Does your family have a mission?
Cue the Mission: Impossible theme song. I am an action flick gal. I have seen every James Bond movie at least three times, I was first in line to see Transformers, and I never miss a superhero adventure.
So, when the topic of missions comes up, it is no surprise that the first thing that pops in my mind is the theme song from Mission: Impossible. The mission I have in mind isn’t an impossible one, but like the M:I character, Ethan Hunt, it does require a focus and teamwork to achieve it.
Whether it’s a top-secret mission, one from God or one from within, a mission declares what you would like your life to look. It directs your life and asserts your purpose. It answers questions, such as: How do we choose to live our life? What values support us? What are our priorities?
So, your, well, mission – should you choose to accept it – is to identify and craft your own family mission statement. Whether you are a family of two or twenty, a mission statement provides everyone a say in how the family goes and grows in life as an individuals and as a team.
7 Steps to Creating Your Family Mission
#1: Establish your personal mission. Consider the current status of your life, values, priorities, goals, education, professional pursuits, leisure activities and roles you enjoy on a regular basis. Get specific! (If you haven’t done a Life Perspective Plan, you get one at juliesmith.com.) Encourage your spouse, life partner, and/or older children to determine their personal mission as well.
#2: Gather all the family members for a family meeting. Be sure to include anyone that lives in the same house: younger children, children who live/visit on a part-time basis and even grandparents who may live in the home. Explain that you will all be contributing to the creation of a mission statement. Let your family know that a mission is NOT a list of rules, requirements or punishments; rather, it is a roadmap for the family’s journey through life.
#3: Characterize your family by asking each family member list adjectives that describe your family. For example, our family describes itself as loving, quirky, authentic, funny, kind, creative and smart. (Be sure everyone contributes.) As each word is shared, list it on a white board for all to see. Additionally, ask family members to listen without judgment as each person’s shares his or her dreams, goals, priorities, and if completed, personal mission. These contributions start to lay the foundation of what your family mission will encompass.
#4: Brainstorm ideas to include in your family mission statement. Ask each person to contribute ideas. (Remember to do this without censorship as this is a brainstorming session.) Prompt ideas with questions such as: “What goals do we have as a family?” “If there was a definition of us in the dictionary, what would it say?” “If a stranger met us, what would they think of our interactions together?” “What inside jokes does our family share?” “What traits do we admire?” “What do we find unacceptable?” “If we were honored at an award show, what award would we win?”
#5: Craft your mission by forming the ideas in sentences. Once you have composed your sentences into a statement, edit it until everyone is agreement with both the words and the sentiment. An example may be, “The Smiths live authentically and judgment-free. We strive for continued growth, knowledge and new experiences. We are not defined by one trait or thought; rather, we are motivated by our qualities: quirky, creative, intellect, kind, honest and fun. Collectively and individually, we create the life we want.”
#6: Refine your mission into a short motto. A motto is one sentence that summarizes your family’s mission. Depending on your family, you may choose to write it in code, rhyme or verse. Some families create a catchy, humorous affirmation as their motto. The key is to make it easy to remember and touch on at lest a few of the points in your mission. My family’s motto is “The Smiths are true to their best selves.” It also could be funny or in code, as long as your family knows what it means and represents.
#7: Print out your motto and family mission statement, and ask everyone sign and date it. Post both mission and motto in a variety of prominent places in your home and business. Start creating habits and objectives that support your mission. As decisions are made both at home and business, tie them back to your family mission to ensure alignment in both areas for ultimate success.
Looking for more tips on teaching kids about character? Connect with Julie at www.juliesmith.com!
Forget January. September is when everything starts anew when you have school-aged children! Every September, we as parents vow that THIS is the year we are going to achieve the perfect back to school morning!
While it’s true all parents dream of smooth and calm morning routines where everyone walks out the door for school dressed, fed, brushed and on time, the reality is most are in scramble mode, throwing lunches together, searching for permission forms, breaking up arguments and causing the children to eat breakfast in the car.
