Giving, Gifts & Thank You Notes

Originally published in the December/January issue of the Glover Park Gazette

Originally published in the December/January issue of the Glover Park Gazette

Tis the Season! The season of giving, gifts and thank you notes. We can make it hard on ourselves or we can make it easier on ourselves (note easier, not EASY, there is a difference). Try one or more of these tips and tidbits.

Giving: What are ways our kids can give gifts that are truly giving. Can they give the gift of service? What are they good at that they could give to relatives – a 14 year old can give the gift of teaching a grandparent how to use skype and then be available to skype once a week with said grandparent. For friends can they give the gift of experiences – a great birthday gift is a coupon for a sleepover and ice creams sundaes.  On the flip side what can we give our kids that is creative and useful? I love a room makeover budget. “Honey, we can spend this much $ and I have this many hours to devote to elbow grease. What should we do? Paint the walls, sew a new duvet cover, purchase a new dresser?” Working together, dreaming together, bumping up against money and time limits together all build and nurture the relationship without adding CLUTTER!

Gifts: Our kids will probably get a lot this year. NOW is the time to consider zero population growth. Take a minute to consider what reasonably fits in your kid’s room, playroom, basement. Then, as items/gifts/offerings come into your house donate, trash, give away a similar item to achieve zero population growth. Parents, we will have to plan on lots of follow through, “Becca, you may have that new book Aunt Sarah gave you when a book is put in the donate bag.” Be unimpressed by the promise of, “I’ll do it later.” Or “It’s soooooOOOOoooo unfair.” Stand your ground with love and compassion. “It can be hard to choose and donate things, I understand.” Zero population growth is a firm and friendly limit, and best if you used by all (psst, that means you too – think books, kitchen gadgets, clothes, any other stuff you love and ‘collect’).


Thank You Notes: Kids are developmentally unable to understand the WHY of writing thank you notes AND I believe it’s a skill and habit we should instill. They don’t understand why because they have never stood at Sullivan’s Toy Store having no idea what to get their 11 year old nephew, and they have never spent THEIR money on presents for others. Us explaining to them might make us feel superior, and it doesn’t impress them one bit. This year try some of these ideas. BEFORE gifts arrive have kids write envelopes and stamp them to the regular gift givers, that way the note is ready to rock and roll once the gift is received. Give the gift to the child AFTER the thank you note has been written. We must endure complaining and whining to complete this. Please do NOT warn, give in and then COMPLAIN the thank you note was not written. Have them use paperless post to write emails online. This will need follow through by a parent. That means you can’t just tell them to do it and it will be done. Hello?! We can do ours at the same time as theirs, we can dice it up into small pieces, we can hold onto the gift until the email is done.

Giving, gifts and thank you notes all hold mystical and magical lessons and relationship building tools.

Please e-mail if you have any parenting/organizing questions Check out to see upcoming online, or IN THE neighborhood presentations. Join me for a Parenting Bootcamp – January 19th & 20th  on Capitol Hill February 2nd & 3rd in Kensington, MD.





Expectations vs. Reality

Expectations . . . 

Expectations . . . 

Expectations: Cozy car ride talking to each other and playing the alphabet game and singing Raffi songs.  Delicious home cooked nutritious meals where children try new foods and eat yellow and green and orange things.  Getting to that pilates class &long walks after meals.  Playing board games and doing puzzles. Combed hair, none of it in eyes, all of it in a hairband and no squabbles over styles or washing. Wearing the fancy & nice clothes Nana bought, all of it ironed, most of it unstained.  Loving and understanding relatives who honor, cherish and cheer for each other. Sleeping in, oh I'm not crazy, I read that other post, Expectations 101, just a couple of mornings of uninterrupted sleep will do.                                             

Reality . . . . 

Reality . . . . 

Reality:  Traffic, she is on his side, they don't like that song, every 35 minute bathroom breaks.   Carbs, sugar, booze, caffeine, carbs, more carbs. More booze, caffeine, carbs, lethargy, complaining, fat pants.  Begging and pleading and even crying to get them off screens and standing up.  Lice.  Wrinkled shirt, I took that darn PEP class and let them pack, they forgot their khakis and now there is no choice but sweats for Thanksgiving dinner.  Snarky and gossipy relatives who judge the kids, the parenting, the lice, the sweat pants.  Four year old who wakes up at 4:30 am, urgent care, strep throat.

Expectations 101, Read it, learn it, try it, live it.                

*Originally posted in 2014. Still makes me giggle.

