For those of us with school age children, it’s the time of year when many things come to an end. It’s the end of the spring sports season. After months of practices and games, our evening and weekend calendars are finally starting to free up. It’s also the end of another school year. Posts of graduation pictures and commencement speeches by famous people with words of wisdom, flood our social media feeds. There is the joy of accomplishment with an underlying bittersweet sadness of it all being over. It’s also the time of new beginnings, with the possibilities that only summer can bring. And if there is a wedding “season”, this would be it, with people coming together in celebration over new beginnings.
The central theme to all of this is the passage of time. Which led me to think about the phrase – how are you spending your time? It’s a phrase we toss around without much thought, but what if we break it down? What if we thought about spending time like we spend our money?
If this were true, would you spend your time on other things? Financially you have a budget and know that a percentage of your money goes to the mortgage, bills, food, clothing, entertainment, etc. What would your time budget look like? What percentage of your day is spent on necessities? I’ll classify necessities as things that you have to do like dishes, laundry, etc. None of these things are a super fun way to spend your time, but they have to be done. It’s kind of like paying for electricity, you’d rather spend that money on something else, but you also can’t fumble around in the dark, so it’s money you need to spend.
After you get the necessities out of the way, how do you decide what you spend your time on next? Is it based on the person – i.e. I spend my time with my kids because they need me? Or is it based on the task that you need to get done? It may vary from day to day, but it’s an interesting thought to consider.
As you go about your day spending your time, do you ever put your wallet away and stop spending? (Yes, I know that you cannot stop time, so in theory you are always spending your time, even when you are sleeping, but go with me on this one.) Another way of saying this may be that you take a break and stop giving your time. That you stop and keep your time for yourself. What percentage of your time budget goes to that?
As you look over your time budget, what is your R.O.I. (Return on Investment)? Are you getting the return you want from all this spending? At the end of the day, do you feel like you spent wisely? Or do you feel like you spent frivolously on little trinkets that look special in the moment but just become clutter in the long run?
We have the opportunity of a three-day weekend, an “extra” day of spending. What will your budget look like?
It’s not too late to register for my class “Parent’s Guide to Preteens: Communicating through Connection”. I give you easy tools you can use with your preteen to improve your communication and relationship. Sign up before May 31st and save $50! Just use coupon code PRET50 at checkout.
A mom of an 8-year-old daughter recently posted in a private Facebook group I’m a member of. She stated that her daughter was going through a really rough phase. The girl had recently started acting out. When the parents punished her, she said she didn’t care. The mom was at a loss because the outbursts were around things such as getting dressed and taking a shower. The mom wanted to punish the girl so she would realize she could not act that way. She was looking for support, advice and ideas from the group on the types of punishment she should use.
This post struck a chord with me. I’ve been talking a lot lately about preteens, which I define as between the ages of 8-12, and this scenario is a classic struggle that occurs at this age. I replied to the mom that it sounded like the girl was trying to establish some independence by pushing against her rules. I suggested sitting down with her daughter, asking her why she was having such a hard time lately and if she had any ideas on how to fix it. I also suggested that she might want to loosen the rules around shower time, maybe it didn’t have to be done at a certain time, maybe the daughter could choose when she could take it. As long as it was done, that was the most important thing. Two other moms replied that they used screen time as both an incentive and a punishment. When their children completed tasks, they received extra time, when they acted out they had time taken away from them.
The mom who posted replied that her daughter was not all that into screen time and even is she was, her response to that as punishment would be “I don’t care”. She said that she did like about having friends over, but even when using that as punishment the 8-year-old accepted the punishment with shrug. Her second post ended by saying “Which is why I don’t know how or what to punish her with?” She missed my point completely.
First I found it fascinating that she was so locked in that there had to be a punishment to “fix” this problem. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, sometimes when we are in the middle of a tense situation it is hard for us to be objective, so I can see how something that seems obvious on the outside may not be so obvious on the inside. However, what is it about our culture and beliefs about parenting that lead us to think that every behavior can and should be fixed by having a consequence?
Second, what I think is interesting, is that she had an expectation of how the daughter should react to her punishment. The fact that the daughter accepted it and shrugged it off, was not the reaction the mom was looking for. Would she rather the daughter tantrum and cry and act out even more in response to the punishment? In many instances, we would prefer that our children unemotionally accept what we ask them to do without a lot of drama. In this case, there was no drama and that made the mother concerned.
