Why won’t my kids help me clean?

I’m always reminded of my homemaker shortcomings when my kid’s friends are over and they come to me in the kitchen and ask, “Where should I put my dirty plate?” They have a puzzled look on their face as they stare at my cluttered kitchen counters and full sink, trying to figure out what my system is (I don’t have one).  These kids are trained. These kids are helpful. These kids help their parents clean.

Welcome to summer (and volleyball double days)
Welcome to summer (and volleyball double days)

My kids are perfectly comfortable walking away from the dinner table leaving their dishes as they are. Despite multiple reminders, they still leave dirty socks everywhere, cereal bowls on every flat surface known to mankind, wet towels on carpet, beds, or most recently, our wooden dining room table.

I’m going to give 5% of the blame to my daughter’s strong willed, rebellious personality and 5% to my son’s ADHD/disorganized brain. The remaining 90% is all my fault. This is good news because it means I can change it anytime I want. We teach our kids how to treat us, our home, and each other. Here is what I have found are the Top 5 Reasons Why Kids Don’t Help Their Parents Clean.  If your kids aren’t jumping up to help you clean, see if any of these sound familiar. If you didn’t help YOUR parents clean when you were a kid, see if any of these sound like truth for you. (and sign up for my “Organize My Home” Boot Camp here!)

  1. You prioritize fun. There is one common denominator Moms who always have clean houses share, they like to clean. If your house is not clean, it’s probably because you don’t enjoy cleaning it. You have fun in other ways, and without realizing it, you might be teaching your kids to dislike cleaning, too. You see cleaning as an unwanted chore and your kids may have picked up on that, and they, too, want to prioritize fun. Read this blog on how to make chores more fun.
  2. Do your kids start out cleaning with you, and then quietly disappear? It could be they lose interest or it could be that your energy changes when you start cleaning. Maybe you get frenetic and panicky (hostess neurosis, anyone?). Some parents get authoritative and bark orders, some complain about what they are doing while they are doing it. If your energy turns negative, your kids are going to hide from you.
  3. My house cleaner’s daughter refuses to clean her house because her Mom is too perfectionistic. If there is a certain way you want things done, and on a certain time frame, and you are pretty picky about it, chances are your kids will rebel. Kids often rebel any time they feel powerless or when they can’t be themselves. Some personality types have an even stronger need to put their stamp on things and do things their way. A controlling Mom with a rebellious child will always butt heads.
  4. You prioritize other activities. There are many days during the school year when my kid’s schedules are busier than mine and I feel bad asking them to do anything else. When we prioritize our kid’s school work, sports, and social activities, it’s only natural that they learn cleaning isn’t important. If it is important to you that your kids to learn to help out, clean up, and build basic life skills, use summer time and weekends to focus on the fundamentals.
  5. You like doing it all. Some Moms “do it all” and wear it like a badge of honor. They might SAY they want help but when someone tries to help out, all this Supermom sees is the faults and inadequacies in the attempt. She will hear herself saying “it’s easier if I just do it myself”. While this is true, her ego has become attached to the pride and martyrdom she gets out of doing more than everyone else. If this is the case for you, recognize that you have gotten exactly what you wanted and now, with awareness, you have the power to change it.

We get to teach our kids how to treat us and the home they live in. Teaching involves lots of repetition, with no guaranteed outcome. If you want your kids to help you clean more, start by enjoying it more yourself. We’ll be uncovering lots of secrets in the upcoming teleclass, “Organize My Home”.  We’ll work with your natural personality to help you get the results you want. We’ll uncover your obstacles to getting your children to help you clean. By the end of this “Organizing Boot Camp” you will have learned to experience more joy and meaning, while cleaning and maintaining organization in your home. Read more about the “Organize My Home” boot camp here. 

Early bird pricing discount ending soon!  Save $50. by clicking here. 

When your teenager doesn’t measure up…

My Facebook feed is full of happy graduation pictures, parties, awards, nor-cal championships, and other brag-worthy achievements. It feels SO GOOD to be proud of your child and celebrate their amazing-ness with the world. But what if your kid doesn’t measure up? happy graduate

Alli’s* son was an excellent student, happy and full of life. Sophmore year, he made new friends with whom he started vaping. Junior year he started smoking marijuana and was a daily user by Senior year. He got through school, barely, but lost interest in clubs, sports, dating, part time jobs, everything that used to make Alli proud. It was hard to sit through graduation watching other successful, high achieving kids receive their awards. Her mind was full of angry arguments, “He should have done better, He’s wasting his potential, When is he going to snap out of it and actually care?” Underneath the resentment was shame, “I should have set clearer boundaries, I’m not a good enough Mom, People think I’m a loser because my kid is a loser.”

