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  • Kim Meninger

Be a More Confident Mom

Updated: May 12, 2023

Be a More Confident Mom - Sue Holt

In this episode of the Impostor Syndrome Files, we look at self-doubt that comes with motherhood. It’s easy to believe that parenting is easy when you look at social media and entertainment. In reality, though, parenting is hard, and it’s been especially hard over the past couple of years. My guest this week, Sue Holt, a life coach for moms, offers an honest look at her experience as the mom of four children. She also shares strategies to help us manage “mom rage” and feel more confident in our own parenting styles.

About Sue Holt:

Sue Holt is the founder of Mommy’s Life Coach and host of the OutRAGEous Mommy podcast.


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Kim Meninger Hello, Sue, I’m so excited that we’re finally here today, I would love to start by inviting you to introduce yourself.

Sue Holt So hello, Kim, I’m so excited to be here. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation, and I am Sue Holt. I am the founder of Mommy’s Life Coach. I also am a mother of four. And I was, I still kind of identify as a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom first the past 16 years. So, yeah, that’s my story.

Kim Meninger Can you tell us a little bit more about your journey? How did you get to started in your business? What were you doing before?

Sue Holt Yeah, so I was a, like I said, stay-at-home mom. I, I had three children in three years, and two miscarriages. And then three years later, I had my fourth son. I was exhausted, to say the least, physically and mentally. I really lost myself, I really did not know who I was anymore. So I was in a mom’s group. And there was a woman that came and talked to us about just writing our five-year goal. And I just started to cry and shake and like, I don’t even know what I want to do in five years. I don’t even know what I’m doing now. I’m just, I feel like a horrible mom. Just a mess and yelling all the time. And so I thought I wanted to be this woman. I want to be a life coach that helps moms because I, I, I just felt so overwhelmed to the point of like exhaustion. And I also ended up in the hospital for a couple of days, I had no range of motion in my back. I think it was due to living on sugar and coffee. And just being like, just, just, just the physical demands of it all. Just kind of I, my body just was like, No, we can’t do this anymore. We need to shut down. So yeah, so then I just kind of made it like a mission so that we need to talk about the self-doubt that moms experience. Especially I say, I’m a coach that helps moms who yell at their kids. So everyone says that, like, great. I’m not alone. Yeah, so… And there’s just so much shame in that because we think, Oh, God, I’m such a bad mom. Like, and, and there’s so many, there’s so many clues or clues maybe like, there’s so many things in society that, that teaches us that or tells us that moms are supposed to not yell at their kids and they’re supposed to be compassionate. And they’re supposed to be patient and they’re in there, like, I mean, if you watch any movie, like, no kids are being yelled at, you know? Like, it’s like, we have mom that’s nothing like you, you know? But um, yeah, and I just, I just find like, the more that we talk about it, the less shame we have around it, the less guilt we have. And, and I also try and well not try, but part of my coaching is that we talk about ways to manage it. And we call it mom rage, so. So yeah, so that’s how I got into it. I think that was a really long-winded answer. But…

Kim Meninger I think that you have set us up nicely for an important conversation, because just the way you describe that makes me think about, more generally, the reason for putting this podcast together. Because I think that when we look around, and we see these very carefully curated versions of other people, and whether that’s on social media, or just even in our workplaces or our communities where people don’t generally lead with the bad stuff. And so we think everyone else has it all figured out. Everyone else is doing this so much more gracefully, so much better than I am. There must be something horribly wrong with me. And so when you said moms who yell at their kids, right, like yeah, I think that’s probably, you know, some hidden secret that so many of us as moms have. We feel terrible that we do it, but how do you not, right? We live in these really stressful times, where the last two years have been utter chaos and how, I don’t know how you survived homeschooling and all that that entails without getting frustrated, like you, you cannot be this picture of patience. That’s expected when life is upside down, and you have no idea what you’re doing. So…

Sue Holt Exactly. And I mean, in the past few years, we’ve been becoming homeschool teachers, which we never thought we would be. I never thought… I was actually a teacher. Even worse, teaching my own kids. So we never thought that we never thought, you know, as, although we know, a lot of women were not going I mean, and men, no one was really in the workforce. We were all home at that time. But the demands of motherhood wasn’t really, you know, we still were cleaning up the kitchen, we still were doing all the household chores, plus being a teacher, plus doing our jobs, and then plus, becoming burnout.

Kim Meninger Mm-hmm. Absolutely. So can you say more about your approach to mom rage?

