Strategic Parenting Expert Heather Chauvin on Beating Parenting Overwhelm
Today, I’m happy to be sharing a rich conversation with strategic parenting coach Heather Chauvin about the plight many mothers of neurodivergent kids find themselves in — prioritizing everyone else’s needs over their own and why it’s so critical that we get out of this pattern. This is a deeply personal topic for Heather. The way she describes it, by living in survival mode as a parent to her three kids, she was robbing herself of joy, robbing her kids of joy by not being a present parent, and robbing her loved ones of fulfilling relationships. And then in 2013, the universe got her attention when Heather was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Going through that unexpected journey pushed Heather to take a deeper stand for change and explore how cultural expectations sabotage our dreams.
I wanted to bring Heather on the show for this conversation because I hear from so many mothers who are in various states of struggle in their parenting lives — pouring everything into their kids, running on fumes, sacrificing so much, putting incredible pressure on ourselves to do it all and do it well. Yet, as much as we love our kids and want to be their safe place, we can’t do that unless we are being that for ourselves first. Through her work, Heather has helped women realize that their needs are just as important and that 10 minutes daily can make a difference if you’re open to change. Lastly, even though this episode is framed for mothers, it’s a good listen for anyone who is a caregiver, especially if you’ve been feeling like your energy is low or frantic and that has become the norm.
About Heather Chauvin
Heather Chauvin is a leadership coach who helps ‘successful’ women courageously and authentically live, work, and parent on their own terms.
Heather started her career as a social worker helping adults understand children’s behavior. But it wasn’t until 2013 when a stage 4 cancer diagnosis pushed her to take a deeper stand for change, uncovering how cultural expectations sabotage our dreams. She has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Real Simple Magazine, Mind Body Green, Google, and more.
When Heather isn’t working, you will find her living out what she teaches which may include kayaking Alaska, snowboarding, hiking, or anything else that challenges what she believes is possible for herself (and inviting her children along the journey). Life is full of opportunities. It’s time to feel alive.
Things you’ll learn from this episode
- How motherhood and one’s priorities change as our kids get older
- How trusting in yourself and your intuition can be a powerful ally in motherhood
- What “dying to be a good mother syndrome” is and why so many mothers are living in that space
- How Heather helps moms take the first steps toward choosing themselves and what it actually looks like
- How to approach choosing yourself if you don’t think you have the time
Resources mentioned for parenting overwhelm
- Dying to Be a Good Mother: How I Dropped the Guilt and Took Control of My Parenting and My Life by Heather Chauvin
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Hey Heather, welcome to the podcast.
Oh, Debbie, I’m excited to have this conversation.
I am too. I’m really excited. I know this is going to be just a one of those conversations that I hope listeners can just kind of lean into. And as I before I hit record, I’m like, I really want people to feel like they’re just hanging out with us having a coffee. Because this is going to be a real conversation. We’re going to be focusing on motherhood, which we don’t really do a lot on this show. I tend to talk about parenting in general, I’ve done a couple of mom specific episodes, and I’ve done maybe two dad-specific episodes. So I’m just putting that out there now for listeners. We’re gonna be talking about motherhood, although I think everyone’s gonna benefit from this conversation, no matter where it goes. So now that I’m done with that initial rambling, maybe if you could do your own introduction in terms of tell us a little bit about what you’re doing right now, like the way that you’re showing up in the world today. And I know that it’s related to your personal why and what you’ve been through. So as much as, you know, we could talk about this for hours, but as much as you want to share and kind of helping us really understand who you are.
Yeah, so it’s interesting because I got into this work for my children and they were my why. They’re the ones, I have three boys, they’re currently 18. They always change their ages and then I get all messed up. So 18, 13, and 11. They have birthdays and then it changes it up. But anywho, motherhood really cracked me open. It was the thing that got me to realize, one, I didn’t want to become a statistic. I was 18 when I became a mother. And two, I just never wanted my son to feel the way I felt as a child, like emotionally. And that was kind of the beginning of the journey of self-discovery, advocacy, all the things. So fast forward. I’m doing research. I’m reading the books. I’m doing all the things. We’re getting the calls from school. And you just slowly, slowly start to piece things together. My boys have very, you know, three very different brains, different learning styles. And I was a social worker, and I worked primarily with families.
