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The secret to being present with your kids has nothing to do with your kids and it has everything to do with you.
We are so busy living our day to day lives all the while navigating parenting abroad that we sometimes forget what’s most important: In order to take the best possible care of our kids, we need to take first-class care of ourselves.
This week’s podcast follows on the heels of our recent 5-Day Global Parenting Challenge to share a few of the key lessons and how we can continue to move forward to be our best version of parents to our global kids.
What You’ll Discover in this Episode:
- The secret to being more present with your kids.
- How to turn the chore of parenting into more fun.
- Why being “selfish” can actually help you give more to your family.
- Where to start when you are ready to amplify your parenting.
Being more present with my kids is something I am constantly striving for, and when I manage it joyous things happen. Do not forget that as global families, we are facing olympic level challenges. Follow the steps in this podcast to experience the secret to being present with your kids and make sure that you have the energy, focus and attention for them you are craving.
Listen to the Full Episode:
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Featured on the Show:
- EP94: You’re selfish if you don’t do this.
- EP 113: Am I Unknowingly Spoiling My Kids? Overindulgence With Dr. Bredehoft.
- EP 114: What You Wish You Could Say To Your In-Laws.
- EP 115: When You Feel Like You Live In A Different Country To Your Partner. But You Don’t.
- EP 116: Breaking Through The Stay Or Go Dilemma.
- EP 118: Why You Should Talk About Grief Before It Strikes
- Connection Parenting from Pam Leo
- Don’t miss this brand new opportunity to start putting the way in which you are showing up in your family to the forefront: Global Parenting on Purpose.
Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour, this is Sundae Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-oriented coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations and I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
The secret to being present with your kids has nothing to do with your kids and it has everything to do with you.
This is a core theme that came out of my work with hundreds of individuals through the 5-Day Global Parenting Challenge. To be present with your kids, you have to first be present with yourself. And this is even more true for global families because as you know, I believe we are living olympic-level lives.
We’re doing relationships and parenting and getting on with our work and trying to find meaning in our everyday. And we’re doing that while making huge global leaps across continents, cultures, languages and all of that time while we’re trying to keep connected with those that we love afar.
We’ve been focusing on global families in this series since episode 112, so if you’ve missed any of that, you’re going to want to go back and check out what you’ve missed.
We’ve covered anything from overindulgence with your children to see if you’re unknowingly spoiling your kids in episode 113.
There is a special message prepared for you in episode 114 of what you wish you could say to your in-laws. So if you’re feeling a little bit frustrated, that your in-laws don’t understand you check out episode 114.
Episode 115 is focused on what to do when you feel like you live in a different country from your partner, but you don’t.
Episode 116 covers this dilemma of should we stay or should we go.
And just recently in episode 117 we talked about why you should talk about grief before it starts.
So for episode 118 today, we are going to look at the secret to being present with your kids, and it’s super simple. Like I said, to be present with your kids you have to first be present with yourself. And I think people get this backwards. What I’ve noticed is that when you make the intention to be more present with your children then you focus on your kids and that is like trying to pour from an empty cup. And what I’ve seen in over a decade of coaching and in my own life, is that if you are able to focus on yourself, give yourself some first-class self-care and get your own needs met, then you’ve got all the energy and focus and attention for your kids when you are together.
So I want to share some things that have been going on recently. If you weren’t part of the 5-Day Challenge on becoming a even better parent for your global kids, I still don’t want you to miss out on some of the key learnings that happened. If you were part of the challenge, this is a great refresher for you to see if you’re still on track.
But before I get into that, I want to share with you what happened on the very first day. We got together with over 250 people who joined and there were dozens that joined live every day about the key questions that we’re focusing on and how we can become even better parents to our global kids. And I did a Facebook live, I had a video called that morning, I was asking questions, I was so excited about the level of engagement and people that were on there, what they’re sharing.
So when I stopped at five, I was kind of surprised that I had this huge headache. And my son, when I was done, just got off the school bus from soccer, my youngest, and he was like “Hey Mama, how are you doing? Oh good. How was your day? Fine. How was soccer?” We had the normal exchange and my head was throbbing. It was like “What is going on? This was such a good day why do I have such a headache?” And he goes “Mama when I’m done with my 15 minutes of iPad, will you read me a story?” And I’ve this pumping headache, I have this adorable young son I haven’t seen all day like sweetly request to spend time together and I need to make dinner. So I looked at him and I go “Sweetheart, I would love to read you a story, but Mama has to cook so go do your iPad time and then you can come and help me cook.” So he’s disappointed, he goes upstairs, he does his 15 minutes of iPad time.
And for those of you who are thinking of a mean Mom because I only give my kids 15 minutes of I’ve of iPad time, then you’re just like my best friend Nicole who shamed me after I shared I only give them 15 minutes a day.
