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4 Ways to Fix “If you’re not in the car in 1 minute I’m leaving without you!”

It’s a typical morning, nothing out of the ordinary.

The boys haven’t brushed their teeth and I’m yelling, BRUSH! And then Get your rears in the car NOW.

It feels like we do this every. Single. Day.

When I get in the car, I feel like a real heel – this isn’t how I want my boys to get off to school in the morning. Yelling let’s go, let’s go, let’s gooooo! – Probably isn’t the most inspirational start to their day.

traffic-sign-6756_640Sound familiar? Are bells ringing? Would you prefer mornings with your kids be fueled by calm cooperation instead of high-volume threats, pleas and crazy-making?

I promise, it IS possible. Read on!

Introducing… the Conversation Guides Series – the first of which – Morning Departure Guide: Practice scripts for parents, so that getting out of the house is a wee-bit easier – is available starting today! And it’s my gift to you 🙂

Quick story about how I got the idea for scripts. In a recent parenting class I was role-playing a conversation, between a parent and teen, using Positive Discipline tools. The teenager, played by a parent volunteer, was forgetting to take out the garbage. (Been there?)

As our demo came to an end, an observing parent vigorously raised her hand, “You were going really fast just then and I’m not sure what happened but it sounded awesome. Could you go through it again but this time slowly so I can understand?”

I’ve fashioned these scripts to support you – they’re like training wheels to get you over that bumpy patch in the road. At first, they may feel a little stiff or clunky – just like training wheels – but it’s worth giving them a try. Especially if you leave the house in the morning shaking your head (or crying), wondering why parenting is so darn hard.

The Conversation Guide slows down the parent child interaction. Think of it as parenting in slow motion, word by word, so you can rewind at any time.

It’s true, there are many ways to parent that fit with the Positive Discipline principles. My hope is that the four approaches I’ve offered here give you confidence to find your own genuine parenting voice. One that’s both kind and firm – respectful of your child and yourself.

Okay, back to my morning with the boys… what could I have done differently? Let’s see what happens when I ask a question instead of yelling demands at them.

“Guys, what do you need to do before you get in the car for school?” They actually mumble “brush our teeth…”

“Yes, great, I’ll meet you in the car when you’re done.”

Does that sound too easy? With enough repetition, time and the resulting trust, it works.

And if you get zero response to your question – or just eye-rolling – you can calmly let them know you’ve decided to wait in the car until they’re ready (take a good book so you’re doing something pleasurable while you serenely wait).

I know what you’re thinking, if I’m not yelling at them, they’ll never come and then we’ll all be late!  Believe me, when you leave the house, the wind will leave their sails.

The two keys are:

  1. You follow through with what you say you’re going to do – this builds trust
  2. You remain calm, cool and collected – trust x 100

CONSIDERSHAREACT

What get’s in your way of having that calm morning you so desire?

What’s worked for you?

What gets in the way of you practicing these scripts? Share in a comment below so we can learn from each other.

If you haven’t already done so, join me on this journey!

Wanna talk? Schedule a time here.

2

Winning Genuine Cooperation by Showing Empathy and Validating Feelings

You know those times when you’ve just got to get your child to do something important (go to the doctor, to swim class, the dentist…) and she/he refuses to cooperate? Then you think, “Why can’t they just get with the program this one time? Why does everything have to be so hard?”

Well, let me introduce Susan, mother of 9 year-old Alex, and a recent graduate of my 7-week parenting class. In this story, Susan shares the remarkable shift that happens when she uses tools she learned in the series. Without giving too much away, here are the two conversations (with very different outcomes) between Susan and Alex:

BEFORE taking Positive Discipline Class

Susan:  “Hey Alex, Dad and I forgot to tell you – Swim lessons start today, so you need to get ready to go.”

Alex: (Playing with Legos) “What? I don’t want swim lessons! You know I hate lessons!”

Susan:  “Alex, learning how to swim is really important – it’s about safety.”(Susan begins to feel angry and thinks, “What’s so hard about going to swim class? Swimming is great. This should be fun. Why is it so difficult?”)

Alex:  “I don’t want to.”(He starts to crush his elaborate Lego creations). “I’m not going.”(He sits defiantly on the couch.)

Susan: “Swim lessons are a privilege, young man. That’s enough of your whining. Stop it. Now!”

