Worry

Worry

Right? 😂 Somewhere along the way I got the idea that worrying about my kids made me a good mom. 🤷🏼‍♀️Because only neglectful parents walk around blissfully content, right?

I finally learned that worry gives me three things I don’t want:

1. sleep deprivation .
2. a whole lot of fear and .
3. worrying makes my kids feel like there’s something wrong with them— they are someone to be worried about. 🙁

I went on a worry free diet last year. I haven’t exactly reached the blissfully content stage where I’m skipping along and never worry about my kids. And I don’t expect that I’ll ever be like that. I don’t even want to be.

But I’ve started to notice worry. I use it as a stop sign in my life. When worry comes up, I stop, analyze it and look for solutions.

Make worry a stop sign for you. A turning point. Not the place where you spend your time. Worry forms a negative feedback loop in your brain and if you stay there your brain will create more and more negative pathways. You don’t want to be stuck. Your kids don’t want you to obsessively worry. They need your brilliant solutions. 💡

I have so much faith in you. I have so much faith in your teens. You’ve got this. 👊🏼

The Essential Secret to a Happier Family (It’s Easier Than You Think!)

The Essential Secret to a Happier Family (It's Easier Than You Think!)

Nothing says family quite like a middle-of-the-night, cruel words, wrestling your brother to the ground kind of fight.

This past Christmas, all six of our children came home to enjoy the holidays together. We were all crazy excited. The family group text blew up for weeks making plans, arranging schedules and simply anticipating those 7 magical days between December 19 and December 26th.

Everyone in the family was giddy when we picked up three kids from the airport. The kids talked nonstop, cracked jokes and wrestled on the family room floor.

It was well past midnight when everyone started talking about putting luggage away and getting some sleep. In the hustle of finals and Christmas festivities, we hadn’t done a great job of preparing beds and rooms for our kids flying home. And as happens in big families, every bed and dresser and closet had filled during their absence.

Tempers flared. The three kids at home defended their territory. The older kids felt hurt. I felt ashamed because I’d been too overwhelmed with other tasks to sort this out ahead of time. One of the younger kids lashed out to his older brother, “You don’t even belong here anymore!”

Oh! I won’t soon forget the look of hurt and raw pain on my son’s face.

Everyone needs to feel like they belong in their own family.

One of the most essential human needs is connection. We are born with an innate desire to be linked with other people, a craving for acceptance and love. This really isn’t about beds and closet space. It isn’t about owning a spacious home or a tiny apartment where we sleep on couches or inflatable mattresses. Creating a sense of belonging means loving and accepting our family members. The world will be cruel to every one of us, home should be a haven of acceptance and love

We sorted out the bedroom/closet situation pretty quickly. Everyone worked together to clear space and we even ended up donating several bags of old clothing and toys to a second-hand store the next day.

Despite some ugliness, the midnight fight prompted a lot of good discussions. I reassured the older kids they would always be welcome at home. The chastened younger kids promised to be more patient about sharing beds and bathrooms and food. And we all talked about the essence of HOME—a place where you can test out dumb jokes, bad hairstyles, radical ideas and so much more in a safe and loving arena. Where you can come home from a terrible day at school or work and feel accepted warts and flaws and all.

If our children don’t feel loved and accepted at home, they will turn elsewhere for affection and support. And often when people are desperate for love they turn to destructive behaviors and dangerous environments.

As parents, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a family where they can make mistakes, stumble, fall and still be loved and accepted simply because they belong.

I’ll never forget my friend Judy Wolfe addressing the children in the audience at her 18 year-old son’s funeral: “I’m going to tell you one of your parents’ great secrets. You know all the fuss they make about your grades and making the team and getting awards?” Her eyes swept through the room as she noted the many children and teenagers filling the chapel.

“This competition, this drive to measure up: It’s all a show. Your parents are in love with you anyway. From the moment you were born they adored you — all you had to do was show up.”

As parents we feel this love for our children, but do we express it? Do we truly create a haven where they feel safety and belonging?

It’s not even a physical place—there are times when children need to live elsewhere, but they need know they are loved, included in prayers and considered part of the family.

We can also offer that sense of acceptance to the rowdy kids down the street, our co-workers, the frustrated dad at the grocery store, to the entire human family.

Next Christmas, I’ll plan ahead a little better: sort out rooms, wash sheets, place flowers and cookies on nightstands (who am I kidding?). Still, the real task (and privilege) is simply the daily prayers, the texts and phone calls, small kindnesses and gentle words sending the message: you belong, you belong, you belong.

I have so much faith in you. I have so much faith in your teens. You’ve got this. 👊🏼

You are worth the time

You are worth the time

Confession: I’m always telling my coaching clients they need to believe they are worth the time the energy and the effort. But I just saw something in my own life where I haven’t been doing that.

