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Episode 73: When You Just Don't Feel Like Being a Parent Anymore with Nicole Schwarz

Brief summary of show:

What is grace-based parenting? Do you give yourself grace in those hard moments with your kids?

Do you ever feel tired of parenting and want a break?

You're not alone, and Nicole Schwarz joins me to talk about what to do when parenting feels overwhelming.

Nicole Schwarz is an imperfect mom to 3 girls, Parent Coach with a License in Family Therapy, and author of "It Starts With You." She believes there are positive alternatives to timeouts, spankings and never-ending arguments with your kids. She also knows that parents can use some encouragement to take a deep breath and try again.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • [2:30] The pressure of being the perfect mom or parent

  • [3:15] The difference between guilt and shame

  • [4:25] Where shame comes from

  • [7:30] Being curious vs. judgemental

  • [11:10] Reclaiming ourselves as our kids get back into daily routines

  • [15:05] The biggest challenges Nicole sees in kids today

  • [18:20] Thoughts on anxiety in children today

Notes from Natalie:

Connect with Nicole

Connect with Me

View Transcript for this Episode

[00:00:00] No one said it would be easy, but no one mentioned that we might need a break from parenting. Hi everyone. It's Natalie. The stress of life is a lot add parenting, discipline meals work.

[00:00:12] Something has to give, we know we can't quit parenting and we don't wanna quit. We just need a break. Sometimes my guest today is Nicole Schwartz from imperfect She's a mom of three going through the same struggles you are sibling rivalry, jealousy, anger, aggression, school challenges, friend drama, power struggles.

[00:00:35] And so much more before we get started today. I wanna hear from you as I prepare for upcoming episodes, my contact information is right in the show notes here, and I wanna know what topics you wanna hear more of when it comes to your health and your family. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and sign up for my newsletter.

[00:00:54] And let's get started today with my parenting expert, Nicole Schwart.


[00:01:02] Natalie: Nicole, thanks for joining me today. So for a lot of parents their kids have been home for the summer. Some are just heading back to school, some have a little bit more time, but I wanna talk about this idea of parents sometimes feeling guilty that they're not enjoying parenting. You know, maybe they're overwhelmed or they're just tired of the fights or whatever that is.

[00:01:23] Is that a pretty normal feeling?

[00:01:25] Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. And I wish people talked about it more. I feel like anytime I mention something like, oh, my daughter talks nonstop. You know, I, I get five other people say mine too. And, but we just, we don't talk about it enough. We it's, it's a hard thing to share that we don't always love.

[00:01:45] Natalie: Parenting. And especially in, in this day and age where we feel so much pressure,

[00:01:50] I feel like everywhere we go as a parent, it's like pressure to perform and pressure to volunteer and, and, you know, pressure to be the, the Pinterest mom or make everything perfect or bring the perfect snacks or, you know, and that just leads to this like deep sense of, of guilt of like, I'm not doing.

[00:02:12] Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. And I think for some people, it even can shift into more of like a shame. Like I am not even worthy to be a mom or, you know, I'm just a mistake. I'm messing all this up. And so it, it can go kind of to a really dark place that has kind of a negative spiral. We just feel so stuck and we forget that we're doing other things that.

[00:02:35] Great, you know, we're showing up for yeah. Yeah.

[00:02:38] Natalie: Can you talk for a minute about the difference? I think it's really important that you just mentioned that guilt that can turn into shame. What's the difference between guilt and shame and why is it important for us to, to understand that and identify that.

[00:02:54] Nicole: Yeah, I real simply I think about guilt as I made a mistake and shame as I am a mistake. So when we feel guilty about something that we did and it's a healthy kind of guilt, we can move forward. So we can say, Ugh, made a mistake. Here's how I'm gonna repair it. Or I made a mistake. Here's what I'm gonna do differently.

[00:03:13] Next time, shame really keeps us stuck because if we're. Unworthy. If we are a mistake we need to hide, we can't be making things better. We can't show, we can't show up anymore. Cause we're, making all these mistakes. And so identifying that we feel one way or the other is really important. It's okay.

[00:03:34] If you don't know kind of where you fall yet, but giving yourself a second to think, you know, am I feeling like I made a mistake or. Am a mistake, is that is an important place to start.

[00:03:46] Do you think that

[00:03:47] Natalie: shame comes from our upbringing as well? I mean, do, do things turn to shame pretty quickly just in a daily cycle of parenting or, or some of that come from how we were raised and, and, and something deeper.

[00:04:01] I, I tend to always go deeper. You know, maybe that's a, maybe that's a therapist or an interviewer type thing is like, where's this coming from? Why do I feel this way? Do you think it

[00:04:11] Nicole: comes from our past? Absolutely. I mean, it absolutely can. I think, and it can also pop up later in life. I think if maybe it's the beginning of your parenting, you start feeling this way.

