Ellie Knaus

Attunement, Anxiety & Empathy with Atomic Mom Ellie Knaus

Attunement, Anxiety and Empathy with Ellie Knaus of Atomic Moms

Today on the Supermom is Getting Tired podcast, I’ll be interviewing Ellie Knaus of the Atomic Moms Podcast.

We’ll talk about how years of interviewing parenting experts has impacted her as a mom and the mindset that allows her to implement what she has learned.

Together we talk about attunement, empathy, and anxiety, and how they all interact to make parenting kids a challenge.

Do you worry about other people judging your children or your parenting? Then stay tuned for Ellie’s coaching question of the day.

Question of the day:

“It gives me so much anxiety when my two year-old calls everyone DUMB in a really mean way. It’s a word she learned from her six year old sister.  I get that it’s not personal. She’ll even say Minnie Mouse is DUMB. And Minnie is her BFF 4 Life. But other people get super wigged out about it. I tried not giving the word power by ignoring her name-calling for a few weeks now, but it’s getting old!” Ellie

 

Parent Education Answer: 

Ellie already knew not to give this word too much power and attention. She understood her daughter’s motivation for using it (attention and excitement) and that if she ignored it, it would go away.

 

Life Coaching Answer: 

When I’m coaching clients, I ask questions more than give answers. Because she was on the phone with me, I could ask WHY it bothered her. What was she making it mean, about her, that made it hard to let go of it.

For Ellie, it was her Nanny’s reaction and fear of being judged negatively by her. So many of us have this fear of being judged, but I’m going to let you in on a secret.

People judge.

That’s what they do. Some more than others and you have no control over any of it.

We think if we can do everything right, we can protect ourselves from negative judgement, but it just doesn’t work.

There may be times that kids embarrass us. Unfortunately, we can’t control them either. This thus leads to anxiety. Once you can allow the feeling of embarrassment to be there without resisting, there is no need for anxiety.

When I ask her how she WANTS to feel about her daughter using the word dumb, she struggles to answer.

I have her close her eyes and imagine two dials numbered 1-10. One labeled ME, the other labeled OTHER. When she adjusts the dials so that she pays more attention to herself than others, it feels better. It was great to get to demonstrate this live because it’s such a quick and easy way to feel better for empathic moms!

Ellie thought she had two emotions to choose from: anxious or apathetic. Once she realizes she is in the driver’s seat of her brain, she decides to think the thought “My nanny thinks my daughter is so funny”. This helps her feel peaceful about her daughter’s “dumb” word, which allows her to ignore it more easily.

Today’s Quotes of The Day:

“You bore me with normal” Ellie Knaus’s post-partum doula

“When I sense into my children, we can be in a more relaxed state together .” Ellie Knaus

“Trust in your goodness, live out your greatness, rock on Atomic (Super) Moms.”

 

Is my child a sugar addict?

This episode’s topic: Sugar Addiction in Kids

sugar addiction in kids Is My Child Addicted to Sugar?

I’m struggling with my daughter (age 14) being so ungrateful and unwilling to help out.
I’m thinking I need to stop making nice meals for her since she’s not willing to make so much as a piece of toast for herself. She’d rather sit on her phone and, if I let her, she’ll go without eating or grab whatever sweet snack she can find.

It was important for me to teach my kids how to prepare healthy meals for themselves and my son will do it on occasion. We give him lunch money because when he buys lunch it’s healthy. My daughter, however, will just buy rice crispy treats and pirates booty or won’t eat at all.

I’m worried about her addiction to sugar and have thought about her seeing a nutritionist but, with the attitude, I’m thinking family counseling could be useful. Could sugar addiction be the cause of so much negative behavior? Tina

Episode 49: Sugar Addiction in Kids

Parent Educator Answer:

Let’s talk about sugar addiction. Many people might minimize it or laugh it off, but it can be a real problem for many people. This isn’t just “OMG I’m addicted to peppermint mochas,” It is a physiological addiction that affects the brain.