The 6 Rules for Back to School to Start the Year Right
Rule #1: Routine, Routine, Routine! That is the secret! Kids thrive on routine and parent can relish in routine. Bedtime should be as consistent as wake up time. When everyone arrives home from school, everything from homework to permission forms to library books goes in one place and things like hats, mittens, jackets are hung up in their place. This way nothing goes astray.
Rule #2: Reach. Put everything in reach so the kids can help out. A low pantry shelf can hold small cereal containers, bowls, spoons and cups so breakfast can be handled on their own by children as young as three.
Rule #3: Responsibilities. Share them! Kids love to help! They can handle picking out clothes, emptying the dishwasher, packing up their backpacks, taking their vitamins, setting out the lunch containers and filling water bottles.
Rule #4: Reminders. Get some poster board, colorful markers and talk with the kids about what needs to get done each morning: get dressed, brush hair, brush teeth, homework/library books, vitamins, pack backpack, empty dishwasher, etc. Then post this list of reminders on the hall closet door. When kids are not sure what to do next, they know where to go to make sure they have completed everything. Add in stickers or a checklist for the really young ones so they feel like they are accomplishing something.
Rule #5: Recipe. Make a commitment to yourself and your kids that is year you will strive to make at least one homemade snack. Get the kids to help. A double batch of oatmeal applesauce cookies and a loaf of whole-wheat banana bread take just an hour to make and will get you through at least two weeks of school snacks. Store extras in the freezer, cut up and ready to pack in lunch containers on school mornings.
#6: Relax. Every new routine will take a bit of tweaking, but if each family member is given a role and works toward the same goal, your morning routine will quickly become second nature. And if you still show up late to school one morning and forget to brush hair, it’s okay; math class will still happen and tomorrow is another chance to try it again!
Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who has worked out her routine through years of school mornings. She blogs about raising healthy kids at www.iron-kids.com!
While still in the midst of summer fun, the unavoidable looms ahead. The back-to-school commercials have begun to lure your child into the “I want. . .”, “I need. . .”, or “I must have . . .” mindset.
If you have not already begun, it’s only a matter of time before you have to start looking for back to school bargains and thinking about fighting those crowds.
Shopping is usually not a child’s favorite thing to do, unless the purchases are intended for them. Even then, shopping can lose it’s glamour and glitz after only an hour or less, especially for a child with sensory issues that can easily be overwhelmed by the lights, the noise and the people in a big box store.
There are many things a parent can do to make a back-to-school shopping excursion with their child as positive as it can be. Having a plan of action and giving your special child some warning is the best way to tackle any shopping trip.
A spur of the moment decision to enter into the shopping scene is very risky business and can easily backfire on anyone, especially if your child is on the Autism spectrum.
Strategies for Back to School Shopping with the Kids
#1: Discuss the game plan with your child ahead of time. Children on the autism spectrum tend to be very concrete so let them know where you are going, how long it will take and what to expect. The more your child knows the better she will be able to cope. Consider providing her with a picture schedule or a written list of what is going to happen.
#2: Take realistic steps towards your goal. Unless your back-to school list is very short, plan for more than one shopping spree and don’t try to get everything you need packed into one excursion. Children with autism function better when activities are divided into small chunks of time. Being mindful of everyone’s limited capacity for patience and frustration tolerance will help prevent the type of emotional meltdown you want to avoid in public.
#3: Make a shopping list and stick to it. If buying school supplies is the goal for the day, keep it to that and save the school clothes or other items for another day. Straying from the game plan will only risk heightening your child’s anxiety as children with Autism do best when they know exactly what to expect. If possible, involve your child in creating the list of supplies. If the list is agreed upon prior to going shopping by both of you it is easy to point to the list and say no to additional requests.
#4: Leave the house with a full tank. This is not a reference to your car’s fuel tank but your child’s best level of functioning. Make sure your child is well rested and fed prior to leaving the house. Spending time in a crowded, noisy and strange environment can be taxing and unsettling for any child, let alone a child with sensory issues. Bringing favorite snacks and water to keep your child well hydrated can help maintain an energy level necessary to cope with possible overstimulation.
