International Women’s Day: What Stands in the Way of More Women Leaders?

silverman_headshotIt’s International Women’s Day—a day to reflect on the amazing women and girls in our lives but also to ponder what’s to come for the up and coming women in the world.

As the mother of a young girl and a speaker who works with girls and women with regard to leadership, confidence, mentoring, and the barriers that stand in our way, I see so much potential in today’s girls.  Yet, I think there is some work to do in order to help them to become the leaders they are meant to be.

We know that there is still an imbalance when it comes to the number of women vs men in leadership positions. This is true in business as well as in government.  Women have a great deal to offer but many are not taking their rightful place in this world—which for many, is in front…leading the pack.

How do potential women leaders stand in their own way of success?

(1) Pleasing others instead of pleasing ourselves:  Many girls and women are known “people pleasers.” They want to be liked. They want to be admired. They want to feel useful.  And while there is nothing wrong with being liked, admired, and useful—many girls and women will sacrifice what they want in order to “do” for others.  Leaders do what is right and what is needed- but they also follow their own bliss.  They assume their rightful place in this world not because others put them there or others don’t want the job but because they are doing exactly what they were meant to do.  When a girl or woman follows her our own bliss, they are always in the lead. Nobody can usurp the position that has someone else’s name on it.

(2) Perception of ceiling: We’ve heard for years about a glass ceiling that is impenetrable by women in business.  But every time I hear something like that, I think of Roger Bannister, a runner who was told it was impossible to run a 4-minute mile.  It had never been done! And then he did it. Immediately following, others did it. I think if we sell ourselves and our daughters a bill of goods that this ceiling exists, they will believe it.  What they believe is what they will see.  Leaders don’t look at ceilings—they look at what’s beyond it.

(3) Distraction: Girls receive hundreds of messages each day telling them that they need to look and act a certain way if they are going to be deemed worthy by others.  Questions loom in their heads; Am I thin enough? Too ugly?  Pretty? Do I seem like too much of a know-it-all?  Do people like me? Do guys like me?  Am I sexy? As I told the New York Times when they did a piece yesterday about girls’ need to always be camera ready, “the preoccupation with ‘How do I look?’ may well be getting in the way of living authentically. They are looking outward in at themselves — constantly thinking of the mirror rather than being fully engaged in the conversation, the activity or the learning.” With one eye on one’s goals and another eye on how they look (or how they think they are perceived) while going after their goals, how are girls supposed to make it to the top?

(4) The ‘who the heck do you think you are’ complex? I have had my own run-ins with this goal-grabbing question.  It’s the lesser-known cousin of “survivor guilt.” We question our right to achieve—and even the right to consider going after a particular goal. Am I worthy enough? What will others think? Why would anyone want to work with me? Why would anyone want to give me this chance, this job, or this award?  Leaders don’t wonder if they should achieve, they make it happen.

(5) Overloaded- all things to all people: We are notorious for over-scheduling. We say yes. We over-yes.  Spread so thin we nearly crack, our ability to concentrate on our own gifts and our own path diminish. Who has the time?  Leaders don’t just make the time amidst everything.  They say ‘no’ to many opportunities or requests so that they can honor the path they are on.

(6) Lack of tangible, known women role models & mentors: With so many anti-role models out there, it’s difficult at times to tease out who the winners are.  Women in power are often cut down and labeled in a snarky world of politics and Hollywood appearance standards. Reality TV stars from girls glamorized on 16 and pregnant to Snooki getting into bar fights and hooking up, are lavished with attention and paid handsomely for their appearances nation-wide. The message tells us that those women and girls who are celebrated are not those who do great things but those who entertain us, look the part, and do what will get ratings.  Step out of line and you will be denigrated. We need our girls to align themselves with real, unscripted mentors and leaders who can show them what true strength, perseverance, and courage looks like.  No matter what other people say.

(7) Asking the wrong question: Many girls and women allow themselves to get sidetracked and shut down on their path to success when someone doesn’t like their idea, doesn’t want to help them, or has a bad attitude.  Girls often wonder; “How can I change her mind? “ They begin to ponder; “if only she were different, then I could…” They allow the power to rest in their challenger rather than within themselves. No. Leaders take control. They accept the fact that a barrier exists and then ask themselves; “how can I get what I want or need even if this barrier is standing in my way?”

