Wednesday, December 8, 2010
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
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.
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
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?
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 www.wellgroundedlife.com
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
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 Professional-Organizer.com. 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 www.professional-organizer.com, tweet her @TexasOrganizer or become a fan on her Facebook Fan Page Professional-Organizer.com.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
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.
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
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!
Saturday, November 6, 2010
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 clichés 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. KennedyIn Gratitude,
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
"Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers."
- Socrates (470-399 B.C.)
It’s official. Children have always been thankless, greedy creatures. The next time your child says or does something that more resembles the spawn of Satan than the angelic infant you brought home, remember these words of Socrates. Kids are designed to test us and push their limits. It would be unhealthy and more than a little creepy if yours didn’t do likewise.
-Hal Runkel, LMFT author of ScreamFree ParentingWhat do YOU do to stay Screamfree? How do you handle your frustration when you are ready to sell your kids on Ebay? I'd love to hear your words of wisdom!!
Monday, November 1, 2010
By: Melissa Atkins WardyLast night I read an apology posted on a blog belonging to a young television star who is at the center of a controversy surrounding racy photographs taken of her for a men’s magazine. Let me restate that, photographs she participated in, for a men’s magazine.
I’m sure you have heard the whole story by now, but what has really struck me as interesting is how the stars explained themselves, and made a lame attempt to apologize.
I am currently raising two preschoolers, a four year old and a two year old. I frequently feel like a prison guard, controlling riots and breaking up yard fights.
The two year olds’ favorite game to play is “Wild Animals” in which he tackles his sister from behind, sits on her, and bites her hair. Needless to say, my crew issues quite a few apologies back and forth throughout the course of the average day.
I don’t mind that I have ‘high energy kids’, as I like to call them. While I sit here in the quiet of a house when everyone is sleeping, I can honestly say I enjoy the craziness and crack up at the insane situations the kids get themselves into.
You have to be able to laugh at yourself, while scolding the two year old after removing him from his sister’s head, when you say, “Ben! We are not wild animals and we do not bite people on the hair!”
Which brings me to my point – the apology. I realize the boy lacks impulse control. He is two. But he needs to develop some emotional intelligence and empathy towards his poor, saliva-covered sister.
So every time he is a rascal, he has to stand face to face and say, “Amelia, I am sorry I made you feel______.” Hurt. Scared. Slimey.
For the age of two, that is an acceptable apology. Now what if he were a famous 24 year old television actress whose participation in a super sexy photo shoot left her fans, and the parents of her fans, in an uproar? The thing NOT to say is, "Well! I'm sorry if you're offended!" That isn’t really an apology, because there is no ownership of action. Nor is the right thing to do to shift blame, deflect responsibility, or claim you don’t know how it happened.
I don’t know how magic happens, but I do know how young women end up with their clothes off in front of a photographer. I’d much rather hear an apology that is authentic, mature, and demonstrates ownership: "I participated in a photo shoot that I wasn't necessarily comfortable with as it went on, and in hindsight I made poor decisions in what I agreed to wear and how I agreed to pose. These photos do not reflect who I am nor do they show respect to my fans, many of whom are young. I apologize for my actions, and will do better in the future."
It is time we change the way we think about our girls.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
3 Simple Parenting Strategies Every Mom Should Know
Wednesday October 20th
7:30 pm PST/10:30 pm EST
- Are you feeling hopeless, overwhelmed and frustrated?
- Do you question if you are actually doing "it" right?
- At you at the end of your rope?
I've been where you are at: Not that long ago, I had a young child who was pushing my buttons in a big way. I felt hopeless, frustrated and ready to run away. At times I wondered if I was raising a juvenile delinquent!
My daughter's ability to exasperate me was off the charts! I have since developed a family strategy that allows me to use the Screamfree principles and my own inner guidance to be the mom I knew I could be. It's tough, but I believe that together, we can do it!
