Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Know Thyself

I remember early on in my career as a parent coach, how easy it was to feel intimidated by some of the high profile “experts” out there, with many letters after their names, books and TV shows: anything from changing your child in a week, to having your kid behave in 3 simple steps.

I had a client of mine ask me a question that although simple, really summarized the challenge of finding our own voice in parenting and figuring things out. She asked me, “How do you know you are doing "it" right?”

One of the lessons I have learned on this journey that has helped me answer that question is the importance of finding my own rhythm and going with it. If you choose to do that, you simply can’t go wrong! As parents, we find ourselves pulled in many directions and in the midst of all that, we question every one of our decisions before, during and after we make them!

As a mom, a wife, a friend and a business owner, finding my own rhythm has given me a lot of confidence because I have learned to trust that there’s a Power greater than me, a force beyond my own that has all the answers. The key is to find a way to connect with that wisdom by going within.

I don't have to convince you that raising children is a huge adventure and an amazing calling: it’s a gigantic and more expansive task that we can ever be prepared for. I also know that by answering the call and listening to my heart, I will find a way that fits my family, my child and my values.

I have no doubt I will not be the first (or last) mom to face challenges in this wacky road called parenting: it has been done before, I trust and know myself enough to know that I can do it again and maybe even do a decent job!

Are you up for the challenge?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Parenting like a squash!

In an interesting experiment at Amherst College (Massachusetts), a band of steel was secured around a young squash. As the squash grew, it exerted pressure on the steel band. Researchers wanted to know just how strong a squash could be, so they measured the force it brought to bear on its constraints. They initially estimated that it might be able to exert as much as 500 pounds of pressure.

In one month, the squash was pressing 500 pounds. In two months it was applying 1,500 pounds and, when it reached 2,000 pounds, researches had to strengthen the steel band. The squash eventually brought 5,000 pounds of pressure to bear on the band - when the rind split open. busy moms, raising kids

They opened the squash and found it inedible. It was full of tough, course fibres that had grown to push against the constraining obstacle. The plant required great amounts of nutrients to gain the strength needed to break its bonds, and its roots extended out about 80,000 feet in all directions. The squash had single-handedly taken over the garden space! (Steve Goodier Thanks to WITandWISDOM(tm) - January 25, 2000)

There are times when life seems to hand us more than we can handle, especially when it comes to our children. I believe with my whole heart that YOU are indeed the expert on your children and know them better than anyone. I also believe that you are given the opportunity to grow with the experience to move through the challenges of raising children.

It's a choice: one that we some times have to make day by day, hour by hour and even minute by minute. But in the end, Life has provided us with everything we need to make it through the rough patches and even find the gratitude in the journey. If a squash can, SO CAN YOU!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Energy Drains

by Lisa Byrne at

As moms we all know that there are “seasons” in our life that are unpredictable– when weeks pass by like a breeze, everything clicks, time seems ample and everyone in the family unit is getting along beautifully.

Then other seasons blow in where the frenzy of things to do seems to knock your schedule out of whack, detours start to pop up, and you feel like your sucking wind just to get through the day.

When times start to feel a bit rocky I often return to a simple tool to help me re-access what needs to stay, shift or leave for the time being to regain some balance.

There are many good, great and better things that come into our lives, but not everything is always good for us right now. As sure as the seasons change, our lives are always growing, shifting and reordering. It makes good sense that not all things are right for us at all times.

I use this litmus test often to take stock of when things or relationships may have become imbalanced or negative in my life. Here’s the question I ask myself:
Does this thing or person give me or drain me of energy?

First, an important distinction. I do not mean does this thing or relationship require energy. Many good things take energy. I mean to emphasis the more subtle, deeper, kind of energy a thing or person holds in our life. Does the thought of doing this thing stimulate or depress you? After spending time with someone, are you more enlivened or drained? The energy shift you feel is the important part to consider.

I use this energy question in many areas like:

• when I have to reconsider what is on my plate
• when I need to decide what to keep and what to let go of
• when I feel overwhelmed or frustrated for too long with something
• when I have the growing sense that I don’t have enough time to get everything done
• when I am trying too hard to do something that should probably be coming a bit easier

I STOP, slow down, pay attention to what I am fitting on my plate and ask this question for everything that is not an absolute necessity.

Listening to our “energy” language is just as important as our body language...they are both part of our “inner language” that has wisdom to share.

What if I can't (or don't want) to take this out of my life?