Sue Holt Yes. So, yeah, I think number one is talking about it takes away the shame, it takes away the power, and it takes away that guilt that you feel, right. So telling a friend now, it’s not something like, you’re not going to drop off your kid in the car line and be like, I just screamed at him because he didn’t put my, his shoes on for five minutes. You know, that never really happens, right? So finding a, you know, someone we love, like and trust. To just, you know, admit it, maybe not admit it, but just talking about it let’s go the shame. And then number two, I’m finding that more and more moms that I talk to, that feeling of mom rage comes and people describe it as, and this one woman described it, and it was like perfect. It feels like a bottle that’s being shaken. And then the neck of the bottle is about to explode. And that’s how you feel, then you open up the cap and then it, then it, then it’s like an explosion. Right? So we’re talking about throughout, like our, in our coaching sessions. What is getting us to that point, right, that we don’t just wake up and feel that right? What’s getting us there? So finding out your triggers. And for I would say 90% of the moms is there’s not enough me-time, especially moms of little children. One woman would say, and I’m sure we’ve all done this, we lock ourselves in the bathroom for five extra minutes when they’re little because you’re just like, I just need five minutes, you know. So figuring out ways throughout the day or throughout the week or throughout your life that you are able to have me time. And throughout different stages of the mom game, it’s, it’s going to look different, you know, now my kids are a little bit older, so I can take an hour to myself. Right when they were younger, 15 minutes was huge. Right? And, and even in those 15 minutes, I was so physically tired. So just I mean, I think I would just stare at the wall for 15 minutes. Right? And that was okay. You know, now my me time is a little different. Maybe going to a workout class or, you know, something more, a massage or something that I’m able to do more but really focusing on when you’re feeling like you’re about to explode, then what is triggering it? And definitely 9 times out of 10, it’s not enough me time that you’re taking for yourself. So yeah.

Kim Meninger it sounds like there’s a proactive and I’m sure a reactive approach to this. Right. So it sounds like if you’re in this situation, then you’re probably not getting enough of that space. And if you were to create more time for yourself, there’d be less of that. Right? Getting to that point.

Sue Holt Yeah. And then it’s like a vicious, vicious cycle. Like you’re not doing that and then you feel like you know that then it’s like a snowball, you know, and then by the end you’re just like, and then mom rage and then you’re freaking out yelling at everybody, right? Losing it. A lot of people, a lot of moms like that term. So it’s almost like trying to prevent it. Now, when we’re doing that, we also need to set up boundaries, delegate, prioritize, set your values, know your values, what do you value? Do you value integrity? Do you value authenticity? Do you value health? If those are the cases, then boundaries need to be set throughout the day. And also remembering that you are, and you’re still a, I don’t want to say still, but you’re still a good mom, if you take time for yourself. We don’t have to be everything. We don’t we, we can’t. Because when we are, that’s when, that’s when we just, you know, feel that bottleneck explosion and we lose it. Right? So also, I don’t want to say lowering expectations. Because, you know, you always want to have like a, you know, a high expectation of yourself. But unrealistic expectations is huge. A lot of moms that experience mom rage are also perfectionists themselves. Not so much they’re perfectionists for their children, they want their children to be perfect, but they have unrealistic expectations for themselves. I remember when I had my fourth son, and I had, so I had a six-year-old, a four-and-a-half-year-old and a three-year-old. And then I was nursing every, you know, 25 minutes, I felt like, and then, you know, the amount of things that I thought I could get done in a day was absolutely unrealistic. Like, there’s no way you’re gonna take all four of them to the food store, you know, and get everything on your list. There’s just no way it’s gonna happen. So, yeah, that’s a huge one, setting realistic expectations. And being self-aware of them, like, you know, if I take all four of them to Target at 12 o’clock, they’re gonna want the hot dog. Right. They’re gonna want to eat something, they’re gonna, you know, so just, yeah, just, just being realistic and knowing kind of what’s going to happen.

Kim Meninger Yeah. Because, yeah. That sounds like there’s, although it’s probably easier said than done in the moment, because there is so much, just, we’re also frazzled right now. But it sounds like one of the things that you’re saying is to plan ahead and be mindful of the rhythms of your children’s schedules and lives too, right? To that point, don’t take them somewhere during lunchtime and expect that they’re not going to be cranky or hungry or…

Sue Holt Yeah, definitely, yes. I remember taking, taking them to the food store. And this woman when she was one of the clerks, and she came up to me and my newborn was screaming because he was hungry, you know? And she’s, like, looked at me, she’s like, Sue what are you doing? What are you doing bringing them now at lunchtime? I’m like, I know, but we needed food. And you know, so? Yeah, definitely. planning things out and setting realistic expectations. Yeah.

