Depleted and Burned Out Mom

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

“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. I don’t like the version of me I am now. 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. We think 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, getting your hair done, 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 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 filled with self care activities, it’s hard to feel lost and depleted because you have to pay attention to YOU and notice whether your activities feel good to you or not.

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” 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, I was asked difficult questions that I could not answer.

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”
“What would you do if you could not care what people think?”
“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.
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.

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.

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, you are forced to ask and answer the question, “What do I feel like doing?”

Being 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 you 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 they aren’t supervised 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 get you reconnected with you 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 depleted and down in the dumps, 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

What if you don’t like your kid?

Our topic for this episode: do you have an annoying pre-teen?

Episode 44: Annoying Pre-Teen: What if you don’t like your kid?

“My daughter is a pre-teen, and already immersed in puberty and the mood swings and irritability that goes with it. Getting her to do anything is a battle: homework, chores, coming to the table to eat, putting her device away, going to bed, you name it. It takes every ounce of patience I have to get through the week with her. By the time the weekend rolls around, I. AM. DONE.

This weekend, as my husband is heading out the door, he says to me: “Don’t let her sit on her phone and watch Youtube all day. Find something fun the two of you can do together.”

It sounds like a great idea. I used to love being around her and would like nothing more than to have something fun we both enjoy doing. The problem is, she doesn’t like doing anything I like and when I try, it becomes another battle. She complains, argues, insults, and criticizes everything I do. I would not want to spend time with anyone who treats me this way. Yes, I love my daughter, but she treats me like the enemy.

I feel so guilty, but I really don’t like my being around my pre-teen right now.”

 

Parent Educator Answer:

From a parent educator’s perspective, nothing has gone wrong here. The situation you are describing is exactly what is supposed to happen.

Pre-teens are supposed to start separating from their parents, especially their moms. Mother-daughter identities get enmeshed with each other. We feel proud when our child excels, we feel happy when they are happy and sad when they are sad.

Does your child ever get embarrassed by your behavior?

“OMG Mom, you are not going to wear that.”
“Don’t you dare dance or sing in the car, EVER.”

Have you ever been embarrassed by your child’s behavior?

“Don’t talk to your friend like that! She was trying to be nice.”

“Your grandma is coming over so please be on your best behavior and for God’s sake, clean up your mess before she arrives!”

These are signs of enmeshment, where our ego identifies with our child’s behavior and vice versa.

Understanding Your Teen

Teens and tweens will criticize, insult, argue and reject our ideas as a way to individuate. It’s a sign that your daughter is ready to see herself as different, unique and competent. Through bickering, girls can affirm that they are separate individuals from their mom with their own tastes, personalities and preferences.

It is developmentally normal for pre-teens to reject family activities or parental ideas of fun, (unless a friend can come along with them). When they reject our suggestions of fun things to do, it’s as though they are saying “I’m not a baby anymore”.

Child development experts suggest holding tight to participation in family activities such as holiday dinners with grandparents, going to church, chores and other family rituals. Let them complain and argue all they want but hold tight to these things.

They may start to seem like an annoying pre-teen. You cannot make your child be nice or enjoy spending time with you.

Instead, encourage them to develop a “group identity” separate from you. Many tweens will do this naturally by adopting a best friend or tight group where they dress alike, talk alike and do everything together.

These days, group identity can take place online. Following certain YouTubers or face-timing with friends helps the tween feel safe while learning to stand on her own. Tweens benefit from a transitional bridge between being one with their family and feeling confident enough to be independent.

When we see our kids rejecting our ideas of fun to sit on their phones all day, we see it as a terrible waste of time. But when kids play online games, Facetime, YouTube, Netflix, vsco, and tic toc, it’s really more about understanding the culture of their peers, identifying as someone who is socially “in the know”, and exploring interests separate from mom.

annoying pre-teen

Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way from viewing this as normal tween behavior instead of an annoying pre-teen?

The circumstance you described is completely neutral. But it doesn’t feel neutral because of what you are making it mean.

You feel guilty so you must be making it mean something like, “Something is wrong with me”, “I’m a bad mom”. “If I were nice, I would like her.” “I should want to be around her.” or “She shouldn’t want to be on her phone all day.”

Notice how you feel when you think these when you start looking at them as an annoying pre-teen? Guilty. Awful. Heavy.

How do you parent when you feel terrible? You suck it up. Try harder. Get annoyed with yourself and her.

When we feel guilty and annoyed, we tend to parent inconsistently and have trouble sticking to rules around phone time and family obligations.

What is the result of parenting this way? You feel like a terrible parent. This reinforces your belief that you are doing it wrong and you are a terrible person.

