If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and exhausted perhaps it’s time for you to rethink – “Spring Clean”- your family’s activities. I want more for you – you deserve more peace and calm in your life. This video guides you through this – Enjoy!
Every responsible human being has acquired certain virtues useful in getting along with others. Topping the list are kindness, being responsible, friendliness, charity, honesty, trustworthiness, compassion and respect for others. All are reasonable and desirable tools for successful living. Thinking that the acquisition of these traits can be left to chance would be a big mistake.
The positive virtues mentioned above are not inherent; they must be nurtured, modeled and expected. How does a parent do this? I heard the following statement once: “Responsible parents are their children’s teachers. The parents lead and the children, as students, follow. Fun times are welcome; have fun along the way, but never at the expense of needed leadership”. This is quite a serious statement, but its message is bang on. I like to rephrase this message to sound more like this: “Responsible parents who care deeply about their children and society, love to have fun, act silly, participate in enjoyable family activities together and have an undeniable set of virtues that they not only state are important, but also model and allow their children to practice.”
If parents want to raise respectful, compassionate, friendly, charitable, trustworthy, and kind children then they must consistently, in as many ways possible, state the values or virtues they feel are important to them, model these virtues and provide opportunities for their children to practice using them.
For example, when a parent says, “We cooperate and do our part because we are a team”, they are stating a virtue. When a parents says, “We always go to the door to say hello when guests arrive”, they are also stating a virtue.
When a parent offers to help someone they are modelling a virtue. When a parent gets frustrated but utters, “Ärgh, there must be a way!” and then continues to work on the task until the desired outcome is achieved, they are also modelling a virtue.
When parents take their children to help pack food baskets at a homeless shelter they are allowing their children to practice the virtues they talk about and model. When parents tell their children that they will be the ones to answer the door to welcome the guests this evening they are also giving their children an opportunity to practice the virtues that they have spoken of and modeled.
Ask yourself and take time to reflect on the following questions:
What virtues do my partner and I value and expect in our family?
How do we model these virtues to our children?
How do we help our children practice these virtues?
If asked, would our children be able to state at least 3 virtues that we value?
Following this reflection, your answers will be your guide as to the next step to take.
This week’s video is all about the hidden benefits of being silly and what silly really looks and sounds like. I messed up, but I made it right to my son. How did I make it right to myself? I apologized to myself and then promised to listen to my heart instead of my head next time. Can you relate?
We often hear people saying, “Gosh, life is more difficult than when we were kids.” Yes, it is very different in terms of how global the world has become and how the world feels faster-paced. This pace is what has caused parents to feel so overwhelmed by their responsibilities.
From my experience of working with families all over the world I have found that there are seven clear reasons why families are stressed today. Do any of these match your life?
Confidence in setting limits and following through consistently. Parenting can often leave moms and dads wondering when and how to discipline their children. It’s this uncertainty that makes many parents frustrated and stressed when their child challenges them.
Not living according to their top values. Parents know that one of their top values is family time, however when they look at their lives they see that other things are taking over their life. Parents often feel guilty about this and that causes them to stress and worry.
Not enjoying enough quality time with their family. Today, many parents are spending an enormous amount of time driving their children to lessons, practice or birthday parties. The phrase, “Come on, we have to go!” is common. The busyness in parent’s lives has left them feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
They over-schedule themselves. When every night has something “going on” you know there’s going to be stress because there is little time left to relax and refuel. Between dance lessons, soccer practice, tutoring sessions and guitar lessons parents and kids have a lot going on. The goal is to enrich our children’s lives however the consequence is that the classes are overwhelming our lives.
Systems are not put in place. Many families have told me they feel like life is controlling them instead of the other way around. There are so many jobs to do around the house and rooms to keep tidy and things to get accomplished, that the list can be overwhelming and daunting. Life is controlling parents instead of parents putting systems in place so they feel a sense of control over their lives.
No routine is established. With the whirlwind lives that families are leading these days, having a consistent routine that ensures their children eat, sleep and play at regular times is often thrown out the window. Kids are sleeping in strollers or the car instead of their beds nowadays and this affects the quality of their sleep. The result? Whiny kids who often throw tantrums. The consequence? Frustrated and anxious parents.