In this lively, engaging and fun Teleseminar you'll discover HOW to:
Feel more comfortable as a mom, even when your children are less than well behaved
Be a better parent with less effort and a lot more fun
Discover what it means to be in charge as a calm and cool mom
- Are you ready for a new parenting experience? Join me on this
f*ree introductory session and start on your way to the family
Space is limited so register early for this FREE CLASS!
If you have any questions, contact me at sandra at thesoulfulparent dot com
or visit my website www.thesoulfulparent.com
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Before I knew it, I've gotten so wrapped up in all there is for me to do, that I can close my eyes and think of the infinite amount of tasks calling my name. They are all yelling at me trying to convince me that my success and my value depend on how well I do them all. And in case I decide to have some compassion for myself, I am reminded that I am way behind already. Yikes!
When I think I have maxed out, there’s another email, another invitation to a teleclass, another webinar promising to solve all my problems and bring me more clients, more money, more exposure. The pressure to keep up with the “flow” while running this business got to be too much.
In the middle of this craziness, I have forgotten to listen to my own heart, which is the reason why I do what I do. It’s the reason why I get emails from moms telling me how much they appreciated the encouragement, the kind words and the practical solutions my programs offered them. It’s not glamorous, I know. But it makes ME happy!
Recently I attended a networking meeting full with some amazingly wonderful business people. They were really energized, outspoken and excited. Although I admired their ambition, drive, and moxie I felt out of place focusing only on the mechanics of how to run and business and make the elusive “six-figure” income.
Is there a place for me if I want to let my heart be my compass? Is there a way to have balance between my goals and my priorities? How do I negotiate being available as a mom, spouse, friend, citizen of Life with so many demands on my time?
I came across this article called Be Really Good at Being You!. It spoke to me and the place I was at that eye-opening weekend:
Do you feel inadequate yet? Are you picturing the “supermom” next door that you always envy admire? Well, it is time to stop! You are amazing. You are the only you that will ever be, and YOU are here to find out why. Why do I always compare myself with others, when really I just need to be really good at being me? Everyone’s best is different. For some reason, women have a really hard time accepting that.After my own meltdown , I became aware of how important it is to be clear on what my friend and business coach Lara Galloway calls “your conditions of satisfaction”. By establishing what your own values and priorities are, it becomes much easier to know when you (and what you do!) are not in alignment with your values, with your “true North”. It's a heck of a lot easier to get somewhere when you know where you are going!
How do you balance motherhood with all other aspects of your life?
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Do you ever wonder what the world would be like if we were able to understand each other clearly and effectively? I know there is so much going on in the world today that understanding of those around us in general may not be something in the forefront of your thoughts... until there’s the proverbial misunderstanding. It’s then that we realize the value of effective communication.
I have always thought of myself as a good, effective communicator. At least, I spoke what was on my mind enough, so I felt I was communicating. I had resigned myself that a successful relationship with my beloved only required that I said what I meant and meant what I said. But when you join in with another human being, who comes with his own “software” for processing language, you learn how much you still need to learn about communication.Most of us do our best to communicate what we want and need: from a 2 year old who’s frustrated by having to repeat his words over to his mom who doesn’t understand his developing language to the wife trying to explain to her partner how tired she really is.
We all crave people in our lives that understand us, that get us? No matter how old we are we want to be understood by the people that matter to us. Our children are no exception. They are learning new lessons every day: they are learning to write, they are learning to ride a bike, they are learning to walk in the world as the little people they are. I know that as they navigate all these new experiences, they also want to know that we get how they get frustrated, how they try so hard and how the world doesn’t always make sense to them.
I have been blessed with friends and family that do their best to support me when the world shuffles and tosses me around a little bit (you know who you are!). I want that same experience for our daughter, because she too deserves to have people in her life that understand her and that she feels safe coming to. Understanding and support, whether for my husband, for a friend or my child, means not jumping to conclusions or thinking that I have all the answers or that I truly know what is going on at all times. What a relief!
We develop close connections with our children and our family when we support and understand them even when we’d prefer that they did things our way. It’s a great opportunity to show our unconditional love and make them feel that their feelings and thoughts matter to us too. We can show that we “see them”!
