Mom Hacks To Stay More Effective Every Day with Dr. Darria Gillespie

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In the fourth and final installment of a series on motherhood with Dr. Darria Gillespie, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen discuss helpful mom hacks taken straight from Gillespie’s new book. Learn how you, too, can implement these hacks into your own life in order to make your mommyhood easier and more effective.

Read Full Transcript

Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain, to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest-quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and your body. For more information, visit
Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We are here with Dr. Darria Long Gillespie. We are talking about mom week.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie This is the most fun I've had in a long time, so.
Dr Daniel Amen: A lot of fun, and brain warriors need to take care of their moms, so I want you all right now to text or email or Facebook your mother. And, you know, she went through actually a fair amount of suffering for you, whether you're a boy or you're a girl. And I just want you to say thank you. And I want to thank both of you because you're both awesome moms. Tana, you know, I think one of the best things Tana did ... We have this awesome 15 year old-
Tana Amen: She's awesome.
Dr Daniel Amen: But for the first 10 years every night she read books with Chloe to get her to sleep.
Tana Amen: And I want to say, I want to honor you because I always felt like was incredibly supported. I have an amazing partner. So he's always helped me through the really hard times. But we also as a family sat down and ate dinner together. No matter how stressful the day was. It's just like we went out once in a while, but mostly we stayed home and ate dinner together. And I just think those little things are so important.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie They absolutely are. Having a wonderful supportive partner makes such a difference. Even having family dinners. And we were learning in the science that children who have more family dinners at home have better performance, they have better health, they have better relationships. They do fewer at-risk behaviors when they're teenagers. So I started digging in. Because we have a five year old and a two year old. I'm not going to be sitting there julienning carrots [crosstalk 00:02:38].
So I started to do, like what is the minimum I can do and still get that benefit. And there's actually a researcher, Dr. [Jessica Berg 00:02:46], and that is her research, is part of it is what's the minimum you can do to get family dinner benefit. So there's a whole hack on that. But it's doesn't have to, it's not Thanksgiving dinner.
Tana Amen: No! And like pre-diced onions, best thing ever made. I'm so excited about all those little things in the grocery store.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie Yes! Get everything. Like I get, what I get if I'm cooking teriyaki something, I will go to the butcher while I'm in the middle of the grocery store and I'll say, "Here's the chicken. Can you chop it [crosstalk 00:03:12]-
Tana Amen: Absolutely. And they'll do it.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie ... bite size. They'll do it!
Tana Amen: I know! No one thinks about that.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie Yes. And then you don't have to chop it and you don't have to clean up raw chicken around your house.
Tana Amen: And the food processor is my best friend. Throw everything into the food processor. Just don't overgrind it.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie That's key. That's key.
Dr Daniel Amen: Okay. So relationship tips. Anybody want to start with them?
Tana Amen: The one thing I want to say, and I'd love to hear your point of this. I just want to honor those mothers who are single moms, because I just did this great thing on you. But there are moms who don't have that. And I was a single mom for a while. So it's hard. And my mom was a single mom, 16-year-old runaway who's incredibly successful. She's just made of steel. But she didn't have that support. And so I just want to honor, like you said, my mom, and moms like that, who had to do it on their own. And that's really hard.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie That is. And there's 40% of moms are single moms right now. So we have to pay attention to that. I seemingly have a very supportive husband. But again, acknowledge that there are times when I think, "How would I do this on my own?" Because it really does-
Tana Amen: It's hard.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie ... take a village. So a lot of we talk about ... So one example is something called bids for connection. I actually learned about this from my pastor at church, at Peachtree Presbyterian, during one of the sermons. So there is a, it's called bids for connection. John Gottman says in healthy relationships 82% of these bids for connections are acknowledged, but they're not acknowledged ... When they're not acknowledged only in 19% of the unhealthy ones. So what is a bid for connection? We all do it. Your spouse can do it. Your child can do it. So when somebody reaches out maybe say, "Hey, can you sit down with me for a second." Maybe they don't even say that. Maybe they say, "Mommy, can you come play with me," try to give you a hug. Or maybe it's your child saying, "Mommy, I'm mad at you." Which again makes me want to bristle. But it's really some [crosstalk 00:05:03]-
Tana Amen: Translation-
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie ... reaching out kind of poking at you emotionally to say, "Hey, are you going to return some affection for me."