Alex:  “You never ask me what I want – I HATE YOU!”

Susan: (Thinking… “I hate this. I hate how hard it is to motivate my son. Forget it, I give up.”) She stomps off to another room to grab the swim gear.

Susan: “We paid for this class. Now get up and get to the car!”

Susan and Alex are both miserable and swim lesson does not go well.  

Sound familiar?

AFTER taking Positive Discipline Class

Susan:  (Taking some time beforehand to prepare herself.) “Hey Alex, Dad and I forgot to tell you but you’ve got swim lessons today. I’m really sorry that we’re springing this on you, but we gotta go now. I’ve got your swim gear and a snack for the car.”

Susan held up these two cards - Validating Feelings was where she experienced the most growth

“Both of these Positive Discipline Tool Cards were key.  I feel I learned the most about the power of validating feelings!

Alex:  “What? I don’t want swim lessons!  You know I hate lessons!”

Susan: “Honey, you only have to go four times and we found a new place where there are fewer kids so you’ll be able to hear better.” (She shows remorse for not giving him any warning and feels empathy for him, knowing that while he hates lessons, he actually loves to swim.)

Alex:  “I don’t want to!” (He starts to crush his Lego creations.) “I’m not going.” (Alex plops himself defiantly on the couch.)

Susan: “Alex, sweetie, I know this is upsetting, but destroying your Legos is not OK. You can hit a pillow if you’re angry.” (She allows him to express his feelings. She calmly and firmly tells Alex that swim lessons are something he just needs to do. Susan uses only one or to sentences instead of lecturing him.)

(Alex violently hits the pillow. Susan leaves the room. Then she remembers that staying with him might feel encouraging to him. She goes back and keeps him company but doesn’t try to fix or change his feelings.)

Susan: (After some time has passed, speaking gently…) “Honey, it’s time to go.” (Alex gets up and together, they walked to the car. During the drive Susan felt connected to her son through their easy conversation and a palpable sense of calm.  Alex even seemed to enjoy the lesson!)

This story’s a beautiful example of how empathy and encouragement go a long way toward winning genuine cooperation.  Through her use of grounded positive energy and empathy Susan not only accomplished her goal of getting Alex to his swim lesson, she laid the groundwork for a foundation of trust.

Later she she told me,

It was a tiny miracle that I didn’t lose it and Alex was able to get up to walk to the car. It worked mostly because I didn’t flip my lid. Being there while he hit the pillow actually calmed me down too! Now Alex is doing great with his lessons. He still complains, but there is an ease and matter-of-factness about our interactions.

Thank you Susan for sharing your story!

If you’re curious about deepening your parenting practice and learning the art of cooperation through empathy, check out my one-on-one coaching opportunities and it you’re in the Bay Area, my fall Positive Discipline Series.

CONSIDERSHAREACT

What gets in your way of just being with your child while they’re caught up in a feeling? Next time a big emotion hits, try bearing it with an attitude of love and let us know what happens!!

2

One EASY way to get your kid to butter her own toast!

ToastYesterday morning I had a simple, accidental revelation with my dexterous 7-year old daughter. Short on time, she decided to have a piece of toast for breakfast. Knowing I’m the best toast-butterer in the world, S. said, “Mom I need butter on my toast – please butter it for me.”

My hands, immersed in sudsy, warm dishwater, scrubbing away at the long-neglected dishes, were not fit to butter toast. The wheels in my mind slowed,  I sensed the opportunity at hand and replied empathetically, “Oh honey, my hands are all soapy, I don’t want to ruin your toast.”

Disappointed, S. tried again. “But mom…I’m not good at buttering toast and you’re really good at it!”

“Darn… sorry about that, Sweetie. Just look at these sudsy creatures!” I lifted my hands to show the yucky soapy mess that would envelop her toast.

Suddenly resolute, S. asked, “Okay Mom, where’s the butter?” A minute later with quiet pride she said, “Look Mom, I did it all by myself!”

Sometimes I have to be creative, play a bit silly, a bit incompetent or just plain unavailable, to get my kids to step up and take the initiative on a task well within their grasp or even one that seems a bit out of reach.

CONSIDERSHAREACT

Have you had a similar experience? Share it or plan your “incompetence” ahead of time and let us know how you imagine it could encourage your child.

Your comments inform and empower other parents! Examples with kids of all ages encouraged!

