I Will Gladly Pay You Tuesday For a Hamburger Today

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 Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.
— Viktor E. Frankl

I hear you internet, "Why is Paige combining wise Viktor Frankl with Wimpy from Popeye?!" BECAUSE, kids are the eternal Wimpy, and parents must uphold the the wisdom of Viktor Frankl.  

Kids ALWAYS want more freedom. In the short term, freedom feels good, and free, and fun. HOWEVER, freedom is empty and dangerous if it isn't balanced with responsibility. 

Here are some real life scenarios - kid asks for freedom, parent considers how to balance with responsibility.

Kid: I want an i phone, eeeeevvvverrrryyyooooonnnneee else has an iphone. AND they get to be ON IT WHENEVER they want!

Parent: Hmmmm, do you have money every month to pay for the service? How will you handle bed time? People with iphones really need a steady income, what ideas do you have to make some regular money? People with iphones need good brakes (self-control).

Kid: I want to sleep-over.

Parent: Sleepovers don't include much sleep, will homework be done before you leave on Saturday afternoon? Please provide me with the parent's name and cell phone number so I can check in. How many sleepovers seem to work for you in a month? 

Kid: I want a later bed time.

Parent: Please go online and tell me what the recommended amount of sleep is, here's a website to start . What are you going to do with your extra time awake? How is waking up to your own alarm clock going?

Kid: I want new clothes.

Parent: The clothes in your bedroom currently aren't being cared for. I'd be willing to take you shopping once your current clothes are purged, washed and off the floor for four weeks. Do you have a budget? I'm willing to match you dollar for dollar to buy new clothes. I'd be willing to drive you to the mall this afternoon if we can get this corner of the basement tidied up  before we go.

Kid: I want to join this dance troop.

Parent: (Thinking: oh no, this is expensive and this kid hasn't stuck with anything much over the years, plus the driving . . . THE DRIVING!). Sounds exciting! I'd be willing to pay for 1/2 of this term, are you willing to use some of your savings to pay for the other 1/2? I'd be willing to drive 1/2 of these weekends, can you contact some of your friends and see if their parents might consider carpooling?

 

Parenting Media Association's Gold Award

So exciting! See below a review of an award winning article co-written with Robyn Des Roches. Thanks to parenting experts Alyson Schafer and Patti Cancellier (from the Parent Encouragement Program) for their insights and quotes. Link to the original article below.

Gold: Washington Parent, “Ages & Stages”; Robyn Des Roches, Paige Trevor
The quality of advice on critical parenting topics is superb and refreshingly original. When cutting through the complicated mess of boundaries (permissive vs. positive parenting), for example, the column takes a direct approach: Don’t let fear of parental tyranny turn the child into a tyrant. Ideas abound for taking a sounder approach, as they do in an article on managing children’s behavior in intense situations like funerals and weddings. The column is a good case study in ways to deliver original, authoritative solutions to thorny problems.

21st Century Parenting Challenges*

 

Have you ever dressed your 4-year-old because you can do it faster, or told your 7- year-old she has to wear a coat when she says she isn't cold? Can I get a show of hands of other parents who have "helped" their fifth grader on a Science Fair tri-fold board because we can cut straighter and center the background paper more evenly? Who can join me in having our tween's long-term assignments on OUR calendar?

Why do we parents fall into the trap of overprotecting our kids from short-term struggles and underpreparing them to cope with life's long-term challenges? Intellectually, we know that overparenting undermines a child's initiative and sends him or her off into the world unprepared to make independent choices and own the consequences of those choices (both positive and negative). Yet it can be difficult to translate that knowledge into practice.

21st century challenges

The use of "parenting" as a verb is a new phenomenon. It's also a tricky concept to define because the nature of "parenting" is an ever-changing business. Over the 18 years we are considered "active parents" (raising a minor child) we move, ever so gradually, from needing to protect our children to needing to prepare them. As much as we may try to straighten the road and take out the bumps for our beloved children, we all know life is filled with obstacles, setbacks, road blocks and weather we can't control. The real job of "active parents" is to work ourselves out of a job in those 18 years.

