Parenting

In Defense of Time-Outs. Sometimes.


I’m in the mud right now with my four year old. She’s been talking back and having tantrums on a daily basis. Between her explosions and this miserable winter and all of the mundane details of life that require my ongoing attention, well, I’m worn a little thin. I suspect we all are.

As a result, my responses to my daughter’s meltdowns have been inconsistent, to say the least. Sometimes I’m funny and sweet with her, but other times I’m just too tired and I snap at her or send her to time-out until we can both calm down.

Time-out. Yikes. That’s a tricky one these days.

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Children

What I Learned From My Daughter’s Drawings


A unicorn standing in a field of butterflies.

A fairy jumping off a dock into a mountain lake.

Two boys and two girls and a monkey playing football.

If you asked me to draw any of these scenes, my reaction would be something along the lines of, “Of course not. I’m terrible at drawing!”

But if you ask my six-year-old daughter to draw any of them, she’ll grab some markers and paper and get right to work.

While I like to think she’s a rather good artist, the reality is that she’s probably just about as good as you might expect a six-year-old who draws a lot to be. And I believe that her drawing skills have little to do with her willingness to draw just about anything.

So how did we get to this point where I judge myself so harshly and shy away from most drawing challenges while my little girl jumps right in?

I can think of three relevant factors:

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General

How My Daughters Are Helping Me Keep My Resolutions


 

In my last post, I offered some ideas for how to set effective New Years Resolutions. Although there are many folks out there who question the value of setting resolutions at all, I couldn’t help myself. I love the idea of a fresh start and a new opportunity to do a little bit better for myself and my family.

I did make some resolutions this year, and much to my great surprise, I’m still committed to them a week later. I know, this may not sound like much, but in the past I haven't lasted much longer than a couple of weeks. (According to unsubstantiated statistics I have read in numerous online articles, only about 8% of Americans keep their resolutions.)

Several things have helped me stay focused on the changes I want to make, including some of the ideas I shared in my previous post. But there is one other thing I'm doing differently this year that helps me stay focused more than anything else: I’m tracking my resolutions with my daughters.

We each created a chart with four practices we want to work on. Each morning we review our charts as a reminder of what we want to try to accomplish during the day, and each night we talk about how the day went and give ourselves stickers and stars as appropriate.

As I think about it, there are several reasons why this seems to be working so well:

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General

How to Really Keep Your Resolutions This Year


Less than two weeks. We have less than two weeks until the new year, and we all know what that means.

New Years Resolutions.

I love resolutions. I love a fresh start, a new opportunity to begin again.

And, like the vast majority of Americans, it’s not long before I lapse into old habits again.

The thing is, change is hard. It’s especially hard when we’re tired and busy and overwhelmed by the demands of work and home and children. We tend to put ourselves at the bottom of the list. When that happens, it can be hard, if not impossible, to summon the energy, self-discipline, and willpower to make meaningful changes.

I’d like this year to be different. I’ve done some research and put together a few ideas about how to make my resolutions stick this year:

Start small. REALLY small. For example, if you want to start a meditation practice, make it a point to sit and breathe for two minutes a day. Yes, I mean two minutes. If you can do that for a few weeks, then try five minutes. But start with two.

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General

My Top Ten Favorite Parenting Resources

I’m back!

Sorry I disappeared for a while, folks. I’ve been busy with book talks for Parenting in the Present Moment, working on my next book about teaching mindfulness to children (New Harbinger, 2015), helping my big girl transition to kindergarten, my little girl transition to not being in the same school as her big sister (The tears! Oh, the tears!), and obsessing about Serial.

Anyway, one of the most common questions I get at...
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Mindfulness

Actually, We Have Lots of Chances to Raise Our Kids Right


I recently came across a Facebook meme that said, “You only get one chance to raise your kids right.”

My gut reaction to this post was, “Ugh. Well, I’ve already screwed that one up. Forget the college fund. I need to start a therapy fund.” The truth is that I get frustrated with my daughters, I snap at them, and yes, I have even been known to hide from them. (Only in the bathroom, and not for long, but yes, I was hiding.) I’m assuming that most of this does not count as raising my kids right.

Fortunately, I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing that crazy monkey who likes to bounce around inside my head, flinging his crap at every opportunity. I took a moment to shut him up, and then I thought about this idea that we only get one shot at this whole parenting thing.

And I decided it’s not true.

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General

Staying Present When the Babysitter Calls Out Sick


The babysitter called in sick yesterday.

Actually, she texted in sick.

(For the record, I have come to dread any texts that come in before 8 AM.)

I had spent my shower planning out the work I was going to get done once she showed up (so much for mindful awareness, which, as it turns out, I really could have used that day); the list included revising two book chapters, outlining two more, writing a blog post, preparing two presentations, and getting ready for a class I’m teaching next week.

Needless to say, I freaked out just a little bit when I found out the babysitter wasn’t coming.

The work just wasn’t going to happen. I came to that conclusion fairly quickly, and I regrouped fairly quickly and set up a play date at the local spray park. We had a good time, but all the while my unfinished (and, to be honest, unstarted) work was rumbling in the back of my mind. By the time we left the park to head to the grocery store before lunch, it was more than rumbling. It was almost exploding.

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Mindfulness

Deciding Not To Go – Mindful Parenting and Decision Making


Oh man.

I really wanted to go.

I’ve wanted to go to this retreat for three years. It happens in late August every year in Northern California, and it’s led by two experienced and amazing mindfulness teachers.

It’s six days long. When you add in a day on each end for cross-country travel and a day to visit my family and editors nearby, that’s nine days.

I’ve never been away from my girls for nine straight days.

My husband is incredibly supportive; every year he tells me I should go. He tells me he’ll be fine with the girls, and I know he’s right. He’ll be more than fine. He’ll be great. The girls will mostly be great. Except for when the toll of Mama being away so long starts to wear on them, as it does on me.

My girls are 4 and 5.5 this year. I decided they were old enough, so I checked the refund policy and signed up for the retreat.

I was excited. Thrilled. And completely ambivalent. I just couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that it wasn’t a good idea, that I would be away for too long.

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Meditation

Planting the Seeds of Mindfulness


My five-year-old daughter flipped out this morning when she learned that she needed to get a blood test. While I’m not a big fan of tearful wailing at 8:00 AM, I have to admit that flipping out is a perfectly reasonable response to the thought of having a complete stranger stick a needle in your arm. Especially when you’re just five years old.

We’ve been through our fair share of flip-outs, and they usually end with some variation of either snuggles or shouts (from both of us), but this time I tried something new. Perhaps it’s because I actually got eight hours of sleep last night, or perhaps it’s because I’m working on a new book about teaching mindfulness to children, but I actually had an idea.

Earlier this morning, my daughter has asked me if I had meditated after I woke up, and it just so happens that I had, so I knew meditation was on her mind. As she sat at the dining room table, sobbing into her cereal, I told her that one reason I meditate is so I can practice choosing my thoughts, so I can get better at keeping the ones I want and getting ride of the ones I don’t.

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Parenting

More Book News – Mindfulness for Parents and Children!

Once again, a few weeks have gone by since I’ve updated the blog. And once again, it’s because I’ve been happily buried in book projects. In addition to Parenting in the Present Moment. It's currently available for pre-order, and I'm setting up my book tour for next fall and winter now. If you're interested in having me come speak about mindfulness, parenting, and how to stay focused on what really matters, please be in touch!

In addition,...
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