The Parent Gap: How To Calm the Crazy in Parenting

Thank you to Randi Rubenstein for partnering with me for today’s post. As always, all opinions are 100% mine and mine alone.

Oh, happy day, peeps! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. We spent a lot of time outdoors, and it was wonderful–hot but wonderful. However, it looks like fall is finally showing up around here, and I couldn’t be more excited. My kiddos are both the busiest they have ever been, and I’m loving it. It’s exhausting, but that’s parenting, right? Exhausting and full of lots of love.

Parenting tips from Randi Rubenstein

We all know that parenting isn’t always sunshine and roses. I think we all go through those stages where we don’t know what the heck we’re doing as a parent. We have moments where we’re like, “What in the actual eff?” Our kids do things that blow our minds and sometimes make us blow a gasket.

For a while now, I’ve been feeling like Mean Mom, and I’ve been hating it. Charlotte is 4.5 and at the age where whining is her expertise. Colin is 13 months and is still my needy baby who crawls into everything but can’t quite communicate what he wants yet because he’s not talking. To say I’m not tired of mothering at the end of day would be a flat out lie. I’m drained both mentally and physically. Something needed to give.

I’ve always been a researcher by nature, hence my English teacher background, and it’s a huge reason why I started blogging in the first place: to share the research I’ve done and what has worked for me. To help me get a grip on life with this whole mothering thing, I couldn’t keep spinning my wheels doing the same exact thing I had been. Hello, insanity. So I headed straight to the books, one book in particular, The Parent Gap: Tools to Keep Your Cool, Stay Connected, & Change Unhealthy Patterns, and started to dig in. reading about what I could fix to make life happier in this little house of mine.

Parenting tips from Randi Rubenstein. Why every mama needs to read The Parent Gap.

I won’t share the entire Cliff Notes of the book with y’all because I think every mom should read it, but here’s an outline of the book that will convince you that you need to read this ASAP:

  • CH. 1 :: Identifying and changing unhealthy patterns in your life.
  • CH. 2 :: Understanding that your distractions are coping mechanisms.
  • CH. 3 :: Learning to listen to your body’s whispers.
  • CH. 4 :: Having the courage to learn your story and really look at it through the lens of a very curious observer.
  • CH. 5 :: Digging deep into your family’s history and excavating stories and patterns passed down.
  • CH. 6 :: Learning how to be your own super-fan, celebrating and cheering for yourself.
  • CH. 7 :: Learning how to lock the guilt monster out of your sacred home.

See? You want to start reading this today, don’t you? Add the book to your cart, then come read what I have learned.

My One-On-One Parenting Session

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking with author and parent coach, Randi Rubenstein. I left our conversation feeling like I could be Super Mom. You guys, she is the real deal! Here is a recap of our one-on-one parenting session.

As I’ve mentioned before, Charlotte has become very anxious lately. She picks her nails until they bleed, sucks on her fingers, whines incessantly, needs an eye on me at all times, and gets out of her bed to come to ours every single night. I talked about this with Randi, and after chatting for a few minutes, she was able to read right through me.

  • Charlotte’s anxiety stems from ME. Randi immediately called me out and said she knew right off the bat that I was a highly intuitive person, therefore Charlotte is too!
  • Highly intuitive people are also highly sensitive which can cause anxiety when you don’t know how deal with all of those emotions.
  • Highly intuitive people are often introverts (hello, that’s me) and do not do well with sensory overload.
    • Did I tell y’all the story about Charlotte hating soccer? She absolutely hated it. Cried at every practice because she didn’t want to be there, so we pulled her out. I talked about this with Randi, and she mentioned that Charlotte probably didn’t like it because it was sensory overload for her introverted self. Charlotte thrives in gymnastics, and it’s probably because it’s more of a one-on-one type coaching. Noted.
  • My family is a family of highly intuitive people, meaning we’re all highly sensitive.

Now you might have read all of that and thought, “Geez, that sounds horrible!” But what this session made me realize is that being a highly intuitive person does come with some perks. We’re “brilliant, creative, and intuitive,” according to Randi, and I agree more. We think things through and want the best for others, but a huge downside is that we also need to learn how to take care of ourselves. If I can learn to do that, I can teach Charlotte how to take care of herself as well. When we learn how to take care of ourselves, we can teach our mini-me the same. 

What about the Yelling

Have you ever yelled at your kids and then felt completely drained afterward? Well, Randi pointed out that yelling is my body going into straight jacket mode. It’s my body saying, “Your needs haven’t been met! We’re going bananas up in here!” If you’ve ever felt that tinge of uneasiness when you’re around your kids, it’s probably because you’re lacking self-care time. I know I have felt that feeling one too many times!

Moms are the nucleus of the family. That means that we need to focus on ourselves in order for us to be able to care of the family. We ALL need something where we can focus our energy and refill our cup. Each member of our family needs this. We can’t always be each other’s everything.

