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Episode summary:

At a time when parents are struggling to keep up with the usual demands of parenting compounded by the pandemic, it’s easy to fall into exhaustion and burnout. In this conversation, Susan and Michele share practical suggestions for reducing overwhelm and building up reserves of energy—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Michele Borba, Ed.D. is an internationally renowned parenting expert recognized for her solution-based strategies to strengthen children’s character and resilience, and reduce peer cruelty. She is has appeared 150 times on the TODAY show and has been featured in TIME, Washington Post, Newsweek, People, Boston Globe, NY Times and many more publications. She has written 24 award-winning books, including UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World and Thrivers: Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine.
micheleborba.com


Things you'll learn from this episode:

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A simple strategy for immediately lightening your load
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How to deliver a believable “No”
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Finding something that helps you rediscover your happy place

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To learn about my Master Class, Beyond Burnout: First Aid For Parents, visit this page.

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Episode Transcript


Speaker 1:
Hello, and welcome to the Parenting Without Power Struggles podcast. I'm your host, Susan Stiffelman. I'm the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles and Parenting with Presence. I'm a marriage and family therapist. And gosh, a mom. I was a teacher. I've done a lot of things in my 40 plus years, doing this work with families. And it is my great joy, my honor, my passion to offer support in this podcast series. You'll get to hear some of the things I've learned from the thousands of families I've worked with over my many, many decades. And the goal is just to help you have more fun, more connection, fewer power struggles. So that's why we're here. That's what we're doing. I've done a bunch of master classes in the past year and a half on every kind of topic known to parents, including chores and overwhelm and siblings, and most recently Raising Thrivers with my illustrious and beloved guests today.

Speaker 1:

Michele Borba. Hi, Dr. Michele  Susan, how are you? I'm well, so Michele and I are going to be teaming up with Leslie Arreola-Hillenbrand and Dr. Mona Dellahooke in a few days to do a masterclass on burnout. And we wanted to just talk today to give you some tips and some suggestions, whether you take the class or not, just to kind of recognize that this is, these are hard times. And even though things seem to be getting a little bit better our goal is really in everything I do to just make it easier and sweeter for you to do the, the amazingly difficult work of parenting. So couple of things, before we get started please visit Susan stifelman.com because you can sign up for the newsletter, get all kinds of free support, guidance, news news and tips. And of course the class classes that I do and please visit Michele's website, which I'm going to tell you in a minute, because I want you to first hear about her because you'll just be so excited that she's here today.

Speaker 1:
And by the way, Michele, I just heard you the other day, I was driving into, into town and put on the doctors and there you were. I thought, wow, I didn't know it was you at first. And I heard this fantastic interview with a parenting person and, you know, I hear some that are like, what are they talking about? And I was so impressed. And then it was my friend Michele Borba. So yeah, I loved that show. It was fantastic. And so I'm so glad you're here with me today. And then of course, as I said, Dr. Mona Delahooke and Leslie Arreola Hillenbrand, and we're going to really kind of do what we do in this space of offering support to parents. But first I want to tell you all about Dr. Michele Borba kind of intimidating, but cool.

Speaker 1:
Cause she's so sweet. Michele, Dr. Michele Borba is a globally recognized educational psychologist and parenting bullying and character expert, whose aim is to strengthen children's empathy and resilience and break the cycle of youth violence. She's delivered keynotes and workshops to over a million participants and authors 24 books. No that have been translated into 14 languages. And you know, she's an NBC contributor has appeared 135 times on the today show Anderson Cooper, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, all of the shows and her newest book, which I have now ordered and have on audio. Michele is Thrivers. Why some kids struggle and others shine that was just released. And I think it's really one of the integrated as one of the most important parenting books ever written. So well done. You, I know that you've been pouring your heart and soul into this work and and it shows, yeah.

Speaker 1:
Thank you. So let's talk about this phenomena that has always been true for parents that has been magnified, this issue of burnout. And of course the term is used loosely for some people. It means that, you know, that condition where you literally can't function. You're so burnt out that you're on medical leave. But what we're talking about is a lighter version of that. Although for some parents, they are hiding under the bed at this very moment, maybe. So, you know, let's just jump in and talk about what it is and a few things at least that parents can, can do about it.

