Back to school can be a difficult time, but especially in 2020. Lots of decisions to make, or maybe all your decisions are being made for you and your living children.
Then you add in the pain of missing a little student and it can be tough.
In today’s episode we’re going to talk about back to school and how learning to let go of perfection and move ahead with “good enough” is going to bring you so much freedom and results you didn’t even imagine!
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Music provided by ZingDog / Pond5
Hey everybody, and welcome to episode 36. We had a busy week. My little Rainbow baby turned three and we had a party for him.
We’ve had a few Corona birthdays, and so we just kept it really small. We got a lot of balloons. We had an ice cream cake, and it was wonderful to celebrate him and think about three years ago and everything that I went through to bring him into the world, which is a whole other story, but. Going through a high risk pregnancy and having to be induced at 35 weeks was really, really terrifying.
And I’m just thinking now how grateful I am that even though it was really hard that we did it and he’s here and he’s part of our family and I’m really grateful for amazing doctors and just all the things that worked out to get him here safely. ’cause I think there were lots of times where. It was an option that that wasn’t gonna happen.
So I’m just really grateful for him and that’s kind of what we’ve been doing this week. We’ve also had back to school, um, my kids started a little while ago. I think this was our first full week and we’re doing in-person school. It’s going pretty good so far, but I’ve noticed so many back to school posts online and I know that.
This can be a really tough time for those of us who don’t have all our children with us. So I wanna know, how are you feeling? It’s really important to write this down and do an entire thought download. Just write down everything on paper about how you’re feeling about back to school and even write.
What grade would your child be in? What would they be doing? What do you feel like you’re missing out on? Maybe what do you think they’d wear on the first day of school or what would they be into? A lot of times we kind of ask these questions to ourselves and it causes a lot of pain because we don’t answer them.
But it can be a really great exercise to just imagine it. Let yourself. Go there. Let yourself think about your child and what they would be like, and just come up with something that gives you a little bit more of a concrete picture. And I think that it really can connect you to your child instead of feeling that hole in your heart getting bigger.
You can just feel some warmth come into your heart when you allow yourself to do this. And I wanted to tell you a little bit about a few years ago, It was the beginning of the year, so we kind of passed the new year, and I started feeling this heaviness coming to me, and I couldn’t put my finger on where it was coming from.
There was just this heaviness. But as time went on, I realized that kindergarten registration was coming up, and this would’ve been the year that Lauren would’ve gone to kindergarten. And I finally put two and two together. It was kind of tough, like I just, it was one of those times where the grief was just under the surface all the time.
It was always there, but I just let it be there and sometimes I cried. I remember kind of getting the letter in the mail from, or getting the letter from the school, just the note, this is the date we’re gonna have kindergarten registration in the spring, and just being really sad about it. But I also had an idea to get her a backpack and what I had done for every one of my kids when they.
We’re going into kindergarten was we got them an lll bean backpack. And this isn’t an advertisement for them, but they are like the greatest quality backpacks and they’re not that much more than like a department store backpack and they last forever. Like the zippers never break. They’re awesome and you can get their names monogrammed on them or their initials embroidered it’s.
Awesome. So I just decided I’m gonna get Lauren a backpack and I got on the computer and they happened to have this perfect butterfly fabric and butterflies are something we really associate with Lauren. So we got this backpack and ordered it and got her name on it. And. It was back ordered, so it wasn’t going to show up for a while.
And I thought, well, it really doesn’t matter. Like we have tons of time before school, plus she’s not really gonna wear it, so it doesn’t matter. It was the perfect thing. And what happened between when I ordered that backpack and kindergarten registration day until later on that year when the backpack did come, I had just allowed that pain to be there.
And it was definitely. Not as strong. And even when the first day of school came around, I was okay because I’d already allowed so much pain. Like I’d allowed the clean pain to be there. I’d allowed myself to miss her. I’d allowed myself to be sad that. This milestone was bringing up emotions for me. When your baby dies, you’re kind of doing the counting how many months they should be, or how far along you would be, or when your due date is, or their first Christmas.
They’re not there, but as they get older, as you get farther out, there’s not as many milestones, and I think that’s why kindergarten can hit us hard or preschool or whatever. It’s, it’s another reminder of. Where they might have been, but it’s okay. Like it’s okay that those reminders might trigger some emotions.
