When ‘It’s All About Me’ Isn’t a Bad Thing

It’s tough being you, isn’t it?  Think for a moment of all the people who rely on you:  Partners, kids, parents, siblings, bosses, co-workers, customers, clients, friends, family and neighbors.  Did I miss anyone?  Are you sure?? I didn’t miss ANYONE???  What about YOU? Do you rely on yourself?  Of course you do!  But how often do you take action on something that serves only you?

Would you run a marathon without preparing your body for it with proper nutrition and exercise? Of course not, yet, isn’t this what you do in life?  You serve all these people, subsisting on caffeine, skipped meals (or fast food if you’re lucky), and minimal sleep.

The word “Selfish” has really been dragged through the mud.  Its connotation is always negative.  Yet, what are you advised to do in an emergency landing of an airplane?  That’s right…place your oxygen mask on BEFORE assisting others.  Nobody is holding up the “Selfish” sign then; they’re too busy getting oxygen!

Giving is important.  Helping others is crucial to feeling contributory.  But you can’t run this marathon of good will if you aren’t taking care of yourself.  This means doing things that directly support you and your well-being.   There are some rules though:

  1. Schedule It – You have to make it part of your day. Every day. Some days it may only be 15 minutes, but do not skip it.
  2. Give Yourself Permission – You can’t waiver on this.  We all have those ‘bottom feeders’ in our Pond of Life, who will take and take and take.  You have to stand up for yourself despite the complaints of these scavengers.
  3. Communicate – Those around you need to know when “You Time” is.  This way they know you are not to be interrupted, barring an absolute emergency.  If that 30 minute bubble bath is your time, make sure your housemates know to keep out.
  4. Don’t Justify – Finally, don’t feel like you need to justify this time to every person in your life.  Sharing this information should be on a “need to know” basis.  A simple, “I’m sorry, I’m not available then…” will suffice.

Energy is like a muscle.  In Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz’s book, “The Power of Full Engagement”, they liken energy, and the need to recharge, to physical muscles.  Overuse of a muscle without allowing enough time for recovery results in soreness, swelling and potential injury.  The same is true with the energy you expend serving others.  Without recharging, you are risking your own health and well-being.

So whether your selfish recharging is 30 minutes of reading, a night out with friends, cooking with the family or a 3 day weekend alone in a cabin, just own it.  C’mon…all those people are relying on you to be your BEST you…they deserve your best, but more importantly, YOU deserve your best. Comment below how you like to recharge and spend your You Time.

Tell Me How You Earned that Victim Badge (Said No One Ever)

You got screwed again, huh?  Ripped off? Robbed? Wronged? Overlooked? What the freak? Why do these things always happen to you? You haven’t done anything to cause them.  What else could go wrong?

We all wrap this Victim Snuggie around us from time to time, with a big ol’ carton of ice cream and a Lifetime movie on.  That’s alright…occasionally!!  It’s when we choose to wear the Victim Badge that will have people sprinting as if at a Bull Run.  The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different outcome.  Coincidentally, that’s also the prerequisite for wearing the Victim Badge.

I always cringe when I hear, “What else could go wrong?”  I mean, if I were the Universe, I would see that as a challenge too!  There are true victims out there, people who are wronged through no fault or contribution of their own.  Then there are the rest of us.

In every interaction and exchange you have with others, you are contributing something.  If the “same stuff” keeps happening over and over again, you need to look at the common denominator…that’s you my friend.  Of course you can look at the world as if there are villains out there whose job it is to mess things up for you; or you can see what adjustments you can make to start changing the outcomes.

For instance, you cook, you clean, you taxi, you organize, etc. etc.  You may find yourself frequently complaining, “nobody appreciates all that I do around here”.   That may be true, but remove that badge and TELL them all that you do and HOW you want them to show appreciation.  If it’s become too overwhelming for you, divvy up the duties.  However, if you enjoy doing these things, but would appreciate some “thank you’s”, than say so.

Another example might be that you don’t feel like anyone listens to you.  Ask yourself how you could be contributing to that.  Record yourself having a conversation.  Then listen back.  What are you saying? Are you being negative or whiny? Are you using “I”, “me”, and “my” throughout?

Do you find yourself in the same types of relationships?  Do you pick partners that ultimately disappoint you?  Time to look within.  Find the similarities between these relationships (how they began, what attracted you to them, how they began to decline, how they ended) and start looking at what you could do differently.

