Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Learning to let it GO

As another Holiday season passes, I am reminded by my grown children of what is really important. All the hustle, bustle, have-to’s, shoulds and obligations sure can drag us down! It can be such an exhausting time of chore lists and creating a picture book holiday. We stretch ourselves so thin that we have no time to enjoy! I’ve lived through those years! I remember one year I was so stressed and tired that I actually said to my children on Christmas morning---“Hurry up and open these gifts so we can get this over”. As soon as it came out of my mouth---I knew it was wrong! But it was a huge wake-up call for me. This season is about joy and peace. How did I let it turn into this circus?

That was long ago and I have cut out many things that are not necessary at this time. I go to only the parties I really want to. I buy thoughtful gifts well enough in advance so they feel good inside not just another thing to cross off my list. I make time to be with people I love. I cook the things that bring me pleasure and buy or do without all the rest.

I am bringing this up because it is a lesson my daughters are also learning. Right before Christmas one of my daughters called me crying because she had so much to do and she hasn’t been able to get her decorations up (2 weeks before Christmas) and when will she find time to bake cookies and send cards and bake cookies and all the kids have Christmas programs at different time, of course and…… on and on. She remembered the good memories of Christmases when she was a child and just wanted to be sure her kids also had those fond memories. It made me laugh because I had those same stresses……. But I learned to let go of the things that don’t matter and suggested she do the same! Make a list a five things that are important to you at Christmas and don’t do anymore. For her decorations were so important as were the Christmas programs at school and church. Shopping was the hardest especially for extended family. Online shopping makes things so much easier today as well as gift cards. Give your children your primary focus. So….she asked… what about the cookie making. She wanted her kids to have the same plate full of every which kind on the table on Christmas Eve. She was shocked to hear that sometimes I bought them and maybe baked one kind just for the smell in the house.

Her memories of Christmas were the fun we had as a family not the hoopla that would wear a Mother out. Wouldn’t it be more heart warming to have and smiling, happy mother than 12 kinds of homemade cookies? She learning earlier than I did to let some of the stuff go….kids grown very fast without us if we stay busy! Spend 90% of your time on things that matter to you and 10% on the rest!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fearless Parenting

As I build my Parent Coaching practice I am constantly reminded of my experiences as a young mother. How I wish I knew then what I know now! The frustration and exhaustion from just every day life was sometimes overwhelming. For example, those every week shopping trips with 4 children less than 7 years were an exercise in sanity maintenance. If only I had some of the techniques I know now, it could have been a bonding experience. While there was a host of parenting information beginning to form, I was so busy with 4 young children that didn’t allow me time to read and learn new ways. This is the very reason I has created a new Fearless Parenting class for young children. It is the culmination of techniques from all of the best of parenting philosophies. I’ve taken the discipline from Love and Logic, relationship building from Positive Parenting and effective dialogue from Practical Parenting. All together they make parenting smooth and rewarding and grow responsible, respectful and loving people. Isn’t that the best we could all want?

And the best part of this class is the tele format. Parents can take the course with the least amount of inconvenience. They can stay in their nice warm house and take the class by phone. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
If I can give families one thing, it would be to enjoy each other, laugh and have fun. Email me if you'd like to join the class!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Yesterday I had one of the best days with my family in a long time. My adult children (women) and grandchildren took a day trip to Chicago to see the American Girl Store. It was the best day because we worked together to plan the trip but then let it flow naturally. The relaxed ease was such a time to connect on a soul level with everyone.

It is interesting how as a grandparent I value the differences in each grandchild. Seeing them in ‘explore’ mode was so heart warming. I was surprised that all my grandchildren including an 18 month old felt safe enough to stand on the sky deck of the Sears tower. I watched as each made that decision in a unique way. Some just ‘did it’---no thought, no worries, no indecision. Others thought about and weighed the pros and cons. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, they took the step to the magnificent view. Others held to the others in the group and let go of the inhibitions that usually hold us older people back. It was so cool to watch each child struggle with their inner voice to walk or not yet each decided to explore in the end.

The day was so rich with relationship building by making group choices about what we wanted to do to fill an open day with adventures. We had made plans and done our research but in the end, we made new choices as a group.
Starting with a train ride to Chicago instead of driving gave us all an opportunity to talk, laugh and play together! The plans we originally made were tweaked upon arrival when we found interesting things to do, look at, touch and eat on our adventure. It was heartwarming to hear what each child’s (big and small) attention was drawn to in the busy streets of Chicago.

Somehow the confines of a train car force the conversation and appreciation of the countryside. I found out that my 9 year old grandson loves to cook. I learned that my 6 year old granddaughter can contort her face in unimaginable ways. I saw my 7 year old grandson read a 3 grade chapter book with ease. The day brought a new understanding and closeness to all of us. I can’t wait to plan another adventure-----and I have lots of ideas from my entire family.

