Time to Parent

 Every parent needs this book!

Every parent needs this book!

I’ve been a fan of Julie’s for 25 years. I called her a year ago to interview her for a Washington Parent article about time management and parenting and she was in the middle of writing this book! Now that I have it in my hot little hands, I’m highlighting and tweeting quotes and wishing I had had this 20 years ago. Julie always focuses on the positive, gives you practical tips, breaks things down and inspires us to be the best us (not a brand new unrealistic us). “Time to Parent” acknowledges both the struggles and joy of parenting and gives us concrete solutions on how to raise a child while taking care of ourselves.

She’s coming to DC for her book launch and I want you all to know about it. I’ll be there on October 20th and you are invited too! Details are below.

WHEN: October 20, 2018, Arlington VA, 3:15 to 6:30 pm

WHERE: Founder’s Hall, 3351 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22201 on the George Mason University Campus

HOW MUCH: $39.00 (includes the book!)

DETAILS: Julie Morgenstern, internationally renowned organizing and time management expert, New York Times best-selling author, consultant and speaker, will be launching her upcoming book, Time to Parent: Organizing Your Life to Bring Out the Best in Your Child and You in the Washington DC area. This is the first-ever public event hosted by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.

Julie is known for her passionate, articulate style and warm sense of humor and her new book, Time to Parent, provides a revolutionary framework for helping parents create the space for quality time with their children and for themselves. The book is based on Julie’s 26 years of field experience coaching parents around the world, and extensive research in the field of child development.

I am looking forward to this event and hope you can attend as well.

For the small price of $39.00 you’ll enjoy a 90-minute presentation by Julie Morgenstern herself, receive a copy of the new book and the opportunity to join me at the book signing reception.

is when it is all happening. I hope you can join me, along with DC parents and other Julie Morgenstern enthusiasts, for this fun and educational event. Space is limited, so register soon.

For more information and to register for this event go to https://www.dcorganizers.org/Julie-Morgenstern-Book-Launch

Contact Productivity@dcorganizers.org for questions.

Strategies for Supporting Homework

Homework – love it or hate it – is here to stay. Homework can be a real drain on our relationships, take a ton of time and create unneeded tension and stress. Because it’s a lifelong skill, homework is a great thing to think about, work on, have fun with AND not obsess over.

In this long form blog, you will find homework thoughts and actions to consider and experiment with. It’s like a dress-up box – try one on, see it how fits. Some will make sense, some won’t. Try one now, save one for later.

Next, I lay out tips and advice broken down into developmentally appropriate ages and stages. One of the most annoying/exhilarating things about parenting is that it is a moving target. Just when we get good at raising a four year old, they go and turn five on us. Ugh/Yay!

Finally, we want to support our kids into being responsible, lifelong learners and not enable them to wait until they are nagged and coerced into doing their job. We all blossom at different times over different topics. While homework is important, it isn’t a litmus test on our parenting or a prediction of their future. Take it easy, stay involved, and we all might learn something along the way!

Thoughts & Actions

Action: Be available to help at consistent times (not at anyone’s whim, yours or the child’s). For example, decide that from Sunday – Thursday, one parent will be at the kitchen table from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Beware the child that ropes you into helping the whole time. If a child demands constant assistance, be available from 7:00 – 7:10, then take your shower, color your hair, do a workout (anything NOT in the room) and be available again from 7:50 – 8:00.

Thought: Homework represents a relationship between the child, their work and the teacher. When we butt into other people’s relationships we are in “parenting mischief.” Best to stay out of relationships that are not ours (even when we have so many good ideas that would really, really help!).

Action: Create a homework-friendly environment. Provide a clutter-free and clean table. Kids generally like to do homework in the family area when they are elementary-school age and tweens. As kids get older and have internet access, it’s best to keep them in the family area. Find a shelf or cubby where each kid can toss homework stuff. Awesome if it has a door (kids don’t like being neat all the time). Then every 3-5 weeks help your child sort, purge, re-arrange and generally re-boot their cubby.

Thought: What gets fired together gets wired together. If homework is a crazy, emotional, power strugge-ly time, it could be that the kid's brain is wiring together homework + drama. Let’s avoid that please.