Third, if the punishment isn’t working then you need to stop and look at things differently. What is the point of punishment if it doesn’t do what you want it to do? Many of us stumble and bumble through the first few years of parenthood trying to figure it all out. By the time our 5-year-olds reach school, we feel like maybe we have a handle on this after all. We hum along for a couple of years and then all of a sudden, our kids start pushing back on us. Our instinct is to batten down the hatches and double down on the rules that have been working - this is where I think parents go astray. When kids reach the age of 7, 8 or 9, they have been in school a couple years. They spend hours at a time away from you, learning on their own what life outside the house is like. Their world is growing and your rules, boundaries and expectations must grow and change along with them. If the rule is not working, then you must talk to your child (calmly) and figure out why they are having such a hard time. It’s easy for us to both underestimate and overestimate kids. We underestimate them because we think that 8-years-old is too young to have an in-depth conversation about why they are feeling the way they are feeling. At the same time, it’s easy to overestimate that they are capable of finding the exact words to describe these big feelings that they most likely to not fully understand. Either way, we need to give them the chance to talk it through with us so that together we can figure it all out. As the parent, you don’t have to have all the answers, but you do have to be willing to keep looking for them.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m pretty passionate about this topic. It breaks my heart to read posts like this one, where the parents and the kids are struggling, but they’re using old methods to solve new problems. For this reason, I compiled the work I’ve done with clients and friends, and turned it into an online course. I wanted to make short (no more than 15 minutes a class) and accessible (any time, day or night) for parents to learn key strategies that are easy to incorporate into your everyday interactions with your preteens. Because here’s the thing, we will have a longer relationship with our child as an adult than as a child, so our relationship with them now is setting the stage for years and years to come.
If have questions about the class, feel free reach out to me on Facebook or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. And now through the end of May 2017, I’m offering $50 off when you sign up for the class. Just use coupon code PRET50 at checkout.
Earlier this week I posed a question to my Facebook group “What does it mean to BE a mom?” The answers were very thoughtful. The women used words like unconditional love, selflessness, dedication and support. A few words like exhausted, sleepless and hard work were also used in the definition, but for the most part the women’s answers embodied motherhood at the highest ideal.
The moms in my group gave heartfelt answers, but we all know there is so much more to it. When you run into a mom at the store or in the school pick up line, does she talk about how much unconditional love she has had that day? Probably not. Does she speak selflessly about all the things she needs to do? Not likely. In prior blogs, I’ve written about the badge of honor all moms wear to show how busy they are and how much they are doing for their kids. When mom’s talk, it much more about what they are DO-ing to be a mom. Do this, juggle that, run to this practice, the list goes on and on. There are articles upon articles about what you are doing with your kids, including the “right” questions to ask them after school, what types of books we should read with them and how much time they should spend being physically active. We are surrounded by examples and advice on what to do.
What if we just stopped and sat with our kids? Let them take the lead, unscheduled and directionless.
The moms in my group eloquently described motherhood as a state of being. Their definitions described motherhood as something that you are, not something you do and I think that we can all agree on that. However, at some point, a disconnect will happen. You get swept up in the hustle of life and being turns into doing. Let me explain - as I mentioned before more than one mom included the word selfless in their definition of being a mom. When you have a child, you happily put their needs before your own. You merrily go along, being your selfless self - cooking, cleaning, running from activity to activity anpicking up last minute items for the project that’s due tomorrow. In the process of BEing a good mom, you need to DO a lot of things. Slowly, or not so slowly, the lines start to blur between being and doing - we even have a list to prove it. The longer the list gets, the easier it is to forget about being and focus only on doing. And then, if you are anything like me, the more you do the more stress you feel and the more you get separated from the definition of what it is to BE a mom. The stress and pressure build until you lose it. You yell or cry or breakdown because what started out as being selfless, turned into overloading your Self with too much to do. And then you feel guilty because nowhere in the definition of being a good mom do you hear words like angry, frustrated or overwhelmed.
