, you have nothing to be afraid of.
  4. You get to decide what you make it mean. Your friend doesn’t want to be your friend anymore. You get fired from your job. Your teen has depression. Your husband forgets your anniversary. Bad things happen but you get to decide what you make them mean. You can decide to make it mean “I’m a loser.” “I’m a failure” “Nothing ever goes my way” “My husband doesn’t love me.” but those thoughts don’t feel good. You get to choose the thoughts that feel good to you. “My husband doesn’t care about celebrating anniversaries” might feel freeing. I give my husband permission to forget our anniversary” might feel empowering. Many people experience something negative and without even realizing it, they pick up beliefs about themselves that aren’t true “I’m unlovable” “I’m not worthy” Stopping the negative self-talk is the most important step to living an honest, fulfilling life where you know your power and trust yourself.
  5. What do I want? Every life challenge or experience is giving another clue about who we are meant to be. Our job here on Earth (as I see it) isn’t to follow all the rules and live a perfect life, it’s to figure out who we are meant to be, and be that person!  To use the natural gifts we were given, to help make the world a better place. When someone betrays your trust, your job is to use that experience to add to your list of “This is what I want” and “This is what I DON’T want.” That’s it! No drama necessary. You hate your job? (or lack of a job?)  Be specific and add a few items to your list. I want more autonomy around my time. I want co-workers who get my sense of humor. I don’t want to sit at a computer all day. I don’t want to work weekends. The older we get, the more we get to know ourselves. As our list becomes more refined and specific, our life becomes more finely tuned to who we really are and what we really love to do.                                    Do you have a passion for empowering girls? Click here

Are you being lied to?

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Walter Scott

Nobody likes being lied to but when we lie to ourselves it creates a lot of confusion and discontent. We get the feeling that something is wrong, but we can’t pin point exactly what it is. Before we can improve the quality of our lives, we have to identify what the problem is. This starts with telling ourselves the truth.

The problem is, our brains tell us all sorts of crazy things that may or may not be true. It can offer contradicting thoughts that drive us crazy like, “I have to quit my job.” “I can’t quit my job.” or “My daughter could benefit from extra support services.” “My daughter is going to be fine.” How do you know which thought is the truth and which one isn’t?Truth

One of my teachers, Martha Beck, developed a tool called The Body Compass that helps us tune in to our truth.  We life coaches call it, “the gateway drug to your essential self.”  My SuperMom clients find it helpful because when you are good at what you do, it’s easy to confuse external validation and success, with internal joy and purpose.  When you are optimistic, hard working, and people depend on you to take care of them, it creates a smokescreen to our truth. You feel drained of energy, have trouble sleeping, gain weight, develop chronic pain or illness, you know something isn’t right, but you can’t figure out exactly what it is. The Body Compass is a tool you can use everyday to help you figure out which activities are energizing and life-giving, and which are weighing you down.

Click here and listen in as I teach a client how to use this body compass tool.  She has an optimistic personality and is quick to say “Everything is fine” but her body tells her otherwise and the more she denies it, the louder and more painfully it speaks. Notice how she resists the negative readings she gets from her morning run, driving her daughter to practice, and the girl scout meeting.  We think of our intuition as our best friend, and it is, but when we ignore it and deny it, it becomes the cause of our greatest suffering.

Listen to this 30 minute recording, then do your own body compass reading and see if you can tune in to what is true for you.

Write a number line across the page like this:

-10 ——————5——————- 0 ——————5—————–+10

Spend a few minutes thinking of the worst thing that ever happened to you. Really hold it in your mind with full sensory detail: sights, sounds, smells, etc. Notice how your body reacts to the memory of this event. Describe the physical sensations in your body without analyzing or interpreting it and write it down. Look for tension, heaviness, nausea, emptiness, crumpled and small. Describe your sensation in a few words: “Whole body cramp” “Pain cashew” “Cement body cast”. This is your -10, write it down.

Then shake off the feeling and the memory and bring to mind your best experience ever. Whatever comes to mind when you think of the greatest thing that ever happened to you, fill your mind with the memory and notice how your body reacts. Scan your body from toe to head and describe how your body reacts to this memory “floating upward” “falling onto clouds” “solid and calm”.  Write it under the +10.

Now you know how your body says “YES” this is right for you, and “NO” this is wrong for you. Write a list of 5 things you have to do today and assign them a number on the number line. See if you can notice any differences between what your head thinks, and how your body reacts. Try writing down the names of 5 people, 5 foods, 5 chores, just learning to practice this tool is SO valuable to learning to listen to your gut, your intuition, your truth.  Don’t judge or interpret your readings, just notice. You may get a different reading tomorrow and that’s okay. Your body holds the key to what is right for you, learning to listen to it will benefit you the rest of your life.