The Gratitude Attitude

Originally published in the November 2017 Glover Park Gazette.

Originally published in the November 2017 Glover Park Gazette.

Gratefulness as a parenting tool is often, often overlooked. We minimize gratefulness and its quiet power. We NEED it when the days get short and the holidays are pressing upon this. Gratitude gives us comfort and courage.

Let’s take the time to be grateful for the teeny, tiny itty bitty miracles that children bring us. When they go to sleep. When they master reading. When they learn how to walk. When you buy the last bag of diapers. When the double stroller breaks and kids need to get out and walk (I will NEVER forget that day, 16 years ago, joy, joy and more JOY!). When someone miraculously hangs up a towel. When you hear them thank your Mom friend for the chicken nuggets at the potluck.

We can be grateful for the contrast. Who knew that going out with ADULTS ONLY was so incredibly amazing? Who thought that sleeping until 8am could be a luxury? Anyone else feel like they lost 17 lbs JUST by traveling on an airplane with NO children? I never knew how beautiful and restorative simply being alone could be.

Honestly, I think one very overlooked gift children bring us is living DIRECTLY in THIS moment. Kids give us no choice but to be in the here and now. Their mercurial moods keep us wide awake and responding to life as it is. When we are responsible for another human our self-obsession tends to diminish, what a relief!

Our kids give us the gift of learning, re-learning, and learning one more time that we are not in control of the universe. All our worrying, our obsessive planning our crazy Googling, none of that can control completely how our lives, or their lives, unfold.

Finally, our kids give us the gift of so much love. Love we didn’t even know was in our hearts. Anne Lamott sums it up well, “I don't remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don't even know exist until you love a child.” 



Talk, Talk, All You Do to Me is Talk Talk

We all need more tools . . . 

We all need more tools . . . 

Remember "I Told Them Challenge" ? Take a minute if you need a refresher, I'll wait. . . . Has anyone else noticed that people respond WAY faster to new action then they do to old lectures? Talk is cheap, and rarely works how we'd like it to. We can keep talking AND let's add in some of these new ideas.


Instead of "I told them to do their homework." Try asking a curiosity question and . . .  wait for it . . . LISTEN to what they have to say. We may learn they want to wake up early and work in the morning. We may learn they prefer to do homework after a snack. We may learn they like to do homework after their little sibling goes to bed. 


Instead of "I told them to clean their room.", try - de-cluttering so each bedroom is 15 minutes from clean. Take everything out that isn't a book, stuffed animal or clothes. Ditch 40% of their clothes (we all wear only 20% of what we own). 

Be Willing / Unwilling

Instead of "I told them to put their clothes in the hamper.", try informing them that you are willing to wash all the clothes in the hamper and un-willing to pick up clothes off the floor. THEN DO THAT without REMINDERS or feeling bad when they cry.

Use pre-frontal cortex

Instead of "I told them to throw out the microwave popcorn bags.", try anticipating that they won't throw out the popcorn bags and inform them that you are going to take a break from purchasing them for two weeks until you can rest up. 

Zip the lip and get into action! You'll be surprised by what you learn.

Seasons of Parenting

Kids change, we change, seasons change. . .  

Kids change, we change, seasons change. . .  

Parenting is very seasonal work, and I think we are devastated when we find a solution that works for a season and then suddenly doesn’t. Instead of letting it go we DOUBLE DOWN on our solution. IT’s as if we trying to STOP the falling of the leaves and instead of raking and going to bed early because the days are shorter we are frantically trying to crazy glue, glue stick, glue gun, scotch tape the leaves BACK on the trees.

Instead, wouldn’t it be easier if we could see each season has a harvest, a loss, a frustration, a lesson and a joy.

New Borns : Harvest – a baby! Loss – sleep, free-time, thinking only of yourself. Frustration – HOW do I do this job. Lesson – life is fragile and strong and unknown and unfolding. Joy – baby smiles, baby smells, onsies.

Babies & Toddlers: Harvest – smiling, walking, chattering, feeding, routines. Loss – knowing when you put your baby down you will find them THERE. Frustration – are they reaching milestones, why don’t they nap regularly, why do they need me to sleep through the night. Lesson – routines are life saving, we are loved and cherished and needed. Joy – chunky expressive legs, joyful discovery, that baby holding our one finger with their WHOLE hand

Pre-Schoolers: Harvest – predictability, beginning of self-care autonomy, classes and experience that expose us to a new world and new people. Loss – no more naps, they have OPINIONS! Frustration – HOW do I get them to STOP saying NO. Lesson – life is exciting and joyful and wonderful and we are masters of the universe. Joy – watching them learn, grow, talk and sing

Elementary Age: Harvest – independence, help around the house, reading and silly jokes. Loss – feeling 100% in control of their day, their friends, their food. Frustration – HOW do I help them behave, find a passion, make their bed? Lesson – life is interesting, amazing, full of possibilities. Joy – we can sit on our butts while they get themselves dressed, shod and ready for school.