I have a bad back. I had a serious injury a few years ago and I have degenerative arthritis. It’s just fine if I do certain things. One of those is a 15 minute Pilates routine that I can do in my basement every single day. For the past several weeks my back has been acting up and everything in my life life has been much harder. But I felt like I didn’t have time for my Pilates routine. 🤦🏼‍♀️

I had an aha moment on Sunday and I’ve been doing the routine every day since. And guess what? My back is feeling a lot better.

It sounds so stupid. Why did I think that all the other things that needed to get done are more important than feeling good? And I think it’s pretty obvious to see that I wasn’t helping anyone around me by hobbling around in pain.

So often we think our goals are selfish. You might feel like it’s selfish to take the time for positive affirmations and a gratitude journal. You might feel like it’s selfish to take the time to cut up fresh fruits and vegetables for yourself. You might feel like it’s selfish to go on a beautiful walk outside and leave the dishes sitting in the sink. Fun fact: the dishes will wait.

You might feel like it’s selfish to be a happier, stronger version of yourself. Trust me. It’s not. ❤️ You are loved. You are worth the time. ❤️

How to Ruin Your Relationship With Your Teenager

All relationships take work, but your communications with your teenager can be lifesaving. The largest problems can be solved when you have a good relationship, but even the smallest problems can cause disaster when your interactions are filled with tension.

Continue reading

Emotional Sainthood

Emotional Sainthood

Seriously. Have you ever responded to bad behavior with bad behavior? I certainly have. 🙋🏼‍♀️

The other day my friend called me and said, “This emotional adulthood stuff you’re always talking about? It should be called emotional sainthood.“ 😇 She has a point.

Emotional adulthood is taking responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings and actions. It’s one of the best practices you can get into to increase your happiness.

When you decide that you are in charge of your own happiness and that it has nothing to do with what other people say and do you take back your own power. 💪🏼

Still, it’s not easy. We naturally want to react to other people and sometimes even escalate the situation. 😫

But when people are freaking out and stressing out and you can remain calm, you embody strength. 💪🏼 You don’t need to be perfect at this for it to have a positive impact in your life. We’re not going for sainthood; we’re just parents who care and that’s pretty darn close. 😇

Become a Better Parent to Your Teen Overnight

Become a Better Parent to Your Teen Overnight

Let’s be honest.

It’s hard to be a teenager.

It’s hard to be the parent of a teenager.

Sure, I think teenagers are smart and funny and full of potential — but it’s a hard time, baby. Navigating those years as a parent requires finesse, patience and grit.

I’m sure you’ve read  the  brain studies proving teens brains are undergoing huge changes and don’t mature until their early 20’s.  You’ve heard this fact so many times you’re yawning right now. And before you read that study, you also knew the teen years tend to be an emotional roller coaster. Right? Kind of common knowledge.

But as parents, we’re going through our own emotional upheaval. Whether you believe in midlife crises or not, many adults in their forties and fifties experience feelings of depression, remorse, anxiety and insecurity. And those feelings hit right about the same time our kids start to think we’re stupid.

Teens and parents are ripe for misunderstanding. Yet more than any other time, we need open communication with our teens to guide them through crucial decisions.

OK, I hate to tell you this. But as parents, the responsibility is on us. Yep, we’re the adults (even if we feel like we’re pretending half the time). It’s never too early or too late to form a great relationship with our kids. Here are five easy ways to become a better parent overnight.

1. TRY A ZERO CRITICISM ACTIVITY.

Ask your teen what they are excited about right now and participate with them with absolutely no fault finding. Listen to their new favorite song, play a video game with them, let them tell you the plot of the book they are reading, watch a favorite TV show with them, cheer while they juggle oranges, etc. No matter how cringy the activity, avoid criticism like the plague! Engage with your teen and find the good.

2. CREATE A TRIGGER.

We usually think of triggers as something that makes us upset. Reverse that thinking and set triggers related to your teen that create a positive response.

First, turn a negative to a positive. For example: maybe your teen makes smoothies and forgets to clean out the blender. Instead of feeling frustration, feel grateful and proud that your teen prepares such healthy snacks/meals. This could apply to shoes on the floor, homework on the counter, projects in the garage, etc. Take a moment to compliment your teen and then ask them to clean it up.

Next, establish a thought trigger. Write a short sentence or phrase to describe your love for your teen— “You are my sunshine,” “I waited ten years for you.” Now, anytime your child says “Mom” “Dad” (or whatever they call you) repeat this phrase to yourself. Don’t skip this one! Our thoughts drive our feelings and our actions.

3. FIND CLARITY.

Decide the kind of parent you want to be. What kind of relationship do you want to have with your child/children in six weeks? Next year? Five years from now?