Speaker 2:
Well, I think the first thing is we all can identify it as soon as you heard burnout going. Yep. I feel it. How do you feel about it, Susan? I think we all feel, and if you don't, I think you've been living on our own Antarctica because when uncertainty rises, which has all has, and then we don't have the support systems that we used to have, we don't know what's coming down the pike, we worry about our kids. It just keeps all piling up. And we know that one of the causes of burnout is just unrealistic expectations. So maybe that's the first thing is dial ourself back, give ourselves permission to step back a little bit, because there's a couple of really important reasons. The first is that it's going to impact us and our health. And that then spills over to the thing called our children, who we love dearly. And one of the reasons that we should be worried about burnout is that our kids are picking up our stress. They are picking up our fears and one of the best ways to help our kids get through a tough time is by modeling it. So don't feel guilty. We're all facing it. But the first step to, to feeling out what the solution is, Susan is real easy, realize I've got it. I'm there. I get out, I'm nodding back and forth and you're not alone.

Speaker 1:
Excellent. Because if you're listening to this or if you're watching this honesty is such a powerful tool in our lives. And I love that you brought up expectations because there's a great quote that I heard many, many years ago, lower. Your expectations you'll achieve more.

Speaker 2:
Well, I love that. That should be put on a post-it and we should put that on our bathroom there it's and everybody's going, but everybody else was doing it. So we're okay. Yeah. That's a thing we just keep adding and adding and adding and adding. So maybe the first step to burnout is just taking the pause button and go, what am I adding onto the plate I can get rid of? And if you've just got a couple of things that seems so simplistic, but seriously, if you don't take time for yourself, because that's called compassion one Oh one for you, you'll never be able to feel a little bit or about yourself. So maybe the first step is just pushing, pause and going. Can I cut one thing? One, one simple little thing, even if it's just 30 minutes a week, that's enough to be able to say it again.

Speaker 1:
That's a really good point. Think small, you know, I'm always a fan of taking something enormous and chunking it down into manageable bite-size units. You know, what's the best way to move a mountain. If all you have is a spoon one spoonful at a time, right?

Speaker 2:
So walking billboard, Susan, great quotes on today, that's a great quote. And so we look at it because here's the thing.

Speaker 1:
Children are by nature egocentric. They're not going to look at you and go, you know, mom, you look a little extra tired today. You know, I was going to ask you to make my eggs a little differently, but you know what? These are fine. It doesn't work that way. Especially if a young child or a child who's, you know, somewhat immature. So w part of what stirs us up and sort of fuels this feeling of overwhelm is that we have this longing to be acknowledged and appreciated. Yes. And, and I'm a big fan of reality. You know, here's another quote by my dear friend and colleague and just teacher, really Byron Katie, who says, when you argue with reality, you lose, but only a hundred percent of the time.

Speaker 2:
Yeah. That's it. So if you think that your kids,

Speaker 1:
It should be like, kind of recognizing that, no, I can't take you to the art supply store to get the supplies you forgot to order because I'm really too tired. Haven't you noticed? No, they're probably not going to notice.

Speaker 2:
Tip number two is on another post-it note, right? Say, no. You're okay to say no. It's like too often. We're so worried in this open. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And all the guilt. And we say no, no. Say no to and start putting some boundaries. Because one of the things that causes burnout again is not only the high expectations, but the no boundaries of what we need to put around us to cut the corners, or just come up with a signal. That's nothing more than a handout. And that means I need space. I need space. That'll immediately stop a lot of the friction because you and I know we have a certain number of children who are a little more verbal. And as soon as they see that they want to start arguing with you. You're not, if you don't say anything and just do this, that alone can make a difference.

Speaker 2:
And the kid will get the picture. As long as you're consistent. One mom told me the only way that, that worked for her. So the kid finally realized it. She got a supply of water and magazines, put them in the bathroom with a, do not disturb sign on close the door. And the kid actually asked her, what workshop did you go to? Because he finally figured out I was laughing so hard. It was a two day session that I was doing. I went well. Yeah. But I needed to be consistent to let my kid, my family know, I really meant this,

Speaker 1:
Which raises this issue. Look inside yourself. If this is super hard for you, that's fine. Acknowledge it again. Honesty. So you could acknowledge that feels so counter-intuitive, that feels like I'm not being a good mother. Okay. So where did that story come from? Because it doesn't mean it's true, just because you have a thought in your head doesn't mean it's true. Even if 17 people have repeated it to you, it doesn't mean it's true. Check in with yourself. It true that the greatest service you can be to yourself and your family is to exhaust yourself and to say yes, and drive to the art store, or might it be true that while they may be disappointed, it might actually be a greater gift to them and to you for you to actually claim that space for yourself and say, you know what? I'm I, I get that this is really a pressure on you, sweetheart. I can see how disappointed you'll be, why my answer. And I won't be able to take you and now make sure your voice drops so that that's a period. Not, I won't be able to take you. Okay.