Hal Runkel, author of "Scream Free Parenting," believes parenting has changed in recent decades as a result of the 24/7 news cycle, the Internet and the ability to check our children's grades, school attendance and whereabouts at any moment. Runkel says, "If we think our number one job is to protect our child, then anxiety is going to drive the boat. We will want to know before they make a mistake or get into trouble."

Instead, we need to redefine our number one job as preparing children to live as independent adults. As Runkel notes, "The more we protect them, the less we prepare them. Think - I am supposed to protect them in the service of preparing them, not vice versa."

Loosening the reins

Runkel suggests that parents set a goal of having no rules for children by their senior year in high school. Senior year becomes a dry run for college, with freedom and responsibility living side by side. What can we expect to happen during senior year? Mistakes! In the wise words of Mark Twain, "Good judgment is the result of experience, and experience the result of bad judgment."

Parent educator and educational consultant Wendie Lubic (a.k.a., The College Lady) observes that when we first receive our children, we manage every aspect of their lives - when they go to bed, the books they read, the screens they have access to and the rhythm of their day. As kids grow older, parenting morphs from managing kids to being their on-demand consultants. "Guidance is important, if it is solicited," Lubic notes. But she warns that consultants have to wait to be asked for advice: "If it's unsolicited, then you are crossing the line."

Three steps to breaking the over-protecting habit

What can we do when we discover that we are overprotecting and underpreparing our kids? How can we face our fears with courage?

As a first step, we need to become mindful of the three-pronged response that kicks in when problems arise - a response comprised of thoughts, emotions and actions. Let's say a child has not yet mastered the skill of consistently turning in his homework. This situation triggers anxious thoughts: "Did Joe hand in his homework today? If he doesn't, he will get a B- for the quarter and say goodbye to the Ivy League." Our anxious thoughts fuel anxious emotions, and our knee-jerk actions might be to check online, text the child, find the homework in his bedroom and drive it to school.

Does this prepare the child to turn in his homework independently, or does it merely reinforce his dependence? If our response is not in the service of preparing, we can plan a better response for the next time. By changing one or more of the three prongs, we can move from anxious protecting to compassionate preparing.

ACTIONS: Take a break. Leave the scene. Go on a 20-minute walk. Any of these actions will help create space for new thoughts and emotions.

THOUGHTS: Remember Mark Twain's words of wisdom: "Good judgment is the result of experience, and experience the result of bad judgment." You might also think: "In the long run my child will need to remember his work. I believe he is capable. Better to experience forgetting when he is in eighth grade than forgetting in college. He remembers to hand in his homework more times than he forgets."

EMOTIONS: After 20 minutes of walking and trying on new thoughts, emotions will downgrade from anxiety and fear to compassion and curiosity. We will be able to greet our child after school with an open mind, an understanding heart and true curiosity about how he handled his problem. Kids are much more creative, capable and motivated than we give them credit for.

Practice makes progress - for adults as well as kids

When we find ourselves overparenting, we can take our good-hearted love, tweak it a bit and transform protection into preparation. Calming our own anxiety allows children space and time to grapple with the responsibilities that life throws at them.

With practice our children will become prepared. And prepared young adults can go about the business of living their own big lives and protecting themselves.

Common examples of over-parenting

Dressing preschoolers instead of letting them practice doing it themselves 

Waking up school-age kids instead of letting an alarm clock do the job 

Nagging about homework instead of encouraging the use of a planner and schedule 

Checking grades more frequently than the child does 

Doing extra credit work for the child rather than holding them responsible 

Worrying more about their future then they are 

*Originally Published in Washington Parent, March 2017

 

Your Gonna Hear Me ROOOOOARRRRR!

