Family Life, Homeschooling

“Getting Out of Your Head” Parenting

A lot of what I like to write about are situations that I’m dealing with personally, and this subject is an area in which I am working on very diligently. So let’s start this conversation with a question I’d like you to ask yourself. As a parent, where do you spend most of your time? If you are anything like me, you’re probably spending a lot of time hanging out – IN YOUR OWN DARN HEAD!

From the moment you wake up, your mind probably starts to race. What’s the schedule today? What time do I need to have which kid at what place? What do I have in the fridge to make for breakfast, pack for lunch, cook for dinner? Do any of the kids have anything clean to wear today? Do I have anything clean to wear today? How am I going to fit everything in? Does the car have gas? Do I have time to shower? Did any of my kids even take a shower this week? And on and on and on it goes, pretty much all day, until you go to bed and try to sleep while instead you think about everything you DIDN’T do today. In the middle of all this mental acrobatic madness – what’s happening with your kiddos? Do you find yourself barking orders more often than being silly? Are you constantly feeling stress creep up around your ears rather than feeling warm fuzzies in your heart? Do you let the nagging thought of “I’m not doing enough” fly through your head at superman speed instead of simply being present? Do you notice that when you’re trapped in your own head and not focused and present that your kids start acting like a bunch of crazy monkeys who drank a pot of coffee? If this sounds all too familiar, let me preface the rest of what I have to say by this; trust me you are not alone.

It’s been said that being a parent is the hardest thing you’ll ever do but we just throw that saying around like it’s nothing  – and then move on, continuing to do this very hard parenting thing, all while spinning out in our own minds. Damn it people – it’s true. Being a parent IS the hardest thing you’ll EVER do. It’s crazy hard. Emotionally exhausting. Confusing. Frustrating. Sometimes even awful. Most of all however, being a parent is unbelievably beautiful, wonderful, and topped off with the most amazing sense of wonder, joy, and love. That’s a pretty heavy basket to carry around, and can also be a confusing one as well, so what the heck are we supposed to do to make this load a bit more manageable? How are we supposed to keep the wonder, joy, and love part at the top of the basket where it’s easily accessible?

This is something I’m working on more and more each day, and as a homeschooling mom who is super guilty of the “Am I Doing Enough” conundrum, the simple act of getting out of my own gosh darn head is really challenging.

So what’s the secret? I don’t know if there is one, but like with anything else, getting out of your head and into your heart takes practice. I am motivated to do so by my pure desire for joy. I want to feel happy more than I feel anything else and although I know that’s not possible all the time, I try to see the world through the eyes of my boys more often than the cloudy and often f****d up way that I tend to see the world. I have all sorts of life experiences that have unfortunately created opinions in my head about how things should be, or ideals based on society, or standards set up by government or educational facilities but all that MY kids want to be is happy also – and that’s what I want for them – so why mess up that dream by my own convoluted thoughts? I’m really trying hard not to.

Most kids today are over-scheduled, over-schooled, overwhelmed and overworked and very often stressed out to the max – but for what purpose? So that we can raise them to understand that life should totally suck most of the time? Where did this idea come from? Yes, we have to teach responsibility and solid work ethic and prioritizing – but when did it become tedious to try and instill these philosophies? What happened to lazy afternoons of simply playing outside, looking up at the clouds, getting dirty and sweaty just because, or simply curling up on the couch with a book? How often do you see YOUR kids doing any one of these things during the day? If your answer is,  “Not very often,” I invite you to start parenting outside of your own head and start connecting a little bit more with what your heart is telling you. It’s not easy, and you’ll be the odd one out, but trust me, it’s worth it.

How do you do this? Start by really listening to what your kids are telling you because often what they are saying or how they are behaving is a giant indicator of how they are actually feeling. Most kids under 10 and even older don’t have the capability of telling you, “Hey mom, I need to have the opportunity to just be a kid more and I need you to let me do that – can’t you see how stressed out I am – in fact I’m kind of falling apart.” Instead, what younger and older kids will do, is start to act out in ways that will get your attention – and our first reaction is to punish rather then listen. I invite you first to listen. Get out of your own head for a minute and ignore the “you need to teach a lesson” bit that most parents will resort to, and instead really see the world from where your kid is standing. What has the day/week/month/year been like? Has there been any down time in between school, activities, homework, and playdates? Has there been any moments that you have had to simply connect with your kiddos on a very basic, non-scheduled level? Have you sat down and really listened, played, or just relaxed together?  Do you feel stressed about your kids schedule, life, list of things to do and activities, because if you do, than I’m sure your kids feel it too!

