Shhhhh . . . . Anger is Telling You Something (or Speak Up . . . . I can't hear you!)

Anger is trying to tell us something, we need to be quiet to receive its messages.

Anger is trying to tell us something, we need to be quiet to receive its messages.

Anger is a wily one. It can come out so loud that we can't hear the message over the yelling, shaming and blaming. Or, it can go undercover (repressed) anger and be so quiet that we don't hear any message at all.  Let’s explore some of the values, feelings and behaviors that are behind the anger.

Values: When we are chronically angry about homework, table manners, grades, keeping rooms neat we might have hit something that we value and hold in high esteem.  

Alternatives to Anger: If I value homework getting done, maybe I create a quiet and device free zone from 7-8 each night. I could inspire us all with some new school supplies.  And listen to this, I could sit and do my own work while my child works.. I could do some AP modeling  and let my intellectual curiosity shine by studying my own books or information I find interesting. See, I'll be so busy doing all that highlighting and note taking, I won't have time to yell or nag.

Personal Space: Sometimes kids can just be too much and we feel smothered by all the needs, wants, desires and strong feelings that kids bring to us. Our anger might be a way of telling us that we need a wee bit more time alone, or more help around the house, or our kids need to get used to some benign neglect so we can read a book, or paint our nails, or watch the basketball game.  

Alternatives to Anger: If I need more personal space and feel smothered -consider a teenager in your neighborhood who would like to make a buck or two, why not ask them to take the kids to the park twice a week, just for a few hours, and enjoy a quiet house?  It will minimize the yelling (not extinguish it).

Ready for Responsibility (but they need the pink slip first):  If we get angry every day about our kids' waking up, packing their backpack or getting dressed it could be that anger is telling us it's time to hand over responsibility. The trick here is we have to really hand them the pink slip to waking up in the morning (packing their back back, getting dressed) and it might get bumpy. Aint' nobody gonna take responsibility for something they don't own!

Alternatives to Anger:  If it's time to hand over responsibility to my kid I could ask someone with older kids how they did it and get support in letting go (it's harder then it looks). I could train the beloved child in waking up to an alarm clock and see what happens. If I let the child struggle with the alarm clock instead of me I won't have to stomp upstairs so many times ready to rumble. I can greet the child (who might be early or late) with open arms and find out what he learned.

Nice and Accommodating (repressed anger):  Here's a twist - sometimes our anger goes way underground and our theory is that if we are just super duper nice and accommodating then really the child has to do what we want them to, right? I'm so nice, how could they not? Just like we try to control through fear and bluster with aggressive anger, so too can we try to control with sweetness and light. If we say things in just the right way, with just the right timing, with just the right healthy snack - well then why WOULD'T they do their homework (have good manners, get good grades, keep their rooms clean)?  What we might really mean is  "How COULD they not do their homework, have good manners, get good grades, keep their rooms clean, AFTER all we've done for them?"

Alternatives to Anger:  If I control with over-nicing people I might have no idea it's a problem because, after all, I'm so nice how can anyone criticize me?  If I have a good friend, an honest spouse, a wise teen, they might tell me and then I could see where I'm being just as controlling as my angry counterpart. I could turn some of the nice on myself and treat myself to all those kind words and healthy snacks. Then I'll have more energy to learn and discover the child I actually live with, rather then the one I'm trying to control. And when I'm not spending so much time being nice I can discover who I really am too. I might just not be so nice . . . . and that might be a relief to everyone we live with.

Stress & Overwhelm: Sometimes we are angry simply because we are tired, hungry, over caffeinated, have to go the bathroom, under caffeinated, are mad at our brother-in-law, had something go terribly wrong at work or any other number of things that upset us normal, everyday, overbooked parents.

Alternatives to Anger: If I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed I could drink 1/2 a cup less coffee today, I could add in a 15 minute walk around the block, I could realize that my brother-in-law is doing the best he can, I could go to the bathroom before I talked to the kids about all the legos on the floor. Sometimes I can short circuit an anger episode just by realizing it's something I can easily fix or alter in my own routine.

Diagnosing the problem correctly can take a heavy load off us (and our relationships).  We have to listen to the anger, we have to see what's underneath the fury, we have to feel the vulnerable emotions. Scary and we can do it!  Our tempers and emotions are the climate control for the house, let's learn how to use that thermostat with respect and effectiveness.

