Pausing To Reflect with Lisa Foster
March 21, 2023

Why Kids Won't Wear Coats with Sara Kostelnik

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This week on Real Life Momz - Do you struggle with your child not wanting to wear a coat in -7 degree weather? This week we are diving into the (real) reasons why our children don't want to wear their coats.

 Sara Kostelnik joins me in a real parenting conversation about the daily struggles we have ranging from getting food on the table - to making smart decisions around our children's mental health and well-being in today's volatile world. Sara is a mother of two wonderful kids, founder of Jade Scott Design, an interior design studio, and host of the fabulous Living Elemental Podcast, where she educates and inspires others to curate a fulfilling life through the lens of their living spaces.

 This is a conversation that everyone can relate to and you won’t want to miss! 

Resources: Jade Scott Design:



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Do you love the Real Life Momz Podcast and want more? Subscribe to  Real Life Momz, and for just $1.99 a month, you will receive access to all archived ad-free episodes from past seasons, early access to new episodes, and monthly bonus content. And subscribers-only will have access to upcoming topics and the ability to ask upcoming guests questions. When you subscribe and opt-in to receive emails, your questions can be answered on the podcast. So click here and subscribe today. 

It takes a lot of caffeine to keep up with kids, so if you would like to support the Real Life Momz Podcast, please buy us a cup of coffee at 

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Hi, and welcome to Real Life Momz, I'm your host Lisa Foster and Real Life Momz is a podcast that's all about connecting moms through real parenting conversations. I believe that moms have so much insight and knowledge, and together we are powerful. On this podcast, we give moms a voice to tell their stories, share their expertise and resources through real conversations. And this week we're joined by Sarah Kostelnik, mother of two wonderful kids, founder of Jade Scott Design, an interior design studio, and the host of Living Elemental Podcast, where she educates and inspires others to curate a life through the lens of their living spaces. 

And today, we are having a mom conversation as we discuss common struggles that parents encounter. 

Hi Sara. Welcome back to Real Life Momz. You were a guest with us for our holiday episode, which was, I think, uh, Is Santa Real, which is super fun. Yes. And today we are also going to have, I don't know if it's a fun conversation, but I want it to be a fun conversation, but it's definitely a real life mom conversation about just struggles that we face with our kids, whether it's like them not wanting to wear their coats or something even bigger. Like I think you're going through some stuff right now, like changing kids' schools that maybe you're dealing with, so mm-hmm. 

<affirmative>. So I'm excited just to have a mom conversation with you. So thank you for coming today. 

Yeah, thank you for having me. I've been looking forward to this conversation for a while. I am super cozy on my couch. I took a shower. It's, it's a little later. I'm on the East coast, so I made a cup of tea. I'm in my pajamas. I've got my dog next to me, so we're just gonna chat. I'm excited for it. 

<laugh> awesome. And like usual, I'm hiding in the basement away from my kids and dogs, so tell us about you, because you're very zen. So tell us some of the zen things, cuz I'm thinking I need a cup of tea and that candle that you sent me that was so wonderful, Oh, good. I'm happy you enjoyed it. Yeah, I mean, it's just, it's about that it's creating, it's intentionally creating that kind of, uh, environment for yourself. I mean, that's, I have an interior design studio with, um, my fundamental teaching is funk. Um, but yeah, just really creating that environment for yourself all throughout your home, um, is really essential to just having a more peaceful home, right? When you have kids and their kids are loud and it's just, there's a lot going on and there are siblings fighting and it, it's a lot, right? 

So mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we just need to calm, just like we need to calm our nervous system. We need calmness in the home too. So just, you know, by intentionally, you know, keeping things tidy and, you know, lighting that candle making space and time for that cup of tea and conversations like this, you know, just inviting attention in each, in each area of the home is, is important. So, yeah. 

I love that. I love that. I love what you do. It's so much fun. And just listening to your voice is so relaxing. Thank you. Um, so <laugh>, thank you for talking about struggles with the cup of tea and a relaxing voice. So thank you, <laugh>. Is there a specific struggle that you feel you'd like to kick off with? 

No, not really. I mean, when we, when you and I talked previously, we were, we were kind of talking about, you know, it's funny the kids not wanting to wear their coats because of mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I think we were talking about appearance and how they're afraid of being judged and following what their peers are doing. My kids are, are younger, but they're kind of at that age where they're easily influenced. So they're eight and 10 mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I'd say my 10-year-old is probably the one that's really coming into that awareness that, oh, people judge me, right? 

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that's, that's tough because I, I mean, I can take myself back to probably more so I'd say I probably remember more of like a middle school age of that happening. He's in fourth grade, but I can say I probably have very early memories may be at that time too, of just, you know, noticing what other kids are wearing and noticing that I'm different and noticing can I be accepted by people outside of my family unit, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So there's a lot going on. I think at this age in particular, um, it's probably the start of feeling judgment and comparison and being enough and being accepted. 

And so, you know, we're seeing that a lot in my household, at least right now. 

Oh yeah. I mean, I have teens, so mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it's, it's booming <laugh> over here. <laugh>. And, and it's funny because yeah, we talk, we kind of joke right about like the kid not wearing their coat, right? Like, you see memes and videos all over the place of mom's running after their kids with coat. Right? But I mean, honestly, my, especially my son, my daughter will, if it's really cold, she'll put it on <laugh>. But my son, I actually stop buying one because he would never wear it. 

And it's exactly that fourth grade. It was in fourth grade that he stopped wearing it. And so I do, I think this, like seeing, I asked him actually, I was like, what, what is it? Like, aren't you? It's, I, I'm in Colorado, it's negative seven degrees sometimes. I mean, it is cold here, <laugh>, you know? Yeah. And I asked him, I was like, why won't you wear a coat? And he is just like, it's bulky, right? And so that makes him look bulkier than he is. 