Last weekend I attended the International Women’s Summit in downtown Phoenix. Among the keynote speakers, was bestselling author, Elizabeth Gilbert. She talked about one word that is never used to describe women…..relaxed. The audience agreed that relaxed is not a word we often use to describe our lives. She went on to explain that we are much more likely to use the word worry, which comes from the Old English word that literally means to wring. Side by side the feeling of the two words, relaxed and worried, could not could not be more opposite. Her point was that when we are relaxed things are simple. There is no need for worry because when we are relaxed we know that everything is going to be alright.
Many of us will celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend and with that comes a lot of doing (gifts, cooking, flowers, phone calls, etc). Not only are there physical things to do, but you may ask yourself did I do enough for my mom? Did my kids do enough for me? Do I feel appreciated? We cannot escape the doing, but we can turn down the judgement that comes along with it. Take time this weekend to just sit and be with your kids. It doesn’t matter what you do or how long it takes, just hang out and be with them. Everything else that you need to do can wait.
If you are not sure how to “be” with your preteen, then check out my class “Parent’s Guide to Preteens: Communicating through Connection”. I give you easy tools you can use with your preteen to improve your communication and relationship. And, through the end of May I’m offering $50 off! Just use coupon code PRET50 at checkout.
Why is it that so many parents are scared of raising a spoiled or bratty child? Parents are afraid that if they give in a buy their child one item from the dollar bin, their child will forever feel entitled. Or that one meltdown in the middle of the store is a sign that your child has become one of those kids. You know those kids – the ones that you saw before you had one of your own, the ones that you said my child will never behave like that in public. Many parents (me included) have this fear that if we don’t do things right, our children will turn out to be bratty, entitled and insufferable.
So, what are we to do? Here are just a few tips on how to NOT raise a bratty kid:
Remember their age. Whether your child is a toddler or teenager, they are still growing and learning. It’s impossible for us as parents to fully understand what is going on in their brains and why. It’s easy for us to think that whatever is happening is not a big deal because we have the capacity and wisdom to rationalize a better outcome. In that moment, whether your child is being bratty or sassy or acting spoiled, they are reacting to the situation in the only way they know how. You may argue that you have taught them better and that might be true, but in this moment, this is their reaction. Which leads us to:
One incident does not a brat make. Having a major meltdown in the Target toy aisle does not mean that your child is destined for a life as a spoiled brat. Or just because you agree to let them have one more cookie does not mean they will feel entitled forever. Meltdowns are their way of saying I’m hungry or I’m tired or I don’t have the words to tell you what I need or I don’t have the emotional capacity to handle this situation any more. Every child (teens included) has these moments of weakness. These moments are not the ultimate, defining moment of the rest of their lives. It’s one moment, out of millions of moments we’ll have. That’s all. And in those moments, we have to remember to:
Keep calm and carry on. This one is so much easier said than done. It is so hard in the middle of a meltdown to keep calm, especially if you are in public! It’s so hard for us when we hear that attitude of entitlement start to rise, it instantly triggers that voice in us, “oh no, I’m raising a bratty/spoiled child! What do I do?” We feel we have to fix it right there on the spot. We need to course correct so our child doesn’t become that child. But I’m telling you, step one is to keep calm. I know this is so hard. You might even get to a point where you want to lay on the floor and start crying too, but take a deep breath and resist. Look at your child, hold them and recognize they are struggling with something. See if you can identify what is really going on. Is it really about the toy, or the cookie or whatever you said “no” to? Think about it, observe, but for now, keep it to yourself. Step two, carry on. Once all is calm and the tantrum/spoiled moment has passed, carry on with the day. Go forward with the day as if the moment didn’t happen. Give space if space is needed. Refill your patience and don’t hold a grudge against your child for the rest of the day. Later on, maybe that night at bedtime, talk to your child about the incident. Ask them to use their words. Use your words. Explain why their behavior upset you. Discuss it with a promise to try better next time and end it with a hug. Don’t be surprised if within 24 hours it happens again. They will forget. Their emotions will get the best of them. It will feel like you are back at square one, but you are not. Stay consistent. It may not change overnight, but it will work over time. Your words are locked away in their brain, waiting for that lightbulb moment when it all clicks.
You got this. Stop worrying and start enjoying. Not every moment will be perfect, but the good moments far outweigh the not so good.
Are you working through a similar parenting struggle? I currently have 2 openings in my 90-day, one-on-one, Parent Coaching Workshop and would love for you to fill one of those spots. Message me or comment below and I can fill you in on all the details.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.