Changing Your Perspective

In order to see your daughter’s behavior as normal and a sign of healthy social development instead of an annoying pre-teen, you’d have to give up the belief that you are bad and wrong.

Sometimes we hold onto beliefs like “I’m bad” or “I’m not a nice person” as a way to motivate ourselves to be better.

It’s like this: “At my core, I’m bad and mean. I need to remind myself of this in order to motivate myself to be nice.”

This might work for a little while but the long term effect of this is exhaustion and irritability.

You don’t like being around someone who complains, criticizes, argues and insults you, SO WHAT?

Let’s imagine for a minute that you didn’t think this was a problem. If you believed that you were a good person, and felt neutral about your daughter’s behavior, what do you think you might do?

You certainly wouldn’t let your husband’s parting comment bother you. You’d probably leave her alone, which it sounds like is what she’s wanting. You might drop her at a friend’s house and enjoy your own company, guilt-free.

If you believed, at your core, that you were a kind and loving mother. You would look for ways to prove yourself right. This might involve paying attention to your own needs. Spending time with people who uplift you instead of insult you. It might mean cooking her food or buying her a gift or whatever felt kind and loving to you.

Believing we are kind and loving, makes us act kind and loving. No guilt. No drama. Just unconditional love. Where your pre-teen can say or do anything and it doesn’t take you away from feeling loving.

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Motivating yourself out of negative emotion

Many of us use negative emotion to motivate ourselves to do something. We think telling ourselves “I’m a bad person” will make us act nice.

We used this in school: We’d tell ourselves we’re going to flunk a class to motivate us to study for a test.

For instance, if we want to lose weight so we tell ourselves how fat and lazy we are in order to motivate us to exercise. We think this will make us go to the gym and eat healthily, and it might once or twice, but over time it just makes us feel bad about ourselves.

Even if we do lose weight, we don’t feel any better because we are still thinking mean things about ourselves. What’s the point of losing weight if you feel terrible either way?

Motivating yourself with negative emotions will give you a negative result. Telling yourself, “I’m going to flunk if I don’t study” might get you a good grade but it will increase your stress and make you dislike school.

Believing, “I’m a bad person if I don’t like spending time with my ornery pre-teen” might motivate you to make an effort and do things together, but leave you feeling guilty and resentful.

When we motivate ourselves out of positive emotion, it’s easy to keep going. We don’t get burned out or resentful because feeling good is its own reward.

 

Supermom Powerboost: Liking your own child.

Of course, we all want to like our own children. But sometimes the best way for us to do this is to not be around them so much.

When my son was 13, I used to think maybe there was a reason families would send their 13-year-olds off to apprentice for an uncle.

I would love to send my daughter to be a live-in nanny for another family so she can be more appreciative of what she has and learn some skills.

My husband pointed out that I always talked about having another baby when we were away from our children for the weekend. Apparently, I never mentioned at the end of an exhausting day!

What thoughts can you think about living with an ornery teen, that help you feel like a kind and loving mom? I would start with “I love her, but I don’t enjoy this phase and that’s ok.” or “I’m not supposed to like this behavior.”

How much time can you spend with your child and still think kind thoughts? It may be easier to like her when you aren’t spending so much time together. Certainly it’s easier to like her when you aren’t telling yourself that she shouldn’t be doing what she’s doing, and you shouldn’t be feeling what your feeling.

You don’t want to convince yourself something is true if you don’t believe it. If you say, “I love this phase of her life” and that feels like a lie, it will not work. We want to think something that feels true and gives us a softening feeling in the body. “I don’t like her and that’s ok” “I’m prioritizing my emotional well being over her screen time, and that’s ok.” “I’m a good, but imperfect mother.”

 

Quote of the Day:

“‘It is what it is’ This means we parent our children as our children are, not as we might wish them to be.” Dr. Shafali Tsaberry

Constantly nagging and repeating myself

Episode 42 – Constantly nagging and repeating myself

“I feel like I’m constantly nagging my kids to do things. Hang up your jacket, put your clothes in the hamper, clear your plate, turn off the xbox and do your homework — It’s like I only have two channels: the “nagging, frustrated, annoying mom” channel and the “leave me alone, I just can’t deal anymore channel.” I am so tired of repeating myself, but it’s the only way to get them to do anything. I’m certain there is a THIRD channel, and it feels like everyone else has found it except for me. How can I get them to this magical place where they do what they are told without constantly nagging and repeating myself?”

Danielle

Parent Education Answer:

This is BY FAR the most common complaint I hear from moms asking to join the Supermom is Getting Tired Facebook group. So you are certainly not alone in this dilemma. I’m sorry to say there is no magical place, but you are right in thinking there is a THIRD channel.

