Mom Writes First

32: How to Worry Less about the Kids

June 30, 2022 Jen Larimore
Mom Writes First
32: How to Worry Less about the Kids
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 32: How to Worry Less about the Kids  

As moms, we all worry, and we can worry a lot. Is our worry useful? What can we do to lessen our worry? 

On this episode,  learn why worry is not a helpful emotion and how to better manage worry from a place of discernment and action. I'll introduce you to the 80/20 rule and share with you how I use that rule to manage my worries around my kids. 

• Mothers often worry constantly about their children's safety and wellbeing, causing immense fatigue and stress.
• Worrying doesn't make one a better parent and drains energy away from the ability to bond with their kids.
• Worry can serve as an alert system - when worry is felt, take action as appropriate and move on.
• Take the 80/20 rule into account: 20% of worries are worth attention while 80% should be released.
• Use worry as a source of discernment - focus on things that can be mitigated with safety devices, training, education, and supervision to keep children safe.
• Recognize that worrying endlessly won't make life safer; instead it could deprive kids of opportunities to grow and learn.

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As a working mom, I know firsthand what worry, extensive worry can look like what it can feel like when it comes to my kids. Can you relate, do you worry about whether you've made the right decision about where to send your kids to daycare or camp ? 

Maybe you wonder if you're doing the right thing by working. Should you be home with them? 24 7.  do you worry about the nights you don't eat dinner together or the times that you're late picking them up Do you worry about whether they're getting enough? Vitamins enough, sleep enough, exercise enough, fresh, healthy food. do you wonder if they're safe?

Whether they're old enough and mature enough to walk somewhere alone? Whether it's safe for them to go to one of their friend's homes.

Wherever they are, whether it's riding their bike around the block, going to a friend's house, the pool, a baseball game, the movies, how is a mom to deal? This episode is here to help let's. 


It seems like every time we turn around, there is something new to worry about when it comes to our kids. These can be big worries, like illnesses, accidents, shootings.

It could be worries around mental health, social media use their screen time, the use of drugs and alcohol by our kids. Vaping, maybe it's worries about bullying. And our children's actual physical and emotional safety. Maybe we're worried about their grades, how they're doing socially and there's even those seemingly minor worries that kind of add up over time.

Like whether we should be buying organic, whether our kids are getting enough vegetables. Whether they're in the right or enough or too many activities, whether there are too many chemicals in the sunscreen, the laundry detergent, the bug spray, even their clothing, the worry train is a long one. And the ride is exhausting.

At least it can be as a mom of five and a working mom. I know. I can't control every second of my kids' lives. I can't control every single thing that they're exposed to. I can't account for all of the possibilities, but what's a mom to do. How do we know what worries are really worth our attention and which aren't let's face it when you're a mom, it's hard not to worry.

At the same time. I know I don't wanna spend all these years with my kids just worrying about them. I don't want that worried to interfere with my life, my kids' life or their experiences. So right off the bat, I think it's so important and helpful to recognize that worry is not always helpful. The truth is that worry, likes to pretend to be necessary.

It likes to pretend to be helpful.  when in fact it doesn't often serve much of a useful purpose. Worrying constantly, even when it's about our kids is a really hard way to live. It's exhausting, it's draining. It takes away and detracts from the joy and peace in our lives. It interferes with a think about it like this.

When we spend time worrying about something that might happen. We add to our suffering in that moment we're suffering. When we worry about something bad that might happen. If the things happens, we suffer again because it happened. If it doesn't happen, we've already suffered through our imagining of it.

Why do we do this to ourselves? It's so incredibly draining. It also drains everyone around us too, because they have to deal with our worry and it robs them of the opportunity. To get to know us in our true, our truest of selves. It can be really hard to get away from worry as a mom, because sometimes we are called to feel like we should worry.

Like a good mom would worry about this. We even sometimes wear our worry as if it's a badge of honor. Listen to me, my friends, you do not need to earn the worry merit badge in order to be a good. Worrying doesn't make us better moms. It drains us. It takes away from the precious time we have where we could be really bonding with our kids, enjoying them, enjoying this incredible season of life that we're in.

Our brain likes to tell us that if we worry about something it's going to help us, it'll help us be safer. It will make our kids safer. We'll be more secure. We think that if we worry about something, we will act to control all the possible circumstances that could lead to that particular danger. And therefore we, and our kids will be safe.

That seems super laudible super awesome. We all want our kids to be safe. We all want that security, but the reality is that no amount of worry can make us feel safe or secure. No amount of worry is going to control enough of the circumstances to create a world that is completely safe for us and for our.

On top of that constant worry actually makes us less safe. It distracts us from the true dangers that we actually do need to worry about when we're calm and peaceful and not clouded by worry. We're in a clear headed space. We can make informed decisions based on our evaluation of the risks for each situation.

