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272: Invisible Mom Jobs are the Real Bottleneck

My mind is on fire with all the things we’re discovering in my new Pack Leadership group. One of our newest Masterminders is experiencing a very familiar kid scenario: pulled in too many directions, never enough time, her energetic daughter is seeking attention by acting out. Usually, I’d send her to our NICE Framework, to help her better understand her daughter’s behavior. But this time, I took a step back and asked about HER day-to-day experience. It turns out she’s got her own patterns and triggers, and no amount of compassion for her child is going to help if she’s not taking care of herself. I can’t wait for you to hear a recent voice message I left for the group, where we talked about why it feels like there’s so much potential in this different approach. 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why we don’t usually think about self-understanding and compassion when we’re focused on addressing behavioral challenges. 
  • What drives kids to act out and misbehave when they can’t express their need for more attention.
  • How to think about being present with your kids so you’re not just going through the motions of spending time with them.

And much more! 

As always, thanks for listening. Head over to Facebook, where you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community. We post tips and tools and do pop-up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!


About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

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[00:00:00] Randi Rubenstein: My name is Randi Rubenstein, and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast. At Mastermind Parenting, we’re on a mission to support strong-willed kids and the families that love them. 

[00:00:10] Hi, how are you this week? I’m so glad to be talking to you cause my brain is on fire. I have been running this new experimental program that I want to tell y’all about. really just because I think it’s fascinating. I’ve been running this program called Pack Leadership, and I like to say when it’s an experiment, I’m sort of building the plane as I fly it.

[00:00:43] And so I’ve got this small group of moms, a couple of moms that have been working with me for a long time and then a couple of brand new moms. And I’m really studying them because over the years what I’ve noticed is this term I use pack leadership, which is really about showing up as the leaders of your pack, right?

[00:01:09] Like, knowing how to say things and other people that are under the guise of your leadership, your kids, they listen to those things and they cooperate with you, and you feel like a team and it’s not a never ending battle. And it’s super clear that you’re the pack leader. 

[00:01:36] But you’re not the kind of pack leader that leads with assholery, right? Like we’ve all been on teams where you just have like, just an asshole who’s in charge. Whether it was a soccer coach or a baseball coach, or maybe you experience those coaches with your kids. Like think back in school, the years that you had a teacher that you loved or you had a teacher that everyone hated, or you went to camp and there was the counselor that was just made a huge impact on you, versus the counselor that you all used to play tricks on and write letters to your parents about how mean they were. Whenever there’s somebody that is in a position of authority, their leadership style really sets the tone. 

[00:02:29] So when I use the term pack leadership, I’m like, we are the leaders of our packs. Which I think for women, it can be challenging and also, you know, it’s easy to kind of camp out in, it’s a man’s world and it’s harder to be a woman. And I believe those things to be true to some extent, but I’m like, okay, this is a position of power actually. Right? Like we are the shapers of, the human beings. And so when we really look at…

[00:03:07] I just saw The Color Purple last night and I loved The Color Purple. When I was younger, I didn’t know why I loved The Color Purple so much, but now watching The Color Purple I realize, what I learned through that story was Celie was a woman that had no power. And as the story unfolds, she really represented humanity and hope and goodness and justice.

[00:03:39] And I never picked up on this the first time I saw the movie, but at the end of the movie, she is living an independent life and she has a pants shop. It’s like, you know, the 1930s at that time or the 1940s and women didn’t typically wear pants, but here Miss Celie is living on her own. She’s an entrepreneur. She’s a homeowner and her specialty is making pants, making pants and women wearing pants. I mean, talk about a metaphor.

[00:04:18] And so when we look at like the history of women and there’s been so many tragic stories and I look at that, that story of Miss Celie and I’m like, and here we are in our homes where we are the pants makers, right? Like we are the shapers of the humans. And we really have this opportunity to help shape the humans. 

[00:04:59] We’re raising, I mean, if you’re raising boys, you’re thinking, I am raising a future husband to someone, and so I want my boy to know that being a feeling human being and talking about feelings and emotions… it would be wonderful if I had a partner that I could talk about those things with, that I could be a, full human with. So I’m going to teach my son, as a little kid, that part of the human experience involves feelings, and we’re going to talk about feelings and I’m going to learn how to do that. So we really do have this amazing opportunity. And yet, we’ve got to learn some new skills, right? We’ve got to determine, how do I show up as that leader? 

[00:05:50] So I got a wild hair and I decided I’m going to run an experiment. I’m going to do a two month program just about pack leadership. And so, you know, I’ve been creating it, I’ve been studying the people, we’re a couple weeks in and what we’ve been doing for these last two weeks is we’ve been, you know, starting to, to get to know each other, and I’ve been walking them through some different accountability assignments and we’ve been looking at our patterns at our current patterns.

