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Description: We’re making a shift today and talking more about helping our KIDS balance the busy. I am interviewing Dr. Betty-Ann Svendsen, a pediatrician of 25 years and a life coach, so we’re getting to learn from someone who has over two decades of experience watching kids as they grow, helping that journey and that process as a pediatrician, but also being a life coach.
I talked to her and asked her about balancing the busyness for our kids and about anxiety, depression, how we can help and support them, and what she has seen as the biggest things that are hindering kids today. We talk about overscheduling, not giving them the opportunity to do things for themselves, and I share my thoughts on why we do this and where it comes from. This is such a good episode to help us think about and be more intentional in our roles as parents.
This will help:
👉 Parents stop overscheduling their kids
👉 Families feel more connected
👉 Anyone who has kids or teens feel more empowered
In this episode:
2:45 Is There an Increase In Anxiety and Depression in Our Kids?
4:13 Overscheduling and Letting Our Kids Be Bored
9:47 Letting Our Kids Fail
20:06 Combating Loneliness in Our Kids
24:35 Helping Kids Dealing with Anxiety
30:17 Communication is Key
MORE ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION IN OUR KIDS
Betty-Ann Svendsen has been a pediatrician for over 25 years and when I asked her if she thinks our kids today are experiencing more anxiety and depression, her answer was YES. There are a lot of different elements contributing to this increase. Kids being over scheduled, she says is a big one. And Covid certainly threw a wrench into things as well. There are society expectations to keep up with, a lack of self care, a lack of family time, and a lack of down time as well.
OVERSCHEDULING AND LETTING OUR KIDS BE BORED
One of the things that I’ve said to my kids as they were growing up, whenever they said, “oh, we’re bored.” I would tease back to them and say “you can’t be bored unless you’re boring.”
And they hated it. They would get so frustrated with me. But what I was trying to say was, it’s okay to be bored. Sit in that boredom for a minute, and then you’re going to get uncomfortable enough to spark some creativity and you come up with something to do. I wanted them to have time to be bored and yet simultaneously I felt guilty that I was supposed to entertain them, that I’m supposed to keep them busy.
It’s not bad to have play dates and other things scheduled. But we don’t need to schedule every minute of every single day. We’ve got to provide that time for our kids to learn to figure things out for themselves.
LETTING OUR KIDS FAIL
This can be such a hard one for us as parents: the idea of allowing our kids to fail. But I think it’s so important for kids to learn to fail a little bit. So if they’re working on a project, let them make mistakes. Try not to be over their shoulder and talk about their sloppy handwriting because I think that’s the only way they’re going to learn how to become more responsible as they grow older. Let them learn responsibility by allowing them to experience the consequences and not always rushing to the rescue. This might mean not running them down with a forgotten backpack, lunchbox, or instrument. If we are always around to pick up the pieces they won’t learn to be responsible. Failing at the little things as kids and as teenagers helps them so much more in the long run.
Don’t rob your kids of experiences to build confidence and to become more self-reliant, capable, and empowered. It’s hard to let go, but it’s so rewarding, both as the parent and as the kid, when they get to accomplish something new and do it on their own.
COMBATING LONELINESS IN OUR KIDS
I was having a conversation with some teenagers recently, and a lot of them are feeling lonely. The good news I guess is that they aren’t alone in that. But if everyone is feeling lonely then someone has to be the brave one and speak up. We can teach our kids to initiate or to be the inviter. I’ll share a quick story about when I was in Jr. High. I was so lonely that I came up with a plan to make friends. I decided to hand out candy each day to kids near me. It was the barrier and buffer I needed. Rather than just going up to a group of people and trying to say hello, I offered someone a piece of my candy. Eventually I had more and more conversations and started new friendships, but I had to be the one to initiate. I was so scared, but I’m so glad I did it.
Sharing stories like this with our kids, or helping them come up with their own candy plan, can help them not feel so alone and empower them to make the first move. In a world where they grew up with moms constantly planning and arranging play dates, it can feel like new territory for them to do it on their own.
HELPING KIDS DEALING WITH ANXIETY
As a pediatrician for over two decades, Dr. Betty-Ann Svendsen has a lot of insight and experience. When I asked her the number one thing we can do to help our kids who might be struggling with anxiety or other behavioral issues, her answer was sleep. Our kids are not getting enough sleep, and while sleep probably isn’t the cause of some of these issues, a lack of sleep certainly isn’t helping. She says that we need to get better at promoting healthy habits for our kids. Going to bed on time, not having screens or phones in their rooms, limits on, or better yet, no social media.
And speaking of phones, she says that as parents we need better habits here too. Putting down our phones when we are with our kids and actually paying attention to them, being engaged with them, can do wonders.
We also need to pay attention to complaints of pain — frequent headaches, stomach issues, etc. Those can be signals of anxiety if everything else checks out okay.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
The biggest and best thing that we can do for our kids is to be available for them and work on having good communication. It means being intentional about creating time and space for that. Family game nights are great, cooking together in the kitchen, inviting one kid at a time to run errands with you for one-on-one time. I know that if I am not intentional about creating time and space for conversations to happen with my kids, that time will get filled up with something else. And it’s usually something much less important.