Anyway, he comes downstairs and I’m just finishing taking out the ingredients to make Crêpe. So I still have this headache and I say, “You know what honey? I need a couple more minutes.” So I go upstairs and I asked him to be patient. Then I meditated for 10 minutes, because during that day I talked about the importance of meditation, to be centered and how I had skipped it that day and I was feeling kind of nervous about how do I fit that in, because I know how important it is to me. And I’m like, “Nope gonna make it happen.” So I did my 10 minutes of meditation and I came back down and I’m like, “All right, let’s do this.” And my headache wasn’t completely gone, but it was much much better and I started to mix ingredients and we’re using the blender and he was helping me with eggs. His job when we make Crêpe is he helps make them cozy, meaning I flip the Crêpe over to him and then he covers them with a tea towel. And so the other thing that we do is he wants me to make a little baby Crêpe like the little ones.
So I’m there and I’m flipping these little baby Crêpe at him and they go flying and I start laughing and he looks at me and goes “Mama, you’re so full of joy.” And I was like “What? Wow, how sweet is that coming from a six-year-old.” “Mama, you’re so full of joy.”
And in that moment I was like “That was why saying no and taking 10 extra minutes for me to meditate was worth it.” Because he got the full of joy Mom, he didn’t get the testy Mom, the headache Mom, the Mom who would probably crack open a bottle of wine and have a glass so her headache will go away Mom. He got the full of joy Mom.
That is what I mean about being present with your kids, that you have to be present with yourself first. And listen, I share this story but I do not always get it right. I mean I really don’t. This is a work in progress over the last decades since I’ve had kids, I am human just like anybody else. This is an ongoing work in process because the way I’m showing up in my business is changing, the way I’m needing to show up in my family is changing etc. So it changes or it causes me to have to up level how I’m showing up.
So that’s my invitation to you to think about not how present are you with your kids actually, but how present are you with yourself? Because I have a hunch the more present you are with yourself the more present you can be with your kids.
So let me share a little bit more from this 5-Day Challenge on becoming an even better parent to your global kids because I don’t want you to miss out on some of the goodness. If you are curious you can join my Facebook Group Expats On Purpose and you can go down into the history and find all of the challenges or you can send us a message and let us know that you want to opt into some of the videos and we can set you up.
But here’s what I want you to do today to walk away feeling like you’ve got that one step closer to up leveling the way you’re parenting your global kids. Not that you need to, not that you’re not doing a good job, just that if you’re like most people I know the way you’re showing up has it’s pros and cons and you’re invested in doing the best you can for your kids.
So it’s worth asking the question and we’ll start with the first one and that is; “What does it mean to you to become an even better parent to your global kids?”
Because we are so different in terms of culture and language and religious beliefs and parenting styles, and the way that we think our kids should be raised, there’s not one way.
So the way to start is; “What does it mean to you to become an even better parent to your global kids?”
And here’s what some of the participants from this challenge had to say; the big one, and that’s why I’m bringing up today in this episode, is to be more present with them.
Another that came up is less reactive, using a softer voice and tone and stop lecturing.
Another parent said; being the fun mom and actually enjoying the parenting process. I know I can relate with that one, I love having fun with my kids, but if I’m the one who’s responsible for the routine then I can totally go into Discipline Mom instead of Fun Mom.
Others said being more patient and one comment, that I love, says to be kinder to myself as a parent and accept that I have limits.
Do any of these sound familiar? Because I hope you realize when you hear this that you’re not alone. In fact, I was just on a client call with someone who I absolutely adore and she was talking about how she’s feeling kind of frustrated with herself. She said “Gosh, you know I’m sure I’m the only one of your clients who’s trying to get their shit together as a parent.” And when she said that I just busted out in this huge belly laugh because it brought me so much joy to put in context that I just had 250 people sign up for this challenge and she thinks she’s alone. We’re not alone y’all we are in this together and I’m not even from the South I just said y’all to you, I’m actually from the North. So I don’t even know where that came from to be honest.
So we are all trying to get our stuff together as parents and some of us have ebbs and flows and some of us are really rocking it. And some of us are having a look in the mirror going,“I need to make some changes so I can make a long-term impact on our kids.” I’m not going to judge where you are as a parent, but if you’re listening to this you’re already doing a great job by allowing this question to come to mind. Your intention is there in your heart that you want to up level how you’re showing up for your kids. And if you’ve been listening to me long enough you know that has to go with up leveling, how you show up for yourself.
So you’re not alone.
