Category Archives: Family

08 Jul

9 Tools for Healthy Communication

1. Communicate directly with the person.

First make sure the situation has something to do with you directly. Decide if the situation is really worth your time and energy. Then go directly to the source, and try not mentioning things to others or posting comments on social media. Be respectful by being direct. Example: “I understand that you are angry with me, can you tell me why?” Or, “I heard that you are the manager for the new department and I would like to talk with you about possible upcoming positions”.

2. Start with a genuine compliment or positive statement.

Research shows that starting a conversation with a compliment or positive comment increases receptiveness in others. “Thank you for taking time to speak with me”. Or, “I know you were very angry last night and I appreciate your willingness to talk with me today”. With a child, it might sound like: “I really like how you calmed yourself down, good job”.

3. State your needs in a clear honest way.

Clarify in your mind exactly what you are asking for and why. Communicate that in a non-defensive tone. Research shows that too many words can confuse the listener. Try to state it 2-3 sentences. For example: “I wanted to talk with you about the fight at the table last night with your brother”. Vs. “I wanted to talk to you about that terrible tantrum you had at the table last night in front of our family, when you were acting like a 3 year old and picking on your brother”. Another example might be: “I would like to talk to you about the promotion. I understand I was not a candidate and would like to know why?” Vs. “I heard so-and-so got the promotion and I was so bummed to hear that because I thought I was a better candidate”.

4. Use “I” statements.

“I feel”, “I need”, “I want”. “I” statements are about you and no one can question your feelings or needs. It also outlines the place you are coming from. Then state your need. “I felt disappointed about the fight at Christmas dinner. I really wanted everyone to get along”. Or “I would like to apply for the promotion and would like to know what I need to do”. Stay out of their backyard and away from blaming. It puts people off and makes it harder for them to hear what you want. Focus on what you would like to see happen. “I would like to advance my position and use more of my skills to help this company increase it’s sales”. Or, “I would like for us to have family meals without fighting and am wondering what you think we could do together to make that happen?”

5. Listen.

Yes, to their response. Often we have a script already running in our head about what they will say or what we need to say next. Turn that off. Make your statement, pause, take a breath and listen for their response. Be in the moment as much as possible. And let go of outcome. We can’t control others or the outcome, even if it’s with the best intentions.

6. Ask questions to clarify.

Coming into the conversation without a singular result in mind will allow for exploration and curiosity. Ask questions with an engaged curiosity. Seek to understand the other person’s perspective, their experience and their opinion.

7. Try phrasing it in a different way.

If the person does not understand what is being said, try phrasing, literally using different words. For example” “I feel like we haven’t spent any time together” (They don’t understand). Second try: I really like you and would like to spend more time together, what do you think about that?” If you are on the receiving end of communication and don’t understand what they are saying, ask for clarification. Ask for specifics. “ Can you give me an example of a time when I talked over you?”

8. Take a break if things start to get heated.

You can take a break anytime, especially if you know the next line of defense is going to be slinging hurtful insults you won’t be able to take back. Revisit it when you are both calm and level headed. Check-in with yourself to see if you missed something or maybe could try to say things in a different way. And if things can’t get resolved, try mediation or communicating through someone else, like a counselor.

9. Apologize and reconcile when possible.

They are healing acts that help move relationships forward. Some people think that apologizing is sign of weakness but it’s actually a sign of respect towards the self and others. We are after all human and fallible. Admitting that actually takes courage and emotional maturity. Some say that reconciliation and forgiveness are the most important parts of the communication process.


Resources and References

Books:

The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns

How to talk to anyone; 92 little tricks for big success in relationships by Leil Lowndes

When Anger Hurts, Quieting the Storm Within, by Matthew McKay, Ph.D., Peter D. Rogers and Judith McKay

Articles & Blog Posts:

Counseling Advice: Healthy Communication & Relationships by Amy McNamara, LMFT, CounselingPsychology.org.

The 7 Cs of Communication: A Checklist for Clear Communication on MindTools.com.

Tips for Better Communication on LoveIsRespect.org.

5 Habits of Highly Effective Communicators by Susan Tardanico, Forbes.com.

14 Very Effective Communication Skills on AdvancedLifeSkills.com.

10 Effective Communication Habits of the Most Successful People, by Marcel Schwantes, Inc.com.

6 Surprising Ways to Communicate Better With Your Partner by F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W., PsychologyToday.com.

Simple, Powerful Tools for Becoming a Great Communicator on MastersinCommunication.org.

 

27 Jun

4 Ways to Help Your Children During a Divorce

TIP #1:  Make the Children Your Priority

“As we go out into the world, we will face challenges and we’ll need both of you to help us through them. If we’re struggling, in need of help or you’re worried about us, we hope you will pick up the phone and let each other know. We get that this won’t be easy. At one time you loved each other enough to become parents. Please do your best to see the good in one another instead of always expecting the worst.”

A quote from an adult child of divorce

 

Research shows that helping others is a great way to get through a loss or stressful event. Transitions and change are normal. Divorce isn’t necessarily a life skill but going through a transition that comes with stress (like in a divorce) is.  Shift the focus and your energy onto them.

Talking about the divorce is important, especially with your children.

This means less or no talk about why the divorce happened and focusing more on the struggles each child is going through at that moment. Less drama and more focus on kids are good modeling and leads to helping the family move forward in a healthy way.

What the children come to the parent for help with may not really be what they want or need. It may be more about seeking parental support and making sure they won’t be abandoned. They may need help telling their story to others, problem solving, assistance with time management or scheduling changes, or handling missing a family member.

To see a quick outline of developmental tasks for children by age group, read Does Divorce Inevitably Damage Children? by Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D. on the Huffington Post. 

TIP #2: Create a Support System for Your Kids

One of the most important developmental tasks for children is social development. Part of this process is explaining what is happening and how to maneuver through relationships. The process of divorce can impact family members in a variety of ways. It can include the break-up of a family system, the loss of seeing or living with one parent regularly, or dealing with the stigma sometimes associated with divorce.

Providing support for children going through divorce can help them with the adjustment and changes happening. Others can play a vital role in needed support, such as family members, family friends, a church community, theirs peers or even a therapist. Not only do others provide a feeling of security and normalcy, they can also provide unconditional love and support.

About therapy: There doesn’t need to anything wrong with a child for them to be in therapy. Whether it’s a counselor at school or a therapist at a clinic or in private practice, therapy can provide an additional layer of support for family members.