We need to teach our kids early on how to take care of themselves by showing them that it’s ok to listen to their bodies, to connect with themselves and to slow down when they need to. Have you ever watched little kids play on the playground? It’s NOTHING like how we treat ourselves. Kids will play super hard and then sit down and rest when they get tired, and then play some more and then lay around on the grass for a while, and then go get a snack when they are hungry, and go back to playing and then stop when they are done. We don’t do that – as adults, we learned to not self regulate a long time ago.  As adults we do really stupid shit. We workout until we puke, stay up late every night to get it all done until we are chronically exhausted, work long hours until we hate our jobs, starve our bodies if we think we are fat, and finally, ignore our need for rest and relaxation until we figure out how to cope with electronics and alcohol. For most of us, self regulation was shoved out the window a long time ago, and now a lot of us are trying to get it back – but we forget how important it its to model this stuff and allow this stuff to happen naturally for our precious kids.

So dear parents, let’s work together to get out of our totally messed up heads. Make it a point to slow down and listen to your children. Start establishing routines with your family that remind you of how it used to be at Grandma’s house when you were young. Read together. Play games together. Have a day every weekend where you all plan on being outside together. If you homeschool, stop worrying about “if you are doing enough” and focus more on your whole child. Is your kiddo happy? Learning about things he or she is interested in? Exhibiting excitement about what the day might bring? Exploring options that they might not have known about before because you also showed some interest? Sleeping well? Do you hear more laughter in your house than yelling? Than you’re probably doing just fine. It’s when you see things start to melt down around you when you might want to consider leading more with your heart and less with your head. Do your kiddos really need to have an activity that they attend every single day? Maybe pick just one thing and stick to that for a while. Or have options around the house that your kid might show interest in and just see where it goes rather than forcing it or “scheduling” it. Over the last two years, Jaden, our 12 year old has taught himself how to play the ukulele and Rowan, the 8 year old  than showed interest and now Jaden is teaching Rowan – this saved me a LOT on music lessons and they are learning how to work together and getting some pretty awesome life skills in the process. This is just one example – but folks it can be done.

As I established early on in this blog, I’m not perfect, in fact, I’m pretty awful at getting out of my own head but I’m working on it every single day. Being aware is the first step and “just being” is where I try to live when I’m one on one with my boys. I recently introduced meditation to Rowan. He’s my high strung, super active, crazy wild energetic overly stressed out emotional kid and I’m trying to show him NOW that it’s ok to slow down and  just breath. With Rowan, telling him he “should” do something never works so instead, I left my door open one day while I was meditating and he came in and sat on my bed with me and hounded me with questions. I showed him my Calm app and he “discovered” that there was a kids meditation series. He played it and together we went through day 1. Guess what. He loved it  – and the coolest part – he thought it was his own idea. Sneaky little me. Even if this isn’t something he will do with me everyday, we have established the notion of getting out of our heads for just a bit, focusing on our hearts, being in the moment, and just being happy.

I realize that there is so much more that I could share with you on this subject so let me know what you think? Should we continue to explore what “getting out of your head” parenting looks like? What else do you want to hear from me? Let’s get the conversation started!

 

Sarah Fragoso

Sarah Fragoso is an international best selling author of 6 books, co-owner of the Chico, CA based gym JS Strength and Conditioning, and founder of the Everyday Paleo franchise. Sarah is the co-host of the popular Sarah and Dr. Brooke Show podcast and she also conducts workshops and retreats on the subjects of nutrition, lifestyle and fitness.

Her message is from the heart and she carries a genuine desire to help other families looking for guidance. These attributes have contributed to her successes and provide the drive to keep the discoveries coming.

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57 Comments

  1. RBlood says:

    Thank you for this. The end of the school year and I’m not the only one feeling fried!

    1. You are so very welcome! Hang in there!

  2. Lise welsh says:

    Sarah that was absolutely stunningly beautiful. Thank you

    1. You’re welcome and thank YOU! 🙂

  3. Stacy says:

    This is exactly what I needed today! Thank you for reading my mind. 🙂

    1. You are so very welcome!! 🙂

  4. Heather Harding says:

    Sarah, you absolutely nailed it with this blog post! Thank you, thank you. I’ve been struggling with the exact same thing and feeling fizzled today. The post reminded me, see and feel what’s important in your day. Remember the little things are important and people too. Keep it up!