[00:06:23] So I was coaching this, this new mom who’s just getting to know me and our process. And she’s like, I’ve never done therapy. I’ve never done a coaching program. Like, this is all new to me. So it’s all brand new. 

[00:06:39] And she, I said, you know, well, I want to get to know you. So give me kids scenarios. Let me know, I want to see a day in your life. Like I want to hear about what, you know, what your life looks like. Like if I were to come and pull back the curtains, I want to see what you have on your plate and what kind of obstacles happen throughout your day. That make you feel like this is an exhausting existence, or whatever your experience is. I want to know, inquiring minds want to know. 

[00:07:14] So she started walking me through her life and walking me through her day and presented with a kid scenario, which was a typical strong willed kid scenario. Like, there was a conversation, it went sideways very quickly, it ended with the child saying things like, you’re the worst mom ever, I hate you, and all those kinds of things that, you know, they’re not pleasant to hear. 

[00:07:42] And it was interesting to hear this kid scenario because the way we have always approached new people coming in and working with us is we start to teach our NICE framework and really look at what your kid’s behavior actually meant. Because kids, you know, act on the outside the way they feel on the inside. So all behavior is communication, I like to say, like there was something else going on for this kid. 

[00:08:07] But I, I stopped myself from doing it because this program is really more about looking at our patterns. Rather than just delving into what’s going on for our kid and what’s going on for our kid, I sort of wanted to approach this as – I mean, we are still talking about kid scenarios because I use it, I use them as examples because you know, obviously it’s very relevant for us since that’s a day in the life. But I, I wanted to look at what we’re It’s going on for mom, like what does her life actually look like, you know? 

[00:08:47] And also we had already started doing a little digging into patterns that come from her own childhood, right? Like things that really trigger her and we sort of traced back where that were, you know, where this one particular pattern comes from.

[00:09:04] So we’d already been doing a little sort of investigating and digging into when we’re triggered, it’s reminding our brain of something that happened to us at some other time in our life. Usually sometime during the first 10 ish years of life, where we felt a similar way or something about this experience reminds our brain and our body of another time. And there’s a process, there’s a way that we kind of excavate that pattern. 

[00:09:37] So we had already sort of done that, so I already knew a little bit about this pattern from childhood. But then I decided instead of just jumping into what’s coming up for your kid, what this actually means, because I, I pretty much have seen this so many times, like I knew, I said, first, let me understand a day in your life.

[00:09:59] And when this mom started, unpacked everything that she does in a day. It was like a work from home situation. I clean out my own house. I do the laundry. I mean, from six o’clock in the morning when she wakes up because one of her kids comes in and wakes her up, until, she said she goes to bed around the same time they do at night. So she’s like down in her bed by 8:30 at night. From literally six o’clock in the morning until 8:30 at night, at night, this woman does not stop.

[00:10:41] She gets up, she does all the morning things. Which she’s like, you know, we do the morning things. I was like, okay, let’s unpack all those morning things. Who’s making the breakfast? Who’s choosing the breakfast? Do the kids get themselves dressed? Are you laying the clothes out? Do they, you know, the one came in and woke themselves up, but do you have to go and wake the other one up? Is there alarm clocks? 

[00:11:04] She’s like, I want to know more about all the teeny tiny little, what we call invisible mom jobs. You know, when the breakfast gets made, the dishes after breakfast, or do they get left on the table? Are they getting cleared? Do you then wash them? Do you have a sink full of dishes? Um, how do the kids, you know, get to school, uh, backpacks packed up, lunches made, um, are they made the night before? Like all the little minutiae, I wanted her to sort of lay it all out. 

[00:11:34] So from six o’clock in the morning until, you know, she lays down at night because she’s at her desk, 8:15, she works until 4, 4:30. If she takes any breaks during the day while she’s working, she’s cleaning little parts of her house. She never has enough time to clean her whole, she never has a whole clean house at the same time. 

[00:11:58] She is cleaning, she is doing loads of laundry, then she gets the kid, dad gets the other kid, everybody comes home, she’s with the kids. Then somehow she ends up feeding people, dinner happens, and then it’s baths, they sort of divide and conquer on baths. And then it’s, you know, getting people down for bed, and then they’re down for bed, and then she’s soon after down for bed, too. And she is literally so drained and so exhausted. 

[00:12:31] And I think it was really important to sort of uncover all of that, and interesting. And so I’m going to let y’all listen to the message that I sent to the group in response after she presented this super typical kid scenario and let me know what a day in her life looked like. Because I don’t know, I just, I found it to be interesting. 