TIP#3: Stick to Consistency and Routine as Much as Possible

This can include morning routines, school schedules, sports, social outings, attending church, family meals, holidays, going on vacations etc. Routines create a feeling of normalcy and familiarity for everyone. After school activities and hobbies help children gain their own sense of autonomy in the world and solidify their identity. Help the children develop their own hobbies and interests, to do at your home and at the other parent’s home.

TIP #4: Don’t Speak Badly or Gossip About the Other Parent

When we are hurting, it’s easy for us as adults to fire back with hurtful comments or actions. Children hear what parents are saying on the phone or to the adult in the other room. They often tune into what their parents are feeling, even if they don’t come right out and say it.

Model healthy communication and boundaries. Avoid blaming and negative talk about the other parent. Save personal feelings and negative thoughts for friends, therapist or a journal. If you find you can’t stop talking about it, try counseling. It’s a safe place to express yourself that won’t due unnecessary damage.

Communicate directly with your ex partner in a healthy way, not through the children or through others (unless mandated by the court). State your needs to them in a clear honest way. Use “I” statements. Try phrasing your needs in different ways, literally using different words. Keep accusations and blaming out of it, instead replace with compliments. Research shows that starting a conversation with a compliment or positive comment increases receptiveness in the other person. They will be more likely to hear what you are saying. If or when the communication starts to get heated, take a break. Revisit it when you are both calm and level headed. If things can’t get resolved, try mediation or communicating through a counselor.


References and Resources:

Books:

Something Gained: 7 Shifts to be Stronger, Smarter and Happier after a Divorce, by Deb Purdy.

Blog Posts:

The 18 Best Things You Can Do For Your Kids After Divorce by Brittany Wong on HuffingtonPost.com

How to Keep Yourself From Yelling at Kids Even When You are Hopping Mad by Sumitha Bhandarkar on AFineParent.com.

Four Things to Keep Stable with Children of Divorced Parents by Shannon Philpott on Mom.me.

Establish Post-Divorce Traditions on KeepYourChildSafe.org.

Helping children adjust to two homes after separation or divorce on RaisingChildren.net.au.

Why routines are so important for children of divorce from GabriellaDavis.com.

The importance of safe, stable and nurturing environments for young children by Dr. Rachel Wood on TheOlympian.com.

8 Things Adult Children of Divorce Desperately Want You to Know by Christina McGhee on DivorceAndChildren.com.

Find information about ending a marriage or registered domestic partnership see the Divorce or Separation resources page on the California Courts website.

Divorce Etiquette 101: What to Say on WeVorce.com.

Tips on Communicating With Your Spouse During a Divorce by Joseph Pandolfi, Retired Judge on Lawyers.com

Find resources on Coping in Divorce Support on About.com.

4 Tips for Effective Communication During Divorce from OutofCourtSolutions.com.

5 Ways for Better Communication During a Divorce by Nicholas Baker on FamilyLawRights.net.

 

20 Mar

Growing Into a Teen: 5 Areas of Teen Development

Did you know that development for this age group actually starts around age 10? Initial changes in body, mood, thought, self-image, identity and perception are already happening! Kids in this age group undergo many changes socially, physically, cognitively, emotionally, and sexually. Some of these changes include:

Social:

  • “More concern about body image, looks, and clothes.
  • Focus on themselves; going back and forth between high expectations and lack of confidence.
  • Experience more moodiness.
  • Show more interest in and influence by peer group.
  • Express less affection toward parents; sometimes might seem rude or short-tempered.
  • Feel stress from more challenging schoolwork.
  • Develop eating problems.
  • Feel a lot of sadness or depression, which can lead to poor grades at school, alcohol or drug use, unsafe sex, and other problems.”

                                                                                                                    CDC.org

Cognitive:

“The teenage years bring many changes, not only physically, but also mentally and socially. During these years, adolescents increase their ability to think abstractly and eventually make plans and set long-term goals. Each child may progress at a different rate and may have a different view of the world. In general, the following are some of the abilities that may be evident in your adolescent:

  • Develops the ability to think abstractly
  • Is concerned with philosophy, politics, and social issues
  • Thinks long-term
  • Sets goals
  • Compares one’s self to one’s peers”

Stanfordchildrens.org

 Learn more about Adolescent Neurodevelopment on the World Health Organization website.

Emotional:

“Communicating your love for your child is the single most important thing you can do. Children decide how they feel about themselves in large part by how their parents react to them. For this reason, it’s important for parents to help their children feel good about themselves. It is also important to communicate your values and to set expectations and limits, such as insisting on honesty, self-control and respect for others, while still allowing teenagers to have their own space.”

Familydoctor.org

Physical:

These types of changes lead to a maturation and can be seen in early, normal or late development. Everyone’s body grows at it’s own pace. Physical changes can include: growing facial hair, change in voice, growth in height or weight, and changes in hormonal cycles. Body shape can also change during this time. Sometimes there is a period of awkwardness as the body and the mind try to catch up with each other, or their peers. Girls are seen to generally develop earlier than boys.

“During adolescence, young people go through many changes as they move into physical maturity. Early, prepubescent changes occur when the secondary sexual characteristics appear.

Girls:

  • Girls may begin to develop breast buds as early as 8 years old. Breasts develop fully between ages 12 and 18.
  • Pubic hair, armpit and leg hair usually begin to grow at about age 9 or 10, and reach adult patterns at about 13 to 14 years.
  • Menarche (the beginning of menstrual periods) typically occurs about 2 years after early breast and pubic hair appear. It may occur as early as age 9, or as late as age 16. The average age of menstruation in the United States is about 12 years.
  • Girls growth spurt peaks around age 11.5 and slows around age 16.

Boys:

  • Boys may begin to notice that their testicles and scrotum grow as early as age 9.
  • Soon, the penis begins to lengthen. By age 17 or 18, their genitals are usually at their adult size and shape.
  • Pubic hair growth, as well as armpit, leg, chest, and facial hair, begins in boys at about age 12, and reaches adult patterns at about 17 to 18 years.
  • Boys do not start puberty with a sudden incident, like the beginning of menstrual periods in girls. Having regular nocturnal emissions (wet dreams) marks the beginning of puberty in boys. Wet dreams typically start between ages 13 and 17. The average age is about 14 and half years.
  • Boys’ voices change at the same time as the penis grows. Nocturnal emissions occur with the peak of the height spurt.
  • Boys’ growth spurt peaks around age 13 and a half and slows around age 18.”

UMM.edu

Sexual:

Sexual changes not only happen for kids in this age range physically but also mentally and socially. Feeling of sexual attraction develops, as well as awareness about the body changes in themselves and others.