 

 

 

 

 

Scared Little Mouse

The ROARING is because we feel so unheard . . .

The ROARING is because we feel so unheard . . .

I hear you .  . . "Ummmm, Paige, why  is the title 'Scared Little Mouse' and the photo above is a big, scary, aggressive Grizzly?"

Last week we learned that anger is a cover for scarier, more vulnerable emotions, like feeling unheard, powerless, disrespected, overwhelmed and smothered, to name a few. (Click on Anger: A Primer if you need a refresher.)  Our kids see us as this big Grizzly when are yelling and losing our minds to get things done. If they saw beneath the fur coat they'd see the scared little mouse, trapped and using the only tools we think we have, yelling, gnashing teeth, clawing our way out and through our family to get to work on time (or get homework done, dinner eaten, baths taken, rooms cleaned up).  

Let's hit pause and ask ourselves if all that ferocity is building the relationship, the child's self-respect and our self-respect? Or is it wearing down the relationship, the child's self-respect and our self-respect?

I imagine our child walking in the forest of our family and consider, would they dare to ask that Grizzly how to clean up the chocolate they accidentally got on the white couch, or what to do because their best friend started smoking pot, or they blew off their science fair project and have only 12 hours to get it done? I doubt it. They'd probably wait until the Grizzly was distracted by some blueberries (a glass of wine or an i pad) or was hibernating (sleeping, out of the house) and then they'd try to figure out the chocolate clean up (or hide it), the pot smoking, the science fair project in secret, when all was quiet and safe.

And then I imagine in a few years, when the child we are trying to control with anger is  24 and needs to get themselves to the car in the morning. . . will they need a big ole Grizzly behind them (a mean boss, a demanding partner, a vicious voice in their head) to get them moving?

This is so depressing!  Whether we unleash it like the Grizzly, or if we repress it and become icy and cold, or if our kids use anger to control the situation (you know the families that walk around on eggshells to stop the angry kid from hijacking the day) anger touches all our lives. 

When it bubbles up we have a choice what to do. Next week I'll help you interpret what anger is really saying along with options and actions we can use that will build the relationship and keep our child's and our self-respect intact.  I can't wait!

Anger: A Primer (or "Pay No Attention to the Little Man Behind the Curtain")*

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From ages 0 - 32 my go to overwhelm emotion was crying.  If I wanted to rally the troops around me and get something done, I would cry and pout.  At 32 with two children under four,  I was suddenly the adult (I am the youngest in my family origin and baby was/is an accurate way to describe me). In my new found adulthood I realized I couldn't call my sister crying to solve the getting out of the house in the morning problem.  No, I had to get two smallies out of the house, EVERY day.  The tears didn't work on them.  I dug in my tool box and the only thing I found was ANGER, and people, anger works.  People MOVE when you are yelling at them. What a discovery, be a total jerk until people succumb to your will.  Fabulous!

However, as we know, all good things must come to an end and I went to PEP (Parent Encouragement Program) to learn about parenting (well, I really went to have them  fix my kids, but that's another story for another time)  and learned the destructiveness of unleashing anger on the people you love the most in the world.  

Anger touches all our lives, it's an energy, it's information, it's a guide and it shouldn't be repressesed, unleashed or ignored.  It's such a big topic that I have more posts about it (so exciting!) so if you are left feeling unsatisfied, don't get angry (tee hee), there is more to come.  For this week let's consider that anger covers up scarier emotions that we would rather not admit to, let alone feel.  Shall we go through some examples?  

We yell at our kids to put their shoes on. Consider we really feel unheard and disrespected, they put their shoes on at pre-school, why won't they listen to us?

We are furious and nag when homework doesn't get done. Perhaps we are scared they won't get into college, ever get a job, or live up to their potential?

We are hostile and aggressive when our four year old gets up for the 723rd time to ask for something at bedtime. Might it be we are desperately tired and feel smothered by our beloved child?

Anger actually comes from a place of vulnerability rather then strength.  Think the Great and Powerful Oz behind the curtain -- just a regular guy (parent), living in a foreign land (kids are strange and beautiful creatures), trying to get home (or to work, or to bed).  We use all sorts of bluster, smoke and scary voices to hide the fact that we are just a regular guy from Kansas, scared and alone, with some pots, pans and a smoke machine behind the curtain.