    1. Thank you Heather, so glad the post was helpful!! Hang in there!!

  5. April says:

    I love this post and I’m not even a parent!! 🙂 I completely agree that getting out of our own heads is so important to maintaining sanity in our lives. I recently learned the value of scaling back on things – I love to volunteer but I was doing too much of it and it was SO HARD to say that I’m sorry but I just can’t help anymore, but I knew it had to be done because I was constantly stressed out and going from one project to the next, while also working my full time job. It was to the point where earlier this year I got sick 3 times in the span of a couple months when I rarely ever get sick, so I knew I had to cut back. I know there will always be people and organizations that need volunteers, but I can’t run myself ragged trying to fix the world. So even though I’m not a parent I can relate to this! Love that you got Rowan to meditate, that’s a great story, I know I really need to be better about doing it on a more consistent basis myself, I know it helps! I’d love to hear more about this topic too (or tips for meditation, giving yourself a break, etc). Thanks for this and I’m super excited to see what you come out with next!!

    1. Hi April! I’m so proud of you for knowing when enough is enough and cutting back. When you start to get sick it’s your body screaming at you to change something! I’ll for sure be blogging about meditation. I’m still trying to be consistent with the practice myself but holy guacamole does it make my life better when I am consistent. I love the CALM app – try it and see what you think!!

  6. Kara says:

    For a long time I had the note “get out of your head” on my mirror as a reminder to myself to be more present and less lost in thought. When I am at my most depressed I feel like I live completely in my head and I need to take action to pull myself into action, into my body and into the present moment.

    1. YES – I’m totally taking your idea and putting a note on my mirror. Being present is so healing – and meditation has really helped me with that practice!

  7. Andrea says:

    Thank you!! What a refreshing change to read and absorb thoughts on parenting that does not feel the need to stick to society’s rules on parenting. You said out loud what I am thinking 99% of the time. You really made my day by being able to connect to a mom who “momma’s” like me. Please keep on with the topic!

    1. I will for sure keep writing about this Andrea and thank you so much for your comment!

  8. Sher says:

    Love it Sarah! Have spent this last year doing the exact same thing- thank you for writing about it and spreading the word!
    Good luck with the new site too~

    1. Thanks so much Sher!!! 🙂

  9. Sarah, WOW! That was intensely beautiful to read and I why is it always such perfect timing? You and I sound like we are on incredibly similar paths. I am reading “Wherever you go, there you on” on mindfulness meditation, simple abundance – on creating order and calm, Dont shoot the dog – positive reinforcement, not to mention “Me, me, me epidemic”, Hands free mama and Deschooling our lives!! I obviously love to read, but I also love to work on being the best mom, wife and friend I can be!

    Our family had an incredibly difficult year in 2015 and now that I am coming out of that experience I am learning to apply all the lessons I have learned. I have found so much peace in myself and my family since I made it a goal to slow down, do things for myself, reach out to others, etc…Cyndi (at Thrive) actually told me I should talk to you. ALthough I have homeschooled for 5 years (my girls are 11 and 8) in April, we needed a drastic change and the John Holt method of learning is exactly what we needed as a family. I jumped in full force but I still feel a bit “scared” for lack of another word. As you said, I ALWAYS feel like I am swimming upstream against what is considered “normal” in our society.

    I gonna start looking for you in my river. I need others to swim upstream with!
    Jenny

    1. Hi Jenny, I’m so sorry to hear you had such a rough year last year – life is so crazy like that – it’s never easy for an extended period of time, which is why we need to have our resources handy to get through the tough times. Yes, swimming upstream is a good way to put it – but often the hardest way is the best way and especially if we know it’s best for our kiddos! Let me know how I can help and keep doing what you know is right!

  10. Bill Gustafson says:

    Sarah great to see your continued passion for helping people get into the best mindset possible. I hope you, John and the kids are doing well! The JASSA Retreat was one of the best experiences of my life. My experience there has changed my approach to life. I wanted to say thank you to all that made the retreat happen.

    As for the subject matter for the email, I wanted to say that after raising two kids (now they’re 30 & 25). What took me the longest to learn / get out of my head was that we will make wrong decision and unpopular decisions as it relates to our kids and their growth. It’s mostly about how we communicate with them to help understand why, because the phrase “because I said so and I’m the parent” is almost never the the correct end to a conversation with our kids. If we want them to to grow and be a well around person that can adapt to any situation and be respectful of others we have to show respect to them.

    1. Thank you so much Bill and I love what you said about having to show respect to your kids in order for them to respect you – it’s a tough road to navigate and every kid is so different and communication is the key even when it’s the harder road to take!

  11. Lori says:

    I’d love to continue this conversation! I’m a 51 year old “Granny Nanny” to my 20 month and 1 month old grand babies. I find myself slipping back into the old anxiety I felt with my kids when they were little, so I’d love to hear everyone’s ideas
    Thanks Sarah!