I understand that wearing that Victim Badge likely makes a person feel highly significant.  The more struggles they’ve faced, the more times they’ve survived after being wronged is supposed to show how brave and strong they are, right?  Not so much.

The Badge Wearing Victims tend to provide an accounting of every bad thing that has happened to them.  This is often communicated through the alternate use of sarcasm and bewilderment.  They don’t typically share how they overcame issues and got out of their own way (likely because they haven’t).

So take off that Victim Badge and replace it with a Badge of Victory.  Life wasn’t meant to just be survived, it was meant to be conquered!! Then ask the Universe, “What else could go right today?”  I’m betting the universe will see that as a challenge as well!

I’d love your comments below!!

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

 

6 Tips to Breathing Life Into Your Work/Life Balance

Scales.  We hate them.  Our efforts never seem to be reflected in the numbers, am I right?  This isn’t true only in our bathroom scales, but often in our ‘work/life’ scales as well.  Now visualize a scale with one side ‘work’ and the other side ‘life’?  Which one is heavier?  No really, think about it.  Unless you work a second paid job, I’m willing to bet the “life” side is heavier.

Let’s break this down:  We all have the same 168 hours per week.  No one gets more.

168 hrs/week
– 45 hrs/week paid work time
– 49 hrs/week sleep time (7hrs/night)

74 hrs/week “life” time

That averages out to about 10 hours each day!

What are you doing with those 74 hours?  Yes, there are many tasks we must take care of, but are you allowing enough quality time to truly enjoy and appreciate this gift of life you’ve been given?

Here are 6 tips to better balance the “Life” side of the scale:

1 – DELEGATE – Yes, sometimes you have to put that Super Hero cape on and git ‘er done.  But not evveryy time.  There are people around you who would be happy to help you.  Your partner, family, friends, neighbors, etc.  Maybe that’s sharing ride responsibilities with another parent or giving the kids some responsibilities around the house like yard work, laundry, dishes, etc.

2 – OUTSOURCE – The average price for a thorough house cleaning is about $125.  Even if you only used this service once a month you could eliminate or lessen some of those time-consuming tasks.  See if your local dry cleaners do laundry pick-up and delivery.  Look into hiring landscapers, painters, professional shoppers, etc.  Yes, we’re all looking to save a buck where we can, but at what expense?

3 – BUDGET –If you don’t pay attention to how much money is coming in and how much is going out, what is likely to happen?  Bounced checks, declined credit cards, additional debt.  The same is true with your time.  The result is loss of sleep, unhealthy food choices, non-quality time.  Make a plan for the week and do your best to stick to it.  Make sure to include all the activities you want to enjoy (working out, traveling, education) and quality time activities like family meals, date night and reading together.

4 – PLAN AHEAD – Maybe that’s making a week’s worth of meals on Sunday’s.  Maybe that’s scheduling time to do absolutely whatever you want to do!!  This could be the hour the kids are at soccer or the hour between meetings.  You can read, workout, nap, shop, meditate or get your groove on…whatever.

5 – GET CREATIVE – Are there personal tasks you could do at work?  Does your company have a laundry service where you could drop your laundry off and pick it up at work?  Do you have work-from-home options so you can occasionally multi-task at home?  Check out your local chamber of commerce to see what new businesses have opened in your area that could take something off your plate.  They often offer deep discounts to new customers.

6 – JUST SAY NO – We all want to be Super Parents, Super Partners, Super Friends, but we can’t do it all, all of the time.  Can you really be the Full-time employee, PTO President, food bank volunteer, football team rep, sexy partner, home repair person AND best friend?  Does your kid really need to play a team sport, take dance, play an instrument, be on the student council, chess club and the honor roll?  Learn to say, “I’d love to, but I’m stretched too thin right now.”

There are moments in our lives when we just have to suck it up and make some sacrifices of our time.  But that should be the exception, not the rule.

Don’t let circumstances determine how you live your life…that’s your job.

What tips do you have that help you stay balanced?  What aspects of your life tie you down?  Share in the comments below.

Communication – 7 Tips to Proving You’ve Evolved

So many bad things happen simply because of miscommunication or lack of communication.  You know when you’re watching a movie and the characters are clearly not sharing all the necessary information with each other and you’re sitting there like, “Tell him!” or “Don’t let her walk away!”?  There are ways to avoid these situations.  Despite the tendency of some, there is no need to revert back to the days when we all had a hairy back! Here are my Top 7 Communication Tips for the Evolved!