When we encourage and understand someone, including our children, we inspire them to be themselves. And in the end, honoring exactly who they are is the best way to show someone you love them.
How do you keep the communication open in your family?
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
You know what I do: I take a deep breath and force myself to smile. I know it seems like an absurd way to handle the challenges of parenting but it works for me. According to Gretchen Rubin author of the new book, The Happiness Project “Facial expressions don’t merely reflect emotions, they also affect emotions. In “facial feedback,” studies show, the mere act of smiling makes people happier—even when they smile mechanically, as I’m doing, or when they’re asked not to “smile” but rather to contract specific facial muscles”.
I don’t have to remind you of the challenge of raising children consciously, intentionally and Screamfree: it’s truly a labor of love all the way through.
But, no matter how difficult the situation may be or how tired you are of dealing with the never-ending behavior from your child, one thing is true: Only one of you can be having a meltdown at a time!
As we chose to walk this journey of parenthood with the utmost respect for ourselves and our children it becomes crucial that we remember to take a deep breath (or a hundred if necessary!), walk away if possible and keep in mind that no good comes from retaliation or reaction. You can’t be in charge in you can’t be in control of yourself!
Smile.. Your kids are watching!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I am rather certain that raising kids has never been easy. First there were saber tooth tigers, then troublesome things like plagues and famine. Take into account marauding armies and the carving out of a New World…there is a lot these days that parents take for granted.
Today there is a new kind of danger we have to protect our kids from: the corporate marketer. Marketers are relentless in their efforts to build life-long consumers of our children, and they aim hypersexual and gender stereotyped advertising directly at our kids to do it.
I believe the sexualization of childhood will soon be seen as the children’s rights issue of our time. Sexualization affects both boys and girls, infant through high school. Sexualization affects all races, economic classes, and geographies. It robs children of their right to childhood, to hit psychological developmental milestones fairly, and it affects their self-esteem and body image.
Parents hand their children toys that don’t look like children, but instead reflect a sexily dressed woman’s body frame that is literally unachievable to 99% of adult women, yet we shake our heads when we hear that 5 and 6 year olds are beginning to say they are fat and need to diet. Our society encourages girls to play with coquettish princesses and scantily-clad fairies, only to slut-shame these same girls in later years.
The commercial sexualization of childhood has gotten to the point that parents have to go out of their way and many times spend twice as much money to keep their home free and clear of clothing, toys, and media that sexualize and marginalize their children. In mainstream, suburban American shopping there is a chasm running through childhood – one side is pink and the other is blue.
When my daughter was born and I would spend the day holding her and dream about catching lightening bugs, teaching her to ride a bike and kick a soccer ball, reading “Little House On The Prairie”, and flying kites. A childhood fit for a Norman Rockwell piece for the Saturday Evening Post.
When my tiny girl was a few weeks old, I needed to restock on diapers or pacifiers or some such thing and went shopping at our local big box store. I came home mystified. My eyes were glazed over from pink pegboard and walls of plastic dolls that looks like sex workers and tulle and tiaras and slogans on every shirt that read “I love being the Princess” and “Daddy’s Princess” and “Sweet as Candy” and “Angel” and “Sassy, sometimes Sweet”. The excess of tiaras and rhinestones had done me in.
This was girlhood? This was how I was supposed to raise my daughter? And why was everything pink? I couldn’t understand it, and thought perhaps my post pregnancy hormones had made me time travel. You know, to 1950.
I wasn’t about to raise my girl to wish upon a star and wait for her prince. I’d rather teach her to get into a rocket ship and reach that star for herself. I wanted that message on infant girl clothing, but couldn’t find it. At least, I couldn’t find it on the “girl side” of the aisle. Then I had one of those a-ha moments and I filled page after page with ideas and drawings and plans…..for what would become Pigtail Pals.
I don’t see childhood as having a boy side and a girl side, not in the first several years. I see childhood as a time for brightly colored, unstructured play fueled by powerful imaginations and the understanding all young children seem to have that the world is their oyster.