#5: Create an atmosphere of fun and learning. Make up creative games you can play with your child while shopping. If he is old enough, ask him to be your helper by telling him what you are looking for and call it a treasure hunt. Challenge your child to identify colors, count items or give him something that is OK to touch and ask him to describe it. Make sure you have included one activity on the shopping trip that is enjoyable for you and your child.
#6: Limit your child’s TV viewing diet. If your child watches any TV, you can be sure that she is receiving numerous media messages, which promote the notion that consumption is the pathway to happiness, love, acceptance, and success. These messages are also creeping into the Internet and the cell phones that now seem to be a normal part of life for most children. The media madness that advances a commercial culture may impact your shopping trip, your child and your wallet more than you realize.
These strategies will not guarantee that your shopping experience with your child unfolds exactly as you hope but being prepared will definitely help you reduce the risk of anything unexpected from developing. When you can create a positive experience with this first of many school related activities, you will be helping your child take a positive first step towards a new school year.
Want more strategies for dealing with a child on the autism spectrum? Get your free ecourse, Parenting a Child with Autism – 3 Secrets to Thrive and a weekly parenting tip newsletter, The Spectrum, @ www.parentcoachingforautism.com.
It doesn’t take long before kids figure out that money has a special status in our society. Just watch the eyes of a 4-year-old light up at the sight of a penny lying on the ground, “Money!” or listen to their excited voices as they share just how much money the tooth fairy left them under their pillows.
Knowing how to manage your money is an essential life skill. As parents, we can start to educate and empower our children to make smart choices with their money. By teaching them to spend and save their money wisely, we are giving them a gift that lasts a lifetime.
8 Ways to Teach Kids about Money Management and Raise Money Smart Kids
#1: Is there a record of it? – Keeping good records of money saved, invested, or spent is another important skill young people must learn. To make it easy, they can use 12 envelopes, 1 for each month, with a larger envelope to hold all the envelopes for the year or you can use a spreadsheet. It really depends on the child’s style. Establish this system for each child in the family.
#2: Going Shopping! – Going to the grocery store is often a child’s first experience with money. Spending smart at the grocery store (using coupons, shopping sales, comparing unit prices) can save thousands of dollars each year for a family with children. To help kids learn, show them how to compare prices per item/oz/lb etc. Ask them questions to help them figure out what is the best item to purchase. On other shopping trips, you can talk to your kids about quality products, warranties, and other things to consider when making purchases.
#3: Let them spend! – Whether they make a great purchase or a poor purchase, they will learn from their spending choices. You can then initiate an open discussion of spending pros and cons before they make another purchase. Do not fall into the “I-told-you-so” conversation trap because they will stop listening. Asking them questions and letting them come to the conclusions on their own is the best method of teaching. Encourage them to do research and consider other things they could do with that money before making a purchase.
#4: Do they have ad sensibility? – Talk to your children about how to evaluate TV, radio, print, and digital ads. Encourage them to ask lots of questions about the ad. How does the ad make them feel when they see it/hear it? Is a price offered truly a sale price? Are there other products available that will do a better job, are less expensive, or offer better value? Remember to tell them that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
#5: Drowning in Debt! – If you charge interest on small loans you make to your children, they will learn quickly how expensive it is to rent other people’s money. We did this with our daughter over the summer. She learned really quickly that a plane ticket costs a lot more when you pay for it with interest added on.
#6: Paper or plastic? – Every time you open your wallet, you have the opportunity to use paper (cash/check) or plastic (credit/debit). When you choose to use plastic, be sure to explain to your children that you are borrowing the credit card company’s money. If you pay it back within a certain time period, you get to borrow it for free, but if you don’t, you have to pay them lots of extra fees such as interest, late charges and more.
#7: Who’s knows your information? – Be very clear with children about protecting their personal information: name, address, passwords, social security number, bank account numbers, etc. Money fraud and identity theft can happen even with children. My daughter’s social security number was stolen when she was just a few years old! Shred receipts you don’t need for tax purposes and anything with a name and address listed on it.
