How to get your kids to go to bed on time

Are you doing the Back to School Happy Dance! YEAH!!  woo-hoo!

via GIPHY

But oh my what a pain it is to get kids to go to bed at night, so they can be on time for school in the morning.

Last spring, I wrote a blog about how to get kids out of bed in the morning so now seems like the perfect time to write about how the heck to get them to bed.

Here’s the problem: Some kids are easy. They just go to bed. This sets us up with the expectation that ALL kids should easily just go to bed. Combine our expectation that it be easy, with our own end-of-day fatigue, and you’ve got a recipe for conflict and drama.

If you struggle to get your kids to bed on time, read through these steps and see where you can focus your attention to help you get a peaceful evening routine.

The first step

is to accept that your child just doesn’t like going to bed, without blame or frustration. Being a night owl, and taking a long time to wind down at night, are wired into us. What makes people sleepy is when certain hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, rise during the day, and drop at night. Lots of things can mess with this hormone production: not getting enough exercise or daylight, getting too much blue light from screens, or artificial light after dark. When puberty hits, and stress of any kind, these hormones can get out of whack. It’s not always our kid’s fault if they are up until midnight and can sleep until noon. If you start trying to change your child’s bedtime routine by trying to change something you have no control over, you will frustrate yourself. Acceptance and compassion must come first.

The second step

is to get your kids on board with the idea. As you may have noticed, you cannot make someone go to sleep who doesn’t want to. Pay attention to what motivates your child. Some kids are motivated to please their parents and like being seen as responsible. (How awesome is that? If this is you, enjoy it!)

For the rest of us, we have to get clever. Some kids are motivated by fun, (and watching mom lose her sh*t at bedtime is entertainment for them!). Other kids are motivated with bribes (“I’ll give you a $1. if you are in bed before 9:30, but $5. if you are in bed by 9:00.” You can encourage going to bed without complaining by rewarding with treats in tomorrow’s lunchbox. If you have a kid that is motivated by power, partner with them to design a bed time routine that works for both of you, making sure they think it’s all their idea.

Many Supermoms can get caught up with an idealistic picture of what the bedtime routine should look like: reading books, cuddles, pillow talk, but if this isn’t working for you it’s time to let it go. My daughter hated reading (so much for the years I spent as a reading specialist.) Instead, we played games before bed for about 8 years. Now that she’s in high school and I’m older than dirt, I want to go to bed earlier than she, so we had to switch up our bedtime routine using step 3.

The third step

is all about making your home conducive to sleep. I remember one power outage we had. After our makeshift dinner, we hung out by candlelight, talked, played charades, and all 4 of us were SO SLEEPY and ready for bed. When we checked the clock it was only 7:30pm! Melatonin is released when it gets dark outside. If you want your kids to get sleepy, turn off the stimulation. Fast moving images on TV and video games, release chemicals in the brain that tell us to wake up and get moving. Try making it darker in your home an hour before bedtime. Light candles, take baths, play music or just turn the wi-fi off all together.

With our constantly wired world, sleep rates are dropping for kids and teens, making it even harder for moms to get kids up and out of bed in the morning.  The first step in improving the morning routine, is to make sure they are getting enough sleep. By accepting the things you cannot change with compassion, understanding what motivates our children, and creating an environment conducive to sleep, you can create a more peaceful morning and evening for your whole family.

Are you looking for support establishing routines that work for you and your family? Schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

Help kids overcome their fears

I am in Costa Rica, getting ready to zip line over the canopy of trees and I am NERVOUS. I’ve got my harness and helmet on, feeling the natural fear of being VERY high up and doing something very unnatural to humans. I tell myself, “freaking out is a choice”. I access my logic with the question, “What’s the mathematical probability of something bad happening?” I remind myself, “I get to choose how I want to think and feel right now”. I decide to focus on this really cool opportunity to see what it feels like to be a bird. 