And I think he's a little conscious of that. It's b nobody's wearing one, so it's not really cool, you know, I think it's something like that. And c his practical side, which I kind of agree with this, it does not fit in the locker. It's too bulky for the locker <laugh>. 

Hmm. That's interesting. Yeah. 

Which is interesting. 

Yes. And, and it's the same thing with the coats, but hats too, you know, being self-conscious of his hair now, you know, and how his hair is laying on his head, whereas before he didn't care, but mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I'm like, put a hat on and it gets 10 degrees outside and you know, you're gonna wait for the bus, you're gonna freeze, and then they won't zip the coat up. You get them in a coat, but then they won't zip it. And it's like, what's the point of wearing the coat? You know, <laugh>. So yeah. It's, it sounds like it silly thing, but it's, it's kind of those early stages. And so I think I'm happy that you asked your son because, you know, I think that's probably important is asking questions because there's something going on that they're most likely not sharing with you. 

And, and part of it is they don't even realize that it's happening for themselves either, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> that they're having these feelings, um, rather unconsciously. I think, I think as parents if we can just maintain a little bit of curiosity about what's going on in their lives when we notice these little things, even though they seem so little, they're probably really big for them. Mm-hmm. 

<affirmative>. And I think the deeper issue that you tapped on was, I think they just wanna fit in, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>, whether that's like, I'm sure people, and maybe they are coming up to them like, oh, you're wearing a coat. Like, you know, and say something. I don't, I don't think that so much is happening for him, but just wanting to fit in and, and doing the best they can, which brings me to like, fitting in at school. Yeah. <laugh>, right. Which is probably the bigger issue here, not the code. 

Exactly. Exactly. And you know, my kids, we moved, we moved them into a different school this, this school year, and it did not go so well. Mm-hmm. And, um, my son went from really being kind of, everybody was his friend to zero friends. And that didn't like I said, it just didn't go over well. And he, we, they were in kind of a rough school, you know, there's this school that we moved them into kind of had a, they were, no, this school was known for, you know, some behavior issues, but it was bigger and there was more opportunity. 

They were in a charter school before, so it was just bigger. There were more opportunities for them to meet new, you know, more friends and get involved in some of the sports and activities and a lot of things, that they didn't have at the other school. 

And so it was a family decision to move them. But then I just noticed a lot of changes in him immediately. Like when he cut his hair, my son had longer hair, and when he cut it, you know, they all, a few kids in the classroom kind of like, you know, chuckled like, oh my God, your hair. And like, even though they didn't maybe mean, mean it in a way to make fun of him mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it was just very insulting to him to like, have, you know, the whole class, look at you as you walk in with your new haircut and laugh at you. 

And, and it's sad to me because it's something so small like that is, is probably gonna leave a really big imprint on him for a while mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and it's immediately going to, it's like an attachment to him, <laugh>, you know, like he's gonna now be self-conscious every time he cuts his hair. 

And, and I'm, even now I'm noticing it when he styles it, he's looking in the mirror a million times and making sure, like, you know, that one piece is still over and it's, it just breaks my little heart because it, it, it does take me back to a place in time when I, I know, like, I think it's so normal that these kids have to go through it mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but as a parent, I, you know, I'm experiencing it for the first time as a parent, and so it's cha it's hard. It's challenging to watch them have to go through it. 

And hair is actually very important, FYI. Like, because it's such a part of their identity. So I think, I know when I take my son for a haircut, oh my God, if it, he, he actually gets his haircut sometimes, like over a break so that he'll have a week, you know, cuz a boy's haircut, right? It's like two weeks. It's like the haircut's gone, right? Like it's, it's a totally different haircut. So he has a week, so if it is too short and it would look funny, he has a week for it to grow. 

That's how much he thinks about his haircuts before going to school. And that's sad. It's kind of sad, right? 


In school, I think there is a lot of insecurities and, you know, if you do something even just like cosmetically like that, like a haircut, it's easily seen and less hidden and, and people just say things, which is so awful. 

It is, it is. And I, you know, I really try to, to teach them too, you know, when someone is, is being like that, you know, it's really because, you know, not to like point fingers at parents, but, you know, maybe that child isn't getting the attention they're, they want at home. Right. Anytime. I, I just think that anytime any human, whether it's a child or an adult is acting out, it's because there's this lack of self-confidence in themselves mm-hmm. <affirmative> or this lack of, you know, attention that they're not getting. And so I really try to teach them that even at such a, a young age, that, you know, and isn't that sad? 

Like, isn't that, aren't you happy that you don't have to worry about that? That you receive the love and attention that you need so that you can be confident in who you are and how you show up in the world. 

Whereas, you know, not a lot of kids receive that, so that's their call out for that mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so I try to, I try to turn it around so that they're not just angry and resentful and, and wanna retaliate, you know, against these kids. Right. Because that's not the message either. Right. That's just like putting everything into a big loop. Um, so that's my message back to them. And, and, and I, I do see their little brains, you know, churning like, oh, okay, I can see that. You know? And so I just, I always try to lead with the message of love, just let's send that child some love and just move on. 

And that really helps, I think just talking to them in a way that, you know, gets their mind off of what happened to them mm-hmm. <affirmative> and how to like, you know, send love to somebody else really turns the table and I, I don't know. We'll see. I hope it's working. I think it is because I've heard them say things, you know, in little, you know, conversations that I know that this stuff is sinking in <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So hopefully, hopefully it, it's doing something to help them get through these tougher times. 