#8: Family Finance Councils – Sit down as a family for regular group discussions. Talk about money goals; the difference between cash, checks, and credit cards; wise spending habits; how to avoid the use of credit; the advantages of saving and even investments. As your children get older, you can also discuss what is happening with money and economics locally, nationally and internationally.
All of this information will be important as they take on more responsibility for their own financial well-being. By helping them develop smart money skills early, you are setting them up for future success!
Want to raise a CEO Kid? Head on over to RaisingCEOKids.com to grab your copies of “40 FREE and Low Cost Tools to Help you Grow Biz” and “The Power of One” Webinar. For daily updates, LIKE RaisingCEOKids on Facebook!
It’s 2011—and that means goal setting for all of us, including our kids. Of course, goal setting is nothing without commitment and perseverance. It takes time, energy, and sacrifice. Even for the kids who seem the most passionate about new goals, stick-to-itiveness can be a challenge.
How do we get our kids to stay focused on their goals and see them through to the end?
#1: Help them define what their best effort looks like: Let’s face it. Many of us are guilty of “phoning it in.” We can’t simply do what we’ve always done even if it’s not our best—that may keep us treading water but it won’t move us forward.
When I coach clients on goal setting and goal getting, I go through a series of questions that shine light on effort and results. On a scale from 1 to 10, what would level 10 effort look like (and where would it get them)? What level of effort have they been exerting to achieve this goal in the past (and where has it gotten them)? And finally, if there is indeed a discrepancy between these two primary answers, what adjustments, if any, need to be made?
#2: Squelch self-limiting labels and thoughts: Sometimes kids label themselves (i.e. “I’m stupid,” “I’m bad at math.”). Other times parents do it for them (i.e. “She’s my shy one,” “He’s not coordinated like his brother.”). There comes a time when we need to help our kids kick these self-limiting labels to the curb and provide them with evidence of the contrary.
For example, remind the child who says she “stinks at taking tests” of the high score she received on two consecutive history tests last semester or a child who has been labeled “careless” of the great care she took with her community service project in school. When you give them permission to dismiss old labels they can shed self-limiting thoughts and negative goal-robbing language that have been holding them back.
#3: Support vision as well as goals: “Vision” is our Powerful Word of the Month for January. It gives nuance to the goal-setting process as it asks our kids to not only identify what they want but what it will look like, feel like, and sound like, once that goal is achieved.
Vision, when clear, can feel so REAL and present that it keeps goal-setters motivated and invested. They can literally “taste” success and are drawn to see their goals through to the finish line.
#4: Encourage a Persevering Attitude: The motto I talk about in any of my speaking engagements to educators, parents and of course, to the kids/teens themselves, is “I’ve got a no-quit-go-for-it-attitude.” How do you encourage an attitude like that?
Research tells us that getting (and keeping) kids involved in various positive activities, supporting self-reliance, understanding how parenting style contributes, and ensuring high yet age-appropriate expectations for your child are all important. When we tell a child what we believe they can or can’t do, they often believe us whether or not it’s actually true.
#5: Support Internal rewards: Some parents offer external rewards for commitment like toys, money, or TV. They are subsequently always looking for something else to motivate them to go after their dreams.
The best rewards, however, are internally- generated. Help your kids connect their feelings of pride and excitement to their performance and effort. For example—here’s an abridged conversation I had with one 8-year-old child:
“Wow! You cooked an awesome breakfast for your parents all by yourself? That must have been quite a feeling. What did you think of that—how did it make you feel?
“I feel really…good! I mean, I wasn’t sure it would come out good and it did. It really did. It was awesome!”
“What happens to your body and your mind when you feel like that?
“It’s like, all over. It feels good. Like I can do anything.”
Feelings of pride happen when our kids try their hardest and they accomplish their goals. They make them stand up straighter, smile bigger, and try harder. By pointing out that they are in control of these positive feelings, they will be more likely to put out the effort to stay focused and persevere.
#6: Don’t allow a pattern of quitting to occur: When kids seem to continually ask you if they can quit, it’s vital that we don’t simply give in. While young kids may not be quitting “life-altering” activities, studies repeatedly show that early behavior predicts later behavior.