Action: Have a device bowl. Your device bowl is where everyone leaves their devices and can "check" them at predictable intervals. Use limits for everyone and be reasonable, not draconian. Something like this works: Devices go in the bowl from 5:30 – 7:30. From 7:30 – 8:00, we all get a half hour to check, update and play. At 8:00, devices are powered down for the night. A great rule of thumb is to turn off the devices one hour before you want your kids to go to sleep (and you too!).

Thought: Nagging is a service. Do not work for free.

Action: One reminder is appreciated, or tolerated, entertained, heard as love and involvement. All reminders after the one are interpreted by our kids as a lack of trust. To them, our constant reminders tell them that that we don’t trust them, we don’t think they have what it takes, and they need us to succeed in the world.

Final Thought: Parents, focus on being homework modeler and pit crew. Kids might let us take over the wheel, but remember, it is ultimately discouraging, disheartening and relationship-draining when someone takes over. No one ever learned how to drive a car while someone else was in the driver's seat. Experience -- with all of its bumps, curves, and C-pluses -- is the best teacher.

Grade & Age Specific Tricks of the Trade

PK – 2nd Grades: Relax. This is all about showing up and creating routines. Create a homework space, set a time and then back away slowly. Do not correct homework, do not do homework with them, and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you erase their homework because they could do better. Watch and see how your child deals with homework, how she deals with not doing homework, how she handles herself, her teacher. It’s great to be interested in homework, but think long term here. If we get our child used to having a homework companion, cheerleader, task master ... well, when will we catch up on all our Netflix?!

3rd – 5th Grades: If you just got the news that you don’t have to sit with your child and do the homework with him, you might find yourself in a bit of a quandary. Think of this age group as a great time to fail, procrastinate, not turn stuff in and just generally be a hot mess. While you are NOT doing your child’s homework, you might want to read “The Learning Habit” -- it provides clear guidelines on how long children should be doing homework (10 minutes per grade), how to set it up, and what they do if they are done early. It also provides current research on technology and its impact (interesting and a wee-bit scary).

6th – 8th Grades: Tweens are a little bananas. They are neat and organized one week, and the next their hair is greasy, they cry and their backpack is a disaster. Now is the time to practice using your own pre-frontal cortex, the CEO part of your brain. Think of your organizational modeling as the exoskeleton for the jelly-like changeling child you are living with. Uphold homework time. Keep nagging to a minimum. Consider adding in your weekly calendar an appointment with your tween to review, re-cap, re-jigger and plan. If they can tolerate it, a non-judgmental backpack clean out once a month can do wonders. Don’t be afraid to stay in touch with teachers. Please refrain from acting like 7th grade is the window into your child’s future success. Take a moment and consider how well-rounded, rational and organized you were at 13. Thank you.

9th Grade: This grade presents major changes in the social lives, sexuality, and brain development of your child. You might be doing one step forward and 62 steps back. The water is rough and the life preserver that will save you is the relationship, not the A in AP French. Use the teachers, stay in touch with parents of the peer group, get your own life and please review 6th – 8th grade and read ahead to 10th – 12th grade. You truly are betwixt and between. Self care is mandatory during this phase.

10th-12th Grades: Back off, calm down, call a friend. Read all about kids who did crappy on their SAT’s and went on to be millionaires. Review your own high school grades (I for one was not as straight A-y as I imagined). Some kids are super-duper organized and on top of things, and some kids are chill, disorganized, avoidant and totally unready, uninterested and/or overwhelmed. You can not shame someone into being ready. That said, please set and uphold limits on technology, bedtime, and expectations and consequences for low effort and performance. Consequences, not punishment. If a child has trouble studying for Spanish and is getting a C –, for the next quarter he gets dropped off at school early on Thursdays for the teacher-sponsored, free tutoring. Avoid over-checking your kids progress, getting upset at a low grade, nagging, fretting, and comparing. Sometimes their own experience of seeing a D on their online grades will be enough to change their tunes. If we flip out over the D, they are off the hook and can spend their energy rolling their eyes and complaining about their overbearing, unreasonable and out of control parents. The goal is really to let go now so they will have experiences trying and failing and working hard and solving problems BEFORE they get to college.

College: Pay the bills, uphold pre-discussed grades limits, listen to the stories, ask questions, take your own class so you are busy studying and improving yourself! Resist the urge to protect, over-involve, check-in, double-check, just make sure, one last time.