And while there needs to be an education process—to show men and boys what girls and women can offer without the *nudge, nudge, wink, wink* that statement often is slathered with—I refuse to say that the end-all-be-all answer to more women leaders lies in the hands of changing the minds of our men. Yes, as a mother of a boy I have a responsibility to raise a man who respects women—but I also must be accountable for the type of gutsy, focused, authentic girl I raise too. Not to mention, I must show her an example of what it means to be a female leader in my own life.

Who the heck do I think I am?  I’m her mother.

drrobynsig170

PS. My friend, Amy Jussel, wrote an outstanding piece regarding what people are doing with social media and education to celebrate International Women’s Day…here.

Ask Dr. Robyn: How Can I Help My Child Show More Courage?

silverman_headshotCourage is the Powerful Word of the Month! How do we encourage our children to try new things? Meet new people? Stand up for what they believe in?  Dr. Robyn Silverman, child and teen development specialist, answers one reader’s question about developing courage in her child. Several tips are provided– which ones resonate with you?

 

 

What will you try with your children this month? How have you helped your children to show more courage?  Please share here or on our Facebook page— We’d love to hear from you!

Ask Dr. Robyn: How Can I Help My Child Show More Courage? is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

Ask Dr. Robyn: How Can I Help My Child Show More Courage?

silverman_headshotCourage is the Powerful Word of the Month! How do we encourage our children to try new things? Meet new people? Stand up for what they believe in?  Dr. Robyn Silverman, child and teen development specialist, answers one reader’s question about developing courage in her child. Several tips are provided– which ones resonate with you?

 

 

What will you try with your children this month? How have you helped your children to show more courage?  Please share here or on our Facebook page— We’d love to hear from you!

Dr. Robyn introduces the Powerful Word of the Month: Courage!

Happy March! The powerful word of the month is courage! Let’s help our children (and ourselves) face fears and challenges with determination.

Courage Quotes:

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” –John Maxwell

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” –Mary Anne Radmacher

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” –Winston Churchill

“Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.”–Thomas S. Szasz

“The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”–Charles Dubois

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.”–Soren Kierkegaard

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

“The rewards doesn’t necessarily go to the biggest, the brightest or the best.  It goes to the one who has the courage to keep trying until success is inevitably achieved.” — Dr. Robyn Silverman

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” — John Maxwell

Wishing you a powerful month of trying new things, meeting new people, and courageously standing up for what you know is right and fair.

drrobynsig170

Dr. Robyn introduces the Powerful Word of the Month: Courage! is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

Dr. Robyn introduces the Powerful Word of the Month: Courage!

Happy March! The powerful word of the month is courage! Let’s help our children (and ourselves) face fears and challenges with determination.

Courage Quotes:

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” –John Maxwell

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” –Mary Anne Radmacher

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” –Winston Churchill

“Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.”–Thomas S. Szasz

“The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”–Charles Dubois

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.”–Soren Kierkegaard

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

“The rewards doesn’t necessarily go to the biggest, the brightest or the best.  It goes to the one who has the courage to keep trying until success is inevitably achieved.” — Dr. Robyn Silverman

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” — John Maxwell

Wishing you a powerful month of trying new things, meeting new people, and courageously standing up for what you know is right and fair.

drrobynsig170

February 29th: Teaching Children about Leap Year

Teaching Children about Leap Year 2012

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

leapyearleap-222x300Are the children asking you about leap year? I know, as a parent, I get pelted with questions about just about everything! If you want to be ready– here are some answers to frequently asked questions about leap year:

Leap Year Defined: What is a leap year?

A leap year is a year in which February is longer than it typically is in a non-leap year year. In a leap year, February has 29 days in it instead of 28 days.

Why do we need a leap year?

In order to align the Earth’s rotation around the sun with our seasons, leap year was started. Even though we acknowledge that a year has 365 days in it– that statistic isn’t completely accurate. Actually, it takes approximately 365.2422 days for the earth to travel around the sun in one year. So, in order to get “lined up,” we give one extra day to the calendar every 4 years to account for the additional time the earth takes to travel around the sun.

When is Leap Year?

This year, 2012, is a Leap Year. Leap year occurs every 4 years (believe it or not, with some exceptions every few hundred years). It’s celebrated on February 29th– a day that only occurs in a Leap Year.