In other words, by giving in, we can unintentionally set our kids up for a pattern of quitting that continues into adolescence and adulthood when commitment is mandatory and stakes are high. It’s important to take the time to ensure our kids understand the time commitment that will be expected and enforced whenever they choose to join and activity.
As it’s a brand new year, the slate is wiped clean and the possibilities are boundless. Let’s help our kids (and ourselves) to make this the year of going the extra mile—the year they realize their goals and make their 2011 dreams come true.
Want to have Dr. Robyn speak at your school or to your company? Book her for your 2011 event now!
Parenting 101: “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and It was Daddy! How to Break the News about Santa Claus
A few weeks ago, my ten-year-old son asked if I was the tooth fairy. “What makes you think that,” I asked. “I found a secret supply of gold glitter which looked just like fairy dust.”
Oops. Guess it’s time to find better hiding places!
It seemed like the right time to share the truth with him. After the tears dried and sadness subsided (mine and his), he asked, “So, is Santa real or are you Santa too?”
Learning the truth about Santa Claus is a milestone towards adulthood. It’s a big step towards growing up. And while I was around my son’s age when I found out about Santa, I wasn’t sure my son was ready. Heck, I wasn’t sure I was ready.
Santa Claus is the symbol of childhood innocence. The big red guy resides in a place where fantasy and reality intermingle. Uncovering the truth can cause those worlds to separate. Learning that Santa Clause isn’t real can be a difficult transition for children and parents alike.
How to Break the News that Santa Claus isn’t REAL
#1: Let your child initiate the conversation. Instead of saying, “It’s about time you learned the truth,” or “You’re old enough to know…”, let your child come to you when they are ready. Keep in mind, many children already have an idea about Santa; they just like to keep the tradition going.
#2: Be truthful and considerate. Blurting out, “Yep, I’m Santa. It’s been me the whole time. I’m sooo glad I got that off my chest,” may be truthful, but there is a better way. Share the history of the real St. Nick and how you enjoy keeping that joy and magic alive.
#3: Be empathetic. Put yourself in your child’s place. What would you need from someone if you were in his or her situation? How would you feel? Angry or betrayed? Confused or worried? Now, consider what your child needs from you. If your child feels lied to, give him or her easy-to-understand examples, such as how you kept daddy’s birthday party a secret to surprise him or how you played pretend or dress up because it made everyone happy. Also, be sure to give hugs, time and space. Children are great healers.
#4: Don’t make your child feel wrong or discount their feelings. Avoid saying things like, “That’s life. You’ll learn many things are not what you think they are,” “I’m surprised it took you this long to figure this out since so many younger kids already know” or even “Get over it. I’ve heard enough from you about Santa Claus.”
#5: Keep Santa as part of your holiday tradition. Once your child knows, don’t jump off the Santa Claus bandwagon. Reassure him or her that holidays will still be special. Let them continue believing in the magic. Children often find comfort and acceptance in playing along with you. So, put out the cookies, track Santa on Christmas Eve and yes, have Santa presents under the tree.
Santa may not be “real,” but he does live. Santa is the jolly bearded man at the mall listening to the children’s holiday wishes. He is the red-suited woman ringing the bell by a donation bucket. He is the mom and dad who sneak downstairs after the kids have gone to sleep to put treasures under the tree. He is the joy and wonder of twinkling lights on Christmas Eve and the excitement of discovering a half-empty glass of milk and cookie crumbs on Christmas morning.
Santa Clause is the spirit of kindness and giving – something that lives in each and every one of us. And that is very real.
Parenting 101: Hide and Seek – Empowering your Children to Hide from Toxic Friends and Seek Healthy Friendships
Hide and Seek. Watching a group of children play this simple childhood game both conjured up happy memories and intrigued me by what I observed.
A game of Hide and Seek tells as much about children and friendships and their social strengths and weaknesses as any other psychological assessment. The shy ones preferring to hide, the assertive, bold kids opting to seek.
What an invaluable metaphor for what we as parents must teach our children about choosing healthy friendships and avoiding toxic ones.