Once I take off and am flying through the trees like a bird, the thought comes to me, “I have always wanted to do this. This is my dream coming true.” 

Oh yeah, with all the fear, I had forgotten that. 

But while I am using all my tools to deal with fear, I’m watching others, drop like flies.

Not out of the sky, thankfully, but off the platform, out of line, and back onto solid ground. Teens and tweens, crying unconsolably or standing frozen with fear. Moms and Dads doing their best to reassure, convince, console and talk their kids out of their freak out. None of these parents had the capacity to override the reptilian part of their kid’s brain. The reptilian brain is the part that hyjacks the more intellectual parts of our brain and can only focus on fight, flight or freeze.

Have you ever been in this situation? Your kid is too scared to ride a roller coaster, or be left alone in the house, or talk to someone they don’t know, or eat a vegetable, or other scary, yet typical hallmarks of childhood?

When the reptilian brain kicks in, it’s pretty hard for a parent to override it with logic. In fact, none of these parents I’m watching on the zip, line were successful. All these kids ended up walking back down, or refusing to step up to the platform, surrendering to their fear.

So what is a parent to do when their kid is scared? How can we encourage them to be brave, in a way that actually works?

The important thing to remember is to be respectful of their fears. Life is full of scary, vulnerable things and we want our kids to learn how to overcome their fears. This is a VERY important life skill and one worthy of respect.

The trick is to help kids shift out of fight/flight/freeze response so they can make a decision from their higher brain. Helping kids calm down is first priority. Bring them away from the immediate threat and speak to your scared kiddos with a calm, confident voice. Don’t try to talk your child out of his fears, instead listen with respect, almost reverence. Then repeat what you hear them saying, adding in these key words: YOUR BRAIN. As in, “Your brain is telling you that you could die.” or “It sounds like your brain is thinking this spider can harm you.”

When children avoid their fears, it can encourage anxiety, so we don’t want to let them off the hook entirely. Once you’ve calmed them down, try asking your child, “What would make you feel more comfortable?” or “What’s one small step you can take towards overcoming your fear, that would make you feel proud of yourself tomorrow?”

Fears are a natural and beneficial part of being human. When kids get to work through them one at a time, at their own pace, they will slowly learn to manage their reptilian brain, take risks that align with their values, and learn how much fun there is to be had on the other side of their fears 🙂

Pura Vida! 

Feeling pressured? 5 ways to cut yourself some slack

As Moms we ask a lot of ourselves.

We want to be great at mothering, cooking, friendships, work, home maintenance, health, family dinners, you name it….we want to be good at it. If our Mom always kept a clean house, we think we should too. If our neighbor is always heading out for a jog looking fit, we think we should too. If our husbands always say yes to playing with the kids, who am I kidding, we take that opportunity and run…but inside we kinda wish we were more playful and energetic, too.

The reality of chasing this unattainable perfectionism is WE GET FRICKIN’ TIRED!  And we don’t know how to stop because this pressure is internal, invisible and self-inflicted so it’s really hard to notice. We can’t change what we aren’t aware of but if you are feeling pressured or exhausted, chances are you are being too hard on yourself.

The biggest change you can make today to feel more energized and alive is to CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK.

Moms make their lives much harder when they beat up on themselves for making mistakes. If you yearn to feel more relaxed and focused with calm energy, follow these steps today.

Five ways to cut yourself some slack and take the pressure off.

  1. Give yourself permission to drop the ball, in more than one area.
  2. Forgive yourself when you forget things or make mistakes.
  3. Say No to things that demand your time or mental energy. (Be part of the other percentage!)
  4. Recognize the voice of your mean inner critic and commit to listening to your inner cheerleader instead.
  5. Model imperfection and self forgiveness for your children.

Do you know the 80/20 rule? It applies to many things: 20% of your clothes you wear 80% of the time, 20% of the people do 80% of the work. But let’s apply it to motherhood:

80% of Moms are NOT volunteering at school.