We can then mitigate those risks where we can and in a way that makes sense for us and our families. And sometimes we decide on purpose that we're gonna accept a certain level of risk. We do this every time we get in a car and drive, we all know that it's a risk that we could get into an accident. When we drive off in our car, we take that calculated risk.

We use things like car seats and booster seats, and seat belts to help mitigate the risk. So we're mitigating those dangers as appropriate. We do this with fun things too, right? Like we make the choice to go to a parade, knowing that it's possible that you know, an animal in the parade could act up and like could hurt somebody.

Right. We make the choice. To go to an amusement park, trusting that the people who are in charge and the people who are working on the rides have taken care of everything that it's safe to be there, but we're still nonetheless taking a calculated risk. So one of the problems with worry is that if it's relentless, you can actually end up missing the actual danger.

so imagine, for example, that you and your family live in a village and on the edge of the village is a vast forest within that. Forest is a tiger every day. And every night, someone from the village is assigned to watch for tigers to keep everybody in the village safe while.  you're so worried about tigers and you're so anxious about them that you don't actually trust anyone else to keep you and your family safe.

So you're constantly on the lookout for tigers. This not only leaves no time for anything else in your life, no time for doing your own work, no time for your own family, but it actually exhausts you completely, you become so alert and attuned to the possibility of danger. That every rustling you hear, you think is a tiger coming to attack the village, including attacking your family.

But in fact, it's very rare for there to be a tiger at all. Sometimes it's the wind. Sometimes it's the bird sometimes it's your imagination. None of that matters though, because your sense of worry is so heightened. You're so alarmed that every time you think it's a tiger, again, the result from this is that you're exhausted, drained, depleted.

You're unable to enjoy any of your regular activities. You can't spend time with your family, perhaps you're even so worried about them, that you shelter them in your home within the village, depriving them of all the opportunities to learn, to play, to grow so that even as they grow into. Hood. They don't have the skills that they will ultimately need as adults, even when it comes to watching for and protecting themselves from tiger.

So just like in this tiger story, our constant worry detracts from our own lives. It tires us, it trains us and it denies us, our kids and those around our kids, the opportunities to really grow, to play, to learn in a way that is safe.  another problem with too much worry is that you begin to lose credibility when it comes to explaining to others, the risks that you're seeing, this is kind of like the boy who cried Wolf.

So now not only are you exhausted from all your worry, but everyone around you is, and you've lost credibility so that the people who, you know, might be thinking that, yeah, this is something to worry about, that this issue that you've raised, they're actually concerned that in fact, it's not because you sound the alarm also frequently.

So there is a better way. My friends, of course, there are times when we need to be alert to the possible dangers. We need to take precautions as parents. There are real and valid times when we should be acting as parents to keep our kids safe. Of course, that's our job. I'm not disputing that in any way.

And yet I'm here today to tell you. That there is a better way to handle your worries, that there is a way that you can worry maybe just a little bit less about your kids and give you your, and everyone around you. A little bit more peace and calm as well. I'm guessing that most of us can probably dial back a little bit on the worry here is what's helping me right now.

Maybe it'll help you too. I like to think of worry as akin to placing my hand on a hot. The worry that I have alerts me to remove my hand from that hot stove. And that's all I need. That is the purpose that worry serves. Once I feel the worry, it's just an alert. I take that information and decide from there what to do with it, but I don't keep my hand on the hot stove, the hot stove that is worry in this way, worry can serve as a useful alert system for a mom because let's face it.

We see and feel a lot of. As moms, we have incredible intuition. We have incredible awareness and we definitely should not ignore that. And it's our job as parents to help keep our kids safe, our intuition, our awareness. It helps us to do that. The trick is to really manage the risks appropriately. If we think of worry as a useful alert system for a mom.

We can allow that worry to be present and to exist without judging it. We can allow it to be there, but at the same time, we don't have to continue to feel it and ruminate in it and be burdened by it. We don't need to keep our hand on that hot stove. Instead, worry can be a signal to check in, to check in with ourselves.

To check in with our kids to check in with the overall situation when worry pops up, we have two choices first, and this is what a lot of us do. I think we stew in it. We ruminate, we spin out in the worry we can get so caught up in seeing the danger.  anywhere and everywhere that we miss the actual real possible dangers that warrant our attention.

We get so distracted by our worry that we miss out on the beauty of the present moment, or we deny our kids opportunities that would allow them to explore, to learn, to play and grow, and ultimately to help them make them more resilient and safer in the long run. The second choice. That we have when it comes to worry.

And this is what I am cating for today on this podcast is that we acknowledge the worry. We honor it, we evaluate it. And then we take action as appropriate. And from there we move on. Worrying beyond that is just punishing ourselves needlessly. But how can we do this? Ultimately, we need to teach ourselves to release some of that worry and act from a place of more discernment, but how do we do this?