Next time we (or they) get angry, let's see if we (or they) are really feeling - ignored, scared, anxious, unheard, disrespected, abused, smothered, tired, overwhelmed, teased, broken-hearted, embarrassed, humiliated, unappreciated, sick, wounded, hopeless, small or taken advantage of.  Changes the game, huh?

*this anger series originally posted in 2015

Mindful Parenting

We are in it together, Mindfulness helps . . . .

We are in it together, Mindfulness helps . . . .

Mindfulness: Attending to the current situation with a kind and curious attitude.

Mindfulness doesn’t mean ‘let it go’ or ignore or accept bad behavior. Mindful parenting means that we live in the now, our current reality and we approach our problems with kindness and curiosity. In getting ready for next week’s webinar I’ve been reading up on the matter and have loved the book, Mindful Discipline.

We often don’t combine mindfulness (which we think is ‘nice’ & permissive) and discipline (which we think is ‘mean’ & punishment).

But, instead of punishment let’s use this definition (found in Webster’s Dictionary): training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.

And then when we are disciplining our child consider:

  1. How does the discipline affect our relationship? (What ties us together - being yelled at or being expected to clean up after ourselves - at a reasonable pace?)

  2. How does it impact my child’s authentic desire to be respectful and responsible? (Does nagging, reminding and obsessing over our kids homework allow them the space and time to figure it out on their own, or consider their own feelings about kinds of grades they want to get?)

  3. How does it affect my child’s emotional intelligence? (Do we want our child to learn that they only have to follow through when someone is angry and yelling at them?)

  4. How does it impact my child’s long-term development? (Is our demanding or rescuing giving them practice in self-discipline?)

When we approach discipline with an open, curious and kind mind and focus on training, correcting and molding toward moral character we use relationship building tools from our parenting tool box: listening, natural consequences and doing the un-expected. We put aside our habitual tools of yelling, reminding or nagging knowing that those do not bring us closer to our child, they do not teach our child to be responsible or respectful.

Hope to see you next week online!

The New You!

Oh, if only it were so as easy as declaring it on a Post It!

Oh, if only it were so as easy as declaring it on a Post It!

Everyone go to the gym? Did we all 'just say no' to that cocktail we promised ourselves we were giving up? Budget anyone? Bueller, Bueller, anyone Bueller?

Turns out we are still our same old selves on January 2nd as we were on Dec 31st. Unfortunately, just as we can't nag, shame, or yell our kids into being different, we can't nag, shame ourselves into our being different either.

Here are a five ideas to keep us realistic as we change, modify, exchange habits that no longer serve us.

1. Add, don't subtract. Instead of thinking, "I'm eliminating cheese!" Think, "I'm adding in guacamole and hummus."

2. 5% is better. Do not minimize tiny, incremental steps. "I wanted to yell every morning at the children to get up, I spoke in a normal voice that one morning. Gee that felt good."

3. It's all about the re-boot. Kitchen counters, front hallways, coat closets, shoe bins, kids cubbies need to be emptied, sorted and 'put to rights' FREQUENTLY. Do not stop because it didn't "STAY ORGANIZED". PEOPLE! Organizing is like sit-ups, you can't do them once and be slender and svelte. 

4. Date your problems. Read, Buy it a Drink!

5. You are still you, they are still them, even if it's 2018. Sit down and ponder that one!

Below are links to a few other posts to keep you thinking, inspired and encouraged about the same old, and yet improved and fantastic 2018 YOU!

This IS Tomorrow

Who Do I Need to Be?

Five Steps to Getting SERIOUSLY Organized this Year

New Years Resolutions

If you like this Nifty Tip, please forward to a friend, share on Facebook or Twitter! (see Share button below).

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Baby It’s Cluttered Inside . . . . I Really Can’t Stay . . .

Where is YOUR junk drawer (closet, garage, attic, basement . . . )

Where is YOUR junk drawer (closet, garage, attic, basement . . . )

Right before the holidays is the perfect time to de-clutter, purge and get your house in order.  I hear you people, “Paige, we are too busy. Paige (whining voice, yes adults whine just as much as children), I haven’t even BEEN shopping, I have to do holiday cards. Paige, I don’t wanna!”   