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If only I could care less… a guest post by Marcilie Smith Boyle

There it was again.  A wet towel lying on my 11-year-old’s bedroom floor.

I’m not a neat freak, I swear.  I like things to be relatively clean, and I appreciate an organized pantry or filing system.  But there are often dirty dishes in my sink at bedtime, and every horizontal surface in my office is covered with something that belongs somewhere else.

But the wet towel on my daughter’s floor!  And the dirty clothes only inches from her hamper.   And piles of clean, folded clothing on her chair, awaiting their moment to be placed neatly into drawers.  It kind of kills me.

I know many tools from Positive Discipline, and have been using them for quite some time.

  1. Asking rather than telling:  “What do we do with wet towels?”
  2. Writing a humorous note:  “Hi, it’s your carpet here, and I’d appreciate seeing the light of day!”
  3. Pointing to the wet towel without speaking.
  4. Taking time to teach her how to fold and hang a towel.
  5. I even tried joint problem solving.  Her solution:  “Give me a reward every time I put my towel away.”  Huh.  That’s not what I was going for.

She would quickly comply when I reminded her, but I was really tired of reminding her.  Our relationship was turning into a series of reminders.  And then a friend asked me a very good question:  “What if you cared less?”

Wow.  I had to think hard about that one.

The next day, I told my daughter that I was going to give her some space to take care of her own room.  I told her that I hoped she would pick up her towel after bathing, and put away her clean clothes on her own, but that I was no longer going to remind her and that I had faith in her to take care of these things herself.  In short, I backed off.

For the next week, amazingly, her room was definitely tidier.  When her towel was picked up and clothes put away I told her that I noticed and she literally beamed.  But after about a week, I walked in to find her towel on the floor, and (ugh!) I couldn’t not care.  I looked at her with wide eyes and pointed at the towel.  I broke my end of the deal.  (Again, ugh!)   Man, it’s hard to care less.

So, I will try it again, and reflect a bit more on why it’s so hard to care less.  I know that fear is playing a role here:  fear that she will be a sloppy mess for the rest of her life and no one will want to be with her because she can’t take care of herself or her things.  But how likely is that, really?

I, myself, used to put wads of already chewed gum on the back of my bed stand.  Now that’s disgusting.  And somehow I turned a corner and cleaned up my act.  All on my own.  I didn’t end up living alone in a pig sty.

There’s also fear of judgment.  When people look at my daughter, what will they think of me?  I thought I was over that one.  Apparently I still have some work to do.

My realization (slowly coming to me. . . ) is this:  My daughter will change.  She will grow.  She has so much time, and so many strengths.  Some parts of her may not change, but even so, I want a strong, connected relationship with her.  So I have to decide what to care about.  And what not to.

I’ve also decided that I’m teaching her how to do her own laundry ( :

What do you want to care less (or more!) about?  Please share your thoughts!

marceliMarcilie Smith Boyle, MBA, is a Certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator and Life Coach.  She’s facilitating a Parenting with Positive Discipline 3-week mini series themed, “Parenting Styles and Inviting Cooperation,”  in May.  Visit the Parenting Classes tab of www.WorkingParenting.com for more info.

0

My “losing it” redo plus a powerful Positive Discipline tool

Do you often feel CHALLENGED by your child? You’re not alone. If you’re like me, you’ve got a kid who will argue with or defy you at every turn. Can you say, “power struggle”?

Here’s the twist – I’ve grown to cherish this quality in my son, E. – he’s inspired me to teach Positive Discipline and grow in ways I never imagined.

Amen!

In my last post I wrote about a time when I lost it with him.

Today, I want to introduce a powerful tool that will give you concrete, helpful responses to your child’s misbehavior based on… drum roll please – how YOU feel.

The end result? A child who’ll more likely cooperate, contribute, and act like a leader in the best sense.

Here’s my before-and-after story to illustrate how using this tool, and identifying my feelings, gave me the opportunity to have an AFTER to write home about!

Before

I was cooking dinner one afternoon. My 12-year-old son was playing the piano in the other room. From the kitchen I could hear 8-year-old E.(enter our ‘hero’) join his brother at the piano and begin running his forearm up and down the keys, causing a cacophony.