Right. I love, I love that you put it that way because it's one thing, you know, I did just do a bullying episode and um, they, we did talk a lot about the person actually coming from a place of feeling just insecure, right. And how to build up these kids, um, to feel more like their buckets are filled. So they're not doing that. But I love the, the addition to that of, of actually saying, um, send love to the other person. You know, because I, I don't think that's a message. 

I don't know how much I've given that to my kids of like, even though somebody is maybe saying something not nice, you know, seeing where they may be coming from and then hoping and for them to have the love that, and this, that they, that they're getting, that your child is getting at home, that they would feel the same. I think that's really nice. I mean, that's a whole nother perspective. 

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I'm a, I study of course the miracles, so it's really the message from that, um mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, and so I'm finding little ways to, you know, really share it with the, with my kids. Cuz I think, you know, even just raising kids, so many parents are trying to raise kids differently than they were raised, you know? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so I think there's this huge, you know, like movement, especially in today where the, where a lot of people are breaking, you know, you hear about it a lot, just breaking these generational cycles of, of trauma and ways we were raised. 

And um, so that's, you know, that's kind of my approach to it. 

Yeah. I love that. I love that. I'm also thinking of just, that's coming up in my head. One of the struggles that I find, um, say your child doesn't like something, right? They, you know, they get their course, their classes. So in middle school and probably high school, they get some electives, right? So they don't have to take a class, but they may wanna try something and they get into the class and they're kind of like, oh my God, this class is not what I think it's going to be. But it's like day one, they don't know, right? 

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, you know, there are two methods, right? You can say there's the viewpoint of try it out and stick with it because you signed up and you gotta figure it out and just deal with it. We're not gonna always like things, we're not gonna always like the teacher, right? 

So, you know, it's that, that that's one method. Method, right? Push through. And then the other is like, am I teaching my kid basically suck it up, right? <laugh>, like, if you don't like something, no, you have to suck it up. Or do I teach my kid, well, can we do something about it? Can you go talk to somebody to change your class? Like, you know, it's kind of a push pull. Like do you teach 'em to suck it up or do you teach 'em to stand up for what they want and maybe create a better situation? 

Yeah, that's a great question. As you were explaining it, I was having some things come up for me where I've done that and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think every situation is gonna be really different. You know, I think that you really need to evaluate how it is affecting the child because, you know, we've had this situation with sports, they wanna try sports and then they don't wanna go to practice, but then once they're at practice they're fine. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, they get through it. And then, you know, we had this with my son swimming. 

He was super excited, he enjoyed it. Then we started falling down. He did his first meet and I think it was a little too overwhelming for him. And after that meet, then it became, I don't really wanna go to swim practice. You know, he was kind of falling outta love with it very quickly. 

And so we pushed him, we pushed him till the end of, you know, like the spring I think it was. And I said, I need, you just need to finish. Because I feel like when you're at practice, like once you're there, you're fine. It's just getting you to practice. And is it because you want to just be online with your buddies or, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative>, do you really dislike it? And I think it takes a couple conversations, um, because kids, kids can just be in the moment, just like adults are, you know, you don't feel like doing this one day, so you don't, right? 

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, so I think it takes a lot of conversation. But we had another situation, in fact with switching schools. Same thing. Um, the school that they were at previously, my kids loved it. They loved every teacher. And then the year after Covid, everything changed. 

It was, my son had like a new teacher. He didn't really like her after having like, you know, very, um, bubbly coddling type teachers. He got a teacher that was very much the opposite of that. And so he struggled and he didn't really like going to school and she didn't make it fun for them. And, um, my daughter's class was ha having a lot of behavior issues. She was pulled out of pre-K when Covid hit. So her first year, full year into school was first grade. So of course, none. Oh wow. Kids are first graders. They don't know, they don't know how to behave in school. 

Cuz this is their first experience. They've been online for a year and a half, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So there was just a lot of things all at once. And that was what really initiated our move. And, and we put them in the school that wasn't so great. 

And, but then it just became a matter of, okay, I'm seeing over six months, I just really saw my son go downhill. And it was like, okay, this is not my son <laugh>, like his personality, his irritability, his the calls from the nurse because his tummy hurt, which told me it was all anxiety. Um, you know, those were the signs that I knew, okay, I'm not going to make him stick this out. Like mm-hmm. <affirmative>, this is, this has the potential to really impact him and set him down a path that could put, put him on a, on not such a great path for, for quite a while if I don't do something. 

So that was a situation in which I was like, yeah, I don't care if we're at the end of the school year and it's mid-March, like, we're switching schools as soon as we can because, you know, I just saw the impact it was having. 

So again, those are two really different situations where I think it really depends on the situation. And, as a parent, I think it's up to us again to stay curious, ask questions, notice the signs, and, you know, not wanting to go to swim because you were really intimidated by a meet to me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> isn't justification enough to quit, like stick it out, you committed to something. And that teaches a little bit of perseverance. But on the other hand, you know, a school that just was not a great fit at all, and I could see changes in behavior and how he was treating others at home, like, that's different. 

You know what I 

Mean? Right. No, that's, that's so true. And I think like trying a swim team for the season, you know, and then being able to switch, like say, okay, I don't wanna do, I did not enjoy that is very different than Yes. Uh, a school situation where you're seeing a personality change and things like that. I have to tell you, I was really proud of my son because this is what made me think about it in the past. Like in the past I would've just been like, okay, you need to stay in this art class because you like art and you know, in the past you've actually stuck it out and you've, you know, you've really enjoyed it. 

So yeah, let's finish it out for this semester. That would be my old self. But what happened was, there was a little bit of a conflict, I think with the teacher versus the art class, I'll be honest if I look at it really closely. 