A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words (and edits out a 1000 others)*

BACKGROUND:  I was on vacation for two weeks in the Canadian Rockies.  I plan vacations in the northern regions of our great continent to escape the heat and humidity of DC. Being cool (as in temperature) is a real priority for me. I take weather very, VERY personally.  Like the rain is happening TO ME. The humidity is all about ME. I can't really relax on vacation until it's a perfect sunny day, 78 degrees, light winds from the north east.  

 Photo #1:  Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada

Photo #1:  Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada

PHOTO #1:  It's 78 degrees with a fabulous cold wind coming from the GLACIER across the road.  I was so happy with myself and my family and our friends, I was overflowing.  I snapped this pic and sent it to my brother and sister. They responded with adulation and enthusiasm, which I appreciated.  But the main event was my abundant feelings of well being. A perfect mix of  hiking, being with my kids and fresh air. While the feedback from the pic was nice, it wasn't as nice as where I was.

 Photo #2:  Glacier Lake National Park, Montana, USA

Photo #2:  Glacier Lake National Park, Montana, USA

PHOTO #2:  Isn't this beautiful? Aren't you the teeniest bit envious? Behind the camera though I was hot and sweaty and grumpy. There was a heat wave. My 78 degrees had turned to 93 degrees with a billion percent humidity and half a trillion other hikers on MY trail. I'm not sharing this to complain, the point is that I was actually feeling very cheated that my perfect vacation was being invaded by a heat wave, so I decided to get a cheap thrill by sending this photo to a bunch of people. They responded by saying how beautiful it was, and fabulous, and this sorta filled up my hot, humid and disappointed cup.  

 Photo #3:  Waterton Lakes, Glacier National Park, Alberta, Canada

Photo #3:  Waterton Lakes, Glacier National Park, Alberta, Canada

PHOTO #3:  Our trip continued, and like all trips, some of it was fabulous and some of it was disappointing and some of it was annoying and some of it was glorious. I noticed the more content I was with my reality the less compelled I was to share it. I could just live it, contentedly. The more  let down I was by my reality, the more I wanted positive feedback from people. So I snapped finely framed photos, editing out the parts that disappointed me. I sent this photo on the last day of our trip.  This final stop on our two week sojourn was touristy and hot and I did not like it. Our motel was kinda grungy, smelled bad, and the 'view' was a joke. Dinner was a disappointment, the beer list was lacking, the ice cream joint was meh. Did I mention it was hot and HUMID. IN CANADA.   I shot this on a morning stroll and sent it off looking for the feel good juice because I could crop out all the bitterness and wait for  the oohs and ahhhs from the texts to lift my drooping (and hot)  spirits.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  Vacation photos are fun.  I love sharing them, I love looking at other peoples. I'm inspired by where all my fun friends go, and I'm the teeniest bit jealous. And then, I remember that in every photo there are disappointing, grungy, beer list lacking, and humid parts edited out. Just like in each and every one of our photos!

*Originally published August 2015. I'm on my way to Park City, let's hope it's nice and cool! New content next week!

Non-Buddha Parts*

 Sit and breath and moisten the soil.

Sit and breath and moisten the soil.

Years ago I saw Tich Nhat Hanh, a famous Buddhist monk, speak at the Warner Theater in DC.  There were two things I remember clearly.  Number one, we chanted for about 347 hours.  It was chanting and then breathing and it was excruciatingly boring and NOTHING was happening.  As he'd end one chant he'd say, 'We are moistening the soil".  Thank you very much Tich Nhat, but I'll skip all that moistening of the soil and let's go right into enlightenment and a little peace please, that is, after all, what I paid for.  Here's what I wanted, I wanted him to talk for 30 minutes and I wanted all my angst about the past and fear about the future to melt away. Melt away FOREVER and to know truly what to do next. To be absolutely  clear about the next right action and go forth and do said next right action. Finally, to always live in this peaceful and knowing place.  Was I asking too much?  

Second, Tich Nhat Hanh made the analogy that the Buddha was like the Lotus Flower. Buddha was made up not just of peace and right action, but he was also made up of non-Buddha parts (anger, confusion, shame). Like the Lotus Flower, the Buddah needed the mud and the ugly roots to flourish and grow.