[00:12:58] And I’m also like thinking about people who come in and this has been super typical. It’s like, 

[00:13:05] nobody wants to look at yourself and look at your own patterns and look at, you know, how did I get here? How did, have I been here before? Is there a pattern playing out that comes from somewhere else. Let me do a little, you know, detective work and look at my own life. it makes a lot more sense and it feels less maybe vulnerable and more kind of tangible to look at what our kids behavior is.

[00:13:33] And you know, when we have a strong willed one, which you probably do if you’re listening to this podcast, um, it’s very easy to focus on looking at their behavior because they give us lots of examples of them not having the best behavior. not even not the best behavior. Like shitty behavior, right? Behavior that is super hard to deal with. And so it’s very easy to, of course, want to focus on that. 

[00:14:04] Um, but 

[00:14:04] what I found is, is that we look at the kid’s behavior and we start to see things differently than, you know, and understand all kids do things like for a reason. Like they’re trying to get a need met. There’s somewhere they feel misunderstood. They’re used to getting negative attention because that’s what they’ve been doing since they were about three years old and that’s the pattern that they’re in. 

[00:14:31] So once we start to look at all those things, usually it’s about a month in where people start to say to me, God, I thought I was here for my kid, but I think I might be here for myself. And I’m like, welcome to being a human. Yep. This is the process. 

[00:14:50] So with this group, I’m sort of doing it the opposite, where we’re taking the time. We’re doing this in a really spacious way, um, and really spacious way looking at ourselves. Um, they’re getting a lot of attention from me. We’re all having fun getting to know each other. And it’s been a, it’s been a very cool and interesting process. 

[00:15:14] And I’m like, you know, what I know is that 

[00:15:17] until we start to look at our own patterns nothing is really going to shift. Because we can learn what our kid’s behavior means. We can learn, we can memorize all the scripts and tips and tools, but if you haven’t really dug into looking at your own patterns like what your familiar patterns are and understanding where they come from and having support and compassion in looking at them. Until you do that piece, you’re not going to change patterns. Because in the heat of the moment, you’re a human and you’re just going to boomerang back to your familiar patterns. Like it’s an autopilot sort of way that humans function, right? 

[00:16:08] And so anyway, so I wanted to share this clip with you because I am just feeling super fascinated by this process and this new way. And I thought maybe you would too. So, enjoy.

[00:16:24] All the kids scenarios, that’s what you will learn in our basics program is how to understand your daughter’s behavior better. All behavior is communication. And yeah, taking her on a little outing, it’s not going to shift her out of her negative attention seeking pattern, and the waking up in the middle of the night is also connected. 

[00:16:51] It’s very, very, very common with kids that have parents that work a lot, or moms who are being pulled in a million different directions. If they don’t feel like they’re getting that true connecting, bonding time during the day they make up for it in the middle of the night. Um, they don’t do this intentionally or consciously. It’s sort of like a survival response, it’s primal. We are pack animals and if i’m not knowing how to truly get that attachment need met during the day, then I’m gonna do it in the middle of the night. 

[00:17:32] And right now, you know, we’re just like sleuthing, okay? We’re just sleuthing. I just want you to know that all the things you’re describing, and your kids are so young, but even if they’re not so young, like, we all we turn things around all day every day in the Mastermind. This is all super figure out able. 

[00:17:51] I appreciated Min’s response because I’m really kind of watching Min and noticing Min because Min’s been in our program for a long time. And I think that was a big one, like us kind of pulling out and identifying that trauma response and me seeing it too.

[00:18:09] It’s like, ah, you know, it’s kind of like, hey, just do this thing, sound this way, say this thing. If we have a trauma response underneath that is unhealed and we can’t even see it yet, when we’re in the heat of the moment, we’re not going to do the thing because we’re skipping a pretty important step.

[00:18:33] So I could say, oh, your daughter needs present engaged time every single day. But the truth is, is you’re not going to be present, like with her, not just like ticking it off the box. Okay, we took her roller skating. Okay, we did this thing with her. 

[00:18:47] Present engaged time is actually just like a moment or a few moments where you’re just enjoying your kid. I mean, I’ll tell you present engaged time for me, most of the time was like either my kid in bed reading next to me while I thumbed through a magazine or, like, the way I play with my dogs now, like, rolling around or hugging and kissing them or just doing like, nothing, but just being there with them.

[00:19:17] Like, I wasn’t a big player. I wasn’t a big player or anything like that. There was just like moments during the day where how I figured out like, this is what I enjoy. You know when they were little, like, I would take showers or take baths with them or, you know, and then we’d get in our PJs and I’ve always loved laying in bed with them, smelling them all clean and cozy and… 

[00:19:41] Or they were in my bed when I got a little bit older and we were like, on the weekends or whatever we were watching, or in the summer, like we’d watch something, we’d watch a show like, or we would take a walk, they would be in their PJ’s and we’d take a walk after dinner. You know, I loved like being able to like kind of go and take a little walk right before bed.