Kylie* was an amazing soccer player: Division A, State Champion, on track for a full ride scholarship to play for her first choice university team. Her parents couldn’t be more proud. Half way through her senior year of high school, she broke her femur and suffered a concussion. She laid in a dark room for a month, recovering from her injuries. No school, no sports, and a future that will forever be altered. Her parents felt lost, confused, and uncertain. They were grateful she was going to recover but grieving the loss of the dreams they had for her.

All sorts of things can derail a teenager’s life: depression, anxiety, a first love or bad break-up, parental divorce, teen pregnancy, addiction, you name it. Here are things parents can remember if they find themselves on the downturn of a parental-pride roller coaster. compare and despair girl

William Shakespeare said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” But we’ve also hear “Children rise to your expectations.”  If expectations give something for kids to aspire to but are the root of all heartache, what’s a parent to do? It’s good to remember that just because children rise to our expectations, doesn’t mean they MEET them. If we expect them to get all A’s on their report card, they might get all B’s. If we expected all D’s, they might get all F’s. Isn’t that what “rising” means? Maybe, because of Alli’s high expectations, her son started smoking pot at 16 instead of 13. We’ll never know.

Having a teenager not live up to your expectations can be a step on your spiritual journey. Other parents had to work on dissolving expectations with divorce or diagnoses. Some parents will walk further down their spiritual journey when their child “comes out of the closet” or quits college to work at Hooters. The highest purpose for raising children isn’t to fuel our ego, but to dissolve it. Great spiritual teachers talk about our goal to “die before we die”.  To kill off our ego attachments to this physical world so that we can start enjoying the benefits of heaven, before we actually arrive.

Have high hopes and aspirations for your children if it feels good to do so. Celebrate their achievements and accomplishments relative to THEM, without entering the land of “compare and despair”. Bring your brain into the present moment with this question, “What do I love and appreciate about my child as they are today?”

Feeling negative emotions is a sign that you are off your spiritual journey and attached to ego. Every time you argue with reality you will suffer: “He should take his grades more seriously” (but he doesn’t), “She shouldn’t party so much” (and she does), “How come she isn’t more like me?” (because she is different).  Try accepting reality as it is and ask yourself “How do I want to feel about the fact that he doesn’t take his grades seriously?” or “How do I want to feel about the fact that she likes to party?”

Another trick to feeling better is to add three words onto the end of a sentence “and that’s ok”.  She is different than I am, and that’s ok.  She has anxiety, and that’s ok.  He’s not going to college, and that’s ok.

Some people meditate on mountain tops or live in an ashram to achieve enlightenment. The rest of us use our teenagers and Facebook to move along on our spiritual journey. When your ego takes a beating, it’s time to go higher. Want help? Schedule a free initial life coaching appointment at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me


*top photo courtesy of tOzz at freedigitalphotos.net * second photo courtesy of Sira Anamwong at freedigitialphotos.net

Excited for summer? or dreading it….

We are on the final countdown till summer and I am matching my kids’ excitement with equal amounts of dread. I’m looking forward to some fun getaways with family, and of course my Girls Summer Camps (3 spots left!) but all those empty days on the calendar are sending me into a panic. How about you? Do you come to life in summer or do you wilt under the never-ending demands of vacation time with kids? IMG_1142

If you are like me and feeling daunted by summer, let’s make a plan to prioritize sanity and make sure Mom gets the most out of this summer, too.

Understanding WHY summer is hard is the first step. For me, a big reason is a lack of structure. I seem to be the lone J in a house full of P’s. In the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment, the ‘P” or Perceiving personality type loves to have open expanses of time with nothing on the calendar.  Perceiving types (my husband and kids) love spontaneity and the opportunity to follow a whim. The ‘J’ or Judging personality type (me) loves structure and plans. My ESFJ personality type feels more relaxed when there are plans on the calendar. This stresses the rest of the family out. Whenever I put their preferences before mine for more than a day, I go a little bit insane. I can create a structure without anyone else knowing, but often I don’t. It’s more difficult for me to follow through with my plans in the summer, since no one will know if I flake, but I remind myself that I always feel better if I stick to my plans.

The second reason I go nuts is my lack of alone time. I am used to having the entire school day by myself to focus on my clients and work projects. I run errands and grocery shop by myself, I listen to my music and my podcasts. I get to think my own thoughts inside my own head…it’s heavenly!  But then summer comes and the kid’s energies creep into me, replacing my own thoughts and feelings with theirs. With my spongy personality type, it’s important that I make time to be alone every day. Decide what your minimum baseline is and make sure you meet it every day. If you hear yourself say, “I’m fine, I don’t need it today”, do it anyway to maintain sanity.