Have you ever seen Jimmy Fallon's lip sync contest where Kevin Hart does Roar? Ok, if you haven't, take a minute, your day will be made. If you have, watch it again, I'll wait. 

AMAZING, am I right?! 

This came to me thinking of how joyful and life affirming ROARING your anger out can be. Now, it can't be lashed out AT people, or used to shame. But ROARING your truth, your self-respect, now THAT is where it's at. And Kevin Hart is nothing but pure joy ROARING!

With Anger on the brain, here are five quick tidbits to get us thinking about how to ROAR with joy!

1. Anger is a part of the human experience, you ain't gonna get rid of it.

2. Anger shows us the way to deeply held values, places where we have been hurt and are trying to fix it, where we are being disrespected, ignored or overlooked.

3. Anger hides scarier emotions like - fear, anxiety, loss of control, not being heard, overwhelm, feeling smothered.

4. Anger gets people MOVING. It's why we keep using it. And, anger depletes the relationship- makes it smaller, spikier, stingier.

5. Repressed anger is still anger. All of us "NICE" people . . . we are pissed too. Unexpressed anger can be just as damaging to a relationship as aggressive anger. When we are not authentically representing ourselves, or when we let our beloveds 'get away' with bad behavior because it makes the day quieter - we ain't doing anyone any favors.

It's HAPPENING on THURSDAY Night!

Which side makes you talk nicely to your child?

Which side makes you talk nicely to your child?

Being organized is something we agree we should do, promise ourselves we'll start doing each and every December 31st (or next Monday, or when school starts, or when the stars align, or when the pigs are flying).  But why?  Why be organized?  If we dig deep and think about how being organized makes us feel, how it changes how we talk to ourselves and how we talk to our children or our partners, we find a well of inspiration and energy. Once we get started (the hardest part), energy and motivation magically builds on itself as our closets become tidier our meals start planning themselves, and the car is always gassed up.

What happens when we get organized?  Here's what you can expect:

Cuts down on friction: Ever notice when you are early for something there is no traffic?  When you are late for something everything goes wrong?  I don't know about you, but I'm a blamer, under stress I start hurling blame, shame and pain at anyone and everyone.  My poor family.  If time is managed more effectively there are not as many angry triggers. I act and speak more respectfully to everyone (including myself).   If I get gas every Thursday, no matter what the gauge says - well then every Saturday I'm ready to drive to soccer practice, no checking, no panicking, no pushing the limit, no looking frantically for a credit card, no swear words as I pass a long line at the pump on the way to the field Saturday morning.

Let's your core values shine through:  If a core value is education we create a homework area where supplies, papers, laptops and books can be kept.  We organize it regularly.  We are consistently plucking out the comic books, the Chipotle receipts and the general crap that inevitably, naturally and habitually creeps in.  We right size our kids extra curricular activities and social life to accommodate down time before homework and ample down time after homework to be ready for sleep.  We are consistent about family quiet time in the evening to set the scene for quiet and thinking endeavors.  We model reading and learning and planning ourselves.

Changes your brain: Routines change your brain.  Once you have routinized something your brain does not have to put much effort into completing the task.  Think about diapering a baby.  I don't know about you, but day one diapering my baby took 20 minutes and a lot of thought.  By day 512 I could diaper my baby, while issuing orders to my toddler, all while talking to my sister on the phone. No sweat.  That's the power of routine. Routines work best when you start building one by one and at the top of the list are things you do EVERY day.  When a routine is lodged in your brain it overpowers your fleeting thoughts and feelings of, "I don't feel like it, I'll wait until later" and you find yourself making your bed without even thinking about it.