Trivia question: How long is 365.2444 days?

Answer: 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes 46 seconds

How do you calculate a Leap Year?

According to the Gregorian calendar, there are 3 rules used to determine if a year is leap year or not a leap year.

  • Rule 1: Leap year is divisible by 4
  • Rule 2: Exception to Rule 1, any year divisible by 100 such as 1900 or 1800 is not a leap year
  • Rule 3: Exception to Rule 2, any year divisible by 400 is a leap year such as 2000

Were you born in a leap year?

2012, 2008, 2004, 2000, 1996, 1992, 1988, 1984, 1980, 1976, 1972, 1968, 1964, 1960, 1956, 1952, 1948, 1944, 1940, 1936, 1932, 1928, 1924, 1920, 1916, 1912

Fun for the Kids:

How many leap years old am I? (For someone who is 40 this year they are 11 leap years old.)

How many leap years old is Grandma/Grandpa/Mom/Dad?

How many leap years old is my school?

Did you know? Leap Year Traditions

In Ireland, every February 29th, women were allowed to ask for a man in marriage. A man was fined if he refused the proposal.

Leap Year has been the traditional time that women can propose marriage. In many of today’s cultures, it is okay for a woman to propose marriage to a man. Society doesn’t look down on such women. However, that hasn’t always been the case. When the rules of courtship were stricter, women were only allowed to pop the question on one day every four years. That day was February 29th.” Read more about it.

Leap Year Activities for Kids

frogpuppetFrog origami

Making a leap year frog out of a paper plate

Pin the Crown on the Frog Prince

Musical Lilly Pads

Frog CupCakes

Frog Hunt and other Frog Games

Make a Frog Bean Bag

Paper Frog Puppet alternative

How to celebrate leap year:

It is rare that we get an extra day out of life.  Celebrate it by:

  • Making it a day when you show gratitude for your family, your friends, and other things in life.
  • Taking a courageous leap to do something different or try something new.
  • Reiterating a goal that you made in January as part of your New Year’s Resolution.
  • Play leap frog or do a special leap year craft with your kids!

Have a powerful Leap Year Day!

drrobynsig170

Completing Any Goal: From Tripped-Up to Triumphant

eye_clock-300x300It’s February.  Only a month and a half ago many of us set goals and made New Year’s Resolutions.  How’s that working out for you? Are you making strides or are you…stuck?

It’s OK. Many of us get tripped up on the path to triumph. You’re at a critical point at this moment though– you can choose to throw in the towel or push through. When you have trouble imagining how you’ll ever achieve your goal (whether it’s writing a book, completing a dissertation, moving up a level, enrolling more people, or making headway on a project, etc) it’s time to stop and go through a visioning process.

When I work with clients one-on-one or in groups, I take them through several visioning exercises.  One that I often begin with has 5 steps:

(1)  See it: Close your eyes.  Look at your goal square in the face.  What does it look like when it’s finished?  When you look around, who do you see?  Where do you picture yourself?  Get specific.  I often encourage my clients to put together a vision board that keeps these pictures in the forefront of their minds.  What images remind you of your goal?  What lies beyond once that goal is achieved?

(2)  Sense it: This may take some practice– especially if you are filled with stress and angst right now.  What will it feel like to achieve your goal?  What do you hear around you?  What does victory taste like and smell like?  The more visceral you can make your goal, the more driven you will be to achieve it.

(3)  Say it:  We are often caught using the future tense when talking about the completion of a goal.  “I will finish it” might sound good to you but it doesn’t put you in action.  In fact, that kind of language can invite procrastination.  Who says when the “I will” will actually take place?  When speaking to about your goal, say it as if it is happening right now; “I am completing my ________ by April 1,” “I own my own home in December 2012,”  “I have straight As on my report card,” or “I am a graduate of XYZ University by June.”

(4)  Believe it: Sometimes we feel as if we are lying to ourselves.  Do I really think I’ll finish?  That kind of goal-robbing gremlin needs to be put to rest.  If you don’t really believe that you’ll be able to succeed, you probably won’t.  When you have unwavering commitment and conviction in your goal, nothing can stop you.  Be sure to put any voices of doubt to bed so that you can concentrate on taking action and making things happen.