Why do so many moms hate repeating themselves? There is nothing inherently wrong with this act. We might say “I love you” every day and that doesn’t bother us. We repeat ourselves when we say “excuse me” “please” and “thank you”.

The reason it bothers moms to repeat themselves is because of the energy we are rooted in when we do it. It’s the same nagging, reminding energy that makes us not like ourselves. Our kids don’t want to be around us when we are acting this way, but neither do we.

When we nag, repeat, and remind, it’s coming from a place of defeat. It’s as if we’ve already lost.

The kids didn’t do their homework like they were supposed to, so we are rooted in failure. They failed, which means I failed. We repeat ourselves: “Stop goofing off and do your homework.” “Quit talking it’s time to focus.” “You are running out of time.” When you communicate from this energy, everyone feels like a loser.

Sometimes we are jumping the gun and assuming ahead of time that they will fail. “Don’t forget to feed the dog.” “Remember to brush your teeth before bed.” “You’ve got a big test tomorrow, you better take your book out.”

These future reminders PRESUME they won’t do it. You don’t trust them. When we communicate this way, we are subconsciously sending the message that they need you or they can’t do it on their own.

Kids like to feel capable and competent so they will either
Believe us, and not do things unless we remind them.
Reject us, ignore us, and rebel against us.

Nagging actually teaches kids to NOT listen.

The Third Channel: Because Nagging Isn’t Working

The “third channel” is the calm, confident channel. Believing your child WILL listen the first time, and following that up with action.
The moms that participated in my Confident Kid Challenge were also stuck in the ‘nagging to get anything done’ cycle. Listen to how they pulled themselves out:

Sara: Yesterday my daughter was reading a book and never heard me say (about a dozen times) that it was time to leave for piano lessons…so she got left at home. It took her 30 minutes to realize we’d left. She was a hot mess of emotion and “why didn’t you tell me! You could’ve shaken me to get my attention!” I wasn’t emotional about it, other than to express sincere empathy that it wasn’t fun leaving her and that we missed having her there. Today she’s come each and every time it’s been time to go somewhere.

Jontue: My kids were making a huge mess in the living room and were told if they made a mess they would have to clean it up (including vacuuming) themselves. Well, they continued to make a mess. Afterward they threw a fit and cried about having to clean it up. I wanted to take the vacuum from them and clean it up (faster and easier), but I let them struggle through it. It took them about 3 times as long as it should, but they did it. I also discovered that my kids can vacuum (who knew?).

How do you get out of the cycle of you nagging and reminding your kids?

  • Allow them to experience negative emotions.
  • Follow through on natural consequences.
  • Allow them to struggle
  • Let them make their own decisions.

That third channel you are looking for is calm, clear, and confident. You become rooted in the energy of trust, believing your child will learn lessons from this experience.

Popular career advice is to make yourself indispensable to your employer: work so that your company depends on your skills, talents and expertise.

With parenting, our job is to do the opposite. We need to make ourselves dispensable, non-essential. One step at a time we reduce our role in our child’s life. We learn to love more but do less and care less. The goal of parenting is to work ourselves out of a job, and into unconditional love.

Life Coaching Answer:

What gets in our way of doing these four things for the benefit of our kids?

WE DON’T WANT TO FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE.

Watching your child struggle or feel sad is HARD!

Somehow we got the mixed message in our culture that “doing everything right” is more important than raising independent adults. We want our kids to become more responsible without us having to do the hard work of watching them suffer and struggle.

Letting go of control is hard for many of us Supermoms, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

I love the warm and fuzzy cuddles as much as anybody. I would be very happy if the whole world could live in blissful harmony. But when I see the research about how detrimental it is to the psychological well being of our kids to coddle and try to prevent them from having negative experiences, it motivates me.

It’s hard to feel happy while watching kids experience the negative consequences of their actions or inactions, but you can feel PROUD of yourself. We’re proud when we do things that are hard to do.

You can also feel compassionate and purposeful. These emotions can keep you in your calm, confident energy.

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Empathy Dials

Close your eyes and imagine two dials are in front of you. Both dials are labeled 1 – 10. The first dial has the word ME on it. Notice what number the dial is pointed to. The second dial has the word OTHERS on it. What number is this pointed to.

If your ME dial is turned way up, and your OTHER dial turned down, you are going to struggle to put yourself in other people’s shoes. It will be hard for you to feel compassion and understanding for what your kids might be experiencing.

You may find yourself frequently irritated and annoyed by your kids. They might say you are mean, that you don’t understand them and they try to avoid you. If so, see if you can turn your “ME” dial down, and your “OTHER” dial up inside your imagination.

