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