I am not a nutritionist nor an addiction expert but my son had an experience with sugar addiction so I’m happy to talk about it in simple terms, from a mother’s perspective.

The way I understand it, sugar releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a feel-good chemical that floods the brain and creates cravings. When the dopamine high from sugar wears off, withdrawal symptoms set in.

Understanding the Brain

The brain requires even more sugar to bring the same good feeling, creating a craving for sweet foods. Without the dopamine inducing substance, sugar addicts feel tired, restless, anxious or depressed, making the craving even stronger to alleviate the unpleasant feeling.

Signs of sugar addiction can be: headaches, lethargy, fatigue, craving sweet and/or salty foods, insomnia, hiding sweets, making excuses or deals regarding sugar, avoiding foods without sugar, turning to sugar when feeling negative emotion, going out of your way to get sugar and feeling guilty about sugar intake.

Could Tina’s daughter’s negative attitude be a result of sugar addiction?

Absolutely.

But being ungrateful and unwilling to help, could also be a normal teenage state of mind. If you are seeing that she is constantly negative, fatigued, lethargic, fighting with her brother, avoiding emotions, and seeking out sugar to the exclusion of other foods, the root of the problem might be sugar addiction.

In a way, we were lucky. When my son was 12, he had a QEEG done of his brain and they told us he had the marker for addiction, meaning his brain was wired similarly to the brains of people who struggle with addiction.

We thought this was good information to know before he goes off to college and gets exposed to alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Later, when he developed a terrible sugar addiction, we had already prepared ourselves and could spot the signs of addiction.

Predisposition

I learned that some people have a predisposition for addiction but you don’t really know what will trigger it. Whether it’s sugar, alcohol, video game addiction, gambling, or porn, it’s all coming from the same place: dopamine.

Different brains react differently. It is not a character flaw nor a sign of bad parenting. Getting frustrated with your child for not being able to manage her sugar intake is like getting mad at your child for having dyslexia.

I found a quote about addiction by Luke Davies. He defines it like this: “When you can stop, you don’t want to and when you want to stop, you can’t.”

In the case of my son, my husband and I sat him down and told him, “We recognize this is a real problem.  We love you, we are on your side and we will help you.”  I remember his Dad saying, “It’s the three of us, against the addiction.”

Once he was able to experience life without sugar and noticed how much better he felt, he felt motivated to manage it and his eating habits more.

Life Coaching Answer:

It can be agonizing to watch our teens struggle with a problem. We want them to change their behavior so that we can feel better and stop worrying so much! We think, “If you could just DO better, then I could FEEL better.”

Step 1

The first step to helping you get out of your own way is to acknowledge your maternal instincts or intuition.

Thank your higher self for alerting you to the fact that something isn’t right.

What happens is our maternal instincts start sounding an alarm bell. We try to shut it off by changing our child’s behavior. This doesn’t work, so we try to make peace with an alarm bell constantly ringing in our heads.

Instead of that, thank it for doing its job. Acknowledge that your instincts are picking up on something that needs addressing.

Step 2

Accept reality. Instead of saying, “She shouldn’t be acting this way”, accept that this is exactly what’s supposed to be happening.

Allow your teen to have problems. The reason you haven’t been able to solve this problem is that it isn’t yours to solve.

Your daughter needs to be involved and motivated. She needs to experience the problem as hers, with you and Dad there for support, love, and guidance. Find the facts of the situation and deal with them head-on.

Step 3

Drop the Rope. Right now you and she are on opposite ends of the rope, playing a game of tug of war.

She wants sweets. You want her to eat healthily.

The more you pull in your direction, the more she will pull in the opposite. It’s hard, I know, but it is so helpful to drop the rope and walk around to her side of this tug of war game.

Let her know you are here to support her. Her guilt, although invisible, is a big part of the problem.

Once she knows you are on her side, and that it’s not her fault she has this predisposition, she can start releasing the guilt that is keeping her stuck.

