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Tears…

This time last year, I was getting ready to send my youngest to PreK. Gigi scootering

To the world, I was as cool as a cucumber. I told everyone how relieved I was to have three children in the same school for one year.

I told people that, yes, she was young (June birthday) but she was totally ready.

I agreed, yes, the school is huge but she will be fine. She’s spunky.

Inside, I was panicked. This is my baby. The last of all of my babies. The littlest one.

I didn’t want to let her go to PreK. I didn’t want to let her go anywhere. I will talk a good game of how great it is to get the kids into school, and mean most of it. I love my silent home so that I can work and clean and sit in peace. I love watching them grow and change and learn.

But this last child hurt.

What did I do to help my own hurt?

First of all, I stopped pretending that I was okay with all of it. I knew deep down she was ready, but I still cried to my husband. I worried to my close friends who reassured me. I talked to other moms who reassured me that their children had had wonderful years and that my little one was going to love it. I allowed support in.

Secondly, I didn’t talk to people who would worry along with me. I avoided people who would feed my anxiety. I was anxious enough, I didn’t need anyone else building my straw house of fear. I used to think that this kind of avoidance was unhealthy; I now view it as a profoundly healthy move (especially if you are clear on your goals).

Thirdly, I shared that I was a bit of a nervous wreck with the teacher, and she could not have been kinder. When the tears were streaming down my face behind my sunglasses, she smiled and gave me a hug. She let me know that my little one was happy and adjusting and doing just fine. I still cried, but I could move forward with my day knowing that my baby was okay.

Now I am sending my biggest baby to sixth grade. How? When? What?

I am feeling weepy again, but when I watch her move through the world…her elegance, her confidence, her grace…I know that she’s ready. I know she lifting off into that world, and I am genuinely happy for her.

My wish for you this school year is to be open enough to weep as we watch our little ones grow, and wise enough to surround yourself with loving support to enjoy the transition, too.

If you are feeling like YOU need some support this fall, sign up for my Special Three Sesh. $580. (My regular SIX Session package is over $1000.00, so this may be a great way to try some parent coaching.)

This offer expires on October 31st 2015, so just go ahead and sign up.

If you are interested in learning more about this or about other coaching packages, set up a time to talk with me. I would be happy to chat with you for 20 minutes!

 

Let’s talk about racism, parents.

June 21st, 2015 by adminTags: , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized

Developmentally speaking, it our parental job to protect our children from awful news.

The reason we do not allow our children to watch cable news or have access to the entire internet is because it is too much. Too much violence, too much anger, too much of adults behaving badly. Too much of all it.
I recently sat on a panel about parenting in the digital age, and the definite message was one of “protection.” How do we protect our children from predators and bullying and bad decisions…all while helping them to grow?

I have protected my children, like you, from many massacres. From Sandy Hook to the Navy Yard Shootings, I have hid newspapers and shut off the TV. I talked about the Baltimore riots with my eleven year old, but I mostly hid it from the rest of the children. I personally followed the events with passion and interest, but did not discuss it with my husband or children.

And then Charleston happened.

Something in me popped.

You, too?

I saw the baby-faced murderer, I stared at the beautiful faces of the people who were praying when they were killed, and I knew it was over.

The time of looking away was over. The time of shaking my head and wondering how, why, who? was over.

We know how this happened.
We know this why this happened.
And we absolutely know who it is happening to.

The time of playing shocked is over. And the time of staying silent is over.

My family, your family. White, black, and brown. Rich, poor, and in between. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Religious or non-religious. If you are an American, it is our duty to speak to our children about what is happening in this country. We don’t have to have perfect speaking points. Our children do not need to have just-right responses. We need to simply begin wherever we are. We need to begin.

In The Rule of St. Benedict, the main lesson is: always we begin again. This gives me great comfort. Whenever I have screwed it up, not been brave, averted my eyes, I remember: I can begin again.

We can all begin again. We can allow the murders in Charleston to define us, or we can own this story. We can either proceed with our lives as usual, or we can bring witness to pain. We can either allow our children to not understand racism and how alive it is, or we can begin a gentle discussion. We can either avert our eyes from suffering or we can look at it. Head on. Eyes unblinking. Fully seeing. Without excuses. Without shame.

We can see it and we can talk about it.

Stop Watching the News!

I recently read this great article about, essentially, parenting and fear.

It’s a great article, and the takeaway is that child abductions, child/stranger rape, and dangerous accidents involving children are all down from when many of us were children.

And yet, we (as parents) have never lived more fearfully, more anxiously, and more worried.

We have memories of growing up, roaming freely. We rode bikes to pools, in woods, and to corner candy stores.