But what I loved was, he actually, now he's in middle school, so he's a little older. He actually, you know, I said, give it till Friday and then let's discuss. So came Friday, I was like, okay, let's discuss. And he goes, oh no, I already went to my counselor. I told him that I wanted to transfer out. I actually went over to one of my teachers that I really, really love. He has this teacher that he loved, asked if I can be her personal teaching assistant for the class. 

And then I just transferred outta the class and I just went, Hmm. So let me just get this straight. You did all that by yourself, <laugh>. Right? Like, I, I didn't do anything, number one. Number two, you stood up for yourself and made a better situation for yourself. And, and he's so happy. Like, oh my God, he loves being this teacher assistant in this class. Like, it's like the best thing ever. And I'm like, huh, okay. And I would've probably said, okay, let's stick it out. Right, right. 


But you initiated, you advocated, you did all the things. And I'm like, well, huh, good, good job. And so that's what made me start to think of different things like maybe we need to be listening to a little bit more and maybe our kids are more able than we think. 

Yeah, they are. And I think, you know, I think as parents we tend to default to y'all. You signed up for something, you gotta stick it out. Right? Yeah. I think that's a default. Because I think that's again, how we were probably raised, you know, even I like, there are some nights where, you know, I teach classes in the evening. There's some nights like, oh, I don't feel like teaching class. Yeah. They're like, then don't, then don't like, no, I committed. I will do it. You know, so use that <laugh>, you know, to show them, look, I have to commit to things too. Yeah. I think we default to that. So even just when the situation arises, we can sometimes offer maybe a few suggestions. 

Like, well you could do, you could do it this way, you could stick it out. You could maybe talk to your counselor, you know, exactly the steps your son take took even though he did it all on himself. But for, you know, other parents out there, maybe just provide them with a few options and then give them a few days to let it linger in their own brain. What feels good to them. And again, like you mentioned, let's revisit it on Friday and mm-hmm. <affirmative> and who knows you exactly what your son did. They'll just take the opportunity to take matters in their own hands. 

<laugh>, that's amazing. 

I know <laugh>. Yeah. And he's quiet, like he's not really the one to like, you know, be talking a lot in class <laugh>. So for him to actually go and talk to adults like that, I'm like, wow, that was, that was great. And I think also just listening to the other half instead of just maybe giving answers, you know, like saying, okay, do this. He had a whole nother backup plan that I wouldn't have come up with. 


What else are you seeing, um, on your end? 

Well, we talked a lot about my son. My daughter's in second grade. She's doing pretty good. She's pretty resilient, at least so far. I think, you know, she's little kid group, so she pretty much adapts to wherever, you know, she was excited about starting the new school and she made friends there and she loved her teacher, even though, you know, there was still some little bit out of Controlness going on in her classroom. She mm-hmm. <affirmative> still was able to maintain, um, and, and met some, you know, really fun friends. But she was ready to, to leave too. 

And, um, you know, I think she was noticing things even, you know, with her brother that were different. So I think even on some level she felt it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> coming from him too. And, um, but she, like I said, she was still happy to leave too, and she's back to their old school and yeah, she just stepped right in and, and they, they loved their old school. 

You know, my son had asked a few times if they could go back and that was kind of like, no, we're gonna stick it out. We're gonna stick it out. And then just, it was kind of like a few things had happened in a row, it just snowballed. And I was like, no, we're, this is enough. Like we're done. They got back into their old school and they were welcomed back with open arms. I mean, they were treated like celebrities coming back with by all the teachers, the principals, the counselors, the students. And I mean, my son was like up and dressed and ready to go 15 minutes early this week. 

Oh wow. First all. Yeah. Yeah. 

I mean, smile on his face, waking him up in the morning was so easy. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I, I just knew in my heart, just by his behavior in just a matter, we, they went back on Tuesday, we're recording this on Thursday, so he's like back to his old self. So I know it was the right thing to do for them. 

And I'm just thinking of your daughter cuz she's younger. I feel like, gosh, they're so, I don't know what really shifts, you know, it's like kindergarten self, first grade self. Like why don't we still have them in our bodies? Like, I feel like they can just bounce back and forth and just so resilient with things. Um, I found a, a picture of my daughter when she was in kindergarten, so now she's like a junior now in high school. 

And probably a year ago we found this picture and I showed it to her and we, and, and we just looked at this little girl, this kindergarten picture of her and I was like, oh my God, you used to be this, like, see me as I am. You know, like there was no comparing, it was just all show. I mean, she'd be the one dancing in the middle of the room and singing and Yeah. 

No cares in the world. And it was just this like light. And I said to her, I turned to her and I go, do you think you can find your kindergarten self? Mm-hmm. And she hung that picture. She, she still has it, it's on her mirror in her room because every once in a while she needs to remind herself of that kid because it's somewhere, I mean, it's inside of us. I don't know how it gets like, tapered down so much, but it's inside of us. And like, so she can look at it and remind herself that like, yeah, I'm that kid that didn't care. Made those silly videos. 

You know, did those silly things and didn't care what people were saying. Yeah, 

That's so true. Uh, that's so good. And I love that she is hanging it up. Yeah. Oh, that's perfect. Right? Because that's probably like the peak of all the, you know, self-doubt and low self-esteem and not feeling good enough. Right. So that's amazing that, that I, hey, I can be, I can be my five year old self again, you know, whenever I want to be. That's great. 

Or that she's still there, you know, like, I don't know how, um, much she feels like she can be that self <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but she could be reminded that it's still part of her when that whole comparison stuff comes in, you know, not feeling included or good enough or, you know, all those things. You know, she could look to that picture and say, you know, it's okay. Like, I didn't care back then that maybe a little, that that little person is still inside of me that I can bring her back maybe when I need her. 