Just let the emotions be there. And then getting her that backpack, that was me allowing myself to mother, my dead child and doing the thing for her that I would do for all my other kids. And so that’s a few things that helped me, and I hope they’ll help you. To understand that I’m not saying buy your kids a bunch of school supplies or a backpack or whatever, and that’ll make you feel better because our actions.
Never create our feelings. It’s always our thoughts, right? So just look at what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, and give yourself a little bit of space to process through all of that, and then be confident about whatever you decide to do. I actually ended up posting about the backpack on Facebook and just talking about Lauren and how she would’ve been in kindergarten and just like sharing about her just like I would have for my living kids, right?
They get back to school pictures. I was able to talk about Lauren and I was able to be confident in that, and I think it’s a great thing to do because it was great for me and it also just helps other people see that we still love and care about our children even when they’re not with us. So, If you’re feeling down about back to school, definitely just take care of you.
Be gentle with yourself, and it’s okay to be a little bit sad, but just recognize where it’s coming from and that you do always have a choice of how you feel. If it’s really hard though, if these back to school pictures are just triggering or you’re overwhelmed, With whatever school your living kids are doing, whether it’s online homeschooling, half and half different days, and the fact that it might change at any moment, as we know, just take a little time for you.
Make a list of what’s most important to you right now and why, and then decide how you want to show up and make it happen. All you need to do is figure out the results you want and how you’re gonna get there. What would you need to feel to create it and what would you need to be thinking to feel that way?
If you are really in the thick of it right now, start small. Something like it’s possible. I can totally handle this. It’s possible. I won’t feel this way forever. I’m becoming a person who knows how to homeschool. I am becoming a person who can manage my schedule or whatever thought is gonna get you a little bit closer to what you wanna be doing.
But if you really are struggling to get there on your own, scroll down in the show notes or go to smooth stones coaching.com and sign up for a free 30 minute session. You do not have to struggle alone. You deserve to have someone teach you how to manage times like these. If your kid was struggling, you would totally get them a tutor or some extra help.
Do it for yourself. A coach helps you feel so much better so you can be the mom you want to be. I have a few spots left to start this fall, but they are going quickly. So if you’ve been thinking about it, definitely jump right on as we go into a new school year and a very unique one at that. I thought this was a perfect time to talk about loosening a bit of our grip on perfectionism.
Now, some of you listening probably identify as a perfectionist and it could be a good thing for you, something you are really proud of. Or it may be something that you see as a problem for the rest of us. We may not ever call ourselves that because, uh, look around. We are not perfect. We have an idea of what perfectionists look like, and it’s for sure not us.
No beautiful white clean house kids that are dressed in the sweetest clothing, easy breezy, effortless hair, Pinterest parties, and you fill in the blanks for whatever you imagine a perfectionist looks like. We all have a vision in our head. About what our life would be like if we had it a little more together.
And there’s nothing wrong with striving to become better. That’s what we’re here to do. But we have to be careful with what we are seeing as better because so many times this vision in our head really holds us back. The desire to do a great job paralyzes us and we end up doing nothing, and then we spend a lot of time and energy being mad at ourselves or making plans that we never follow through on.
I’m gonna give you a few examples. My oldest daughter was preparing to take the a c t last year. The teachers and everyone at the school were doing everything they could to help the kids do their best on this test. The importance of a good score was ingrained in everything. I think from the time kids are very young, they’re taught that these big standardized tests at the end of high school are pivotal to their success.
Not just in college, but in life, right? Like if you don’t get a good score, you’re probably gonna end up in a van down by the river. Do you remember this time? How did you feel on test day and all the time leading up to it? I remember worrying myself sick the day of our big test when I was in high school and I was a good student, but it was scary because of the pressure put on us to do our best.
And so many kids do not show up as well as they could because of this. First, there’s stress and miserable getting ready, and then they are stressed taking the test. Then they are stressed, waiting for the results, wondering who got the top score and if they’ll be able to get scholarships or get into the school they want.
Not a fun experience for anyone that I know and not ideal conditions to succeed. Let’s say you have a closet or a room right now that needs some attention. It’s been piling up with stuff and you know it’s time to clean it. I’m guessing you can come up with a project like this right now. Today, mine is my car.