And what I noticed was the labels that were labeling children’s behavior, but nobody was actually stepping back and saying, If we’re looking at behavior as a language, what is it saying to us rather than projecting this judgment onto a child’s behavior or a human behavior in general? And then what I noticed, I was like, oh, this is something that I’m onto. People don’t get it for some reason. Left my job, started podcasting, started doing all the things, and been coaching for 10 years. well, 10 plus years, but it was actually 10 years ago when I was diagnosed with stage four cancer that was an interesting shift in my conversation because I was so focused on parent child because that’s what they were telling me they wanted help with, which is like behavior. And I’m like, okay, let’s focus on the child. Let’s focus on the child. Like they’re the ones who need help. But we’re saying this happening. And then the parent would say to me, or the, I primarily work with mothers would say to me, I don’t have time. I don’t have energy. My career is falling apart. My marriage is falling apart. My mental health is deteriorating. And I’m like, okay, but come back, come back after my diagnosis. Um, that’s like, ladies, we need to stop pretending that our needs don’t matter. And for the last decade, it’s been this co-creation with maybe parenting is the trigger for you, but really your actual challenge is like, you want to feel successful in your parenting. Like you actually wanna feel present and like you’re doing a good job, but your other aspects of your life are just, sucking the life out of you. So how can you manage all of this energy? And it’s not about your to-do list, it’s really about like your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual energy but let’s just do it in an incredibly sustainable way. Where is mine? What is someone else’s? What does my child actually need? Where do boundaries start? What’s my identity? Like all of these things come up. So really helping women feel alive and aligned so that we can see what is ours and what’s our children’s and how can we lead and guide them. So yeah, that’s it in a nutshell. It’s been quite the interesting experiment and journey. And then watching women do this in their careers as well, whether it’s corporate or business settings where they’re actually translating what they’re doing at home and they’re doing it in their work. They’re doing it with profit. They’re doing it like receiving. They’re doing it with not asking for what they want when they’re about to negotiate a deal. So really infusing that confidence and yeah, taking back control of how they want to feel.
Thank you for sharing all of that. And gosh, I have so many questions. And I’m thinking about 18, 13, 11 sounds like a very real experience to me. There’s one thing when our kids are littles, right? And then there’s another thing when they’re individuating and they’re going through so much. And they’re all, all your kids, as you said, are wired in their own unique ways.
I’m wondering even like in this current season of life, what are, where is your kind of growth happening? Because you’ve been on such a journey for the past 10 years, a journey that you may not have initially wanted to be on, but I know that it has profoundly changed you. But I’m just curious because I’ve got a young adult now and what I’m working on these days is very different than what I was working on 10 years ago. So just curious about that.
So I think, so a few years ago, and this was like, I don’t really think it was COVID. It may have been mid COVID, I don’t know. But I couldn’t even put words to it, but it felt like maybe this story or illusion of like, as they get older, it’s going to get easier. That’s what we’re taught culturally. And then it did not feel like that. But it was like this internal, I just kept thinking to myself, wow, I am so grateful that I’ve been doing this work for the last 10 years. Because I could feel that separation. But like, OK, I have a sense of identity, but this is next level. Like, this is next level. Especially like sharpening the edges of emotional boundaries and really feeling in control of myself. When I say control, that’s not really a feeling. But like, really taking ownership for how I want to feel and like, what is this messy middle? What are these big emotions? Is it grief? Like, what is this? And it felt interesting because I noticed the parallels in my work, of course, and helping my, well, not really helping, but watching him go into teen adulthood and just the duality of the story of like, you should be versus like reality and learning to accept reality. And it has forced me to get this sense of deep, deep self-trust. I’m always thinking, and this is what I teach and I talk about all the time is how do you wanna feel? How do you wanna feel?
