Shame, Mom Guilt & Burnout: Rewiring Your Brain to Find Balance & Happiness in Motherhood
EPISODE: 42 | DATE: May 13, 2021
“Moms don’t have time for anymore. They just don’t. We’re all exhausted. We’re all trying our best. We’re all placing such incredible amounts of pressure on ourselves to show up in certain ways and be certain things for every single person in our life.”
Brooke’s Origin story
- Brooke Weinstein is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy and a coach for busy moms.
- Her mission is to help mamas fall in love with their lives again.
- Brooke is a mother herself to two children, both of whom were born prematurely.
- She ran a thriving Occupational Therapy practice specializing in pediatrics in New Orleans for over a decade.
- She gave up her practice to move to Texas and to become a stay at home mom for almost 2 years.
Why the switch from occupational therapist to being a coach for busy moms?
- Brooke soon realized that – both as a working mother and as a stay at home mother – that she was burnt out.
- She recognized this not just from a personal level, but also from a neuroscience level.
- Given her training and education as an Occupational therapist, she recognized that most mothers are operating constantly in sensory overload.
- As such, most mothers are living in a state of fight or flight most of the time.
What is the process for coaching busy moms?
- It takes 62 days to rewire the brain.
- Brooke works with mothers to learn how to regulate their emotions, to recognize what’s coming up for them and what are their triggers, and to essentially reparent themselves.
- She has one on one sessions with her clients over Zoom once a week, but she encourages unlimited back and forth on a daily basis over a messenger app where moms can express their emotions to Brooke in real time so that they can begin to rewire the brain.
- The first step is to look at how the mom grew up and what societal and familial beliefs were put on her. This helps her understand how she’s operating right now.
- Brooke then helps mothers recognize how they are feeling, what is coming up in their bodies and what they need.
- Brooke teaches moms how to take ownership of their feelings.
- She teaches mom how to identify what feelings feel like in their bodies: butterflies? Clenched jaws? Tense shoulders?
- Then Brooke helps moms be able to verbalize their needs to their partners, and to release the guilt and shame around verbalizing those needs.
- What Brooke is really doing is helping moms take care of their sensory system.
What is the difference between what you do and what a therapist does?
- You see your therapist once or twice a week for however long – usually an hour – and then you go back into your day to day life.
- Where the rewiring comes is actually in the day to day stuff. That is why Brooke has her clients on a messenger app with unlimited communication, because it’s in the day to day moments where the rewiring happens. So rather than just seeing her clients once a week, Brooke is able to take her clients further by helping them in real time as challenging moments happen.
- That’s the difference between what she does and regular therapy.
Are mothers operating on sensory overload?
- Yes, and most of them don’t even realize that they are.
- Most mothers shame and guilt themselves for whatever reason and they truly believe it’s their fault, that they should do and be better.
- There is an immense amount of pressure on women these days to be everything to everyone.
The Burnout cycle
- As moms, we get stuck in doing and being everything to everyone. We put impossible expectations on ourselves and at the end of the day, we’re just burnt out.
- But we get up the next morning vowing to “do better” instead of addressing how to regulate and support ourselves and then we get stuck in the cycle all over again.
- By continuing to ignore our feelings and what we need, we become grumpy and we snap at our children, and then we feel guilt and shame for snapping.
- We need to recognize the cycle and do something to break it.
How do you break out of the burnout cycle?
- We pay attention.
- We ask: What is going on here? What is going on with me? How do I take care of me right now? What do I need? Why did I snap when I did? Was there too much going on? Were the lights too bright? Was there too much noise? Am I just exhausted?
- Just figure out what exactly is going on for you and then figure out what you need.
- And then, take care of yourself. Without the guilt and the shame.
Modeling emotions for your children
- We don’t have to be the perfect parents all the time, and we’re not going to be.
- We are human. We get angry and sad and all the things. And when we do, we can talk to our children about it.
- For example, if you’re angry and you snapped at your children, you can say to your child, “Mommy was on red. I was so angry. How did that make you feel?
- That gives them the power of explaining how that made them feel rather than you apologizing and saying you shouldn’t have gotten angry in the first place.
How coaching moms translates into parenting
- By having open conversations with our children about the emotions that come up for us, we are effectively teaching our children how to be emotionally intelligent because we’re giving them opportunities to speak about how they are feeling.
- One day they will get bullied on the playground – or life will present them with a challenge – and they will be able to verbalize what they are feeling without feeling shame and guilt for those feelings.
How children regulate themselves
- Having spent over a decade working with children with autism, ADHD and sensory processing issues, Brooke has come to realize that we have been too quick to put labels on our children.
- Society has placed many labels on children, and it has also put in place many structures that aren’t serving a child’s developing brain.
- For example, sitting for long periods of time is school isn’t natural to a growing child. Children need to move. A lot.
- Society says children need to be obedient, to behave, to listen, to focus. But that goes against their nature. These things aren’t in the best interest for our children’s growing brains.
- When a child is climbing and jumping off the walls and taking apart toys and putting them back together again, they are simply trying to regulate their bodies naturally. Without putting it into words.
