Monday, March 28, 2011

How to Make The Most of The Time You Spend With Your Kids

The next time someone tells you to go fly a kite, know that they must love you! ...

Otherwise, they'd be more likely to tell you to schedule a time to do something of 'quality' with your kid.

Okay, perhaps that was a wee bit tainted with intolerance; however, I respectfully ask that you hear me out. I seriously think that most of us try too hard to do what really does come naturally ... if only we'd just stop trying.

Most parents ask me to help them make the most of the time they spend with their kids. There truly seems to be a chase for some magical way to manufacture some mysterious thing called 'quality time' with our kids.

Actually, there is one magical key to unlock the 'quality time' door ... Now brace yourself here, I'll say this as delicately as possible.

I've got lots of suggestions; however, my #1 simplest-sure-fire-way-to-good-old-fashioned-quality-time is, (drum-roll, please...) “Lighten up!

Yep, that's it! ... Lighten the heck up! Often times we make more of a project out of parenting than we should. Yes, there are times when we must put on our game face and address something in an authoritative way. However, is it always necessary to be in charge and in control with our kids?

Now, I’m not talking about life altering situations, I’m talking about planning your normal day or outing. Most of us are scheduled from the time we wake up until the time our weary bodies hit the mattress 16 or so hours later! And our kids’ lives are just as scheduled!

When was the last time your kid played a ‘pick-up’ game at a local ball field? Oh, wait … even the ball field is ‘scheduled’ these days, right? It seems that everyone and everything is 'managed' today. Chances are that your kid’s friends don’t just stop by with a bat over their shoulder asking if Josh can come out and play. They’ve showed up at a designated time for a SCHEDULED play date.

Most of the scheduling our kids are subjected to is because the adults involved (either supervising or transporting the kids) are so very busy that everything must be arranged and fit in to our schedules. As a result, most kids (and adults) today don’t know much about leisurely hanging out in a comfortable fashion. There just doesn’t seem to be much room for simply being 'leisurely' ... and that is just tragic to me!

In fact, the word leisurely has even gotten sort of clumsy to say; you'll see what I mean if you go back to the previous two sentences and reread them. Are we even losing the ability to merely say the word?! Suddenly, the word 'tragic' is not strong enough! ... We are in a state of emergency ... albeit a leisurely one.

Therefore, I propose that you just take one day to try my #1 rule, and simply LIGHTEN UP! … Lighten up your schedule, lighten up your attitude, and I’m going to bet that you will lighten up your heart.

If you are like me, you will need at least a sketch of an outline so that you are not completely shooting from the hip and sitting around the family room asking, “Well, what do you want to do today?” Chances are that the only answer you’ll get besides shrugged shoulders is, “Dunno, what do YOU want to do?” Thus, it’s good to start with a few ideas and adjust as you go along, but it is important to keep in mind that you plan to adjust as you go along.

Remember that the goal here is NOT to stick to a schedule. With that said, begin by each preparing a list of possible things to do, then go grab a breakfast smoothie and have at it! It might be nice just to set out on foot with a note pad and a camera in hand; when you see something interesting, stop and take a picture then make some notes to document your questions and comments. This might just take you right back home to your computer, or to a park bench with your laptop researching something you two just HAVE to find out about.

It might also bore you to tears of laughter! And when you dry your eyes, you might decide to head to the zoo, museum, or a local farm to pet the animals! Either way, notice that you are actually spending time together … cherish it, and journal about it so that you can enjoy it again later, when you set aside more ‘nothing’ time and no one is around to spend it with.

The memories are almost as much fun as the experience, and if I were you, I’d scoop up as many opportunities as you can to create those memories. These times don’t last forever, but they certainly can live on…

I wish you lots of ‘nothing’ time this week~

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tsunami Effect on Our Children

Do you find yourself looking at things with more intensity after watching the devastation in Japan following the Tsunami? It truly leaves me filled with my own earthquake of emotions to process. Can we ever really know the feelings of those who survived? Is there a way we can help, I mean REALLY get in there and help, while still maintaining our lives and taking care of our own businesses and families? And the unthinkable question of how we would feel if such an atrocity hit closer to home.

As a writer, many words come to my mind in times like these; however, the one I find myself repeating is, 'unimaginable.' That just about sums it up for me; however, it is so very real to our brothers and sisters in a far-away land. If nothing else, such horror does bring us a little closer, and although that is a good thing, it gives pause to the question, "Why does it take something so horrific to bring people closer together?"