If your OTHER dial is high and your ME dial is low, you will feel exhausted. It will be hard to hold your kids accountable and allow them to experience negative emotions. You may feel lost and overwhelmed with a whole lot of responsibility on your shoulders.

People might tell you that you are “too nice” and that you should “let go” more often. If I ask you how you are doing, and you tell me how your kids are doing, your “ME” dial is too low. In your mind’s eye, see how high you can get this dial to go up, and simultaneously turn down the “OTHER” dial.

Supermom Power Boost – Invisible problems require invisible solutions.

Just because we cannot see something does not mean the problem isn’t real. When a kid sees monsters under the bed, what helps her feel safe is “monster go away” spray that she keeps in a spray bottle near her bed.

“Over-empathy” is an invisible problem. Empathy is your ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

You can’t see how much empathy a mom has for the kids, but you sure can see the consequences of it: fatigue, overwhelm, a decrease in life satisfaction. Moms who have their “OTHER” dial up too high struggle to parent with calm confidence and to follow through with natural consequences. When you learn how to turn your ME dial up and your OTHER dial down, you reconnect with your dreams and desires. You get a break from responsible caretaker and start feeling ALIVE in your life again.

Sometimes we all we need to do is to learn to use our imagination to create what we want.

 

Quote: “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” Goethe

nagging and reminding

 

Letting go of homework hassles

Episode #41  How to stop hovering and let go of homework hassles?

Here is our question of the week about a mom struggling with her kid’s homework hassles.

“I know I shouldn’t be managing my children’s homework so closely but I can’t seem to let go. If I don’t stay on top of them, check in, nag and remind them, they won’t do it! I would rather hover over them than deal with the Sunday night freak out when they realized they didn’t do it. In the past when I tried, my daughter panics and yells, “You should have reminded me! This all your fault!” How do I get out of this cycle of over-managing my children’s homework?”

Anonymous

Parent Education Answer:

The first step to breaking out of a cycle is to recognize you are in one and that both you and your child are perpetuating it. This is the very important first step and you’ve already accomplished it.

Next, you’ll want to take a look at WHY you want to change this pattern. If your reason for wanting to stop micro managing is because “You’re supposed to”, it won’t be compelling enough.

One research study showed that parents who judge their own self worth by their children’s achievement report more sadness and diminished contentment with life in general. Another shows the more time a mom spends caring for children, the more troubled her marriage becomes.

For many Supermoms, even saying, “I want to change because I don’t like feeling this way” or “I value my marriage” isn’t enough. We want to know our child will benefit from us changing our behavior. We love to do things that are good for our kids!

Four reasons why letting go and trusting your kids to make mistakes is good for them:

  • A 2016 study from Florida State University found parents who tell kids when to eat, sleep, and exercise, are more likely to raise kids with health problems. When they turn into adults and mom stops reminding them, they are less likely to care for their bodies.

 

  • Psychologists at the University of Washington studied more than 200 kids and their moms for 3 years. And found that when a child already had pretty good judgement and self-control, too much guidance and not enough independence raised the risk of them feeling anxious and depressed.

 

  • A 2014 study from the University of Colorado found that adults who grew up with helicopter parents are less likely to possess the mental control and motivation they need to succeed. Over-parented kids aren’t used to tolerating discomfort. Their parents shielded them from pain and prevented them from dealing with hardship. In addition, they are used to immediate gratification.

 

  • MANY studies found that college students whose parents hovered were more likely to take medication for anxiety and depression. When a parent tries to prevent their child from experiencing negative emotions, it robs them of the ability to regulate their own emotions, leading to less life satisfaction.

Not only is letting go control of your child’s homework appropriate, it will alleviate your burdens, making you more relaxed and fun to be around. It can improve your marriage and give your kids the mental and emotional skills they need to function successfully and happily in this world.

Managing Homework Hassles

homework hassles

Now that you know WHY it’s important to let go and allow your kids to manage their own homework, let’s look at HOW.

The four steps when it comes to delegating to kids:

First, I do it for you.
Then I do it with you.
Then I watch you do it.
You do it independently.

Is it time to let go and let him figure it out on his own?  Maybe he’s only 6 and not ready for that.

If you’ve been pulling the homework packet out of the backpack, laying it on the table with a sharpened pencil, and telling him what to do and how to do it, maybe it’s time to move to step two. Encourage your child to take out his own work, decide what to do first, and ask for help when he needs it.

If you are already doing this, move to step 3. Be in the room with him, but do your own thing. Cook dinner or work on your own projects rather than your child’s work. If he truly gets stuck, you are there to help but not to correct. Make sure he knows it’s ok to turn in work that is wrong or incomplete to avoid perfectionism.

Schools have systems in place for incomplete homework. Sometimes all it takes to motivate your kid is not getting a sticker on a chart or having to miss out on recess to finish their assignment.