(5)  Achieve it: This is an active process.  Achieving your goal means following your plan, ticking off your check list, and moving forward.  Are you closer to your goal than you were yesterday?  If so, you are in the process of achieving your goal.  And of course, once you check off the last item on your list, the final part of achieving your goal is celebrating your success!

Where are you in the visioning process?  Have you set your goals and intentions?  Have you created your plan?  Once you established where you’re going, the path is clear.  Now all you have to do is follow it!

drrobynsig170

Walmart Kidnapping: How can I keep my child safe from unkind strangers?

brittneybaxterMy Facebook page is hopping today after I posted about the little girl, Brittney Baxter, age 7, who fought her way out of getting kidnapped from Walmart yesterday, when a man grabbed her, covered her mouth and tried to subdue her.  The girl is safe and the alleged kidnapper in custody, but these stories of attempted child abduction always leave a trail of fear, frustration, concern, and questions from parents and educators.

Several parents and concerned citizens have gotten in touch because they are unsure about how they can protect the children in their lives from a similar situation. I wanted to reach out to you to provide some tips.  Please feel free to pass it on and repost the link as this is an issue on many people’s minds today.

In terms of “stranger danger,” what are we supposed to tell our young kids?

(1) People are mostly kind…but some aren’t:  For the most part, people are good, kind and helpful.  But not everyone. “Most people are very kind. When we go to the store, there are many kind people who are there to help you, right? Most people want everyone to be safe and happy. But some people are not kind.  Some people do not make safe and kind choices. We don’t always know who the kind and unkind people are because there are no superhero or villain masks in real life.”

(2) Stay by the person who brought you:  Your school age children should be told to stay by you or the person who brought them.  “When we go out, please stay where I can see you and you can see me.  Please don’t wander into the next aisle alone because I won’t be able to see you.  Wandering off is an unsafe choice.  Staying by me is a safe choice.”

(3) State what you want in the positive as well as in the negative: Wedon’t want to just say “don’t wander off” or “don’t leave the store” but also “please stay where I can see you” and “stay in the store.” Children respond well with what “to do” rather than just telling them what not to do.

(4) Yell as loud as you can: This is not the time for inside voices.  “If someone grabs you, yell: “This is not my mom/dad! This is not my mom/dad! Help me! This is not my Mom/Dad!”  Make sure they understand that they should not just yell “no” or “leave me alone” because some patrons might simply think that your child is throwing a tantrum with his parent.

(5) Get physical: We always tell our children to keep their hands to themselves.  In this “stranger danger” situation, they need permission to get physical. That means kicking, hitting, biting, or whatever they need to do to stay safe.  Tell your child to move their legs like they are riding a bicycle as this makes them hard to hold. If someone puts their hand over their mouth, continue to kick—and bite the person’s hand.

(6) Stay aware: It’s easy to get distracted by the toys and games in a big store.  Brittney was looking at toys when the kidnapper tried to restrain her.  Being aware can give your child time as well as vital information. Say; “keep your eyes and ears open.  Know who is around you and what’s going on.”

(7) Don’t go anywhere with a stranger: Educate your child about some tactics to lure young children.  Gifts, promises of puppies, toys, or even lies like “Your Mom told me to get you” or “Your Dad is hurt…come with me” might be used.  “When you are in a store, you are to stay in the store unless we leave together.  Never leave the store without the person you came in with unless Mom/Dad tells you that you can personally.”

(8) If you’re lost…here’s where to go: We don’t want our children to panic if they can’t find us.  Tell them to look for someone in the store uniform, go to the service desk, find a cashier, or, it’s often a safe bet to approach a mom with children. “Ask that person for help.  Tell them your name and who you are looking for. Tell them that you are lost and you need to find us right away.”

(9) Stand with confidence: Body awareness can be one of the first lines of defense. Think about it; two children—one standing with confidence, head held high, walking as if he knows where he is going and what he is doing vs one who has his shoulders rolled, head and eyes down, unaware of his surroundings.  For additional body awareness and self defense, enroll your child is a top notch martial arts academy that teaches children more than just kicking and punching.  If you need a recommendation, please ask me—our Powerful Words Member Schools and Personal Development Centers are all over the world.

(10) Trust your gut: This is really a message about all choices.  “If your tummy feels weird or you have a little voice inside you that tells you ‘this doesn’t feel right’ or ‘run’ or ‘get closer to Dad/Mom’ then listen to it.  That’s your gut speaking. Your gut—that little voice inside you that tells you when something is right or wrong– is very smart.”