Here’s what I wanted to do next: Once you’ve identified what it means to you to become an even better parent to your global kids, I want you to get a list together. What are you already doing well? Okay, now be honest, let yourself brag a bit, what are you already doing well? I know what I’m already doing, I’m very physically affectionate with my kids. They get bunches of sloppy hugs and kisses in the morning and at night, I really want them to know how much I love them. We read books together. Those are the things that I know my kids might not appreciate it when I’m going to the bus and I’m like being the embarrassing mom giving them a kiss on the cheek, but they love it. They’d love it even if they don’t love it, you know what I’m saying? Anyway, so I think when I look at what I’m already doing well, it has to do with the demonstration of love, the using love language, of my language telling them that I love them, showing them with hugs and kisses I love them. And then I think we’re doing bedtime well. We spend, I know Pam Leo says you need 15 minutes of one-on-one time with each child to really keep that attachment, keep that connection and I know we’re doing that. Well, okay I have a long list of things that I need to improve but that’s not the point right now we need to focus on what you’re already doing well.
Once you have that the next step is for you to look at that list and explore how will you amplify your current approach by doing more of what is working. So do more of what is already working. So if you’re getting in that 15 minutes of one-to-one time, why not plan a 24-hour date with your kids, because you know, when you have that one to one time everybody feels more connected. I know I felt like I needed more connection with one of my kids and we had a 24-hour date, one parent took one kid the other parent took the other kid, and we separated for 24 hours and did our own thing, just you and that one child. Oh my God, it was glorious.
So that’s what I mean by amplifying. What are you doing that’s already working and how can you do more of it?
That’s it, that’s all you got to do to already, take a huge leap forward to become a better global parent.
Of course there’s more, I’m not going to go through each day. There’s a lot more that you can do, but this is the first step and it’s an important one.
So that’s my invitation to you to sit down and answer the question; what does it mean to you to become a even better global parent? What are you already doing well? And how can you amplify your current approach?
Those who did that on the challenge said that they’ve been listening better to their kids, trying to get them involved in daily routines more so they have less to do, having their kids more involved in daily cooking and actually having fun with it. Saying no more at work, cutting myself a break as a parent and quality time for full presence was a goal that the entire family set so they had a no tech hour.
That’s just the beginning that’s possible with your family if you put some intention into what you’re doing. And I know what you’re thinking, you’re saying: “You know what Sundae, I’m just trying to get by day by day, I’m exhausted, I’m not sleeping, I’m tired, I have too much to do, so I don’t have time for this.” And I would argue; “Actually you don’t, you don’t have time and that’s why you should do this because what we see from the research, Pam Leo makes a great case of this in Connection Parenting, the amount of time that it takes to argue is probably more than it is to connect.” So if you’re trying to get your, I don’t know your four-year-old to clean up their room and you have a big fight about it, you could step back instead and say okay. get down to their level and go “All right honey, how can we do this together so that your room is clean?” And then you use it as an opportunity to connect and boom, boom, boom, you make it a game and then you’re done. Because I know that there’s times, when I’m fighting about something with my kids and it’s exhausting, it takes ages and it would have just been better to like step back and really approached it, I would have saved time and energy.
So if you’re too busy for this actually, this is a reason to think about it. None of the things that any of my clients or participants in the challenge have chosen to take steps forward with, have been time consumers. They’ve all just integrated, It’s the way in which they’re approaching their day, their approach is not adding more, In fact they’re actually taking tasks off and saving time.
Okay, I say all of this knowing there’s no one-size-fits-all, and that’s why as a coach. I work really hard to help you get clear on what you need for you and for your family at this time, for your culture, for your context, right? And I want to share with you at the same time some of the themes that emerged with this cross cultural group, that came out of the 5-Day Challenge and have come out in my coaching over the years as being consistent in strategies that help you show up as a present parent like you want to be.
And the first one is clear: To be present with your kids is you have to put you first, that means being present with yourself. What do you need? How can you get those needs met? How can you fill up whatever hole that you’re feeling in your life? When you put me first It’s not selfish, in fact it’s the opposite, because once you can give yourself what you need, you have so much more to give to others.
If you want to go in more depth with that check out Episode 94 “You’re selfish if you don’t do this”. Because I’ve got lots of strategies and suggestions on how you can be more present with your kids by putting you first. If you’re skeptical and you think that it sounds selfish, check it out, I will beg to differ.
Tip two; You know this already but I’m gonna say it so you actually put it to the forefront of your mind: For you to be more present with your kids you need to invest in first class self-care. That’s what I like to call it, first class self-care. That doesn’t mean money, it might mean just five minutes of meditation, it might mean taking a walk right after work around the block before you jump in your car so you create a buffer between your crazy work day and your family life, so you have more presence when you get there. It might be meeting a friend for a run for 20 minutes so that you can blast off some of the frustration that you had with your toddler and then show up again with your children in a way that you feel more balanced.
I’m not telling you to go to a spa and get a massage, I’m just asking you to invest some thought in how you can give yourself first class self-care, because if you don’t your kids will pay for it. I say this because that’s how it is with me, that’s what is my clients.