Tweens & Teens: Harvest – deep thinking, sassy tv shows, loosening of having to be in control. Loss – KNOWING you are definitely NOT 100% in control. Frustration – they are out too much, they are in too much, they are too social, they aren’t serious in school, they are too serious in school, they have no friends, the PHONE?! Lesson – life is scary and thrilling all at once. Joy – talking books or politics or sharing funny YouTube videos, watching their interests un-fold.



When It's All Too Much . . .

Photo taken by Allan Chester, owner of Muddy Paws.

Photo taken by Allan Chester, owner of Muddy Paws.

Bentley sort of says it all in this photo. The continuous bad news feed can get us down and lethargic. When we are a parent, what to do?

Listen. Listen and Listen: People process events and anxiety through talking. To help our kids our job is to be there to HEAR them and reassure them. We can't deny the reality, we can't assure them 100% security AND we can be there to help them process what they hear, see, read, watch and think.

Media Diet: If we start our day with a good fat Twitter scroll we are going to be anxious about things we mostly don't have control over. Let's start our family on a reasonable media diet. Limit time and locations where people (that means us!) can be on devices. Now's a good time re-boot parental controls, if you need help go to iparent101 for PRACTICAL advice and tips.

Nature: Nature does magical things to our brain. Exercise does magical things to our brain. Combine the two - hiking, biking, walking, paddle boarding, kayaking, apple picking and you will come back with a new perspective, some clarity and having used up a smidge of that anxious energy.

Circle the Wagons: Now is a good time for potlucks, multi-family game nights, group movie nights and anything you can think of to lean on each other. Humans need community when the going gets tough. Sharing a meal, a laugh or tear can lighten all our loads.

If all this fails, lie in bed and look wistfully sad like Bentley (but not for too long . . . )!



Faulty Equations



We all have some whacked out equations in our head. They don't have much to do with reality, but we use them anyway!  Usually we come up with these equations when we are 4 or 5. We have practiced them so long and are so invested in them that they are HARD to give up. Every now and then, the equation works! We are proven RIGHT,  we STAY committed to the equation. Let's take a look at a few. . . .

Talking Nicely + Request to Change = Other Person Changing: My sister, you remember her from The Only Shocking Part . . . , reminds me over and over that even if we say things really, really nicely the person we are trying to change might NOT choose to CHANGE. (Or you might like the flip side of this equation. Request to Change - Talking Nicely (I talk meanly and bitingly and shamingly) = Other Person Changing. Have we noticed yet? This doesn't work either!)

Logic + Experience + Lecture + Our Resume = Child Who is Impressed and Does What We Ask: We often try to convince our kids to do things by explaining our thinking to them, our logic, our ultimately good sense. We remind them that we are wiser, more experienced, have advanced degrees. 8 year olds care NOTHING about your age or advanced degree. You guys, it's a GIANT waste of energy reviewing your resume with your child when it's time to put the device down.

Chore Chart + Nicely Laminated = Compliant and Chore Doing Children: We think if we come up with a laminated, pretty chore chart the child will magically be inspired and do the chores, thank us for expecting them to do the chores and not fight with their siblings about who does what chore. In addition, if it's laminated we will become the kind of parent the UPHOLDS the chore chart.

Here are a couple of new equations to ADD TO your old equations.

Thinking + New Action = New Information:

Me talking to myself: "We need to get some chores done in the house. I'm going to print out the list of what is age appropriate for kids to do and take it to the dinner table with me and read it aloud. No wait, I'm going to print out the chore list for everyone that can read at the table and ask them to review and circle what they would be willing to do. That's a start. I am going to wait for that new information before I laminate anything!"

New Information + Considering + Compassion = Harmonious House (not quiet, not obedient, not perfect):

Me talking to myself, "So interesting, I had no idea Kate wanted to mow the lawn. If she did that once a week it would open up time to train Blake on how to cook. It's a nightmare having them both in the kitchen at the same time. This week I will train Kate how to mow and the next week I'll invite Blake into the kitchen to do some cooking."

New equations create NEW results! 

We Don't Know What We Don't Know!