The last thing I would tell you is to allow your children to practice.  Have them practice yelling, kicking, screaming, punching a pillow, and moving their legs.  Have them practice talking to a store clerk and bring them to a store and encourage them to speak to those in uniform so that they get comfortable doing it. My hope is that the children in your life will never need to use many of these tips—better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them.

To the wellness and safety of you and yours-

drrobynsig170

Huffington Post article about the kidnapping.

Baggage: Are you letting your “once was” dictate your “to be?”

bag2_written21-300x173

Everyone comes with baggage; roads traveled, tears cried, and scars of recent and distant past.  But we also come with gifts, strengths, and dreams.  Don’t let your “once was” dictate your “to be.” Write the ticket. Then go! —Dr. Robyn Silverman, from Creating a Community of Character, Keynote presentation

Tabula rasa is dead. And it’s OK.

We are all born into current states of something.  Good or bad, bad or good, we come in with a suitcase and we fill it up as we go along.

Some might view this as depressing. I guess it can be depending on how we choose to look at the contents of the suitcase.

What are you carting along with you? When you take inventory on the contents of your baggage you notice…

(1) Life experience wears on you vs Life experience makes you stronger: Well, which one is it? Maybe it’s a little bit of both at times—sometimes events in our lives make us feel tired, frustrated, angry, alone and sad.  We’ve all been there—some more than others. Many choose to stay in this state of unrest for months, years, and sometimes even their whole lives.  Others find ways to remain hopeful and move forward.  They use their life experiences to help them make decisions for the future and for that, they are grateful.

scar-300x199(2) Scars keep me guarded vs scars remind me that wounds heal in time:Betrayal, loss, pain and suffering have a profound effect on the human spirit.  Some are cut deep and remain closed off from others—concerned that the wound will easily open and they will be hurt again.  While we take a chance with trust, this is no way to live.  We guard ourselves from hurt but also from joy.  So many choose to try again. To trust again. To love again.  And for those who do, they give themselves a chance for new happiness and fulfillment.

(3) Challenges hold me back vs challenges urge me forward: When you feel challenged, do you push back or do you cave in?  There are many challenges in life.  Some are dealt what can be seen as a very bad hand—disabilities, unsupportive or unplugged families, poverty, illness—and yet, some thrive.  And those who do often use their challenge as a stepping stone rather than a boulder holding them down from their dreams.  One of my friends had major learning disabilities and ADHD growing up—moved from school to school hearing that she’d never be good enough– she’s now a special needs teacher who helps many children every year learn, grow, and believe in themselves.

(4) Labels stick vs labels are just one person’s opinion: Children are labeled at a very young age.  Negative labels, whether true or not, can make an impact on a young person’s psyche. “She’s shy.” “He’s not athletic.” “She’s awful in math.” Some children, teens and adults self label. Others receive implied labels by comparison, for example, “His brother is the book worm” or “Her sister is the real ‘go-getter’ in the family.” And then there are the name-calling labels such as “bitch,” “player,” and “slut,” that can pigeon hole, hold people back and keep them from attempting new goals and meeting new people. Children, teens and adults tend to live up to the expectation set forth for them.  Unless…we learn that one person’s opinion is not necessarily reality.  As mentors, business people, parents, teachers and leaders we must demonstrate that we make our own reality.

(5) Yesterday’s noted characteristics haunt me vs help me: Were you called “argumentative,” “spirited,” “headstrong,” “stubborn,” or “opinionated” when you were little?  Sometimes the old traits that frustrated our parents and teachers in the past are the very characteristics that serve us well in the future. Reframing those opinions in the positive—perhaps seeing “opinionated” as “assertive” and “headstrong” as “determined” can show that you were always in training to go after your dreams.

suitcase-300x199(6) Old baggage stored vs dealt with or dumped: Remember that bully you never faced in elementary school?  Can’t forget that one thing your parent, teacher, or friend said to you in 9th grade? Wish you said sorry for something you did in college? Negative memories can hold a lot of weight in the baggage we cart around in life.  But they don’t have to.  When I first got onto Facebook, I reached out to a bunch of people who I felt I wronged in some way in childhood or adolescence.  As a different person now, I wanted to be accountable for my mistakes.  I also remained open to others who wanted to do the same with me.  They were different people now too.  The band aid was finally pulled off—and the memories were reframed, explained, and changed.  Some of you can do the same. If the chance has passed by due to death or inability to get in touch, write the letter, say the words, have the conversation with someone else you trust so you can forgive and let it go.