– 45 minutes a day to eat lunch outside and read a magazine

– 2 hours of watching TV before bed.

– 20 minute bike ride

– 30 minute journaling and meditation

– 60 minute morning jog or workout

You can always take more but being consistent is a great gift to yourself and your kids. You teach people how to treat you. If you do it every day with clear, confident boundaries, your kids will it is non-negotiable and respect your time.

The third reason I enter the land of crazy is that I’m an extrovert and I like to have other people around me. My introverted kids love being home all day but I need more stimulation and companionship than just my family. I would love it if other Moms invited me to do things but usually it’s my desperation that leads me to do the coordinating. Sometimes, when I’m feeling yucky, I start assuming everyone else has plans and doesn’t want to see me. I am always glad when I get out of my own way and schedule social get togethers with friends.

Under stress, we regress, and usually end up being overly permissive or overly authoritative in our parenting. Whenever we aren’t parenting as well as we know we can, we feel even worse. Have a list of things to do if you start slipping into The Land of Crazy:

Unlimited media day, cereal for dinner, invite your friend over, go to a movie or children’s museum, put earphones on so the kids know you can’t hear them, set a timer and declare “drop everything and read” hour, have a project to work on like a jigsaw puzzle or putting photos in albums, make kids play outside for an hour, have a jar of activities they can choose from or a jar of chores, have kids make a movie to post on youtube for Grandma, go to the pool, whatever you think will work best so you get a break. Write it down so when you are spiraling down, you don’t have to try and be creative.

Problems arise when we ignore our personality type in order to please our kids. Moms deserve to enjoy summer just as much as everyone else. Take this personality assessment to learn more about yourself and create a summer that suits who you are.

What is the purpose of being alive?

What’s the purpose in being alive?  This is the question my husband posed to me when we were discussing what we should do about our son’s school. He was four years old and I had looked into Waldorf school, Montessori school, Sudbury school, a co-op charter school, a back to basics charter school, a regular public school, Catholic school, two expensive private schools and homeschooling. (Can you tell I was a perfectionistic teacher with a twinge of anxiety?) My son had some sensory sensitivities that made school a challenge and I was trying to find the perfect fit. He was very bright and loved learning so we weren’t worried about his academics, more about his ability to tolerate the environment. Our son taught himself to read, devoured non-fiction, and love children’s museums but he didn’t like sitting, crowds or loud noises. What’s the purpose of sending a kid to school if it’s not academics? This led to my husbands question of what is the purpose in being alive?

The answer we came up with was “The meaning of life is to experience, experiences”.  To be fully present and conscious of every experience we have along our journey of life. We hear a lot these days about the power of meditation and mindfulness. I talk a lot about the brain state we enter when we are in “play” or “flow”. I’m at a conference in San Diego listening to Tom Sterner, author of The Practicing Mind, talk about being in the “present process”. As American companies and schools stress out their employees and their students with their goal-oriented, results focused culture, ancient Eastern practices are finally earning some street cred here in the West. family yoga

Eastern teachings have always focused more on perfecting the PROCESS. I remember my brother-in-law telling me he spent three months learning only to squat properly, from his Japanese Aikido teacher. This sounded horrible to my Western trained mind!  But while he was learning to squat, he really was learning to enjoy the process of mastering the mind and body. When we can calm down, slow down and focus our attentions, we access a serene, but expansive, mental state. From this calm mental state, we are fully aware, fully experiencing life and we have choices to steer life where we want it. This is what life coaching is all about. We study our lives like we’d study a piece of art, a golf swing, or a poem. We take a look at the thoughts, feelings and actions taking place that aren’t serving the goal. We use the goal to inspire, but the focus in on mastering the process, observing ourselves with compassion, so we can make choices and build habits that lead us to our goals. Learning to slow down isn’t easy, but life improves so much that you get hooked on the process.

Children who study music or art can learn the value of “present process” from a very young age. They learn that it’s the process and practice of mastery that makes life worth living. Kids who play video games understand this. Video games keep you on the edge of capability with a goal of mastery. As soon as the goal is accomplished, the game becomes boring. The result is not the point. It’s this flow/play/present-focused brain wave state that makes kids, and adults, coming back for more. I think we do kids a disservice when we stress the importance of grades, scores and points. Our goal-driven, results focused culture has robbed us of happiness and health and now the tide is changing. Non-reactive sports like golf, swimming, running, ballet, martial arts, gymnastics can give us the opportunity to grow our ability to enjoy the learning process. We get to decide what our art is going to be. I like to study people, parenting, kids and the everyday aspects of a person’s life. Whatever is bugging you the most could be your art, a place to slow down and study to get the results you want.