Think about how you would handle it if you found out she had dyslexia. You wouldn’t be mad or expect her to fix it on her own.

You would help her find resources, outside experts, encourage her to be patient with herself.

Once you thank your intuition, accept this as HER problem that might be with her for the rest of her life, and get on her team, then you can move to step 4.

Step 4

Hold a higher vision. It is really easy to see problems our teenagers are dealing with and catastrophize and futurize.

It feels to us like an immediate problem we need to fix or else bad things will happen.  This intensity, however, will only make your daughter pull harder in the opposite direction.

Parents can help their struggling teen by imagining that their struggle has a purpose. I found it very helpful to believe that my son would use his challenge to help others.

Imagine she will overcome this someday. Communicate this belief with her.

Tell her that overcoming this will deepen her compassion for others and give her a broader understanding of the world.

Let your daughter know that you believe in her ability to do hard things, ask for help, and prioritize her health and happiness.

We aren’t meant to go through life without problems, but we are meant to grow because of them.

Let her know those good things wait for her on the other side, and you are there to support her every step of the way.

Supermom Kryptonite – “Putting on the cape”

Many of my clients are excellent at “putting on the cape.”

They see their child suffering in some way and they “put on their Supermom cape” and fly to the rescue.

We love feeling capable and saving our children from problems; we were made for this! But sometimes we don’t have the resources necessary to help our kids solve all their problems.

Expecting to be able to solve any problem your child ever has will drain your energy. You will know if this is your situation because everything you tried hasn’t worked.

It could be that it’s your child’s problem to solve.  All you need to do is drop the rope and join her support team.

It could also be that your child isn’t capable of fixing the problem on her own. It’s time to add outside experts to the panel. Just make sure it’s all of you, against the issue.

If we are dealing with addiction, we are dealing with a brain that has been hijacked. Getting professional help can be life-changing.

“Putting on the cape” and trying to do everything FOR our teens will drive us both crazy and exhaust us. Instead, hang up the cape, step into your daughter’s shoes and try to see things from her perspective.

Supermom Power Boost – Do something impossible

When my son’s Naturopath described the cleanse she wanted him to go on (no sugar, no gluten, no dairy), my first thought was “There is no way I could do that”.

Of course, there is nothing like the health of your child to motivate you. My husband and I didn’t feel right asking our 12-year-old to do something we wouldn’t do ourselves so we put ourselves on a cleanse. No sugar, gluten, dairy, no coffee, no alcohol, NO FUN!

But it was FASCINATING.

I learned so much about my eating habits. Something about the hormonal change made me feel weepy and wacky. I didn’t miss sugar at all, which surprised me, but I missed corn of all things.

My husband LOVED how he felt: clear-headed and energized.

My favorite thing that came from this experiment was doing something I never thought I could do. When you have the belief “I could never do that,” and then you do it, it makes you wonder “What else am I saying I could never do, that I’m fully capable of doing?”

If you want a boost of energy, try a cleanse. Or bungee jump, take a vacation by yourself, start a blog, something where you currently think, “I could never do that”. Do whatever crazy thing strikes your fancy just to prove to yourself how capable you truly are!

Quote of the Day:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The Serenity Prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous

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

I know what I want but I can’t afford it

Episode for the Week: Money Worries

Today’s question comes up a lot.. See if this has ever happened to you

You get some time away, to take a break and feel like yourself again.

OR

You have a free discovery coaching call with me and get excited about your potential and possibilities for your future. 

You get a glimpse of what life could be like with a little more balance or a little more fun and an idea of how great life could be if you felt more like you. 

Has this ever happened to you? I hope you aren’t so entrenched that you haven’t experienced this.

It feels so exciting; so freeing, that it scares us. 

The thought of so much positive change happening in such a short period of time is overwhelming. Every time we leave our comfort zone, even for something we want, fear comes along for the ride. 