As a mom, the truth is there are some seasons with our children that are simply more draining than others. Or there are some responsibilities to the job requirement that feel more or less thrilling, energizing or fun.

In these scenarios, the key is to dig a little deeper and think through what about this task feel most difficult or challenging. Is there something I could add, shift, take away or include that would make it easier. For example, could you light candles while you cook, do the pile of laundry on a blanket outside in the summer, or play music you love while you clean the toilets? Don't laugh, these little offerings make huge impacts on how you experience what must be done!

If it is a challenging or draining time with your children, try this exercise.

Think of the actual situation, the time of the day, what is happening during the interaction, the details of when things feel the worst. Then work on ways to alleviate the times when it is roughest. For example, if it is really tough when your child hasn't had a snack yet and dinner is getting close-- make it a priority to sit down for an early afternoon snack?

Or maybe it is when you feel tired or hungry and need some personal space. How can you think through the scenario and plan to give yourself what you need to be at your best?

Then the second part is to increase and emphasis the things that feel rejuvenating, energizing, and enjoyable with that person. If you love taking walks with them -- take more of them-- make sure they are on a daily schedule for a while. If you love snuggling and reading books-- make it a priority. Fill your day up with more of the energizing times and the draining times will become less and less.

How do you take stock and access what is weighing you down?

About Lisa

Lisa Byrne, MPH is a health coach who helps busy moms feel energized and take great care of themselves.

Lisa speaks to groups, leads workshops and teaches classes on healthy living when she isn’t burping, bouncing or chasing her 3 little ones around. You can get her e-newsletter and a free copy of the Break the Sugar Habit workbook here.

Visit her online at

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Time Line

By Ellen Delap CPO

It here already! The holiday fun has started! With a myriad of activities, events, and tasks, the best way to approach the holidays is with a holiday time line. Start with a family meeting to talk about all the special parts of the holiday season.

What makes the holiday special for each family member? Make a list of the most important part of the the holidays for each person. Now you know what your goals are for the season.

Using a big month at a glance calendar, pencil in all the dates from your family meeting. These are the items to work around as you create your holiday time line.Add the tasks and times to get the “other stuff” complete.

Gift giving: dates for purchases completed, wrapping, mailing. With a list, this can be completed before December 15.

Tree trimming: dates for setting up the tree, outdoor lights, indoor decor. With organization and help, this can be completed by December 8th.

Holiday events: dates for cookie exchange, parties, family gatherings. Review your calendar each day to be sure what you need for each event. Work back two days to prepare for each event.

All of this together means a less stressed holiday! You enjoy what is most important by pacing the activities. How does your holiday time line work?

Certified Professional Organizer and Family Manager Coach Ellen Delap is the owner of Since 2000, she has worked one on one with her clients in their home and offices streamlining their environment, creating effective strategies for an organized lifestyle and help prioritize organization in their daily routine. She holds ADD and Chronic Disorganization certificates and specializes in working with ADD and ADHD adults and students. Ellen has been featured at The Woodlands Home and Garden Show, on ABC13 Houston, in the Houston Chronicle and regularly contributes to national blogs and publications. To learn more about her and her work, visit, tweet her @TexasOrganizer or become a fan on her Facebook Fan Page

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Benefits of Gratitude

Have you ever felt in your heart of hearts a deep sense of gratitude that goes beyond just your immediate circumstances but that inspires you with a profound desire to repay Life for what you have personally been given in your life?

And what does gratitude have to do with parenting? The negative thoughts that arise when we are concentrated on the way things should be and are not, can rob us from the joy that our children bring us every day. We need to eliminate our routine negative thinking and labeling of our children before we can actually see the behaviors we want from them.

sandra huber, parenting tweens, kids behavior"Photo by Melita Morgantown"

I know it may sound like a platitude but studies show that focusing our attention on the richness of our experience and saying “Thank You” for even the little things can can be very rewarding. They are finding that grateful people are optimistic and energetic and deal better with stress and illness. Gratitude, in short, can make you happier. But I know you know that. Now the challenge is to actually do it. And there’s really no excuse: especially when you consider your kids are watching.

Truth can set you free and gratitude is not a matter or time or effort: it's possible to move from a life of "surviving" and getting by to one that cultivates a spirit of Gratitude.

When I ask you to consider the power of being grateful, I am not asking you to stick your head in the sand and pretend that nothing is happening that needs your attention. "To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great," Robert A. Emmons (Emmons, R.A., & McCullough, M.E. -2004. The psychology of gratitude). "It just means we are aware of our blessings.