- That’s why PE and extra curricular activities are so important for children – to get that movement out of their bodies.
- So when they are climbing and we tell them to get down and to behave, we are guilting and shaming them, and robbing them of the learning opportunity to regulate their own bodies.
- That said, we want to keep our children safe, so if you notice your child likes to climb, see if you can offer them a safer option.
- Part of the work Brooke does with moms is to help her with her children as well. As an occupational therapist, she can suggest many different and safer activities your child can do depending on what they are interested in.
The secret to zoom school with your kids!
- Knowing that children naturally need to move their bodies is great information for parents, because it can help you get through zoom school.
- Since children need lots of movement, Brooke recommends not beginning any school activity on the computer until first doing some kind of gross motor activity – which means to move the entire body.
- Then and only then can you take them to a fine motor activity like starting at a screen. And once that task is complete, get them out and moving again.
- Movement regulates their emotions and their bodies, so going back and forth between gross motor activities and fine motor ones all day is key to success for you both.
How this translates into adulthood
- We don’t just suddenly become adults and no longer need to move our bodies.
- As adults, we still have meltdowns and tantrums and we still very much need to move our bodies in order to regulate our emotions.
- That is why we have yoga and crossfit and all the fitness things we do on a daily basis.
- There are many different avenues to workout and we truly need different things at different times.
- This is key for moms and self care and burnout because moving their bodies is how to move energy through them so it doesn’t get stuck. This is key to breaking the burnout cycle.
How do you help busy moms who don’t feel like they have enough time for this work?
- As a single mother to two boys and as the only breadwinner, Brooke understands how easy it is to succumb to the excuse of not having enough time.
- But because she understands how important regulating her emotions are, she is dedicated to fitting in the work.
- So she schedules it in.
- What that looks like practically is, for example, if you’re about to lose it and your kids are in the bath and there is too much going on and you feel like you’re on red, first of all, you can message Brooke and just acknowledge it and vent.
- Oftentimes just acknowledging it can help. From there, if you aren’t able to get out for a run or a walk or whatever you need in that moment, you need to schedule it into your calendar for later in the day or the following day. Even if you’re feeling better by the time that scheduled activity comes about, do it. Because you need to move that energy out.
How do you coach moms around navigating their romantic relationships after having kids?
- It takes work.
- Many women feel a sense of being lost when they first have children.
- A lot of that is because of the trauma associated with their pregnancy in some way, be it struggling to get pregnant, struggling to stay pregnant, struggling to be pregnant, etc. And then once you have the baby, it’s not like you just get to take a vacation. That’s when the work gets more intense. So it’s understandable that a woman might feel lost, especially after first having a baby.
- Society doesn’t prepare mothers enough for what it’s like to have children, and that extends to the relationship with their partner.
- Women aren’t taught to say, “I don’t know what the heck I’m doing!” But if you think about it, when you first start a new job, you’re not going to be perfect at it. The first time you do anything you’ll probably suck at it.
- Most couples don’t have the built in communication that is needed to navigate life as parents before they have kids. That’s because the majority of couples are set up in a codependent manner.
- That is what Brooke aims to help couples with as they go through life as parents: the codependency and communication piece. She helps couples shift their dynamic, set healthy boundaries for themselves, take ownership of their feelings and communicate their needs in a healthy way.
- Brooke works one on one with couples – together and individually – as well as in groups.
- In this work, she has watched couples come back to each other in the most beautiful ways.
How do you coach stay-at-home moms around asking for help at home from their spouse when they feel guilty that they aren’t the primary breadwinner?
- I tell couples that there are two parts to the day, an A and a B. The A part is what you do during the traditional working hours, so for 8-10 hours a day. If you’re the stay at home parent, you’re A is what you do for those 8-10 hours at home with the kids. If you’re the parent who works outside the home, your A is working outside of the home. And if you’re both working, obviously that’s the A part.
- The B part is the hours from the time the work day ends to the time the kids go to bed.
- This can be tough for stay at home parents because the B part is merely an extension of what you’ve already been doing all day.
- Brooke has experienced that it’s harder for men to shift from work mode into parent mode.
- It’s important to set boundaries around these two parts of the day, and to ask for what you need. No one is going to give you what you want unless you ask for it.
Have there been any recurring themes you have noticed in your work coaching moms?
- Above all, what I’ve noticed is that women just want to feel seen, worthy, and valued.
Brooke Weinstein is here to get real about Mamahood, tips, and tricks to childhood development, and how to live in your mama truth. Brooke is a Doctor of occupational therapy. With over a decade of experience, Brooke built a thriving business in New Orleans called Therapeutic Learning Center which focused on treating the child and educating the entire family on how coping skills and strategies to manage this societal challenges children face.
Her expertise in child development, sensory regulation, and parental connection, led Brooke to begin coaching Mama’s and families through this difficult phase of life. Brooke helps Mama’s tap into their individual strength, teach them how to trust their gut, and support growth in building emotional connections with their children and family they’ve always longed for.