1.     Hardly anyone wants to de-clutter, don’t wait for inspiration.  Please re-read The Most Exciting Nifty Tip . . . . Possibly . . . Ever.

2. Inspiration will come WHILE you are de-cluttering, NOT before.

3. The time compression will HELP you not HARM you.  If you have to clean out that closet in 30 minutes you will spend a lot less time thinking about, considering, weighing options, and making perfect choices. 

4. Interacting with all your stuff, all your spouses stuff, all your kids stuff will inform your holiday shopping.  If you like hanging it up, picking it up, stepping on it, containing it . . . well then, you will buy more.  If all that bugs you . . . . well . . . you shall re-consider stuff as gifts.  Check out Fly Lady for clutter free gift giving inspiration.

5. We are entering the stay indoors part of the year.  Remember school holidays, snow days, and sick days are upon us.  Won’t you be nicer to your kids, to your spouse, to yourself if your home is more orderly and de-cluttered?



5 Things To Get READY for the Holidays!

Oh geez Lousie, it's coming . . . .

Oh geez Lousie, it's coming . . . .

1. Buy some gift cards TODAY. We KNOW we will have that last minute gift we have to give. Have a stack of easy, peasy goodies ready to go.

2. Buy a few bottles of 'good enough' wine. You don't want to go empty handed, you don't want to have to run out all season and the the wine for the hostess gift. 

3. Create a budget - you'll be glad you did. Sale items can get us into just as much credit card trouble as full price items bought with cash.

4. Start freezing shit. Double your Cincinnati Chili (recipe below!), make cookie dough and freeze it in little balls to be whipped out and bake later.

5. Plan some self-care. An afternoon at a movie YOU want to see, a housekeeper to come before the guests arrive, massage, yoga, sleeping in. Ain't nobody happy if Mama (or Papa) ain't happy.

Pseudo Cincinnati Chili (from SavingDinner.com)

Cook’s note: For five-way chili, sprinkle raw diced onions on top.

8 ounces thin spaghetti

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 pound ground beef (93 percent lean)

1 large onion (for 1 cup chopped)

1 large green bell pepper (for 11/2 cups chopped)

2 small cans (8-ounces each) tomato sauce

2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

cayenne pepper to taste, optional

salt to taste, optional

1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans

1/4 cup already-shredded sharp cheddar cheese

 

1. Bring 2 1/2 quarts of unsalted water to a boil in a 4 1/2 -quart Dutch oven or soup pot. When the water reaches a rapid boil, add the spaghetti and cook until tender, 7 to 9 minutes.

 

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil on high heat just until hot. Using your fingers, crumble the ground beef into the skillet. Immediately wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap and hot water. Peel and coarsely chop the onion, adding it to the skillet as you chop. Stir the meat occasionally. Rinse and seed the bell pepper and cut it into 1/4-inch dice. Add it to the skillet.

 

3. Cook, stirring frequently, until the ground beef is finely crumbled and completely browned, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium.

 

4. Add the tomato sauce, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Stir to mix well. Reduce the heat to simmer, and continue to cook, stirring from time to time, until the pasta is done. Season with cayenne pepper and salt, to taste, if desired. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the beans, and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a paper towel and microwave 1 minute on high or until heated through.

 

5. To serve, divide the drained spaghetti among 4 serving bowls. Top each serving with chili, 1/2 cup kidney beans and 1 tablespoon shredded cheese. 

 

Serve at once. Serves 4

 

 

 

    

 

Recovering Nice People, Unite!

Are you TOO nice, TOO sweet?

Are you TOO nice, TOO sweet?

I am a recovering NICE person. I used to handle all my problems by ‘nice-ing’ people, until I realized it actually wasn't very kind, honest, effective, relationship building or fun.

NICE is a big fat cloak for controlling, allergic to conflict, and bossy. I'm not talking about being kind and thoughtful. Being NICE instead of expecting everyone to meet the needs of the situation. Being NICE in order to rescue people from their mistakes - over and over and over. Being NICE so that people doesn't blow. Being NICE as a crazy town insurance policy that the person you are NICEing will be NICE back (one day .  . . hopefully. . . right?).

