#198: Relieving the Mental Load of Sports Parenting + Teaching Athletes Responsibility w/ Sam Kelly

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Do you feel like the mental load of just getting your kids ready for their sports practice is already weighing you down?

In this episode, we feature a special guest, Sam Kelly, a therapist turned feminist coach for mothers.

As a therapist, Sam specializes in lightening the mental load and empowering children to take proactive roles in the household. Her unique approach offers invaluable insights for moms, particularly those navigating the challenges of parenting young athletes.

First things first: What is mental load?

We need to be on the same level of understanding of what mental load is.

In this conversation, Sam sheds light on the concept of the “mental load” and the invisible labor that moms, especially sports moms, carry daily.

It’s not just about driving kids to be proactive; it’s about anticipating every detail, from packing bags to managing the schedules just to ensure smooth operations.

This unseen work often goes unnoticed but is very crucial for maintaining household harmony and supporting children’s hobbies and daily activities.

What then can moms do to start empowering their kids by reducing their mental load?

Here are the six principles of teaching our kids to be responsible:

1.       Teach our kids to notice stuff at home.

Instead of shouldering the entire burden of getting things done all by yourself, Sam encourages moms to empower their children to recognize and address household needs independently.

It’s about teaching them to notice what needs to be done and take proactive steps, rather than defaulting to “Mom’s got it.”

The process of teaching our kids to simply notice could take time. But when they establish that sense of responsibility and independence, we can actually cultivate self-reliant individuals who could make great and meaningful contributions to the family.

2.       Implement the two-part approach.

The noticing is part of a two-part approach to teaching our kids a sense of responsibility at home.

As you teach your children to notice tasks that need to be accomplished at home, you also need to follow that up with proactive action to carry that action out.

It is very important for moms to remember that these skills are learnable. Your kids can definitely learn it. But this requires intentional, age-appropriate instruction.

By breaking down tasks into concrete steps and explaining the deeper impact, parents can foster independence effectively.

3.       Set your kid up for success.

Teaching our kids to gain a sense of responsibility at home could pose a challenge to our parenting style. One reality that we need to recognize is that our kids could fail. How do we handle that?

Sam also talks about the importance of setting our kids up for success. How do we achieve that?

To ensure success, parents must provide support tailored to their child’s needs. Whether it’s gentle reminders or open-ended questions, the goal is to guide children towards self-sufficiency even if it’s on a step-by-step process.

When you highlight their learning experience and celebrate their achievements, you can build up their confidence and motivation. Our kids need to see that they are in a supportive environment where they feel empowered to take initiative and learn from both successes and failures.

4.       Embrace the learning process.

There is no quick fix when teaching something new to our kids. This is like them practicing in their game every day.

If you want your kid to share the mental load with you at home, you have to remember that this is going to be a journey. As parents, we must allow our kids to experience both successes and failures along the way.

As Sam shares, this is how we empower our kids. It’s about equipping them to take ownership of their responsibilities and learn from their mistakes. By reframing challenges as opportunities for growth and resilience, parents can foster a growth mindset in their children. Encouraging them to reflect on their experiences and identify strategies for improvement promotes self-awareness and self-efficacy.

5.       Learn to Navigate Parental Triggers

As sports parents, we could also struggle with triggers when our kids fail to meet expectations, especially in this journey of building their sense of responsibility at home.

Sam emphasizes the importance of reframing these moments and focusing on empowerment rather than nagging. She calls this practice as neutralizing reminders.

Instead of nagging, we can foster a more supportive environment for our kids’ growth when we neutralize reminders instead. This means that we give them reminders at home in a positive and constructive way.

As we model patience, empathy, and resilience, we can cultivate healthy communication and mutual respect within the family.

6.       Implement the “Big Three”

In this episode, Sam also introduces the concept of the “big three”. This is when we allow our kids to perform those daily tasks that they can easily manage.

It’s a good way to start them to feel empowered about their sense of responsibility because they are doing something that is within their own age-appropriate capacity. An example of these tasks would be making their beds, unloading the dishwasher, or completing other household chores.

These simple responsibilities promote independence and accountability. The goal is simply to let them finish two consistent tasks at home every day. And then the third task could be anything they notice that needs to be done.

These tasks then need to be incorporated into their daily routines. When these are already routines, we can instill good habits and foster a sense of contribution in their children.

The completion of the “Big Three” builds a sense of pride and responsibility in our athlete daughters for their actions and contributions to the family.

The Bottomline

So, can you already envision your kids achieving all these at home? Are you already seeing yourself with a lesser mental load than before?

Sam’s insights offer a transformative approach to parenting, particularly for us sports moms juggling multiple responsibilities. By empowering our athlete daughters to share the mental load, we can also alleviate stress, foster independence, and strengthen the family dynamics.

At the end of the day, it’s not just about lightening the load; it’s about nurturing a generation of proactive, empowered individuals.

Come hang out with Sam on social @‌samkelly_world and learn more about working with her below!

Free Guide to teach your kids how to “Notice and Do” at home

Waitlist for Little Cycle-Breakers audio course

For Guest Interview Email: heyheysamkelly@gmail.com

Episode Highlights: 

[1:58:00] Is the mental load of being a sports mom weighing you down? Would you like to reduce this mental load? In this episode, therapist-turned-feminist Sam Kelly shows us how moms could also lighten our mental load while empowering our kids to be proactive contributors in the home. 

[03:39:00] What is the invisible labor that sports moms carry; and why is this happening? Listen in as Sam helps us understand what invisible labor is and how we can help empower our kids without nagging them to do the things that we know they’re capable of doing.

[9:22:25] There’s a two-part approach to teaching our kids to be proactive contributors at home. In this episode, Sam teaches us her process of noticing what’s to be done and getting them to do it instead of just defaulting to “Mom’s got it!”

[10:07:07] The burning question that moms like us would ask is this: Can our kids really do this? Tune in to this episode as Sam discusses the principles of why our kids can be taught, why this skill is learnable for all kids, and what you can do to get them to practice these.

[12:04:95] Talking to our athlete daughters about the WHY of giving them the opportunity to age-appropriately contribute in the chores at home could be very powerful. This podcast introduces us to how we could get into that level of deeper conversation on discovering the WHY.

[16:26:00] Are there any simple and easy steps that our athlete kids can get started with when it comes to building up their sense of contributing to the tasks at home? In this episode, Sam breaks down these steps so that we could actually set our kids up for success.

[18:05:51] Did you know that giving your kids an opportunity to fail is also helping them to be responsible? But how do we do that without resorting to taking on the task ourselves? That’s what Sam talks about in this episode so make sure that you tune in.

[24:16:50] How do moms handle the possibility of nagging their kids? Tune in as Sam makes a clear distinction between nagging and neutralizing our reminders to help empower our athlete daughters. 

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