Choose three words to describe your ideal parenting. Now for a PHONE HACK: set a reminder on your phone to remind you of those three words every time you arrive home. You could also set the reminder for any time you get out of your car. I do this and it’s annoying, but effective.

4. GATHER AROUND.

At the end of the day, gather your family around for a quick and casual end to the day. We pray for our loved ones and for people who need our help. You don’t need to pray — you can simply talk about what is going on tomorrow and people who might need extra love (especially in your own family). Keep it short, keep it fun and hug everyone at the end (your kids need hugs whether they think they do or not). If you’re not laughing, you’re taking it way too seriously.

5. BIG KIDS NEED TUCKING IN TOO.

Take the time to say goodnight to each child. Some kids crave a longer routine and others just need a simple good night. But don’t skip it. The best conversations of the day often come at bedtime.

BONUS — pick up your teen’s favorite treat on the way home from work. Choose something small that you don’t usually indulge in. For my daughter it’s a Bai Coconut drink, my sons love peanut butter cups.

Let’s go! Take action on everything on this list and you’ll see results in one day and pure magic in a week.

If you’ve read this far, you’re a caring conscientious parent and you truly love your kids. Your kids love you too (even if they don’t act like it!) and they need you more than ever. You’ve got this. I believe in you.

p.s. you’re definitely not stupid

p.p.s. you should probably pick up a treat for yourself too. Or at least some gold stars to stick on your forehead.

better questions

better questions

Sometimes, when there’s a problem, we ask the wrong questions. We ask: Why me? How could this be happening? What is going wrong here? ☹️ it’s far more productive to ask questions like: How is this working in my favor? What can I learn from this? What if nothing has gone wrong? ❤️ Asking better questions can dramatically improve our lives. It’s an incredible skill to develop as parents and an even better one to teach our teens.

I have so much faith in you. I have so much faith in your teens. You’ve got this. 👊🏼

go at your own pace

go at your own pace

One of our favorite traditions is climbing Mount Timpanogus every summer. And when Mary was 10 we decided it was time for her to join family and friends on the 17 mile hike. 🌲

There were a lot of people that wanted her to stay on pace and keep up. 💪🏼

I let the rest of the group go ahead and told her, “I’ll stay with you every minute. You can rest anytime you like; just go at your own pace.” And she did. She stopped at the most random spots. Not in a shady spot, but right in the middle of the trail on a rock. 🌸

I told her stories and we ate a lot of cookies and walked and walked and sometimes skipped through the wildflowers. 🌻

Of course she made it to the top and then slid down the glacier and put flowers in her hair and talked to the chipmunks on the way down. And she actually ended up finishing about the same time as everyone else. 🌲

The next year we had an 18-year-old friend who was nervous about coming on the hike and Mary told her, “You’ll be fine. You just need lots of water and people who love you. We can provide both.” 🌸

I remind myself of that concept often. We just need to let people go at their own pace. They can be silly or stubborn and sit on rocks and have long delays. We simply provide water and love. 🌻

talk to teens

talking to teens

We need to teach our teens how to talk to adults, but adults also need to be considerate when talking to teens. ❤️ I think we’re all trying to teach our kids to smile, look people in the eye and be pleasant even when they aren’t enjoying the conversation, but as adults we can also make things a little more pleasant.
1. Whenever you talk to a teen, approach them with love and without judgment. Teens get judged all day long and they are weary of it. 😔
2. Try to refrain from talking too much about a teen’s physical appearance. They know they’ve grown. And please never ever tell a girl she’s blossomed. 😝 The best comments? “You look great.” “It’s so good to see you.”
3. Jokes and sarcasm usually fall flat when you are talking to teens you don’t know. 🤨 I know. I think I’m funny too. But when a teen doesn’t know you, they just don’t get your humor— especially sarcasm.
4. Ask a couple questions, but stop if teens aren’t responding. More questions don’t lead to connection. They just make teens feel like they’re being interrogated.
5. Love them (it’s worth listing twice). ❤️ Offer teens unconditional love and approval and they’ll always want to talk to you. Even when you make dumb jokes and ask too many questions. 😜

the superbloom

the superbloom

No good effort as a parent is ever wasted. ❤️ Have you seen photos of the #californiasuperbloom?

These are just a few photos I took with my phone when we joined thousands of other people who pulled to the side of the road, spilled out of their cars and and just started walking into these glorious mountains covered with miles and miles and miles of wildflowers. California just received the most rain they’ve had in 25 years and the earth has exploded with beauty.

When you get up close, it’s remarkable how each flower is a work of art and yet there are so many blooms they are showing up on satellite images in space.

As parents, we plant a lot of seeds. We put in so much work that seems thankless and sometimes we have years and years of drought. But remember, every single seed is waiting under the surface and one of these days it will bloom with a beauty far greater than you could ever anticipate.

I have so much faith in you. I have so much faith in your teens. You’ve got this. 👊🏼