Speaker 2:
It's that question we put on the end, that insecurity statement, statement, period. You know, here's another one I found. Well back to what you're just saying and taking time for ourselves and everything you said, because we put it in our head or we're real good about saying, okay, this is what I'm going to do. When we go to sleep and then push comes to shove. Sometimes we get watered down and we give in. So there was a great study that came out of UC Santa Cruz that found if a woman doesn't work as much for a man. But if a woman finds an accountability partner like a girlfriend or her mother or her aunt or her sister, it doesn't make any difference who it is. And just said, here's what I'm going to try and said that to the other woman, the fabulous thing is you're more likely to stick to it because that now accountability partner calls up and said, so did you do it? And sometimes we just need a little cheerleader to go,

Speaker 1:
Oh my gosh, I love that. You know, I have a membership program and we're building that more and more into the program that everybody has a partner. So wait, now I want to go back to something cause you and I did another podcast and a class. And you know, I just love everything we do together. And your book Thrivers, which is just brand new. It's just so fantastic. Everybody's as I said, loving the, loving the heck out of it. But you talk a lot about this resilience, which we did in the class we did as well. And can, can you sort of make us make a sell for why it's actually beneficial for kids in terms of helping them become Thrivers to get used to you saying, sweetheart, I'm not going to be able to give you that or do that for you.

Speaker 2:
Well, I'm sitting up on this one cause you've just hit my passion one Oh one. I think we need to add resilience building to our parenting agenda because it's the one thing that's going to help us as well as our kids get through some very uncertain times. And so isn't, if it's not a pandemic, something else was coming down the pike. So I think the one myth though, that we all have to break is that resilience is a trait. That's just one trait or it's packaged into DNA. And we can't do anything about it. Once we realize, Hey, we can teach our kids resilience and we can become more resilient ourselves. What's the buy-in well, first it's going to lower your mental health problems. And right now we've got our mental health crisis in the United States. Number two, you want a healthier, happier kid resilience.

Speaker 2:
Add that to the plate. Number three, you're going to be a healthier, happier parent because you're going to have the reserve you need in order to do so. So that's the piece that's so critical. Not mind. It isn't just one thing or one skill. Maybe it's a moment to say what helps you get through it? Because that's what to me a thriver is, it's a kid who goes, I got this and maybe it's another possible moment to say, okay, think back 20 years ago or prior to the pandemic ago or whatever it is and say, what were you doing then that helped you maintain or get through or say I got this and maybe it's yeah, well like maybe you did go with maybe some more spas or whatever, but you can't do those now with their one ordinary little thing that you sort of backlog that you can add to the plate. Because what we discover that was mind-boggling when I was riding Thrivers, is that ordinary things we do. If we do them routinely and we know they work can make extraordinary differences in our lives. It's several things that really can help us get through and it doesn't have to be the highfalutin stuff or the buying one more program or hiring another tutor. It's just finding the ordinary things that are simple and adding those to the plate.

Speaker 1:
That's so important. And sometimes it's just stepping outside of your house for literally a five minute walk. And if you don't feel like walking, cause you're too burnt out, sit on the curb and watch the cars go by. Like I watched a great Ted talk. I should get the link for this and put it in the show notes. About watching clouds. Oh my gosh, this guy who's this British. I don't know if he's a psychologist. He's starting to talk about clouds and how he started a club with people all over the world and their cloud Watchers. And

Speaker 2:
Because chapter five in Thrivers is curiosity. And the big thing I say is let your kids go outside and watch the clouds because it gives them solace and gives them peace though. That's an ordinary thing. The clouds, the dirt, all of those things are just ordinary. Maybe it was the bike rides we used to take or maybe it was the I'm petting the dog. What is it to me? It's a book. I finally went to Costco and bought five. I'm sitting around going, okay, I'm going to just immerse myself back into a novel that I don't have to think about. And that helps me. Yeah, it doesn't mean it's going to help you, but you've got to figure out what your go to and add that to the plate. That's one way you're going to help yourself and your family reduce the burnout. Sorry,