Helps during stressful times:  When you swipe and swish your bathroom every day (now that's just taking a damp rag and running it over your bathroom, it's NOT getting out cleaners or sponges or scrubbers or toilet bowl cleaner) - then when someone gets the stomach flu they can pray to the porcelain god without being grossed out by icky gross bathroom stuff.  A surprise guest can use the bathroom without you elbowing them on the way up the stairs to be sure it's all flushed and yuck free.  Best of all, you get to use a fresh-ish, hotel-ish, clutter free-ish  bathroom every day, every SINGLE day.  You deserve it!

It's Fun!  With the right attitude,  some practice, and some peppy music, a reasonable time limit and enough trash bags - organizing is fun.  It really is.  It's also a strangely satisfying endeavor -- think of organizing as a cheap thrill for your brain and eyes.  

Mindful Parenting

We don't need a years long meditation practice, a week long silent retreat, or peace like a river in our soul to try some Mindful Parenting. What I LOVE about these tips is that they 'do no harm'. When I put my head on the pillow at night I know I have not blamed, shamed or pained any of my beloveds.

1. Square Breathing: Teach this to your family TONIGHT (we learn what we teach, we teach what we need to learn). Breath in for two counts. Hold for two counts. Breath out for two counts. Hold for two counts. Repeat until there is a sliver of calm. Slowing your breathing slows your heart rate and can help your brain find creative and relationship plumping solutions. You never know when your kids will come home and tell you it HELPED them (think ACTs/SATs!).

2. The Waves ARE the Ocean: The journey IS noisy, chaotic, unclear, angry, messy, loving, unpredictable. When we are in a wavy bit, remember we are STILL in the ocean. It's all the same.

3. The Middle Path:  When I'm in a parenting spiral of indecision, I think to myself, what's the middle path? I WANT the child to give me the phone NOW. The child wants the phone into eternity. The middle path might be phones are turned in at dinner time and doled out again when everyone is ready for the day the next morning (fed, dressed, shod, brushed).

4. Mantras: Here's one I used, "I love you just the way you are today." Works wonders for tantruming toddlers, science fair procrastinators, and eye rolling teens. The mantra cloaks whatever I do in compassion and love.  I can uphold the limit or re-direct the behavior calmly, rationally and with love.  Other useful ones, "This will pass." "I don't love this, AND I can handle it."  

5. Simplify: Seriously, for real, I'm not joking, we will FEEL better if we get rid of 50% of our crap. e-mail me if you need help on this or see the button below. Why do we like hotel rooms? NO CRAP! 

6. Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast: Thank you Phil Dunphy of Modern Family. When you are feeling stressed and rushed, slow down. Is it counter-intuitive? Yes! Is it really hard to do? Absolutely! Should I give it a try anyway? Yes! Yes! Yes!

 

 

Protest + New Action = Change

Current events, personal events, getting older has been leading me to this nugget of truth. Outrage and protest is an important FIRST action. It comes with a lot of energy, a lot of conviction, a lot of emotion. And not much gets done if we keep trying to fix our problems with outrage and protest. 

PROTEST: I can protest and be outraged that my tween won't get up. I can lecture, I can nag, I can yell - all protest moves. Usually, the tween will endure our nagging, yelling and outrage for the special service of being woken up by us.  (Think about it, if we had someone that would BE SURE we are up so we don't miss work, well, why not hit snooze? Why not tent our head under our comforter and read for a delicious extra 20 minutes. We are offering our free waking up service to the tween, the price they pay is our anger, which always dissolves.)  The protest alerts us to the problem BUT does not SOLVE the problem (so frustrating!).

ACTION: I can stop being willing to serve the tween in a way that is unnecessary. I can state this to the tween in a respectful low-key way, "I'm sorry, I've been treating you with disrespect. I have faith you can handle waking up in the morning to the alarm clock." I can give the tween a grace period of a week where the alarm clock goes off and I am willing to come up and turn the light on at an agreed upon time. I can help tween problem solve, IF they are interested. I can train tween to use public transport. I can research with the tween the school policy for being tardy. I can let the tweens life unfold and SEE how the tween feels about being tardy. I can watch how the tween responds to having to use allowance to uber herself to school. 

