Category Archives: Take Care of the Care Taker

01May/17

The 90 Days of May

Here we are!  We have officially entered what I lovingly (?!) call the 90 days of May.  If you have children in school, you know what I’m talking about.  There are concerts and performances, last minute projects due, special ceremonies, end of school year events, all in between the regular practices, lessons, games and meetings.  And don’t forget Teacher Appreciation Week or Mother’s Day!  Or the groceries or the garbage that needs to go out! 

BREATHE.

It can be very overwhelming.  You will have days where you feel like you are a horrible parent. We all do!  It’s hard when you are exhausted, stretched to the max and everybody needs something from you. 

Remember to BREATHE!

It is likely that you will snap once or twice at your children, at your spouse, even at yourself.  That is OK.  It happens to all of us.  The trick is to not let it happen too often.  The ideal, is to get to a point where the exhaustion and snapping happens less and less.  When I work with my One on One clients, we create simple systems to get to that point where you can get through the 90 days of May and actually enjoy most of the activities and the chaos.

As parents, we think everyone else expects us to be Super Mom or Super Dad. Sometimes, we put more pressure on ourselves than anyone else.  When you have one of those moments when the world seems to be falling apart, take 30 seconds – that’s it, 30 seconds – to stop and BREATHE.  For some folks, deep breathing for 30 seconds can work wonders.  For the rest of us, or those of us who need to quiet our mind from racing, here’s another option: 

In just 30 seconds, pay attention to all 5 of your senses. 

– What do you hear right now? Even if it’s a crying, screaming child, remember that the child has lungs healthy enough to let you know something is not right. In the future, those lungs might power a solo in the choir or a musical instrument.

– What do you see? What is something within view that brings you pleasure? It could be a picture of your family or a bird on the tree outside.  Look for something that makes you smile. 

– What do you smell?  If you are changing a diaper (Hey, life happens!)  can you think of something that smells nice?  A flower, a candle, the honeysuckle bush outside, or hot chocolate?

– What do you taste?  If you are not currently eating, can you plan to eat something that makes your taste buds happy today?

– What do you notice about touch?  Are you holding a sweet little hand? Do you have fuzzy socks on that you enjoy? Can you pet your dog/cat?

Taking 30 seconds amid the chaos can help ground you. 

And what happens when you do snap?  Think about what you would say to your child if he/she was feeling exhausted and overwhelmed?  Think about what your child was feeling to cause the actions or the behavior that just happened.  What would you do?  Say these things to yourself.  Take care of yourself first.  Then you can go apologize to the person you snapped at earlier.

When you are ready to apologize for snapping, you can start by saying “Boy, I was pretty awful at being a parent/spouse earlier.”  You can explain why, or you can jump to talking about how you will try to avoid this happening again in the future.  By doing so, you are being human.  You are being real.  You are also teaching your children/spouse that they might have “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” days (to quote Alexander from a book by Judith Viorst) and that’s OK.  It’s what they do with these days, what they learn from them, how they survive and get through them that counts!

It is OK to ask for help.  Email me at DrRenee@HelpingParentsParent.com to set up a 20 minute strategy session.  I make time in my schedule to offer 5 of these strategy sessions for free each month.  This could be your month to get out of overwhelm and back into enjoying parenting.

I anticipate a few “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” moments, but I wish you many more “happy and healthy” days during the upcoming 90 Days of May!

24Apr/17

It’s almost Mother’s Day

As we approach Mother’s Day, I thought I would share a few thoughts about why this amazing day can be so frustrating!  Don’t get me wrong – it can be a super day, too!  But I hear from so many moms about how disappointed they were on Mother’s Day.  My goal is to help you avoid being disappointed and to really enjoy your day.

Recognize who we are celebrating…YOU!

That being said, if you want the day to go well, you know what you need to do. Plan it.  Yes, I know that doesn’t sound like the day you were envisioning, but keep reading, I’ll explain.

Be mindful of your expectations. 

Do this as much for you as for your kids.

The media does a great job making Mother’s Day out to be this amazing, flowery, perfect family kind of day.  Their job is to sell a product and they appeal to our emotions and dreams to do so.   Remember that you are only getting a piece of the whole picture.  When you see all the happy pictures your friends are posting on Instagram or Facebook… you only get to see the cream of the crop, the best of the best.  Please be mindful of your expectations and keep perspective when viewing anything in the media.

Some mothers have partners, parents, or friends who will help their children create a wonderful Mother’s Day.  Many mothers, have real human beings who try to do something, sometimes at the last minute, or possibly even forget to celebrate at all.