I remember my son coming home from first grade and saying,

“You’ll be proud of me Mommy.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I got my star moved from green to yellow.”

“Why would I be proud of you getting a warning?”

“For the experience of it!”

I had taken a class on how to help bright, perfectionistic kids and celebrating mistakes was a tool I had been working on.

 

Life Coaching Answer:

What gets in our way from being this chill parent raising independent kids and celebrating mistakes?

Fear of doing it wrong. We put so much stock in being like everyone else, EVEN WHEN EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT WRONG!

When we look around the park, everyone else is following their kid around, with  outstretched arms ready to catch them from falling or prevent them from stealing toys and eating sand.

We get together with other moms and talk about our worries. Who is going to be the one mom that says, “Everything is great, I have nothing to worry about”?

We go on social media and see everyone posting their teenager’s victories and we think, my kid doesn’t have a 4.4 GPA, I must be doing it wrong.

Homework Hassles and Overparenting

Here’s a story that happened to my neighbor. He let his daughters (age 12 & 13) ride their bikes on the trail near our home. It was their first time and he drove to different points along the trail and honked and waved as they rode by.

Ten minutes later, he pulls into his driveway and the police are at his door. They got a report that a man in a white van was harassing two girls on the bike path.

Peer pressure is a powerful force and when everyone else is over-parenting, it feels like the right thing to do, even when it clearly isn’t.

The other thing that gets in our way is we think our child’s emotional outburst is a sign that we are doing it wrong.

My Own Story

I remember when I was a freaked out, perfectionistic new mom, trying to do everything right for my newborn. I read that you shouldn’t allow visitors for the first two months because of the babies sensitive immune system. The problem is, friends wanted to come visit and my extroverted self was going CRAZY being home all day.

So I called my brother-in-law the doctor and he said, “Ideally (which is what I was striving for) you want your baby to not get sick at all in the first two years of life so as not to compromise his immune system, then get him as sick as possible between the years of 3-5 in order to build his immune system.”

The Lesson

I think emotions work similarly. Jump to the rescue every time your baby cries in those first few months of life. After that, encourage them to experience the full range of human emotions as often as possible.

Let them fight with toddlers over toys, don’t help them when they can’t master a skill. Allow them to experience a skinned knee, the frustration of not being able to open their cheese stick, and the feeling of being left out by their older sibling.

I encourage you, for the sake of your kid’s mental health, to be the mom whose kid gets a 3.0.

Be proud of NOT showing up to every performance and every game.

Brag about sending your 9-year-old to sleep away camp on his own.

Celebrate your child’s misfortunes, broken hearts and bruised egos.

Being able to experience the full range of our emotions is what makes us feel fully ALIVE. Knowing you can manage your own life, relationships and emotions gives you a sense of personal sovereignty and competence that is irreplaceable.

 

Kryptonite: over-stimulation

I’m writing this in a gym with loud music blaring, florescent lights glaring, 20 balls flying around the gym in multiple directions, listening to four different conversations going on around me, sitting on a hard wooden bench with fans blowing the smell of teenage sweat around me.

Our world is too. damn. stimulating.

Even in our homes, we’ve got T.V. ’s flashing lights and sounds at high speeds. Our phones are buzzing with notifications, calling to us with flashing lights and the allure of escaping into a game or someone else’s facebook-perfect life.

The amount of mental stimulation we are experiencing today is unprecedented. Between hovering moms and kid’s fears that they aren’t measuring up to Instagram-perfect lives, the rates of anxiety in ourselves, as well as our kids, are skyrocketing.

Our brains are not designed to take in so much stimulation. We are left with racing thoughts, worrying and trying to control our external world as a way to calm our inner world.

Too much stimulation is one thing that secretly drains our energy so finding ways to reduce input can really help.

 

Power Boost – Take a break from modern living

Brainstorm ideas with your family to think of fun ways to reduce stimulation. Threatening to take away TV’s, cell phones and video games can make it feel like a punishment. Kids and teens benefit SO MUCH from a break from all the stimulation. Here are some ideas to help you feel like a human again.
Fake a power outage and play charades by candlelight
Sleep in a tent in the backyard
Go to the beach
Take a picnic lunch and fly a kite
Find a cozy spot to curl up and read books as a family
Play a board game by a fireplace
Play a party game outside.
Get crafty and artistic
Play a musical instrument

Got more? Post them on the Supermom is Getting Tired Facebook Page and share your ideas to create a more relaxed, less anxious home life.

