The most common question I get asked is: how do I stop doing everything for my kids?
It’s not pretty out there. Moms are overwhelmed and overworked. Dads are frustrated. Parents are sick of overcompensating then being treated like dirt when they tell their kids to put their clothes in the hamper.
But families are often time poor so it’s easier to just do all the housework yourself. It’s faster and it avoids confrontation.
If this is your situation, I have one thing to say.
It’s on you. You are the leader of the tribe and have let this happen.
Who wants that life? Not the mom who reached out for help the other day. She said she can’t get her seven-year-old son off his iPhone and iPad. Seriously? I told her to pull those plugs out and throw them in the trash.
Why so hardline? Distractions creep into relationships and steal your happiness, your unity, your joy. Isn’t that what we all want? A magical life of happiness together?
Same as the mom whose 14-year-old is seriously disconnected from her. My advice was that as parents, our greatest responsibility is to create a foundation for our children to understand our core values and what we want to achieve as a team together.
At my place, the kids seek out opportunities to support their life and understand the values of the system. They make their beds, clean the bathroom, do the dishes. The big ones drive the younger ones to hockey. It’s not magic. It’s the Happy Life system.
Here’s how I want you to stop doing everything for your kids and start believing that families are a team sport.
It starts with knowing good parenting involves vulnerability. When children’s hearts are really developing, they move from a different energy field, away from selfishness and towards compassion, empathy, understanding.
That requires the role model parent taking off their superhero mask and saying something as everyday as, ‘I’m not feeling great today. Can you support me?’ That gives kids the chance to lean into compassion.
The way I’ve been able to teach gratitude with my kids is by honoring every opportunity and showing them that parents aren’t a concierge service.
The price of a beautiful life is being grateful for it. It gives its own rewards: when you’re grateful you’re a happier person and when you turn off the lights every night, your house is happy.
So what do you do if you’re trapped in doing everything for everyone?
The issue is you’re on autopilot because you have an underlying trigger because you want to control the experience. What you really need to do is take the lead and take the time to teach the power of why each action is important in your life and family.
Start simple. Instead of telling them to make their bed, explain why that act is important. Explain that if a human doesn’t honour the space where they live, it will be out of balance and their mind will be too.
Their environment is a reflection on them.
Take these four steps:
- Sit down as a family and say, ‘This is how we are going to be the best team: every person has a leadership role. We are all going to participate in the connection of our lives together.’
- Reconnect with your values and what’s important to you. Outline each person’s role.
- Create an operating agreement. I love this as a family. Everyone agrees on a foundation that includes your values. Make sure there are no gray areas and everyone understands their roles and positions like a sports team.
- Now you can hold everyone accountable because they understand their true north. There is a direction for all. Then they’ll develop self-regulation and self-esteem.
Humans want structure and discipline and it’s up to us to design it (unless you one day want a 35-year-old adult child sleeping on your couch!) If humans don’t have a system they stray and are hijacked by the outside world as they become disempowered. They won’t understand their role as an individual on this planet and in the world. Just as I was!
To level up we must believe in the potential and power of others to become capable humans. And no matter how they do things, the secret ingredient we should respond to and respect is the energy they put in.