So, it is important to teach your children about your expectations for the day.  Be specific in asking for what you want.  If you want them to bring you breakfast in bed make sure you start asking them a few days in advance to do so.  Again, be specific with your meal request – do you want omelets or cereal?   Teach them how to make you happy by letting them know exactly what you want.  Obviously, there is no guarantee that they will get it exactly perfect, but there’s a much better chance that they will come close.

I’m super fortunate that my girls (with much help from my husband when they were little) liked to bring me breakfast in bed.  My girls love to make pancakes with their dad, so that was what they brought up to me.  During the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, whenever we had pancakes, I would mention how much I liked chocolate chip pancakes and fresh strawberries..so that is often what they would bring me. What I really wanted was 5-6 more hours of sleep, but I couldn’t pass up the joy on those sweet little faces!

If this all seems a bit overwhelming, it might be time to create new rules for Mother’s Day in your house.  Maybe you decide everyone will help you cook your favorite meal.  Maybe you take your kiddos shopping and show them three things you would really like as a gift from them for Mother’s Day.  Let them choose which one they want to give you (and then go buy it!).

In an earlier blog post, I talked about how my daughters and husband plant our garden for spring.  I’m not a huge veggie fan, so I leave that up to them…  However, I do love flowers!  A tradition we have on Mother’s Day, is for my daughters and I to plant our container flower gardens.

                                        

This is a way for me to spend time with the two beings who made me a mother, doing something I like to do and will enjoy seeing for weeks to come.  When I have my act together, I will take the girls out during the prior week to pick out flowers they want to plant with me on Mother’s Day.  However, there have been some years, when I have just picked out the variety of flowers I wanted and let them choose which ones to put in the containers we were planting together.

Your children can’t read your mind and they don’t know what you want or expect.  Your children also don’t want to feel like they missed a holiday. They are less aware of the calendar and how to celebrate Mother’s Day.   Make sure you have realistic expectations and that you are specific with your requests. 

With a little planning, you can have a great Mother’s Day. 

So, go out there and celebrate YOU!!!

13Feb/17

4 Tips for Enjoying Valentine’s Day with Your Child

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I always have big plans for celebrating holidays.  Sometimes these plans come close to reality, sometimes they don’t!  Once I had kids, I had to learn to alter my Martha Stewart or Disney-perfect plans a bit in order to be successful.  Here are some tips to help you enjoy Valentine’s Day with your child.

1. Plan in advance.  If you are going to have a special meal, do any prep you can in advance.  Get the decorations out and ready a few days in advance.  Set the table the night before.  If there is any food you can prepare in advance, do it.

 

2. Lower your expectations.  I don’t mean this in a bad way – you should not settle.  You should, however, communicate everything!  Children, and husbands, are not mind readers.  Don’t expect to be pleasantly surprised if you haven’t communicated what you are hoping for.  As scary, painful, or foolish as it might feel, stating what you want will get much better results than hoping your family has been looking at Pinterest or paying attention to your needs.

3. Celebrate when you can.  If you are not with your child on Valentine’s Day (due to travel, divorce, etc.), remember there is no rule that you have to celebrate on February 14th!  One of my favorite Valentine’s Day celebrations was when our oldest daughter was about 6 months old.  My husband and I had a busy February 14th, so we planned, in advance, to celebrate on the 15th.  Tim had been very generously giving me roses for Valentine’s Day ever since we started dating.  This particular year, he came home with 2 dozen roses!  One for me and one for our daughter.  While I was pleasantly surprised (I love flowers!), I teased that he could be setting an expensive precedent.  What if we had more daughters? (We did!)  That’s when Tim told me that the flowers were 1/2 off!  I decided we should try to celebrate a day late for years to come. Consider this your heads up – I think the stores have caught on… it takes at least 3-5 days for our local stores to reduce the cost of flowers and candy after Valentine’s Day.  Now Tim just buys flowers for me to share with our daughters.

 

4. Be flexible!  For years I have been decorating our bedroom doors the night before Valentine’s Day, while everyone is asleep.  I hang one streamer for each year my child has celebrated Valentine’s day, and on our bedroom door, I hang one streamer for each year that my husband and I have been celebrating Valentine’s Day as a married couple (21 Valentine’s this year!).  I attach paper hearts and Valentine’s stickers to each of the streamers.  One streamer will have one heart, another will have two hearts/stickers, the next three, and so on.  This year, we have a wonderful Korean exchange student staying with us.  My plans were to decorate her door with the correct number of decorated streamers, too. 

However, after a busy day full of activities, by the time everyone was in bed, it was almost midnight.  While I had thoughtfully saved many of my streamers from the previous year, I realized it was going to take a bit of time to cut 17 ribbons and count & stick hearts and Valentine’s on each of them.  I decided I would share some of my daughters’ streamers and some of ours, too.  While it wasn’t what I had envisioned, the flexibility allowed me to go to bed much earlier than if I had stuck to my plan.   Another great way to be flexible is in the morning.  Even though home made heart pancakes and waffles are great, I would recommend using a heart shaped cookie cutter on store bought waffles when you’re in a hurry.