[00:04:24] But shame can be, felt really early, like in the toddler years. And so even before our parents even knew that they were saying something that impacted us shamefully, It might have already kind of planted that seed. So it's hard to, to look for the why and where did this all start?

[00:04:41] And sometimes that's helpful and sometimes it's not, but it might be worth saying, wow, this has been around with me. This has been my constant companion since I was very young. And that, that might be an important part of the story for you.

[00:04:56] How do you

[00:04:57] Natalie: identify that if we are going deeper? And I know as a therapist, like a lot of people will recommend, I'm sure you do to get therapy or journal or understand, but how do people kind of get to that root in understanding why they parent the way they do or where their guilty feelings come from?

[00:05:17] How, how do you work with people and tell them. To get past that or understand that in themselves.

[00:05:24] Nicole: Yeah. It it's tricky. And I think we don't often make space for it. So I think part one of the first steps would kind of be to slow down, maybe get outta journal, maybe start noticing and naming what you're thinking and feeling in, in tough moments.

[00:05:40] So often we just have thoughts kind of floating around in our head, but if we slow 'em down, it might, they might say that little voice might say, you know, If you're failing, you're a son or, you know, good mom do this or something like that. And we don't even realize it's there because it's a real quiet voice.

[00:05:56] So slowing it down might be helpful for a lot of people though, that slowing down and processing, is it. It's not really effective to do it alone. And so you might need a therapist and I actually recommend a lot of people. If it's available to you to seek out, help from a therapist, an outside perspective, someone who can kind of guide you and you don't have to do it alone.

[00:06:17] But just being curious about why you react and thinking it again, if it's safe to do so without a therapist, you might just say. How were emotions handled when I was a kid? Oh, they were, you know, maybe you'll find like it was not safe. It was a big boys. Don't cry sort of situation or something like that.

[00:06:37] And you don't even need to do anything that with it at the time you might just say, oh, that's interesting. No wonder, you know, I, I feel like I need to stuff all these feelings inside or whatever, but being curious and, and nonjudgmental and slowing that process down.

[00:06:53] Natalie: Okay. You just hit something really important.

[00:06:55] And I love this concept of be curious versus judgemental. Tell me about that because I know we can use that in our parenting too, but with ourselves, like being curious, why we feel a certain

[00:07:07] Nicole: way. Well, I think this, this is the grace based parenting that I talk about. Yeah. For, we have to say, Hey, I'm worthy.

[00:07:16] I'm I am worthy just because I'm per, I'm a person. not because I'm perfect. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:07:23] Natalie: I'm human. Yeah. Right.

[00:07:25] Nicole: So we start there and then we say, okay, I'm gonna just look at this as if I was looking in from the outside, or maybe I'm gonna look at this as if a friend was going through this, or you can say what was going on around me.

[00:07:39] What kind of things was I experiencing? What, I don't know, what was the situation? Why, you know, just kind of. Looking at it in a way that allows us to move forward. Because again, if we start putting that judgmental or that shame piece in, we're gonna shut down. And so instead you might think yourself kind of if my friend was going through this, what would I say to them?

[00:08:01] Would I say you're a horrible parent? Or I might say. Yeah. Think about you were running all those errands and then you had to do those five drop offs. And that was really hard and that's a lot for you to carry. but often we don't we don't offer that same kind of grace and non-judgmental phrasing to ourselves.

[00:08:21] Natalie: We're so much harder on ourselves. If we would only treat ourselves as we would, our best friend.

[00:08:28] Nicole: Yeah

[00:08:29] Natalie: to really look at that. I just moved. And so I, I walk out to my garage where things kind of landed before they came in the house at, at the last fit. And I go, Ugh, I can't, I can't believe I haven't gotten to this yet.

[00:08:41] And I'm hard on myself. And then I stop and I, I, I'm trying to give myself grace and like, what would I tell. As somebody else like, oh, you did a lot in a week. Oh my gosh, you exhausted yourself, but I'm, trying to do that now in what you're saying and giving myself grace, instead of you need to get this done and move on, get moved in, cuz we're just so

[00:09:02] Nicole: hard on ourselves.

[00:09:04] I know, and it's, you know, culturally and it's, you know, maybe from upbringing and also from social media, I mean, you just think, Ugh. Yeah. You know, all you see is like the picture of the moving boxes and then the totally complete house. I mean, you

[00:09:16] Natalie: don't see. Oh yeah. And then I stop and I hard on myself and I say, oh, this would've been good social media material.

[00:09:22] When all I've done is moved. I don't, I like have social media has. Totally gone by the wayside for the last three weeks. I, I just, you know, can't do it all and to give myself that grace. So thank you for reminding me of that. I needed that today. , let's go back to this concept though, with kids going back to school and parents having a little bit of guilt could be shame identifying that of, I need time back to myself.