I’ve also learned that as a parent, I need to be available on their schedule. With teens that usually means later hours. I’m not sure why, but the later it gets the more my teens want to open up and talk. I might want my sleep or my routine, but creating that safe landing spot for them is so important.
Oh gosh, there were so many more amazing tips and insights in this conversation that I feel like I’m just scratching the surface here. If you have the time to go and listen to the full episode, please do.
If you love this episode, please take a moment and leave a five star review and a couple sentences about why you enjoy the Balancing Busy podcast and how you think that it could help others. That helps me so much and it helps your fellow busy humans out there so that they, too, can balance the busy just a little bit better.
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[00:00:00] Leah: Welcome to the Balancing Busy Podcast. Today we’re taking a shift and we’re actually gonna talk more about helping our kids balance the busy, which I’m gonna tell you is going to come back to a lot about us balancing the busy. I am interviewing Dr. Betty Ann Benson. She is a pediatrician of 25 years and a life coach, so we’re getting to learn from someone who.
[00:00:36] Two plus decades of experience watching kids as they grow and, and helping, helping that journey and that process as a pediatrician, but also being a life coach. And I knew immediately that I wanted to talk to her and ask her about balancing the busyness for our kids about. Anxiety, depression, how we can help and support them and what she has seen as the biggest things that are hindering kids today.
[00:01:04] And no surprise, we’re gonna talk about overscheduling. We’re gonna talk about not giving them the opportunity to. do things for themselves, and I share my, my thoughts on, on where we do this, why we do this, where it comes from. This is such a good episode to just help us think about and be more intentional as our roles as parents.
[00:01:26] So let’s jump in. I am so excited for you to hear it. This is Dr. Betty Ann Fenton. Betty Ann, welcome to the Balancing Busy Podcast. I’m so excited to chat with you today. Thanks. I’m so happy to be here. Okay, so I already gave you an intro, but this is just such an amazing treat for us to get to be listening to a pediatrician and a life coach at the same time. And so I’m like, I’m just so excited to pick your brain.
[00:02:00] I feel like there’s so much you can offer to help us as moms, and I’m sure that that’s gonna get sprinkled in there. But what I really wanna focus on, How you can help us, help our kids. So let’s just start this conversation by talking about the busyness that our kids are facing and dealing with, and what I believe we have seen in uprising, in anxiety, in depression, in panic attacks.
[00:02:27] So tell me your experience first as a pediatrician and years. I mean, how long have you been a pediatrician? You, you’re like for like 25. . That’s what I thought. Okay. I remembered that. So, I mean, we’re talking about 25 years of experience working with kids. What, what are you seeing? What are the trends? So
[00:02:45] Betty Ann: I think that we are certainly seeing an increase in anxiety and depression and panic disorder and things like that.
[00:02:54] And I think that there’s so many different. Facets to this. I think that especially with, um, children being overscheduled, a lot of the overscheduling is done by us when they’re little kids and maybe by themselves when they’re bigger kids, certainly covid through a wrench into everything when we have to homeschool our kids, which may or may not have been love.
[00:03:21] Um, not, um, and I think that it’s just, I’m, I’m seeing over the, the past couple of decades, just an increase in, um, both kids and parents just trying to meet up to these, uh, expectations that either society yes, or parents or themselves have put on themselves. And like, I miss seeing kids just play unscheduled, play time.
[00:03:46] We talk about self care for adults all the time, but we don’t talk about it with. So I think that it’s, there’s a lot of overscheduling, too much green time, not enough family time. And so, uh, definitely have seen, um, increases in, in all of those things, both in children and in parents.
[00:04:05] Leah: Oh my gosh, there is so much in here that I wanna unpack so much.
[00:04:10] Okay, so first of all, this idea of self care for our kids that just instantly got all these thoughts going for me. One of the things that, that I’ve, I’ve said to my kids, um, as they were growing up, whenever they said, oh, we’re bored. I would, I would, Teased back to ’em. Uh, you can’t be bored unless you’re boring.
[00:04:33] Right? And they hated it. They would get so frustrated with me. But what I was trying to say was, it’s okay to be bored. Sit in it for a minute, and then you’re going to get uncomfortable enough that you get some creativity and you come up with something. To do and, and so I wanted them to have time to be bored and not feel it all.
[00:04:53] And yet simultaneously there is this guilt of that we’re supposed to entertain them, that we’re supposed to keep them them busy. Even even the idea around that. , my generation was taught that like, I’m a bad mom if I just let my kids go out and play, especially in the front yard. Like that would not be safe.
[00:05:12] That is dangerous. That I, I needed to always, you know, schedule and plan their play dates and, and I orchestrated all these things, but then I’m seeing all these teenagers who are crippled at the idea of making a phone call, right? Having to ask for something. It’s so uncomfortable. We did it all for them.