Not enough “me” time. There is a martyr mentality out there right now, especially for women, where parents think that the more they do for their children the better parents they are. So, parents are doing, doing, doing, and forgetting to schedule in time for the things that refuel THEM, make THEM happy, and give THEM energy. Who can truly feel happy and fulfilled when they are always exhausted and experiencing nothing that feeds their soul?
Does this all seem a bit bleak? Well, the good news is that all of the items listed above are changeable! We have the power to change it – isn’t that great?
There are happy families, huge families of 6 children or more who live slow lives and spend quality time with one another every day. It’s doable! You don’t have to have a lot of money, you don’t have to live in the countryside, and you don’t even need to have one parent stay at home! With a few tweaks here and there, family life can be incredible. Coming home can actually recharge your battery instead of depleting it.
What is the solution? Take an honest look at your family’s life and see where the stressors are. Are you running around too much? Is every day different, with little or no routine? Are you constantly losing your keys and searching frantically for them in the morning? Are your kids throwing tantrums around specific times of the day?
After you’ve taken a microscopic look at the way things are now for you and your family, decide which area to address first. What system or routine could you implement that would alleviate your current problem? What could you truly give up? Which lessons could you cancel? What activity do you love doing that you haven’t done in years, but would love to start again?
Start with one item and feel the dramatic change, then next month work on a new area. You and your family will feel happier, lighter, and more connected with some of the stress gone. It’s truly about making a choice to live a calmer life. Think about what is TRULY important to you then design your life around it; just because the outside world might be running at a frenzied pace doesn’t mean you and your family have to.
The one thing working moms have in common is that they’re busy ladies with a lot on their plate. The second thing they have in common is that they feel guilty a lot of the time. One of the main sources of that guilt comes from the feeling that they don’t have time to spend quality moments with their children; “life is just a race” moms tell me.
A very important thing for working mothers to understand is that it doesn’t take much to satisfy their child’s need for attention, and if just a few things are put into place, they can be guaranteed that they are giving their child all they need to.
What are those things?
Well, we all know that children need focused attention in order to feel loved. And, if they feel this focused attention on a regular basis, they are better behaved and happier kids to be around. The point then is to create moments of focused attention.
Here are seven ways working moms can give their child focused attention when they have little time to give:
1) Create a ritual. The definition of a ritual is: a series of actions regularly and invariably followed by someone. With this in mind try to think of what small ritual you can create with your children that can happen everyday, without fail. Perhaps each morning you and your children light a candle (or turn on battery operated ones) at the breakfast table and you share your intention for the day. Perhaps you do and say certain things each night at bedtime. Whatever it is, keep it simple; the more simple, the more impact it has.
2) Schedule one-on-one time. Working moms need to be organized. Carry this organization through to spending one-on-one time with each of your children once a month. Brainstorm activities you and your child would like to do together then once a month pull one of those ideas and schedule it on your calendar. It doesn’t have to be long; 30-60 minutes is all it will take. (Children who I surveyed told me this!)
3) Plan a theme night. This is one of my favourite things to do. Choose a country and plan a family evening around the theme of this country. For example, if you choose Japan, your family can brainstorm costumes, music, dishes to cook, movies to watch, etc. Plan these theme nights every 4-6 months and just watch the bonding that occurs!
4) Make reading together YOUR thing. What could you do to make reading a special event between you and your children? Could you read a chapter book out loud each night for 15-20 mins after dinner? Could you cuddle in bed each night and read them a story? Could you make up a story each night or save this for Sunday night?
5) Bake on the weekend. Get a great cookbook (choose it together) and bake one thing each weekend from the book. Think, “Julie and Julia”, the movie with Meryl Streep. How exciting would it be to bake through a cookbook (baking book) and experiment together?
6) Make grocery shopping YOUR thing. Create a tradition that after the weekly grocery shop you all go for a hot chocolate or special drink.
7) Go to the Library. Create a special tradition around the Library. How about Friday after the school pick being your time to go hang out at the library and collect books? Or, does your library have weekend reading, rhyme or story times? Be sure that your kids choose their books first so that they have something to look at as they respectfully give you time to browse.
As you can see, all of my ideas are based around keeping things slow, simple and meaningful. You don’t have to have all the time in the world to spend with your kids, it’s just about making the time you DO have, count.