Kim Meninger And, you know, you mentioned boundaries, I think is such an important part of this conversation. And I think it’s something that many of us struggle with in lots of different areas of our lives, like, what do boundaries look like to you?

Sue Holt So that is a great point. And I do think that I feel like boundaries are kind of, they tend to get like an, Everyone talks about them all the time. And it kind of gets like, okay, boundaries, but it’s overused, I guess what I’m trying to say. So setting boundaries may look like for example, so yes, I can probably drive my 16-year-old to his girlfriend’s at 7:30. However, at 7:00, I planned on getting together with a bunch of say, you know, hockey moms, he’s a hockey player, so and, you know what, Michael? No, I won’t use his name. Oh, I, you know what, I can’t drive you there. Hon. I, I, I’ve said this, and this is what I’m doing. You know, and, and people say like, Oh, you have to put yourself first but let’s be real when you’re a mom, you don’t. But you also need to be in the equation of your family. Right? Not, not everybody else is first and then us, right? We’re all equal, and we’re all in, in the same equation. And, and, you know, realistically, like, like we said before yeah, being a part of the equation and, you know, doing things that you do want to do to doesn’t make you a bad mom, you know, if you, you know, like to go out with your girlfriends on Thursday night, then, then you should go out with your girlfriends on Thursday night. Doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. And just kind of giving yourself like a break. You know, you don’t have to be everybody for, you don’t have to be everything for everybody all that time. I think a lot of us get like this. I did anyway, like, I have to do everything for them. Like, I can’t even ask my husband for help. I can’t ask my mom for help because my mom didn’t have help. So she had to do it all. So I have to do it all. And it’s like, no, you don’t. We don’t have to do it all.

Kim Meninger Yeah, I think that’s a really important piece, too, is the asking for help. Because I remember when I was pregnant with my older son, thinking, I’m going to make this look easy, right? I’m not going to be one of those moms that says she hasn’t been able to take a shower all week, like, I’m going to be able to do this right. And so I was so exhausted. And just so and, I had postpartum depression with my older son, too, that I didn’t treat because I didn’t want to go on medication because I knew I wanted other children. And so it was just like this unnecessary emotional and physical stress. And I didn’t want to ask for help. I was like, I’m going to rock this whole mom thing, right? Like, my husband’s gonna think I’m a superhero. And so I didn’t ask for help. And then when my younger son was born, five years later, because we had a bunch of miscarriages, too. I was like, I didn’t, I never got a medal. I’m like your turn. Yeah. All right, your schedule is this, this right? And so, and it just makes such a difference. And like, why did I torture myself? So we think that there’s some kind of, I don’t know what it is like bragging rights or pride that comes with doing things on your own. But that is not so. Throughout our civilization, that is not how families have gotten to where they are, right? I mean, in more recent times, if you think about it over a longer period of time, generally speaking, more recently, we’ve become more independent. But for most of our human experience, we have leveraged our family members and our communities to help raise our children. And now we think that there’s something really, you know, I don’t know, special about doing it on your own. Why? Why don’t we do that to ourselves?

Sue Holt So you’re so true. Oh, my gosh, I had a conversation with my grandmother. So she had six children. And I remember I said to her, oh, my gosh, Granny, like, how did you do it? How did you have six and she’s, she was like, real tough and funny. She’s like, ah, we didn’t play with our kids like you did. She’s, she’s like, your uncle Patrick. He’s, he lived his life in the pack and play or playpen until he was about five. And she’s like, you know, and she goes, you know, everybody helped out like, you know, Mrs. O’Brien down the street, she would feed them lunch if the kids were there, or someone would watch them while you would go food shopping. And she’s like, it really was a community, we really relied on, on everyone else. So and I think you’re right, I don’t think we do that now.

Kim Meninger No. And I think it’s partly probably the way we live, right? Because we spread out and you know, not everyone lives near family or has the kind of relationships that they can rely on for that kind of support. But also, I do think that the perfectionist piece is really important too, especially if we’re moms who have, before we had kids, had some kind of a, you know, whether it was academically we really pushed ourselves or we pushed ourselves in the workplace. It’s hard to let that go. And now when you have children, that’s like the next arena that you want to excel.