And it’s not about like doing the things to allow yourself to feel good all the time, because, you know, we can’t spiritually bypass our feelings all the time. It’s not, you may be in a season where it just doesn’t feel good, but you’re in this like mud and you’re kind of sifting through the mud to be like, what’s in here, what are the gems in here? And that’s what it felt like. Not even like, okay, yes, I knew how I wanted to feel and I had to reach for it every day, like the joy of like, I don’t want to get out of bed today, but I’m going to, and I’m going to get some sunlight in my eyes or I’m going to drink some water Knowing that like those are little boxes that are going to get me closer to that feeling, but also like sit with this emotional discomfort. What is this? And everywhere that I turned, I would notice like I’m not living in a state of survival anymore, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially. And yet I felt like I was going right back to when I was diagnosed, like making really, really what I call emotionally uncomfortable decisions. They weren’t hard, but just having to have some really emotionally uncomfortable conversations with people, like, hey, you know, this partnership isn’t working anymore, like meaning like in work or friendships, like this isn’t working, there’s a disconnect here. I could just feel this like ripping of an identity, if that makes sense, but getting super, super clear with myself of like, what do I want kind of my next year of life to look like, my next phase of what this is, getting really quiet with myself, like, what are those whispers? What do I wanna talk about in my work? So almost like a, I don’t know, does this make sense to you? Like a little metamorphosis of like, but like the whispers where you can’t even put words to it, you just know you’re kind of in the wave and you kind of need to surrender to it but you’re still gonna need to control because you can’t. You’ve got responsibilities.
Yeah, it makes total sense. A lot of it resonates with what I feel like I’ve been going through as well. And it makes me wonder, is it this time of life? Is it when our kids reach a certain age? I wrote down clarity right before you said getting really clear. It seems like it’s almost like a like a filing down or honing in on what really matters and being able to trust that. And you mentioned the word trust. And can you talk more about that self-trust? Are you talking about like trust in your body, trusting in your intuition, trusting, like what it, yeah, just go a little deeper with that.
Like all of it. So when I was diagnosed, I remember I had nine years previous to that of, I’m gonna call it personal development. Really my in was like conscious parenting, right? Diving into that self-reflection. So I’m like, okay, there’s momentum happening here. So when something happened to me, I could stop and not just be like, this is the big awakening and now I’m gonna read all the books and do all the things. I’m like, what? Am I being taught? What am I being shown right now? And I remember everything kind of like going into slow motion. And fast forward, there was a lot of like testing. So especially in business, but also in raising a teenager, like there was a lot of testing and what felt like throwing noodles at the wall. And I’d be like, Okay, we move three steps here. Okay, now we’re going over here. Okay, like navigating the educational system. I’m like, Hey, what is going on? This is exhausting. So then always coming back to self because when I feel out of control like that, and I’m overwhelmed or things aren’t working, the old me 10 plus years ago would have just kept at it. And then I would have burnt out because, you know, people like you never stop your persistent and like, I totally get that. But now when I’m incredibly overwhelmed, I’m like, I communicate I’m overwhelmed this isn’t happening and immediately I put up boundaries and I put up boundaries and I start getting do whatever I need to do to get back to center even if it takes me a week or two. So if someone’s trying to push me to do something and I’m like, Hey, the more you push, just know the more I’m going to shut down. And I will communicate that. And I will say like, you’re not going to get me to do these things. My tasks aren’t going to get done. Like I need to come back to center because I know if I’m operating at that place, and no one is benefiting from that because that energy is frantic. So my energy management, that’s the skill that I teach people. Like I know that of course, you got to practice what you preach, but coming back when I’m like, I keep thinking about, you know, maybe we need to try this. Maybe we need to let go of this. Maybe we need to go over here personally and professionally. And then I’m communicating this to people around me because I’m thinking about it. And they’re looking at me like, yeah, do it. Or they don’t have an opinion. And then I’m on borderline of like, am I just relentless? Like, is this me? Like the pursuit of solving a problem? So then I have to test something that I don’t know if it’s gonna work. Like pulling my son out of school completely and being like, you know what?