Are you as annoyed as I am right now? We are like the lotus flower, no better then the Buddha.  We are all made up of non-Buddha parts. We can't surgically remove the anger, impatience, angst, worry, fear, disappointment from ourselves. We can moisten the soil with laughing, caring for each other and listening. When we moisten the soil we make it easier to loosen the weeds and plant the good stuff to grow and flourish.

In PEP (Parent Encouragement Program) we lead an exercise where we go back in our memories and draw a quick picture of our family of origin when we are around 6ish and then give each person 3 characteristics. Each participant then shares their family for 3-5 minutes.  As I sit there, as I have for the last decade, I'm always struck by the universality of our experience. The hurts that run deep in our childhoods, the way we feel like we didn't measure up, or they didn't measure up permeates all our stories. We believe, if only the childhood would have been different the suffering, pain and confusion would not be here. Alas dear readers, we are all recovering children, we all are looking for that stable ground, for that love, cherishing and acceptance from our parents (or ourselves).

Families are like the lotus flower. We grow from the muck and the mud and if we cleaned it all up, there would be no where for the roots to flourish. 

So think of all the reading aloud time, the family dinners, the setting and upholding limits, bickering, family trips, late night snuggles, ginger ale shared on the couch when people are sick, that's the moistening of the soil. The daily rituals, struggles and routines are the chanting .  When we finally get to stop and  we rest, we see that our beautiful/peaceful family is made up of non-beautiful/non-peaceful parts. And so it is for all of us.

*Originally published April 22, 2015 . . . but I needed to read it again so I re-published it!

Helping Kids–And Parents– Cope With Back-To-School Anxiety

IMG_2400.jpg

Kathleen Minke, Paige Trevor, Kojo Nnamdi, Tia Breckenridge, LaNia Mitchell

As I sat waiting, and for the first 10 minutes of the Kojo Show last week, I got to PRACTICE anxiety management tools. I knew this new experience was 'Nourishing Stress' (click to read up on the difference between 'nourishing stress' and 'junk food stress') so here's what I did:

1. Unclench: Dr. Ken Ginsburg who wrote "Letting Go With Love and Confidence", said one surefire way to release stress is to workout your gluteus maximums. It sounds crazy, but when you are stressed (and you can't get up and do lunges) unclench your derriere. Driving over a bridge, unclench. Taking an AP test, unclench. Stuck in traffic, unclench. Four-year-old having a tantrum, unclench. Sounds crazy, works like a charm.

2. Six.One.Seven: I learned a new breathing technique this summer, breathe in for six seconds, hold for one second, breathe out for seven seconds. Six.One.Seven. Learn, use it, love it!

3. GEMEINSCHAFTSGEFÜHL: Say what?! This is a concept I learned at the Parent Encouragement Program (thank you PEP for giving me the opportunity to be on Kojo!). It translates as 'community feeling' or social interest. The idea is our mental health is DIRECTLY related to our interest in OTHERS (not ourselves). Instead of paying attention to my critical self-talk, I turned outward and used my energy to listen to the other panelists, focus on what they had to offer, nod and smile, and LEARN SOMETHING!

At about the 12 minute mark I was enjoying myself, my heart had slowed down, I was in the actual moment and ready to listen, talk, react, absorb, laugh and enjoy.

What a gift . . . use anxiety tools WHILE talking about anxiety!

Chores Without Wars

 It's possible!!!

It's possible!!!

Things I've learned about chores over the years:

1. When we make a big deal about chores and use lots of negative energy to get them done, we accidentally wire stress and avoidance with chores. In the awesome book, "No Drama Discipline" we learn about how 'what gets fired together gets wired together'. We accidentally fire yelling, nagging, shaming, perfectionism with chores and thus we have accidentally created a chore allergy in our children.

2. Chores are not all negative. Our feelings of being defeated, overwhelmed, put out by chores is very catching. I'm not saying you have to love chores, I'm just saying you might want to change your own attitude about them. I like to think of them as a mini work-out and like knitting. It's simple, relaxing, straight forward, you know when you are done . . . UNLESS.....

3. You have too much stuff! Chores are really, really awful when our house and calendar are jam packed. If you super hate a good tidy consider if you need a good purge. (I'm here to help, click if you want 10% in August!.)