(7) Negative people accommodated or released: Everyone has housed negative, rude, unsupportive, and detrimental people in their lives for some period of time.  Some have taken permanent residency in our lives—even seated in the driver’s seat or at least backseat driving us to an unhappy place each day. When it’s a family member, it can be hard to let go.   And when it’s a friend you’ve had since childhood, it can seem wrong.  Still, it may be best to literally or figuratively dethrone that person in your life.  That means cutting ties, having a frank conversation about the need for change in the relationship, spending less time with that person, or what I call “demoting them” in level of importance in your own head space.  Sometimes, the negative people are no longer in our lives but we still repeat their ugly words in the privacy of our own head—shine light on that—and let them go.

The weight we give our so-called deficits, weaknesses, negative life experiences, leaches, and unsupportive labels actually is up to us.  It’s not always easy to let go, reframe or disempower whatever has been weighing us down—but it is possible and it is time.  When we commit to making this shift, our strengths become more obvious, our happiness more likely, and of course, our baggage more manageable, lighter, and quite nice to have along for the ride.

drrobynsig170

The ABCs of Parenting & Stress Management

stress1-199x300Much more than 10 parenting tips to reduce your stress and get you from a to z!

What?  Nobody gave you a manual giving you the abc’s of parenting and stress management when you gave birth to your bundle of joy?  Why stop at 10 parenting tips—let’s give you the full alphabet! Here’s something for you to print out, pin up, and read everyday!

A-   Accept the things you can not change: Single parenting? Step parenting? ADHD parenting? Just dealing with time crunches, making lunches, bunches and bunches of bills? It is important to recognize that there are some things you can not control, surrender, move on and…

B-   Breathe: We know it is involuntary and yet sometimes it just takes so much effort! When things get hairy, scary, and you feel like you can barely hold, on, take a step back, breathe, and be calm.

C-   Count your blessings: I’m not saying that you should think about all the bad things that are happening to everyone else and somehow feel grateful and lucky that they aren’t happening to you. That’s not productive. But there is some value in taking a moment to look at the things that are going right today…like your child gave you a sweet kiss on the cheek, your toddler ate all his peas and your spouse actually didn’t leave the dirty dishes in the sink.

D-   Decompress: This may take some practice.  It may even take some assistance.  Giving yourself time to take a break, read a book, go out, have a little family fun, is important to your whole family.  A happy parent is much more productive than a crabby one.

E-    Eat good food: We take care of everyone else but ourselves.  We run from one activity to another, picking up, dropping off, and getting dinner ready for the kids in between.  What about you?  Eat breakfast! Stop for lunch! Nourish your body so you can nourish your mind so you won’t go crazy on top of everything else.

F-    Focus on the big picture: Does it really matter that Johnny wants to wear his Spiderman pajamas to the market…again?  Let’s focus on the fact that Johnny at least got out of bed without too much of a fight this morning, brushed his hair (kind of) and told you that you were “awesome” even before you drank your first cup of coffee.  Not bad. So, when choosing between sanity and Spidy, choose sanity, OK?

G-   Go to the gym: Or to yoga or for a simple walk out the door.  There is fresh air out there! It is important to clear your mind and work on you so that you can stay healthy and fit.  How else are you going to keep up with Jr?

H-   Hang up the phone: O.K. We are all guilty of this.  Sometimes we spend more time on the phone (or on Facebook) than actually with the people we are with.  Children can get really annoying when they are trying to vie for your attention while you are on the phone.  I know…I’m a parent too! We all need to reserve some time for family only so that when you really need to be on the phone, the kids won’t feel so deprived.

I-     Identify the kind of family you are aiming for: And relay it to the family!  Have you ever sat down with your family and discussed the kind of family you aim to be?  Respectful? Kind? Supportive? Get your family on board and create the vision as a team.  There will be much more buy in and everyone will know what they are striving to achieve!

J-     Joke around: Don’t take everything so seriously!  Life is a laugh a minute.  If you think about some of the things your kids have done in the past that have made you mutter, “why me?” they are probably kind of funny now.    Take time to poke fun at yourself, and at life!