I blame the children, but my goodness, it gets so full of things. So fast, and it’s been on my to-do list for a while. Every time I get in the car, I’m like, oh, I need to clean this car. But when we want to get it completely done from top to bottom and go through and get rid of things and maybe redecorate and organize so it never becomes a mess again, or we think we should, Marie Kondo something, it feels really overwhelming.
Right. So for me, in the car it’s cleaning it top to bottom, organizing it, vacuuming it, wiping it, like detailing it, washing out the cup holders from whatever sticky things are in there, all of that. So we end up just shutting the door and leaving it, or we’re watching Marie on Netflix, hoping for some inspiration and motivation, and we do not get it cleaned up.
And we usually spend a whole lot of energy wishing we were different, more organized, more on top of things. So now we have a mess and we feel like crap. This is perfectionism and all or nothing. Thinking like, if we can’t give it hours of time and get it completely done, then we might as well not start.
We just spin over and over. Completely stuck. Or maybe you have a goal, something you want to do, go back to school, start a business, or do a charity event in honor of your baby. You want to do a great job and you want to succeed, and you want to know now that you’ll be guaranteed that result. Our brain is not helpful in these cases.
It lies to us. It brings out all those things we’ve been taught, like if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. It hates any kind of failure. Failure is scary and dangerous. It does not wanna expend any energy. Primitive brain is all about conserving energy, so it’s gonna come up with all the reasons to keep you from trying, like you don’t have time or it’s too hard.
It compares you to other people who are making it and shows you that you could never be like them. But we don’t usually recognize all of this. What it looks like on the outside is spending a lot of time researching and preparing, asking other people’s opinions and dreaming. It’s staying, indecision, never choosing because we are afraid of making the wrong choice.
It looks a lot like getting distracted and blaming our inaction on the circumstances in our lives, and it definitely focuses a lot of our attention on what other people are doing and what other people will think rather than on our own goals. I want you to take a second and answer this question. What’s one thing you really want to do and then ask yourself why you haven’t done it yet?
Write it all down. Just let those reasons flow out of you. We all have a bunch of excuses that we like to use on the regular. Mine is usually my living kids. There are a lot of them, and life is busy. It’s super easy to blame my inaction on them. Or just time for so many of us. We are busy, but we’re not really doing the things we want to be getting done.
Okay, so do you see the problem and can you see a few areas in your life where this kind of perfectionism is keeping you stuck? That’s where learning to put in a B minus effort is going to be life-changing for you, and I am not kidding about that, but you have to be willing to retrain everything you’ve been taught up until now, because for 99% of us.
We want that a B minus is not good enough. But the truth is that A is like a roadblock to getting what we truly desire. So be gentle with yourself. Don’t be mad because we all have this in us to some degree, but I also want you to really push yourself a little. It is gonna take some practice to allow yourself to show up at a B minus and drop all the drama about it not being good enough.
Our new model will be something like, done is better than perfect. I can do anything for 15 minutes. And B minus work moves me forward. If you’re listening right now and thinking, no way, I can’t, B minus is not okay. Tell your brain to be quiet and listen, because I guarantee this is showing up for you in multiple areas of your life, but let’s just pick one and get started.
It can be something really small or it can be a bigger goal you thought of earlier. If you were just going to get going and you didn’t have to do it perfectly, what would you do and how would it feel to take that step? How much mental and emotional energy could you free up if you just decided to do it?
And on the other side of the coin, maybe you have something you don’t want to do, but you keep thinking you should. What if you just decided B minus was good enough? Like maybe the state of your house on most days. So many of us have so much shame around it not being completely clean all the time. Or perhaps you have baskets of laundry you need to fold and you feel terrible about it every day.
Or there are some home improvement projects that need to be done and they aren’t done yet. And maybe this even keeps you from doing things like having friends over or letting visitors pass the front room. What if you decided that it’s okay? It’s a bit messy and it looks like people actually live there.
Or if your blinds are dated, what if you just expect your kids will leave shoes where they shouldn’t and not always get their plate in the dishwasher? What if it’s okay to start letting other people in the house? Do their own laundry even though it’s not going to be done the way you would do it. And what if you value connection and peace over a perfectly organized house?