Consider that NICE people have problems with limits and boundaries. If someone steps over my limit or boundary (probably communicated in a wishy-washy and NICE fashion), I don’t address it directly. Instead, NICE people conjure up tons of self-righteous indignation on the inside - or I share my outrage with a close friend (gossiping, eek! that’s not very NICE). I never address the heart of the matter — that I'm furious with my beloveds (spouse, child, parent) actions.

Here's my hunch, nice people feel if WE are angry WE can CONTROL the anger and situation. If the other person is angry, well that's scary and unpredictable and the anger might mean rejection. We absorb, absorb, absorb , , and you know what happens then? Resentment, resentment, resentment. BUT we can't SAY anything because we have been pretending for so long that their bad moods, their demands, their infringing on our boundaries didn't bug us. How can we be real after we have been such a phony baloney? Sigh . . . . 

NICE people, let's dip our collective toes into the perceived "Dark Side" and see what happens if we only carry the weight of only OURSELVES in our relationships. Let’s STOP absorbing other peoples crap, or tolerating shitty behavior, or allowing others to scoop up our life energy.

Assertiveness, standing up for ourselves, is a foreign language so us NICE people are gonna get it wrong. We will speak it with a heavy accent of accommodation and insecurity. Luckily, we can count on our family to give us lots of practice.

**If you are not NICE yourself, you probable live with a NICE person, read and learn, and STOP taking advantage of their NICENESS! 

 

Expectations vs. Reality

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy this yearly post.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy this yearly post.

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.

How Do I Find TIME to Parent?

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There ARE ANSWERS to the question, “How do I find TIME to parent.” Julie Morgenstern’s new book, Time to Parent, is so, so, SO awesome. I wish I’d had it 20 years ago. Join me tomorrow night when PEP (Parent Encouragement Program) will be hosting Julie for the first Noted Author series of the year. I have the good fortune to be introducing her and asking her YOUR questions! Come with your problems and concerns, and leave with practical and DOABLE solutions. Details are below.

Julie Morgenstern

Time to Parent: Organizing Your Life to Bring Out the Best in Your Child and You

November 15, 2018
8:00 - 9:30 PM ET / $25

Looking for ways to tackle the ultimate time-management project – parenting – to find structure and spend true quality time with your kids? Julie Morgenstern's new book, Time to Parent: Organizing Your Life to Bring Out the Best in Your Child and You, provides parents with practical strategies that contain and clarify the seemingly infinite job of parenting into a manageable roadmap that works from cradle to college. Her unique framework shows you how to harness your own strengths and weaknesses to make the job your own.


Morning Mayhem - An Affirmation for You!

Morning mayhem troubles? Kids won’t get out of the house on time? I coach a lot of parents on this very topic and I struggled mightily with it myself. If we are going to change our habits we need to change our mindset and I am here to help. Below is a FIVE MINUTE recording of NEW ways of thinking in the morning. Listen EVERY morning, in a couple weeks your brain will have a new neural pathway. Below are the directions and disclaimers.

DO NOT’s

DO NOT use on children under 5.

DO NOT use unless children have been trained on what needs to get done in the morning.

DO NOT use until YOU are ready 10 minutes before it’s really time to go.

HOW TO’s

After kids know what’s going on in the morning and you know you are ok if they don’t complete all the tasks (teeth might be un-brushed, hair might be spiky, lunch may be forgotten, homework could still be sitting on the kitchen table).

You say 10 minutes before it’s go time, very cheerfully, mellow, acting as if it’s going to go well and say, “Kiddos, in 5 minutes I’m going outside to listen to a 5 minute meditation, does anyone need any last minute help?”

You walk out, with your ear buds in, ready to click, no more reminders, no more nagging, and push play . . . .

Email me the results. I can’t waaaaiiiiiit!




How Much Candy Should I Let Them Eat?

Yum, Yum, YUMMY!

Yum, Yum, YUMMY!

Who can resist those tiny Butterfingers that you can pop in your mouth all at once, or the Double Bubble that takes you right back to your own childhood (remember, you would chew four pieces at a time and spit it out after 10 minutes)? Those endless bags of candy brought to mind limits, how to set them and harder to do, how to uphold them?

Do you have an open bag policy until all the candy is gone? Do you dole out three pieces a day until you are sick of the complaining that everyone else gets AllllLLLLL the candy they waaaAAAannnntttt? If you parcel out the candy, do you keep the bag under lock and key or operate on the honor system? Do you have them pick their 10 favorites and donate the rest? Do you sneak all the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups after they have gone to bed and feign innocence in the morning?