Hide and Seek: The Game of Relationships
Were you the child who hid well or were you better at seeking? Does it mirror your ability to hide from toxic relationships and seek out healthy friends today? What about for your children? What do you want them to hide from and what would you like them to seek?
Recall for a moment your childhood friendships. Did you have a best friend? Did you feel secure and safe within the friendship? Or, did you have friendships that never felt “right” and lead you to feeling uneasy or lonely? Often, the types of friendships you had then define to a certain extent the friendships you have today.
If you were supported as a child with healthy friendships, you likely surround yourself with many similar ones today. However, if you recall painful memories including “mean” friends and bullies, you likely have difficulty attracting and maintaining healthy friendships. Unless you have learned to set boundaries with unhealthy relationships, it is likely you continue to lack the skills necessary as an adult.
The Importance of Separating your Childhood from Theirs
As parents, it is important to get in touch with your inner child and how your own childhood game of Hide and Seek left you feeling. As you navigate through difficult, sticky and uncomfortable friendship games with your child, you must separate your childhood from theirs.
It is likely that certain situations will bring to surface both pleasant and painful memories. Remember, the friendship trials your child may encounter are not about you. Keep in mind is that you have an opportunity to teach your child invaluable relationship skills that perhaps you were not given. Turn it into a teaching opportunity instead of reacting along with your child and projecting your past onto your child’s relationships.
Why Healthy Childhood Relationships are Critical
Healthy friendships are critical to the cognitive and social development of our children. When a child is surrounded by love and support outside of their family, they are more likely to develop the self-confidence and skills needed for adolescence and adulthood. Healthy friendships provide emotional support, and lift our children up, teaching them important social skills such as sharing, empathy, mentoring, trust and loyalty.
Through healthy friendships, children learn to feel confident in their right and ability to question, investigate and learn from the values and actions of others. At the same time, they develop a strong confidence in their own values, and what they believe in. They are able to feel good about the direction they choose to take and confident in decisions and choices they make. Children with strong and healthy friendships tend to develop into to empowered adults who are less likely to be affected by negative relationships and interactions.
Toxic friendships have the opposite effect. These types of relationships lead to impaired self-worth and low self-esteem. Because toxic relationships lack the support, children are less likely to question others, and tend to become followers instead of leaders, making them more vulnerable to peer pressure. Studies indicate that children who were lacking in positive peer relationships in childhood, report sustained difficulties in both personal and interpersonal relationships into adolescence and adulthood.
Empowering our Children to Seek Positive Friendships
How can we as parents help? By empowering your child to seek only the healthiest of relationships and develop the skills to identify and hide from toxic ones.
#1: Teach your child to identify what they love – If your child does not know what they love, they will not be able to identify and form friendships with children who are likely to connect with them in a healthy manner. Make a “What I Love” list and hang it where it can be seen everyday. Engage in conversations about the list and help identify which children he knows that may have a common list.
#2: Teach your child to identify what they are uncomfortable with – Helping your child identify what they are not comfortable with will help them to set boundaries within their world, a critical skill for hiding from toxic friends. If your child has not yet experienced a negative relationship, offer possible situations and encourage conversation.
#3: Teach your child the friendship code – Help your child define what makes a “good” friend and create a list of attributes – kind, honest, fun, helpful and so on. Turn the list into their own “friendship code” by defining what they need from a friend. “A good friend for me is…”
#4: Teach your child the friendship language – Practice role-playing positive friendship interactions. Help them to praise, compliment, and show thanks. Positive language promotes positive relationships.
#5: Practice boundary setting – Get into the role of a “bully” or “toxic” friend. Help your child with “When you do (insert behavior), I feel (Insert feeling), If you continue to do (Insert behavior), I will (Insert consequence)” dialogue.
#6: Give your child an “emotional shield and armor” – Ask your child visualize a shield. What color is it? How big is it? Teach them to hold it up in their minds when faced with “toxic” people and situations. Tell them to listen to the “ping” and visualize the dents in the shield. Most importantly, help them understand that they are only in control of their reactions to “mean” behavior. Absolutely no one can get past the shield and affect their feeling and behavior unless they allow them to.