 

Quote of the Day:

 

“Why did parenting change from preparing our kids for life to protecting them from life, which means they’re not prepared to live life on their own?”― Julie Lythcott-Haims, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success

Episode 39: Playing Bigger with Sara Dean

Question of the Day: “How I make time for me when there are so many things to get done?”

There is so much good stuff in this episode, I couldn’t write it all down! Be sure to listen to this important conversation about…

Making time for Mom.

Moving the needle forward.

Listening to your higher self.

Using kids as an excuse to stay in your comfort zone.

Playing bigger in your life. 

Embracing discomfort.

Supermom Kryptonite: “Playing Small” or staying in your comfort zone.

Supermom Power Boost: Make a “Courage List”. Look back on your life and list all the times you were courageous.

Learn more about Sara Dean and the Shameless Mom Academy at ShamelessMom.com. 

Listen to her podcast or join the Shameless Mom Facebook Group

Time Anxiety

Episode 38 – Time Anxiety

“From dawn to dusk, I am working. Constantly rushing from one activity to another. Getting the kids out the door and me to work. In the afternoons, I’m running to get them to soccer, buying groceries, taking phone calls, checking emails. By the time my kids are in bed, I’m exhausted. All I can do is zone out in front of the TV. 

I’m sure this sounds typical, like every other working mom, but my problem is…I feel like it’s not enough.

I work 14 HOURS A DAY, and then get annoyed with myself for “wasting time” at night.

The constant pressure and stress about being late and feeling like there is never enough time, is too much. Even on the weekends it is difficult for me to relax. 

This may be typical, but it’s starting to affect my sleep and my ability to enjoy my life. I see my son starting to stress out about being late and I don’t want to pass this on to him. How can I shake this feeling that whatever I do, it’s never enough?”  -Amy

 

time anxiety

It sounds like what you have is “Time Anxiety”. Time Anxiety shows up in 3 ways:

 

Current Time Anxiety

The daily feeling of being rushed. Fear of being late and disappointing someone. Fear of being early and wasting time. This panicky and overwhelmed feeling comes from trying to control something we have no control over. We think this makes us responsible, productive and reliable but it really just causes us to feel stressed and anxious. The underlying belief is that we must maximize our time or we are doing it wrong.

 

Future Time Anxiety

Worrying about what could happen in the future. These moms struggle to feel contentment in the moment for fear that “the other shoe will drop”. If I take a day to relax, more work will pile up. We love our kids so much we start imagining something bad happening to them or how we’ll cope when they move out of the house.

We are so afraid of feeling a negative emotion in the future (regret, sadness, loneliness) that we start practicing it now. The underlying belief is that being afraid of the future will somehow alleviate our suffering once the future arrives. 

 

Existential Time Anxiety

The sense of time slipping away and our existence, as we knew it, ending. This can show up as a fear of death but also a fear of losing our looks, our youth, or our kids. Moms can also fear losing opportunities to get back into the workforce, switch career paths, try new things, take risks, etc. The underlying belief is that time is running out. 

 

Parent Education Answer 

Overcoming time anxiety is difficult because it shows up is so many areas of life! The best answer to how to reduce your stress around time, is to work with a life coach or therapist who has experience with time anxiety. 

Step One – Accepting

Time stresses us out because we don’t have control over it and we think we should. Accepting that the passage of time is outside of our control and letting go of our fears is step one. 

I had a lot of time anxiety before I found life coaching.

My biggest triggers were fear of wasting time, not getting enough done, and being late. I remember driving with my kids in the car and being so upset with myself for not leaving sooner, for taking the slower route, for not checking traffic.

I was beating myself up, in front of my kids. My oldest was already showing signs of perfectionism: not trying new things if he couldn’t be good right away, throwing fits if he lost a game, etc.

The lightbulb went on for me on this drive. I realized my kids were picking up on my habits and I didn’t like it. From that day on, I have learned to forgive myself when I’m late. It’s as though I believed stressing about being late made be a better person. If I was flustered, remorseful and apologetic, they wouldn’t think poorly of me.

I was so worried they would think I was disrespecting them, and it bothered me that I couldn’t control their perception of me, so I just disrespected myself. 

Step Two – Undoing Fearful Thoughts

Undoing our fearful thoughts is step two. But if I tell you to stop thinking about how much time you have left here on earth, how you are going to regret wasting time and to relax around being late, suddenly time is all you can think about. You need someone else, outside your brain, to help you dissolve the thoughts that are making you anxious.

Letting go of the ILLUSION of control, shrugging your shoulders and saying “oh well, late again”, will make you feel vulnerable. No one likes feeling vulnerable, so we cope by taking control of how we spend our time. 