My goal is to keep you alive. We’re going to get you credits. But I am the only person who believes this should be done at this exact moment. And I need to deeply trust that because in my mind, I can see what is going to happen if I don’t do that. Or pulling out from something and my whole team is on board with it and I’m like, guys, it’s not working. We need to pivot. But knowing when to pivot versus when you’re trying to blow things up because you’re bored or you’re sabotaging. And I started asking myself, I always notice I don’t pick a theme at the beginning of the year. It usually reveals itself. And this year was like, do less better. But I’ve always asked myself, so yes, there’s this simplicity and declutter of like what’s working, what’s not working. Let’s let go of what’s not working, right? Do you like these clothes? Let them go. Like literally going through the whole house, and if I haven’t touched this in six months, it’s gone like a deep, deep cluttering. But that said, I also said to myself, if I deeply trusted myself, how would I show up? How would I show up in the middle of this conversation that I need to advocate for my child? How would I show up when I’m going into this business conversation? How would I show up when I really want to do something and my husband takes him like a six-month lead time to do something and I’m like, OK, but I, How can we co-create this? I really don’t want to let this go. Or I could see that along the way, I told myself, I’m not good at this. I’m not confident in this. I’m not an expert. And I was slowly shrinking, shrinking. And I’m like, I’ve put other people in place to make those decisions. And that wasn’t working either. So I had to get rid of those placeholders. And I had to look deep within and go, you know what? Maybe you don’t know, who you think you are or you don’t know if you’re capable of. But act as if you deeply trust yourself. What questions are you going to ask? Hey, I’m curious. My gut is telling me this. How are you going to solve that problem? And just keep asking and asking and asking. And when people say, I don’t know, I don’t know, they’re making shit up. And you’ve got to deeply, deeply trust. It’s not always black or white. But it’s been kind of mind blowing the stories, you know, we all tell ourselves and then when we kind of prove them wrong, where it’s an identity crisis.
Mm-hmm. So interesting. Thank you. That was beautiful to hear about, and you really kind of were able to unpack that for us in a way that I relate to, makes so much sense. And I also know it’s not like flipping a switch to get to that place. So I want to explore some of the concepts of this energy management and also what you call dying to be a good mother syndrome. And we’ll do that right after a quick break.
Okay, so you wrote about, you have a book which we’ll talk about as well called Dying to be a Good Mother, and you talk about dying to be a good mother syndrome. Because as you’re talking, I’m thinking what is getting in the way? What is it that prevents women mothers from being able to live in this zone of personal well-being and trust, self-trust? So could you explain what you mean by dying to be a good mother syndrome? And why so many mothers are kind of living in that space.
Yeah, I’ll give you an example first, but I see this every single day when a woman says, I need you in my life, but I can’t afford it. And I truly believe in that statement, I can’t afford it. But what I have come to realize, because that is actual fact and truth for a lot of people. But what I often see is they’re like, I just put out $10,000 for my child’s sports or blah, or whatever. And I’m like, OK, but if you were gifted that exact same amount of money today, where would you invest it? And nine out of 10 times what I hear is in somebody else but not myself. And the reality is at the core, we can talk about how we grew up in our childhood You know, we’re blowing the face. But it comes down to worthiness and seeing your own value as a person and a human being. And knowing that even if you are taking care of your children and for whatever reason, you become the primary parent or most of the caregiving role, and therefore your career is you’re not focused on that or whatever. And you’re like, I’m not making money, therefore I’m not valuable. Or I’m making money, but I need to give it away. Like, culturally, our beliefs around value are so misaligned that we don’t think we are valuable. And we can go into history of women and all the things. But it’s fascinating to me to realize that the second you take the mother or the nurturer out of the home or the ecosystem, everything falls apart. And yet we don’t see our own value. So the dying to be a good mother was kind of going back to what I was noticing where it was like, oh, you told me the child is the one struggling. So let’s focus there. We focus. And then the energy that’s coming towards me is, but I am this, I am this, I am this, I am this, and watching how we are projecting our own insecurities onto everybody else.