“Why do parents need parent education? Isn’t it instinctual? My parents didn’t take parenting classes.”

“Why do parents need parent education? Isn’t it instinctual? My parents didn’t take parenting classes.”

We don’t know what we don’t know. If you NEVER take a parenting class, please just do this. Write in your calendar to check out your child’s development every six months ( . We parents try to stop the 2 year old from chanting, “No”, the 4 year old from tantruming, the 7 year old from wanting to play on a device and the 13 year old from eye rolling. PEOPLE, imagine as a middle-aged person if your kids were ANGRY at you for needing glasses to see, or punished you for forgetting what you just said, or being disappointed in you because your knees hurt. At least 50% of our parenting problems are developmental phases that will pass. I don’t mean don’t address them, I mean address them with compassion and a light heartedness that comes when we know, ‘this too shall pass’.


When we get stressed we tend to do MORE of the SAME thing. (Psst. . . that thing hasn’t worked yet.) For instance, if we try to control by being nice and accommodating, when things get hairy we get nicer and more accommodating when the child might benefit from a big old boundary. If we control by being scary and punitive, when things get dicey we get scarier and MORE punitive when the child might benefit from compassion and empathy. Parent education gives us an endless supply of new ideas, ways to connect and insights into our repeated behavior that feels right, but is actually getting in the way.


We all need a little help. It really does take a village. We don’t have all the answers. We all have blind spots from our past. Often we enter the parenting game thinking we have two choices: 1. Do the SAME as my parents or 2. Do the OPPOSITE of my parents. We actually have so many more creative, useful and effective options. We can lighten our load, unfurrow our brow and usually laugh a lot when we get together with other parents. Our fellow parents can help us solve our deepest darkest parenting problems, just like we have amazing insight for them.

Take a class, read a book, join a parenting group. I’m here for you if you want suggestions or ideas – email me at

Join me for a parenting bootcamp October 20/21. Go to to register. Check out to see upcoming online, or IN THE neighborhood presentations.




3 Ways to Get Out of the House On Time (without yelling, nagging or cajoling)

Getting out of the house on time - true story or urban myth?

Getting out of the house on time - true story or urban myth?

1. The night before, the night before, the night before. Whatever you can DO the night before . . . DO IT! Look at your calendar every night, plus two days ahead. You will be AMAZED at the things you have signed up for, the bumps in the road you can smooth out, the adjustments you can make while you still have some options.

2. Notice what kids CAN do. Kids often are super duper capable at school and suddenly become helpless at home. If they put their shoes on at school, they can do it home. All the reminders and nagging are a way to get attention. Anyone with children over 5 and are saying, "Put your shoes on." are wasting their breath. Kids KNOW what they are supposed to do.

3. Clean up the entryway.  Two pairs of shoes MAXIMUM per person, extra shoes go in closets in the persons room. Kick out all the baseball hats, extra re-usable bags, shopping bags, sports equipment from last season, side-walk chalk that no one will use, and out of season coats. I kid you not, if our entryway tells us, "You got this! You are ready. You are tidy and organized." we will be able to get OUT more smoothly.

3.5 Set your home / car clocks 10 minutes fast. Some people don't like this, I found it very useful. I STILL find it very useful.


Can we improve relationships by de-clutter? YES WE CAN!

Can we improve relationships by de-clutter? YES WE CAN!

What if I told you you could REDUCE the number, and usually the severity of power struggles through organizing? Would it give you motivation? Would you be curious? Would you get in the game?

I love to look at problems from a different angle, a new spot, a fresh perspective – let’s take a look at a few common power struggle spots and see what happens if we organized them a wee bit.


Get up earlier then your child and get YOURSELF ready. Do this, no excuses. This will GREATLY reduce the stress level in the house. You HAVE the power. Try it for THREE days this week. Let me know the difference when you face your morning breath kids fully dressed, cell phone charged, coffee cup in hand. Your ability to deal with the typical morning drama will be greatly enhanced.  

De-clutter the kids clothes. Take anything out of their closet that they love wearing and they can’t wear to school, bada boo bada bing – no more struggling over shorts in winter, princess dresses during the week, or anything that gets you hot under the collar.

Remember in real estate it’s location, location, location. In Morning Mayhem it’s the night before, the night before, the night before. Pack bags, charge cell phones, prep lunch, check on sports equipment / gym clothes. IF you don’t wanna fight – GET ORGANIZED!