I have worked diligently to keep our home media literate, gender neutral with toys, and full of playthings that are open ended. My husband and I try to keep gender stereotypes and sexualization out of our home. I certainly will not be teaching my daughter, who was named after Amelia Earhart, to sit quietly and be pretty. I flatly refuse to teach her that her beauty is her worth.
I believe girls deserve better. I believe we need to change the way we think about our girls. I think girls should be allowed to dream in every color. I think girls should have the freedom to imagine growing up to be a doctor, a race car driver, a pilot, or an astronaut. Today’s girls are being raised by a generation of women that is the most well educated, most well traveled, most liberated to ever have walked the earth. But you wouldn’t know it after an afternoon of shopping.
I raise my girl to be smart, daring, and adventurous. I don’t think those things belong on the “boy side” of the aisle. I simply think they belong right in the middle of childhood.
Melissa Wardy is a mother of two who owns and operates Pigtail Pals – Redefine Girly, an online store and media literacy blog that aims to change the way we look at girlhood. Our empowering products show girls they may be smart, daring, and adventurous.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
So why is it so hard to admit, Mamas, that we can use and have a right to help and support? What holds us back from asking for what we need? How would life be different for us if we learned to lean on others – even just a teeny bit?
The Mom Unto Herself
The moms I work with in my coaching practice, as well as many of my own friends and family, are remarkably consistent in their behaviors and mindset around going it alone. Several of the variations on this theme are:
- The SuperMommy complex. We believe we can wake before dawn, meditate, exercise, spend the day taking care of the children and/or working inside or outside the home, blog, tweet, eat well, be insightful, have quality time and get everyone to bed at a reasonable hour. We believe we can do this without developing fatigue, loss of libido or depression. Seriously, Moms, IT’S TOO MUCH. We are only human, after all.
- The lack of a reliable mirror. Mommying happens pretty much in a vacuum; very rarely do we hear “Great job!” or a “We’d like to publish your thoughts on that!” when we rise to a formidable parenting challenge. Instead, we do our thing solo and without recognition. Over time this leads to negative feelings about our accomplishments, and the sense that we aren’t doing anything worthwhile. So we do more and more, in an attempt to counterbalance these feelings of worthlessness.
- Deep down, we feel guilty about “just being Mom”. There are many of us who came to mommying after spending time in corporate America or logging long hours in the non-profit world. We know how to work hard, and we are used to it. When we become mamas, we substitute one challenging job for another. We take on whatever comes our way, believing that it’s a privilege to stay home with the children and we should be able to handle whatever comes our way.
Asking for What We Need
As women, we are conditioned to make nice and be agreeable; it’s much more socially acceptable to go along with the crowd than to stand up and be forceful. As a result, we have forgotten how to ask for what we want. We behave according to “shoulds” and “have tos”, which are externally generated thoughts and opinions, rather than slowing down and quietly asking ourselves, “What do I want?”
When we DO ask ourselves what we want in a heartfelt way, the answer that comes is authentic, wholesome and healing. It points out which needs aren’t being met, and opens us up to finding new ways to meet those needs. It’s the first step to finding our way to healthy parenting that’s healthy for the mommies as well as the kids.
So for all us moms trying and failing to do it all, our challenge is to slow down, take stock of what feels like it’s too much, and ask for help. In granting ourselves this small act of kindness, we appreciate ourselves for what we are, and demonstrate self-love and self-respect. Modelling these two traits for our kids is perhaps the most valuable lesson of all.
Where are you feeling overwhelmed, and like a hand would be extra appreciated right now? How can you invite others into your family dynamic in a way that supports you and benefits the children? What might open up for you, once you make way for some support with parenting?
Amy Kessel is a certified professional life coach and the owner of Mamamorphosis: Think Outside the LunchBox. She helps moms reclaim themselves as women, which in turn enables them to create passion-filled and purpose-led lives. Her private and group coaching, as well as her dynamic workshops, attract women at all stages of mommyhood, who have the same burning question: What's Next for Me?