But the dying part is how we are dying mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and financially, and all the ways to be good for everybody else. And when we actually begin to implement a boundary, and I don’t mean like, you know, not talking to anybody ever again, example, I got a text today from my son that said, hey, can you send me some money for food? Or can you like make me food or do whatever? And I’m back to back to back to back today. Mind you, you know, we had this conversation last night. Don’t forget food. You’re going to get hungry. His lack of preparation is not my emergency, regardless of how his brain is wired. We have everything in place doing all the things. Where does it, where do natural consequences happen? Where, how much do I need to give, give where it’s taking away? Like a perfect example. And we do this every day because that’s our love language. I want to give, I want to give, I want to give. And then the second you stop and go, what parts of you are dying? Oh, and then I, you know, you get the humor, you get the funniness of like, oh yeah, I feel like shit. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? And it’s like, if we just start sipping a little bit into ourselves, like the tiniest bit, I always talk about like the 10 minute habit, like what have you let go of that brought you joy? That’s energy, right? You’re just putting a little more into what you want and how you wanna feel. Maybe you loved art and you’re like, oh my gosh, I’ve given that up. Maybe it’s 10 minutes a day. Maybe it’s like just the tiniest little thing that you are giving yourself to come back to life, to nurture yourself back to life. And it’s always this push-pull every single day of my life, but it’s that boundary of like, if I let go of myself completely, I know that is going to negatively impact your life to my children, to every human that I love and care for. And I won’t do that for them because I know it’s going to, they’re not going to love it when I’m angry, resentful, miserable, and I’m blaming them for how I feel. So the dying to be good is dying to be good for everyone else. And when my physical body was letting go, I realized it wasn’t a conscious choice that I was like, Give, give, like, yes. I just didn’t have role models that were around me, like female role models that were like, honey, you need to make time for your physical body or you are not going to survive this. Never once did I have a woman around me say that.
Wow. Yeah, I mean, what you shared is so important. And what I’m hearing, like the voice I’m hearing in my head is, you know, you talked about, I don’t have the money as you know, that being a very valid reason for a lot of people for not prioritizing or making a choice for therapy or coaching or whatever that is. But I know that there are so many people listening to this who, who feel and believe that, Yes, and what we’re going through is so extreme right now. I do not have any option but to put everything into my kit now, everything into, you know, managing this crisis, what’s happening at school, everything feels like an emergency. And so I’d love if you could talk a little bit more about that piece, you know, and speak to those parents who feel that yes and and aren’t really allowing themselves to consider this.
OK, so I am known for telling you what you need to hear, not always what you want to hear. And I will take a stand for people. And sometimes I get a lot of pushback, but I will take a stand for what I know you are capable of. And I was that woman where I throw it all in for the people that I love. And I was addicted to chaos. My actual identity was wrapped around rescuing other people. And it started when I grew up in chaos and when I had to rescue people. And so we look back and go, this is all I’ve known. I love chaos. I love managing chaos. And then you think like your brain is designed to keep you comfortable and familiar. So you’re like, this is all I know. Since my child was born, we have had struggles. Or since my child entered my life, we have had struggles. Or it’s been years and we’ve been challenged with this. Then we just rinse and repeat because it’s familiar in what we know, but we never stop and go, how do I want to feel? What is going to happen if I keep at this for another decade? Like literally let your brain go there.
What’s going to happen financially, physically, emotionally, relationally, if you keep at doing what you’re doing? And there were many times in my life, breaking those patterns, the actual identity of, example, yelling. I used to be a yeller, yelling constantly in the house, I do this, do this, do this, do this, mainly when the kids were younger. When I got diagnosed, I couldn’t yell anymore, I didn’t have the energy. And that was my identity is like, they will only listen to me if I raise my voice. I hear this all the time. They will only listen to me if I raise my voice. No, you’ve taught them that you will yell and that’s when they will start listening. So I physically was like, I am done, like mentally checked the box. I will not yell again. And when I say not yell again, it’s like, I’m giving it up. Like you’re giving up a bad habit, an addiction.
And I thought, when I want to yell, I’m going to try to do the opposite, and I’ll just get really quiet. And I’ll be like, I’m not going to repeat myself. And then I could feel the volcano. And then I go. And it took a while. And I watched my children be like, she’s not yelling what’s going on with her. Now I have taught them that if I’m yelling, they physically say this to me, Debbie. Are you OK? What’s going on? And I’m like, I’m really stressed. They’re like, okay. And I’m like, you know what? Yeah. Let’s talk about this later. I’m going to go for a walk. No, like, don’t call me out. Like none of that. So I get it. You’re all in on your kid. Totally get it. I mean, that’s great. And you’re probably getting a lot of pats on the back for it. I did too. When I was 18, I was like, good job, honey. And on the inside, I was literally like, not this, there’s no way I can do this for the rest of my life. Like, How do people survive like this? I must be too sensitive. I cannot. My soul is leaving my body. And this was like a decade before I was diagnosed. And I was trying. It was like I was treading water. This all or nothing attitude. You’re either on a couch or you’re running a marathon on the weekend. And I have watched this in my own brain in the last two to three years, played this consistency game. Whether it’s with my nutrition, physically moving my body, training for a race. I mean, I’ve trained for marathons and I watch, I’m like, my intention for this training is to be consistent. And I watch, I’m like, this is so boring. This is so boring, it’s not gonna make an impact. And then you do this all or nothing, this whiplash. We’re so used to it. I’m either all in or I’m all out. And we do that with our children too. I’m either gonna be all in and then you’re gonna be all in. Guess what? You’re gonna burn out. You’re gonna be exhausted.