4. Little kids want to do chores with you. Teens want to do chores alone, and without your advice.

5. If we accept emerging chores doers - chock full of mistakes and misfires, we usually have a pretty good helping group in our family. If we criticize, nag, expect perfection, make them do it over, give lectures and advice we find ourselves often doing chores all alone.

6. Anger can really get your people MOVING, but at what cost? We often blow chores off until we are VERY irritated and thus, AGAIN, accidentally fire pissed-offed-ness with chores

7. Did I mention de-clutter. Here's what The Minimalists say: "The fewer things we own, the fewer things we must clean." What?! I love it so much.

Organizing: Best of Summer

 Summer vacation is a great time to get organized!

Summer vacation is a great time to get organized!

Just today I helped a client, who is selling her house, clean out a little kitchen closet. Peeking in, it wasn't so bad, nothing to be ashamed of AND when we attacked it. . . WHOA what energy, motivating thoughts and pride did it unleash. When we were done we had generated 1/2 a bag of trash, 4 boxes of donate and 1/4 bin of recycling. As we stood back together and looked at our work we were filled with satisfaction, pride and energy to attack something else. We underestimate what a cheap and wonderful drug sorting, purging and organizing our stuff can be. (And no side effects!).

Here's a breezy summer listicle to get you thinking about tidying up before school starts

1. You don't have to begin with the end in mind. When we walk into our kids messy, cluttered, over-stuffed room we don't have to KNOW what to do. One thing professional organizers are really good at is sorting as WAY to figure out what the answer is. The answer comes THROUGH the sorting up into our brain, NOT from our brain into our sorting. 

2. If you need sorting primer, please click here!

 3. When we start we often get mad at ourselves that we didn't do it earlier so we ruin a perfectly good organizing session by ending it with beating ourselves up. Guys, sometimes our stuff needs to ripen or marinate. Sometimes time is exactly what those papers needed to get either thrown our put in the new memory box. Speak nicely to yourself. Here's a little piece on how Turmeric from 2007 showed me how discouraging I am with myself. 

4. Kids act like it's Filene's Basement, but want it to be Barney's. Less is more to them. Kids will use more art supplies the less they have of them. Artfully display them on an empty kitchen counter, just a couple things, don't say a WORD and watch how they suddenly use those oil pastels Nana gave them last Christmas. (Marketing is very important when it comes to kids).

5. Organizing is one of those tasks, like weeding, that is more fun if there is a group. If you have trouble getting started, don't go it alone, ask a fun friend or a non-judgey relative, or a professional organizer to come and help. When we try to go it alone we get lost in thoughts, in perfection, in the memories.

6. Anything you can do now to decrease the clutter before the school year starts will pay off in spades. A clear physical space promotes calm AND creativity.

Lies, Lies, Lies. . Yeah!

 Newsflash, everyone lies! (at least a little, often to themselves)

Newsflash, everyone lies! (at least a little, often to themselves)

Summer Lying Scenario

Mom gives child $10.00 for a trip to the pool with friends.

Upon child's return, Mom sees change in the pool bag.

Mom sees child later and asks about the pool, what happened, what he did and then this little nugget: "If there is change, please leave it on the counter."

No change is on the counter.

Mom, the next morning, very casually asks, "Um, was there any change you might have forgotten?"

Child says: "Nope"

OMG, NOW what to do?

First of all, do not ask questions you know the answer to! If I could magically change the scenario it would start with.

Mom: "Hey hon, I saw some change swirling in your pool bag, leave it on the counter before dinner."

It's disrespectful and frankly, is totally ineffective, to try to catch kids in lies. Catching kids in lies does not make them honest. Instead, think of being honest as a training opportunity, not a morality test. When our kids fail the morality test of fibbing, we usually launch into a tirade of anger and shaming. The focus for the child moves from the money to protecting himself from Mom's explosion. The child thinks, "I can't tell Mom anything, she flips out!"

Instead, consider confessing to a transgression (being honest after you have done something you know will upset your parent) as a skill (not a do or die, one shot, morality test). If it's a training situation we can expect that our kids probably won’t get it right the first time.  People tend to confess to others who remain calm. Calm does not mean condoning. Shall I repeat that? Calm does NOT mean condoning.