After deciding that the purpose of life was to experience it, we put our son in a less stimulating, small school with hopes that he could make friends and have a shared experience with others in his culture. It hasn’t been perfect. He still gets sick a lot and struggles with over-stimulation. His love of learning has been diminished by his results-focused school and it may take him a while to remember what it felt like to learn for the sake of learning. When I see him recording Jeopardy and documentaries about World War II, I know there is still a glimmer of joy in there. I suppose the obsession with video games is a good sign that he still knows how to play.

If you struggle with staying in the present moment and want to learn more about making your life, your art, sign up for life coaching today.

If meditation sounds as appealing as it sounds tortuous to you, watch this “Meditation Olympics video” and this funny meditation video to get you in the playful, present-process mindset. Experiencing, experiences don’t have to be torturous.

How to make your dreams come true

Launching Girl LeadersI just had a dream come true. A group of amazingly wonderful women gave me their time, money and attention for three days to teach them how to use my Girls Leadership curriculum. This workshop I call Launching Girl Leaders, was held in Austin, Texas a fun city where folks from all over the country came who share my passion for teaching social & emotional leadership skills to girls. I feel so blessed, so proud of myself, but also kind of amazed that I actually pulled this off.

When I started life coach training, there were a lot of questions like “What would you dream if you knew you could not fail?” or “What would you do with your life if no one was watching” and “Name your top 5 wildly improbable goals.” I had a really hard time with this. I wasn’t a “dream big” kinda gal. As I broke through some of these mental blocks, my hearts desire seemed to center around teaching classes to other women and girls, traveling to speak, and one that felt really bold to me was “being paid to travel”. I know these may not be your dreams, but since I’m sitting in the Austin airport reflecting, I figure I’ll write down how I made my dream come true so that I’ll remember for next time. Did you make your dreams come true by following a similar path? How can you use these to help you move towards your next adventure?

Here is my 5 step plan to making YOUR dreams come true.

  1. Figure out what YOU want? If you are going to spend your life working towards a goal, you better make sure it’s the right goal for YOU. If you think about a generic goal like being famous, rich, or living on a tropical island, get more specific. Why do you want these things? What would you do once you got it? Notice whenever you feel jealousy. Notice whenever you fall in love with a book, a movie, a person, a job. These are all important signs.
  2. Look around you, what do you see? Computer? phone? paper? chair? pencil? clothes? Everything you see began in someone’s imagination. When we are kids, we are really good at imagining things so clearly they feel like reality. We put on that tiara and heels and we ARE a princess. We crawl under the table and bark, we ARE a dog. The older we get, the more we use our imaginations to picture bad things happening. We worry, we anticipate and prepare for the worst. Imaginations are very powerful so make sure you are using it on the things you WANT to have happen, not on the things you DON’T WANT.
  3. Expect fear and resistance to come. Every time we try and grow in a new and positive directions, fear and resistance will come along for the ride. I did lots of crying, hiding and feeling afraid. Trying to create something new outside our comfort zones is hard, especially if it’s something important to us and true to our essence. I could not have accomplished my dream without the help of a life coach, it’s a great stage to bring one on board.
  4. Get clear on your “WHY” and make sure it’s achievable. I had to keep reminding myself that my reason for creating this event was to “grow a side of myself I’ve never grown before”. To create a workshop and host it in a new city, rent a conference room, serve food & drink, advertise to people who don’t know me, type up all my lessons, create binders and a workshop event that is worth the $500. price tag, was all new for me. When my goal is to GROWTH, I know that it’s achievable. I either get what I want, or I get an education. Make sure your WHY makes it impossible to fail.
  5. Have more than one baby. In order to not let obstacles get in your way and bring you down, it helps to have more than one “baby” at a time. When you really want your dream to come true, we need to detach from the outcome and be happy with whatever happens. This is hard to do! If you are like most Moms, you poured a lot of time, attention and worry into your first born child but with your second, you found it easier to relax and enjoy him or her without stressing. Dreams are the same way, when we want something really badly, our energy gets clingy and needy, not the energy of success. When we have another baby or two to divert our attention, we don’t put so much of our identity, ego, and importance on this one dream coming true.                                                              

Are you good at letting yourself dream?  Is there something you’ve would love to do but don’t know how to do it?  Even if working towards your dreams fills you with doubt, confusion and fear, it’s still worth going for. You wouldn’t have the dream if you weren’t meant to make it happen.