How can I protect my kid from a bully?

Today’s Question:

“My 9 year old daughter was bullied all year by the same boy. I brought my concerns to the teacher multiple times and told the yard duty to keep an eye on her at recess. On the last day of school he purposely pushed her down while they were standing in line and knee got all banged up. When I came to pick her up, the teacher said she fell and banged her knee but that she was fine. She was NOT FINE! She needed support! And why was he even allowed to stand next to her in line? The teacher knew this punk ass kid had been picking on her all year. I am livid!

I talked to the principal and she was trying to defend him saying he has behavior issues and the counselor was working with him. Um, NO. The teacher knew what was going on and still made her stand next to him in line. I’m so upset. I’m at the school all the time volunteering. My daughter hides behind me whenever she sees him, she’s terrified. I’m trying my best not to go crazy on them but this is not ok.

School is out for summer but I’m worried about this repeating next year. How can I ensure this student is not in her class? I want to help her feel safe but I don’t trust the school to look out for her. How can I protect my daughter from this bully when the school won’t?”    Allison

Parent Educator Answer:

I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with this Allison. When I first started working as a parent educator (18 years ago?) no one talked about bullying. Slowly, people started talking, and boy did it spread like wildfire! Every American Idol contestant has been bullied in school. Educators made efforts to bully-proof their schools. Anti-bullying campaigns raised awareness. This problem is taken much more seriously now than in the past.

Because this term gets used so much, I think it would be helpful to define it. Bullying is the use of coercion and force to abuse and intimidate. In order to be considered bullying the behavior must include:

  • repetition
  • an intentional act to hurt or harm
  • an imbalance of power

It sounds like your daughter has been exposed to some repetitive behaviors this year. We don’t know if the boy’s intention was to hurt your daughter. He could have been mad that she was walking too slow, or annoyed that she was in his way. It could be he was going to push whoever was nearby and your daughter was an easy target.

It seems like this shouldn’t be important because the fact remains your daughter got hurt, she is scared of him, and the teacher hasn’t been able to protect her. It is important because the word bullying is often misused. Sometimes, it’s just mean behavior. For example, in the last podcast, Andria wrote in about how her daughter tells girls she’s not their friend any more and gives them the cold shoulder. It would not be surprising, in this day and age, for this hurt girl to claim “bullying.”

The third criteria, the imbalance of power, is important to take a look at. It sounds like your daughter and this boy are the same age. If your daughter is in a minority race, religion, sexual orientation, then there is an imbalance of social power. If there is a significant size difference or she is disabled in some way, there can be a physical imbalance of power.

If there is no external imbalance of power but just a perceived one, where he thinks he can pick on her because she’s an easy target, then it may just be mean behavior.

Whether it’s real bullying or just mean behavior, finding ways for the victim to feel powerful is the most important thing.

Here are some ways to support your daughter so that you and she feel powerful:

  1. Talk to your daughter about things the teacher or yard duty could do to help her feel safe. We can’t make him “be nice to her” and the teacher can’t be expected to protect her from him all the time. Would she feel better if he switched seats or classrooms? Could she ask friends to stick by her side at recess? Encourage her to problem solve and ask for what she wants.
  2. Teach her to use powerful words with authority figures to get the attention of adults. Words like harassment, abuse, bullying, hostile environment are attention-grabbing and powerful. When kids are scared they tend to shy away, like a turtle pulling into its shell, hoping no one notices them. This makes them appear like an easy target to those looking for one.
  3. Document and share everything. The school’s hands are tied in many ways, but you and your daughter can help get the result you want by focusing on facts, safety, and sharing your documentation.
  4. Write an email to the principal stating how if this aggressive behavior continues next year, you will hold her out of school until they can provide a safe situation for your daughter. Be clear that you are holding the school accountable for her absence and they will need to make arrangements so it doesn’t impact her academics negatively.

Parents really do have a lot more power to affect change in schools than they realize.

What’s most important is for your daughter to feel heard, seen, felt, and protected. We are wired to experience bad things. This is not the issue. She can handle boys being mean, angry, and stupid. She can handle getting physically hurt and feeling scared. That’s just part of being human who is alive on the planet. Our job is not to prevent bad things from happening to our kids.

Our job is to help her feel supported, understood, and powerful.

We want our children to be able to identify an injustice and believe they have the power to change it. In order to create system wide change, we need to have confidence, persistence, and understanding.

Life Coaching Answer:

I’ve been teaching various parenting topics for 18 years: friendship challenges, puberty, money, anxiety, raising a reader, toilet training, you name it, I taught a class on it.