My jaw clenched. I burst onto the scene and yelled at him, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! LEAVE YOUR BROTHER ALONE! GO UP TO YOUR ROOM RIGHT NOW!”

Not my most inspired parenting moment but one I think many parents can relate to.

Later, I asked myself these questions:

  1. What did my son learn from this interaction? “Mom is crazy, Mom is mean,” etc.

  2. Do we feel harmonious and connected? No. I’m angry. He’s likely feeling indignant, hurt or both.

Now’s my chance to use that tool I mentioned earlier.

Don’t let this chart intimidate you! I use it to give me an idea of how to respond based on HOW I FEEL when E. bangs on the piano. Yes, it sounds counter-intuitive, but observe how it WORKS….

In my noisy example I’m feeling CHALLENGED. Based on the chart (see second row – misguided power), my son believes “I count or belong only when I’m boss, in control, or proving no one can boss me.”  This rings true to me… how about for you?

Here’s what happens when I use the suggestion in the final column.

After Soup Beginnings

Piano cacophony starts: I say calmly, “E., I could use your help here in the kitchen. What do you think about using this sharp knife to chop these carrots for the soup?”

His eyes light up, and before I know it, we‘re working together, happily making dinner.

Giving E. work and/or responsibility is often right on the money when I start to feel provoked by him. This requires me to pause and have the presence of mind to respond rather than having my knee-jerk reaction.

Don’t try to memorize the chart. It’s simply a tool for guiding new responses based on how YOU feel when your child misbehaves. Hang it on your fridge or bathroom mirror so you can refer to it easily.

Positive Discipline isn’t about doing everything just right for your kids.

It’s more about the power of thinking ahead and the awareness that my child’s misbehavior is an opportunity to teach him what I value most – in this example: patience, creativity, and that the work it takes to create a yummy meal can be fun.

Utilize the chart and one day, when the scene is set for that familiar conflict, you’ll respond (instead of react), and out of the blue, experience the wonder of your child’s generous cooperation.

P.S. Carefully place a sharp knife into your toolkit and… magic!

CONSIDERSHAREACT 

Do you have an on-going dynamic with your child where you could see using this tool? How?

What’s the difference for you when you respond rather than react to your child or for that matter, anything in your life?

Share your thoughts below! It’s encouraging to know we’re not alone in this parenting journey!

0

I LOST IT with my kids

You know those moments when you are pushed to the brink, when you know that just one more movement or word from your sweet angel will push you to explode, to yell “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!!” so loud it freaks out the neighbors?

If you’re like me, you also strive to maintain a sense of calm in the midst of the craziness of parenting. Yes, this is a worthy goal, but we’re only human!

Here’s a not-so-pretty story from my own life a few years back:

I was sitting down to supper one night with my kids (pre-iPod), when my ten year old son, E., for the second time that night, ignored my request to strap his portable CD player to his body. (For his occupational therapy, E. did therapeutic listening for a half hour each morning and evening.)

E. rose to get himself a glass of milk and the CD player slid precariously to the edge of the table.

Reenactment photo taken by my now 7 year-old daughter!

Reenactment photo taken by 7 year-old S.

That’s when it happened. I completely lost it – full on, crazy-woman, raised-voice, heart-pumping LOST IT. I vigorously pointed my finger at him and yelled,   “THAT’S IT! YOU NEED TO TAKE CARE OF THIS NOW BEFORE YOU DO ONE MORE THING.  YOU ARE PUSHING ME! WHY DO YOU KEEP PUSHING ME?! TAKE CARE OF IT RIGHT NOW!”

We stood two feet apart, his eyes wide, me breathing fast. Honestly, I felt like strangling him.

Ghost like and calm, E. turned and floated out of the room to find the belt device. I returned to my seat – heart still pounding.

I took deep breaths to regain my composure. I felt the heat of embarrassment rise in my body as my oldest son sat quietly at my side. In a matter-of-fact voice, my three year-old daughter said, “That was too loud mommy – it hurt my ears.”

When E. returned, he looked at me – a twinkle in his eye – already he’d forgiven me. With effort he pressed his hands on either side of his mouth, to keep from laughing.  I couldn’t help but smile as I said, “Thank you for taking care of it,” (my Positive Discipline know-how seeping back into my consciousness).

As these words came out of my mouth laughter bubbled out too.  Soon, we were all roaring.  Through his giggles, E. commented “I’ve never heard you be so loud!” The laughter was healing and reassuring, like we knew I’d just been possessed by Mommy Dearest and was now back to my usual self.