Remember, the lessons and skills we teach our children today will follow them into adulthood. Even though the nature of friendships will change, the importance of surrounding ourselves with only those who support and encourage us never changes.
One…two….three…four….five…Ready or not, here life comes!
Want more tips on empowering your kids to step up and step out on their own? Ask Diva Coach Dabney!
Why do we assume that just because we are moms that we HAVE to feel guilty? Seriously. Mom guilt is now talked about as though it’s just something moms have to go through as part of the induction into the club of motherhood.
There are two kinds of guilt: healthy guilt when your conscience is nudging you to try again or stop doing what you’re doing and toxic guilt when you have that all-pervasive feeling that no matter what you do, you’re just a bad mother.
Toxic Guilt is like cholesterol that clogs our arteries, squeezing. Healthy guilt is what keeps us in check and guides our actions. It whispers to us, “Oops. Try again”, but toxic guilt shouts at us, “You’ll never get it right or measure up.” But guess what? Toxic guilt is optional.
I repeat: toxic guilt is optional.
Behind the Culture of Toxic Mom Guilt
The culture we live in doesn’t make it any easier for us tap into what really matters. The message of the parenting culture screams, “Look ‘out there’ to see where the answers are to how you’re doing. Read this book. Watch this show. Look at what that mom is doing and do it.”
Since we’re busy, it’s easy to listen to the culture; after all, we live in it. Oh, and let’s not forget the fast pace of our culture – the one that would have us be so busy that we don’t have time to slow down.
Think of it this way – the culture doesn’t always have your best interests at heart. It’s humming right along at the speed of light, and it’s very easy to go right along with it. Sometimes that’s great. And sometimes it’s not.
There’s a yin and a yang to everything, which means that there’s some good in the culture. In my mom’s generation, moms often didn’t talk as freely about what scared them, stressed them, angered them, and confused them. My mother didn’t have books and websites to help her realize that what she was experiencing was “normal”. That generation was just expected to “buck up” and “deal with it.”
Our current culture is one where moms can be real about what’s keeping them awake at night so they can support one another. When we’re clear on who we are, what strengths we bring to the table, and what kind of kids we want to raise, parenting resources can be quite helpful.
Nowadays, there is so MUCH for moms to pay attention to in order to parent, it can make your head spin. Between the blogs, YouTube videos, TV experts, book and other resources, it’s enough to make your head to explode from too much information. That’s when we feel guilty about “doing it wrong” or question our own instincts.
How do you know when you’re doing “it” right?!?
5 Ways to Get Rid of the Toxic Mom Guilt
#1: Filter – Run all parenting advice through the filter of your own values and what you know to be true about YOUR family. Use this filter to let in what resonates with you and let the rest go.
There’s a ton of parenting info out there on how to tame tantrums, how to get your child to sleep, how to do pretty much anything you want to do as a mom. But here’s the rub: most of it conflicts. “Always practice co-sleeping so you bond with your child and she’ll grow up confident.” “Never sleep with your child! That raises a child that’s dependent on you, plus it’s dangerous.”
Your filter is what keeps you from getting overwhelmed by it and only letting in what makes sense for YOU. If we feel guilty, chances are good that our filter’s holes are too big and not selective enough.
#2: Match your parenting style to YOUR child – Know your and your child’s temperaments and set up your home to match them as much as possible.
Yes, there’s a lot of information out there on parenting, but not all of it fits our child. If you’re extroverted and crave being around people, and your child is introverted and craves staying at home playing by herself, you may feel frustrated that your needs conflict with your child’s. Or, you may wonder if your child is too shy and if something is wrong with her.
Do not underestimate the idea of fit – the interplay between your and your child’s temperaments – and how it can make parenting harder. Knowledge is power. If your child is extraverted and is constantly asking you, “What are we going to do next? Who are we going to see?” you’ll understand why they’re asking that, especially if you’re an introvert.
Sometimes, just knowing why our kids or we do something is enough to take the guilt away because we can let go of blaming ourselves.
#3: Know what restores your energy – Get clear on if you get your mojo back by being around others or by being alone.