A limit worth setting is a limit worth upholding

Set as few limits as possible and uphold them with vigor and compassion. What limits come naturally to you: 8pm bedtime, no food outside of the kitchen, no soda in the house, hands washed before mealtimes? Limits that reflect our core values and we are SURE about are the easy ones! What about the more ambiguous ones, let’s say screen time - am I too strict? What are the neighbors doing? These limits we should take our time to think about and decide what is best for our family for now. Limits change and grow as our kids change and grow

Great advice, but it’s not working

Once we set the limit, we aren’t done (ugh!). Sometimes we are thwarted in our upholding of the limit because our kids freak out, or because it’s inconvenient for us, or we are too tired. Upholding a limit really deserves our full attention, and because of the energy needed for that we need as few limits as possible.

Can I take a break yet???

Once we set a limit, consistency is the name of the game. We want to train our kids that we mean business with our limits, we can’t be shaken or broken down with tears or a dramatic tantrum. A few moments of hard won consistency will mean months of ease as the limits we set and uphold become woven into the fabric of our households.

Back to the candy . . . .

We all want the magical answer to how much candy is just right - no complaining, or sugar highs and lows on their part, and no nagging or freaking out on our part. There is no such magical answer for every family, at every age and stage. When everyone gets home from school today let’s talk to them about the limit, what’s reasonable and how it will be upheld.

Time for Insights!

Julie Morgenstern and me!

Julie Morgenstern and me!

I spent Saturday at a fabulous DCOrganizers event where they hosted New York Times best selling author, Julie Morgenstern. Julie’s new book, Time to Parent, is everything I love under one cover, parenting AND organizing!

Top 5 Insights (there are so many more!)

  1. Parenting is a huge job with NO job description. Job ambiguity is a recipe for overwork, insecurity and anxiety. Julie finds the edges of how to both raise a human being, while at the same time be a human being.

  2. $1,000,000 Question: How much time and attention do kids need? Answer: Short bursts (5-20 minutes) of undivided attention delivered consistently. WOW! We can all do that.

  3. To do this job well, we have to BE well - getting our own sleep, exercise, love and fun are all essential to being a great parent. When we are short on time we have to think about getting these in micro-doses, short bursts (except sleep, which we really all need in bigger doses then we are getting!)

  4. Todays parents have to resist the lure of technology. Consider setting up consistent times of the day to check email, and leave it off during the other times. What about leaving both your shoes and your device at the front door?

  5. Feeling overwhelmed? Use Max.Mod.Min. Find the edges of a task and then use reality to guide you to right size your work. Example: We need dinner. MAX: I find a new recipe, run to the market, chop, sautee, broil and toss. (Time: 2.5 hours). MIN: Order out, set the table with paper and eat. (Time: 15 min). MOD: Pick up a prepared roast chicken, cook up that broccoli, have the kids toss a salad (Time: 40 min).


Have a Problem? Try some LAUGHING!

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Seriously, never, ever, not ever should we underestimate the power of a good time to help with our parenting. Fun & laughter should be at the top of everyone’s list of things to do each week. Fun soothes the soul, fun rounds out the inevitable sharp edges of family life. Fun gives us things to look forward to when we are doing mundane tasks we don’t feel like doing.

When (you guys when, NOT if) kids are uncooperative – try a dose of fun instead of a dose of terse talking to. Could be a fairy tale after a 10-minute house tidy. Might be a quick trip to Starbucks for a fun, sugary treat after an SAT Prep course. Consider a Friday night movie night with ONLY food the kids like after a week of balanced meals. Perhaps we could sleep in Sunday with no demands upon waking after a week of Nana visiting and a lot of "best behavior".

Family fun can be expressed in as many ways as there are families - two-week family vacations, weekend car camping, quick trips to the zoo, listening to the books on tape together – but really, have FUN and LAUGH with your family. Humor (if it’s not sarcastic and mean spirited) works with the tantruming toddler and the surly teen. Instead of punishment or consequences, think how can we uphold these limits AND add fun into the mix? There is more to read in Enjoy, Relax, Have Fun! and When in Doubt, Laugh it Out.