Hmm. That's beautiful. I love that. I'm gonna hold onto that one because yeah, my daughter's right in that moment now. I mean, she's, she's our flower child. She's so full of love and light and just dances and sings and dresses, wild mixes, patterns. I love it. And it's, it's so fun because I'm very much not that I'm very neutral and orderly and I don't dance and I don't, you know what I mean, <laugh>. So like, I just watch her and I'm in such awe because, you know, like you're saying, I kind of, I see myself in her. 

Like I can remember being that carefree, you know, first grader and just not caring what other people think and, and yeah. Man, that caring what others think of you that yeah. That sticks with you for a long time. 

It does. And, and it, and it somehow changes and it changes who we are. And, and at the end of the day though, but then it's funny because I think it goes back around, right? Because now that I'm 50, I don't care as much <laugh>. Right. You know, but I'm 50, I shouldn't have to wait. My daughter should not have to wait from like being a teen to all the way to 50 to feel like, oh, I don't care what people think. You know? Right. I, I do talk to her a lot, especially her more than my son. My son's a little bit more grounded. And his kindergarten self No, no, he was pretty playful too. 

I'll probably have to hang a picture of him as well on his nearest. Um, but my daughter, we have lots of talks that I, I I do try to remind her, like she'll come up with a situation and I'll say to her in five years from now, even in two years from now, cause she'll be outta high school, is that even gonna matter? And she's always like, no. I was like, okay, it's a question you should be asking yourself because, you know, we're harping on these things and at the end of the day, in literally two years from now, it's gonna be nothing. 

Oh, that's good. Because I mean, sometimes you don't, that's good that she realizes that it's not going to be Yeah. Because when you're in that moment of thinking this is like the most devastating news or whatever it is, right. There's no like controlling your emotions behind it. Think it is the end of the world if this doesn't happen or the boy doesn't like you or, you know, whatever it is. So that's great that she has that little bit of awareness that yeah, you know what, you're right. This, this isn't gonna matter. 

No, granted, that that isn't gonna matter. Might come out in a few eye rolls and <laugh> an hour later, but, but the thing is they're listening. They're listening to that question and then she's like, okay. You know, like, all right, I have another one for you. If, if, if you don't mind me 


Giving more of my struggles <laugh>, but I'm open to more of yours. I have struggles with just right now the mental health piece of kids and school. Basically we've got this attendance policy at our school. I don't know if it's everywhere but this like 10 days per year now they are dealing with so much these kids, and I don't know about your kids, but the first half of my year was, I don't know if it was, was just like they were ready, they finally backed to this new normal, but mentally they were so confused that like my kids really had a hard time adjusting to this year and they needed like space every once in a while, like literally a mental health day. 

So I have no problem playing them out for a mental health day, but on top of the mental health day, I mean we've had two huge gun violence scares, like huge. 

Where they're pretty significantly real. Like one of 'em was real, someone was actually arrested and you know, I'm dropping my kid off and you know, we're seeing this Instagram thing that says, you know, basically this threat to our particular school. I mean, and announcing actually kids, like pictures of kids that were targeted. It was pretty scary. And, and you're at the door and you're like, uh, we go home now or do you go in like, you know, it's like, do you send your kid in? 

Do you, do you take 'em home? Which, which we did. I wasn't sending my kid in. Um, and it's happened once was a real, real thing. Another one ended up being a hoax. But, um, but both times I'm like literally dropping my kid off and now I'm like taking them home and it's really mentally so hard for them because, you know, it's a push-pull. It's like they don't know, am I supposed to just go in and live my life or is this the end of my life cuz I'm about to go in and live my life. 

And as a parent, you know, you don't wanna make the wrong decision in this case, but this is very difficult, very difficult, and very true to what we're in my world right now. 

Yeah. Well, first of all, I'm sorry that you're going through that. We've had, we've had nothing that significant, but we've definitely had, um, you know, things like death notes and hit lists. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, you know, a kitchen knife was brought in. I mean there are definitely things like this happening and I mean, you know, the mental health of the kids, the parents, I mean we're all like in a crisis here until they figure out what the best, I don't know, Lisa, this is such a huge topic that it's like I, what do you do what I mean? 

I know what I would've done is the same thing as you. Like if that was going on in that moment, for sure we were going home. But then how do you send them back Monday morning? Right? 

Yeah. Or just the next day. Right. 

Or the next day. Right. It, it's a real problem for this country and you know, we have the gun talk in our family quite often. You know, my hu my son is very much a very boy attitude. Guns with, you know, cops and robbers and arresting people and taking people to jail, you know, outside playing mm-hmm. <affirmative> with his friends or even if he's just here with his sister and you know, Nerf darts everywhere and you know, I have a really hard time with it, like a really hard time, time with it. 

And I try to have that conversation with them pretty routinely. Um, because, you know,  I'm kind of ex, I'm on the extreme end of it. I feel like the only way to eradicate gun violence in our schools and in this country is to stop making the damn toys. Okay. Quit making quit glamorizing guns in general. And so it's, it's really challenging for me because my son is like, it's just a toy and I'm like, I don't wanna see it. 

Like we can't like this is why it's a pro. Like, I don't know, I'm just very extreme and it's, it's a topic I get really route up about 

<laugh>. Right. But we should But here's the deal. Your son's right. It is just a toy and it was just a toy. Yeah. Like it should, you know, we shouldn't have to be, and they shouldn't have to be, you know, dealing with these situations. But like, I mean your son is, you know, he's young and he is like, it's a toy. Yeah. That's what boys play. Nerf guns and Right. Fun and, and it should be like that in a non-violent, I'm going to kill you kind of way. 