[00:09:48] I have. Entertained the kids all summer, we've gotten to the pool, we've done all these activities. Maybe we've been on vacation, whatever it might be for parents, but, now going into it's okay to take care of yourself and it's okay to feel like. I'm kind of tired of parenting.

[00:10:33] Natalie: Can you give us some more kind of tips on reclaiming ourselves as our kids are back into routines?

[00:10:44] Nicole: Yeah. I, I mean, where you started was a great place and I think that's where we all need to start is just kind of saying. Yeah, this is me. This is who I am. This is what I need. And, and if we kind of shift into the, but good moms do this, or I should or should do this, then noticing that and kind of pulling back and rewriting that story.

[00:11:06] So I should love being with my kids every moment you might try thinking, okay, what is a more honest, positive, encouraging kind of way that I could phrase that maybe it's just, I love my kids and I. Spending time by myself, both of those things can be true. And you might have to try that phrasing on, for a little while before it becomes more real, but, rephrase it to make it sense to you.

[00:11:32] But we have to kind of combat these negative messages that we should, or good moms or good parents do this or that. We might have to work really hard to yeah. Find something that feels.

[00:11:44] Natalie: As kids are getting ready to go back to school again, not for everybody. They're not there yet, but we get back into routines and say, I know for me, I'm looking, I've got two in college and I have one at home, so he's gonna be a.

[00:11:58] But really an only child for the first time. And I wanna find those those connections. And I know in, in your book, which I love, by the way you talk about these mini connections. And ways that, that we can work with them, connect with them on a daily basis where they feel heard and loved because we get into this chaotic world of schedules and cooking meals and all of that.

[00:12:23] And sometimes we forget that how important those connections are to our kid.

[00:12:29] Nicole: Yeah. And I would also add if you're burnt out and tired from spending all summer, you don't necessarily want to spend more time. Yeah. So, and that's okay. Again, we're gonna be super gracious and just that's okay to say that. But when I talk about connections, it doesn't need to be a big trip to the zoo or um, whatever even going out for ice cream might be too big.

[00:12:52] Look for little, maybe. Couple seconds to a couple minutes connections, and this is really gonna be unique to your child. So first you might need to think what does my child really like? Are they more calm? Are they more energetic? Are they quiet? Do they like to talk? And then think, okay, how can I connect with them in a, this short, mini time that would, like you're saying, like build up their their bucket for connection.

[00:13:17] And so maybe you just say today when my teenager walks in the room, I'm gonna smile. Okay. That's a great place to start. Or maybe you say, okay, today I'm gonna sit down at the drawing table with. Five year old. And I'm going to ask her about her drawing that's connection. If that's connecting for them, maybe you say, instead of saying, go get your shoes.

[00:13:37] I'm gonna say everybody crab, walk to the door or something that maybe that kind of connection would work for your energetic child. Or like when my daughter was home for school, I often would just stop in her room and drop a little piece of candy on her desk and just, I wouldn't even say anything.

[00:13:53] Just kind of. I'm here. I see you. I just acknowledge that, you know, I love you. You're doing great. And so looking for really small ways to connect with our kids can sometimes bring back the joy of being with them,

[00:14:07] Natalie: Yeah. And sometimes the, the unspoken, just those little things, they feel it most importantly,

[00:14:14] Nicole: Yeah.

[00:14:15] Yeah. And I wouldn't, I just feel like open the box. Don't don't feel like you, I mean, even have to do any of the examples that I gave. Yeah. I mean, your child might give you some clues about what they would like.

[00:14:26] Natalie: What's the, as, as the therapist and I know working with parents and kids, what, what's the biggest

[00:14:32] Nicole: issue you see today

[00:14:35] Natalie: versus early in your career?

[00:14:37] Even, you know, I know COVID has had such an impact. Of course, and we'll be talking about this for years and years to come, but what's the biggest thing that you see impacting relationships between parents and kids today.

[00:14:52] Nicole: My first thought is um, screens and social media, and I think it could go both ways.

[00:14:58] I think our kids suddenly spent a lot more time on screens through COVID doing online school, but also just video games. Kids getting phones earlier and earlier, but also us as parents. I think we're on our phones a lot more too. And that's that example. Yeah. Right. And, and I think that disconnect has kind of just widened over the years and it's kind of, it's impacted in all different ways.

[00:15:23] So it's maybe caused some more anxiety or some more transition problems, or even just going back to this connection, it feels like we've kind of. A piece of that connection that we used to have when we weren't kind of behind screens. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:15:38] Natalie: Do you advise people who are, you know, struggling with that?