[00:19:59] But those were things I enjoyed doing too. And they felt that. I enjoyed laying in bed next to them looking through my magazine while they, when they were learning to read and they read next to me. Or I enjoyed watching a movie with them, at night. I enjoyed having them in my bed, just relaxing. My husband didn’t enjoy it so much, but, um, but I enjoyed it. And so I just kind of found ways to like, what are these moments that I’m present because I’m not lying and I’m not acting or performing or pretending to be a certain kind of parent. Like I actually am enjoying them right now. 

[00:20:38] So I could tell you all day long, oh, it’s present engaged time. It’s present engaged time. But if you’re, your life is burning the candle at both ends and a million invisible mom jobs, and then you saying, hey, I think we should get a house cleaner and your husband saying, yeah, we should, we don’t need to spend the money on that. And we still think it’s just that you need to go and add one more job to your already exhaustive list of jobs, which is now spend present engaged time where I actually enjoy my kid every day. 

[00:21:15] For fuck’s sake, really? Like that’s just not going to ever be the solution or the answer. You know what the solution here is? A conversation with your husband. Let’s start with that baby step. Okay. If you don’t want to spend the money, I work and then take care of the kids and then I’m in charge of dinner. So are you going to take over the laundry and the housekeeping? 

[00:21:42] Because something’s got to go and my job’s not going you know, and figuring out how to feed people’s not going. Getting people ready for school is not going. Being with the kids in the afternoon is not going. So something’s going to have to go because I’m done. My, my battery is drained And so for me, it’s the housework and the laundry. So either you can take on that part or we could hire someone. Which one do you choose? Right? 

[00:22:17] Two positive choices actually works with our adults too. Me and the author of Hunt, Gather, Parent were talking about this. She was like, yeah, these tools work amazing. I use them with Matt all the time. 

[00:22:27] Now, I think that’s the first place to start. Because we’re not putting another thing like having present engaged time where you actually enjoy your kid on your plate. We’re just going to set you up for more shame, for more guilt, for more failure, for more feeling bad about these years going by so quickly, or… I remember thinking, man, the first 10 years, it was like a crawl. But then all of a sudden you blink and it was like, I can’t believe, it’s like, the days are long, but the years are short and I think that’s true.

[00:23:10] It’s like, and then all of a sudden, the speed takes off when your kids hit like middle school and beyond, but like those early years, it’s such a busy season. There’s so many things to do and you’re in charge of keeping human beings alive and it’s a fuck ton. 

[00:23:31] And guess what this nuclear family model, it was never the way it was supposed to be for hundreds of thousands of years. This is not the way it was done until like 200 years ago. 200 compared to thousands and thousands. It was supposed to be a whole tribe. We had elders, we had other members of the tribe. The raising of the humans did not all fall on one person. And especially one person who also has a full time job elsewhere, like no wonder you’re done, you want to just drive away. It’s because this is a recipe for disaster.

[00:24:18] So I really do think if we just like put you in our basics program and taught you all the things and help you use our NICE framework to diagnose what’s really going on with your kid without addressing this bigger pattern in your life, right? Peacemaker pattern. Maybe there’s some Type A perfectionism going on. 

[00:24:39] Um, I don’t think Type A is so bad. A healthy Type A to me is like, I strive for excellence. Like, I want to live an incredible life. I want a high quality life. I want to feel fully alive. And when we start to channel our Type A into that, I think it’s super healthy. 

[00:25:00] But I don’t, I, yeah, I think that, um, tell me about this hard conversation with your husband and, um, making a decision to or how would you edit this? Or what else could go besides the laundry and the house cleaning? To me, that would be the natural lowest hanging fruit to take off your plate. But, you’re in charge of, you’re the pack leader of your life. So you tell me what are your thoughts. 

[00:25:30] Thanks for listening today, guys. I hope you picked up some tips, tools, maybe some baby steps for creating more balance and boundaries in your life. And I just wanted to let you know, if you want to continue moving the needle forward in creating this for yourself, having a happier household, I want you to go to my website and check out We have three beginning programs, and if you need some accountability and more support then please look for the one that would be a good fit for you.

[00:26:04] And, as always, we’re on all the social channels under mastermind parenting, on Instagram it’s mastermind_parenting. And, you know, periodically I do pop up on different Instagram lives, Facebook lives where I give you teaching and coaching and I love engaging with you live to help you help your strong-willed kids so that they can feel better, because when they feel better they do better, and I love, love, love getting to know you guys. 

[00:26:37] So thanks for listening. If you like this podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review. Super super appreciative 

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by Randi Rubenstein