Now most people who hear this will think, no way. If I just didn’t care as much, things would get out of control. But the opposite happens because all that energy you were spending on wishing things were different now can be spent loving your home and your family just the way they are. You can also love yourself so much more.
And when we are loving and kind to ourselves, we just put on some music and get that laundry folded, or we dance in the kitchen just for fun with our kids. No drama necessary. When we embrace B minus work, we will start that podcast or that blog. Knowing it will be a bit shaky at first, but it doesn’t have to be perfect to bless lives.
You have so much to give. I know that because you are here. And you want to heal and help others, you want to have hope for the future. Let go of the need to do it right and the need to not mess up, allowing for mistakes and failure and all kinds of possible negative emotions will open up everything. And I want you to look at what you expect out of your family as well.
What message are you giving your kids? You might not even notice you’re doing it, but pay attention. Teaching our kids it’s okay to fail is one of the best gifts we can give them because the rest of the world is telling them it has to be straight a’s all the time, which is a huge part of why I think there is so much anxiety in young people.
They’re so afraid of failing because they’ve never experienced it. Allowing your spouse to be a flawed human who leaves his socks balled up when he takes him off, will do wonders for your relationship, allowing yourself to be flawed as well, and to love yourself anyway. And this goes for grief too. I see so many people who have an idea of how their grief should be.
We have a picture in our heads. We’ve created ourselves, or we have people around us telling us their ideas, and we believe there is a right way. So we spend so much energy wanting it to be different or better. And this is for sure going to be subconscious, you guys, especially when you’re still really hurting or in the fog of early grief, things are very tender and everything hurts.
And we think if we could just figure this out, the pain would go away. But what if you just let yourself be a B minus griever? What if some days you don’t get dressed and you still cry in the shower and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you? What if you aren’t handling Corona and everything else that is 2020 the way you hoped?
But you’re still doing slightly better than a C. In fact, C is satisfactory. And satisfactory sounds like a lot less pressure because the truth is we’re all just making this stuff up in our heads. So stop telling yourself it’s not okay to be struggling with back to school. I’m seeing this all over Instagram right now.
B minus grief still gets knocked down by waves, but it just keeps going. If you are pregnant after a loss, B minus is going to be everything for you. You can’t buy anything for the baby. Not a problem. You will scared every single appointment. Not a big deal. Can’t bring yourself to take a bunk picture.
That’s okay. Can’t get off the couch, and your kids are just on their iPads all day. I’d say you’re doing a B minus job of handling life and you can be proud of that. B minus means embracing life as it is and moving forward. I would not be recording this podcast or helping my clients if I didn’t do a ton of work on believing that it was okay to not be perfect at first.
And I hope in my imperfection, I have helped you in some way. And today I want to tell you that if you want to move forward, stop waiting for the day when you can have all the time and the skills you need. You just have to get started. I’m gonna clean up my car at a B minus and I’m gonna post it on Instagram.
If you aren’t following me, get over there at Amy. Do Smooth Stones coaching. Posting a picture of my messy car sounds terrifying and that’s why I’m gonna do it because it’s okay to be real mamas. It’s okay to worry about what people might think. Some people are gonna judge you no matter what you do, so you might as well just do whatever you want.
And this is another way that wanting to be perfect or to have that a plus mentality really holds us back from giving and serving in the world. Whether that means your small world in your home or out in your job, or something bigger when we’re focused on ourselves and being perfect. That’s all we can see.
It’s really self-centered and it really stops us and blocks us from doing what we could do. So if you have something you wanna do out in the world, you gotta just be okay with letting your B minus light shine out there and just go for it. Don’t let the fear of not, of not doing things perfectly hold you back, stop thinking you don’t know enough, or you aren’t ready.
Stop beating yourself up for supposed shortcomings. Love you, embrace you, and I can’t wait to see what you can do. And I have to tell you, I’m so excited. I was asked to speak at a online conference called Parents Who Know, and it’s gonna be an amazing lineup of speakers and it’s actually. Free to watch, and it’s gonna be in September 16th, the 18th.
And I’m gonna put a link in the show notes if you want to check out this conference. It’s gonna be amazing, and I’m so excited to talk about helping your kids through the tough stuff. So check that out and we’ll see you next time.