The protest guided me to new action, the new action showed me something new about my tween AND gave me a much needed break from being angry and protesting.

Lather, rinse, repeat!

Where DID That Darn Solution GO?!

I am always really busy this time of year, and I love it! New clients, old clients, everyone wants to get organized. The number one thing that gets in people's way of getting organized is thinking there is A SOLUTION! 

PERFECT SOLUTION: We walk into our 10 year olds room, here is our brain talking. "I need to know the PERFECT bookcase to buy that will last, that the kid will like, that I know is a good value, that I can fit in my car, that will look good, that my mother in law will approve of, that will organize and hold ALL the crap, that will make me feel good, that will match the existing carpet."

This thought is tiring. I am defeated. I am small. I am overwhelmed. I turn on my heel, I go and click on Amazon and re-order my book wish list. THAT I can manage.

INSTEAD. . . . 

I DON'T GOT NO SOLUTION, AND I'M GONNA STAY IN THE GAME: We walk into our 10 year olds room. "This room needs something. Maybe a book case. I think I'm gong to sort some the stuff that's in here. Clothes, stuffed animals, toys, knick knacks, crafts, books, crap that isn't hers. Wow, that's a lot of categories, I think I'll keep only clothes, stuffed animals, books in here. I will move crafts and toys to the playroom. I'm going to put all the knick-knacks on her desk and we can sort and purge. Looks like she needs a new book case, I'm going to measure that blank wall for now and see what they have at Ikea that would fit in that space." 

This thought is empowering, energizing, solution oriented, non-judgmental. I can complete this task in under an hour. I can make progress. I don't have to THINK so hard for a solution, I can sort and arrange and the solution bubbles up from the mess!

Genius, relieving, sublime!

Problems, Problems, PROBLEMS!

What are YOUR 'go to' problem solving tools?

What are YOUR 'go to' problem solving tools?

A man is on a journey to the mountain top for enlightenment.  He finds himself on one side of a wide and deep lake.  He looks around, builds himself a raft and gets across dry and safe.  So pleased with himself and his problem solving, he straps that raft to his back and continues his climb.  Although he finds nary a lake, river, stream or creek, he does not let go of the raft.  The raft is heavy, cumbersome and slows him way down on his road to enlightenment.  
Adapted from a Buddhist tale.

Here's what we do people, we find one fabulous way to solve a problem and then we do that over and over and over. We keep lugging our metaphorical raft,  in spite of the fact there are tools that are more nimble, efficient, use less effort and are more effective.   Do you spot your particular raft from the list below?  

(I group them in pairs because I have found if we do one, we usually AVOID the other.  In times of stress we do even MORE of the one and stay FURTHER AWAY from the other.  A better, saner, more effective solution usually lies somewhere in-between our go to and our must avoid.)

NICE / MEAN -  If we want something we over nice people to get our way.  We nice, and nice, and do favors and are kind, and extend ourselves, all thinking that one day all those people we have been nice to will repay us in niceness (or good grades, or affection, or clearing the dishwasher, or picking up after themselves, or admiration, or a bonus).  We are extra nice if we feel totally devastated and hurt.  Alternately - if we want something we are aggressive and mean to get our way.  If we are hurt we cut off ties of communication, cloak ourselves in righteousness.  We yell and scream and think people will do what we want because we are so superior and scary.

WORK HARDER / PROCRASTINATE:   If we have a problem we work harder, we burn the midnight oil, we dig in, we try and try and try.  We add more hours to the task, we give up pleasure and exercise and fun because if we work harder we can solve the problem. We focus 174% on the PROBLEM.   Alternately, we pretend the problem isn't there and we procrastinate.  We'll surf the internet until we feel like working on our problem (hah!).  We avoid, we deny, we pretend the problem doesn't exist.  We take a break, we relax - HEY, we deserve it, it's such a BIG problem after all.