Tana Amen: My daughter used to come up and shut my computer lid. Like she'd literally walk up when she was three, "Done!" And shut my computer lid. So that must be what you're talking about. Translation is time for me.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie Yes! Yes. And it's so easy. We're so busy to be like, "Just leave me alone for a second." But what happens is science shows that the more you do that you get less bids for connection, the relationship falters, and it just diminishes out. So point being, one, is just to start to listen for it, which means sometimes putting down your devices. But two, when you're busy ... So when my two year old comes up he pushes back my chair and tries to sit in my lap. Sit there for a second. Take a minute, take 30 seconds sometimes, and acknowledge to them. Maybe you say, "I'd love to do this with you. I love you. I've got to do this right now but can I come in 20 minutes?" That means you acknowledge them. And that maintains the relationship. So when your spouse comes to you as well do that as opposed to an, "I'm busy not right now." It makes a big difference for the health of your relationship.
Tana Amen: I love that. I want to acknowledge something you said because over time, I think we've all probably noticed this ourselves when we reach out to someone, if you feel rejected or you feel like, okay well that's just ... You might even say to yourself, "Well, I love that person and that's just how they are." But the bottom line is you stop reaching out as much.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie I won't do anything-
Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah, now time, actual physical time. So what you said. I've taught a lot of parent training classes over the years. And this goes back to how to make your child a Republican, a Democrat or anything you want. 20 minutes a day. If you spend 20 minutes a day with each of the kids. And obviously if you have seven you're not going to do that.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie [inaudible 00:06:46].
Dr Daniel Amen: If you spend five minutes a day with each of the kids your bond goes up. And if your bond goes up they begin to pick your values. And when they say, "Mommy, I'm mad at you." What the response is active listening, which they should teach in second grade. It's when somebody says something don't go, "Well, you shouldn't be mad at me! Why are you mad at me? I do all these really great things for you. You're such an ungrateful little human being." It's like, "Oh, you're mad at me." And then be quiet so they can tell you why they're mad at you. It's because-
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie Exactly. That's a bid.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... I miss you. It's because ... I mean, you don't know. Or it's a misunderstanding. But it's because people, not just women, but when somebody says something we have a need to justify ourselves, validate ourselves. And in the process we end up diminishing that other person. And it is not a bid for connection. It is now a bid for disconnection.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie Yeah! Or power.
Dr Daniel Amen: So repeat back what you hear. Listen for the feelings behind what you're hearing, and stay with them, and ultimately they will talk themselves through their own problem.
Tana Amen: I know in my house if we don't do that, which you've really helped try and learn, and it's still sometimes hard, but ... with especially the teenager. But if you don't do it it becomes a bid for power. It's a power struggle.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie Yes!
Dr Daniel Amen: And then you end up talking over each other, not ... Because what are parents, what's our biggest job? It's to raise competent humans.
Tana Amen: Independent.
Dr Daniel Amen: And you do that by teaching them to solve their own problems. When you solve all their problems you are more stressed, and you're actually creating the situation where you're going to have to solve their problems when they're 35. Which sort of sucks.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie Yeah.
Tana Amen: Which nobody wants. Nobody wants that at all.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie That's 100% true. And it's about building ... That one little thing really made a difference for me, so that when my daughter does say something to me like that I don't bristle. I can instead turn on that-
Tana Amen: I like that.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie ... and listen.
Tana Amen: Bid for connection. I really like that. So when they come up and they say something like that start listening for the bid.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie Yeah, listen-
Tana Amen: That's actually-
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie [crosstalk 00:09:06] for spouse-
Dr Daniel Amen: So I think Chloe does that actually a lot.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie ... that spouse that you may tend to ignore.
Tana Amen: Yeah, Chloe will just literally, she's still, she's 15, she'll come up and climb in my lap if she wants attention.
Dr Daniel Amen: Wow!