Create homework location/station. Purge it often. DELETE anything that is not homework related (comic books, supplies they don’t use – even if you spent a lot of money, and they might use the supply someday. If you can’t part with that expensive supply, put it in the basement and get it out of the kids homework area).

Uphold a homework time. Check out The Learning Habit for detailed instructions. There IS a formula.  Our job then is to UPHOLD the limits on time, screens, etc. This getting organized will keep you busy and greatly minimize the time you have to nag, lecture and power struggle.

Create a weekly review with each child to get an update on grades, homework, long term projects and ways you can help. Resist the urge to probe/nag other then this weekly meeting time. Keep a private list to go to when you really, really want to probe or nag and you can pull it out when you meet.


Menu plan, here are some tips. Ask kids for input. Stick to the plan. Expect complaining. Don’t react to the complaining. Enjoy your healthy-ish food.

Get a crock pot. Get a crock pot. Get a crock pot. Use it. Use it. Use it.

Clean out your fridge. Honestly, we won’t be so crabby and short tempered in the evenings if our refrigerator isn’t gross. Trust me.



Where IS The Magic?

“Inspiration does exist but it must find you working.” Pablo Picasso

All that stuff you’ve been avoiding . . . the paper work, the de-cluttering, the training your child to make his lunch, do her laundry, drive the car you AIN’T never gonna feel like doing it. Ever. Never. Not in a million years. Let’s all just STOP waiting for the inspiration to feel like doing the stuff we’ve been avoiding.

Inspiration will bubble UP from the working. It’s a mind bender, it’s a game changer, it’s the NO EXCUSES zone. Well, you can keep all your excuses, “I’m too tired.” “I don’t feel like it.” “I don’t know how.” “Someone else should do it.” Keep ‘em, AND do the dreaded task anyway. But here’s a couple tips.

Don’t obsess over the final destination. Look in the distance, squint your eyes, start MOVING. Movement feeds your brain. We all try to THINK our way out of situations. Think a little, move a little, learn a lot.

Start with today – some of us spend a lot of time analyzing our problems, the WHY of the procrastination – the deep seeded issues, the angst, the theory when really we might get further setting our timer for 10 minutes and doing something.

Go ahead and quit, but start again. Re-frame quitting as resting, or re-grouping. If all you have done is taken a rest, it’s much easier to get back in the game rather than having to berate yourself as a quitter

We will get to the magic of our projects by doing our projects.

I’m here for you! Email me if you want any help. I mean it.


Transitions are hard, and stressful and scary. Baby to toddler. Toddler to Pre-school. Pre-School to big kid school. Elementary school to Middle School. . . . you get what I'm saying. No matter where we are on the parenting path there is ANXIETY during these transitions. Are they ready? Are we ready? What's going to happen? Did I do it right? To help during these transitions I like to go back to basics. What things can I do to lower (not eliminate)  anxiety? What can I do that has very few side effects? What can I do that's free? Here's somewhere to start  . . . 

1. Talk to your friends, but don't make it your STORY. That means share your anxiety with your inner-circle, not the check out gal at Target. Have the anxiety be a part of your story, not the main event. Remember, we are lots of other things in addition to being a worried parent. 

2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is where you tense and then relax all your muscles. Here's a link to a guided practice I've been using lately. Try on iTunes also, there are plenty of FREE ones. No side effects. I try to do mine about 90 minutes before bed. It's not a miracle, AND it's worth a try.

3. Watch a SHOW! I'm really into the Great British Bakeoff, I'm late to the party, but it's still fun. Ask around what people are watching. Remembering there is more to life then toddlers eating veggies, what school lottery our kids get into, if our middle schooler has enough friends, when our high schooler is gonna clean their room. Laugh, be scared, be engaged about SOMETHING else besides our worry. Don't worry, our worry will be waiting for us after the show.

4. Read a book. Here are a couple that I have found helpful. The Worry Cure. The Opposite of Worry. Anxiety is a normal human emotion, some of us have just gotten TOO GOOD at practicing it. 

5. Practice gratitude. Jotting down three things a day on a piece of paper that you can review will remind you how much we love traveling, what a treat a non-humid day is, how much joy our pet can give us and what a delight our children can bring.

Here's to a less stressful (NOT stress-free) transition from summer to school for us all!

ONE Tool WE Have and THEY Don't. . . . USE IT!


The pre-frontal cortex, sigh. . . .this sucker is truly the most underused of the Underused Parenting Tools! It’s a shame too, because it’s one tool we have that our kids do not have. Our pre-frontal cortex is fully developed at 25, so most of us have had a full decade or more of this sublime, nimble, amazing tool.  What does it do, you ask? 