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I have been blessed with approximately 1,350,636,432.53 seconds so far. Today, as I celebrate my birthday, I have an opportunity to reflect on what I want the next 1,350,636,432.53 seconds to be like!
I have to admit: this year has been very, very challenging in many different ways. One thing has become even more clear to me: focusing on our strengths, on what is working and on our many blessings, allows for the tough times to be more "endurable". Challenges don't go away because we are grateful; they just become meaningful in the context of gratitude!
Focusing on me, and me alone, continues to be "my growing edge". Writing this blog was just as uncomfortable as it was eye-opening. I questioned the wisdom of talking about me, my birthday and my reasons for gratitude. But, I guess, the beauty of moving forward in my 40's is that I become more and more willing to show up in the world just as I am, warts and all!
As my own, personal "new year" gets underway, I decided to celebrate by writing down the notes from my gratitude journal, written on my special day. I am deeply grateful to and for:
- My mom and dad, who with all their seeming "flaws" have taught me so much about love, about trust in Life, about who I ultimate can become.
- My husband, friend and companion. His gentle nature, patience and unconditional love for me have sustained me against fear, cynicism, hopelessness and arrogance. He continues to be the soft place where God touches my heart in good times and tough times.
- My daughter, who at 8 years old has taught me more than anything or anybody in my entire life! Her determination, strength, resolve and confidence, have allowed me to discover the same qualities in me. Loving her has taught me that by opening our hearts, we become the spot where love flows through first, thus blessing us in the process.
- My playgroup tribe sisters, four women who know me in ways that I was afraid to show anyone before. For the last 8 years, these women have become as much part of me as my own family. They have honored the secret code of this circle of women who are willing to see me through anything, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, for champagne or for beer!
- My body, that despite the foolishness of younger years, continues to bring me unmeasurable joys: the pleasure of my child's kiss, the taste of a ripe mango, the sound of Pink Martini or the comfort of a friend's hug.
- My deep and abiding connection with God, expressed in so many forms: the laugh of a baby, a beautiful sunset, the taste of watermelon or the smell of clean laundry!
- The availability of all sorts of books and my ability to read them. The gift of literacy is one I could never, ever take for granted!
- The amazing sight of a clear blue sky in Seattle. When the clouds part, there's no other place on Earth that can take your breath away like the Pacific Northwest.. at least for me!
- My Ipod! I absolutely love the way I can relax, learn, meditate, work out or simply dance my head off at the touch of a button!
- All the new and amazing people that my coaching career has brought to me! My classmates, my online friends. In this journey of following my heart as a parent coach and ScreamFree consultant, I have been touched by the wisdom,kindness and support of some amazing and generous women: Lara, Wendy, Lynne, Dori, Michele Borba, Marjie, Amy, Karen and Susan. The list is long.. so please forgive me if this late at night, I missed adding your name here... A big, heartfelt, soul-full thank you for the many ways you have touched my life!
- For the opportunity to live in a country, the United States of America, that although a "work in progress", has given me the chance to be what I was born to be!
Happy New Year to Me!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
- Does it seems like your 8 year-old’s mouth has gotten out of control and she always has to have the last word?
- Are you in the middle of a battle between your child and your partner that ends up in more and more disrespectful behavior?
- Does it seems like you have tried every book, every class and every tool and still can't get your kids to cooperate?
their children in a loving, conscious and intentional way. Moms like you, take very serious the challenge of being effective in loving their
children, caring for their partner, managing a household, balancing work and keeping it all together.
When your work is caring for your children (among so many other things) you simply can’t turn your kids “off” until you are not stressed, tired, or overwhelmed. As we move forward on the journey of motherhood, we sometimes find ourselves needing some support, some practical tools to keep on “keeping”
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010
But when it came to allowances, I always felt a little conflicted. We don’t give her money for chores that are part of being a contributing member of our family. But the issue of a specific amount or allowance on a regular basis, continued to elude us. I talk to a good friend of mine who suggested just starting with a reasonable amount and letting her spend it, save it or give it away in ANY way she wanted. I have to admit, that last sentence pushed my hidden buttons in me!” What if she decides to spend it on junk”, I said. My wise friend told reminded me that allowing her to use the money in any way she liked would give her a good handle on making mistakes on a smaller scale so she can learn the value of using your money responsibly.