Sue Holt Yeah, yeah. And I, yes, I was a teacher before I had children. And it was funny. I was talking to a client of mine, and she was a teacher as well. And I put so much pressure on myself because I actually thought like, oh, well, I was a teacher. Like, I’m gonna just, I’m gonna be so great at this. You know, I’m gonna be the best mom ever. I’m, I’m my kids aren’t gonna watch TV, my kids are gonna do this and, and like, Whoa, that Yeah. School did not, it definitely doesn’t help you get up in the middle of the night and nurse your child, right? Like, you don’t get prepared for that part of it. But yeah, and I think judgment too is a big thing with moms. I do say to my clients, like, you know, like, well, I feel like, you know, I’m being really judged. And I’ll say like, you know, with all due respect, do you feel that you’re judging other moms as well? Because when you feel like you’re judging others or when you feel like you’re being judged, a lot of the times is you’re judging other moms. And we’ve all done it. I have certainly done it. And then, you know, my kids do the same thing. And you’re like, oh, sorry, I said that. I mean, I would never say it out loud. You know, but, but it’s, it’s, it’s, yeah, that moms are judged a lot, whether they work from home, they stay at home. And it’s, it’s a silent kind of a judge, right? It’s like a, you know, a little, little, little look at like the PTA meeting or, and, yeah, it’s tough. Excuse me. It’s, um, you know, nobody wants to feel like a bad mom. Right? And, and when another mom thinks that you’re a bad mom, or you think that another mom thinks you’re a bad mom, it’s like, oh, like, then then you really like it’s, it’s like, right to the heart. Right. So, yeah, I just encourage moms to, to not judge other moms as much. And then yeah, because then, you know, the less you judge and less judgment you will feel so…

Kim Meninger So true. Yeah. Easy trap to fall into when you already feel shame and guilt. Well, at least there’s somebody who’s doing it worse than I am, right? Yeah. We get self-righteous about that. And it’s not helpful to you because, to your point, and you feel more judged, you don’t, it doesn’t make you feel better. It might make you feel better in that moment. But it’s not a strategy that’s just saying to you about your grandmother, because I think this is a really important point, and maybe something that we can all take a little perspective from. My mom didn’t sit on the floor and play but she was a stay-at-home mom for much of my childhood. She didn’t sit on the floor and play with us all day long. I mean, I do think we have different expectations of what parenting looks like these days than our parents did. Or our grandparents did. The hands-on nature of parenting these days, especially at a time when moms are busier than ever is unfortunate. Right? Because I think it’s setting a, setting a bar that’s impossible to meet.

Sue Holt Yeah, I agree. And I also just want to go back to the say, you saying that your mom was a stay-at-home mom. So I was a stay-at-home mom. And I felt this immense amount of pressure to be the absolute best mom I could be because I was quote-unquote, lucky enough to stay home. So every day I thought that my house had to be spotless all the time, I thought that I had to be like the picture-perfect mom, like and I had to be, you know, I had to work out and I had to make smoothies for all the kids because healthy moms make healthy smoothies for their healthy kids. And you know, and it was a facade because I was like breaking down like physically and mentally like I, I just could not keep up with the pressure of it all. And yeah, like, I don’t remember my mom ever playing with us… ever. Or making smoothies? No, no, no, it was peanut butter and jelly.

Kim Meninger Exactly. Yeah, very simple or with you know that, like you said before, too, like the neighbor’s parents would feed us if we were down the street during the day. And it just wasn’t, we weren’t expecting fine dining at every meal and weren’t expecting their undivided attention at every moment. It’s just a different time.

Sue Holt And I also think, too, that we were, we were able to because our parents, I don’t want to say didn’t play with us, but they, it wasn’t their job to entertain us. I think that we were able to entertain ourselves and, and not be so quote-unquote, like bored. Like my grandmother would say, if he would say I’m bored, she’d say, oh, boring people get bored. You must be boring. You know? Like, Oh, gosh, but like my kids now will be like, Oh, I have nothing to do. And I’m like, you have plenty to do, you know. So I think we kind of, it’s kind of a disservice for our kids because they, they don’t know how to entertain themselves, right? They have, they have to learn that, you know, we can’t always be their, their source of entertainment. And I will say to my kids, now they are older, like, I am not your social director. I am not like, you know, can this one come over? Like they’re off today? And it’s like, Oh, can we go to trampoline park? Like, no. You know, no, I don’t have, I have a podcast interview today. And I have a client and like, you know, find something to do. Yeah. So…