But fear is sneaky, it sounds like this:

“The kids need me. I don’t have time. I could never do that. My husband wouldn’t like it. What would people think? There’s too much to do.”

And the most common of all the excuses is today’s question: 

Question of the Day: “What if you figure out what you want but you can’t afford it?”

The belief “I can’t afford it” is so prolific that it seems silly to question it. It feels true for many Americans, regardless of how much money is in their bank accounts. Just living in America puts us in the top 5% of wealth, not to mention the many potential opportunities to increase our wealth, that it seems crazy so many of us share money worries.

Parent Education Answer: 

There is a parent education answer to the question, “What if you figure out what you want but you can’t afford it?” 

You never want to send the “I can’t afford it message” to your kids. It’s a thought that makes us feel like a helpless victim. Take a look at what the thought “I can’t afford it” creates. When you think this thought, notice how you feel.

Thinking of money worries and believing the thought “I can’t afford what I want” creates a heavy, weighed down feeling in your body. It’s like putting shackles around your ankles.

It keeps you stuck in one place. When you think this thought, there’s no imagination, no exploring alternate possibilities, no believing in your ability to create more money.  It just keeps you where you have been. 

 

money worries

 

Instead, teach your kids that everything is a trade-off. “We can afford anything we want, it’s just a matter of priorities.” Talk to your kids about the value of things. 

We decided to put our kids in private school, so we moved into a smaller home in a less desirable neighborhood. Our family values experiences more than things, and our gift giving reflects that.

Instead of party favors at birthday parties, I sent the kids home with memories of fun games and activities. I skip name brand clothes unless I find them at Ross for half price, but we pay extra for super high speed internet. 

The message to send kids about money is that everything is a trade off and to align your spending with the things you value the most. 

 

Life Coaching Answer:

The thought, “I can’t afford it” is really about fear. When we think about doing something good for ourselves, something that could create positive change in our life, we get scared. It’s a natural reaction. Our minds perceive change as scary, even if it’s a good change. “I can’t afford it” is a socially acceptable way to say, “I’m nervous”.

Let’s say you take your child to the hospital for an asthma attack. They say the treatment costs $1800. Would you need to think about it? Would you say “I want to pay but I can’t afford that” or “let me talk it over with my husband?”

No, the asthma treatment is of such a high value that you would spend the money, then later figure out how to pay for it. If I said you had to come up with an extra $10,000 in 2020 or your children would perish, you would figure it out! You would get creative, you might throw morals out the window, but you would get it done. 

Spending is always about values and priorities.

Can you see any benefit on holding on to a belief that makes you feel trapped and keeps you from noticing possibilities? 

The truth shall set you free so any thought that makes you feel weighed down and trapped is not a true one. 

Handling Money Worries

We spend money on gym memberships, mani/pedis, hair, and clothes. We’ll spend money on private schools or tutors, club sports, extra curricular activities and SAT prep classes.

We always have a choice on where we spend money and what we think is worth going into debt for. We justify our spending based on what we SEE other people spending money on, but the most valuable things to spend money on are things you can’t see. 

Many families take kids to Disneyland because they want to make them happy. They think seeing happy kids will make them feel like they are doing a good job.

The truth is, our ability to feel happy and satisfied in our job as mom does not come from our kids. It comes from the thoughts inside our own heads.

If you put your ability to feel happy into the hands of your kids’ trip to Disneyland, as soon as they melt down, cry, and fight with their siblings, you are going to get super annoyed. You spent so much money trying to feel happy, just to have ripped away at the first temper tantrum.

When you take responsibility for your own happiness and satisfaction, then it doesn’t matter how your kids behave. You get to feel the way you want to feel whether you are at Disneyland, at home, or dragging your kids through Target.

Life coaching is the best place to spend money because you learn the meta-skill of how to be happy any time you want. You can save so much money buying things that only bring you temporary pleasure. 

You can spend $20,000 remodeling your kitchen, then, 6 months later, start complaining about the bathroom needing to be redone. The new kitchen doesn’t bring you long lasting happiness because that comes from your thoughts.