Right. Right. And so, you know, I think our school, I think our school district gives them 20 days. Mm-hmm. And that I might be, that might be off cuz maybe that was like more lenient during like covid it might have changed. Um, but they actually get, um, a day off a month and it's actually called like a teacher in service. It's, and I, I really think it's a like a teacher mental health day Yeah. For them to get caught up and whatever. So the kids do benefit from a day off. 

So we're fortunate to have that. So I, that's what I consider it for us is kind of a mental health day. But no, I mean as an adult, like I, when I worked in corporate, you know, I took mental health days. That's important. You know, we can't always be go, go go. And you're right, kids are dealing with so much. 

So Yeah. So there are these mental health days that I happen to give my kids. You know, my son had covid. He had covid and the stomach bug and guess what he's, he is on 11 days and I get an, I get a, a letter that says <laugh> that your son has missed too many days. And I'm like, well he had Covid and you have to be out for five. But he happened to be really sick, so he was out for seven and he had the stomach bug that he was throwing up if you would like him to come back earlier, happy to send him because I don't like throwing up in my house. Like that is one thing. 

I'm like, no, I do not do that. Hit the, I mean I actually gave him some paper towels. I'm like, can you clean that up <laugh>? I can't, I don't like it. 

But I did clean that up. I'll put that out there. But, uh, but it was hard. But, so I was like, I could send him back. But that alone was like, you know, forget the mental health day. That alone was about nine days, 10, almost 10 days. Cuz he was sick. I was like, I don't really know what you wanted me to do differently in this situation. But you know, he, his school happens to be right next to my daughter's school. So I was like, if there is a something about gun violence going on and there's a threat, I am gonna pull him out too. 

I mean, they literally are next door to each other. <laugh>, you know, if she's not safe, then he is not safe and I'm gonna take him out. So it is, it is tricky, it's tricky, right? Because you wanna obviously follow the rules and go by the guidelines. 

But I guess I go back to just flexibility and I think times are different now, whether it's because of Covid and we need more time off because if you do get Covid, you are out for like a week or you know, people don't wanna go to school the next day when there is a scare and they need more mental health time to feel better about that. Um, and safety and sometimes making sure the person that did the actual event is caught before they go back to school sometimes is, you know, in need. 

So I do think there should be flexibility, uh, of, of the attendance policy. I understand schools need their kids to show up. I'm not saying that right. I'm just saying times are a little different and maybe we need to evolve with the times. 

Right. And I agree and I think, you know, at the end of the day, like I'm, you know, I'm the parent and I don't mean that in some like, you know, puffed up, chest egotistic way. Like, you know, I'm the parent and you know, I know what's best for my child and if I see that, you know, obviously if they're physically ill, that's, you know, a no-brainer. But if I see they're, they're struggling and they just need a day off to rest or, or whatever, I'm keeping them home. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I'm curious there, and there should be like a policy like, you know, you miss 10 days and there's like a three to five-day flex policy. 

But so what happens at 10 days? What, do they do? 

Well, I, I called, I mean, you get a letter, um, and then if you miss a certain amount or you have to talk to them, but I just had left a message about I pretty much saying this <laugh>, I could send them the podcast and then, um, <laugh> and then, but there is a court hearing. They, make you go to court after a certain amount of time. So we haven't had to do that. But there are kids who have gone to court and I know some of these kids that have gone to court are act like with their parent. Um, you know, it's not the kid, you know, but Yeah. 

But I know some of these kids who have gone to court, um, have had mental health issues and I feel like that's not right. You know? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. So yeah. 

That's, that's a strict policy. I'm surprised that it's that strict. Wow. Especially after Covid. I mean, it's not gone. People are still getting it, you know, it's still spreading around, you know, but, Hmm. That's interesting. No, it's, it's not that strict here as far as I'm aware. At least 

<laugh>. Yeah. Don't miss more than 10 days or 20 days, whatever, <laugh> and then Yeah. And then you'll find out. Right, right. But yeah, who knows? Who knows. But yeah. Uh, just something to bring up because of Yeah. It's one of my, one of my struggles I have with the attendance policy. <laugh>. Yeah. All right. I have one more struggle that I struggle with. All right. We'll do one more. Okay. 

Sounds good. 

Food, food, food, food. Oh geez. Kids. 

Yeah. This is a struggle. 

<laugh>. Yeah. Kids and dinner. I mean, I don't know about you, but it's like the early bird special here. It's like they are so hungry after school and inevitably it's like they always say there's nothing to eat. I don't care if I've just went food shopping, I don't care if I didn't go food shopping. There's nothing to eat. So when is dinner and it's like they get home at like three 30, you know, four o'clock. And I'm like, dude, like we do not live in Florida. I'm not nine years old. <laugh>, I don't need the early bird special at four 30. 

Right. Like, but they are, it, it's, it's always a challenge. And then whenever I actually do make, you know, there's someone who has an opinion <laugh>, so Oh yeah. The struggle with food, 

It is a struggle. And that exact scenario is the same thing happening in this household. They get home, they ransack the pantry and usually complain there's nothing. So I come in the living room and there's fruit by the foot wrappers and an empty bag of chips and bubble gum. And so, you know, I'm really trying to get them to make healthier choices when they get home. Cuz they are eating lunch early. So I know that they are hungry, but even if I'm stocked with yogurts and cheese sticks and apples, it's like, that's not what they want. 

They just want the junk. 


And then we sit down to eat and I'm not hungry. 