But I will NEVER teach a class on bullying and here’s why.

Right now, think the thought, “My daughter is being bullied.” Notice how you feel when you think that thought. Defensive? Tense? Tight? Ready to leap into action? What kind of action do we want to take from this state? We want to fight. We clench our fists and brace ourselves. We want to punch that bully. Or his parents. Or the school. The THOUGHT “My child is being bullied” makes us want to bully right back!

It’s a natural response. We are powerful momma lions wanting to protect our children, heck, ALL CHILDREN from these bullies. We think things like: “He needs to be taught a lesson.” “He can’t go around hurting people.” “The schools can’t allow kids to behave this way.”

None of these thoughts are helpful.

We can teach this boy lessons in kindness but we can’t make him learn. He does go around hurting people so clearly he CAN hurt people. The schools are obligated to educate all children, even ones with behavior issues. They can instruct and provide consequences, but there are protocols they have to follow before they can legally remove a child.

When we hear the word bullying, we jump into fight mode. This makes US feel powerful, but doesn’t help our KID feel powerful. It also doesn’t help us jump through the necessary hoops in order for productive action to be taken. The schools need us to write down the specifics, exactly what FACTS took place, but it’s hard to do this when we have such a strong emotional response. Instead of helping schools take appropriate legal action, we get mad and stay mad.

If you really want to help your daughter, remove the word bullying from YOUR vocabulary, but encourage HER to use it. She feels empowered because she knows bullying is wrong and this isn’t her fault. You can help her stay focused on taking productive action to make her school a better, safer place for everybody.

The best result to come from bullying is the victim learns her words have power, she feels supported, and believes that she has the ability to create social change.

Supermom Kryptonite – Complaining

In episode 16, I mention that getting together with girl friends and venting about frustrations can be very helpful. Venting your emotions into a journal or with a trusted friend, can release the pressure, helping you think more clearly and hear your own wisdom. Complaining is repeating the problem from a place of powerlessness. It implies that nothing is going to change and you are helpless. Every time we repeat the same negative story, we reinforce the synapse in our brain, making it stronger and feel truer. Be careful not repeat anything that you don’t want to grow. Complaining not only makes us feel tired and helpless but negatively impacts the mood of those we are complaining with.

 

Supermom Power Boost – Let off steam

In order to access our calm, logical, and effective part of our brain, Momma Lion needs to let off some steam. We want to honor the anger, it’s an important emotion to have. Anger signals injustice. Don’t suppress it, instead:

  • go to kick boxing class,
  • scream your head off at your daughters swim meet
  • rip up a magazine
  • stomp on a cardboard box

Let your kid see mom process anger in a healthy way so they learn healthy ways to let it out.

Today’s Quote of the Day

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed; it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Managing May craziness without overwhelm

Question of the Day – Feeling Overwhelmed

“I feel so overwhelmed with the “end of school year” craziness.

I’ve got 3 little kids and their 3 teachers are asking so many things of me: bring $5 for a field trip, send brownies for a party, send in a baby picture for kinder-graduation, black pants for the performance, flower and card for teacher appreciation, and on and on.

Not to mention the end-of-year gifts for the teacher, my son’s birthday, my niece’s high school graduation AND requests for my TIME! I’m supposed to volunteer at the festival, watch the end of year performance, and chaperone the field trip?!?!

My brain is ready to explode! This is all fun stuff so I feel guilty complaining, but how the heck do people manage the May crazies without getting overwhelmed?”     – Lindsay

 

Parent Educator Answer: Feeling Overwhelmed

I remember feeling exactly the same way when my kids were little. I was out walking my dog one December feeling totally overwhelmed with trying to remember all the things I had to do.

I ran into my neighbor who had 5 KIDS, was homeschooling 3 of them, and was very involved with church activities. Surely, she could relate to my struggle of feeling overwhelmed trying to manage the details of many lives.

I said, “You must be going crazy, too, trying to remember all the details, celebrations, gifts and events with 5 kids! How are you not overwhelmed?”

A Lot of Lists

She looked at me contemplatively and calmly replied, “Well, I have a lot of lists.

The most common cause of overwhelm during busy months like May and December is trying to hold too many things in your head at one time.

Writing everything down gets it all out of your head so you don’t have to “try to remember.”

If you trust yourself to check your lists and follow through, this (theoretically) frees up your brain so you don’t have to hold too many things in your head at one time.

It’s like having too many browser tabs open on your computer at one time. Sometimes the computer can’t process it all and it slows down and starts taking forever to load. It needs extra time to process everything.