We walked to parks, through neighborhoods, and to school.

Our parents didn’t know where we were and just assumed we would come back.

The 24 news cycle wasn’t there to tell our parents about abductions on another coast. Cable wasn’t showing them grusome murders in woods they had never heard of. Facebook wasn’t showing scary stories, Amber Alerts weren’t blowing up cell phones, and our parents couldn’t follow every terrifying story down the Twitter hole.

Were are parents more relaxed?

You bet they were!

We are blamed for hovering, but you can blame us? Our reptilian brains are scared shitless and are nerves are raw and jangly.

The only way to escape this mess is to STOP.

Stop watching the news. Stop subscribing to Amber Alerts, and for the love of all things holy, stay off cable.

If you must stay current, READ.

Great periodicals, newspapers, books, and magazines.

Stay away from the Internet and read real documents.

This way, your imagination may go wild, but at least you won’t have totally shoddy reporting and associated scary music to go with it.

You are more likely to have compassion mixed in with your sadness and fear.

Your brain can feel slightly less assaulted.

Our culture has placed all of us parents, unwittingly, in a jail of fear…but the cell door is wide open.

We can walk right out. It is in our power.

Are you ready to stop parenting out of fear?

Time for coaching.

Click here to begin for a FREE 20 minute consult with me, Meghan Leahy

Goals of Flying

December 28th, 2014 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

Oh, God.

It’s beginning.

The improvement people are coming for me…and fast.

The clock is ticking into 2015 and it is time to start improving. And now, goddammit.

Get your lists.

Get your workouts ready.

What are your positive goals?

How are you going to change?

How are you going to markedly improve yourself?

Your body?

Your family?

Your kids?

Your dog?

Don’t you dare allow 2015 to come in the door remaining as you are.

For shame.

I am calling bullshit.

ENOUGH.

You are going to wake up January 1st the same beautiful hot-mess you were December 31st.

You are.

You may have some big notions, big plans, big goals….sure.

But the reality? Everything will be the same.

Maybe with a slight hangover.

Let’s stop hanging our hope-hats on the changing of years, shall we?IMG_7968

As I walked the dog today, I started to feel some of the typical worrying I experience as the year draws to an end.

“What should I do about the business this year? I know my numbers…but should I go harder? Bigger? Smaller? Stay the same?”

I shuffled along and stared at the birds in the sky.

They were headed…well, I don’t know where the hell they were going. But they *knew.* Thousands and thousands of years…they get up and fly. They follow each other, form a V and go. They aren’t worried about going bigger or smaller. Just trying to get from A to B, you know?

I shrugged.

I decided to not decide.

I am going to feel it out.

Do what feels right. Pay the bills. Help some parents.

I am not making any lists or goals that will mock me, guilt me, worry me. Have me fail or overshoot my own arbitrary yardstick.

Like those birds, I *know* what I am doing. I know.

 

 

Worry

December 9th, 2014 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

Having a fearful and worrying kind of day.

I have a loved one visiting doctors, catching up on scary diagnoses.

I have an almost 11 year old visiting the middle school that she will attend next year (Mom, is this shirt ok?)

I have a 7 year old on the Metro, headed downtown to DC for a field trip.

I have a 4 year old in a school bus, in the rain, ALSO headed downtown for a field trip.

My worry was emanating off of me like waves this morning, every move touched with its own anxiety.

“Mom, what is wrong with you?” my middle asks.

I stand up, sigh, and smile.

“Ah, well. You know…getting ahead of myself, Louise. Getting ahead of myself.”

Isn’t that what the worry is?

The imagining?

The projection?

Sometimes fear is right on the money: “That alley is dark and I am alone and I should go down another street.”

Often, fear is whispering about things that will probably never happen: “Buses crashing, metros bombed, mean big middle school kids, cancer everywhere…”

The thing is, it COULD happen.

I know a woman who works with a man. A father.

Yesterday, a plane fell on his house and his wife and two out of three of his children are dead.

It is him and his one remaining child now.

He went to work, like you and me.

And now, almost his entire family is gone.

All that worrying I do?

It HAPPENED TO HIM.

But right now, RIGHT NOW, I have a choice.
IMG_7946
I can LIVE and find peace OR I can WORRY.

Because I cannot do both.

You cannot LIVE in this life…see what is front of you, love your people, smooch your dog, see the bright pink jacket, and smile at your neighbor…you cannot do these things if you are kidnapped by worry.

To honor this man and lost family, I am going to be right HERE.

Do I have concerns? Yes, I am not a robot.

But I can see them, acknowledge them, and KEEP LIVING.

Keep smiling.