Speaker 1:
Excited about our class. Cause it's going to be you me and two more amazing people to teach it. But in the meantime, everybody who's listening. Take a moment and put it in your phone or jot it on an actual piece of paper with a writing implement. If you're old fashioned, like I am. And think about one thing that you could do this week or today or in the next 48 hours, it just makes you smile. He doesn't really look at burnout. Yes. We could say get more sleep, you know, put your kids to bed early, a lot of other things. And of course we'll explore lots of other options. But the immediate thing, one thing that you could do right away is just think about one thing that makes you smile. That when you think about doing this thing, your, your shoulders drop a little bit, your stomach unclenches and it may seem unrealistic, you know? Oh yeah. What I'd really like to go to do is go to a movie theater all by myself, sit in the dark, eat popcorn and have nobody talking to me and watch a really dumb movie. So maybe that's not an option yet, but maybe you can do that in my bed, in my own bedroom. Maybe you can, you know, literally

Speaker 2:
You gotta, I can find lots of dumb movies, but that'll just give me the solace. Oh, I love that.

Speaker 1:
Call a neighbor. And if you have a pod and do a child swap and listen, one big thing. If you're doing that kind of thing with a relative or friend where you're taking each other's kids or you're able to hire a sitter, do not use that time when your kids are not with you to be productive, I highly recommend not being productive. You know, use it to do something that brings you a smile. That gives you a sense of yourself as a person again. So just

Speaker 2:
Permission to feel and be.

Speaker 1:
Yeah. Permission to feel. I'm a noun and not a burb. Nice. Very nice. Okay. Thank you. Okay. So please tell people about your work, where to find you and all that good stuff.

Speaker 2:
Oh, you're so sweet. My, my website's Michele borba.com. I'm a one L Michele Borba runs with Zorba. There we go. The book that I'm passionate about is Thrivers. It's based on actually...

Speaker 1:
One long career of trying to figure out that answer. And I came upon the nominal science that says this is doable and then came the pandemic. It's dozens of skills that we can teach kids. I don't want you to teach them all just one or two, but the best thing, if you teach your kids those skills, you'll also be learning them yourselves. That's how we all get to help. Thank you. My dear friend, you're just a bright light in the world. And we are a better world because of you. So very grateful to you. And for all of you listening, tuning in watching, please know that it matters that you're investing a little bit of time in growing as a parent, share it. Please share the podcast. If you would like, or this video, please let your friends know. You can visit Susanstiffelman.com to find a whole bunch of master classes on there.

Speaker 1:
And a lot of free podcasts. It's just Susanstiffelman.com/podcast for the catalog of all the other episodes we've done. And as always, if you like the podcast material, please leave a rating or review. It actually really helps us reach more people we're at about a half a million downloads. And it's because people are, you know, one at a time to saying you should listen to this or maybe this would be helpful. So thank you for that. And I think that's it for today, Michele, as always. Thank you, Susan. Last year, I loved talking with you likewise and everybody remember no matter how busy life gets look for those moments of sweetness and joy,

Speaker 1:
Make sure everybody that you check out, susanstiffelman.com, get the newsletter so that you'll get the updates for when Michele and I do an incredible webinar together, where we do some deep dives and take questions and interact with whoever attends, but you can always catch those replays. And Michele, please tell people how to find out more about your work.

Speaker 2:
Oh, thank you. Just Micheleborba.com. It's my website. You will find on there, by the way, an educational discussion guide just for educators. So download it and give it to teachers. Here's how to do this, not in home, but in the classroom. There's ways to order the book, but there's also little teeny videos NBC segments that you can watch to help you find what works for you. That's what I'm trying to really do. It's not one idea. It's fine. The way that you're going to maximize your impact for your child. And that's how we raise strong kids.

Speaker 1:
So take advantage of support. You know, I think one of the hardest things about parenting that they don't tell you is that it's hard. It's hard. It's just so hard. And everybody, as you said, is just tired. A lot of parents are running on fumes and allow yourself to be supported. It doesn't mean you have to do anything different, but just allow yourself to sort of bask in the whatever form it's coming in. And I know Michele that you're one of those people whose heart is so kind of on fire with wanting to see your understanding and all the thousands of conversations you've had with kids and parents over the course of your career to see it reach the people who could so benefit. So bless you. And thank you. Thank you. So again, everybody, Michele borba.com is how you find out more about this wonderful work. And there's so many resources there. So thanks, Michele. Thank you.


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