Differentiate among conflicting thoughts: I really want to shriek to my four year old, “Seriously, put your shoes on, it’s not that HHHHhaaaaarrrddd". I also want to act encouragingly and I suspect simply escorting the four year old to the shoes is going to be more effective, encouraging, and relationship-building then the shrieking.

Determine good and bad, better and best: Getting up at 7 am, or 15 minutes before everyone else is good. Getting up at 7:30, or 15 minutes after everyone else is bad. Getting up 6:50 and having my coffee is better. Getting up at 6:30, having my coffee, doing 10 minutes of yoga stretches, and getting dressed BEFORE anyone else wakes is best. 

Determine future consequences of current activities: If I nag, nag, and nag – child will only do things when I nag. When I shut the old trap I see what the child does and can start working towards improvement.

Working toward a defined goal: I would like each person in our family to get up on their own, take responsibility for self, and leave the house with maximum of goodwill and minimum of tension. This week I will wake up 15 minutes before everyone and have my coffee. In two weeks I will wake up 20 minutes before everyone and have my coffee and do 10 minutes of yoga stretches. In 3 weeks we will begin training on laying out clothes the night before – etc. In a couple months, our defined goal of leaving the house on time with each person responsible for themselves and enjoying maximum goodwill is happening. Not every day – because family is family and we can’t expect miracles!

Prediction of outcomes: I can predict my two year old can’t tolerate the grocery after daycare. I can predict that I am not a good "trainer" first thing in the morning when I am groggy. I can predict that my tardy spouse will be late to the soccer game. I can predict that the teen will roll his eyes at the curfew time. Re-read The Only Shocking Thing for down and dirty tips on outcomes you can predict by age group.

 Social "control" (the ability to suppress urges that, if not suppressed, could lead to socially unacceptable outcomes): Pass by the Ben’n’Jerry’s, want it passionately, do not buy it because you know you can’t stop at one bite or one bowl. Feel really, really angry at your spouse at a dinner party – want to pinch his head off. Suppress (NOT repress) the urge to pinch head off in the moment, discuss spousal infraction in the car. Talk calmly to child who is screaming at you (resisting the urge to scream at child to stop screaming at you in front of every gosh durn person at the park!). 

For more ideas, CEO in da House illustrates some nifty ways you can expect your own CEO to support and talk to you.


Try One Now, Save Some for Later. . .

Worry About Yourself:  Stop whatever you are doing and please watch this video: Worry About Yourself. I will wait. What did you see? If you have bigger kids, you will be kicking yourself that you were not more patient as they struggled and enjoyed struggling to take care of themselves. If you have little kids, you probably got a back spasm from re-watching what just happened this very morning! How wise is that child who knows that Dad should “drive," and she was just fine back there with her own project, worrying about herself. Seriously, how often are we half-dressed and un-kept and yelling at our tween to tuck in his shirt? Or we may not be at our ideal weight and we hear ourselves advising our child to monitor her food intake. Try the Worry About Yourself tool; it’s sobering and effective. Feel free to show the video to your kids, and you may also be using the Underused Parenting Tool of laughing, free of charge!

Working Out:  I am passionate about working out as a parenting tool. Let me know if you think a 20-minute walking podcast with parenting tips would be of interest – I’m thinking about making one! The research on exercise and how it impacts our brains, our moods, and the quality of our sleep is so giant and amazing and so, so, SO overlooked. If I were Queen of the World, I would tolerate no complaining unless someone has a workout routine. And you guys, do not think I mean join a gym, workout for an hour and bench-press 200 pounds. No, I mean walk 20 minutes a day, download free exercise videos, ride your bike to work, do 10 minutes of abs one day, 15 minutes of arms the next and finish off with a stretch on the third day. Watch your anger melt away, your creativity blossom, your self-pity vanish and your resolve grow. Please e-mail me for specific suggestions; I have a million of them. I’m serious!

Routines:  Neuroscience tells us that our brains don’t like to work hard. We often do the same thing we did yesterday. It is cognitively tiring to try something new, so we don’t. That means that whatever routines/habits we create in our family are what we will do, because it’s easiest for our brains. We all like to be on autopilot, kids included. Start slowly, build your routines methodically, and expect to see better results, less nagging, and diminished resistance to chores because "we don’t feel liiiiiikkkeee it.The FlyLady is my inspiration. Check her out! Think: Gas up the car every Thursday, laundry every Sunday, wipe the kitchen table down (has to be cleared to really do the job) every morning. You get the gist!