Keep laughing.

Keep hugging.

Bedtime Woes

September 8th, 2014 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

 

Bedtime-with-teddy-bear“PLEASE Get into YOUR Bed and STAY THERE!”

How many times have you said that to your children? Once, twice, hundreds of times?

Children join us in our beds during times of real need. Maybe your young one was really sick for a couple days and needed extra love; maybe there has been a change in the family (new sibling, new move, new school, etc.), and the child has been feeling nervous and needing attention. Maybe there have been nightmares, or their imaginations have gotten the better of them. All you know that is that it has been a month, you are being kicked in the ribs every night and don’t sleep for more than an hour straight. And forget about intimacy with your partner!

And beyond the sleeping hardships, you have the nighttime drama. You bathe them, you read to them, you snuggle, you tuck them in and POP. There they are! In the hallway. In the family room. In the kitchen. Needing “one more drink” or “one more hug” or “It’s too dark” or “I think I see something” or “If you get into bed with me, then I will sleep…”

Hours and hours pass, and your anger increases. You have things to do. And more than that, you desperately want to be ALONE. Your jaw clenches, your hand may grasp their upper arm a little too tightly; you may begin to threaten. You yell. You really yell. The child cries. The baby wakes up. The night has gone to pot. Meanwhile, your partner is hiding somewhere in the house.

Or, rather than yell, your anger gives way to desperation and hopelessness. You give up and get into bed with the child, or allow them to come in with you. You stare at the ceiling, wondering, “Will I ever be a normal adult again?”

Oh, I’ve been there.

What are you supposed to do?

You know the quote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely players.”  You, my friend, are involved in some pretty serious theater, and you are performing with a professional! In order to exit this drama gracefully, you need to decide to do something different.

Firstly, you need a plan. When I work with my clients, I customize each bedtime routine for what works for them, but most plans have the same key elements:

1)   You solve the problem at another hour (that is nowhere close to bedtime). Tell the child he or she will be sleeping in their own bed, and that you are going to help them to do it! You will create a bedtime chart, and this can become a fun and creative activity between parent and child! Display the chart where the child can see it, and let them know we are going to stick to it!

2)   You increase the special one-on-one time, but NOT DURING BEDTIME. During the day, after you come home from work, in the mornings: start spending some one-on-one time with your child. As this becomes more and more of a habit, your child trusts that you are available and will start to go to bed more smoothly. When a child receives positive attention for positive behaviors, those behaviors are likely to repeat. When the child receives attention for popping out of bed, whining, crying, begging and threatening, THOSE behaviors are likely to repeat. So, fill that attention cup up when the time is right!

Sleeping-asian-girl-sm
Photo Source: Thinkstock/iStockphoto

3)   Get ready for the nighttime. Have your partner on board and ready to help. Mentally, you need to get ready for a potentially long night. Keep calm, do your routine chart, and then keep putting lovely child into bed. Don’t talk, don’t make too much eye contact and don’t interact too much. Bigger don’ts? Don’t huff around, don’t become angry, don’t eye-roll and don’t glare. So, yes you need to be calm. This is why you need your partner to step in; you are going to need a break. The first thing in the AM, you go into their bedroom and say, “YOU DID IT!  YOU SLEPT IN YOUR BED!” There is lots of love and hugs and celebration.

4)    BUT! This could be hard. You may quit. You may give up. You may have to start again the next night. IT IS OKAY. Really. Life is short; you don’t have to choose this battle if you are not ready. If it is causing MORE fights, more drama and more strife, then STOP. Your child WILL sleep in his own bed, one day. Of this, I am certain. Do you have the right to your personal boundaries, to a childless night, to your own bed? Yes. But please do not sacrifice your relationship with your child to establish that boundary.  Love, patience and repetition…keep it up and your child will sleep in their own bed. 

 

Photo Source (top right): Thinkstock/Pixland

Your Children Need to be BORED!

With summer fast approaching, a chief complaint among many parents is worrying about boredom!

“My children are always complaining about how bored they are!  We have millions of toys and activities, but if our children have 15 minutes free minutes, they are lost.  I am dreading summer!”

As a parent coach with young kids myself, I know it can be tough to allow your children to be bored.  And I also know that the answer is as simple and as it is difficult.

You have to allow your child to be bored. 

But how?  “How do I allow my child to be bored?” you ask.  Well, you just do.  You have to not get sucked into the whining and complaining.  You have to not get sucked into, “All of my toys are stupid” or “I have plaaaaayed that game a hundred times, mooooom.” 

To begin, start small with allowing boredom!

“You have time between 1-3 PM to find something to do.  I can give your one or two ideas.  Let me know.” 