<affirmative>. And I just wanna be like, okay. So I, I really try to only cook one meal and I say that to them all the time. I'm not cooking more than one meal unless it's obvious, like, they're not going to eat this. Like, me and my husband might make like a Thai meal or something spicy and I know they're just not gonna have it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, my son's becoming a little more adventurous, but, um, for the most part, if if he's had it before, he's tried it before, he probably ain't gonna try it again. And so they get options though if they want if they don't wanna eat what we have, they have to make their own dinner. 

And it can either be a smoothie mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it can be eggs and or cereal. Real, the cereal I'm a little iffy on the, but it has to be like a healthy, like a brand flake or something. Like, not like, you know, fruit fruit loops or something, but Right. Um, it has to be like a healthy choice in, or, or like a yogurt and a granola or a banana. It's something healthy mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Uh, and, and something they can make on their own because mama is not making two meals, so. 

Right. Yeah. That's my 


<laugh>. Yeah. I mean I made my kids like both, I didn't make them, but I highly recommended when they offered the, they have cooking as fun classes in middle school and high school. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I'm like, yeah, you need to take those. Okay. People because 


You need, I was like, just, I was like, I'd highly recommend and you put them as your first choice. And they both did, which, and they both enjoyed it and they both learn certain things to make. Um, not, but of course we don't have the ingredients half the time, but <laugh>. But yes, I do. Yes, I do smoothies, we do now we do ramen, ramens a thing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Um, eggs. Um, my son will at least find something within the meal that he'll eat. My, my daughter not so much, but it's like literally funny because if there are snacks in like if I come home, you know, you know when you come home from food shopping and you look like a superhero, you ever have that, like where the kids are like, you're like Santa Claus, you're like, come in with all these bags and they're like, mom, you did such a good job. 

And it's because I got like the snacks they wanted. So there was like one day, one like week recently that I like, literally for some reason bought more snacks, less like, had nothing for dinner, but I had all these great snacks. I think I was just going through a moment in the store and I brought those home and my kids were like, oh my God, you mom, you did the best shopping ever. And I'm like, dude, like I have nothing for dinner. The who cares? Right. We have all these snacks, you know, like, it was like, oh right. I was like, ok. 

I was like, but that's not, yeah, that's not good <laugh>. So 

Yeah. This isn't gonna sustain us for much longer. Yeah, no, I definitely had the, uh, the superhero moments of, of buying snacks. But, um, no, it's funny cuz you know, recently too, I've been, I've been getting really irritable about leftovers not getting eaten and we're not like a huge leftover family. Like, it might be like a leftover lunch and that's it. Like, I'm not making food to the point where we're having it like two days later, you know what I mean? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I'm not talking that amount of leftover. But, um, but even just the like single serve like lunch bowls, like weren't getting eaten and, and sun every Sunday before trash night I was like throwing out like mm-hmm. 

<affirmative>, you know, five or six Tupperware containers and I was getting really pissed about it. So <laugh> now the fridge has been, I've been only buying what we eat. 

And it's funny, like even tonight I'm at the end of the week and I open the fridge and it's like just glass shelves. I'm like, wow. There is like no food in this house, you know? And but, but again, like it won't get eaten. But the things that do get eaten, that pantry, it's just never ending, needing, stocked with, with snacks and chips. And I, I'm a bit, I, I am, I really struggle in the food department because I, I really find it very tedious, the whole process. Like mm-hmm. <affirmative> the amount of money, grocery spend, the meal planning coming up with meals, the actual grocery shopping. 

I mean, thank God covid like introduced like grocery pickup and delivery cuz that has been like my savior. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But everything else that comes around and then, and then when you make it and nobody's enjoying it, it's like the whole conversation around food is with children is just, it's really frustrating. I say to my husband all the time, like, yeah, it's gonna be so nice when, when it's just you and me man, we can just go out. We don't have or 

Eat anything. I mean we can cook and it's like, at least my husband will eat anything, I'll eat anything. So we're kind of like, yay. You know, it's like it doesn't matter. 

Think, I think to tackle this struggle because I think most parents are struggling with this. I mean, there's picky eaters everywhere. I do have to say the glass shelves that are empty, cuz mine was like that actually yesterday and I usually shop on Saturday, but we, I didn't even have anything to give my kids for li I had nothing in the house that I had to run out this morning to do it. Uh, but I have to say that's a yay moment for you because you've bought the food that you ate. So anytime my kids look in there and they're like, there's nothing in there and there's literally because there is nothing cuz it happens. 

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I'm like yay, that's great. Cuz we're almost ready for a shopping day. That means we're using the food. So I think the new per perspective is good, but I think like to get over the struggle, we do have to have a different perspective of it. 

I think number one, and I'm just thinking about this now, so talk it through with me, but like number one is letting go of like feeding my kids perfectly <laugh>. Because there are times that it's fun to give your kids like fun food because they're kids and it's fun to have something junk foody. Like it just is, you know, like as much as I wanna feed him nonstop healthy, healthy food, I think for the most part we do have healthy food. Um, it is fun to give them a frigging cheese doodle every once in a while. 

<laugh>, it really is <laugh>, they're so happy. 

I agree. Yeah. 

It's a free, they love it and they're young, they can handle it, you know? Right. So yeah. So let's like kind of let go of having to have everything like healthy all the time. I'm gonna do that. 

I'm with you on that one. Yeah. 

And then I think the other thing I have to let go of is prepare a meal and someone like doesn't want to eat it. Like that does not make me a failure <laugh>. 


Mm-hmm. <affirmative> because I prepared the meal and it's cooked well. Right. Like, it's not my fault that I happen to have people that are just picky in my home. Right. 


True. So, so I say like, yeah, let's just celebrate that I got a meal on the table after working. Right. 