[00:05:31] Exactly. So, so speak to that for me. Well, I
[00:05:34] Betty Ann: think that, um, when it comes to, you know, little kids and I was a, a working mother, working full-time with four kids, couple years apart, and so that was difficult. So I didn’t really. Overschedule my kids cuz there was no time for me to overschedule them. But I did think that, um, that, you know, play dates and things like that are important both in terms of kids being around other kids and moms being around other moms.
[00:06:02] But not every single hour of every day needs to be scheduled. And I can remember when I was young saying, I’m bored and my mom’s like, bored, go clean your room. And so I think that really. Letting our kids be bored, be creative, unplugging them, being imaginative. And I can remember one of the best Christmas gifts my kids ever got, wasn’t even a gift.
[00:06:24] We had a big appliance and we had the huge cardboard box that my husband and I like set up. And with markers and stuff like that, they had all these gifts and they made it into a spaceship. And we were laughing, going all that drama over Christmas in a cardboard. Was their favorite gift. And so again, I think that you’ve got to let kids, uh, figure things out on their own.
[00:06:47] And it’s also, I think, important for kids to learn to fail a little bit. So if they’ve worked on a project, uh, I was not a big one to do the project for them. I let them make mistakes. I tried not to be over their shoulder and talk about their sloppy handwriting. Because I think that’s the only way they’re going to, to learn how to become more responsible as they grow older.
[00:07:13] And if my kids forgot a backpack or their lunch, I’m like, well, you’ll be a little hungry for a couple of hours. I can’t. Come up and bring you your lunch or bring you your backpack. So when we talk about really trying to get nighttime and morning routine set up, my kids kind of knew what was their responsibility from a fairly early age, and that’s how it was.
[00:07:33] And as a matter of fact, I only have one kid left at home, but I still have on my door leading to the garage, backpack, lunchbox, band instruments, all those kind of things. For one final reminder. But you get to the point where they’ve gotta learn how to do laundry. They’ve gotta learn how to cook, they’ve gotta learn how to, um, well this is kind of old school, but I had to tell my daughter, adult daughter, how to write a check because everything is automatic for them right now.
[00:08:04] Yes. And so I, I, I think that really letting them just fall a little bit. You know, the only way that we learn to walk is to fall, stumble, get. Try it again. Another few steps. And I think that trying to micromanage everything for them is not a healthy thing for children.
[00:08:25] Leah: Okay. So, so I feel like we know that when you say it, like I’m like, She is right.
[00:08:31] I know this and, and I had an interesting experience just last week where, uh, I was flying out to go meet my husband, uh, for a little fun birthday weekend with him. And there were two things that didn’t get done before I had to leave. One was picking up my daughter’s prescription and then there was another one for one of the other kids.
[00:08:51] And so my. Reaction was, I felt bad, you know, maybe guilt, right? Like, oh, I should have made sure that that got done. But it just, it didn’t, the, it wasn’t, uh, the hours didn’t align. And so I told her, okay, you’re gonna have to go get your prescription. And I walked her through what she was gonna need to do and said, you know, you’ve gotta go pick this up.
[00:09:14] And she did that, and she called me when she was done and she was beaming. She was so proud of herself, and so she’s like, I just felt like such an adult. I felt so accomplished, and she did call me right before because she was scared. She’s like, And my, she was at a grocery store, right? So she went to the back and, and, and took care of it there.
[00:09:34] And she’s like, can I just walk out now? Do I have to pay at the, at the, at the checkout too? And I’m like, no, no, you’re done. And she’s like, okay. I just didn’t wanna get like the, I was shoplifting and, and so it was so funny. So, you know, I had to talk her through that part. . And then, you know, she calls me and she’s like, oh, I feel so empowered right now.
[00:09:52] And I just thought about this and, and there’s been, I mean, I could name so many experiences where I almost robbed them of that. Mm-hmm. by doing it for them, but in them doing the thing. They built their confidence, they became more self-reliant and more capable and felt more empowered. So what do you say to all of all of these parents who do feel like, but I’m supposed to do this.
[00:10:17] I’m supposed to do their laundry and make the dinner, and you know, just all the
[00:10:20] Betty Ann: things. What do you say to them? I think that let go of some of that guilt. They’ve got to learn. If they can manage an iPhone, they can certainly manage a hot cold. Uh, thing on the, on the, the washing machine. And sometimes if my kids didn’t have stuff and were digging it out of the hamper.
[00:10:40] Okay. You know, mom, will you wash this? I said, no, it’s, it’s time to go put some fre on it. So I, I, I, I do a lot of humor with my children, but I really think that beginning with, um, little responsibilities around the house and chores, And, um, when I would explain to kids my own children, what’s involved in me making a doctor’s appointment, this is what you’re gonna need.
[00:11:05] You’re gonna need your insurance card. You may need a, um, money to pay that kind of thing. And I think that the, the more you are willing to, um, kind of guide them through this and not be judgemental when they make a mistake, that’s what they’re going to listen. And so it’s nice with adult children to have them say to me, mom, thanks for not saying I told you so, but you were right.