Well, we got started that same day. I was as uncomfortable as a kangaroo with a porcupine in her pouch! She got her first official allowance and we explained that she would be getting the same amount at the beginning of every month and it was to be use any way she liked.
Immediately, she told us she wanted to buy some books out of a series she really liked. We explained that we had a few choices in order to get the book or books she wanted: we could go to the local Half Price Books store where she could probably get more for her money or we could go to the local bookstore where the books were brand new but would cost more. She was more than willing to go take our first choice but unfortunately, Half Price Books did not have the specific books she was looking for.
And here is where the lesson started: She was very upset and disappointed at the thought that she was not going to go home with a book in her hands! I promised her that we could go the next day and try another local Half Price Book store and see what they had available there. Yes.. You guessed it. She didn’t want to wait until the next hour, let alone the next day.
I got a little irritated and tried to explain to her that if we did go to the bookstore she would end up spending all her money in only one book as opposed to using the same amount to buy 2 or maybe even 3 books at the second hand store. I explained how in the past we had done just that and the books were almost brand new for significantly less money.
She would not budge. She wanted the book that day, so I agree to let her go to the bookstore. We did, and the price of the book took her entire allowance for the month. She was only able to buy one and only one on the series.
She left happy and excited to have spent her allowance on her favorite book.
The next day, as we were running errands, we happen to be near another Half Price Book store, so I decided to go in. Imagine her surprise when 3 of the books in the series she wanted were available there ON SALE.. Including the one she had purchased full price!
She begged and pleaded for me to let her “borrow” the money to buy the rest of the books. We had been clear that her allowance was to be used for the things that she wanted aside from the things that we already bought for her most of the time. If she wanted another book she was going to have to wait until her next allowance. She almost started crying as we got back in the car. When she finally calmed down and was ready to talk, she said “Mom, I should have waited until today, right? I would have gotten all the books that I wanted for almost the same price of the book I bought yesterday. That was stupid and a waste of money!”
I didn’t say a word. I just took a deep breath and smile. My friend was right: What great lessons to be had when we allow our children to make their own choices. There’s nothing more powerful than these lessons learned by our own experiences.
How do you handle your urge to “rescue” your kids when they make bad decisions? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Monday, August 30, 2010
* How can I create a joyful connected family?
* How can I raise self-reliant children?
* How can I help my children contribute to the world?
* How can I heal and become the parent I want?
* How can I balance my work and my family?
To begin your journey to discovering the answers to this questions click here
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Hal Runkel LMFT
Hal Runkel, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist has dedicated his life to helping families stay calm and connected. He is the best-selling author of ScreamFree Parenting and sought-after international speaker. Hal is also the founder of The ScreamFree Institute, a not-for-profit organization working to build-up a worldwide network of certified leaders, each reaching countless families with the generation-changing ScreamFree message. He is active in training and equipping these leaders around the world, in addition to his counseling, speaking, and writing activities. Hal and his wife Jenny have been married for 17 years, and they live with their two children in the Atlanta area.
Marla is the best selling author of Sink Reflections, co-author of the New York Times Best Seller Body Clutter, syndicated newspaper columnist, radio show host and mentor of millions as the FlyLady. With her southern charm and inspirational emails, FlyLady guides those living in CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) and clutter. She has her own Blog Talk Radio Channel, weekly syndicated column in over 250 newspapers around the world and she has been featured in numerous major magazines and newspapers and tv, including: CNN and The Today Show.