When we’re not taking care of ourselves our kids feel it. I’ll tell you recently I came I flew back from Switzerland and the flight leaves at nearly 11:00 p.m. It lands in the morning and we’re in economy squished, my son is sleeping on my lap, I’m exhausted from a week of grieving with my family and I barely sleep on the flight home.
I had moments of momzilla the next day. I was just I was so tired and it was not my best self. And it’s such a reminder because I do a good job at taking care of myself normally, when I’m not then everybody pays. So what I chose to do for everybody’s benefit is to introvert pretty hard the next day and go for a run and get some things done where I could renourish myself so that I can show up on Monday first-class self care for my family.
Okay, so that’s two first; Is to be present with your kids you have to put you first. Two is invest in first class self-care and three is something that one of the participants said in the 5-Day Global Challenge, she said “I am committing to give all of my attention some of the time.” All of my attention some of the time, so your kids have you, you’re fully present in that moment. So breaking down the expectation you always have to be completely available for your kids. What ends up happening is that you need to peel away mentally or physically and then you pretend like you’re there but you’re really not, and your kids are smart they get that, they see that, they feel that. I know I’ve had moments where my kids are like “Hey, where you at? What are you thinking about?” So one of the habits I’ve worked on developing is saying to my kids “Hey, you know can you do blah blah blah, whatever it is and I have something I have to finish.” I’ll say “All right, you guys let me just finish this, I need five more minutes and then you’ll have my full attention.”
So what are the ways that you can give your kids all of your attention some of the time? What are the boundaries that you need to set? One participant in the 5-Day Challenge said that on summer break her kids get all of her attention at the absolute cost to her. So that’s where you need to think about boundaries, like “Hey kids, we’re going to spend an hour together and then I’m going to do x y z.” So you can create more boundaries around your attention, so all of your attention some of the time, that is showing up for your kids, that is being present for your kids.
All right, and this is important you guys, if you are a parent you know how it feels we just want to do the best for them and we feel so vulnerable and sometimes struggle with are we doing the right things in the right ways, right? You will lose nothing by up leveling the amount of presence for your kids while also up leveling the way you show up for yourself. Everyone wins, you don’t lose time, you don’t lose energy, you gain. You gain for your family, you gain energy and you actually save time because you’re not fighting, you’re not overcompensating and you’re not in a circle of coping.
So these are the things that I would love to leave you with today; An invitation to consider what it means to you to become a better parent to your global kids and I’ve given you a few tips to help you along your way.
And I know this is just the beginning, I am super inspired by the changes I’ve seen in the 5-Day challenge and I know for some of you, you’re just getting started and you want to keep the momentum that you’ve made or you’ve been putting this topic on the back burner for too long and you want to start putting the way in which you are showing up in your family to the forefront. And that is exactly why I created the Global Parenting on Purpose experience. So it’s for anyone who’s raising their kids abroad and secretly wonders whether you’re doing enough. It’s time to get clear on what it means to you to become a better parent, get your strategies firm in your hand so you don’t get lost along the way.
I am happy to share the link so you know more because it’s all about taking back control, being more present, feeling less guilty, being more confident in your strategies and still creating a connection with loved ones that are near and far. And this is a really big important one, finding purpose outside of being a parent or a spouse. It’s four months, a program that brings together a group of experienced expats and myself armed with all of my tools as an Intercultural strategist and solution-oriented coach to help you overcome your challenges with expat life and raising third culture kids.
We will work closely together side by side, motivate each other and raise the bar on how you show up for you and for your family. So this is all about uncovering the parenting approach that works best for you and your transition in your global life without losing you.
So here’s the next step, if this sounds interesting to you I will pop the link in the show notes and simply have a look, and if you’re interested apply and you and I can hop on the phone for a no-strings-attached conversation to hear more and see if it’s the right fit.
It’s all about learning how to name your needs and get what you want, stop doing everything for everyone, start doing more for you without the guilt, reclaiming your time even in a complicated transition and put purpose back on your agenda. Because by this time in September you could feel totally in control as a parent, focused on taking care of you and giving your best to your global family without losing yourself.
So don’t be shy, check out the link, apply for the call. I’d love to meet you and we can have a quick conversation, no strings. I can tell you more about it, you can ask me anything.
So remember in this episode we have been focused on how you can be present with your kids and to do that you’ve got to first be present with yourself.
Remember the tips we talked about; Put me first, invest in first class self-care and all of your attention some of the time.
You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour with Sundae Schneider-Bean. Thank you for listening.
I’ll leave you with the words from Ed Asner an American actor famous for his role as Lou Grant he says; “Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare.”
So join me with a Global Parenting on Purpose Program, so we can arm you with the right tools, so you can create more joy for you and your family.