Raise your hand if you’re a parent…yes, this blog is for YOU!
As a parent, you are supposed to have all the answers…like where Santa lives, where babies come from, and why exactly the moon is called the moon.
But for situations where you have no clue what you’re doing, all you have to do is ask Lauren Zander and Marnie Nir. They went live on Facebook and Instagram to answer some of your parenting questions.
Keep reading to learn how to deal with middle school mean girls, how to get focused after the holiday season, and, of course, how to manage being a working mom in the PTA….
My daughter is having a really hard time in her first week of middle school and is constantly texting me how sad she is, how mean people are, and that she’s crying in the bathroom during lunch. How do I manage her pain and not take it on as my own?
Lauren Zander: Wow.
Marnie Nir: Middle school…
Lauren Zander: Bribery is good.
Marnie Nir: Ha! She means it!
Lauren Zander: Try this: “Hey baby, how about you introduce yourself to one person today, that actually doesn’t look like she’s a mean girl, and sit next to someone and just start a conversation. If you do, I will buy you anything you want at H&M.” So I would bribe and make a game of finding friends.
And then the other thing I tell everyone is…Marnie, let’s discuss how many friends we still have from middle school.
Marnie Nir: I don’t remember middle school.
Lauren Zander: Exactly. Remind your daughter she will never remember middle school. I don’t. It sucks and it’s going to suck. Go to class, do your school work, find one good friend. Help her find one good friend, or bribe her too! Go make it in with the geeks! Really, she has to just pick some friends, hide from the mean people, and that’s it. And it’s going to suck until she has about one or two friends, okay? Everyone ends up finding one or two friends and then it’s easier to find three and four. Just keep on giving her pep talks and if you are getting sucked in, which you are, then you don’t remember how bad middle school was for everybody too. And it’s almost like a rite of passage…like Marnie, do you remember liking puberty?
Marnie Nir: No.
Lauren Zander: No. Do you remember really enjoying your first kiss? Your first feeling up? No. First touch of a penis? No. It was all the creepiest, most awkward experience of life itself. Really, I would start to warn her that this is like, how life is! Let’s write a funny journal. Let’s bribe you to make it through. And let’s keep you happy while change is inevitable and sucks.
Marnie Nir: That’s good. I think it’s key what Lauren said about not getting too sucked in and making it your pain. I can do that so easily if I try to fix any of my kids! So, I think it’s really just relating to their experience and seeing if you could find some humor in it. Middle school’s not that funny when you’re in it, so maybe there’s some humor in that one too. Also, my kids tend to get more dramatic around me, for me, so you have to watch that too…like whether those calls she makes to you for your love and attention is getting her off a little? So yeah, you have to step back and just get her world. And I like the bribery.
Lauren Zander: Bribery is good because it’s always a deal and they always have a choice. That’s why I like a bribe. Right? Like they’re not stuck, it doesn’t suck, it’s funny, and you can change your perspective by changing your action.
Marnie Nir: Yeah. And then, you know, she’ll not only have new clothes from H&M, she’ll be proud of herself and she didn’t even know that was part of the gift. It’s a surprise bonus!
How do I get myself and my kids focused again after the holidays?
Lauren Zander: Write a dream, make new promises, and have an accountability buddy. Like in Inner.U we have our accountability buddy and promise tracker. The minute you come off of the holidays, what you’re really saying is, you’re not in certain promises. That’s what I do. And so back-to-school is really back to promises. What promises? You tell me. They’re usually diet, they’re work effort, and starting the year out powerfully. What goals do you want to achieve in 2020? So focus on that and don’t it alone. Get a buddy, or a best friend, a coach, or get on Inner.U and get an accountability buddy and really create a powerful year.
Marnie Nir: Yeah, and I think that goes for any vacation and re-entry. There is a need to have a plan. Otherwise, you’re just kinda sad…it’s just back to work or back to school. So everyone needs to design a plan.
As a working mom, I can’t always return the favor with these mommy organized carpools, taking my son to his activities. How do I best navigate without being looked at as a leech? I want to help, but I work full time and I’m the single mom.
Lauren Zander: You have a real conversation with the other mother or father about your situation. And you go, “Listen, I’m in this situation, I feel terribly unfair about this, but I just want you to know I’m not going to be able to do this or that. What I CAN do for you is…” Then you make a barter exchange. Like, maybe you can take the kids on a Saturday night, or they can be dropped at your house after school to do homework, or you can bake the goodies for the PTA…give what you can give. It doesn’t have to be a direct exchange. But, what will likely happen is, if the other family really doesn’t have your constraints, they will appreciate you saying that and it really isn’t a big deal to them to do those things for you. You’re a working mommy and people really do understand that and they want to be great.
Marnie Nir: Yeah, completely. I always tried to be smarter about what I wanted to do and was willing to do. So I would do weekends and I did the early pickup because I’m a morning person. I like those. I hated the ‘end of party pickup’.
So I would always do the early 6:00AM pick-ups and the six girl sleepovers at my house so I wouldn’t have to do the things I didn’t like. I would even try to earn favors so I didn’t have to do the stuff I didn’t want to do.
But back to your question, you actually have the answer right in there, which is a layout of how your hard conversation should go with these parents: “I don’t want to be a leech, I’m a working mom and I want to help. What do you need?” And people completely get it. Everyone really knows how to have hard conversations with each other…they are just avoiding it.
Lauren & Marnie
P.S. Inner.U is a 12 session online course that gives you the tools to hack into your own life, hone your dreams, and have every last thing you want in the areas that matter most to you: CAREER, MONEY, LOVE, TIME, FAMILY, and HEALTH. Do this life thing better from wherever, whenever.
Lauren Handel Zander is the Co-Founder and Chairwoman of Handel Group®, an international corporate consulting and life coaching company. Her coaching methodology, The Handel Method®, is taught in over 35 universities and institutes of learning around the world, including MIT, Stanford Graduate School of Business, NYU, and the New York City Public School System. Lauren is also the author of Maybe It’s You: Cut the Crap, Face Your Fears, Love Your Life (Published by Hachette Book Group, April 2017), a no-nonsense, practical manual that helps readers figure out not just what they want out of life, but how to actually get there. She has spent over 20 years coaching thousands of private and corporate clients, including executives at Vogue, BASF, and AOL. Lauren has been a featured expert in The New York Times, BBC, Forbes, Women’s Health, Dr. Oz, and Marie Claire and she is a regular contributor to Businessweek and the Huffington Post. Click here to schedule a 30-minute consultation with Handel Group.
Image courtesy of Rogerio Martins