Now that Mom has learned this new information, what happens next? In a quiet mom, just Mom and child.

Mom: “Hey hon, I saw money in the pool bag before I asked you to put the change on the counter and now there is no change? Can you tell me about that?”

If he lies, Mom could leave it at that, or say: “Ok, if you remember differently later, let me know.”

When money is doled out again, you might have a conversation about whose money it is, or give him only the money he can spend and you don't care about change, or ask him how he wants to handle the change. Children feel so respected when we START with asking THEM how they want to handle things. We are often surprised how willing they are to cooperate when they are in the drivers seat and don't FIRST have to endure one of our lectures (as amazing as it probably is!).

When it comes to honesty, the trick is to have a relationship with our child where they can tell us the truth. So don’t be overly disappointed or devastated by the lying, and don’t yell at them. Take it in, consider, circle back. Say it with me now, “Take it in. Consider. Circle back.”

The Consider and the Circle Back is where the relationship building power is. We aren't letting kids 'get away' with anything, we are learning about who our kids is.

Where can we practice being someone who can handle the truth*?

*Often, it's those of us that are sneaky, or tell white lies, or don't give full information that often are obsessed with getting our kid not to lie.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

3 Ways We Accidentally Dis-Respect Our Kids

1. Ask questions we know the answer to

If you know your child took the cookies, the money, the brother's t-shirt, it's very disrespectful to ask. Catching people in lies does not teach people not to lie. If you know the answer to the question phrase it as such, "I saw the oreos were all eaten, I was looking forward to sharing them. We'll be taking a sugar break for a week." "I am assuming there was change from that trip to the Safeway, please leave it on my desk." "Joe's Supreme t-shirt needs to be washed before he comes home from camp on Saturday."

2. We Are Nice

We ask them to clean their rooms, they don't, we buy them new clothes. While we are buying the new clothes we remind them that we expect them pick up these clothes, after all we've done for them. Then, guess what? Their room is still totally messy and we completely ADDED to their insanity. That is disrespectful. Being NICE is not always respectful (recovering nice people out there, click here for a little re-fresher).

3. We Are Disappointed

You guys, they want us to love and admire them. They do, they really do. When we think they will do better because we are disappointed in them, we are both WRONG and we are draining the relationship. They are little, they are emerging people, and I'm betting we aren't so perfect either. Expect the tantrums, back-talk, procrastination, the bad grades, the messy rooms, the disorganization. Instead of being disappointed, be curious, ask questions. Maybe re-read The Only Shocking Part, you'll get a good giggle along with some good info broken down by age group.

FREEDOM + RESPONSIBLITY

Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.
— Viktor Frankl

Usually, us parents either hand freedom over without the corresponding responsibility (give them a phone without knowing they can either help pay or act responsibly with it), or we are heavy on the responsibility but stingy with the freedom (you are in charge of your own laundry, but you have to do it my way, when I say it's time).

This July 4th let's balance out the two. Here's some examples to get you thinking. . .

Phones are purchased AFTER child has earned/saved some of the money needed to get it. AFTER the child has shown they are reliable with the parents devices (stays on age appropriate websites, forks it over when it's time, has minimal breakdowns over the handing over of the device). Child shows responsibility BEFORE they are given a GIANT freedom that most GROWN-UPS have a hard time managing THEMSELVES!

Child is in charge of his laundry.  Child chooses when to do it, child can watch tv while clothes are being folded (they might take longer then one show to sllloooooowlllyyyyyy fold their clothes).  Child then experiences the delicious freedom that comes with the laundry responsibility. 

Child's room is a disaster, parent can decide that there will be no more money spent on clothes because the parent is unwilling to add to the mess. Child experiences the lack of freedom to purchase new clothes when the responsibility is shirked for caring for the current clothes he has.

When a child wants a new freedom, brainstorm a matching responsibility. When you give the child a new responsibility, brainstorm a new freedom that comes with it.

“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.”
– Abigail Van Buren

 

 

Turmeric . . . . 2007 . . . . WHAT?

 Speak nicely to me little spices! (originally posted March 2015)

Speak nicely to me little spices! (originally posted March 2015)

This weeks Nifty Tip comes in a small personal story with an expiration date of 2007.