1 – There’s no such thing as common sense – This is evidenced by the infinite number of ways to swipe your credit/debit card in a store.  I always feel like a “winner” when I correctly swipe the card without direction from the clerk.  We all have different experiences and personalities, so our “common” differs from others’ “common”.  We also tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people, so when we are outside this group, like in a business or public setting, it can be difficult to communicate effectively.

 2 – Don’t start in the middle – Just think of some of the most classic films and what would happen if they started in the middle: Snow White would just be a creepy dwarfophile; George from “It’s a Wonderful Life” would just be a crotchety, bitter man undeserving of his wife and children; While Sandy & Danny (Grease), and Edward & Bella (Twilight) would just be your everyday conflicted teens, yawn.  So while it may seem obvious to you, don’t start communicating by assuming others know the “back story”.

 3 – Don’t make people work for it – If you have a message, be direct and to the point.  No one wants to be in a conversation that resembles the game of ‘Clue’. Dropping hints, being coy, beating around the bush, these all sabotage a good discussion.  Unless you’re handing out a secret decoder ring, just spell it out.

 4 – Be clear on the purpose of your communication – If you’re trying to help someone, say so.  If you’re upset and want to voice your feelings, say so.  If you’re ticked off, say so.  Don’t leave the person wondering what the point to the conversation is.  Confusion is not a recommended tactic if you’re trying to be understood.

 5 – Make sure your body language and tone support your words – If you’re trying to convey patience, open-mindedness, forgiveness or any other image, watch your non-verbal behavior.  Saying you’re open to hearing their viewpoint, then rolling your eyes as they share, shows them you’re full of crapola!

 6 – Listen – Stephen R. Covey said it best, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  This means you are not going to plan a defensive comeback each time your partner (not opponent) raises a point.  Listen for the sake of understanding, not strategizing.

 7 – Sometimes writing is the best method – If you want to choose your words carefully, are worried that heated statements could come into play, or that the recipient (or you) could get defensive, then write a letter.  Make sure each thought and feeling you’re trying to convey is expressed exactly how you’d like it to be.  Write, edit, re-edit, send.  This also allows the recipient to absorb and digest what you’re saying and respond in kind.

Communication is the key to peaceful relationships, friendships, and world relations.  Leave the monkey brain where it belongs…with the monkeys!

Share your comments below, I LOVE to hear your feedback (anonymous or otherwise) and I ALWAYS respond!

 

 

Top 10 Back To School Tips

I know we just started August, and we all want to pretend that back to school isn’t right around the corner so we can enjoy the remaining days of summer.  As much as I hate being a kill-joy, some of these tips require a little preparation or completion prior to the first day of school.  If you do not have school-aged children, don’t rule this post out.  I have some tips for everybody here! I also added school grades after each tip so you know whether it pertains to you or not and the best time to begin this step.  So check ‘em out, schedule tasks in your smart phone or other calendar and return to oblivion.

1 – Start a Tradition (K-12)(2 weeks prior to Day 1)

If you haven’t already, start a tradition for your kids and back to school time.  Back-to-School is practically a holiday in my household!  Other than school clothes shopping, there are ways to make the first week of school exciting.  As a working mom, I take a vacation week the first week of school.  We start each morning with a healthy breakfast, pictures in front of our old oak tree in a rockin new outfit, and chatting after school to hear all about it.  We have a full, healthy family dinner every night.  This focused attention has always been a fav of my kids.  Plus, this week allows me time to organize myself and my home.

 2 – Organize (K-College) (2 days prior-first week)

Week 1 can be crazy for parents and students.  For school-age parents there are all the papers that need to be signed, fundraisers to begin, PTO meetings to plan for, etc.  To make this process easier, go to the school’s website, find the school year calendar, and put all important dates in your organizer/smart phone.

For high school & college students, do the same, but add in any pertinent information from your syllabus.  Even if a date isn’t listed, note any rough times an important paper or project may be due.

 For high school students/parents, start a “portfolio” noting “worthy of mention” projects, grades, accomplishments, volunteering, etc. and reach out to your guidance counselor for advisement on this very important college-bound step.