[00:11:32] And my kids know, uh, have and and have I been guilty about doing a lot for them? Yes. Because I wanted it done quickly and right away. Because that’s how my life was. It was easier for me just to do it myself Yes. Than to go through the arguments and the, that’s not fair. And why didn’t you make the other child do it?
[00:11:53] And, and so I think that that’s kind of a common thing for us. Busy moms, we just wanna get it done. But I do. Yes. You know, we used to do Sunday night, um, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which freeze for a week or longer, and we would just make a bunch of. Throw in the freezer. And at the end of the day, so many things that we think are so important to our children, in the end, that’s not what they’re remembering.
[00:12:18] They’re remembering a happy mom, not a mom who was always, get this, come on, get your shoes on, get to the car, do this, you didn’t do this, that, that, that. And so I think that that’s the important thing. That we can pass onto our children, take a little responsibility, make a little bit of laughter at our own mistakes, but just, I think it’s important for them to know what’s really, um, what’s really important and what are little nit peaky things.
[00:12:45] And I think for me, the Covid Pandemic really prioritized a lot of things because two of my college children came home and were living in our house again with two younger children. My husband’s a professor. He was teaching from home and I was still going to work. And so my children put in a garden and learned how to pick.
[00:13:07] These are my college kids, you know, pickle jalapenos, pickle peppers, those things that we would have never done together as a family head covid, not yet. And it also made me realize since everything shut down, how many things with C shutting things down, how many things in my own life really were not.
[00:13:27] Important that I thought, mm, needed to be, you know, 27 birthday parties to go to when kids are little. Well, there were no birthday parties and we did Zoom parties and so I think there was a little silver lining to that for me. Yeah.
[00:13:42] Leah: I, I, I agree. These things that we believed were obligations that we were, we were living under the context of, well, I have to, all of a sudden we didn’t have to, and we realized maybe I never had to.
[00:13:56] Mm-hmm. , I agree. I, I felt like we really learned a lot of those same lessons, so, in helping our kids and, and what I’m hearing really is it’s gonna start with us every time. It’s gonna start with us if we’re mm-hmm. , if we’re gonna help our kids be able to balance their busyness, we need to balance ours. We can’t be so overscheduled that we take over every time because it is faster and easier and it’s, it’s just the go-to that we need to let them fail.
[00:14:30] Can you speak to, to letting, letting our kids fail and, and kind of is there, is there a place to recognize where we do step in and where we don’t? Because especially as they start to get older, it’s easy to believe, oh, all these things are high stakes. I’ve really gotta help with this. This is. This is gonna matter, but, but does it rob them of much, much more by stepping in all the time?
[00:14:55] Betty Ann: No, I think, I think just constant reminders and conversations about what’s important in terms of career and family and, um, you know, spiritual life. And, uh, you know, I, I, I didn’t want my kids to fail in school, like, fail every grade and not ever get into college. But I think that we really stayed on top of knowing what their grades are most of the time.
[00:15:24] They knew what they needed to do to get stuff done. And so I think it was just kind of a gentle nagging that we did with our kids. But again, I remembered working on some projects with my school kids and it’s like, don’t parents do not do this project. And I would walk in and there are PowerPoint presentations and all this other.
[00:15:46] And then, you know, my kids misspelled words on poster board . And so we really just kinda let them figure that out on their own. And the more, um, pride they take in getting a good grade for something that they did on their own, it just fuels everyth.
[00:16:10] Leah: Yeah, so something I, I was just listening to, to uh, uh, actually another podcast.
[00:16:16] It was, um, um, it was talking about generations and how what generations go through will then experience history as they come up and become the leaders and my generat. Can sort of feel like, or, or the ones, the ones behind me, those, we were all raised by, by baby boomers and we’re like, we were left to ourselves.
[00:16:42] Go out and play. If, you know, if we were, if I was caught in the house looking like I wasn’t doing anything, I was either given a chore or sent outside, don’t come back. And so we have. Overcompensated to where we don’t leave our kids alone enough. We’re not giving them enough space. And one of the things I’ve really been thinking about a lot lately is that some of my greatest, what I would consider strengths or attributes, actually came from being left to my own devices, right?
[00:17:14] I was left alone and, and I more than, more than probably normal. . But when I think about, uh, something that I’m, that I’m grateful for is my problem solving skills, my, uh, ingenuity. But that came from, no one was figuring anything out for me. That’s right. No one was helping me. So I better figure out how to solve this on my own.
[00:17:38] Right. Or I think about, you know, stepping into a situation and making friends. I actually had this conversation with teenagers this morning and I was talking with them. , they’re feeling lonely. There’s all of these teenagers and kids who feel so lonely, but guess. , all of you feel lonely. So who’s gonna be the brave one that’s willing to stand up, get outside of their comfort zone and bring everybody together because we think we’re alone on an island.
[00:18:09] But really there’s all these people on this island feeling lonely also, but everybody’s waiting for someone else to do something about it, right? So who’s gonna be that brave soul who does something? And I think about that. I, uh, switched schools right at junior high and I got lost in the shuffle because it was several schools melding in together.