Kim Meninger Very true. My older son is turning 12 this month. And we live in this neighborhood that it makes me sad sometimes. Because I look at our neighborhood, which is full of kids of different ages. They don’t know each other. My, my son got off the bus the other day. And I was like, Oh, who’s that kid? He’s like, I don’t know, he didn’t know his name. And I thought we would have all been playing together, it would have been something where it didn’t matter what, how old you are, you would have all played together. They don’t play outside, they play on the computer, they watch YouTube. His best friend lives three houses down. One time we had them over. My husband sent them outside. He didn’t want them in front of the TV anymore. They didn’t know what to do. They stood outside the window and just stared at my husband. They needed direction on how to play, you know, and I think it’s so true. We have created this world where they don’t know how to independently entertain themselves. And it’s really a disservice to them, as you said.

Sue Holt Yeah, I totally agree. Yeah. So funny. Oh, my gosh.

Kim Meninger Well, I’m sure there are a lot of people listening who are nodding their heads and thinking, thank God, I’m not the only one. Is there anything else that you would suggest that we do as frazzled moms or, you know, just trying, trying to cope with the realities of the experience?

Sue Holt I definitely think like, there’s so much hype about like, self-care, self-care. I also think, uh, you know, we have to buy a candle. And then like, that’s our self-care. Like, you know, I think what moms really do need is to practice self-compassion. Um, you know, giving yourself a break, like, you know, talking to yourself, like, you know, some of the books will say, like, talk to yourself, like you would have baby-like, I don’t know about that. But talk to yourself as if you would talk to your best friend, right. Like, for example, the other night, my daughter was done dance at eight. I was in the middle of work and completely forgot. And she like, calls me at like 8:15. Like, are you coming? I’m, oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I forgot, you know, blah, blah, blah. And then the whole time I’m like, I’m such an idiot. Like, how can I forget that? She’s, she’s there all by herself. She’s a young girl. God forbid, you know. And now, if my girlfriend, my best friend called me and said, Oh, I forgot, I forgot to pick up Matt. You know would I say to her you’re such an idiot. I can’t believe you forgot! No, no, you know, so talking to yourself like so, of course, you forgot, you have a lot going on. Why is she dancing until eight o’clock at night anyway? No, but just like, give yourself a break. And, and kind of talking to yourself the way you would talk like, to your best friend.

Kim Meninger That’s a really important point too. And one of the things too, that I think about is we all grew up without parents who played with us at every turn, and we turned out okay, right. I think you know, if you think about it from that perspective too, kids are very resilient, they don’t have the same expectations of us that we have of us. I think that, you know, while we joke about the fact that, you know, our kids are going to be in therapy, because of the things that we do, right? There’s plenty of stuff that they’ll be in therapy for that we have no control over, I don’t think that we’re not playing with them 24/7 or entertaining them or giving them smoothies and healthy food at every meal, or is, is going to be one of those things, right? I think kids, kids grow up, they have their own lives and form their own values. And everyone’s gonna be fine.

Sue Holt Yeah, it’s, it’s true. Yeah. And, and, and I do say this to moms all the time. Moms, like kids do not need a perfect mom. They just need you. They don’t like, you were given that child whether it was biologically or not, for a reason. That’s what they need. They don’t need to see the picture-perfect mom. They need, they need to see the real mess of life. And they need to see that you’re a real person. And you know, guess what? I can’t like, do it all, like you, you know, they need to see also like you enjoying yourself, you know, they, they really need to witness that. And I was like, miserable when I wasn’t showing them that and they didn’t need to see the miserable-ness, you know, it came out, you know, still does that saying it’s gone? But um, yeah, so…

Kim Meninger That’s powerful too. Yeah, that’s a really powerful way to, to think about it is they want the real, you, right? They don’t want the curated you and if you’re trying to be someone that you’re not, if you’re trying to be perfect, that the consensus that there the misery that lies beneath that will seep out in lots of different ways, whether it’s the rage, right or something else. And so I think that’s a really good way to take some of the pressure off. [Yeah.] Wow, this was such a great conversation. So where can people find you if they want to follow up with you and get more information?

Sue Holt So my website is Or, I’m sorry, Mommy. Yeah. Mommy’s Life Coach, and my Instagram handle is mommy’s life coach. I also have a podcast, the Outrageous Mommy. And, yeah…

Kim Meninger That’s perfect. We’ll put all this into the show notes as well. Thank you so much for such a great conversation.

Sue Holt I love that. Thank you so much, Kim. So nice to meet you.

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