When we have too many thoughts in our head, we also begin to slow down and become less productive. 

Writing things down is like closing some of those browser windows so there are fewer things to think about it.

If you do have a lot of lists and you still feel overwhelmed, take it three steps further:

  1. Break things into categories. Everything you need to buy can be compiled into one list rather than making multiple trips. All phone calls get done at one time.
  2. Write how long you think each task will take. Sometimes we procrastinate on things we really don’t want to do, but when you realize that one email you don’t want to write will only take 5 minutes, it makes it seem less daunting and you get it done with more easily.
  3. Choose a date and time on your calendar to complete it. Putting it on the calendar will help you see your schedule and how much time you actually have.

The list looks like this:

  1. Buy 13 toys for the preschool summer fun basket. (40 min. Tuesday @ 7:00pm)
  2. Have Sophie make a card for her teacher. (10 min. Sunday @ 2:00pm)
  3. Buy fruit and make a fruit platter for end of year party. (60 min. Thursday @ 8:00pm)

All you need to do is check your calendar and obey it. If someone asks, “Can you drive kids to the park for field day?” You will know if you can or cannot by looking at your calendar.

Life Coaching answer: What To Do When Overwhelmed

What gets in the way from implementing this tried and true method for reducing overwhelm? Perfectionism.

I have not encountered an overwhelmed mom yet who did not have some sort of perfectionism (myself included). Inside our heads, it sounds something like this:

  1. “I have to do everything right.”
  2. “I should do everything they are asking me to do.”
  3. “I need to contribute and do my part.”
  4. “I need to be there for my kids.”
  5. “I can’t forget anything.”

Everything that makes us such reliable, responsible Supermoms overwhelms us when too many external expectations are put upon us. It all seems equally urgent and important!

Why can’t we be one of those moms who just “phones it in” and doesn’t stress?

Because we are not kind to ourselves if we drop the ball.

“Oh my gosh, I’m such an idiot, I can’t believe I forgot the coach’s gift!”

“Every other kid had their baby picture. I’m such a terrible mother!”

“What is wrong with me? How could I forget the baseball banquet? I’m such a loser.”

Other moms can drop the ball occasionally because they are quick to forgive themselves when they do.

What keeps us feeling crazy and overwhelmed? The fear of WHAT we are going to say to OURSELVES, about ourselves, when we screw up.

To feel more calm and more in control, you’ve got to commit to being nice to yourself no matter what. Practice saying things like this:

  • “Oh well, no big deal.”
  • “I’ve contributed plenty this year already.”
  • “I give myself permission to drop the ball”

 

Not only will you feel calmer and more clear headed, but you will be modeling for your kids how to let go of perfectionism and forgive yourself for being an ordinary human.

No doubt about it, you are a Supermom; but trying to be perfect in May and December can be too much. Sometimes you just need to hang up the cape.

 

Supermom Kryptonite: 

Trying not to drop any balls. Picture a juggler with 5 balls in the air. He focuses; whole body tense.

He might smile and talk, but he can’t really relax. Most of his attention has to stay on juggling those 5 balls. Now imagine he is juggling these balls for 12 hours a day. EXHAUSTING.

Give yourself permission to drop some balls. Decide ahead of time which balls to drop or just commit to being kind to yourself when the inevitable ball drops.

You are not perfect, you are human, and human beings forget things, flake, and make mistakes.

Supermom Powerboost: 

When we are exhausted, overwhelmed, and crazy, we just need to be with people who understand us.

The Holderness Family does a great job of laughing at the craziness that comes with modern-day parenting.

They are famous YouTubers who make funny videos that make us crazy Supermoms feel seen, heard, and felt.

Their recent Maycember video is today’s Supermom Powerboost. Watch the video, have a laugh, and know that you are not alone. I’ll include a link in the show notes and my Facebook Page, Life Coaching for Parents.

Quote of the Day:

“Imperfections are not inadequacies. They are a reminder that we are all in this together.” Brene Brown

Why am I so tired?


Today’s Question:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 reasons why Supermom is getting TIRED:

1. You are arguing with reality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. You are “shoulding” on yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

Three Reasons For Exhaustion

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

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

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

 

 

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

4. You are resisting emotions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

5. You are ignoring your calling.

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

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

Client Teresa

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

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

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

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

Client Mandy

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

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

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

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

She answered, “I don’t know.”

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

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

What is your calling?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Why can’t I ask for help?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Supermom kryptonite: Perfectionism

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

 

Supermom power boost: Practice Receiving

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

 

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

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

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

Today’s question comes from Elizabeth –

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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