Camp Magic: Turn Guilt & Self-Blame Into Better Decisions

This morning was a “mom-fail”, as I so lovingly call them. Not because I believe that I am a bad mother by any means, but because I’d rather laugh at myself than take mornings like these too seriously.

It was one of those mornings when I swear the allotted use of the word “Mom” that my daughter gets each day was used up by 7:05 am.

It seemed like everything I have taught her about being a self-reliant and capable five-year-old (get dressed, brush your teeth, wipe your own bottom) had completely fallen on deaf ears.

I could feel my patience wearing thin.

“Mom, why do we HAVE to brush my hair every day” she whined.

“Because I said so” I heard myself say. Strike one.

I found myself making her bed for her because I just couldn’t bear the 17 times I would have to repeat myself to get her to make it herself. Strike two.

And finally, “Mom, why can’t you walk me to school today? Why do you ALWAYS have to work?”. To which I actually said (are you ready for this?):

“Honey, who do you think pays for that unicorn sweatshirt that you have on? I have to work to make money for those things that you want”.

Good grief. I’ve turned into a version of myself that I swore I’d never be. Who actually says those things?

The good news is that after I ushered my sweet girl out the door I was able to reflect and laugh about my “mom-fail”.

I don’t take mornings like this, or myself in general, all that seriously. It makes it easier to look back and think about what I would have liked to have done differently.

That way, I’m actually doing things in much the same ways that we teach the teenagers at our weight loss camp in California.

Lessons from our weight loss camp

1. First, slow down and don’t engage in negative self-talk

Beating ourselves up definitely makes us feel worse, and it doesn’t make anything better. In fact, it distracts me from what really matters to me — being there in the best, most present way possible for my daughter.

2. Then, look at options for seeing the situation differently

In my case, instead of telling her “because I said so”, when she asked about her hair I could have taken the time to acknowledge that she doesn’t like her hair being brushed because the tangles hurt.

I would have explained that when tangles build up in your hair it makes them worse and harder to brush out, so we need to brush it every day.

Instead of telling her who has to work to make money for her sweatshirt (seriously, did I say that out loud?), I would have bent down and told her I hear her when she says she wants me to walk her to school.

I would have told her I love walking her to school and that I too was disappointed that we couldn’t do that today.

Our kids can be such great mirrors if we let them.

It was my own guilt about not being able to walk her to school that caused me to respond to her in such a ridiculous manner.

And only by laughing about it and not judging myself was I able to look inside with grace and gratitude and ask how I’d like to do it differently next time around.

This was an important adult version of the growth mindset that we teach our kids at our Empowered Wellness weight loss camp for teens in California.

We focus on skipping guilt trips when you make decisions you regret. Instead, we practice how to see the experience clearly, how to learn from it, and how to plan for a different behavior next time.

It works!

3. Practice choosing how you’ll react

At any point in time, we can choose how we react to something we didn’t like. And the more we practice knowing we have this choice, the easier it becomes to see that we do.

If you’re trying hard to model healthy choices for your family — but today you grabbed a cookie off the desk next to yours, or you skipped walking the dog and had the kids do it — slow down. Skip the negative self-talk.

Ask yourself how you can see the situation differently. What will you do differently next time?

On my part, I’ll report back here and let you know how it goes!