[00:18:32] Everyone just assumed I came from the other school, but I had actually moved. Completely from a private school into public. So I didn’t know anyone. Mm-hmm. . And at first, I, I didn’t know what to do about it. I, it felt so uncomfortable to sit and eat lunch alone at a table where everyone could see that you were alone.
[00:18:50] So I would take my lunch into the bathroom and I ate lunch in the bathroom for, you know, quite a while. Right. Like many, many others have done, and kids today are doing, one of the kids I was talking to, he. I’m noticing that they, that in high school, they’re going to their cars. They eat lunch in their car alone because they don’t want to be seen at that table alone.
[00:19:11] And I, I had this moment where I just said, I’m done. I am done. I want friends. And so I built this entire plan, multi-step plan to make friends. And we had this student. And I looked at all the different candies. I was very methodical about which candy I was gonna use cuz I wanted it to be individually wrapped.
[00:19:30] I was really afraid that if it was, you know, unwrapped and it was in my palm of my hand, people would be like, Ew, gross. You know? And so I knew it couldn’t be Skittles or m and ms that needed to be wrapped. And then I wanted to have as many opportunities as possible. So I settled on Mambas every day. I would take the change outta my dad’s change bowl enough to buy a pack of Mambas.
[00:19:50] I would after school, right after school, run to the student. Buy the Mambas. And then I would just, I would stand around the groups of kids talking these circles that felt very impenetrable. And I would open up the mambas and then I would start to be like, oh, here, I have too many. Do you want some? And I would do this day after day after day, and I, I actually ended up getting known as Mamba girl, which wasn’t quite what I was going for
[00:20:13] But eventually, and it took time. It took work. It was uncomfortable, it was awkward, but even. It did work and I built these, these friendships and, and it made all the difference, but again, I was willing to do these scary things because no one was going to step in and help me. Right. So, so this idea of, of us being willing to, to step back and let our kids fail or let them be uncomfortable or maybe give them the ideas, the tools, work with them.
[00:20:42] I mean, I, I’ve, I’ve definitely. It practiced with my kids. Like, okay, pretend I’m the person. Right. And we’ve role played it out. What have you seen, uh, in your profession with your own kids? Like how can we help, um, our, our kids who are lonely?
[00:21:02] Betty Ann: I think that, um, for one, we need to be, and this is a little bit of a side note, but we need to be really careful about how we talk to our adult friends in front of our children.
[00:21:15] Mm, yes. I often will hear in my office, either parents or parents and friends or whatever, just talking, nagging, griping in front of their kids to me about other stuff. And you really just don’t want your kids to hear that all the time. And so that’s just a little side note, but I,
[00:21:33] Leah: can you give an example?
[00:21:34] Like what would be examples of like what you really don’t want to be passing down and having them here? Um,
[00:21:44] Betty Ann: You know, maybe saying something like, well, my order was wrong at McDonald’s. So when I went up there and I told them they better get this straight and that kind of thing. And it’s like, so, so our children are learning by misbehaving, you get what you want.
[00:21:57] And so a lot of times I’m just amazed at what, what goes on in my office and I’m going, if they’re not even. Um, a little more respectful in front of a pediatrician. What are things like behind closed doors? Mm-hmm. . And so when I have, you know, children in my practice with behavioral problems or issues, a lot of times it’s just really like, what’s going on at home?
[00:22:20] Where is this coming from? And so I think that with the alone part, I hopefully, and my kids were all. Talkers. And so, uh, I think maybe even extroverted children can feel alone at some point in different circles, and especially junior high years to me, are so difficult because they’re not little kids, they’re not high schools, and really they just want to fit in.
[00:22:47] I think that that would be a place. I talk a little bit about getting out of your comfort zone is, is uncomfortable and that’s the only way we’re going to proceed or perceive, um, growth and getting out there and making friends. And so sometimes it’s even, I can remember when my kids were junior high-ish, I’d say, well, we can, why don’t we just invite some people over and you guys can watch TV and, and break your hair, do whatever it is.
[00:23:15] But I think just being honest with our. About, um, the importance of just being kind and open and just even saying, Hey, and my, I was always so proud. My children would say, Hey, there was a new kid in school and we went and sat lunch and ate lunch with them, so they’d have to be alone. And that just makes my mother heart go, oh, you know, and so I think just every day conversations about being a kind human being and that you never know what.
[00:23:49] Children’s circumstances are, you don’t know what their home life is. And a lot of times my house was the house to have everybody over and people would spend the night and I would cook for everybody. And I think that just kind of eavesdropping a little bit on my children, um, as they were growing up.
[00:24:09] Just really being thankful for, for the home life that I. and so many in my practice don’t have a regular home life, and that just is heartbreaking to me. But then I feel like it all trickles down to the children.
[00:24:25] Leah: Yeah, absolutely. So I definitely don’t want to have a pediatrician and a life coach with me today and not ask you about how we can help our kids who are dealing.
[00:24:40] Anxiety, how can we help them through this process? When is the time that we should seek additional help? What are the signs that we should be looking for? Um, and, and how can we help them best
[00:24:56] Betty Ann: at home? Well, you know, we see anxiety in, in children as young as toddlers, and sometimes it’s new sleeping problems or crying every day.