[00:15:42] Like, what I have found as a parent is once you open a door, it's really hard to close it. So once you give them the phone, it's really hard. Like you're disciplining them to say, oh, I'm gonna reign it in now. Cuz I heard an expert say you shouldn't have that. You've you've given them something, taking it back, or, you know, giving them a phone or having a screen in their bedroom.

[00:16:02] Once you open that door really hard to close it once you've let them play video games. And they're good at video games, it's really hard to start limiting it. So do what, how do you advise people or work people through those types of situations of, okay. I know it's not a great thing, but they've already had this.

[00:16:21] So how do I take it away?

[00:16:23] Nicole: I know, I, it is tough and I, I, I, again, I don't want anyone to feel judgment or shame because we are all making this up with screen, you know, all of a sudden we're like we regret that decision or whatever. And so we are definitely learning and I don't know, it's gonna be a while.

[00:16:41] I think before we have this. Figured out, so to speak. But I, when I talk with parents, I'm less focused on how do we set a consequence or how do we do the punishments? I'm more concerned about keeping that relationship strong with our kids and working together. And so I think what I would say, depending on the age of the child, obviously, if they're really young, we might need to put more.

[00:17:03] Strict, you know, boundaries where we don't let them have access to it or something, but when their kids are older, it might be more of a problem solving, Hey, we are on the same team. I'm not against you. I'm not against screens. I see that you really enjoy them, but it's also not working for our family. To have eight hours of screen time or whatever.

[00:17:21] And so I wouldn't go from full, you know, here's how we are to like taking it all away. It just, I don't think that's gonna work for building that relationship, but working together, seeing everyone on the team to work together towards like limiting screening in the home as, yeah.

[00:17:38] Natalie: Well, anything else you mentioned screen time like that.

[00:17:42] I know it's a big issue. Do you see a,

[00:17:45] I hear a lot of people tell me anxiety today with kids is at a much greater level than it was in the past and perhaps that's COVID or pressures. Do you see

[00:17:56] Nicole: that too? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I think even as parents, I feel like there's more. Anxiety and more like you're saying pressure that than maybe even 10 years ago.

[00:18:08] Natalie: Yeah. Advice on, on dealing with that. And part of that probably comes with the connections with your parents too,

[00:18:15] Nicole: right? I think anxiety it's, it's tough for me to kind of give a packaged answer. Yeah. It is kind of, it's part of this giving both things. So we need to give our kids comfort and security, and we also need to kind of give them opportunities to grow and experience their kind of their feelings and, and finding the balance that works best is tricky.

[00:18:37] And so part of us might wanna just. You know, avoid everything that makes us anxious and that's okay. But also learning to grow that kind of growth side of us. And some of us just maybe wanna push our kids into the deep end of the pool and they not so much of the comfort. And so finding where that balance is in your home and then figuring out kind of what do we need and what supports do our kids need, or do we need before we kind of send.

[00:19:04] To try something that is, is challenging and tricky. Yeah. I, I,

[00:19:08] Natalie: I tell my kids and, you know, sending the first one to college, I, I said to her, oh, I'll cry. Cuz I, you know, walking away after taking her halfway across the country. And I, I said, and I, I use it now, ever since then is you were made to do hard things.

[00:19:23] Oh, yeah. You know, like, like anxiety is real. Yeah. But once you prove to yourself, you can work through that real tough stuff. Yeah. Then you're able to do it again. Right. So protecting them from all of that actually doesn't serve them in the future in dealing with hard things.

[00:19:44] Nicole: Right, right. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:19:46] And then I'm sure you've done some other things to just kind of build that connection and let her know that she's safe to try to do things, you know? So like yeah. When, when it, you know, no matter what. So, yeah. Yeah.

[00:19:58] Natalie: It's tempting to put them in bubble wrap, isn't it? But , it doesn't help them, but boy, isn't tempting.

[00:20:05] Right,

[00:20:06] Nicole: right. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. When I think about college yet I have a couple more years, so,

[00:20:12] Natalie: oh yeah. Well, as a mom, that's probably the hardest thing, but the most rewarding when, when they, they really grow during those years.

[00:20:19] Nicole: Oh

[00:20:19] Natalie: my. Do they grow? Yeah. Well where can people find more information on you and everything you're doing in your

[00:20:26] Nicole: book?

[00:20:26] Yeah, you can find me at imperfect families, so on social media and my website is imperfect families. Also. I love that.

[00:20:33] Natalie: It's okay to be imperfect. I love everything you do. And your grace based parenting model. Thanks so much for the time today. We'll we'll be finding you. I'll put the things that you mentioned in the show notes here to the podcast.

[00:20:44] And I look forward to talking to you again soon.

[00:20:47] Nicole: Thank you so much.

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