My husband cleaned up our first floor when I was out running errands on Saturday.  I walked in, saw what he had accomplished and I was INSPIRED to tidy something myself.  It'd been a good year since I last cleaned and purged my little pantry.  As I stood there, looking at my own pantry, I heard myself say things that might sound familiar, "I should have done this months ago, I'm a bad person.  Look at all those shopping bags, I never use them, but I can't throw them out, I think I'll just jam them back up there on that top shelf because I alonehave to save the earth.  Oh my gosh, that balsamic vinegar got all over the shelf, this is gross, this is sticky. I'm gross. Why didn't I notice this before?!  Ugh, I don't feel like cleaning, I just feel like tidying, this is too much.  Ok, little spices come over here, let me look at your teeny tiny expiration dates . . . . 2007  . . . #%#&&#%^@%$@@!! Tumeric from 2007, and that is when it EXPIRED, who knew when I bought it.  Paige, you are so disorganized and wasteful and you should have used that $7 bottle of turmeric.  You know what, I'm a mess, I need a diet coke and lie down. I'll do the pantry tomorrow, when I feel up to it."

So much judgement, so many opinions, so many thoughts slowing down a perfectly fun and fabulous 30 minute organizing project.  If that tiny pantry wasn't mine, if I hadn't bought the turmeric myself, if the balsamic vinegar spilled on someone else's shelf, if the paper bags were jammed up in a client's top shelf. . . well, here is what I would have said. "Oh, I love this teeny tiny pantry, so efficient.  Ok, too many bags, which don't you ever use?  The Chipotle ones?  Ok great, let's recycle those, keep one bag of grocery bags in the basement for the book sorting project, keep what fits in this slot and pitch the rest.  Ok, looks like vinegar and oil tray needs a re-boot, where are you paper towels, this will only take a second.  Spices, get over here! Wait, hold on, I need my reading glasses.  HAHAHHAHHAHAHAHhahahahhaha did you know this turmeric expired in 2007, how funny? What was it for?  I know, I buy those $7 spices for one dish too, hysterical!"

Do you hear the difference?  We can be so mean to ourselves and then not only are we organizing the pantry (or our taxes, or the pile of papers, or the bookshelf) we are also berating ourselves, wishing we were different, feeling guilty and coming up with solutions that are too big and tiring -- We will never buy over priced spices again, we will tidy the pantry once a week, we will always clean up the spills RIGHT away.  All that judgement, berating and scheming steals our energy away from simply tidying up, wiping down, sorting, pitching and enjoying our tiny slice of organized pantry. No wonder we give up, have a diet coke and lie down.

May I suggest the next time you bump into an organizing issue in your house you pretend it's not yours.  It's your dear, dear friend's, and you are just helping them out.  Do you feel yourself relax?  Do you hear the encouraging and understanding words you are saying?  Do you see yourself getting a little something done, moving on with your day and patting yourself on the back when you cook dinner and your pantry is neat and tidy?  That 2007 turmeric need not defeat us!!

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Me? Why do I need a parenting class?

THE TOP 5.5 REASONS WE ALL NEED PARENT EDUCATION!

1. Parenting classes remind us that raising kids IS challenging, and we aren't the only knuckleheads out there confused and frustrated.

2. We learn about a variety of resources - books, workshops, classes, online seminars, podcasts that can infuse our parenting with inspiration and new ideas.

3. We see the universality of all our experiences. Rarely is a parent educator surprised by a question or a problem, because it's the same stuff over and over - messy rooms, problems with friends, picky eaters, no sleepers, homework avoiders.

4. We laugh together, because it IS funny. Seriously - it's funny the parent/child dance. Now, it's not funny when it's you, but it IS funny when we can see together the hilarious things we do to try to get a four-year-old shod and fed before 8am.

5. We can see ourselves more clearly - and that's where change happens. Change happens when we are in the middle of our very own lives - no excuses, no over-dramatization, no soft focus. In the safety of a big group we can quietly notice where we might be too demanding or too permissive.

5.5. It gets us out of the house and aways from the children (tee hee - but seriously, you deserve a break today.).

From past participants:

"I will really benefit from this and so will my child. I think I will approach parenting with a greater sense of options and more compassion, openness and hopefully, patience. Thank you! This was really excellent and well worth it."
"Role playing and listening tools provided concrete ways to interact with my kids in a less emotionally elevated way."
"I plan to implement many of the tools/strategies immediately (but gradually!). I found myself up last night reflecting on the first night, and had energy and enthusiasm this morning when I saw my kiddos. I definitely plan to attend future PEP classes."