[00:25:05] At daycare or acting out and, and hitting other kids or biting other kids beyond the normal two year olds, let’s bite each other kind of thing. And so it may be sleep problems, like all of a sudden they were good sleepers and now have to sleep in mom and dad’s bed every night. Um, so I think that the toddlers can be difficult because it’s hard to know what’s normal three year old throwing temper tantrum behavior.
[00:25:31] If I’ve got a six year old throwing temper tantrums, there’s something going. And so I look at what is kind of age appropriate and what is not. Um, I think that a lot of, a lot of behavioral problems, kids are not getting enough sleep and, you know, not going to bed and there’s a TV in the room. And so I, I’m just like, bedtime, no TV in the room, no social media, none of that.
[00:25:55] And it’s just getting healthy habits because I, again, I think a. Through across all of the agencies, children are not getting enough sleep. And I think that you take the phone away at night, you take it away and yeah, you, uh, I see children getting phones way too early and my kids were among the later in the group to get phones.
[00:26:18] But I think that, um, making sure they’re getting enough. And also when your kids come to talk to you, put your phone down. If you’re going to watch them at a game, put your phone down. And so I went to one of my son’s basketball games a couple years ago, and every parent was on their phone and I was up there yelling, go, go, go.
[00:26:40] And it’s like, that’s not being engaged with your kids. So I think, um, anxiety could present as behavioral problems. Um mm-hmm. wetting the. Um, difficulty sleeping and behavioral problems both at home and school or either or. Depression, same thing. It may not be, um, oh, I am sad. It could be grades, failing, going in the room, locking the door, saying glued to the phone.
[00:27:10] Um, you know, Complaints of pain. Oh, I’ve got headaches, I have tummy aches. I can’t go to school. So chronic pain to us, you know, once we’ve ruled out the the pathological things that can cause it. When we do this whole big workup and everything’s negative, that’s when we start to delve into what’s really going on.
[00:27:31] And also I think that it’s just nobody tells us as parents how we should talk to our kids. We don’t get taught that we just kind of model after. Who we think are good parents, and I think it’s important for children to know that they can tell their parents anything even though we don’t like it. Like I’ve heard some stuff from my children that I’m like, but the fact that they know that they can still come to me with something.
[00:28:02] Um, really, uh, that’s the biggest thing. It’s really communication and making sure that you are, you know, having an unplugged Sunday or like you said, game night. And sometimes we’d play board games. I, I would just bring up a hypothetical situation, like what would happen if somebody came by and said, your mom can’t pick you up, so I’m gonna come get you.
[00:28:26] That kind of thing. The whole stranger danger. Yeah. But I, I. Um, really that, that there’s so much separateness in the family because of everybody’s busy lives and careers and sports and everything else. There’s not enough time at home. Kids spend not enough time just with their families, and my kids did sports and stuff like that too, but also I, they couldn’t do everything they wanted to.
[00:28:56] And I really wanted them to finish out the season and not quit.
[00:29:02] Leah: Yeah, absolutely. So I’m, I’m really hearing this need to be intentional about creating quality time because here’s the truth, if we’re not intentional about creating that quality time, it will all just get filled. It will Right It. The, the space will be filled, will be filled, the time will go somewhere.
[00:29:23] Why? I, um, was talking about even within the, the holidays, how this need to schedule the family fun, the family moments. First because they will, they will. All the days will get filled up and all of a sudden it’s all gone. And that’s true in our whole life. We have to actually schedule those intentional moments where we can all just be and, and in our family, those have been, um, Not always, but pretty consistently.
[00:29:54] Monday nights are always family night, family dinners, and obviously there’s nights where people have things and it doesn’t work. But for the most part, family dinners, Sunday being a day for family, those those have been where we keep coming back to center and looking at the home as center. That needs to be the refuge and the peaceful place, and when home isn’t that place because schools hectic and it’s crazy and it’s hard and it’s stressful and it’s always new things.
[00:30:24] There has to be the safe place that everyone can come back to, especially our kiddos. It’s just so critical and so important, but it means we really have to think about how we’re gonna do that because it’s, it’s easy to get distracted and sidetrack. What you said about being available for our kids, putting our phones down.
[00:30:46] Something that I’ve really learned is we have to be available when they’re ready. And that is hard. Right? That is really hard. I have learned that teenagers are ready to talk around 9:00 PM at night. Mm-hmm. , and that is when I want to check out. Right? I, I joked my whole, all of my kids growing up, that I’ve never been a good night mom.
[00:31:07] I just wasn’t. And I used to feel so guilty about it, and then I finally realized, I am incredible. Morning mom. Okay. I will sit there, I will chat with you. I will make the breakfast and, and make sure everything’s ready and, and just engaged. Come 7:30 PM and I am like checking out. And so when they were little, my husband, he was, you know, he was the good nighttime parent and I was the good morning parent, right?