When it seems like so much is going wrong or could go wrong? How do we do it when you're spinning in worry, when you're in that space, it seems impossible to even know what to worry about. So the first step is really to get grounded within your body. And I like to do this by focusing on a sense, like what I'm seeing or hearing in front of me or my breath by really getting grounded in my body and becoming very aware of it.

this is really helpful, cuz it helps to really kind of like slow things down and get you out in front of some of your thoughts. Once I do this, it helps me to bring awareness to what I am actually worrying about. This is really helpful for me because when I tend to worry about one thing, I tend to worry about 20 things.

I can kind of tip into some anxiety in that way. And so bringing awareness to my thoughts by writing them down is really helpful. So that's what I do. I get a pen and I, and paper, and I literally write them all down. Once I do this, the next thing that I do is I put myself in a position where I can make a decision about what thought.

Are actually worth my attention. What worries are worth my attention and what really don't worry my warrant, my attention one way in which you can make this determination is by using the concept called the 80 20 rule. It's also called the parade principle. That principle says that 20% of the inputs control about 80% of the outcomes.

In other words, 20% of our actions dictate 80% of the results.  this principle can be so helpful. I've used it in so many ways in my life, including to get a handle on my anxiety, to get control over and move past perfectionism and to keep moving when I'm sort of like stuck in indecision and in action. We can use this 80 20 rule to navigate through our worries about our kids too.

Here's how we can do it. Imagine you have two buckets. One bucket is for 20% of our worries in this 20% bucket go. The worries that are actually worthy of our attention, everything else goes in the second bucket. The second bucket is for the remaining 80% of our worries that don't deserve our attention.

Now we all get to decide for ourselves what worries are worth our attention and which ones are not. We aren't all going to agree on the same worries that go into each bucket and that's okay. But here's how I divided to me the worries that are actually worth my attention are the ones that I put in the 20% bucket.

And those are the ones that meet all three of these criteria. Number one, they are.  potentially possible to happen. Number two, if they are to happen, the outcomes are potentially very serious. It's serious, emotional or physical consequences. And number three, there is something within my control that I can do to make a difference to lessen the risk of this worry, coming into fruition, to lessen the risk of it happening, or to reduce the severity of the outcome.

If it does happen, everything else that doesn't meet these three criteria.  are things that I try really hard not to spend any more of my emotional, mental, or physical time or energy on all those things go in the 80% bucket. And then I do my best to let that 80% go and focus refocus, recalibrate if necessary my attention on the 20% of worries that are actually worth my attention.

am I perfect with this? No, of course not, probably not by a long shot on certain days. Being a mom can be really hard and worrying about our kids is a struggle. I think that we all can relate to, but here's what I know, even though I'm not perfect. I do try really hard to use this 80 20 rule to help guide me on where I focus my attention and actions.

When we focus on the 20%. That's in our bucket of things that we actually can control and do something about. And we don't get bogged down in that remaining 80% that maybe doesn't matter, or that we have no control over or is very unlikely or maybe even impossible to happen. Then we can actually focus on the real dangers, the real consequences to things, the things we can actually do, something.

The things within our control, we can then make choices to mitigate those dangers with safety devices, for example, helmets, seat belts, life vests. We can make decisions about mitigating those dangers using training or education for our kids. So teaching them what to do. If someone violates a boundary that they have teaching them what to do, if they're choking, or if a friend is choking, teaching them how to call nine one.

And another way that we can mitigate some of that danger is by deciding how we're going to provide more supervision. If that's appropriate.  so do you see how, when we focus our attention on the 20% of risks that are actually worth our attention, we don't spend that time really in worry, rather we move into a place of discernment and then into action.

And that's where there is space where we can actually take action to keep our kids safe from the things that matter. All right. So to recap, worry, pretends to be necessary. Our brain likes to kind of trick us into thinking that if we worry a lot, we'll actually be a good mom, but too much worry actually takes away from the important learning opportunities that our kids could have to grow, to help make them safer.

It makes them less safe by distracting us from true worries. And. Because worry tends to overemphasize dangers that really don't exist. We then lose credibility with the people around us so when worry pops up, you can make the decision that you're going to treat worry as if it's a hot. Once you start to feel worry, notice it, and then take your hand off the hot stove and then move into a place in your mind where you can really discern what is going on, evaluate the worry that you have and the risks that exist.

And then take action as appropriate. Remember, 20% of your worries are worth worrying about and the other 80% you can let go. My friends. I know what it's like to worry relentlessly about my kids and everything that could go wrong. I get it. I'm primed to have that anxiety and hold onto it in so many ways we can take our worry and use it to serve us.

Instead of causing suffering. We can turn it into a tool that makes our family safer and then allows us to focus on enjoying the time we have with them so that we can be a mom first.

 📍 Okay. My friends, I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope it helps you to worry just a little bit less about your kids and to focus your time and intention and energy on the things that actually matter. If this episode resonated with you and you wanna learn more hop on over to our mom first podcast community on Facebook there you'll have the chance to learn more, get support, and also empower other moms.

I can't wait to see you there.