GO IT ALONE / HIRE HELP:  If we have a problem we feel a slight sense of shame for having a problem and we go it alone.  We become a one person research team to figure it all out on our own. We don't ask for help, we don't let people know we need help.  We only like the perfect versions of ourself so we white knuckle our way, we act like an expert, we don't MOVE until we have all the answers, got it figured out, know our final destination.  Alternately, we hire people, coaches, gurus, buy books, join seminars, listen to podcasts, consider alternatives and talk and talk and talk.  We figure if we purchase a coach then we can go back to relaxing because that investment should just grow and multiply and solve the problem on its own.

What's your poison?  What's your go to raft?  Let's take a minute and look at the actual terrain we are on, unstrap the raft off our back, give ourselves a break and try something new.

Paradox and Ambiguity

Say What?!

Say What?!

Yes, it's the worst! Paradox and ambiguity are here to stay, whether we like it or not. Who else needs a good long suffer before they accept reality?

Here's what I'm talking about,  people:

Paradox: If you want to get really serious about something, lighten up.  Especially with kids. If we want them to clean their rooms we need to make cleaning up easier (de-clutter), a habit (yo! we are in charge of routines), and not-stressful (no yelling that you are donating every gosh durn thing that is still on the floor when you come up to check on them in 5 minutes).

Ambiguity: When we decide NOT to do things for our child that they can do themselves (get dressed, finish homework, make their own lunch) they may or they may not end up doing things the way we want them to. We can never be sure if the message we are sending is the message they are receiving, for a refresher check out People are Prisms.

Paradox: When we START  working out (or doing our taxes, or tidying our house or de-cluttering our basement) when we don't EVEN FEEL like it, we often find that 10 minutes in we FEEL like keeping going. When we WAIT until we FEEL like it, we keep on waiting, and waiting, and waiting, anyone, Bueller?

Ambiguity: Wendy Mogel, author of Blessing's of Skinned Knee,  describes children as unmarked seed packets. We might flourish in a harsh weather environment, with hot summers and cold winters. Our child might flourish in an equatorial hot and humid climate. Remember, an easy 8 year old might hit some speed bumps at 15. A tantrumy 4 year old might be a delightful tween. Again, we just don't know for sure.

In my experience, when reality has been accepted there is a new energy source, a new creativity and some new solutions to my problems. I'm not saying you are going to like, but after you practice and accept, you just might! (See what I did there? I used BOTH paradox AND ambiguity).

PEP BOOTCAMP BOOTY!

Same PEP Info, new PEP Format!

Same PEP Info, new PEP Format!

Join me for a journey into parenting with the Parent Encouragement Program new format of PEPI: Bootcamp. It's for those of us who WANT 8 weeks of parenting information and support and are short on time!

Description: Do you wonder how to raise your children to be responsible, respectful and trustworthy—all while getting dinner on the table? Do you worry about cyberspace, peer pressure and other facts of modern life? Parenting, while it brings much joy, is hard work. This class will make it easier and much more satisfying by giving you a sound framework for positive parenting and proven skills to correct whining, backtalk, defiance and the whole range of misbehavior. Learn how you can be closer and have more fun as a family while also motivating your children to be more cooperative, self-disciplined and successful.

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.).

 

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5 Tips to Getting Seriously Organized this Year!

Yo!  People, you make organizing too hard. I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but SERIOUSLY, we need to lighten up if we are going to get the job done. It's one of those paradoxes in life, if we are going to get extremely serious about being organized and de-cluttering this year we gotta loosen our clench, dial up our humor and creativity so we want to come back for more.  Here are 5.5 (I had one more thing I just had to say!) tips to get you on your way.

1. Do not try to save the planet WHILE you are getting organized. Please, please, PUH-LEASE just trash the trash. The best way to help our lovely planet is to simply NOT buy stuff. You will be less compelled to purchase things to fix your life if your home is a big clutter-free hug. PRACTICE throwing things out as a solution (keep recycling and donating, but add in simply pitching stuff to). 