“During the teen years, the hormonal and physical changes of puberty usually mean people start noticing an increase in sexual feelings. It’s common to wonder and sometimes worry about new sexual feelings.

It takes time for many people to understand who they are and who they’re becoming. Part of that involves better understanding of their own sexual feelings and who they are attracted to.”

KidsHealth.org


Resources

Books:

The Success Principles for Teens: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.

Being a Teen: Everything Teen Girls & Boys Should Know About Relationships, Sex, Love, Health, Identity & More.

Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings

Websites:

MedlinePlus.gov has articles and resources for both parents and teens on their Teen/Adolescent Development resources page.

The CDC.gov has positive parenting tips and resources for both Young Teens and Teenagers.

Read Understanding Your Teenagers Emotional Health on the FamilyDoctor.org.

KidsHealth.org has an article on Sexual Attraction and Orientation written for teens.

The University of Minnesota has an article on the Biological and Physical Changes that teens experience written for parents of teenagers.

The World Health Organization has an article on Adolescent Neurodevelopmental Changes.

Visit the University of Maryland Medical Center page on Adolescent Development.

Read The Teenage Brain Is Wired to Learn—So Make Sure Your Students Know It on Edutopia.org.

 

19 Dec

The Spirit of Christmas

It’s in the Christmas cards and the music played this time of year. It’s in the ceremonial rituals of going to church, lighting candles, singing songs, and telling the stories of the birth of baby Jesus. It’s in putting up the holiday lights, and wrapping the presents. But, I still wonder, what is “the spirit” of Christmas?

Christmas embodies the true spirit of tradition. It’s the tradition of remembering, of giving and being grateful. Here’s where “the Spirit” lays. It’s helping others, and the careful cultivation of celebration. Usually with family and friends. Yes, lots of celebrating. It’s in the food, from the Starbucks holiday drinks to the mashed potatoes at Christmas dinner. And it’s in the giving, lots of giving this time of year. For a short time, generosity spreads good cheer, even those less fortunate. Gifts can about. Unusual stories pop up. It’s the rituals and routines we do every year. Put up the tree, pull out the lights and send the Christmas cards. Get the shopping done, don’t forget the dinner rolls and then wrap the presents. It’s in all the steps we take. It’s in the decorations on the tree and those quiet moments when one can take a moment to remember and appreciate. Even that holiday song playing on the radio or the store window that’s decorated can give us a moment of pause, to appreciate. And to smile.

The remembrance, especially for those of a Christian faith, of the birth of Jesus Christ is a big part of this annual tradition. The birth of Jesus is, in and of itself, a wonderful story. It offers a glimpse into the past, of what things could have really been like at the time of his birth. It makes the Son of God a real human being, someone who had human tangible experiences while living in a simple human body; and with the spirit of a great celestial being inside. It offers a perspective of what most likely happened to Mary and Joseph on their journeys and acknowledges the difficulties and struggles they overcame; all to give birth to a child. And not just any child. The idea of miracle is a part of Christian traditions and faith even today. Miracles can happen. Look at the birth of Jesus Christ. Look at his life. Listen to his message. The spirit of his birth is in songs, in sayings, and in tradition. It’s in the faith many people carry in their hearts. It’s a beautiful symbol of the Holy Spirit, the power of God and how, as mere mortals, we connect to something so much greater than ourselves. And we get to say “Thank you God” during this holiday season. We get to be grateful and acknowledge it publicly, in church, on the streets, passing holiday cheer on.

Going to mass on Christmas Eve has always been one of my favorite traditions. It was big deal for my grandmother. I remember going to visit her and being allowed to stay up really late so we could attend midnight mass at Saint Luke’s Parish. I remember feeling exhilarated and so excited, while exhausted at the same time. I remember how nice people were, and how quiet everyone one, as we all packed into the pews to listen to the priest. I couldn’t believe how many people could fit in that small church. People lined the walls and the back hallway. Some listened to the Mass from outside the front doors. We bowed our heads in thanks. We prayed, sang and lit candles. I love the tradition of the Passing of the Saints. It brings, like the story of Jesus, the living and dead closer together.

I remember the choir’s voices covering us like a blanket as they sang their hearts out from the upper balcony. And what I remember the most is the sense of peace, and a feeling of importance. There were so many people in the church and yet, what we were doing was important, although I wasn’t sure back then why. I could feel how calm and at peace every soul was in that church at that moment. And I could feel the energy around us. It was like a gold light filtering through every one of us. I knew I felt connected, to something so much greater than myself. It was humbling. And I remember standing next to one of my most favorite people in the whole world, my grandmother, watching as she smiled sweetly at me and continued with her prayers. I remember her rosy cheeks and her sweet smelling perfume. I remember holding hands with her and then letting go to fold our hands in prayer.

Little did I know what a subtle influence she would have over me in the years to come. Her smile, the Sunday dinner she made, the way she led her life, all left a profound impression on me. And, what I remember most about her was how sweet she was. She was truly one of the nicest and most gentle souls I have ever met. She had a big heart. Everyone loved Bessie! I remember how she adored me. I could do no wrong in her eyes, and if I did, she would love me no matter what. She was the first human being that showed me what unconditional love was. I know what that feels like. And it’s amazing.

I think, looking back now, she carried the Holy Spirit in her heart. She had this way about her that was so God centered. It showed in what she did, but also in how selfless she was. So much of her world was about giving. She introduced me to God. She connected me to God. She modeled the Holy Spirit. How lucky I was to have a grandmother like that. I feel blessed. There are no books or training, or any teachings that could ever explain or help me understand what I saw and felt in my heart when I was with her. She was pure goodness. I remember her getting on her knees before bed with her Rosary every night to pray. I remember her clear communication, faith and close relationship to Jesus. There was no alternative way to think, for her, Christ was King and the Son of God. That’s just how it was. She didn’t preach or proselytize, you noticed in subtle ways – her commitment to church, the bible and Cross sitting next to the Rosary beads by her bed. Her faith was so much of who she was. Goodness prevailed and the Holy Spirit traveled and moved through her heart. What a beautiful impression to leave a child.  Thank you Nana.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.


References:

What is the Christmas Spirit, a set of tracts by Crossways.

The Spirit of Christmas, a sermon by Grace to You.

Christmas Spirit by Deanna Mascle on All Things Frugal.

Heres why Holiday Gift Giving Gives You All the Feels, an article from Huffington Post.