    1. Awesome Lori! I’ll absolutely keep blogging about this topic, and in the meantime, download the Calm App and start meditating – it will help ease the anxiety you are feeling!

  12. christina says:

    Great post! This morning I let my 4 and 2 y/o figure it out. They painted (paper and themselves!), they did whatever the heck toddlers do while I folded laundry. Ok so I wasn’t exactly playing with them, but nothing scripted or scheduled for them to do and they had a blast and no tantrums. Next time I’ll let them paint on my face 🙂

    1. I love it Christina – and if you do let them paint your face, you have to send me a picture! LOL!

  13. Joelle says:

    I met you at the first Jassa Retreat and that has been one of my fondest memories! It’s not often you get to hang out with someone you truly admire.

    Now responding to your article. Thank you so much for this! It was so timely and I just sent to my hub. Being a communication major back in college, I’d like to think I’m pretty good with listening and empathizing with people-especially my own son. But my hub, as great as he is, truly lacks this same quality. He is always butting heads with our 12-yr old son and I get called upon way too much to intervene. I hate it and it stresses me out. I love your suggestion about the calm app. I need to check that out (for all of us)!!

    1. It’s super hard to be on the same page when it comes to parenting, it really does take diligence and practice. So glad I was able to meet you at the first retreat and hope to see you again soon! Thank you so much for Joelle!

  14. Melanie Carpenter says:

    Oh Sarah, I’m pretty sure my life would be a little lovelier if I could give you a hug everyday . The greatest skill I have learned since becoming a parent has been meditation. I am a classic example of what it means to be in ones own head, and like you I’m working on it daily. My number one piece of advice to other parents when I see the beginnings of “I’m not doing enough” creeping into the conversation, is seriously to just do what they can to refill their own gas tank. For me anyway it’s the only way I can be an awesome parent. Cranky, tired, unhappy parents are not going to be able to have the patience it takes to be in the moment and enjoy it. Thanks for the friendly reminder!

    1. Mel – my life would be a little lovelier if I could get that hug from you everyday too!!! 🙂 I love your advice of making sure you refill your own gas tank and I agree 100 million percent – if you’re not taking care of yourself first you really can’t take care of anyone else!

      Hugs!!!

  15. Marci says:

    Great job! Eloquently said! We use prayer as our meditation time. Growing closer to God has improved my priorities for me and my family IMMENSELY! I want to thank you for saying our kids are over scheduled! Just because my oldest can manage a full load in middle school, two instruments, and a foreign language (Chinese!)…all with straight A’s, doesn’t me he SHOULD! I don’t want him thinking this is normal! I hope more parents follow this trend, but still hold kids (and themselves) responsible for being a productive member of society…with rest breaks!

    1. So awesome Marci – thanks so much for sharing!! 🙂

  16. Rina says:

    Fantastic read my dear friend!! You always give me so much to think about! This post makes me especially happy that we made the move back to Hawaii:)) Life is just simpler and that crazy busy scheduled life just doesn’t work here. I too struggle with that feeling of “am I doing enough?” with pretty much every aspect of my life. I’m really trying not to be stressed out by the things I’ve created in my life, but to be more grateful that I get to wake up everyday and live my life on my own terms. I’d love to hear more about all topics relating to this! XOXO

    1. You are doing MORE than “enough”. We all are. What we can do without negatively impacting our health and happiness is always exactly enough. Love you to the moon! xoxoxo

  17. Awesome! First off, I’m not a parent and can completely relate to this. Second, I love that the whole post was in the email. I read it all there and that made me what to visit the site and comment. I may be a rare one, idk, but I hate getting partial posts in email. I’d rather read it all at once and link to it after for comments. Love that!

    1. Awesome Natalia, I’m so glad you liked the whole post in the email – I’ll let Dain know – it’s all his idea and I really loved it too, especially with the link to comment at the end. Also glad you liked the post! 🙂

      1. Dain says:

        YAY! 🙂

  18. Val says:

    Sarah,

    Like so many other comments have noted you are spot on with this one! And I so needed to hear this! My husband is currently deployed and it is ALL me! I am homeschooling my children too so this mama never has a minute away from her 6&4 year olds! Thankfully, they are always playing, exploring, and laughing, but when they don’t listen or when they fight I’ve been so hard on them. Reading this reminds me that their poor little hearts are hurting without their Daddy and I need to be the fun, silly, playful mom that they love. Thank you! And looking forward to more from you!