With that said ~ or asked ~ today's blog post delivers ways for us to get a little closer now. Since I primarily deal with families, parents and children, I focus here on ways to help the kids in your life deal with their emotions after something so devastating.

Let's face it, the media is great at supplying immediate ~ and very graphic ~ details of current events. If we adults are left with a barrage of questions after watching the news unfold, what must our children be thinking and feeling? And better yet, how on earth do we broach the subject and get our children talking openly about their feelings?

Well, below is a quick laser tip that might help you find out how a child in your life feels about this latest tsunami. You might find that your child has processed things well enough already. You might learn that your child is a little stressed about things, and you now have tools to help them process their lingering emotions. Or, it might be evident that it's best to get your child to a professional who can help at a deeper level.

Some might also find that their child has a real interest in helping the survivors, and this is a great time to put together a plan that you can do together ... whether it's collecting clothes to send over, or you matching their allowance money to donate, or, or, or ... the possibilities are endless. The beauty is that you now know, and you now have tools with which to build greater character in your child.

• In a casual and familiar atmosphere (when you typically spend quality time with your child) begin an acrostic word exercise by writing the word tsunami vertically on a piece of paper ~ as shown in the example below. Then, also as shown below, ask your child to write (or if too young to write, ask them to say out loud and you write) a word or two that begins with each letter of the word:
o Terrifying
o Scared
o Unsure
o Not safe
o Awful
o Many died
o I’m worried

• Now, ask them to elaborate on that word by turning it into a sentence. You can ask them to explain what, in particular, is terrifying about the tsunami. Then work down the rest of the letters in the word:
o Terrifying waves and water everywhere.
o Scared that it could happen to us.
o Unsure of what happens to children who can’t find their parents.
o Not safe to stay in their home anymore.
o Awful to think about it happening again.
o Many died and many kids lost their parents.
o I’m worried that we might not be safe.

• At this point, you should have plenty of information about what your child is thinking and feeling. You can begin dialogue by going through each line and discussing things that might help ease their mind. If your child wants to do something to help, put together a plan together ... this is quality time at its very BEST!

Finally, if you see a pattern which indicates that it might be necessary to seek professional help, do so quickly, and make certain to bring along your acrostic word exercise. This is a great tool to help the therapist/counselor help your child more effectively.

It is my hope that this simple activity will prove to be a way for you to get inside your child's head and heart. Once we know what they are thinking, we are better equipped to help them if needed. I also like to pass along other websites and tools that I come across which I think might be helpful ... and so click here for another helpful article you might want to read.

As always, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me at if you have a question, something to share, or a topic you'd like me to address here.

"It's never wrong to write!"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Perhaps it's because I'm eternally stuck in fourth grade ... but I LOVE Dr. Seuss! This week is one of my favorite weeks because the celebration of his birthday on the 2nd of March brings people, big and small together in a carefree way.

His work is ... well, not WORK at all. His words are play, everything he wrote screams, "PLAY!"

I guess it's that whimsical, fun, dare-you-to-find-something-serious-here sort of way that he approached every story, every poem, heck ... practically every word he ever published!

And so, with respect to the master himself, in honor of his life, and in acknowledgment of his accomplishments, I hope you snuggle up with some little someone special this week as we celebrate Read Across America. I will be celebrating with countless students as I begin another busy week, but first I leave you with my own Seuss-inspired words of play:

Would you set aside some time
To read or write a special rhyme?

This would be the perfect week
To write the words you might not speak.

Some say writing is like baring your soul
I guess I'm a bare-naked writing fool!

I hope you like my words, I do
That's why I share them here with you.

It is my hope that they bring you glee
And make you want to share with me.

So, leave a note, in rhyme or not
For me, it would just hit the spot

To know that I've inspired you
To celebrate the master, too!

You see, I have no cat
Sitting within my hat

But there's one thing I must say
That on this very special day

My hat is tipped in reverent praise
At every word, in every phrase

To which Dr. Seuss crafted oh, so well
Please, go and read, and write and tell

Tell every child you see today
That they should write their own heart's way!

For that would make the master proud
Now, write and share, and read aloud

Ahh! Tapping keyboards and drinking eyes
The sights and the sounds of growing wise!

I remain in awe~