 

13 Oct

6 Attributes to Help Parents Raise Emotionally Intelligent Children

What is it emotional intelligence?

“Emotional intelligence means being able to read your own and other’s emotions, and being able to respond to the emotions of others in a cooperative, functional, and empathetic manner. Emotional intelligence is a kind of social “moxie” or “savvy” about even very complex social situations. It requires knowing who you are, knowing your own feelings, knowing your own needs, and being able to handle yourself and compromise these needs with the needs of sometimes very complex social situations.”
John Gottman, Ph.D., The Gottman Institute

 

What are some of the skills needed raise emotionally intelligent children?

Awareness, empathy, compassion, patience, validation and respect to name a few, are valuable and necessary attributes, and are skills that teach children how to maneuver and manage their emotions while in relationship with others. Research has shown that children exhibiting these skills are more likely to succeed in the world more so than a child with a high IQ and good academic record.

With all of these attributes, as with values and emotions, it helps to talk with children about them, as well as, model them. Dialogue teaches children how to put words to their internal emotional world and that is empowering. It’s also important for healthy development. Modeling the behavior shows the child tangible actions associated with the concept, which they can then try out in their behavior. This is important since children’s brains are still developing.

A note about the learning process in children: parents often say, “I kept having to repeat myself” Believe it or not, that a normal part of development in children. A repetition of concepts is one way we learn. But if you’re child still just doesn’t seem to be getting it, it might be the way it’s being presented. Each child learns differently. Some children learn by seeing (visually), some by hearing (auditory) and some learn kinesthetically (both). Try out different ways to explain something. It’s the difference between watching a video about a sport vs. reading about it vs. trying it out. Take the challenge and find out how best your child learns!

1. Awareness about emotions. It’s bringing a consciousness and a presence to the emotional experience of the child (and sometimes for parents too!) For example, it might be helping a child gain awareness that things will not be “fixed” like they thought. This might include talking about what this different outcome feels like for them. Many children need help making transitions, so this is an added step to help that process. Awareness is an “open” experience, and an invitation to explore emotions. It is not an attempt to deflect, dismiss or control a child’s feelings, or creates an outcome.

2. Compassion defined as “a deep feeling of sympathy”. A necessary skill is for the adult to be able to tap into the emotions of the child. A parent needs to be emotionally available to model compassion. Saying things like “I’m sorry to hear that is happening”. Or “I’m so happy for you”. Or “that sounds like you are excited about that trip” can be invitations to discuss what is happening. One goal is to define in words what the experience is they are feeling. Another goal is simply to be present and engaged, with an open mind and heart towards your child and their experience. The idea is to try and feel what they are feeling in that moment and reflect that back to them.

(Compassion, empathy and awareness can also be applied to our own experience as parents, as we wonder about all the things we should be saying, or our desire to fix it, or our attempt to suppress the feelings of judgment or intolerance at that moment. Buddhist theory teaches that we must first have compassion for ourselves before we can have it for others. So be patient and kind to both of you!)

3. Empathy: defined as “the experiencing of someone else’s thoughts or feelings”. There has been a lot written about the importance of children developing empathy. Modeling empathy to your child is the best way to teach a child about what empathy is. Check in with your child with phrases like: “I hear that what she said really hurt your feelings” or “that sounds like such a great time you had”. Responses like these (without a parental fix at the end of the statement) offer a feeling of unconditional support to your child. That is a quality in empathy. These can be simple dialogues, yet they are critical to a child’s development, because children will, in turn, try out those comments on others to build the skills. Children also need to understand what it feels like and be able to differentiate it from other internal experiences they have, like compassion, sadness or apathy.

4. Patience: If you are naturally calm and patient, you are lucky because sometimes this is hard thing to muster when working with a child. One definition of this is “the ability to suppress restlessness”, something kids need a lot of help with! Patience is great to model because it gives the child the experience of what it feels like to wait, while experiencing calmness and excitement. Calmness is a critical tool when working to harness emotions. Calmness and emotional regulation also go together. Emotional regulation cannot happen without some ability to be mindful and calm oneself. Modeling patience is a vital step in the child’s development; as they see and hear someone else calmly put into words their experience while providing structure -not only to the situation but to their internal emotional world. By experiencing this, children can then internalize that and learn how to use these qualities as a skill. Children also feel safe when adults are calm. As a result, they are more open to learn, and can learn how to regulate their emotions, and be patient with others, yeh!

5. Validation: When a child is really heard, understood and supported, their view of themself and the world around them are validated. It’s not just about a child’s developing ego; it’s also about their identity formation. The message they should be receiving is that they are enough just the way they are, even if they don’t get straight A’s. And if they do get great grades, there is still so much more to who they are which is all good stuff. These types of conversations are also about parents having an opportunity to tell their children that they are important, loved, unique and have something of value to offer the world. Children need to hear that who they are as human beings is ok. It’s critical to healthy development.

6. Respect:

The best way to explain what respect is is to show a child. This is respect for oneself and respect for others. Respect can be modeled in dialogue and behavior. How do you respect yourself? How do you respect your child? Talk with your child about who you respect and why. Or name a respectful action when your child acts in a thoughtful way. An example is the art of apologizing. An apology is actually an act of respect when done sincerely. It is another important skill set to incorporate into their identity. Apologizing helps children learn what is them (ego) and what is “other” (other people outside of themselves). This will help them make a distinction about what things they should or should not say or do, which is directly related to moral development and choices they will make down the road.

 

The development of a child clearly is a complex process. Incorporating traits such as these, not only can empower you as a parent but help children learn what values and morals are, so they will, not only be more likely to make good decisions, but also like themselves!

*A note about yelling: Studies show that when someone yells and gets upset emotionally, often what is being said gets lost. Instead what the person being yelled at remembers is the other person’s anger towards them and the fear they experienced at that moment. For a child, it creates stress in the child, making it hard for the child to learn, feel safe and regulate their emotions. This, not only, can affect memory, behavior and academic performance but also creates negative emotions like fear, hostility and defiance. Bottom line: if you want your children to develop emotionally healthy habits, and be emotionally healthy, model the behavior you want to see.

Parent exercise: How are your listening skills?

Take 15 minutes and sit down with your child, or go for a walk and listen – to them. The goal is to listen with an open mind and in a space of non-judgment modeling the skills listed above. Ask open-ended questions, get really interested in what they are saying and let them talk.

This exercise also models really great listening skills, which teaches your child how to listen. They et the experience internally of what it feels like to speak their truth, to say what they really want to say without someone taking over their emotional or thoughts in that moment. Good listening gives them the experience to truly be who they are and be free of judgment or ridicule. This is a necessary experience for children to develop confidence and a strong identity. It’s also an incredibly respectful and loving way to be with your child.