And then you’re gonna have to be all out because then you’re gonna have to recover. So I tell people who are all in all the time, if you actually operated at a 70% lower gear consistently, your all in effort is the average person’s like 200%. And most of the people that I attract, You know, they’re like, OK, I’m willing to do the work. I want to get out of this phase. And I’m like, but part of the actual issue is you are an overachiever and an overfunctioner. And because you’ve been in this stress cycle, you have to back off a little bit. And all I need from you is 10 minutes a day. And they’re like, 10 minutes a day is not going to make an impact. I’m like, I will give you your money back if you are consistent for 30 or 60 days every 10 minutes. And then, or not every 10 minutes, 10 minutes a day. 30 days later, they’re like, oh my God, I’m actually feeling a shift. I’m like, yeah, I know. So it’s just hard to believe when you’ve been responsible for so much that you can do less better and get a better ROI. And also the last thing I wanna say about this is when you are all in, throwing everything at your children, you are actually taking away from your child’s experience. And when I say that, that can be incredibly triggering because you now have a belief that your child is incapable of doing something.
You don’t want to allow them to feel their own feelings. You don’t want to allow them to learn to advocate for themselves. But if you let them go a little bit, you’re going to see the confidence that they’re going to gain. And I’ve had that as your kids get older and they start using their voice more, mom, back off. I’ve got this. I need to learn this on my own. And the truth is, I don’t want them to, because then I have to feel my feelings. And they might get hurt, right? The what ifs start to come in. But then it’s my responsibility to heal what comes up for me. If I’m like, oh, this is uncomfortable, well. Whose feelings are those? Whose guilt is that? Whose anger is that? Whose insecurity is that? That’s mine. That’s not my child. So we over give, especially when they’re little. When you’re being told that you have to be your child’s prefrontal cortex, blah, executive functioning. And I’m like, great, when does that stop? Because when it stops, then what? I’m used to being people’s organizers. Now you’re telling it’s just fascinating to pivot from one identity to the other.
It’s not comfortable, but you have to stop and say, is this sustainable for me? And give yourself permission to say like, it’s not, and that’s okay. And I need a little space to figure out who I am.
So good. And I just, listeners, I just say that behind Heather’s, we’re on video, there’s like a neon sign that says emotionally uncomfortable. So I really love that. It just really drives this point home. I wanna, there’s a few other things I wanna get into, including energy management, how you actually help parents kind of lean into doing this pivot or giving themselves permission. Gosh, I do have a bunch of questions that I’m like, okay, how do I kind of bring this around? I guess one of the things I was thinking about is that part of this must be women giving themselves permission because there are, there’s a lot of outside noise that can really be influencing us and also giving ourselves permission to feel the feelings. And I am I am always moving because I don’t like to slow down and stop to feel the feeling. So I’m very familiar with that. How do you help mothers specifically choose themselves? Come to terms with this and not just realize that it’s so important for their own well-being but the well-being of their whole family, but then how do you help them take those first steps?
Well, I think you said it first before anyone can support you in any area of your life. You have to be willing to give yourself permission to just be open to change. I see it a lot, especially in my work, somebody will come in and they’re like, I really want change and then their stuff comes up right away. And I think there’s a lot of reassurance like you know, I’m like, you’re gonna have an emotional poop. It’s gonna come up and out. It’s a quick detox. Let’s just call it that, where you’re like, okay, I’m ready. And then the perfectionism, the insecurities, all of that. A good visual, I mean, I can give you more strategy of that, but a good visual, and I usually always have mugs around me, is you have a cup and you want to pour more joy and ease and presence in your cup. You’re trying to pour it in.