If your brain is trained to look for problems to solve, you will just find more problems. It’s the state of mind we get stuck in that keeps us from getting the feeling of satisfaction and joy we crave.

That new toy you bought your kid only provided a week’s worth of peace for you. Wouldn’t you like to learn how to feel peaceful anytime you want? 

You loved your new car when you first got it, but one year later all you can think about is how messy it is and how much driving around you have to do.

Spending money on your mental and emotional well being is one of the BEST things to spend money on if you want long-lasting happiness and peace. 

Most of us agree that taking care of our bodies is a good idea. We can see the value of joining a gym, eating healthy foods, moisturizing, taking vitamins, and getting massages or facials, but what’s the point of having your body in top shape if your mind and emotions can’t appreciate it? 

Can you imagine who you would be without the thought “I can’t afford it?” If this thought was completely unavailable to you, how different would you feel? 

You still have the same amount of income and outflow, but your thought is “I can spend money on the things I value most” or “I always have enough for the things that are important to me.” or “There are many ways to make more money.” These are the beliefs we want to pass to our kids and it starts with believing them yourself.

If you could think these thoughts, how do you imagine you might feel? 

Open? Hopeful? Creative? 

What actions steps might you take if you are feeling hopeful and creative?  You might cancel memberships to things you aren’t using. You may say no more easily when your son asks for something, but say yes to something special for YOU. You’ll start scanning your budget to see how aligned your spending is with the things you value most. You might ask for a raise or start a side hustle, just because you want your money to be aligned with your values. 

 

Today’s Supermom Kryptonite: Thinking that the way things have been is the way they will be in the future.

Look around you right now. What do you see? I see a laptop, a sofa, a coffee mug, a box of tissues. Everything you see began in someone’s imagination. If we want to create something new, we first need to see it in our imagination. The thought “I can’t afford it” blocks our ability to use our imaginations to create what we want. 

If you grew up hearing “We can’t afford it” then it’s an easy thing to repeat, but it costs you the ability to step out of that way of thinking and create a new reality. Just because things have always been a certain way, does not mean they will always be. Change can happen on a dime, at any time. You just have to want it. 

 

Supermom Power Boost: Get Creative! 

There are 100 ways to get what you want. I have a friend who said, “If I ever came into extra cash, I would sign up for this writer’s retreat and workshop.” Two months later, her old company liquidated stock options and (surprise!) extra cash came in the mail and her writing career began. If she hadn’t used her imagination FIRST to think about what she wanted, she very easily could have gotten that check, used it to pay bills, and not used it to create an exciting future aligned with her values.

 

To set loose your creativity and use your imagination to create what you want, try this exercise: Pick one thing that you would LOVE to spend money on. Something that feels very aligned with your values and your heart’s desire. Make sure it feels fun and slightly indulgent. Got it? 

 

Estimate how much you think it will cost. Now list 20 different ways you can make that much extra money. 

Let’s say you want to sign up for my 12 week Supermom is Getting Tired Coaching Program because you want to feel better. You are tired of being cranky all the time and you want to show your kids how to take responsibility for your own happiness and create a life you love. The cost of the program is $1668. 

Let’s say you promised your husband you would make up that much more money in 2020 to pay for it. You could…

  1. Become a door dash driver
  2. Ask for a raise or promotion
  3. Offer to drive other kids around for a fee.
  4. Sell stuff on ebay or letgo
  5. Sell jewelry on etsy 
  6. Bake cakes for birthdays.
  7. Advertise on social media for your favorite businesses.
  8. Rent a room in your house on Airbnb
  9. Take in an exchange student
  10. Turn off your electricity and live by candlelight
  11. Trade your car in for a cheaper hybrid.
  12. Barter services with hairdressers, handymen, friends. 
  13. Become a dog walker or dog sitter

 

Quote of the Day: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” Benjamin Franklin

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

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