RESOURCES:

National Association for the Education of Young Children: Building Social and Emotional Skills at Home

The Gottman Institute: Fostering Emotionally Intelligent Children, Families and Communities[PDF]
by John Gottman

EmoSocial.com: Emotionally Intelligent Parenting and Emotion Coaching – Part 1

Books:

Touchpoints by T Berry Brazelton, M.D.

The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant, Symbiosis and Individuation by Margaret S. Mahler, M.D.

Emotional Intelligence, Why it can matter more than IQ by Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

30 Jun

4 Ways to Make Cooking for the Family Easier for New Parents

New Parents 1. Utilize Your Partner and Family as a Resource! 

I read about a mom who was struggling with cooking dinner every night for her family after a long day at work. We as parents each have areas of strength and areas we need support with. It’s our job to ask for help when needed. Especially for moms and/or single parents who manage so much, adding one task to the list can be one too many at the end of a long day. This family’s solution was to put dad in charge of meals one night per week. He’s not a cook, but really wanted to help, so they decided on Thursday nights, when he came home he would fix soup and sandwiches for the family so mom could have a night off from cooking. Be creative and supportive of your spouse. Many times they want to help but just don’t know how to. And be patient. We are all doing our level best.

I recently met a family whose mother (the grandmother) comes out to visit each time after the baby is born and cooks up a storm and freezes everything for the family. Another family I know has a “fend for yourself” night where every member is responsible for getting their own dinner. They also frequently have a “breakfast for dinner night” because breakfasts can be cheap, quick and easy to make, even at 6pm in the evening! It also changes things up a bit, which is fun for the kids. Sometimes I offer my children desert first before dinner, and it gets them fired up about eating dinner together.

When my kids were toddler age, my sister would come up for a visit and take them to McDonalds to get French fries for breakfast. Initially I was horrified but my kids were over the moon with this activity because we never ate there and we sure never had French fries for breakfast. Family members can help and offer support in unusual ways sometimes! Meals with aunties and uncles are still special treats for my kids. They love this ritual.

Try take out:
I know, in this day of eating healthy, it’s not the healthiest, but the priority is ease and effort for you, the person that spends the most time in the kitchen. This might be a temporary solution. This could be for someone is recovering from surgery, or for a family bringing home a baby, for a single parent, or for busy families where both parents are going back to work. This could also apply to a parent who is taking care of their aging parent while also their young children. It’s ok to offer yourself (and your spouse) a night off and a break in the routine. Order take out one night per week. If you’re on a tight budget, try the “take and bake” pizza chain stores or products in the grocery store. Or pick a favorite place and indulge. Take that money out of the grocery shop budget if you need to and eat scrambled eggs one night instead of steak. Be creative.

Gift cards, by the way, can be a great way to give or receive $ for food so you don’t have to cook. I put my gift cards away so when I find them they are a nice surprise. It’s like finding money. I’ve also recently heard about these companies that you can order meals from and they deliver the food to your doorstep. All you do is unpack the ingredients and cook it. There are all sorts of options out there to try.

2. Plan Meals for the Week
Create a list of meals for the week, some to eat earlier in the week and some to freeze for later in the week. Some websites like Good Housekeeping offer examples of meal planning calendars that show how one meal can be utilized for more meals later in the week (i.e. make chicken one night and then use the leftovers to make a chicken casserole or chicken sandwiches later in the week).

I know a mom that does her shopping and cooking all day on Sunday for the upcoming week. She prepares every meal for the week thru Friday, and then puts all items in Tupperware in her fridge so she can grab and go on the days she works. She’ll buy a watermelon, cut it up and put it in 5 small Tupperware for grab and go. She’ll cook a bunch of veggies and portion them out for different types of servings during the week, like carrot salad, steamed veggies etc. She’ll cook a roast and use that for a hot dinner, then sandwiches etc., On the days she works, she grabs her coffee in the am, then gets her lunch bag fills it with breakfast and lunch items from the fridge and she’s out the door. If she is working 2 jobs that day, dinner goes in the lunch box too.

Try different ways out and find what works for you and your family. Be creative and resourceful.

3. Cook and Freeze Meals
If you have the energy, double the portion of a meal you cook and freeze half of it for a second or third meal later. This works great with soups and casseroles. This also works great for spouses that are traveling or working late. My husband was always so impressed that I could “whip up” a meal for him late in the evening. Finally I told him how I was doing it. He was still very appreciative after a long day or long trip. It’s nice to come home to warm meal.

I know families that buy organic veggies and then when those are gone (usually by mid week), move to an assortment of frozen veggies for the rest of the week.

This was written with idea of cooking meals and freezing meals, but buying some frozen food might work too. About buying frozen food: I would say don’t live on frozen food permanently because so many products have extra calories, chemicals and high amounts of salt that are way beyond what required or healthy intake for people. But to use frozen food as a tool to ease the amount of work for you seems very reasonable. I was raised with a hot meal on the table every night, so I tried for a long time to recreate that. Finally when I went back to work, I had to surrender to 5 cooked fresh meals which I make, one night of take out and one night of frozen. It makes meal preparation very reasonable. You can have a night where you can just pop something frozen in the oven and be done with cooking for the night. My children love these chick strips that are in the shape of dinosaurs. I use them as a “back-up” meal and pile a bunch on a plate with carrots and chips for an easy meal night when I am working late. This is your family, talk to other parents, look at magazines or websites, follow a chef on Twitter or a TV show and have fun with it! It can give you an added feeling of success and organization.

Read More of June New Parent Series!

This is Part 4 of a four-part series for new parents.

 

27 Jun

5 Things That can Change When You Bring a Baby Home

 

Parenting - labor and delivery1. Change in Structure and Routine

As couples we can get used to things being done a certain way around the house or our partner taking care of certain things. But things can change when baby comes home. It’s easier if, at least, some of these areas are addressed before the new arrival. Who will be getting up for feedings? Running to the grocery store, taking the dog out? Making meals? Dialoguing and seeing what your partner is willing to help out with can be a great way to start this transition.

2. Adjustment Time

We all need time to adjust, even the dog! Everyone knows the baby is coming home with you, but that doesn’t mean knowing it will make things easier while making the transition. Each of us has our own rhythm for adjusting to things. What is yours? Your partner’s? The cat’s? Seriously, pets often need extra TLC during this time.