I have a teenage client with time anxiety. Whenever she isn’t studying, she feels guilty and stressed. She struggles to relax, have fun, sleep because she perceives it has a slippery slope to failure. Stress is never the ticket to success, it’s just the ticket to more stress. Working hard with enthusiasm, joy, passion and love are much more effective emotions to work from.

Step Three – Overcoming Time Anxiety

The third step to overcoming time anxiety is to take a look at the thoughts you are thinking whenever you are stressed, and get clear on your VALUES. 

What is most important to you in this life? 

How do you define a successful day? 

What emotion do you want to be rooted in while driving kids to soccer? 

How will you know when the cost of the activity outweighs the benefit? 

How do you want to feel in the mornings before school? 

You really do have a choice and committing to your values, instead of your fearful thinking, will help you feel better.

Life Coaching Answer – 

What gets in our way from:

  1. accepting the things we cannot control?
  2. dissolving negative thinking?
  3. committing to our values?

Our human-ness.

When we are scared, our brains think there is a REAL EMERGENCY. We don’t have time to look within and uncover our fearful thoughts and values! 

Our sympathetic nervous system gets activated: hearts start racing, blood rushes to our extremities, body is tense, jittery and ready for action. This is not the time to try to analyze your thoughts and think about your values! Your brain thinks it’s going to die!

In order to overcome time anxiety, you’ll need to take a look at your thoughts in your brain when you are relaxed and safe. 

If your anxiety is bleeding into nights and weekends, you may never have a time you feel relaxed and safe. If you did, the last thing you want to think about it is the stuff that triggers your anxiety! 

Anxiety likes to stay hidden. It doesn’t want you to talk about it! So it will say things like,

“It’s not that bad.

“I’m no different than anyone else.”

“How is talking going to help?”

“I don’t have the money to hire someone.” or, the classic

“I don’t have time to deal with it!” 

 

These all will feel true but it’s really just fear. Your brain will think talking about the anxiety will make it worse, but it won’t. We live in stressful times, in a stressed out country and learning to manage your fearful brain is SO important and worthwhile.

Supermom Kryptonite Scarcity

Scarcity is an incredible motivator. When kids think there isn’t enough of mom’s attention to go around, they will fight and scream for it. When we plan to start a diet on Monday, we’ll eat extra calories on Sunday. You can use scarcity to your advantage but make sure you are using it, don’t let it use you. 

I’m running out of time will always stress you out. Try switching it to, “I have plenty of time”.

Or use scarcity thinking to help you slow down and enjoy the moment. “I don’t want to miss these precious moments with my kids” can bring your attention to the present and out of future/past thinking. Being in the present moment always feels better.

 

Power Boost – “Oh, Well”

I was taking a parenting class specifically geared towards raising kids with “perfectionism, giftedness, and anxiety” and the teacher taught me these two magic words, “Oh Well”.

She said it was important to model using these words often with our kids.

“Your friend doesn’t want to play with you right now?” Oh well.

“You lost the game AGAIN even though you tried your best?” Oh well.

“Your sister is cheating and changing the rules?” Oh well.

But I found these words to be especially helpful for ME and my time anxiety.

“Late again”? Oh well.

“Binge watched an entire season on Netflix?” Oh well.

“Didn’t get anything accomplished today?” Oh well.

Try it out and see if it helps your inner perfectionist calm down and relax a little more.

 

Quote of the Day:

“Time you enjoyed wasting, was not wasted.”  John Lennon

Clarify My Back-to-School Mom Goals

Question of the Day: Mom Goals

“Dear Torie,

School is starting soon and I am excited to get back to routine. I’m a stay-at-home mom of three and all of them will be in school full day. I’m finally going to have free time to do something for me, but I’m not sure how to spend this precious time! I want to exercise, socialize, read, watch movies, volunteer, but I’m also thinking some extra money would be nice so working part time is also an option. From previous experience, I know that if I’m not deliberate about it, I’ll just end up running errands and cleaning the house without kids. I just don’t want to waste my hard earned freedom by continuing to do things for the kids and not for me. Can you help me clarify my back to school ‘mom goals’?”   Rebecca

 

 

Parent Education Answer:

Taking time to think about YOU and what you want is so important, not just for your own happiness, but so you can be refreshed and energized for your kids. 

It’s common in our perfectionistic parenting culture to place a higher importance on caring for our children than caring for ourselves. The belief that everything we do should benefit our kids is misguided. Over-parenting robs children of their own efficacy. YOU get to feel capable and responsible, but your child feels needy and dependent. Taking care of YOURSELF is one of the best things you can do FOR your kids! 

Do you know anyone whose mother does not take good care of herself? Have you ever had a friend whose Mom did not take care of her physical health, emotional health, or financial health? It is a HUGE drain on the child! 