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Stuff You Didn't Know Your Kids Could Do!

 It's TRUE! They can do more than you think!

It's TRUE! They can do more than you think!

FORMS: Kids 11 and up can start filling out their own medical/school/camp forms. It's true. We have to go over, edit and correct them, but they certainly can fill out their names, know their address, find out what an insurance card is and copy it. Give them time, don't rush them, don't criticize, maybe have them use pencil and bada boo, bada bing you will have an 18 year old that knows what the heck to do when they go to the health clinic themselves.

MAKE TRAVEL PLANS: Clicking is for everyone! The sooner they are comfortable online checking out deals, dates, scenarios, layovers, the sooner they will be ready to make and execute their own exciting lives. Start with letting your kiddo check in to this summers flight. Have them peruse different tourist sites and pick one, entrust them with getting tickets for that sunset sailboat ride.

PREP DINNER: I have found that the meal delivery system, like Blue Apron, is a great way to get a reluctant teen in the kitchen. It provides all the instruction so us parents can walk the dog while they prep the meal. Some families are so inspired that they ditch the Blue Apron after a while and they have a bona fide teen cook on their hands.

What else guys? What do your kids do that surprised or delighted you? Share the stories and inspiration, summer is such a great time to try new things!

Ready, Set, Summer! (Part 2 of 2)

Chores: Holy moly begoly, kids can do a lot around the house. They would probably do a lot more if we just chilled out. As in, stop criticizing, micro-managing, doing things over, demanding they care as much as we do. If we thank them for the effort, provide lots of freedom on how to do the new responsibility and just basically all around ZIP OUR LIPS we might be surprised. Now, I’m not saying if you don’t criticize, micro-manage, do things over or demand that they care that you will find yourself living with your very own Alice from the Brady Bunch. I’m just saying that if you don’t criticize, micro-manage, do things over, or demand they care you might just find that people are willing to help carry in the groceries, or prep the salad, or walk the dog, or call the orthodontist, or run to the post office, or check in for that flight (YES! They can do stuff other than trash and recycling).

Waking up: Kids 6 and over can wake up to an alarm clock. Do not fall for the “I need my phone for an alarm clock.” Let them practice waking up on time when you are not super upset if they are late. We all have a different way of handling waking up. Some of us pop right up and rip the band aid off. Others love the twilight luxury of snoozing and laying ½ awake and ½ asleep (my husband calls this – ‘planning my day’). Each person needs to know who they are as they become more and more responsible for themselves. One of my kids has learned he’s a professional ‘snoozer’ so he sets multiple alarms to set himself up for success on important days. All of us learn more from our own experience than from lectures and warnings from someone else, no matter how well meaning!

Self-Care: As important as AP classes and enrichment activities are, knowing how to take care of our self and conjuring up the self-motivation to take care of our self is a skill. It can be learned, practiced, improved and mastered. There is an epidemic of kids who don’t know how to do their own laundry, can’t call an adult on the phone, or think it’s a beneath them to tidy up their own rooms. Summer is a great time to pass on some of these responsibilities to our kids. NOW, we want to PASS ON the responsibility and not heave ho in a fit of anger and judgment the responsibility. Let's see it in action . . . 

 

Say This:

Jimmy, I’ve been so disrespectful micro-managing your life. I’m sorry. I’d be willing to show you how the laundry machine works on Saturday before your soccer game, it should take no more than 10 minutes, does that work for you? (If it doesn’t, find another mutually agreed upon time and then FOLLOW-THROUGH). I am un-willing to keep nagging you about putting your stuff into the bin, so after you are trained I will happily continue doing all the laundry on Mondays that is in the bin, sound ok to you?

 

Don’t Say:

Listen Buster, you are 13 and don’t do anything around the house. The LEAST you could do is your own laundry, capice? (Then nag, remind, cajole and ask if the laundry is done, WHEN it is undone lecture on their laziness and disrespect. After you are good and tired of that, do their laundry. Lather, rinse, repeat.)