3. Identity Changes

It’s normal to go through changes in your identity when going from career woman/dad to the stay-at-home figure. What tasks or habits can you recreate at home to give yourself a similar feeling of success and satisfaction like you had at your work outside the home?

4. It’s no Longer About You

Obviously, but I was surprised at how focused other adults became on my baby, family and strangers alike. Babies bring out qualities in others you may never have seen before, like their fantasies, wishes, and aspirations. That is not about you. It’s OK to ask a stranger to not touch your belly when you’re standing pregnant in the grocery store and it’s OK to ask your mother to come over and sit with the baby so you can take a shower or get a decent nap in!

5. Hello to Other’s Parenting Styles

Family and friends often have a different way of parenting. Flexibility can go along way during this time when you and your partner are adjusting to being new parents and someone comes in with their own ideas about what should happen. It’s OK to say “yes, AND, this is a concern for me as a new mother” or “thank you so much for all of your parenting suggestions, we will definitely take them into consideration”. Starting good boundaries and dialogues now could save you time and energy down the road. Just remember, those that are in your life want to support and help, even if they have a funny way of showing it. It often makes others feel better when they express what they feel they are good at. Sometimes giving advice makes others feel more comfortable. Be sure to ask for what you need and communicate clearly and effectively. This is your family.

 

Read More of June New Parent Series!

This is Part 3 of a four-part series for new parents.

15 Jun

5 Tips for the Right Labor Mindset

Parenting - labor and delivery5 Tips to get the right frame of mind for labor and delivery:

 

1. Get your support system in place
2. Be prepared
3. Bring items to help relax you
4. Allow the birthing to happen, don’t fight it
5. Visualize a good experience, look forward towards a positive outcome

Some things happen regularly. The sun rises and sets daily, and there’s usually a really good team that wins the Super Bowl. In this digital age where there is so much knowledge out there, I see parents inundated with information, and questioning themselves; so much that they begin to question everything they do in the realm of parenting. Because of this, I’ll name two other givens I know: babies are born every day. AND our bodies already know how to deliver a baby. Sure there are amazing doctors and resources out and lots of classes to take, things to learn, experts to listen to and books to read, but women’s bodies were designed to carry and deliver babies. Babies were delivered at home and out in nature for thousands of years before doctors, technology and hospitals were created. This is what we do. This is our jam!

I can offer tips but what I really want to do is empower you. I want to say: trust your instincts and what you need. Your experience will be different than others because you and your baby are unique. You know your body and your baby better than anyone. There are a few tips listed here, but at the end of the day, you will be the one to decide what works for you and what you and your baby truly need. I’m only really here to support your process.

When looking back on my first pregnancy, I can say that as organized as I was, I didn’t expect to have so many emotions about the labor and delivery. On the day of the delivery of my first born, I was surrounded by people. It was nice, we were all together getting ready. There was a rhythm and smooth flow of events. We had just checked in, things were on track. And then everyone left the room. I had just gotten into my gown, had my first few contractions, my husband ran down to park the car, the nurses went to check on other patients and suddenly I was all alone in a hospital room. Of course, at this moment, from the down the hall this woman started screaming. You could hear her through the entire floor she was so loud. And it was bloody murder screaming. The nurse came into my room, saw the look on my face and immediately said “that woman is fighting her labor and delivery, she doesn’t’ want to be here”.

Too late! As logical as that sounded, her screaming terrified me. Even being “prepared”, I was genuinely scared. I second-guessed myself, perhaps I had no idea what I was really getting myself into. I was afraid of the pain. I was afraid of something unexpected happening. I was afraid of something being wrong with the baby. I was afraid I would end up screaming like her. There seemed to be so many unknowns.

And then something shifted. The contractions started and I went into a totally different mindset. I went into performance mode and started blocking things out, like noise. Looking back, it was because I prepared myself for the actual process I was frightened about. My husband and I had spent time in advance working together to address my fears. We had dialogued about it, I journaled about it, and I discussed it with my doctor, and talked with other expecting moms. Then we took a birthing class and I bought a few books to prepare myself for bringing home a baby. I was prepared as I could be, and it helped a lot when the time came.

We had invited a support system into the room with us, including my mother, which grounded me; things to help, like an overnight bag and a camera. And I brought visualization exercises, which I printed out and used during the delivery. The screaming down the hall eventually subsided, everyone was back in action in the room and suddenly I felt ready to perform. I turned my focus to the delivery and contractions, breathing and visualizing. I kept reminding myself about the beautiful baby waiting to arrive during the long hours of labor. I knew why I was there, I knew there was a baby counting on me, and I knew what I had to do and that became all of my focus. The fear was gone.

Out of all the “things” we brought, the visualization list was the biggest resource for me to get into the right mindset for delivery. It was concrete information I could use in the moment as I was going through the labor pains.

I practiced during the last trimester, finding phrases that applied to that phase of the pregnancy, like “this part of the pregnancy will be smooth and uneventful”. When in the delivery room, I used phrases as mantras and sometimes pictured images with them. Some were simple like: “I can do this” to more specific like: “the labor will be easy and effortless”.

Other examples:

Breath into the contraction and say “I can manage this pain” (you can picture in your mind/imagine a lotus flower gently opening during each contraction)

“I invite this child into the world and embrace my labor and delivery” (I pictured the baby’s head coming down the birth canal)

“I invite you (name of child) to join us and come into the world!” (I imagined my husband and I holding our baby)

Here are three websites that offer visualization tools:

Labor and delivery breathing bxercises & visualization on Beaumont.edu

Visualizing childbirth on NaturalBirthandBabyCare.com

5 Prenatal Meditation Techniques on FitPregnancy.com

I was not the screaming woman you could hear down the hall. Turns out it wasn’t half as traumatic as I thought it would be, nor as painful as I imagined. Even after 17 hours in labor, I delivered a beautiful 10lb, 6oz baby boy and could not have been happier. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Women have been doing this for thousands of years. Your body and your baby know what to do. Embrace your body’s wisdom and trust the process. You’ve got this! I can offer all sorts of tips but the real question is: What do you need to get yourself in the right frame of mind for labor and delivery?

Resources for Labor and Delivery

Fav Book and Website
My favorite book and website on pregnancy and labor is What To Expect.

Labor and Delivery Info From the Experts
WhattoExpect.com has a great section of resources specifically about Labor and Delivery.

Reducing Labor Pain
There is a great article from VeryWell.com about how Using Different Positions Helps Labor Pain.

Breathing Exercises
Dr. Weil is well known and has some great thoughts and exercises.

Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breath demonstration video.

Creative Visualization
Check out Shakti Gawain for creative visualization exercises and more about her books and cd’s (She has a great meditation cd I use regularly :^)

Affirmation Cards
Louise Hay from Hay House Publishing also has some great affirmation cards.

General Information
Parenting.com is a great resource for general parenting info.

Read More of the June New Parent Series!

This is Part 2 of a four-part series for new parents.

06 Jun

6 Ways To Enjoy Your Pregnancy

New ParentsThere are plenty of ways to nourish your body and your baby during your journey together. Here are a few that might help you along the way.

1. Be Open to Change

Yep, this is about mindset. Today we know from studying the mind that the way a person reacts and adjusts to changes makes all the difference in the world. The task here is to develop a mindset that “things are in a state of change” right now. The fact of the matter is that the learning curve can be steep for new parents, whether it’s fertility issues, carrying to term, leaving a career (and income), family adjustments to the new one arriving, moving houses. Things might not always go the way they were planned and can be an adjustment for a woman, a couple and a family. If you can get used to the fact that things are going to happen, some you plan for and some you don’t see coming, it could make the process much easier. And although it may feel that you need to know what you are doing, you don’t have to have all the answers right now. Many of us learn along the way. Welcome to parenting!

2. Expect the Unexpected

This goes hand-in-hand with being open to change. When I reflect back on where my husband and I were before we had children and where we were shortly after having two children, I think the most amount of changes happened during the pregnancies and the month following. And things happened we didn’t expect. Because other lives are involved besides yours, there are more variables in play, like fertility, the way your body can carry a baby, shifts in the areas of income, shifts in the marriage, changes in the family system, housing and career, changes in identity, role changes, changes in responsibilities. Some things will happen that you plan and some that you won’t expect. What I can say is that this happens to all families. We all go through adjustments and transitions we didn’t plan for. The questions to ask yourself are: how do you respond to surprises? How do you manage your feelings about unexpected changes? And what can you do to make it easier on yourself so you feel supported and able to maneuver through these unexpected things that come up? This is a great exercise for parents because the changes will continue as you move down the parenting path. Kids are full of surprises, sometimes good, and sometimes not so good. Getting to know yourself in this area could be a survival skill you need!

3. Celebrate your body!

I know, it sounds like an oxymoron during a pregnancy because our bodies go through so many changes. (Oh yes, I remember clearly identifying with the beached whale metaphor before the deliveries). And I can also say, I loved being pregnant and enjoyed my pregnancies, every minute. So I do know from personal experience that it’s possible to actually enjoy it. Part of it was mindset. It took us years to conceive so both my husband and I were grateful for the opportunity to parent. I still am. We get to bring little human beings into this life and have them as our charges. That’s amazing. American culture puts so much pressure on women to look a certain way or adhere to certain lifestyle, or even for children to perform certain ways, it’s easy to beat ourselves up or feel like we are not doing it correctly. Even while pregnant, it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing it “the right way”. So I’m here to tell you are. Your way is the “right way”. Human beings have been bearing and raising children for thousands of years. When you start to feel that anxiety, just remember that you know your body, your child and your family better than anyone. My question is: how can you add to the feeling of success and positivity during this time? There are lots of ways to eat healthy, exercise, and incorporate healthy life style changes. And there are lots of people you can get support from. For right now, how can you make a small change in your routine or lifestyle to increase your feeling of success as a new mother?

Suggestion: Get to know your body: try some meditation and breathing exercises. Try a prenatal yoga class or DVD. With doctor’s recommendation and support of course. YouTube has a ton of videos out there also for free. These kind of things can be become a habit and immensely helpful with mild contractions, pain management and general stress.

4. Find a few of your favorite things

We all need nourishment. Caring for our selves is the best way to actually care for others. What ever your instincts are during this time, it’s ok to indulge them and you. These 9 months are critical time that you won’t get back, so it’s ok to pay a little extra attention to you and your baby. Have a craving? Need to get the baby’s room ready? Naps are now a necessity? You’re a mom now, jump in and enjoy the ride! Many moms enjoy prenatal massages, taking walks, keeping up with a moderated exercise plan, eating healthy, joining online forums, spending more time with family, nesting, decorating, shopping, falling in love with their spouse again! It’s all a natural part of pregnancy. Make things as comfortable for yourself as you can!

5. Manage things like the pro you are!

As mothers and wives, we are (traditionally speaking) often cast into the role of manager. We end up taking care of a lot. Believe me, I get it. So we naturally and easily can take on a lot of things while pregnant also. I can’t explain how a mother’s mind set is during a pregnancy (and it isn’t true for everyone) but I can say that I went through it and so did many mothers I know. Certain things just have to happen before the baby arrives. Especially during the 3rd trimester, the nesting instinct can become intense! And combine that with hormones, it can be fierce. So I’m just going to say this, as wrong as it sounds: it’s ok if things don’t go the way you are expecting! You’ve got this; you can adjust and realign to address this as things that come up. Are you delegating? Does it really all have to get done right now?

6. Think positive thoughts about your baby and yourself!

Sometimes we get going with our lists and tasks and we forget how we are getting there. How are you feeling about having a baby? Are your thoughts about your pregnancy and baby negative or positive? Does it feel like you’re in a cycle of constant complaining or is it fairly easy for you? Are you overwhelmed or feeling pretty good about everything? Do you nourish your body to take care of both of you or do you take it for granted? Or are you counting the days until delivery and can’t wait for it to be over? Everyone has his or her own experiences and history that has led them to their pregnancy, to this moment. Your experience is just as valid and real as the next person’s. Is there a way you can think about things that might make it easier for yourself and your child? What can you celebrate? Who can you celebrate?

 

Resources

Breathing exercises

Dr. Weil is well known and has some great thoughts and exercises. And he has a  demonstration video of breathing exercises.

Creative visualization

A good basic article and example of visualizing from Real Simple.

Also, you can check out ShaktiGawain.com for creative visualization exercises and more about her books and cd’s (She has a great meditation cd I use regularly :^)

Affirmation cards

Louise Hays from Hay House Publishing also has some great affirmation cards.

Relaxation tips

See my blog for ideas and resources on relaxation tips.

Reading

Two of my favorite authors are listed below:

William and Martha Sears: The Baby Book

T Berry Brazelton: Touchpoints: Birth to Three

App

Seems like there is an app for everything nowadays! Here’s one I like called My Pregnancy & Baby Today by BabyCenter .

 

Read More of June New Parent Series!