Beyond the fun and nurturing we all found in the day, I think the kids have strengthened their ‘adventure’ capacity. They learned not only to have fun as a group but to take chances and follow their curiosity---now that’s a skill that will last a lifetime.

Monday, October 26, 2009


As another holiday approaches (Halloween) I remember lovingly of Halloween pasts. There was the year my son wanted to be a six armed monster, my daughter a bumblebee (with a broken arm) and still another costume request of batman (before you could just buy batman costumes). I often wondered why MY children never wanted to be a witch or ghost or something easy to make. While moaning and groaning I would sit down figure out and create the costumes of their wishes. The holiday was a huge discomfort to me. But my children enjoyed the role playing in whatever character they chose to be for the year. Some costumes where handed down so many family members and friends could use them. And I find I really did like the challenge of yet 4 more costume creations! It was fun to plan and construct with each child looking on as the director of their fantasy world that I could put into reality.
As I look back, I wish I had embraced the creativity of both my children and myself with more love. The memories of those special Halloweens are precious. I know my kids loved them. The pictures of bright smiles tell the story. I’m glad I took the effort to create what was displayed in their minds. Memories of a happy childhood are but one piece of life I can give them! So go and create those memories with YOUR children—and stop grumbling!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Parenting Tool Box

I did a workshop last weekend on equipping your Parent Toolbox. No matter how many times I do these workshops, I always learn something. We talked alot about education, support and systems a parent needs to be the best they can be but the most important subject we touched on was on self care. Parents usually make this an 'if-I-can-find-time' option. When we talked seriously about how important it is to be at our best when parenting ---- self-care moves up the priortiy ladder in a hurry. We had a lively discussion on making time to reenergize yourself. With a little thought and planning we can all figure out a way to get an hour to do something we love. One parent talked about how much she missed being able to dance as she used to. The creative energy it stirred up so energized her. While the mundane daily tasks of being a mom of 3 drained her, an hour of dancing refueled her. I could see the joy in her face as she talked about this activity. The group brainstormed ways to clear an hour and in the end she found at least 4-5 options for freeing some time that she was going to try. So what do you do to replenish the energy that parenting takes? Find time this week for something creative that you can look forward to! And let me know what it is!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Media Safety

It is mind boggling the amount of media exposure our children are exposed to. There are video games, internet, TV, movies, social networking, cell phones and commercialism! It is estimated that the average 10 year old spends 44 hours a week using media. That is astounding to me! After you factor in school, sleep, personal care and media, there isn’t much left for family and friends.

As parents, we work to keep our children healthy by providing nutritious meals, getting immunizations, teaching them everyday health practices (like hand washing, covering mouths when coughing, etc), keeping poisons out of their reach, watching for allergies and lots of other things. We do all we can to keep them safe from dangers in the environment. We would never let a young child go to the park alone. We would never let our children watch someone next door get beat up.

Yet our children are exposed to these and more every day in their media interactions. They are ‘sitting ducks’ for media vultures who’s primary focus is NOT their best interest. The best count that research sees is 14 acts of violence per hour in programs directed at children. Fourteen acts! How does that repeated exposure effect children? It tends to desensitize them to violence. It also teaches them that violence is an acceptable way to problem solve. It sure isn’t what I want MY children to learn.

What’s a parent to do? Two simple tricks will go along way to protecting our children from content that is not appropriate. The first is to locate media (TV, computers, video games) in a common area of the house. When you are in the proximity you can supervise what your children are watching. The second tip is to carefully monitor the programs your children watch, even movies/programs targeting young children had inappropriate content. Talk to your children about what they’ve seen. Is it real or imaginary? Was that the best way to handle a situation or not?

Let’s take back our Parental influence. The media giants are not looking to our children’s best interest but we are!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Parental Relationships

Recently a Dad came to me for coaching about a situation with his 12 year old daughter. He has been divorced from her Mother since she was 2 years old and the Mother has remarried with 2 other children. She lived 500 miles away. The daughter while close to her Dad has asked to change her last name to match the family that she lives in most of the time. He was so distraught about this decision. We talked about what is the most important aspect of his relationship with his daughter. They talk twice a week on the phone and have visits every other month. They both feel they have a close and loving relationship. The daughter, at 12, doesn't want to feel 'different' by having a separate last name from her Mother, Stepfather and two sisters. In the end, this Dad decided that a name didn't define his love for his daughter.....but the bond they had did. He choose to respect his daughter's needs at this time and let her do it. Sometimes as parents we make hard decisions to benefit the strength of the relationship!