K-   Kiss, hug, and show affection: This is the fun stuff in life!  These little things can mean the difference between your family feeling secure and your family feeling like they need a therapist.  It’s good for you and it’s good for them.  Set the precedent that your family is the kind of family that takes the time to show that they appreciate and love one another.

L-    Listen: We blab on and on about the significance of listening and all the while forget to do it ourselves. What about all those great stories your children have to tell?  Those great thoughts or dreams your spouse has about your future? When we listen, we expand our minds and let others know that they are important.  When we listen, we know what to say, when to say it, and catch the subtleties that would otherwise pass us by.

stress_relax2-300x199M- Make time for family fun: We schedule in violin lessons, football, skating and choir but we forget to take time to engage in family fun.  Family fun could be taking a martial arts class together, taking a vacation, having a game night, or going for a bike ride.  Family fun means different things to different people.  The important part is that you do it together and it is enjoyable for everyone.

N-   Negotiate time for the couple: We all love spending time with the kids but it’s just as important for the couple to spend private time together. Remembering why you got married and had kids in the first place is crucial! Rekindle your love every week—whether it is going out for dinner alone of spending time cuddling with each other while the kids are out at Grandma’s.

O-   Open your mind to “the opposition:” You and your partner are a united force, however, you may not always agree.  Take time to listen to the points of the other person and come to a compromise. When we avoid such discussions, stress and resentment can form.

P-    Play with friends: Of course this applies to your kids but also to you!  What do you consider play time?  Going to a movie? Having lunch? Playing golf? Having some adult company and some good laughs with friends could really make the days more pleasant and manageable.

Q-   Quiet your mind: When it is time to relax, turn off your mind and let the day go.  Fretting over the past is as constructive as nailing a cube of Jello to the wall.

R-   Recruit some outside support: These days you don’t even have to go out and get support.  You can do it from the comfort of your own home.  Enlist the help of a coach who can help you reach your goals, deal with your present challenges, and create action plans to make the most of the future.

S-    Simplify: Why make everything so complex? There is really no need to schedule your child into 40 different activities per week. Nobody will suffer if they only choose 1 or 2 activities during the school year.  It really is OK.  Nothing spells stress like O-V-E-R-S-C-H-E-D-U-L-I-N-G.

T-   Teach the lessons you want them to know: Most schools do not have the time to delve into character development and issues of respect.  It is left to the parents and other significant adults in your child’s life to teach such things. Pair up with an after-school program that teaches Powerful Words like discipline, responsibility and openmindedness (if you need a recommendation of a place in your area, please contact us).  When you teach your children about respect and teamwork, you get respect and teamwork.  That’s definitely less stressful than defiance, rudeness, and tantrums!

U-   Utilize your resources: Did the grandparents tell you that they stress_relax3-300x199will watch the kids while you go out? Did your neighbor offer to tutor Katie in that Trigonometry you don’t quite understand?  Take them up on their offers!  When we reach out for help, it gives us time to collect ourselves and do the things that we do well.

V-   Value your time:  You do not need to volunteer for the board of every parenting group and say “yes” to every school fundraiser drive.  Of course, it is important to be involved.  However, overextending yourself takes time away from your own family and robs you of your own sanity.

W-  Wipe the tears: Yours and theirs.  My grandmother always told me “never go to bed angry.”  It is some of the best advice I was ever given.  Keeping grudges or letting anger and misery simply fester under the surface builds resentment and uneasiness.  That is a legacy you do not want to leave.

X-   eXplore, eXpand, eXcite: Why go with the status quo?  Try something new and expose your children to unique experiences.  Travel to different places, try new foods, dream big dreams, and shake it up a bit!  You never know what you will find.

Y-   Yearn to grow and learn: Just because you are a parent, doesn’t mean that you no longer can work on expanding your own mind and achieving your own goals.  You may need to modify your ambition to be a Broadway superstar and instead, audition for your community theater company (I did this!), but you can still express yourself through the arts if you desire.  You may not be able to travel with the Peace Corp but you can volunteer in town, take courses in public service and citizenship, or even teach! Dream, visualize, and go for it.

Z-    ZZZZZZs: Get some.  Parenting always seems more doable after a good night’s rest.

Pleasant days and pleasant dreams.

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