[00:31:33] But now I have had to change that because my teenagers, when they wanna start telling me all their problems, everything they’re thinking about and experiencing it is like nine 30 at night, right. I have to like, okay, Leah rally, cuz this is when they need you. Right. So that’s been a really, really interesting thing to recognize is we need to avail, be available when they’re ready.
[00:31:57] And that is not always on our
[00:31:59] Betty Ann: schedule. Right. Right. One thing that we always did is we involved our kids in cooking and we had a lot of interesting conversations around our island while we’re chopping vegetables, you know? Yes. I just keep chopping. Okay, just keep jumping, you know. But I think that, um, you know, the, the, the, now that I have three adult children and one who’s 16, just looking back and, and talking to my kids about the things that I really stressed out about mother.
[00:32:30] Being a mother and everybody had all these, you know, great birthday parties and I’m trying to find if the bowling place is open because I forgot about planning this kind of thing. And you know, my son who’s 22 said, mom, it was never about the parties. It was never about the parties. He said, you always just did stuff and, and I knew you were there and making things.
[00:32:50] But he said, you know what, I just, I was with friends and family. And, um, I don’t know why you got so stressed about it. And I guess it’s just, you know, because it’s the cult comparison comparing to what other kids are doing, what other mothers are having done. And, and you know, I always laugh going, my kids never cared that it was store bought cookies.
[00:33:10] Leah: know? Yeah. You and I have talked about that a lot before.
[00:33:14] Betty Ann: Never had Pinterest perfect cookies. It’s like, oh, Kroger, uh, these are half fries from yesterday, half price. And they, it’s not, it’s not about the, the. You
[00:33:23] Leah: know? Yeah. Yeah. It’s not about, and a lot of those, if we’re being really, really honest, at least for me, if I’m being a hundred percent honest, I am not doing this nearly as much for my kids as I am for myself and the way I want the other parents to see me.
[00:33:38] Right. Right. I want them to think. Wow. Look at her. Mm-hmm. , she sure has it all together and is doing great, but maybe what we really need is to give each other permission to just be real. My sister has this hilarious thing that she says when people come over and her house is a mess, and she said, oh, I just wanted to give you permission to, uh, to be real today.
[00:34:00] Right. And I love that. Right. I love that like, instead of this idea that we need to have it all together so that no one judges us. What if we’re willing to be a little bit more real so that we can give permission to that other mama who is struggling, right? And say, Hey, you know what, the store bought cookies are just fine, right?
[00:34:19] Doing it the simple way is just fine. Making things a little easier, a little less about the things and a little more about the people, right? Is, is that better way to go? Right.
[00:34:32] Betty Ann: I
[00:34:33] Leah: agree. Oh, so, so good.
[00:34:36] . Okay. So, um, okay. Betty Ann, what would you share with us? What are the best things that we can.
[00:34:46] right away right now to help our kids, our teenagers, our young adults, balance the busy. I think that one thing that I would recommend really is trying to keep track of how much time they’re spending on social media, because a lot of the times when my. Personally, oh, I don’t have time. I don’t have time.
[00:35:11] We’ll, you been on that phone for 30 minutes on doing that, so I really would. And you know, as adults we’re also on our phones too much. So I really would work on controlling the, um, the amount of time spent on social media and that will help with some of the busy parts. And don’t feel compelled to sign your children up for 27 different things when they’re four years old.
[00:35:35] Dance and tag football. , all this kind of stuff because really it’s fun. Oh, they like it. They enjoy it. But more things on their plate is more things on your plate, especially if you have more than a couple of kids and one kid is enough. I mean, really busy. I, when my children were little, I limited the birthday parties we could go to on the weekends because they would get three invitations for different people and this and that.
[00:36:02] And so to me it was. Impossible. We always either got a gift and or wrote a card and made a special note, but it was impossible sometimes to have juggle these children and their activities. And my husband and I were like back and forth, back and forth and then, you know, wonder why we were exhausted at the end of the week.
[00:36:22] So we really kind of limited some of the things that we did with our children. And I think that if there’s a change in their behavior, there’s a. And so if they’re normally a nice, happy kid and now they’re snapping out, um, more than usual, as expected for a teenager or slamming doors, staying silent, um, acting guilty about something, really pay attention to these things.
[00:36:49] And, and try not to say, not now. I don’t have the time when your child has questions or concern. At least even if you’re driving the car and they’re bringing up something, just say, let’s pull over and have this talk. Because I think, um, unless we follow up on it, some of these conversations are never gonna happen because more often than not, the child is not gonna follow up with you on the conversation if you don’t follow it up.
[00:37:16] And we used to have regular family. And we would sit down, how are things going? Anybody have something coming up stressful this week? And if the kids started arguing over something, or I think just kind of being a stable united front for, or for single parents, just stable, you know, um, stable person in the room because there’s so much extra stimulus going on for them outside of our little bubble.
[00:37:44] We can’t keep them in a bubble for. But I think letting them know, as you mentioned, that that bubble is always safe and it’s a place to come home to because no matter where they are in their lives and ages and stages, you want the, the, the, the family to be the home. . Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. Some things that, that I found with, you know, being able to make space for those conversations.