How to feel in control

When my kids were little, I spent a lot of time in the Land of Crazy. It felt like the quality of my days was completely in the hands of my child. Would I get to have any “me time”? Depends on the nap. Would we get to run errands? Depends on her mood. Would I have a good day or bad day? It depends on how happy and cooperative my children are. I felt like I had so little control over how I spent my time. It was exhausting and robbed me of my ability to enjoy myself throughout the day.organized play room

I thought I was the only one who struggled with this until I was giving a talk to a room full of pre-school Moms and I showed them a photo of an organized play room. There was an audible sigh throughout the room as Moms fantasized about a beautifully designed toy room with organized bins. (Hmm…interesting I thought to myself. There is a Universal feeling all these Moms are longing for, what is the feeling they yearn for that they think a clean and organized playroom will give them?)

Control.

Control gets a bad rap. No Mom wants to be labeled a “control freak” or a “micromanager” but you also don’t want to be “out of control” or “always in control”.  However, striving for control isn’t a bad idea. Having control over one’s life is a key indicator for happiness and helps blur the lines between work and play. The problem is, many of us try to control things we have no control over:

1. We argue with reality.

My house shouldn’t be so messy.

I am done with this cold weather.

You should get better grades than this!

2. We try to control other people:

The kids at school need to be nicer to my daughter.

The coach needs to give my son more play time.

My kids need to stop bickering.

My husband shouldn’t watch so much TV.

2. We try to change the past.

You should not have said that.

My Dad shouldn’t have left when I was a kid.

I should not have eaten that entire bag of potato chips.

3. We try to control the future:

People need to realize what an idiot Donald Trump is.

I wish my dog would stop peeing on the carpet.   

I don’t want anything bad to happen to my children.

If you are trying to control something you have no control over, you’ll know it because it doesn’t feel good. You get frustrated, angry or annoyed because you are giving away your power. Overtime this leads to a pervasive feeling of helplessness and powerlessness. A big yuck for the human psyche.

The good news is that “gaining control” isn’t as hard as you think. Go to a room in your house that bugs you (my teenage son’s room comes to my mind, yikes!) and pick ONE THING you can take action on. Instead of waiting for someone else to straighten up the shoes, change the lightbulb or hang up the wet towels, make this yours, to own. Don’t take responsibility for the whole house, just create calm by taking responsability for one small. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, go look at your beautiful sock drawer and admire your handiwork. Build on your success by moving to another small area, preferably one that is small but really bugs you. 

One thing we always have control over is our MIND. Notice how it feels to think the thoughts above, even if they are true, they create negative emotions in you. Increase your happiness and personal sovereignty by making peace with reality.

“I trust my teenage son to be messy.” “Kids are supposed to leave their shoes everywhere, that’s what kids do.” “I give Donald Trump permission to be an idiot.” “I can teach the dog where to pee.” “I’m pretty reliable when it comes to bingeing on potato chips.” “Girls sometimes are mean, and sometimes are nice.”  “People say dumb things sometimes and that’s okay.” “It’s impossible to never be late.”

You can avoid The Land of Crazy by taking control of your actions, your emotions and your mind. Don’t dismiss control because it has a bad reputation. Controlling something you actually have power over feels, well, empowering!

Five things to think about before you set a New Year’s Resolution

I love a fresh start. I love the potential and possibilities that January 1st brings. Before you set your new year’s resolutions for 2016, think about these five things to set yourself up for sustainable success that lasts past February.

  1. Reflect on 2015. Nobody likes doing this but it’s a valuable first step. Take a look back at and ask yourself what worked. Before you think about what you want to change and improve on, you’ll want to get yourself in the mindset of success. Take stock of your victories, your successes, the areas of your life where you feel confident and satisfied. Appreciate what you have created. These are going to take a back seat while you focus your energy on your new resolution.
  2. Despite what corporate america will tell you, you can only have one priority at a time. It’s the definition of priority. If you want to make your resolution successful, this will require focus, energy, and determination. If you have a competing priority like “making children happy” and they cry and cling when it’s time to go to the gym, you won’t go. Check for competing priorities and make sure you are willing to prioritize the new one.
  3. Your success is determined on your willingness to be uncomfortable. Change will create discomfort. Expect and plan for it, but remember you are choosing JOY over pleasure. Pleasure is immediate gratification, comfort, sameness.  Joy is growth, challenge, play, novelty. Joy is a proud and satisfied feeling that comes from purposefully living the life we are meant to live. Are you prepared joy over pleasure?
  4. Check your motivation. The only reason anyone does anything is because they want to feel a certain way, or they are trying to avoid a certain feeling. When you imagine accomplishing your new resolution, what is the feeling you imagine you would feel? What thoughts can you think NOW that will create that feeling for you?  When you motivate yourself with negative thoughts and emotions, “I’m so fat and ugly I need to diet so I’ll be thinner and then I’ll be happier” It is never sustainable. You can do it for a little while, but eventually you will rebel against your inner mean girl. Or you will lose the weight and realize you still aren’t happy because you’ve beat yourself into submission. Focus on the feeling you want to feel and start finding ways to feel it now, today, separate from your goal.
  5. Creating change involves growing a different side of yourself. When growth is your goal, you cannot fail. Prepare for obstacles and plan how you will overcome them. Remember to praise yourself for your learning and victories. We aren’t meant to stay the same. We are meant to learn and challenge ourselves to grow, all throughout our lives. When you can focus your attention, prioritize growth, feel positive emotions, then the action is it’s own reward.