Tana Amen: So ... yeah, no, she's clear when she wants something. You don't hug me enough! Okay. I'm like, I hug her like probably four times a day, five times a day. You don't hug me enough anymore. [crosstalk 00:09:23].
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie I love it. I hope my children are saying the same thing. I'll hug them all day. I'll just go with them to high school hugging them. Like is that weird? Like not weird, right?
Dr Daniel Amen: It's weird. It's weird.
Tana Amen: No, my daughter still hits my hand. So I'll be like ...
Dr Daniel Amen: All right. Other things. We have about five minutes left. This has been such a joy with you.
Tana Amen: So fun.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie A couple other things. So I don't know. I'm sure you got this, Tana. You're riding the baby through the buggy through the grocery store. The baby's screaming. He probably grabbed the thing of flour, threw it on the ground. You have flour in your eyebrows. And then somebody comes up to you and says, "Make sure you enjoy this time."
Tana Amen: Yes! All the time.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie And you want to take the flour and throw it at them. Or they say, "He'll be in college before you know it."
Tana Amen: Yes!
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie And now you want to cry because you just think of your baby going, and you're like, "This is awful."
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie But then it always kind of made me a little crazy. And so I started researching. My kids and I had gone on a hike one day. And it was kind of in the fall, so Tennessee that means there were spiders. So I was walking through, I was looking for snakes, I was looking for poison ivy. I was carrying a stick swatting spiders. We were three quarters of the way through when I realized, I didn't look up. Like I literally did not see the forest for the trees. And I realized that is more ... When people say enjoy this time they may not realize it, this is what I choose to believe that they mean, is just being present-
Tana Amen: Present!
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie So you still have the poison ivy, and the snakes, and the dirty blowup diapers, and tantrums. But you also have the blue sky and the trees and the beautiful moments. And just trying to make sure I remember those. So again, I jot them down on my phone those really precious moments-
Tana Amen: It's so true-
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie ... and you have them.
Tana Amen: And I have to tell you, it really does go that fast. My daughter's 15 and a half-
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie Oh, don't say that!
Tana Amen: Oh no. I'm telling you, I'm not handling it well. This is one of the few times that, besides when she was five and I was struggling, I'm not handling this well. And she's a good kid. She's becoming independent, ready to drive. And I just suddenly ... And she's got a boyfriend and she's starting to think for herself. And I raised a daughter to be strong, independent, think for herself. And now that she's doing it I'm like, "[inaudible 00:11:30]." No, stop. Like I don't like it. Because she's starting to go away from me.
Dr Daniel Amen: We're going to do teen week-
Tana Amen: It's hard.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... next.
Tana Amen: It goes way too fast.
Dr Daniel Amen: Because we did mom week. What are some final thoughts that you want to share with our Brain Warriors Way group?
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie You know, I think the reason I did this and I wrote this book was I felt that a lot of moms, all of us including myself, have a lot of angst. We're really stressed out. And we've been told these really confusing messages that at times are really judgmental as well. So I wanted to digital through the science, say what is it really ... what did mom's need? How can I package it in a way that's very small and very digestible, because the way we're being told that we have to feel as moms is not what I think is real. And I think moms can follow these hacks, have that I've got this, and really enjoy motherhood a lot more. And feel a lot more in control of their own and their children's health.
Tana Amen: I love that. And you said something earlier that I just want to sort of recap, because for me this was really important. When you feel like you don't got this you still got this and you need to figure out, like think about the things that you are doing that are right, because that's just critical.
Dr Daniel Amen: You know, one thing you always say that I think is so helpful, Tana, is does this moment have eternal value. So that you know that this is going to pass. And am I going to act in a way that I'll be proud of and will be helpful, or not.
All right. We have to stop. We-
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie Love that.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... have been with Dr. Darria Long Gillespie. Her new book, Mom Hacks: 100+ Science-Backed Shortcuts to Reclaim Your Body, Raise Awesome Kids, and Be Unstoppable. Pick it up now.
Tana Amen: You've been awesome. That was so much fun.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie Thank you so much.
Tana Amen: Thank you.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie It's a pleasure.
Dr Daniel Amen: Thank you for listening to the Brain Warriors Way Podcast.