When you take care of yourself and learn how to tune into your body’s needs, you’ll be better apt to have more patience and respond with kindness rather than unleashing the beast.

What makes you tick? What makes refills your love tank? What is something you do for yourself and yourself alone? For me, it’s blogging. It’s my creative outlet.

Randi reminded me how important it is to schedule my needs into the day every single day. I need an hour of alone time to work on blogging–alone time for the introvert is a must. She suggested talking to my husband about my needs and coming up with a daily plan. What fills your husband’s tank? What about your little girl or little boy?

It can be a struggle to meet each and every family member’s needs every day, but when each need is clearly communicated every day, it makes it easier to come up with a plan to work it out.

Parenting tips from Randi Rubenstein

The Power of Empathy

Another strategy Randi suggested to me to deal with an anxious child is to be more empathetic. When Charlotte is feeling anxious, pulling at her nails or fidgeting, take her little face into my hands and hold on to her, look her in the eyes, and empathize. Ask her what is going on and what she’s feeling. Let her know that I hear her.

Ask questions like:

  • How are you feeling?
  • Why are you scared?
  • What’s making you feel uncomfortable?
  • What do you need from me before I go so you can learn/go to bed/etc.?

Remind your separation anxiety prone child, “I know you miss mommy because you love me so much, and I love you too. I’m going to miss you! I’m so lucky to be your mommy! We are so lucky to have each other and love each other like crazy.”

When you figure things out together, it helps calm their little souls and reminds them that we’re here to protect them and keep them safe.

Present Engaged Time (P.E.T.)

Another way to calm the crazy of my anxiety-filled house (i.e. a whining preschooler) is to counter it with time spent together. But it can’t just be you physically being there, you really need to be there. Randi suggests having Present Engaged Time with your child, and I love it. Block out a time every day (consistency is key) at the same time when you spend quality time with your child, even if it’s 15 minutes. No devices, no distractions. Have your child pick the activity, too, set a timer and enjoy.

One reason that Charlotte is waking up during the night and coming to our bed every night is because she’s probably not getting enough P.E.T. during the day. She’s actually told me before that she just wants to be with me. I mean, what kid doesn’t love one-on-one attention from their parent?

Randi pointed out that I should be filling up Charlotte’s love cup during the day rather than at night, which Charlotte has figured out is when she can get the most P.E.T. even if we are sleeping. We need to reverse that, and it’s something we’ve been working on since my talk with Randi.

A New Sleep Routine

Ever since Charlotte turned four, she’s been getting out of her bed. She now falls asleep faster, but it’s the staying in her own bed that has been the issue. Here were some of Randi’s suggestions to fix this problem:

  • Talk about why we need to sleep in our beds.
    • Here’s what I should be reminding Charlotte: “We need to rest to grow and stay healthy. Mommy & Daddy’s job is to help you grow and stay healthy, and you can’t do that if you don’t sleep in your bed all night.”
  • Create a VISUAL nighttime routine chart using pictures.
    • Follow the routine chart’s steps each night.
    • Have 5 minutes of snuggle time.
    • Leave the room with no talking once you leave.
    • When she wakes up, walk her back to bed with no talking. (Explain all of this in great length before hand.)
  • When she starts sleeping in her bed again, CELEBRATE BIG!

The plan is to have Charlotte sleeping through the night again so that I can have my alone time before my babies wake up. This is where the magic will happen. I also need her to go to bed and stay in bed so I can have P.E.T. with my husband. Our time together is so important to me, so finding a balance of meeting everyone’s needs is crucial.

Parenting tips from Randi Rubenstein

The Key Takeaways

I learned so much from Randi in our hour and half conversation and from her book. Here were the biggest  takeaways for me.

  • We all need something to focus our energy on and refill our cup with, and it can’t just be each other.
  • Remind Charlotte that it takes courage to go and learn and grow and that I believe in her!
  • Remind your child that you will always be his/her safe place!
  • Stay calm when redirecting and disciplining. No one deals well with crazy. 
  • Our kids were brought to us to teach us lessons about ourselves and will in turn make us a better person. Charlotte specifically will teach me how to be more confident because I’ll have to teach it to her since it’s something we both lack.
  • Turning “I can’t” into “I can” starts with us.

And that my friends is how we can calm the crazy. I am so thankful for Randi and for her simple, no-nonsense methods. They have helped tremendously since implementing, and I’m excited to keep them going.

If you are looking for a little tweaking of your parenting, I highly suggest reading her book, The Parent Gap, and/or scheduling a time to chat with her yourself. You can find tons of free resources and more info about her parenting courses on her website as well.

Be well, mama friends! The world is in our hands.

1 Comment

  1. tabithablue
    October 28, 2017 / 7:31 pm

    Goodness I needed to read this!! That is SO me and my youngest two! Thanks for all of your amazing research and sharing, mama. XO