A third generation intuitive and prolific writer, her books have sold over a million copies worldwide including her NY Times Bestseller The Answer Is Simple.... Love Yourself, Live Your Spirit. Sonia is passionate, dynamic, powerful, and direct in her ability to instantly liberate people from the limitations and fears (a five-sensory life) and leads them to create a far more effective, spirit guided (six sensory) successful life which she insists is "our natural way." Using her highly developed, finely tuned intuitive skills she can instantly identify self sabotaging patterns and life obstacles and guide people past them and directly onto success in all their goals. No-nonsense, to-the point, practical, down--to--earth, and often hilarious in her delivery, Sonia's intuitive gifts and engaging Spirit inspire even the most cynical. There is no doubt about it; to meet Sonia in person is to change your life.
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Dr. Michele Borba
Michele Borba, Ed.D. is an internationally renowned educator, award-winning author, parenting expert and child and adolescent expert. She is recognized for her practical, solution-based strategies to strengthen children's behavior, character, and social development, and to build strong families. Dr. Borba is an NBC contributor who has appeared over 80 times as parent expert on the Today show as well as countless talk shows including: Dr. Phil, The View, The Tyra Banks Show, Fox & Friends, Geraldo & Friends, The Doctors, CNN American Morning, Countdown, and The Early Show. She appears regularly on Fox Headline News and CNN Headline News to discuss late-breaking news and has been interviewed by numerous publications including Newsweek, People, U.S. News & World Report, Reader's Digest, The Globe and Mail, and People.
There are 24 speakers in all including: Pam Young, Rhonda Ryder, Dr. Kenny Handelman, Leanne Ely, Terri Amos-Britt, Josh Shipp, Nancy Gruver, Deborah Critzer-Fox, Jennifer Kolari MSW, Claire Mysko, Shelly Lefkoe, Carolyn Ellis, Dr. Lynne Kenney PsyD, Dr. Daniel Siegel, Dr. Vicki Panaccione, and more. Wow!
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Friday, August 27, 2010
Any time you pick up any self-improvement book or read an article on relationships, the most common thing mentioned as an obstacle to success is poor communication.
Since our children are by far one of the most important and complex relationships we are growing through, I'd like to share with you some skills necessary to enrich and enhance our communication. Although I am focusing on our kids, these suggestions apply to ANY relationship that is meaningful to you or that you hope to make stronger.
So here we go:
- Remember that every statement or comment does not require a response (especially the ones that involve whining, disrespect or nagging)
- Use body language consciously. It doesn’t lie.
- Choose your words carefully. Just like nails on a piece of wood, even when you take the nail out, the whole may still be there!
- Speak in simple terms and with clarity. (don't use sarcasm, big words or demeaning tone)
- Avoid interrupting people. (Our children ARE people and deserve respect and to be listened to. One voice at a time!)
- Listen with your mouth closed. (it goes a long way, especially for those of us who tend to prepare answers in our head. That makes it really hard to be present and fully listen!)
- Learn about Emotional Intelligence (empathy, self-awareness, and teamwork) to improve your communication skills.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
The most common things I hear friends and clients say make them frustrated, angry and sometimes helpless and hopeless:
- Listening to the whining… It is like nails on a chalkboard!
- Watching my child “stall” when it is time to go to bed (or eat or pick up the toys or go home from the park!)
- Having to tell my son a million times to do something before he actually does it, if he does it at all
- Fighting over what’s for dinner
- When my daughter changes her mind 10 times about what she’s going to wear to school and we are already late!
- When my child interrupts me when I am talking on the phone to the point that I have to hang up
- Having to ask my kid to clean her room a dozen times and it still doesn’t get done.
When we lose our cool and yell, bribe, threaten, or “react” to our children without being prepared or without thinking about what we are going to say, the punishment we inflict t is usually not one we would have chosen if we were cool and calm. Most of the time no real, practical lesson is learned and everyone involved ends up resentful and/or frustrated!
If we allow ourselves some “grace” and understand that we are not bad parents because we get mad, that anger and frustration is a very legitimate response to our kids behavior, we can start on the road to responding instead of reacting. We then have a choice to walk away, cool down and enforce consequences that make sense and support our family values.
As I always say, “only one of you can be having a meltdown at a time”.
How do you handle those “button-pushing” moments?