When we’re not clear on how we fill back up when our energy is depleted, OR we feel guilty about taking the time to fill back up, we can get in a downward spiral of resenting our family. Or, we think we “should” love going out for margaritas with our girlfriends as a way to refuel, when really, we’d rather curl up with a good book, and pet the cat.
#4: Stop comparing – Resist the temptation to compare yourself to others.
We compare our insides with other mom’s outsides. See that mom over there? You know, the one with the perfect hair and clothes, whose kids are impeccably dressed and her car doesn’t have old food crumbs in it? It’s easy to look at her, compare yourself and think, “Ugh. I’m not like that. I feel so guilty.”
The truth is you don’t know what’s going on inside that mom. Trust me – she has her own demons she’s wrestling with.
#5: Take action – When you feel guilt, decide if it’s about something you can and want to change and, if it is, take action. Otherwise, it’s toxic guilt and is optional.
It’s high time that mom guilt is popular enough to be talked about in the mainstream culture. Let’s face it: moms deserve relief. Motherhood and toxic guilt do not have to go together.
You can find your healthy core of who you really are without the guilt, create your own filter, and live guilt-free and get back to enjoying parenting and be the mom you want to be.
Download Karen’s Free Audio and Guide on “How To Get Your Kids To Listen And Do What You Say” at www.theguiltfreemom.com
Sometimes you wonder if your kids are turning into a bad remake of “Night of the Living Dead” with all the hours spent staring blankly at the television, computer or the latest gaming device?
Parents are right to be concerned as schools continue cutting gym time and children spend more and more of their leisure time in front of screens. It’s not only the amount of screen time that is harmful to kids, but the lack of active play.
10 Ways to Get Your Screen Zombie Moving
#1: Set blackout periods – Designate specific times of the day or week as blackout time. That means no electricity for machines, except for lights. When given the opportunity (or lack of electronic distractions), children will find physically active things to do. Even more so if you send them outside.
#2: Get children involved in volunteering – Start volunteering as a family. Many family volunteer jobs include physical activity, whether it’s at the local food bank, shoveling the neighbor’s walk, or cleaning up the pathways or riverbanks. If your kids are teenagers, there are also many paid jobs that also involve lifting, moving and carrying.
#3: Do it with them – Set the example and get moving yourself. Most children will get involved if Mom or Dad does it too. Invite your child for a bike ride, rollerblade excursion, or time at the basketball net. Driving them to the swimming pool and then texting your Blackberry in the viewing area sends them the wrong message. Get in the pool too! Besides, most parents could use a little more activity in their lives.
#4: Refuse to drive – Stop acting as the chauffeur and when children need to get somewhere, encourage them to bike their ride, rollerblade, scooter, skateboard or take the bus. Even when children access the bus system, they still expand energy walking (or running if they are late) to and from the bus stop.
#5: Plan friend and family activity dates – Rather than meeting friends or family members at a restaurant, plan a sport or physical activity for a “play date”. Simply changing the venue dramatically changes the activity level.
#6: Play active games – Turn screen time into active playtime by adding the active game accessories such as video game dance mats or the latest get-fit sports games. Establish a family fund for outside sports equipment instead of sedentary video games. By putting your money where your values are, your children will see that physical activity is important.
#7: Picnic, camp, or hike – Get outdoors and the physical activity will happen. Bring frisbees, balls, bikes and other sports equipment.
#8: Swim – Instead of defaulting to basement time, drop your kids off at the local pool for the afternoon with their friends. If your kids are younger, book them into organized lessons or make it a mommy and me activity.
#9: Start a “walking school bus” – If you are walking your kids to school, offer to walk the neighborhood children and turn it into a walking school bus. Parents could rotate turns.
#10: Start a “playground swap” – Start a playground swap where parents take turn supervising at the neighborhood playground after dinner. Designate a place and time for all the participating children to meet and one or two adults will walk all the kids to the playground and return back to the meeting spot at a designated time.
Staying physically fit doesn’t have to be a big effort. Ten minutes here and fifteen minutes there all add up. Build small amounts of activity in every day and your whole family will notice the difference.