Here are three things I have found that seem to benefit all Supermoms:

  1. Clarity – Knowing who you are and what you want. 

Your question, Rebecca, is a perfect one to help you step out of the weeds of your everyday life and think about what you most want to accomplish. The beginning of the school year is a great time to evaluate which areas of your life need a refresher. 

Go to www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/back-to-school and sign up for my free webinar. I will send you a life balance wheel where you will rank, on a scale of 1-10, how fulfilled you currently feel in each category: health, family, social/community, spirituality, surroundings, contribution to society, fun and recreation, finances, romantic relationship, career. Your lowest category may be the one to devote more time to in order to feel balanced and fulfilled. Pick ONE area to focus on and make it your priority. 

2. Energy – Did you know you can CREATE energy?

I used to think it was something people either had or didn’t have. I believed my energy fluctuated based on outside circumstances: how much sleep I got, how my kids behaved, whether my house was messy or clean. Now I’ve learned that I can create more energy with my thoughts by processing emotions, making decisions, overcoming fears, closing loops. Some of my Supermom clients increase their energy by singing, playing the piano, reading, sitting in the sunshine, planning a vacation, not to mention exercise, sleep and healthy foods. If you want to accomplish a lot in your day AND feel peaceful and balanced, choose to spend your free time on an activity that boosts your energy. 

3. Accomplishment – Being a mom involves a lot of circular, repetitive tasks: laundry, cooking, cleaning. If you don’t get a sense of accomplishment from a job, you might get stuck in the mind-numbing trap of taking care of others without really feeling engaged in your activities. Focusing on what you want to accomplish every day can pull you out of the weeds and into a more productive, conscious mindset that focuses on your highest objective. Plus, accomplishing tasks gives you a feel-good dopamine hit so even by writing things down, then checking them off, you can get a sense of satisfaction.

Some of my ‘at-home’ mom clients have found a sense of accomplishment from refurbishing old furniture, decorating their homes, scrapbooking, trying new recipes, or creating a budget. There is no right or wrong way to feel accomplished, just focus on the feeling you are yearning for and go after it.Mom goals

Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way?

Believing we aren’t worthy of our own time, money and attention. 

Imagine you are looking through the nursery window in a hospital. You see bassinets in a line with little babies swaddled in their blankets. Some are sleeping, some are staring, some are fussing, all are adorable. You look at the fourth one down with the pink hat and you say, “That one there, she’s not good enough. She’s not as deserving as the others. She isn’t worthy of having as much success, relaxation, or joy as those other babies.”

Worthiness doesn’t work that way! There is no such thing as being “unworthy” or “not good enough”. It’s not a competition. You have worth because you have blood in your body. Is a baby who gets tossed in a dumpster by its parents, less worthy or deserving? NO. Is a baby born with birth defects or disabilities any less deserving of success, joy, or relaxation? NO. You are no better and no worse than anyone else. Your kids are not more deserving of love, attention and happiness than you are. You are teaching them how to treat you. As you prioritize yourself and your needs, they will learn that your needs are also important. 

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Giving from an empty cup. 

I LOVE taking care of others. Giving is a part of my nature and makes me feel alive and connected. 

Until it doesn’t. 

Sometimes giving feels like a sacrifice. Sometimes it feels like an obligation. 

I am not going to say you should stop taking care of your children, your spouse, your partner, your boss, your sister, your dogs (the list goes on doesn’t it?). 

I am going to say it’s time to stop giving from an empty cup. 

The cup represents your energy; your spirit. It needs to be full in order for you to feel happy, healthy, and well-balanced. When you have so much love and energy filling your cup that it overflows, that is when you give. Whatever spills onto the saucer is to give away. 

You might be thinking… “Torie, I have never had a full cup and I don’t know how to get one. I have to give from an empty cup because my children need me and it’s all I’ve got.” 

If that’s the case, then consider working with a life coach. Life coaches are trained to help you plug your invisible energy drains and help you fill up your cup on a regular basis so you can be the best version of you. 

 

Supermom Powerboost: Saying Yes to kid play

Want an energy boost? Try saying yes when your kids ask you to play. If you are like me, your first response to, “Mom, do you want to play?” is “absolutely not”. But 5 minutes of shooting hoops, jumping on a trampoline, or tossing a volleyball around really does boost my energy. Not only do I get my blood pumping, but I feel like a younger, cooler mom who can get out of her head for 5 minutes. 

If you’ve got younger kids, just lay on the floor and see what happens. A parent laying on the floor is like a magnet to little ones. They start crawling all over you like a jungle gym and playing and wrestling like little lion cubs. Five minutes of presence while playing will give you a boost of energy and keep you feeling young. 

 

Quote of the Day:

“Rest and self care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” • Eleanor Brownn