As we ate and laughed some more, I said I was sorry and expressed my regret.  I could tell they were eager to move on. We felt close and connected.

Jane Nelson says, “Instead of feeling guilty when you make a mistake, rejoice that you have just provided a good example for your children.”

I wish I could rejoice but I’m not there… yet. When I make a mistake, I consciously keep the guilt to a dull roar so that I have the energy and bandwidth to be present and take the opportunity to connect. Now that’s something to rejoice about!

Smeeta1I do lose it with my kids sometimes. Rather than brushing it under the rug, I try to do the following:

  • Acknowledge my mistake with my child in a timely manner so that it’s relevant to them.
  • State a brief, simple sincere apology, “I’m sorry I lost my temper with you.” What’s critically important here is that I don’t add – “but if you’d gotten the CD holder like I’d asked you to…” – this turns my apology into punishment (more on that later).
  • After some time has passed I work with my child (or myself) to come up with a plan so that the explosion will be less likely to happen next time.
  • Finally, there’s an element of trust and letting go, of being the best role model I possibly can and, of acceptance that I am…exquisitely… imperfect.

CONSIDERSHAREACT 

Do you lose it with your kids?  You’re not alone. In another post I’ll share a “losing it” redo – what I learned from my triggered response and how I was able to step back and use Positive Discipline tools to make a different choice the next time. Empowering!

Share your thoughts below! The parenting journey is so much more fun when we travel it together!

4

Should I be more like my dog?

BooneI’ve been thinking a lot about my oldest son – 18 today!

He’s the first born, a quiet, self-sufficient guy who keeps busy with many interests and responsibilities. He’s easy going, never complains – a boy who’s finally grown up to be a young man. The letters and emails from colleges are arriving and soon he’ll be heading off into to the big wide world.

Have I supported him enough? Could he possibly know how much I love and care for him?

When I say, “I’ve been thinking about him”, the reality is I’ve been thinking about myself in relation to him. Recently I’ve been trying too hard and in all the wrong ways.

When we’re in the same room, I feel an urgent need to connect. I find myself falling into a default, one-way, boring-as-heck line of questioning that runs like this:

How’s school-How’s it going-What’s going on-What time’s practice What are your plans after school-What friends are in your classes this semester?

While he’s patient with me, this stale inquiry goes nowhere.

I feel an awkward gap between us.

Here’s a beautiful contrast. First thing when my son comes home, he goes to the dog, and they share a few moments of mutual adoration and affection (face licks, tail waging, IMG_3038cooing noises). Seeing them together warms my heart.

What does my son see in his special friend?

  • The no-pressure act of just being
  • No one is asking, prodding or demanding ANYTHING
  • The warm & fuzzy factor

Then I get it:  for him, my efforts to connect feel like poking, nudging, and even prying; less like a relaxed, neutral, loving presence. Ichh!

So I decided to make a shift. Instead of eagerly confronting him at every turn with the usual litany of hollow questions, I would stay put, be present and let him come to me.

Once I embodied my new perspective, I noticed an immediate change. He came to me simply asking for help finding supplies and this felt HUGE from a kid who RARELY asks for anything.

Stepping into his shoes is helping me let go. At the same time, I’m learning to adapt to my children’s ever changing needs.

For my 18 year old, I’m channeling my inner pooch.

While I draw the line at face licks, happy whimpering, and faithful obedience, my inner snoopy-mama is more present (letting him come to me), unconditionally loving (fewer questions and less attachment to the need for answers), and always happy to see him.

CONSIDER⇔SHARE⇔ACT 

As always I encourage you to share your insights and questions below. The parenting journey is so much more fun when we travel it together!

5

New Year’s Resolution Redux

IMG_2156Note:  I first published this post one year ago and re-reading on the first day of 2015, I find it still speaks to the heart of a parenting dilemma. How can we expect to become better parents when we’re so busy being hard on ourselves? I wanted to share it with you again and encourage you to take time to make the list I prescribe and share it with a friend!

What if this year you did something totally different with the whole New Year’s resolution thing?

Instead of setting the usual intentions for becoming a better version of yourself, you made a list of all the things you already do smashingly WELL, as a parent!

Don’t you feel guilty just thinking about it?

