When Single Parenting Worries Keep You Awake

By Dr. Patricia Carrington

Some time ago, a single mother wrote me. She said, “I can go to bed and be extremely tired, but I lay there, and my brain does not shut down, and I cannot get to sleep for hours.  I have been this way most of my life, but especially the last 12 years as a single parent.  Now with a 16 year old boy and a 19 year old daughter, I find I lay there playing back things said, or things thought about, or the possibilities of what could or could not happen.  Meanwhile, I am not getting the sleep I need and therefore am not much help to my children because I am often exhausted.  Is there a way I can use EFT to shut down my thinking patterns at night?”

There are a number of ways EFT can be used to induce pleasant sleep and you may have tried using EFT in its most obvious form already to counteract

your wakefulness.  Apparently you have not found this successful. For example, you may have tapped for:

“Even though I can’t get to sleep (don’t let myself get to sleep etc.) I deeply and completely accept myself.”

This would be an obvious first move and there are some even more effective maneuvers you can use for this purpose, which I discuss in “How to Use EFT to Get to Sleep Easily.” However, I will first suggest that you explore the underlying issues in your life that may be causing such a consistent pattern of wakeful concern about your teenage children.

Here are a few of these possible scenarios and some EFT Choices that might be useful for dealing with whatever issues come up. (For complete details on using the Choices Method see “The Choices ManualHow To Create Positive Choices In Energy Psychology“). The following list of suggestions is not exhaustive and may be more of a jumping off place for you than a definitive direction.

I suggest that you read over the following with an open mind, and if any of the phrases fit, try that one on for size by tapping using the setup phrase suggested or some variation of it that applies more closely to your own situation

My first suggestion is to use the EFT Choice:

Even though I feel great responsibility for the welfare of my children in their teenage years, I choose to recognize that they are growing into adults and that my responsibility for them is growing less by the day.

If you find the above phrase, or some version of it, applicable to your situation as a single parent of teenagers, then you might shorten the phrase for purposes of tapping, so that it would read:

Even though I feel great responsibility for (insert your children’s names), I choose to recognize that they are growing into responsible adults.

By the way, tapping on this will NOT make you an irresponsible mother –– far from it. What it would do is allow you to begin to hand over the reins even more to your children, these new “becoming adults”, so that you could discriminate better between the times when they genuinely still need your guidance and those times when they are increasingly able to make their own decisions. As you point out, you will do this even better if you are a rested parent instead of a sleep deprived one.

If you find the concept of your children actually being able to, some time soon, handle their own lives and make their own decisions (right or wrong), then you might continue by tapping on the following Choice:

Even though it seems impossible that they can do this, I choose to have confidence in my children’s ability to grow and handle their own lives successfully.

Obviously, safety is a major concern of yours, as it often is for parents of teenagers. To handle this you might tap on:

Even though I fear for their safety in today’s world, I choose to have confidence that they will be protected and grow into fulfilled adults.

Also, if the familiar contest of wills between teenagers and parents — sometimes exaggerated when there is only one parent in the household  — is a source of discomfort or, as often happens, of anger at your difficult position (perhaps as the children’s only disciplinarian in the house) then you might try tapping on — YOUR ANGER!

If you do so, be totally honest with yourself. Bring out all your resentment at the position you may find yourself in, or at the children for not appreciating the sacrifices you are making in assuming so much responsibility for much of their lives, or whatever. You could tap openly and vigorously on such an issue as:

Even though they haven’t a clue how hard this is for me (don’t appreciate what I do etc.) I choose to be aware of the many ways that I am a good mother.

You don’t have to be a perfect mother, and if this is an issue for you, you can use EFT very effectively to support your own deep appreciation of yourself and how you are managing an often difficult situation. To do this, you might want to use the following highly effective routine.

Buy a notebook that you designate as being your “Good Mothering” notebook. Every evening before retiring to bed, open a fresh page in that notebook and write as a heading on the page: “My Five Successes Of The Day As a Mother”

Then write down 5 things you did that day in relation to your children that you FEEL GOOD ABOUT DOING, things that you approve of yourself for having done. These can be the same things you have written down the day before if you can’t think of any new ones. They can be acknowledgements for routine tasks that you do for your children which you are really satisfied that you do well — or perhaps moments when you connected with one of them in a special way over some seemingly small matter, but which allowed the two of you to be together in a meaningful way — laughing together, participating together in solving a problem, joining in a family ritual with gusto –– whatever it was that added togetherness to your lives.

When you have at least 5 “good mother” things written down on your page (you are allowed more if you get enthusiastic and can’t stop writing!) then tap using the following or similar setup phrase:

Even though I’m not perfect as a mother, I choose to remember these incidents with real satisfaction.” (You are referring to the incidents written down on the page)

Now do the Choices Trio using the above phrase, this way.

First complete one round of EFT using the NEGATIVE portion of the Reminder Phrase at each acupoint, e.g. “I’m not perfect as a mother”.

Next… do one complete round of EFT using the POSITIVE portion of the Reminder Phrase only at each acupoint, e.g. “I choose to remember these incidents with real satisfaction.”

Then follow with the third part of the Choices Trio (the reason we call it a “Trio”) in which the instructions are to ALTERNATE negative and positive phrases at alternate tapping points (always ending up each round with the positive phrase, even if you have to add an additional acupoint by beginning to start the sequence over again). For example, in the above case you would start with the negative phrase, “I’m not a perfect mother”, and at the next tapping point say the positive phrase, “I choose to remember these incidents with real satisfaction,” then the negative phrase again at the next acupoint, and so on for the entire EFT sequence.

If you do this, you may be surprised how, after you’ve finished, negative thoughts and worries will be AUTOMATICALLY followed by positive memories of times when you have provided very good mothering for your children. The Choices Trio will have linked a positive thought to a negative thought, so that more and more often the negative thought will lead you directly to much more positive thoughts! (for more instructions on using the Choices Trio in this matter, see Chapter 3 of the Choices Manual)

Now for the application of this process to your sleep disturbance. Notice that you will have been writing down your 5 mothering successes of the day, and using EFT to link positive to formerly negative thoughts –– shortly before going to bed.

My guess is that if you do this, the nature of your intruding thoughts when getting into bed and turning out the light will now have changed from predominantly negative ones to more positive and constructive ones. You may no longer feel it necessary to solve problems as you lie in bed ready to go to sleep,  but instead may just drift off peacefully, feeling secure in the value of your own efforts as a mother.

However, old habits sometimes die hard, as they say — and you may have to employ other EFT strategies as well to break the problem-solving habit upon getting into bed. Try my training class on ‘How to Sleep Easily and Comfortably” for more specific suggestions.

Finally, if none of these tactics have worked for you, you might then profit greatly by going back in your memory and seeing when it was that your sleep difficulties began. Then try to remember what happened to you at that time in your life — the likelihood is that there was something traumatic event that triggered this wakeful habit, and tapping on that trauma can be the key to resolving the entire sleep problem— I have seen this happen many times with clients. The effect of clearing the original cause can be a complete cessation of a sleep disturbance.

EFT Master, Dr. Patricia Carrington

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