3 – Prepping (K-College) (1 week prior)

I know as my kids got older, I got more lax on bedtime during the summer.  Several days prior to Day 1, is when I require a regularly scheduled bedtime routine.  Those late night parties & picnics and morning sleep-in’s can really mess with a body, so allow a little time to acclimate to any new structure.

 4 – Travel Time (Everybody) (1 day prior)

Allow extra travel time.  If you travel outside the home during typical school start or finish times, your commute is likely to be affected during these times.  Allow extra time to arrive at your destination.

 5 – Re-establish rules (K-College) (1 day prior)

TV, computer, gaming, phone, whatever.  I’m a big proponent of speaking with people and getting their feedback on decisions that affect them.  Having age-appropriate discussions that make the rules clear, provide your reasoning and allow them an opportunity for their input can result in a fantastic compromise and easier transition from summer free-for-all to school time focus and fun.

If you’re the student, giving yourself rules and abiding by them, can really help you focus and balance, while doing well and having fun!

 6 –Food (Everyone) (2 days prior)

For some reason, many of us (myself included) allow more “naughty” foods during the summer.  Plan ahead and get everyone back on track with healthier choices.  Fruits, wheat crackers & peanut butter, for snacks and more homemade meals for dinner is a great way to get everyone back on track. Planning is key to eating right!

 7 – Exercise the Brain (Everyone) (1 month prior)

If you’ve allowed yours or your kid’s brain to hibernate over the summer, it’s time to spark this organ back into action.  Homework is right around the corner.  If there is an assigned reading book, it’s not too late if you heed my advice.  Plan the number of chapters that need to be read between “now” and “then” in order to meet any deadlines.  If this is a book or several books your child needs to read, read it with them.  You can discuss highlights together, and I bet you’ll find it more fun than you thought! At the very least, they will enjoy discussing it with you.

If you’ve caught up on required reading, now is a great time to get back into the habit of reading regularly to stay sharp. Be sure to subscribe to this site to become a VIP which will automatically enter you into the August VIP perk prize, which is a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card! Nothing encourages reading more than reading what interests you.

 8 – School Clothes Shopping (Everyone) ( 1 month prior)

Full-on fun for kids, full-on expensive for parents! Check out this link for “Tax Free” dates in your US state which will help lower the expenses.  http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/08/02/2013-state-tax-holiday-calendar/ Also, for younger kids or frugal students, consider shopping at local consignment shops which typically carry hot brands, like American Eagle, Hollister, Gilly Hicks, Coach and other name brand clothes at an incredibly discounted rate.

 9 – Responsibilities (K-College) (3 days prior)

We all have them.  Kids and students are no exception.  Define what these are, discuss these with your child and communicate clearly.  Not only does this foster team work, it also prepares them for the business world.  Make sure chores are age-appropriate but don’t be too easy.  Life after schooling is tough, start preparing them for that now.  We are all part of a team. Family, school, work, church, etc.  We all play a role in making that team better.  This instills pride and responsibility.

 10 – Your Education (Everyone) (1 month prior)

Learning should never stop.  Have you reached a point in your life where you could squeeze in a little “you” time?  If you’re waiting for an invitation, here it is…”Dear (your name here), you are cordially invited to invest in your own education.  Whether through your local community college ( http://www.utexas.edu/world/comcol/state/ ), state college, adult education program, or any other program, I encourage you to review all available classes and enroll in any one that interests you!”  Learning never stops.  Music, Art, English, History, Zumba!  Stop making excuses why you can’t, and start, or finish, that degree or take a class that you’ve always wondered about.

 Learning is AWESOME!  I am lucky enough to know some fantastic teachers and instructors and some amazing students.  Happy New School Year and Happy End of Summer!   I’d love for you to comment by adding any “Top 10 Back-To-School Tips” you may have.

 

Honoring Thy Father

Ah boy, this is gonna be a tough one.  I am just like my dad.  This became evident when I was a teenager.  He was so clearly perplexed by me, and I was more than willing to test his limits.  Growing up, my parents were very ‘50’s like.  Mom worked a part-time job, and did all the “woman-stuff” like dinner, laundry, ironing, child-rearing, etc.  Dad worked a full-time job and did all of the “man-stuff” like mowing the lawn, paying the bills, disciplining the children, etc.

He didn’t balk when I wore a skirt that was too short, but was less than enthusiastic when I got a B- on my report card.  He was inclined to grumpiness and was most affectionate and playful with a couple drinks in him.  Fiercely loyal to family and friends, and a man of great integrity.  So proud and strong and brave.