Then you have to hold on for dear life.  Your child is going to follow you around, whining, crying, and muttering about his or her extreme boredom.  As the parent, you will have thoughts like, “This child has everything, how can he possibly be bored?”  Or, “I work and work and work and still, these children are sucking me dry.  I NEED A BREAK.”  Or “I never bothered my parents like this when I was younger.”

As these thoughts cycle in and out, you must simply breathe.  Rest-assured that as you weather this storm, the child will eventually tire and find something to do.  The more you have interfered in the past, the longer this process may take, but it is worth it.  Why?

When children are bored, their creative juices start to flow again.  The BBC recently published an article citing the importance of the boredom-creativity link.

“The academic, who has previously studied the impact of television and videos on children’s writing, said: “When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.

“But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.”

It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, she said, while the screen “tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity’.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-21895704

The irony is that the more we don’t allow our children to be bored, the more accustomed they become to being entertained.  The more entertained the children are, the deeper the brain habits are ingrained.  Their young brains are literally conditioned to constant entertainment, whether it is from a parent or caregiver or technology!

Look at this summer as an opportunity to break your children from this cycle!  Go on technology fasts and, while I love enrichment activities, think of holding a firm boundary on only one or two.

Stay strong, don’t give into the whining, and watch what happens.  Creativity will bloom before you know it!

 

 

Work In Progress

August 31st, 2015 by adminTags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized

I am a work in progress.

Aren’t you?

You aren’t finished growing, are you?

No. And if you think you are, then you’ve really got a long way to go. 😉

BUT.

You have *hopefully* gained some experience and wisdom. You have been (and still are) maturing all these years.

Your young children are just at the beginning.

They have only just started down the path.

Thoughtful, sensitive, rambunctious, hungry, tired, amazed, overwhelmed, cuddly, scared, excited, ready, not ready.

Our children are a developmental jumble of emotions and impulses, and none of them are by accident.

NOT ONE SINGLE EMOTION OR IMPULSE IS A MISTAKE.

Each impulse or emotion pushes them forward or pulls them backward.

The brain is ever-evolving to keep them safe and help them emerge.

Silliness is seen as misbehavior, but it is often a defense against vulnerability in children.

I know it is in me.

Aggression is seen as misbehavior, but it is often an explosion of frustration. Frustration is a necessary and primary emotion that does everything from keeping us safe to helping us adapt and mature. Frustration must move out of the body, hence hitting, biting, etc.

I know this is true for me.

“Spacing out” is seen as manipulative and purposeful, but it a defense against overwhelm. It is the brain saying, “That’s it. I cannot take in any more sensory information. Just ‘er down.”

None of these emotions or behaviors are “wrong.” They are not mental disorders nor are they something to be “fixed,” per se.

They are to be understood. Clearly seen. Accommodated.

And when accommodation cannot be had, room is provided to allow the child to cry. Feel. Express. Move.

Labeling normal maturation processes as “misbehavior” is at the heart of many struggles we have with our children.

Personalizing children’s emotions and growth as misbehavior is at the heart of our parenting pain and suffering.

As parents, we guide children and yes! we correct them. But it is in a spirit of support, safety, and guidance…not control, anger, and rigidity that we find our parenting sweet spot.

To hold the boundaries…lovingly and firmly.

To keep them safe…unquestioningly and endlessly

To provide independence…judiciously and confidently

To tell them the truth…honestly and prudently

To show them the way…gracefully and thoughtfully

To get out of the way…intentionally and respectfully

Just Closing My Eyes

My four year old has been doing the bedtime “jack-in-the-box” routine for the last week.

In and out of her bed.

She has worries.

In and out.

Her little brain has fears.

In and out.

She just isn’t sleepy…

In and out.

One more tuck-in?

In and out.

Tonight she crawleMe and Gigid into my bed, “Mama, I am just going to visit you, I am not staying.”

I said, “it’s okay,” and rubbed her back.

Was it okay? No. I was solo-parenting and tired and annoyed, but I was out of options.

After some long sighs, she said, “I am just going to close my eyes, but not sleep.”

Okay.

She was snoring in less than a minute.

Young children cannot control their alarm.

They cannot “grow up” or “get brave” or “get over it.”

Oh, I wish it were so.

So, my little lovely needed a break from her alarm and poof!

Instant safety.

Instant sleep.

 

 

Resolve

April 27th, 2015 by adminTags: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized

You will resolve to be more loving, more kind, more at peace, more patient, more forgiving, more grateful, and more hopeful.

You will fail and yell at the kids. At your spouse. At the damn dog.