This is Part 1 of a four-part series for new parents.

11 Apr

12 Ways to Relieve Anxiety and Stress

12 forms of anxiety and stress relief to care for ourselves.

Prayer

The beauty about prayer is that you can do this anytime, anywhere. To me, having anxiety while having faith is one of the truest paradoxes of being human. So talk it out. Ask for what you need. Have faith that someone is listening!

If you don’t believe in a higher power, know that your thoughts and prayers are not wasted, they are clearing the way to set your true intention, which is one of the steps that leads to taking action, taking your power back and achieving your dreams.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises help lower heart rate, decrease stress and calm the mind and body. (Meditation exercises also incorporate breathing exercises, which often include the act of focusing on your breath).

Deep Breathing resource:
Example of exercises from Dr. Weil

Also called “relaxation exercises”, this name implies a task which becomes a repeated pattern of behavior. To see and feel results, I recommend trying this for 14 days minimum. They say it takes 21 days to change behavior, so 21 days is also recommended. Incorporate it into your morning exercise routine, or while on a break at work.

Relaxation Exercises resource:
For more information about relaxation exercises, see the Mayo Clinic’s recommends in Relaxation Technique 

Life Coaching

A great way to get support, develop a better understanding of yourself and achieve your goals.

Life Coaching resource:
Check out my website for more information about life coaching.

Meditation

Meditation is a great way to slow things down. Similar to relaxation exercises, studies have shown that a regular pattern of meditation (which includes deep breathing!) can literally change the synaptic functions in the brain. This translates to better use of logic and problem solving skills, and possibly a better outlook on life! It is also a great way to access the wisdom that is inside each of us. You don’t have to be a spiritual guru or someone seeking enlightenment to meditate. You simply just have to have the desire and willingness to try! How much meditation is defined by what is right for your mind, body and life style. Remember, it’s not quantity but quality that counts.

Meditation resources:
A great website that talks about this process is How to Meditate.

Another good read is 5 Reason’s to Meditate by Pema Chodron [PDF Download]

A great book is How to Meditate by Pema Chodron :

Journaling

Talking about what is happening in a safe forum is a great way to relax, think about what is happening, and validate how you are feeling.

Journaling resource:
Life Hack has a great article on how 6 Ways Journaling can Change your Life.

Aromatherapy

I think this name makes the experience and process sound much more formal than it really is. Also called “alternative medicine”, I thought you had to take a class in it to be versed but what I found out was that basically you can light a scented candle and you are practicing aromatherapy, lol! Phew! It’s anything that offers scents and healing, for mind, body and spirit. Buy some scented oils or a peppermint foot scrub and you’re on your way!

To this industry’s credit, there are many ways to offer healing and relaxation for the body, as well as many professionals trained in this area. How would it feel to promise yourself a warm bubble bath with lavender scented bubbles in candle light with soft music in the background? What are you waiting for? You deserve it!

Aromatherapy resource:
Find out more on Aromatherapy.com.

Counseling

Our culture has developed a stigma about counseling, but you don’t have to have something “wrong” with you to see a counselor.

Freud actually started working with clients simply to bring the unconscious into consciousness. Some of the clients he wrote about had a certain pathology that happened to interest him, which became more well known. But they were not all of his clientele.

Therapists now-a-days offer a myriad of short and long term therapy options to offer support. It’s ok to learn about yourself and better your life.

Good therapy can help relieve anxiety, and address the negative impact stress and anxiety can bring about on the mind and body. It’s wear and tear you don’t need. If you are suffering from ongoing and/or severe anxiety, therapy is a great way to help yourself. You can get ongoing support and resources to relieve the symptoms and keep them at bay!

Many insurance carriers cover therapy costs now (often with a copay). You won’t know if it works until you try!

Exercise

I think we all know the benefits of exercise on the mind and body, ad naseum. Yes, it’s good for the heart, as well as, the mind! AND how quickly we can let this practice go, only to be replaced by our love of eating and watching tv . . . or making excuses. As the old Nike ad used to say “Just Do It!”

Perhaps it’s time to find a new form of exercise. And if you can get outside to do it, even better! Researchers are now studying the positive effects of nature on the brain. Go meditate with a tree! Or by a tree . . . or hug a tree . . .

An yoga/walking exercise resource:
For those that can’t turn their thoughts off while they walk, try a Walking Meditation:

Creative Visualization

One of my favorite authors is Shakti Gawain. Her book on “Creative Visualization” is one probably one of my top 5 favorite books of all time, that I frequently recommend to people. The idea of focusing on intention and visualizing what you want is paramount to achieving your goals. Visualizing is an active mind exercise that helps you clarify what your goal is. This is the primary tool (next to prayer and meditation) I use to help me better understand myself, get clear about my goals and manifest them into physical form. I can’t recommend this book enough.

Creative Visualization resources:
Find out more about the author, Shakti Gawain on her website.

Read more about the author and her other well known book in this Huffington Post article by BJ Gallagher.

Hobbies and Interests

When was the last time you sat down and focused on something fun?

One of the tasks when doing meditation or relaxation exercises is to be present in the moment. In this moment now. A great way to do that is to focus your thoughts and energies on a hobby or interest. One preferably that does not include media (easy to get distracted!).

Things like gardening, sports, reading, flying a plane, making a sculpture, cooking a meal, etc are the things that interest you and can provide a break from that nagging in your mind.

Literally, the medicine here is to get your mind off of it! You know yourself the best. What interests you?

Get a Hug!

Some day I would like to create a foundation and call it “the Hug Foundation” and I will get all the people around the world that like to give hugs moving into action giving hugs. Wouldn’t that be glorious? Think of all the healing that could happen! In the meantime, take a small step for yourself or for someone else, ask for a hug!

Connect with a Friend

When was the last time you went out lunch with a friend?A business lunch doesn’t count (unless you’re using it as a tax ride off :^)

As humans, we need to connect, we need to talk, express ourselves, hear what’s going in with others, tell our stories, laugh and have fun. We not only require that to live, but to live a balanced life.

The most successful people I know frequently talk about their relationships, not only because it’s valued support which has helped them get them where they are, but good healthy relationships bring a balance into our every day living.

Take your partner out to dinner. Go for a walk with a friend. Ask for time with your child. Go have coffee with an in-law. Put the phone away and connect.

The internet is filled with creative souls who have put together published lists of ideas for things to do! Some of these lists have saved me as a parent countless times!

For an example here’s a great list of 50 Things to do for Free or Cheap.

Copyright 2019 Etain Services.