He worked so hard to provide for my mom, sister and myself.  He was a committed firefighter at Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Department and earned the “Lifetime Member” award.  He was a member of the local American Legion named after his father.  He was a proud veteran.  He was the eldest of seven.  He was an avid golfer.  He was an avid bowler.  The hardest part about writing the preceding sentences are two words that still cut like a knife: “He was…”

It’s been eight years since I lost my dad.  I cry as easily now as I did eight years ago when he was called to heaven.  I remember how it unfolded so clearly.  My husband, children and I were at a weeklong church retreat and on our last day, I had called my dad to see if he received the results of a test to determine what had been causing him gallstone-like pain for two months.  He said in a shaky voice that it was cancer.  This was in August of 2004.

Having lost my father-in-law to cancer only 3 months earlier, this was a scary bit of news.  I cried silently, so as not to upset the grandchildren he doted on, and resolved to be the strength for him that he always was for me.  Soon after, I met with the oncologist who educated us and said initial tests indicated this was a Stage 1 cancer.  A couple weeks later, and several tests later proved otherwise.  My strong, hardworking dad had Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

He had radiation and chemo and a doctor that truly tried everything to eradicate this terrible disease from my father.  Dad didn’t respond well to the chemo and had several hospital stays to recover from the effects of this potential ‘remedy’.  Six months after his initial diagnosis, my dad was informed that he had less than a week to live.

Badass that he was, he made it 8 days to March 1st, 2005.  He left a legacy.  A beautiful legacy that I, my sister, mom, son, daughter and nieces will continue to celebrate.

I learned from his life how to work hard, have fun and be strong.  I learned from his death that you can’t take time for granted.

Today, I honor my father with this post and celebrate all that he taught me in that important role.  Tell me in the comments section why your Dad is or was so awesome! Happy Father’s Day all you Dad’s and Father-figures out there.  You will be remembered, make it good!

Is Career Suicide a Result of a Common Parental Mistake?

As parents, we all do the best we can.  Could we have done better? Probably, but that’s just the snotty little voice of retrospect talking. I was raised, and raised my children, to be leaders not followers.  This has proven very effective thus far against the evils of youth: drugs, drinking, sex, peer pressure, bullying, etc.   I have repeatedly heard and said, “Be a LEADER, not a follower!”   So, you ask, what is this HUGE mistake you speak of?   Being the Leader is only half the lesson.  The other half of the lesson is to be a good Follower.  What you talkin’ ‘bout Willis?

Allow me to explain.  It’s great that we teach our children to be leaders and take charge and be assertive and not concede to popular belief simply because it’s popular belief.  However, it’s a bit short-sighted.  Let’s break this down.   Fast forward to your child’s first job or new job. While leadership skills may be admired by employers, followership skills are equally as important.   There are times we need to take charge and times we need to assist and support.

We all have a boss.  This includes CEO’s, business owners and entrepreneurs.  Leadership ability is important to grow and develop, and Followership ability is important for exactly the same reasons.  We need to teach our children, youth and next generation workers, how to follow.  I don’t mean of the “sheep” or “suck up” variety, I mean actively, knowledgeably, passionately, PROUDLY, follow.

One of the most common struggles I see in today’s up-and-comers’ is their drive for big things. Big titles, big money, big life.  Those goals are great, however, in order to achieve them (and sustain them eventually) they need to learn how to be great at small titles, work efficiently with small monies and lead a satisfying life of simplicity, at least temporarily.  Living and learning all there is at these ‘follower’ levels will make these up-and-comer’s better leaders.

Ever work in a company where there were too many Chiefs and not enough Indians?  It ain’t pretty!  It’s like professional “Lord of the Flies”.  Following is allowing someone else to “drive” while you assist in any way that makes their job as “driver” easier and succeeds in getting to the desired destination in an efficient manner.  Take the Daytona 500, the race car driver is the Leader and the pit crew are the Followers.  And before you use this term interchangeably with “Team Player” let me explain the difference.  In a team-player scenario, the entire team would be in the vehicle as they cross the finish line.

As parents, we obviously want our children to be successful in all of their jobs and professional pursuits.  Our kids, like ourselves, have worked for or will likely work for an incompetent leader, but that need not be an excuse for being an incompetent follower.  The lessons that come from that experience will only serve to provide another accomplishment.  While a Leader should be judged on how they develop their Followers, a Follower should be judged on how well they develop their Leader.  Both roles serve the other.