2. Stay inspired.  The thing about organizing is that your accomplishment, especially if you have small children at home, lasts 43 seconds. To stay organized you must stay inspired - Pinterest pages, refreshed and cleanly labeled files, some good music and a delicious cup of tea with the timer set for a small amount of time will help. 

3. Zone It Out.  Get out your metaphorical thick sharpie and draw clean and fat lines around the rooms in your house. Toys in the basement, games in the family room, books & stuffed animals in bedrooms, legos at the big craft table. Our brain is more efficient if it doesn't have to decide stuff all the time. It's not that their books aren't going to always be all over the place, it's that when you clean up it's easy to evict the squatters.

4. Kids stuff:  You guys, it's not our job to memorialize our child's every move. Edit! Get one of these Container Store boxes for each child in your life (color code them) and then what fits in the box, fits in the box. Of course little, cute stuff will take up more space, but be realistic. Good rule of thumb, if it's a worksheet, throw it out. One more time, say it with me, EDIT.

5. Be realistic. The Fly Lady says (Who is the Fly Lady? I love her - check her out) "You can't organize clutter." Time clutter, head clutter, kids clutter, memorabilia clutter, photo clutter, kitchen gadget clutter, pantry clutter, re-usable bag clutter, book clutter. Get it out! I am not saying it's easy, you won't feel like doing it, yet when it's done, OH the freedom it will give you!

5.5 Books & magazines. I can't help myself. Keeping books & magazines does not put the knowledge in your head. Your bedroom is worth being a relaxing and calm hotel room. Have you ever walked into a hotel and seen 28 unread Oprah magazines, 12 New Yorkers, various catalogs and that darn book club book staring at you? Consume books and magazines as they enter your house, then release them into the wild. Otherwise they become stinky fish that stare at you and make you feel bad about yourself.

8 Device Tips To Save Our Sanity

Time for a review .  . . screens make us crazy!

Time for a review .  . . screens make us crazy!

Seriously, what the heck to do about screens, devices, phones, laptops, tvs, handheld games, X-Box, Playstation, YouTube, YouNameIt.

It's one of my most hated parenting tasks - monitoring, AND setting, AND upholding limits on the screens.  Ugh, Ick, Groan!  It's the worst.  And yet -- here we are. As we head into the holidays the kids scheduled time ramps down, and their begging for the screens ramps up.  To keep you sane here are 8 tips and thoughts.

1.         Screen Free Zones and Times – Make the rooms in your house uphold limits for you.  Create screen free zones and time – no screens upstairs, at meal times or at bedtime.  Yo! Limits work best if parents (ahem, that’s YOU) are working within the same boundaries.

2.         Communication, creation, consumption – Not all screen time is created equal.  Be aware if your kid is spending hours and hours consuming (avoid), or communicating (fine, within limits) or creating (yay!).

3.         What are YOU doing? -  Seriously.  If we are constantly texting or we need to have our phone on for work (I hear you whining), what message/modeling are we sending? Children do as we do, not as we say (Darn IT! But true).

4.         Get OUT! - Not in the Elaine Bennis kind of way (Seinfeld fans click here, you are welcome) but in an out of the house kind of way. Plan activities where kids can’t have a phone or device.  Water activities (so genius!).  Active activities – hiking, biking, skiing.  Act super duper generous with the device until you get them on the mountain, in the water, on the trail and then -  HAH! Device free 5 hours.

5.         Ask Questions - Begin a series of open ended conversations. Need a refresher on WHAT an open ended conversation is?  I got you, click here.  To get started try some of these -- What’s your favorite game on your iphone? How much time do you think you should be spending on a screen? How much time do your friends get on their phones (don’t believe everything they tell you)? Would you show me some of your favorite YouTube videos (Instagram posts, Vines, etc.)? What new app are all you kids using these days (it changes hourly)?