I do. It feels odd and unnatural.

For me it would be much easier to spend the next 500 words describing my shortcomings as a mom and all that I could do better.  (Read: more family dinners, more trips to the library, more game nights, more patience, more follow through on kid jobs, more communication with my 18 year old… more, more, more…you get the picture.)

Not going there.

This year I’m doing something RADICAL. I’m going to share with you a challenging exercise that I LOVE, inspired by Kelly Bartletts’s blog Parenting from Scratch.  It’s about turning away all of that “I’m not good enough” parenting stuff and welcoming the good that’s already there.

I’m asking you to acknowledge what you do well and linger in the good. I assure you, this is not a silly exercise in self-aggrandizement.

When we do this, our brains literally re-wire for positivity and well-being. It’s what Dr. Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness and Buddha’s Brain, calls taking in the good. Hanson says that putting attention on good experiences helps build new connections in our brains  –

 It’s part of the growing body of research around Neuroplasticity. We have the ability to change our brains!!

So, what does Neuroplasticity have to do with parenting? When we put our minds to it, we can become happier, better parents. And now here’s what I’m asking you to do:

  1. Make your own parenting infomercial (i.e., I’m great and here’s how:)
  2. Stick with your list – share it – savor it
  3. Be on your own side – be aware of that sabotaging voice but don’t feed it

This was a tough exercise for me. I noticed my loud, qualifying gremlin voice saying things like “but you don’t do X enough” and “you’re a parenting educator, your list should be much longer!” etc.

What’s important is that I made the list anyway, noticed that critical voice along the way and kept going. Here’s my list: (and before you read it, promise me you’ll try making your own.)

Lisa’s “Things I Do Well as a Parent” List

  1. I make yummy soups
  2. My “from scratch” dessert traditions kick-butt
  3. I read stories aloud to my youngest before bed
  4. I pull out my goofy, silly side on a weekly basis, for everyone to see
  5. I exercise and eat well (modeling what I want for my children)
  6. I love reading great books for myself (ditto)
  7. I am a room parent for one of my kids’ classes
  8. I got those weekly family meetings going on
  9. I regularly snuggle with my seven and fourteen year-olds
  10. I take the time to pause and breathe before I react to my child’s fall, F on their report card, the blatant lie, and of course – the periodic tantrum.
  11. I’ve gotten very good at biting my tongue and boy is it an effective parenting tool! (Listen more, too)

There you have it.

Now, I insist that you do this exercise for yourself.

Remember, when we recognize our own strengths, we nurture our minds and our whole being.

Really let it sink in after you’ve made your list – take it one step further by sharing your list with a friend.  Then notice the visible and invisible ways your relationship with yourself and your children unfolds for the better.

Peace and Happy New Year!

CONSIDER⇔SHARE⇔ACT 

Consider your list, the mundane and extraordinary ways you parent. When you share what you’ve come up with below you  inspire us and remind us of things we’ve forgotten.

Some of you have told me you feel too shy to share in this forum – in that case email me your list. I’d love to cheer you on!

8

The gift that keeps on giving

Images are powerful. Today’s mail included a Lands’ End catalogue with a cover photo that caught my eye:  a mom lovingly sandwiched between her admiring tween daughter and four-year-old son, all three clad in their snuggly PJ’s.

Mom  had an eggnog-induced, post-nap afterglow that made me wonder if she wasn’t the kids’ free-spirited Aunt Uma visiting from New Mexico who’d had a little extra something something just before the photo shoot.photo

I admit it, I want some of that “look” and the feeling of holiday contentment it implies.

So I wonder, is “relaxed Mom” available in a size large with express shipping?

It’s our tradition to celebrate Christmas and the truth is, what I really want more than anything, is to know that the holidays have been meaningful to my family beyond the gift-giving. I want to feel THAT kind of relaxed (and sure, a little bit of the other stuff wouldn’t be so bad either.)

Lands’ End promises that their pajamas will give you,  “the Magical Moments of Christmas Mornings all Winter Long.” That seems like a tall order for a PJ and slipper set.

Instead, I’m going to offer two tips for a more enduring “Mom Glow”, and it won’t cost a dime. One tip pops you into action while the other invites you into presence.