What examples do YOU have that show how balancing Leadership skills and Followership skills have assisted in job or career success?

Mom and Her Cape

My mom drives me crazy sometimes. Just like I drive her crazy sometimes. I’m considered by almost anyone who knows me to be very non-judgmental. We all have our demons, yet I find that I throw the stone a little harder at my mom and the demons she occasionally dances with. Like she’s Superwoman or something. Like she doesn’t have the right to have weaknesses and shortcomings like the rest of us. But see, she was Superwoman to me. So on this Mother’s Day I’d like to honor her by thanking her for her superpowers:

So Mom, Thanks for:

  • Standing up to the neighborhood boys that bullied me even though you hate confrontation
  • Always telling me I was pretty (and meaning it), even when my teeth were bigger than my face
  • Having all sorts of interesting Reader’s Digest Condensed books to feed my need of reading
  • Having a delicious dinner on the table 5 nights a week
  • Letting me bring home any and all friends that made any sort of claim of abuse or neglect
  • Leaving with me through the ‘early exit’ door of the haunted house several years running, even though you really wanted to go through the whole house
  • Letting us build forts in the living room using dining room chairs, every sheet and blanket in the linen closet and laughing with, or providing instructions to, us
  • Teaching us all sorts of ridiculous superstitions, like wishing on a hay filled truck or an eyelash or saying “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” before uttering any other words on the first day of the month
  • Letting me take the car, even when I was being a snotty, bratty teenager and didn’t deserve it
  • Letting me and the neighborhood kids share our secret hideouts with you that were dispersed over a one mile radius from the house so I could prove my mom was the coolest
  • Not telling Dad so many things, even though you threatened to, just to scare the bejeezus out of me
  • Letting me wear hot pink four inch heels in 7th grade because they were cool, even though I looked like a prostitute
  • Bringing me to the Edmond Town Hall every Friday night to see the movie, even though (I suspect) you knew I wasn’t going to see any movie
  • Telling me I had a great shape (and meaning it), even though I had no boobs or hips
  • Yelling at me and telling me how disappointed you were the entire 5 mile ride home when I smoked way too much pot and was throwing up all over the passenger door of the Buick
  • Teaching me how to drive, and not slapping me, even though you wanted to, when I tried to show off and scare Christina Perry on her bike by gunning it and swerving at her
  • Always telling me how proud you were of me
  • Coming to every single chorus concert and acting like you just saw a Broadway show and only heard my “angelic voice” singing
  • Making sure Dad went easy on me, when me and cousin Michelle broke a neighbor’s TV while pretending to be drunk (seriously Oscar-worthy performance)
  • Being the prettiest mom so I could brag
  • Loving me even when I didn’t deserve it or made poor choices
  • Showing me your “scary mom eyes” in the grocery store with the stage whisper telling me to “just wait till we get home” then doing nothing once we got there
  • Making every holiday such an exciting tradition year after year
  • Teaching me to accept all people and not pass judgment
  • Moving to my town after Dad died, even though you really didn’t want to leave our childhood home
  • Loving me unconditionally, even though I put conditions on showing my love to you at times
  • Teaching me that while you have your own version of Kryptonite, you’re still a Superwoman

Mom, while you may dance with demons occasionally in your human form, I will be heartbroken when you dance with the angels. So let this post in your honor be my flawed human attempt at telling you just how much I love and cherish you and hope to someday, truly be worthy of your unconditional love. Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Mom’s reading this post. For those who are fortunate enough to have their mom’s still here, as well as, those who are missing their mom today, please share your own “Thank You For…” in the comments section.

10 Things You MUST Do In Front of Your Kids

It’s a whole lotta work raising kids, and there’s a lot of pressure to do it right (whatever that means).  I’ve discovered some MUST-DO’s.  Some I learned the hard way, others by luck and none by the “Parent’s Guide to Raising Your Children to Not be Freaks, Morons or Full-On Embarrassments” which continues to be on back-order!  So without further ado, here are my Top 10…

#10 – Show affection – Keep it PG Rated, but let them see hugging, kissing, tickling, snuggling, holding hands, complimenting, laughing or any other displays you are comfortable with.