6.         Then LISTEN -  Underused parenting tool – listening.  Click here for a refresher. LISTEN to what their answers are to the above questions. Do not comment, do not give them statistics, do not tell them what life was like when you were young, just listen. You got it?  Zip your lip, sit on your hands and learn what your kids actually think. 

7.        They Are Gonna Sneak:  Kids love these devices passionately. Screens make them feel soothed, keep them in contact with their friends, and make them feel connected and productive. I am NOT saying this is accurate, but screens are seductive. Please do not freak out WHEN they sneak.

8.         We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know:  Nobody has the answers yet to the screens and children. We are pioneers, we simply have to do the best we can with the information we have. Chill AND uphold limits. Then gather your family and watch ELF, because that movie is HYSTERICAL!

 

 

 

 

First a Dream

*Originally published in the December 2016 Glove Park Gazette

Short days make for longer dreams . . . . 

Short days make for longer dreams . . . . 

Like any work of art, families need inspiration, fresh infusions of hope and imagination.  Kim John Payne, Simplicity Parenting

As we head towards the winter solstice, the days are short, plants are dormant, the holidays with their twinkling lights and traditions call us to dream, imagine and conjure.

We forget that a delicious, and important, part of parenting is dreaming, imagining, and conjuring up lovely and beautiful scenarios in our head about what is possible. Remember before you had kids what it was going to be like? Go back there for a bit. Sure, the cold hand of reality has woken you up, and yet those dreams are important, informative and inspiring.

I know, I know, I hear you. “Paige, the holidays are toooooo busy, the kids are ALWAYS around, WHAT TO DO about the devices?” I understand AND, don’t let this season of slow growth, short days, chilly temperatures go by without experiencing some life renewing dreaming, imagining and conjuring.

Dream about being on time almost every day. Dream about no diapers. Dream about set tables. Dream about polite and tidy-ish children. Dream about made beds. Dream about eaten vegetables. Dream about family hiking or camping or biking or a luxurious family vacation. Dream about full college funds. Dream about a renovated basement or a spruced up front yard. Dream about a regular date night with a beloved (including yourself!). Dream about life after the kids are launched when you can travel again in October, when all the money is yours and the house has a chance of staying tidy.

Ask your kids to dream, “How could 2017 be magical?” Years ago one of my kids ‘dreamt’ about the family watching a tv show every evening. I had a strict no tv during the week policy. My instinct was to shut it down, no way, I KNOW best! Instead, I gave it a try. Turns out his dream was delicious, relaxing and cozy.

Invite the power of dreaming and resting and conjuring and imagine what could be in 2017.

Pitch, Toss, Donate - Lather, Rinse Repeat!

Tis the Season to De-Clutter!

Tis the Season to De-Clutter!

In this season of buying gifts it seem counterintuitive to think about purging, but stick with me here. If we decluttered our houses and our calendar, think how many parenting problems would solve themselves.

The magical art of tidying up is truly magical in a family setting.

Declutter the kids room and -- badaboobadabing --they can clean it up themselves in under 15 minutes (they won’t all the time, but they CAN!). Declutter our calendar and when (NOT if) it takes our four year old forever to walk to the car, we can handle it, we can enjoy it, we can embrace it.

I know none of us has time, however, meditation can help purge your brain and emotions of negative spirals. Headspace is what I use and I think it slowly, tortoise-like, has altered my brain. Not in an instant and not in an earth-shattering way, but noticeably and meaningfully.

Next time you are in a parenting pickle, STOP. Don't try to fix the kid, clean out your closet. Throw out all the yucky hangers, take out the half-torn dry cleaning bags, and pitch all the clothes that are stained and don’t fit or make you feel bad about yourself. I can practically GUARANTEE a new, interesting and innovative parenting solution will bubble up from the process.