One of the things that I started doing a couple of years ago and found incredibly powerful, was the nightly routine of a gratitude journal. It has evolved nicely into a deeper daily practice that reminds me of how full my life truly is. A good friend of mine gave me a beautiful journal that I decided to use and write 5 things for which I was grateful. It became a profound ritual that brought a sense of closure to every day. Some times, in our quests to be better, or more successful, or more organized, or better moms, parents, spouses, we get stuck in the energy of more, and forget the gifts of now.

Remember: "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." - William Arthur Ward

I know that you are keenly aware of how important it is for us to be the kind of adult we hope your child to become. How do you show up in the world with a sense of thankfulness, not only during the Holidays, but all year around?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

5 Organizing Projects You Can Complete in 5 Minutes

Don’t have hours to get organized? Here are 5 things you can do for 5 minutes to get your home in order.

1. Recycle junk mail. Stand over your recycle bin or a paper sack and toss old newspapers, extra catalogs or clippings you no longer need.

2. Sort through a kitchen drawer. Set a timer for 5 minutes, grab a shopping bag, open the drawer, pick through anything no longer needed and donate it.

3. Make a clothing donation bag. Go through your clothes closet and choose 5 articles of clothing you never wear. Put them in a donation bag to be given to your favorite charity. Stop at Goodwill on the way to get these out the door.

4. Five minute toy pick up. Enlist your kids to help. Put on energizing music and have a pick up party.

5. Delete email. Take 5 minutes to delete email from your sent box, especially if it is older than a month.

Feel accomplished? Organizing is not about finding the perfect time or creating the perfect system. It is about the baby steps to create a level of order in your world that works! Share with me your 5 minute organizing project!

About Ellen

Certified Professional Organizer and Family Manager Coach Ellen Delap is the owner of Since 2000, she has worked one on one with her clients in their home and offices streamlining their environment, creating effective strategies for an organized lifestyle and help prioritize organization in their daily routine. She holds ADD and Chronic Disorganization certificates and specializes in working with ADD and ADHD adults and students. Ellen has been featured at The Woodlands Home and Garden Show, on ABC13 Houston, in the Houston Chronicle and regularly contributes to national blogs and publications. To learn more about her and her work, visit, tweet her @TexasOrganizer or become a fan on her Facebook Fan Page

Saturday, November 6, 2010

30 days of Gratitude

moms, help for moms, how to be grateful, how to teach kids gratitude
I love doing theme-months for this blog: it keeps me focused on finding the “juicy bits” in everyday life!

This month, I am sharing with all of you 30 days of gratitude. Gratitude is defined as the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful. I believe that gratitude is so much more than saying thanks for the things we have and for the things we like. It also asks that we tune into our lives and find the blessings even at times when things don’t look so good!

Why is gratitude so hard to embrace sometimes? I have wondered about this question, especially when well-meaning people give me that “smile” that says, “you are living in la-la land Sandra, you can’t possibly find anything positive to be happy about!”

Am I delusional? Am I out of touch with so-called “reality”? Maybe the reason why many of us find it hard to embrace the joys of thankfulness it is because as a society, we focus on our shortcomings, lacks and limitations more than the blessings we experience.

Many of us rush through our days in our fast-paced culture. Rarely do we stop and take stock of our achievements and accomplishments. To consciously move into an attitude of gratitude we need to stop and take a breath and slow down.

Our children are the perfect teachers for those of us who want to be present and find the miracle in the little things. Many of us moms have heard our children go to the simplest of the birthday parties only to tell us they had the best day of their (short) lives! Or how the ice cream they just ate is the best ice cream ever!

When we are feeling stressed, unloved or unappreciated, it truly helps to take our focus from the negative and acknowledge the many other times when we have felt better: the people in our lives who have made our days brighter or those who chose to see the best in us when we didn’t. The good night of sleep we have had or the delicious meal that me enjoyed with our family.

That is what I call taking inventory of our blessings.

I know that my now 9 year old daughter can be a challenge to my patience sometimes. When the time comes for me to “practice what I preach”, I remember that the very same traits that make it hard for me to stay cool and calm sometimes are the same characteristics that will one day make successful in the real world: her assertiveness, her eloquence and her great wit!

I know that clich├ęs and platitudes have little impact on our daily lives. It’s the practical application, the embodiment of this idea of gratitude that will lead you and me into a new and sustainable way of being happy, independent of outside circumstances.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy
In Gratitude,