That's so true. Yeah. That's a wonderful perspective because yeah, you do, it's interesting that you bring that up. You do almost feel insulted. Like, I 


You just made this and you know, while everybody else sat on YouTube, <laugh>, <laugh>, I'm in here cooking and now we're gonna sit down to eat and you're just poo-pooing it, you know? So yeah. Maybe you're right. Maybe it's just my perspective that needs to change and maybe I just need to sit there and enjoy the meal I just made what everybody else thinks. <laugh>, 

And maybe remember it's not me, it's actually you <laugh>. Right. Because you don't like the meal. So that seems like an issue that you can deal with. Right. Then. Why doesn't have to be 

Me. Thank you Lisa.  You're welcome. 

I love this 

<laugh>. Yes. Yes. Because this is a big one. 

It is, it is. Yeah. So your, your kids are older, so you're telling me this, this never really goes away, <laugh>. 

No, no. There's not only are they picky, but now they can order DoorDash to order something else. Oh gosh. Yeah. That's a whole thing. That's a whole nother conversation that we can have another day. They're just like, oh, can I just order DoorDash? I'm like, do you have money? Because Yeah, I just made them. Yeah. That's 

So funny. Wow. Awesome. Yeah. Well, you know what? I'm gonna just worry about myself at dinner. I'll make it for everyone, but I'm going to sit down and I'm gonna enjoy it. I'm just gonna keep my lips shut. <laugh>. 

Yeah. Just enjoy it. And then honestly, maybe another conversation could be maybe tomorrow honey, you can make the dinner and that would be wonderful. <laugh>. 

Well, that is something we also did my mm-hmm. <affirmative> with my son. He was showing an interest in cooking. He like wanted to go to the library and get cookbooks and I was like, okay, let's do it. Awesome. And I will say when they are engaged in cooking, they are much more engaged in the eating. Yes, 

I agree. 

I think that's true for anyone. I mean, I, I anytime like I, you know, I don't enjoy slanging meals every week just to get something on, on the table that, that type of cooking I don't enjoy. But if I'm making a new recipe and it's something kind of different and I've got a glass of wine and I enjoy cooking mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, so, you know, involving kids in the cooking process and, and even, even just starting them out with like breakfast items, you know, things that are easy to make, like eggs and pancakes and things like that. 

Um, they do, there's an appreciation that goes into it, right. Like even chefs will say, you know, there's love in this food. Right. So yeah. I think there's very real, um, or very real sentiment to that. So it was, it was very short lived. I still have to, and now I have to coax Sam where before it was like for two weeks he was like, can I make dinner? Can I make dinner? Yep. Um, but now he's kind of fading on me. 

<laugh>. Yeah. No, we had the same fade thing, but I do have to say, first of all, my daughter can cook really well. Like she makes a, like a penny vodka without the vodka, but it's a cream sauce. Oh my god. It's so good. And you know where she got it? TikTok <laugh>. I, 


Wow. I was like, she's made some incredible meals from TikTok, cuz I'm not a fan of TikTok sometimes. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but for their foods. Oh my god. Yes. Yes. Let's keep going with that. Wonderful. So she's good. And, but she's also the picky eater, so she's more willing to try something if she's made it. And so that's definitely cool too. But that struggle will continue. But now we have a new perspective. 

Yes. Wonderful. 

So we, we no longer have to feel bad <laugh>. 

Yep. Not 

Anymore. So, no. So thank you. Thank you for this lovely, lovely conversation. Before we go, do you wanna just tell our listeners, you have a lovely podcast too, that really grounds people and just brings in so much good energy, so do you wanna tell them about that? 

Yeah, sure. So you can find me on any streaming platform. It's the Living Elemental Podcast. Um, as I said, I'm an interior designer. I practice feng shui. And so it's really, it's not just about those things, although we do integrate some conversations into that, it's really just about finding balance. So the five elements or Feng Shui, um, really just work in a cycle to create balance in our, in our spaces. And so, but we can really use balance in a lot of areas of our life. 

So the topics really span the gamut of conversations where we can all just bring a little more balance into our lives. So yeah, check me out. Um, you can find me on my as well. There's a lot of information there too, so, yeah. 

Awesome, awesome. I enjoyed listening to your podcast, so thank you. I know others will too. But thank you for this fun conversation. I am gonna walk absolutely out of this conversation knowing my inner kindergarten self. I'm gonna re-embrace her. I'm gonna remember that It's not me, it's them <laugh>. Yeah, 


And I'm gonna be okay with just some decisions that Yeah. That we all have to make knowing that we're all going through these struggles every day and yeah. That sometimes our kids come up with the best decision for them. 

Yeah. Wonderful. Me too. This was a great conversation. 

Thank you for listening to this episode. It is magical to be able to discuss struggles that we are dealing with daily with just another mom. Whether you need to vent or gain another perspective, grabbing another mom to talk to can make all the difference. So let's keep supporting each other and tell your friends about the Real Life Momz podcast. If you're looking for ways to support this podcast, you can become a subscriber for just 1.99 a month, while you'll receive access to all archived episodes, early release of new episodes, and access to send in questions for upcoming guests when you hit the opt-in to receive emails. 

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Sara KostelnikProfile Photo

Sara Kostelnik


Sara is the founder of Jade Scott Design, an interior design studio based out of Pittsburgh, PA. Sara works alongside her clients intentionally to create elemental spaces that support the mind, body, & home utilizing the timeless philosophy of Feng Shui.

Sara is also the host of The Living Elemental Podcast, where she educates and inspires others to curate a life through the lens of their living spaces.

You can find more at her website at, and
on most social channels @jadescottdesign