I hope these tips help you enjoy your Valentine’s Day and every other day of the year, too.  I would love to hear from you what tips you have to help you enjoy Valentine’s Day with your child(ren).

 

 

Don’t Forget to take advantage of my February Special:  One-on-One Coaching sessions are only $49

Click the picture for more information.

This is not just for new parents – if you have worked with me before, you can take advantage of this, too!

16Jan/17

You’ve Got This!

Focus on the Positive

Part II

Last week I wrote about the self-fulfilling prophecy: “You will find what you are looking for.”  So why not look for the good?!  I invited you to take some time to really stop to notice all the things your child can do and some things about him that make you smile.

This week, I invite you to focus on your parenting through a positive lens. Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world.  And I bet, that even though you might not always feel that way, you are doing a pretty good job at parenting.

Stop and think for a moment.  What is one thing that you are doing right as a parent?  Do your children know that they need to stay buckled in their car seats to be safe? Are your kids going to bed nicely at night?  Do they enjoy grocery shopping with you because you keep them engaged?

We are very hard on ourselves as parents.  It’s so easy to dwell on the mistakes and regrets.  It’s easy to freak out in the moment instead of looking at the bigger picture.  Sometimes we need to stop and think if this will actually matter a year, or even a month, from now.

As a parent, it’s also easy to assume that every other parent has their act together.  I used to giggle inside when people assumed that because I was so involved and organized outside my home that the inside of my home was just as organized and spotless.  To be honest, the organization part isn’t bad, but even the few years that I had a maid didn’t seem to keep my home spotless!  I was spending more time playing with my kids than washing baseboards so that made it OK for me.

Think of this as permission for you to spend a few minutes as you are getting dressed in the morning, or ready for bed at night, to pat yourself on the back.  Think about some of the things you have done as a parent that have been successful.  Be specific and authentic with your thoughts.  Some days, that might include a sentence like: “My kids are still alive today!” and that’s OK.  The fact that they have made it this far with your help and guidance, is an accomplishment.

Congratulations!  Raising a child isn’t easy and you’ve made it this far.  There will always be ups and downs, but focusing on the positive will improve your outlook and spill over to make the downs not dip quite so low.

02Jan/17

ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.- JK Rowling

I like to think of a theme for each year.  It helps give me focus and something bigger to aim for in all areas of my life.  My theme for 2016 was “Take Care of the Caretaker“.  For 2017, my theme is “Anything’s Possible!”

Like most of you, my 2016 had its ups and downs, and yes, even some upside-downs.  However, I choose not to beat myself up about things I had hoped to accomplish but didn’t or about things that didn’t go exactly as planned.  I prefer to focus on the things I got right and how I have a chance to get more things right.  I love to think about what new and exciting things will happen in my life this year.

Getting into a mindset of “Anything’s Possible!”, I have a New Year’s Wish for you:

My wish for you is lots of fun time with your family- anything’s possible.

More time playing with your children and less time yelling at them – anything’s possible!

More time when your child is well-behaved and less time when he is challenging or defiant – anything’s possible.

More time when your children will be playing nicely together and less time fighting with each other – anything’s possible.

More time connecting with your children and less time in power struggles – anything’s possible.

And my New Year’s wish is for you to spend more time in “Positive Parent” mode and less time in the “I Didn’t Sign Up for This” or “Help! Things are Out of Control” mode because – anything’s possible!

Here’s to a great 2017-

a new year full of possibilities.

 

 

I am here to help you on your parenting journey.  Whether you gain insights from my blogs or (almost) weekly tips (hey, I’m a parent, too!), or you are looking for more personalized parenting advice and direction, I am excited to welcome you.  Sometimes it takes a bit of courage, or nerve, to ask for help, but it usually ends up saving a lot of time and frustration in the long run.  My goal is to encourage and support you being the best possible parent you can be.

04Jan/16
New Year, mom, spark

Happy New Year!

 

I hope you survived the Holidays and had lots of fun with your family. If it was a bit of a struggle for you, congratulations on getting through it, even with some bumps and bruises. Think of this new year as a great time to make a new start.

I’ve decided that my theme this year will be “Take Care of the Care Taker.” It’s been my mantra for years, but I have to admit, sometimes it is much easier said than done. It is my goal to help you learn how to get better at, or even just ‘how to’ Take Care of the Care Taker, meaning YOU! There will be at least one Tip each month geared towards this and today, will be the first.

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