    1. Hi Val! First, thank you SO much to you and your husband for all that you do. I can only imagine how incredibly hard it is to parent while your hubby is deployed and I am honored to think that this blog might have helped even a little bit! 🙂 Keep fighting the good fight and remember that not everyday has to be perfect and it’s ok for our kids to see us lose it now and then because it’s important for them to understand that we are human and sometimes we have meltdowns too. Hugs to you!

  19. Thank you for this post!! I’m not a parent (yet, hope to be soon) and I am trying to learn this practice before I have children! I know so many parents who need to hear this because unlike me, they are too busy to read about all the benefits of a meditation or a mindfulness practice. I’m fascinated and inspired by your parenting style, and I would love to read more about how you balance giving your kids freedom to be themselves and establishing rules/teaching them lessons so they can make it in our crazy society.

    1. Awesome Morgan – I will absolutely blog more about my parenting style and how it works with the whole rule/teaching them lessons thing. I’m still a huge work in progress myself when it comes to parenting and well, just about everything, but I’m super happy to keep on sharing! Thank you!

  20. Jo Jones Sullivan says:

    Love this! I see so many parents these days that “don’t have time” to just play with their children…WELL MAKE TINE DAMMIT! Your babies will remember the time you spent with them more than you having coffee with another mom and bring a bystander. Thanks for the reminder lady:-)
    P.S. I have the Calm app also and my 3 year old Finnegan wants to here “the water song” every night at bedtime;-)

    1. You’re so right about having to make time to play – and play for grownups can be really hard – but once you start you can’t help but feel the joy it brings and it’s so natural and wonderful and fun! I love that your little one is into the Calm app already – so sweet!

  21. Emily H. says:

    Sarah, first congrats on all of the new and exciting changes! I am so inspired by how you continue to do what you love. Love the article. I am in the process of being a new momma. Already 26 weeks along! I don’t have a 12 year old yet but I think all of this is perfect for a new mom like me. I want to be the best mom ever but I also know I already get in my head, and I’m only 26 weeks into it! Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to read more!

    1. Congratulations Emily on your little one on the way! Getting out of our own heads is a practice we all have to work on – parents or not – and it’s great that you are starting to work on it now, which will make your parenting journey that much more enjoyable and easier. Best of luck to you!

  22. Rachel says:

    Thanks for this beautiful insight, Sarah! It’s truly a practice that I think we all need to be reminded of every single day. Love it!!

    1. Thank you so much Rachel and you are very welcome!

  23. Emma says:

    I don’t even have kiddos, but there are lessons I can certainly take away from this post – fabulous! Thank you

    1. Awesome Emma, and thank you!

  24. Arionna Barajas says:

    LOVE this post! We started homeschooling three years ago now due to necessity but we have decided (actually the kids decided) that they will never go back to school. This life is amazing. I can’t believe how independent my kids have become and, like you said, they have each learned multiple musical instruments (SELF TAUGHT!!), art, programming and coding, theater, boxing and fighting, and, best of all, my three teenagers are the BEST of friends. They cook, help around the house, are awesome, fun people to be around. Keep it up, Sara! Love reading your stuff!

    1. So great to hear Arionna and especially awesome that your teenagers all get along so well. Jaden and Rowan go between wanting to tear each others heads off and being inseparable, however they are only 8 and 12 so hopefully they will grow out of the annoying sibling phase at some point – but I still love homeschooling despite the sibling battles we face now and then. 🙂

  25. Jayne says:

    Thank you for this post. We moms all really have so much in common! Its nice to hear I’m not alone in this.

    1. You’re welcome Jayne and you are absolutely NOT alone, we are all in this together! 🙂

  26. Sarah Wade says:

    Needed to hear this. One of those things that are old truths but yet we tend to forget them. Enjoying these new articles .

    1. Thank you so much Sarah!

  27. Sarah says:

    Ok, I really did take a lot out of this post. Infact it was refreshing and honest- something we could use more of as we navigate parenthood. But I was laughing at “Rowan. He’s my high strung, super active, crazy wild energetic overly stressed out emotional kid” because you absolutely described my Rowan to a T..! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your heart Sarah!

    1. Hi Sarah! So what you’re saying is – you are Sarah AND you have a Rowan who is just like MY Rowan?? I’m suddenly not feeling so alone in the world!! LOL! Where do you live? I think we need to get together! So funny, I love it!!! 🙂

  28. Emily says:

    I just stumbled upon this post and really appreciated it today. I feel that’s where I am at with my kids (toddler and 5 month old).Thanks!

    1. You’re so welcome Emily!! So glad you enjoyed the post and good luck with your little ones!! 🙂

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