[00:38:14] Two things that have helped me is number one. Making time for kids individually. If you have multiple right? Saying, Hey, run with me to the grocery store. Run with me to go run this, Erin, grab one of ’em and pull ’em with you so that you have some time to have those one-on-one conversations so they can talk to you about maybe what they’re having a hard time with.
[00:38:35] Another thing was, Allowing silence in the car. Sure. I very, very frequently did not have music on because then we’re all listening and they couldn’t be looking at their phones and have headphones in or anything like that. Like we were talking together and my favorite thing is listening to books. And so I always wanted us listening to books as a family, which I really enjoyed, but I had to stop myself sometimes and be like, Um, we are not going to listen to the book.
[00:39:00] We’re going to talk to each other, right? Because otherwise, you know, I took that opportunity and yes, it was something I, I like to often ask myself, is this good, better or best? And I would say good is, you know, everybody’s listening to music together. Better in my, in my opinion was, you know, us listening to a book and learning something.
[00:39:20] But best was often me not doing either of those and allowing us to just really talk and have a conversation. So we have to, we have to be, I feel like intentional is the word sure of this episode cuz we have to be intentional about creating those times to, to have those conversations. So when we see this, something is different, this isn’t, you know, this isn’t their normal.
[00:39:45] what, what do we do? Yeah, call your doctor, call your pediatrician or your family medicine doctor and ask for an extended appointment because it’s not gonna be a 15 minute conversation. And, um, you know, a lot of times I will talk to kids separately from parents, no matter the age, and then we’ll bring them back together and have a plan.
[00:40:06] And a lot of times I feel like there’s relief that I’m the, I’m the mediator bringing these things. Because parents may go, oh, you never told us. Well, it’s hard to talk to your parents, but at least if you’ve got somebody that you can talk to that can be the mediator and, um, facilitate the conversation, things go much better that way than when there’s total silence in the room.
[00:40:31] Like I, I like to make sure that there’s follow up for. So, uh, when we leave the room, everybody can, can feel okay about it, but it’s definitely a conversation that you need to have with, you know, a pediatrician, uh, a pastor, a uh, um, another provider. Um, but especially if you think there’s really a mood issue going on with anxiety or depression, for sure.
[00:40:57] So good. Thank you so much for being here today for chatting with us. I am so grateful to you and have just had so much fun working with you the last couple years. Thank you so much. Same here, Leah. Take care.
[00:41:12] I hope that you have enjoyed this episode. As I’m just thinking back about the conversation that I just had with Dr. Betty Ann Benson, some of the things that are really sticking out to me is recommitting myself to being available when my kids are a. To recognizing and looking for the signs for when things are a little bit different and really making that opportunity to just, Hey, we can talk about anything.
[00:41:43] And I feel like that is something we’ve worked really hard to do throughout our kids entire lives. And I think the earlier we can start, the better. But there’s, it’s never too late to start, but that I wanna reaffirm over and over. We’re here, we understand you’re not gonna be perfect. Let’s keep having these conversations and.
[00:42:03] evaluating what’s happening in our family right now and believing and recognizing that I can change things. I can, I can see what’s working and what’s not working, and I can do new things. Something that Betty Ann shared with me not recording, was how her daughter, who’s getting married, she and her fiance were each talking about all their different experiences growing up and that what they as parents model.
[00:42:33] Matters and that she didn’t really think about that when they were little because you know, she was just so busy. We’re so busy. I didn’t think about that enough when my kids were little, but I’m recognizing it now and she’s recognizing it, and so just. Being aware of what we’re modeling, how we talk about people, how we talk about circumstances, how we talk about our kids in front of our kids and to others, the the kind of humans that we want our kids to be.
[00:43:02] They’re gonna, I think they’re gonna pick one of two paths. They’re either gonna try to be the opposite of us or they’re going to model our behavior. And, you know, we’re not perfect. None of us are perfect, but we can always. To be just a little bit better, and that can start now. Whether we are parents of toddlers or we’re grandparents, we can start right now by changing the things that maybe we’re like.
[00:43:28] I don’t know if that was so good. So this episode, I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will share it with, um, Fellow parents on the path who are, are trying to balance the busyness for ourselves and for our kids.
[00:43:42] I will have details for Betty Ann and how you can reach her, especially if you’re interested in life coaching. And she specializes in helping the insanely busy overachievers, the professionals. And so I’ll have all of her information in our show notes. You can find those. Balancing busy.com at leah rela.com/blog.
[00:44:09] Thank you so much. If you love this episode, please take a moment, write this very second, and scroll to where the reviews are. Leave a five star review in a couple sentences about why you enjoy the Balancing Busy podcast and how you think that it could help others. That helps me so much and it. Your fellow busy humans out there so that they too can balance the busy just a little bit better.
[00:44:35] Thank you. Have an amazing day. And remember, you are capable. This is possible. And it all starts with those little needle movers. If we can just make those differences 1% at a time, we truly can live a life that lights us up and we can do the same thing for our kids. I’ll see in the next.HIDE TRANSCRIPT