20% of Moms never send in money for the field trip.

80% of Moms have not registered their kid for any summer camps.

20% of Moms clean 80% of the time, and 80% of the Moms clean 20% of the time!

Try being a part of the other percentage! Give yourself permission to not be perfect. Your energy goes where your ATTENTION goes so when you have to remember lots of different things, your energy leaves you and goes to all of those tasks.

We like to blame others “People will be mad at me” or “I can’t be one of THOSE moms!” but I guarantee, the thing you are scared of the most, is the mean things you will say to yourself, about yourself if you make a mistake. “I’m so stupid, why didn’t I remember, I never should have ____, when am I going to get my act together, why am I such a loser, how come I never do anything right, everyone else has their shit together but me”……and on….and on. If any of this sounds familiar, YOU are enemy #1 and this is excellent news because YOU get to choose what you say to yourself.

I dropped the ball last week. I normally send my blogs out every Wednesday but last week was so hectic that I just blew it off. Did you notice? Probably not. Did you curse me? “That horribly unreliable Torie! I was sitting by my inbox all day waiting and her email never even came!” I doubt it. I didn’t curse myself either. I gave myself permission to NOT CARE. I also avoided a few “Signup Genius” emails until they were all filled up, where normally I’m part of that initial 20%.

I made a mistake. I was supposed to submit a copy of a scholarship my son was awarded so it could be published in the graduation pamphlet. I tried, but by the time I realized a technology error, I had missed the deadline. I felt bad that my son wouldn’t have his award mentioned like everyone else so I told him what happened and apologized for not getting in on time. Do you know what he said? “That’s ok, Mom. No big deal”. He sounded just like my inner cheerleader! When our kids hear us practicing self-forgiveness and imperfection, they learn how to grant us the same kindness.

It’s May Madness. Crunch time for Moms with school aged kids.  Now is the perfect time to practice dropping the ball, making mistakes, forgiving yourself, saying no and not caring so much about doing everything right. If you’d like help with this, or just an outsiders perspective, schedule a free coaching call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

 

 

 

 

Moms: It’s time to do LESS

Imagine your middle schooler had a tough day at school: His friends ditched him at lunch, your daughter got a bad grade on her report, a seagull pooped on his jacket, etc. After school, your child walks home with a friend, shooting the breeze, talking about nothing. By the time she gets home, she FEELS BETTER! Something about the slow pace, the exercise, the peer support, the nature time, the independence, makes those problems fade away. Now, at home, she feels relaxed.

It’s more normal in today’s overprotective and over-scheduled culture for kids to get picked up in cars, rushed to activities, asked about school/grades/friendships, etc. Moms are looking for problems to solve, wondering whether to intervene, wanting kids to be happy.

When today’s kids do walk home, they pop their earbuds in, stare at their screens, and disconnect from people around them. Rather than using this valuable time to process emotions and connect in compassionate ways, they avoid and suppress emotions, making them feel even worse.

When trying to understand why rates of anxiety & depression are skyrocketing in today’s teens, it comes down to many small things, having a great big impact.

As parents, we want to smooth the way for them, make it easier, protect them from negative emotions and experiences. But our attempts to make life easier for them, may be costing them their mental well being.

Kids need to feel they can handle life’s mishaps on their own. Having time, moving in nature with friends, to process these emotions is natural. Sheltering kids, for fear they will experience a negative emotion, can delay their growth. Don’t buy into the popular culture that says “A good Mom would do everything for and with her children.” Kids need uncomfortable experiences in order to build internal strength and resilience.

As you are making plans for this summer, try encouraging experiences that push your kids outside their comfort zone.

  1. Send them to summer camp (without YOU!)
  2. Make them earn money: get a job, start a business, organize a garage sale or lemonade stand.
  3. Have them walk or ride their bike, instead of being driven, to summer classes, camps, parks, pools, etc.
  4. Plan an “old fashioned” play date. Invite your friends over with their kids (different ages/genders preferred) and send them out into the street while you and the other Moms play cards and sip cocktails. (and invite me to this one!)
  5. Send them to the grocery store to buy groceries and make dinner for the family.
  6. Let them sleep in a tent in the backyard.
  7. Buy a season pass to an amusement park and drop them off.