And you will resolve again. Love

You will fail and wish the checkout lady would just hurry up. And the person behind you is an asshole, too.

And you will resolve again. Kindness

You will fail and get angry at things like a chair (for being in the path of your toe) and the rain (for visiting when you are trying to have a birthday party).

And you will resolve again. Peace

You will fail and get snippy with your mother in law. And then you detest the whole damn family (how did your husband even come from these people?)

And you will resolve again. Forgiveness

You will fail and believe that spitefulness and self-absorption will be your sidekicks until you die. And you will berate yourself and wallow in self-pity.

And you will resolve again. Patience

You will fail and become envious of everyone around you. Skinnier. Richer. Better. Happier.

You will resolve again. Gratitude

You will fail and fall to your knee in despair. People you love are sick. They are dying. So are you. Everyone is dying.

You will resolve again. Hope

Your life is a series of failures in which you can find your resolve.

Again.

So Tough

April 27th, 2015 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

Oooooh, this is so hard.

One of the constant mantras in my Neufeld Institute studies is, “connection only for the sake of connection.”

There is no condition. Your love and affection is offered freely and never withdrawn.

This is awesome when I read it. It is useful when I am rested and feeling stress-free. And the house is clean. And the food is made. And the laundry is folded.

You see how hard it is? Unconditional love and true compassion is the work of my life!

AND, the truth is, I’ve gotten much, much better at it.

How? Practice.

Every day. Every moment. And when I have no compassion, I practice “Do no harm.”

I try to get away from the people to save them from me. And THIS is hard, too!

So, since this is such a fallen world and we are such a fallen people, go ahead and commit to the practice of unconditional love.

There is no finish line or outcome.

There is no acceptance letter or accolades.

No one will celebrate you or even notice.

But not hurting others (our kids) is so amazingly brave and tough…you will leave a legacy for generations to come.

Bike Helmet

April 23rd, 2015 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

My four year old tries to ride her bike without a helmet. Every single day.

I am annoyed as all get-out, but I drag her little butt off the bike, take her bike, and sit her on the porch.

When she comes in with her helmet on, she can have her bike back.

Meghan Leahy Parent Coach's photo.

Am I annoyed? Yes.

Am I mad at her? No.

Do I want to give up? Yes.

Do I? No.

Is she getting it? Maybe. I can tell her because the tantrums are fewer and helmet-on-head process is getting faster.

We will get there, but until then her cute butt will sit down until she does the helmet herself.

Arguing

April 23rd, 2015 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

Arguing with my 11 year old this morning:

Me: Well, I am tempted to take everything you own away from you, I am feeling pretty angry.

Her: Go ahead.

Me: That’s why I am not. I know your heart and I know you are the best young woman I know. We will figure this out.

Her: *Starts crying*

Me: *Hugs her*

Ugggg, ‪#‎parenting‬. SO DAMN HARD.

Want to be ALONE

April 23rd, 2015 by adminTags: , ,
Posted in Children, Parenting

TOMORROW, MY CHILDREN RETURN TO SCHOOL.

Thank GOD.

You would think, as a parent coach, that I would relish every single moment with my children…

But it took me YEARS to acknowledge that I am that Mom that needs to work to appreciate her kids.

That some DISTANCE and silence made me more loving, sweet and PATIENT.

We have been brainwashed, as American parents, to think we are supposed to LOVE LOVE LOVE spending every damn waking hour with our kids! (and if you do, then carry on).

But no!

As humans, we have spent our time on Earth running in large tribes. 30 to 40 people deep, where the work was shared and we were so interdependent.

Now, people close their garage doors and the misery and loneliness begins.

You can WANT to be alone and desperately love your family.

That doesn’t make you a bad parent, it makes you NORMAL.

HUMAN.

REAL.

Rest

April 23rd, 2015 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

It always happens that there is a mama in the crowd who wants to teach her two year old not to hit.

I ask how old the kids are: 1 and 2.

I see the fatigue. I see the deep, deep tired in her eyes.

1 and 2?

Come on. Those ages are parenting warfare. Sweet BUT exhausting ages.

I always say, “let’s make it easy, where do you need the help? Support? You need rest, mama. You need rest.”

Always, tears in the eyes for the mother.

We become so accustomed to the hustle, to the hard, to the exhaustion, that when someone even suggests we take it easy, to rest, to slow down…it hurts. It hits a nerve.

If you have little-littles at home, you needs friends, family, mom’s groups, anyone and everyone. You need mother’s helpers, babysitters, nannies, neighbors…anyone safe.

You are not a better mother if you go it alone (and suffer).

Now, close the computer and take a nap. You’ve earned it.

xoxo.