#9 – Cry – Whether this is because you lost a loved one, got fired or you’re just really frustrated.  Let them see that even grown-ups need to release their feelings through tears.  I know this is a tough one.  I hate crying in front of anyone, let alone my kids, especially since I’m one ugly damn crier.  So while you may prefer the actual crying stage to be solitary, once you’ve got yourself pulled back together, talk to them about how healthy it is to release feelings in a safe and human way.

#8 – Be Health Conscious – Monkey-see, Monkey-do. It’s awesome you tell the kids to eat fruit as a snack and not Oreo’s, unless of course, you’re the one eating the Oreo’s.  No judgment folks, I’ve been there! And while it’s great to suggest they go outside and play, it’s even better to do it yourself.  Kids give us an easy excuse to try something new.  Rollerblading, ladder ball, sidewalk chalk, it’s all better than sitting at the computer or on the couch!

#7 – Give to those in need – It’s all too common to hear people criticize those less fortunate. The scammers and schemers may be out there, but let’s leave them to Jerry Springer.  Show your kids how to give back and to do so without judgment, just love.  Food pantries, street performers, animal shelters, veterans, whatever.  Just show them how to share time or money with those who are struggling.

#6 – Admit you’re imperfect – We work so hard trying to teach our kids to be right. Showing how to gracefully admit making a mistake and own up to it, is one of the best lessons you can give. Also, make it ok to not always know everything.  Teach them how to be resourceful and find the answers to their questions. Resources can include The Bible, the Google or the friend that knows that kind of stuff.

#5 – Talk about work – Including the nasty supervisor, the insubordinate employee and even the backstabbing co-worker.  Teach them how you problem solve and deal with those messy people problems they will undoubtedly experience throughout life.  I’m a firm believer that Business School starts at home!

#4 – Share financial goals and struggles – Kids will learn to save (and spend) based on your example.  Let them feel part of the family team and contribute ideas on ways to save.  Brainstorm crazy-fun things you could do that cost little, to no money.  Camping in the woods, “unplug” for 24 hours, make a meal out of only what’s in the cabinets. Get creative.

#3 – FIGHT – No, not the down and dirty, heavy adult stuff, just your day-to-day spats.  They too, will argue as an adult one day.  You want to show them the right way to do it.  Even if things get a little heated, kids need to see that respect (no name calling) and love (babe, I’m trying to understand your perspective here, but…) should be the base to every disagreement.

#2 – Give love to yourself – just like they play and color and swim, we need stuff to make us feel good too.  As this typically involves time without them, explain why this is important no matter what your age.  This may include personal work-out time, a nail appointment or a hot date!

And the #1 Thing you Must Do In Front of Your Kids is…

#1 – Commit to an established designated family time – For some, this would be a meal time, like breakfast or dinner.  Other options include the 30 minutes before bedtime, Friday nights or Sunday afternoons.  While 5 days per week is a great goal, even just once a week, consistently, will have great affect.  The goal for these sessions is to allow all family members equal time to share verbally.  So if they are excited to share something, have a question or maybe just something cool they learned, this is the place to share it.  Remember, active listening is key during this time.

These work for all ages with minor adaptations through the years. Please test out any that resonated with you and “comment” how they worked for you and your family.  Also share any tips you’ve discovered along the way in the “comments” section.

Miscommunication

Listening is very important! As a person who prides herself on “looking at the Big Picture” I, too, can fail. Here is the story:
7:02pm: My teen daughter is observed viewing her phone with an expression of anger/sadness. I ask her, “What’s wrong?” She mouths, “I’ll tell you later.”
7:36pm: Husband comes downstairs to the kitchen and asks me, “What is that sound, like something being hit?” I reply that I haven’t heard anything and tell him I have no idea what he’s talking about.
8:10pm: I text my teen daughter and ask her to come downstairs and “fill me in”.
8:11pm: My teen daughter comes downstairs and quietly asks, “What’s ‘banging’?” I reply, “Well it depends on the context it was used in, but typically it is a reference to sex or some variation of it.”
8:12pm: My teen daughter collapses over the kitchen counter in laughter. I ask, “What’s so funny? Did you misunderstand a text or tweet, or something?” Teen daughter replies, “No Mom, I was asking what was banging. Daddy heard it too.” Time to get my mind out of the gutter!! 
This is an impromptu post that I thought shouldn’t be wasted. There will be a full post released this Sunday. Hope you enjoy this interim piece!