You can’t because this cup is full. What is this cup full with? It might be guilt, it might be overwhelm, it might be resentment, it might be all the things. But if you’re trying to pour the goodness in that you want to feel, which is, I’m gonna call it the 10 minute habit a day, like a little sprinkle every single day, you have to realize before your cup, yourself is going to be full with that. it’s kind of got to clear out what’s in there first. So that stuff’s going to come up and out. But if we’re just walking around with our cup and we’re doing our best not to trigger it, like keep going, keep going, stay busy, stay busy, don’t feel the feelings, then it doesn’t, it’s not going to move. It’s the second you choose something different comes up and out. It’s just like decluttering your closet. My favorite journal prompt is wouldn’t it be nice if, and I’ve been using it forever.
I don’t even think I can take credit for it. I think it was probably like one of my first mentors that told me about it, but it’s been using it for so long. But I use it all the time. I’m like, I’ll be angry about something. And I’m like, it could be one situation, a relationship, work, kids, whatever. And I’m like, I’ll just use that journal prompt for that specific situation. The reason why I use it is it’s, wouldn’t it be nice if, I’m not asking you what you want. That can be an overwhelming question. I’m not asking you what you don’t want. And like magic wand, like you know what your desires are. Wouldn’t it be nice if something as simple as someone could make me dinner? Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could bring me a glass of water or make me a cup of coffee? Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to work on Fridays? Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody came in my house, knocked on the door and was like, hey, let me just take all of this over for the next two months. And you can be here to watch me, but like I got you. And you didn’t have to like bug them.
They came in the same way as you. Like, put it all down there. I have done this exercise at some pretty interesting retreats with different types of parent groups, and the ones with children who they have to advocate for, like the othered in society. Oh, boy. I had one of the main hosts. She’s like, Heather, I cannot. I cannot even. I cannot do this journal prompt. That is too much for me to unpack because if I write something on there that I know is not going to come true, that’s a lot to face. And what I’m trying to say with this journal prompt is if it’s too painful or you’re looking at the list and you’re so overwhelmed because these are the desires that are inside of you, they are for you, they want to come out and come to life just start small, just, and know that the resistance around that are the big feelings. Like I get excited about it now. I’m like, Ooh, there’s something there. I used to run away from resistance before. And now I’m like, I run towards it because I understand the game. That’s what cancer taught me. I wanted to run away from my biggest fear. And then when I had no other option and I had to, I was backed into a corner, I had to look at it every day. You’re going to die, you’re going to die. And that was actually something that could have come true. And the truth was, I mean, now my relationship to death is very different, but the truth was I did need to die, but it was the identity piece, not the physical body. And so after you get the, wouldn’t it be nice list, if you give yourself permission to write something out, I want you to look at the common feeling. It’s probably going to say ease, patience, free, light, abundant, joyful, whatever it says. And it could be words that no one else understands. It’s your list. It’s not gonna say, I wanna be resentful. I want, you’re gonna be like, what is the word? I wanna feel supported, right? I wanna feel disconnected. I wanna feel resentful. You’re not gonna say those things. Once you have the words that you were after, mine back then was alive. Now, sometimes it’s strong, adventurous.
I’ll be having a week and I’m like, There’s something I’m missing. And I’m like, I want an adventure. It could be something as simple as, okay, I don’t have time today. I don’t have time tomorrow. I’m gonna physically put this on my calendar for Sunday. Two hours on Sunday, I’m gonna get in the car and I’m just gonna go walk in the conservation area. That’s my adventure. Or I’m gonna drive across town and go sit at a cafe that I didn’t even know existed. And what is it inside of you that’s craving your energy and attention? These are small ways that we start taking back how we wanna feel, valuing ourselves and our needs. Once you start filling yourself up, of course there’s ways to do this, you’re gonna need accountability, your poop’s gonna come up. But once you start doing this stuff, you come back to life. And then when your child comes to you, they have big feelings, you can hold it.