This fear based parenting culture needs to stop. Our kids are physically safer than anytime in history but the mental/emotional stress of modern living is taking a toll. Do you have any other ideas?  I’d love to hear them.

The love we have for our kids created this overprotective, fear based culture. We can use the same love for our kids to relax, do less, and show our kids the world is a safe and trusting place.

Is your kid not acting in line with your expectations?

It can happen at any time: 4 weeks, 4 years, or 14 on up.

The child we’re parenting, doesn’t match with the one we expected to be parenting.

Ida’s* story….

Ida thought she had the ADHD thing under control. She adapted her parenting style, adapted his diet, bedroom and after school activities to allow him to be his best self. This Supermom worked with the school teachers and counselors to make sure they understood what his challenges and strengths were. Ida worked hard to help him fit in with the school system and peers, while helping him appreciate his unique gifts. And then he turned 14 and the sh*t hit the fan. Nothing seemed to be working. He was emotionally out of control, stubborn and rebelling against everything she’d worked so hard for. This was NOT what she was expecting. 

Emma’s* story…

Emma was a quiet, gentle, loving mom. She could be content to stay home all day, reading and tinkering in her craft room. Co-sleeping and baby-wearing made her feel closely connected with her daughter. She imagined doing puzzles and art together, quietly co-creating beautiful things. By the time her daughter was 4, Emma was exhausted. Her sweet baby turned into the bully of the playground: pushing, pulling hair, biting, you name it. She would climb anything she could, using furniture to build towers to access higher and higher places. Her art activities lasted about 20 seconds and resulted in huge messes in the house. Emma’s relationship with her daughter was more about keeping her alive than creating beautiful things. 

So what does a Mama do when her expectations are different than her reality?

  1. Take time and recognize that it’s your expectations that are causing you to struggle. When you think thoughts like “She shouldn’t behave this way” or “He should have figured this out by now!” you are making things harder. A better thought to think is “This isn’t what I was expecting and that’s ok.” 
  2. Give yourself permission to grieve the loss of the dream or expectation you had for your kid. Another way to say this is “Be kind to yourself”. Allow yourself to be sad that things aren’t easier and forgive yourself for wanting things to be better. It’s our job to hold a higher vision for our kids but we can do this WHILE accepting they aren’t there yet, and that’s ok.
  3. Hold a higher vision for YOURSELF. What if you’ve got the exact kid you need to help you fulfill your destiny? What if these challenges you are dealing with, are teaching you something you couldn’t learn any other way?  Could it be possible that this crazy kid of yours is growing a side of yourself you didn’t even know you needed to grow?

Ida’s teenage son helped her break out of her belief that “the only path to success is to follow the rules”. Watching him carve his own path through adolescence taught her to let go of expectations and and control and trust in a greater plan. She realigned her values, let go of her people pleasing addiction, and learned to prioritize the things SHE loved doing. By following her son’s example, she made time for mountain biking every weekend, and yoga every day.

Quiet, gentle Emma learned to set clear and consistent boundaries with her daughter. For a long time, she tried to avoid taking the leadership role but once she got the hang of it, she got hooked! She started setting appropriate boundaries in all her relationships, built up so much confidence and self pride that she started selling her art online. She gives herself plenty of breaks from her high energy daughter so she can still be her introverted self. Even though her daughter is still a challenge, she appreciates the lessons she’s learned from her and loves the person she has become because of it.

If you are struggling with a kid who isn’t acting the way you think he/she should be behaving, schedule a free life coaching call. Let’s find out where you can let go, find acceptance, and see if there is a divine lesson in here for you?

 

*names have been changed to protect the exhausted