Lisa’s “Holiday Glow” Tip #1: Discuss ‘together time’ with your family

This might sound like you’re adding more activities to your already packed schedule. But fear not. It’s about peeling away obligations and busy-ness to find experiences that are meaningful to your family.

Sometime in the next week pull your family together (e.g., during a car ride when everyone is captive) – and ask these two questions:

“What’s one thing you want to do with the family, during this holiday time?”

“What’s one thing you want to do alone or with friends during this holiday time?

This creates an intention for the time you have together so by the end of the holiday break you’ll feel less like “I don’t know where the time went” and more “Yes!….. that was just the holiday I desired … ! In other words, less frantic and more fulfilled.

I am not suggesting you agree to satisfy everyone’s wishes. But simply asking these questions shows your family you care and are interested in their desires. Even if the trip to Disneyland isn’t in the cards, deciding to go to the park together with hot cocoa and a blanket might be.

That’s a lot of potential activity to anticipate and coordinate, which leads me to my second holiday tip.

Lisa’s “Holiday Glow” Tip #2: Accept your imperfections

If you’re like many parents I know you catch yourself saying “what’s wrong with my kids – what’s wrong with me? My kids aren’t behaving and don’t listen to me.”  Parenting is hard AND I know we make it harder on ourselves when we listen to our critical self-talk (about our kids and ourselves).

I’m asking you to do this:

Next time you catch yourself criticizing or comparing, take a step back, watch the berating and be both curious and gentle with yourself. In other words, notice your critical voice, but treat yourself as you would an admired friend, with openness and compassion.

So dear REAL parent, here’s my recipe for a relaxed holiday season:

Tip #1: Talk with your family about together time (beyond the shopping) and write ideas into the family calendar

Tip #2: Be kind to yourself/ Accept your imperfections

…and when in doubt, put on your (old, mismatched) PJs (in my case a soft t-shirt and sweats), gather your kids on the couch and hide the to-do list.

Who knows, maybe Aunt Uma will stop by after all.

CONSIDERSHAREACT

What’s one thing you want to do with your family in the next few weeks?

What supports you to feel greater acceptance of yourself as a parent?

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The Message of Love

IMG_1440Over dinner recently, my dear friend Katie, a graduate of one of my very first parenting classes, shared her biggest take away from the series:  THE MESSAGE OF LOVE. I asked “What effect does this concept have on your parenting today?” She answered,

“For me, the message of love means continually focusing on the big picture with my kids and letting them know that I love them. I apologize for my behavior when I lose it with them. They’re used to that. Even though I make plenty of mistakes and am not a perfect mother, I’m certain they know how much I love them. Every day I’m aware of the value of communicating that love, even in the smallest interactions.”

Today’s message is simple.

How do you show your love within and beyond the many daily acts of caring — the chauffeuring, cooking, laundering…?

Ironically, the hectic pace of Thanksgiving, with all of the preparations, attendant traveling, cooking, and socializing, can distract us from a grounded connection with our kids.

Remember for a moment, someone from your own childhood who you knew cared about you. How did you know? What did they do?

Maybe they spend time with you, listened to you, taught you a skill or game.

Below is a list of ideas, with concrete examples, for communicating the message of love. This list is a beginning. Please share your ideas in the comment section below!

Shared experiences

• Play a game together (we’re into Sorry right now – especially the 14 year old!)
• Cook together (favorites: eggs, lemon squares, help with prepping anything)
• Learn to do something together (friendship bracelets)
• Work together on a project (put together an Ikea desk, replay chess champion game moves, garden)
• Wrestle and rough house
• Walk the dog or take a hike

Empathetic communication

• Deeply listen to your child – no devices, no interruptions.
• Use phrases that convey empathy, such as:

  • You seem__________.
  • You look___________.
  • You sound__________.
  • You are____________.

Body language/tone of voice/alignment of internal and external energy

Be aware of how loving you feel on the inside. Notice how this is reflected on the outside by your facial expressions and body language. When these match you’ll come across with

  • Soft face & open heart
  • Warm, relaxed tone of voice
  • Sincerity and empathy
  • With an older child closet listening is a great option.

Katie reminded me – THE MESSAGE OF LOVE is powerful!

Take the time to BE with your children and communicate the message of love in your own, imperfect way. (Maybe it’s about not sweating the small stuff).

Take a moment to share in the comment section below how the MESSAGE OF LOVE is communicated in your family!

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