And when they come to you and there’s big situations, you have big meetings and you’re like, wow, there’s a lot in that room. You can hold it. And that’s the point. And so I started doing this work because I didn’t want to die. And then I realized that was actually the secret I was searching for. How can I be present so that I can hold this for my kids? And the bigger they get, you know, there’s some big life stuff that comes out and you know, like our issues are no longer sleep deprivation. I mean, sleep deprivation, but for different reasons, either the ruminating in your own mind, or you’re wondering where your kid is because they didn’t come home at curfew or whatever. And there’s bigger and bigger, bigger stuff. So how do we emotionally hold that? The last thing I want to say about this, because as you know, Debbie, I could talk about this forever is I would not be the person I am today without the children that I am raising, regardless of how your children came to you. Um, I believe children trigger the crap out of us to shake us up. It’s like our cups, right? Like they’re just triggering the cup to shake it all up. And it’s our job to look at it and go, okay, that’s the next thing I’m going to work on, that’s the next thing. And every season, every developmental phase, every conversation, I’m like, if I don’t accept that. Quarantine is personal growth on steroids and this is the actual game of the relationship That it is going to make me evolve and grow as a person if I just choose not to do this work I Am going to become angry resentful and miserable and the more time I spend in this body on this earth Like I’m not gonna be a happy camper by the end. So I might as well just accept that this is the game and I am constantly gonna grow if I choose.
Hmm. It’s just so good everything you’re sharing. I’m like, I don’t even have anything to add, because you said it so beautifully. And I, I feel the same. So thank you for all of that. It’s just so important that we hear that. And we really think about this acceptance. And this is what we’re doing. This is what we’re doing. We are right here right now raising these humans so we can be all in and hold on for the ride. And it’s an incredible, crazy, beautiful, messy ride. So I want to kind of wrap up. We’re running a little long, but it’s just such a great conversation. You wrote a book called Dying to Be a Good Mother, How I Dropped the Guilt and Took Control of My Parenting and My Life. And I guess I would love if you could tell us what you’re really, first of all, to your story. It’s very, it’s beautifully written. It’s personal.
You kind of share your whole evolution with us and it came out in 2021, I think, is that right? And I bet you could probably write a whole new section of the book at this point. But what are you hoping or when you put it out into the world, how are you hoping it would really support women or what do you want them to kind of feel and experience and shift as they’re reading your book?
Yep.I’m been asked this question a lot, and I feel like based on the feedback and what I’ve heard people say is I just want them to feel hope. And when you feel this lack of just trapped and there’s no other way, you lose hope. And when you lose hope, you start to give up.
And a lot of times people are like, thank you. Like, I do know that there is another way to be, whether they choose to do it or not, but hope can literally change the world. I just want you to know you’re not alone. And all of our children are going to talk about us in therapy. That is okay. That is part of the human experience. And as long as you’re saying to yourself, you know what? Like, I was not perfect today. But I just want my children to know that they’re loved and safe and you start to take accountability, a little bit accountability for your feelings and you’re committed to the process. Like I think about my own parents and I’m like, what do I mostly desire from them? And it’s like, just to say, I’m sorry. And how do you think I could have did better? Like I’m listening. So it’s actually not hard to grow. You just have to be open to get feedback. But reading the book, I just want you to feel hopeful.
That’s beautiful. Thank you. So can you have a podcast, there’s a lot of ways that our listeners can connect with you and engage with the just wonderful work that you’re doing in the world. So what’s the best place for people to find you?
Yeah, so the main podcast is emotionally uncomfortable. You can find that anywhere you listen to podcasts. If you go to my website, Heather Chauvin, chauvin.com. And I think it’s forward slash free gifts. There’s a whole bunch of links there. We have a quiz where to focus your energy and attention first. We also have two private podcasts. One is directly around parenting. And then one is about attracting more profit in your business. Everything’s connected, which is interesting. But yeah, just go to my website, lots of resources.
Awesome. And listeners, as always, I will have an extensive show notes page, and you’ll get all the links to where to connect with Heather and other stuff that came up in our conversation today. I’ll include that as well. Heather, any last? You shared so much, but I don’t know. Is there something that you’re like, oh, but I really wanted to say this, or that you would want to leave listeners with?
I always like to say, you know, we’re, we’re always searching, searching outside of ourselves for what is right or the best way to do something. And I would just challenge you to say, how would I act if I deeply trusted myself and then take action, have the courage to take action on that and see how it works, because you may surprise yourself that it’s a lot easier than we think it is.
Awesome. Beautiful. Thank you. Thank you so much for, yeah, I’m just really grateful. Everything you shared today, the work that you do in the world, the way that you show up and I think this is just such a supportive and hopeful conversation. So thank you.
Thank you, Debbie.