Earth Day

The rain showers have helped.  All of a sudden the colors of Spring are appearing, buds sprouting, daffodils swaying, grass greening, forsythia blooming, and lilacs looking promising.

It’s a lovely time of year – a perfect time for the celebration of Earth Day on Wednesday, April 23rd.

Earth Day – we really should celebrate – we really should take note.

Tell your children and plan something to acknowledge the occasion.  Create a new family tradition.

Plant some flowers; clean up an elderly neighbor’s yard; clean up your own yard; brush away the old leaves and debris and let your children discover life beneath; don some old gloves, grab a paper bag and choose a park or a block to pick up the litter; count the robins you see in the neighborhood; go on the first picnic of the year, even if it’s chilly; go eagle watching along the river; grab some binoculars and peek in on the baby owls in their nest in a dead tree in the marsh; climb a tree; hug a tree.

Speaking of trees, it was only last week that La Crosse saw more than a hundred ash trees on Losey Blvd be taken down. A family,  participants of The Parenting Place, was there to observe, to understand, to honor.

Oliver, five years old, was interviewed by a TV reporter as he stood watching with his dad and little brother.  Yes, he knew that “the trees had a bug, and they didn’t want it to spread – so they need to cut them down”, he told  the reporter. When asked what Oliver hoped they would plant to replace them, he answered, “maple trees so I can collect maple leaves.”

It was a sad day to see these seemingly healthy trees be toppled, one after the other, along the length of Losey Blvd. But it’s also encouraging that new trees will sprout, (maybe even maples), young boys will remember, and future good stewards of the Earth are being raised.

Happy Earth Day 2015 everyone!  Go on out and celebrate !

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Ah … sleep

Sleep – children often fight it – parents mostly crave it – for themselves and for their child.

Sleep issues are one of the most frequent concerns that arise when parents talk about their children. How can we get this child to sleep – to stay in bed – to sleep alone.

Other concerns parents have may not start off being about sleep, but after sharing tales of a child’s behavior, outbursts, tantrums, hyperactivity, it may all come directly back to a child’s need for more sleep.

In today’s busy world we live in, where expectations and doing more is valued highly,sleep often takes a back seat, becomes an afterthought.

So how can we change this drama of bedtime to the peace of dreamland?

The prime key is to provide a routine – develop a rhythm that helps your child feel and be ready for bedtime. Most parents will swear they do have a routine yet bedtime still remains stressful for all. However, there are many factors that affect whether a child accepts and responds to a bedtime routine or puts up his defenses to fight it.

Some children co-sleep with their parents, some children sleep in a “nest” on the floor in their parents’ room, some siblings share a bed, some children sleep alone. All of these situations can work to provide a good night of rest for your child and you. What’s essential,however, is to respect the value and significance a good night’s sleep can offer for your child’s well-being and for your own well-being and to keep this as a strong priority in your family’s life.

If you are one of the many parents wondering why bedtime is often challenging, call and register for the workshop “Ah Sleep” at The Parenting Place, Tuesday, April 21st from 6-7:30 PM.  Join the discussion and learn ways to make nighttime more peaceful in your home.  Call The Parenting Place – 784-8125 to register. Limited childcare is available.

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routine maintenance

It’s that time of year again for me. I want to throw open the windows and let Spring come in – let the fresh air blow and linger in every little corner.

I want to clean, organize, discard, imagine, create, make over.

I want to find every little piece of Tootsie hair, dust ball and spider web hidden in every forgotten corner.

I want to shine!

In parenting, we often go through stages where that’s exactly how we feel about our families.

We’re going to get this family into shape – make some changes around here – big ones. We set up new rules, schedules, commitments, have-to-dos, behavior charts, consequences.

We’re going all out – tackling everything.

We want to shine!

But – what we’re really creating in either one of these scenarios is, most likely, a set-up for failure – or disappointment at best.

The other day I noticed my husband walking down the driveway to converse with a city crew doing something with the street sewer. He came back, stuck his head in the kitchen door and reported, “routine maintenance”

Exactly – the real answer to this urgency I feel.

Routine maintenance is preventative. It is an essential part of the care, heart and soul of a home – or a family.

We’ve heard it before of course, but reminders are always good. I recognize how taking just five minutes a day to efficiently straighten up a different part of your house each day will maintain a sense of order in your whole home.

And, parenting experts tell us that at least five minutes of very focused connection with a child or other family member every day can restore connection and strengthen relationships.

So – maybe we need to start small. Maybe we need to take five – on our homes, our children, whatever change we want to see happen.

I bet we’ll shine!

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happy anniversary

Today when I opened up my WordPress site to write my blog – I was surprised to find a Happy Anniversary card from WordPress to me.  Five years ago today, I wrote my first Parent Pulse blog for The Parenting Place.

Wow! Who knew?

It’s hard to believe so many Mondays have gone by that I’ve sat down to share some thoughts with all of you. And it’s all of you who follow, read and share  that makes having this blog so rewarding and fun for me.

So really –  this anniversary is an anniversary for all of us today.

Because it is your stories, your challenges, your celebrations, your funny, smart children that give me the ideas to write about.

As we go along from day to day, we don’t often stop to consider the milestones in our daily lives.  Parents, especially, have so much to recognize, so much to feel they have accomplished.  For every stage of childhood passed through is also a stage of parenting – that we grow through together.

And these passages are significant.

Remember to take the time to recognize where you started and what you’ve learned.

Take the time to recognize your growth as a parent.

Take the time to celebrate.





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Spring is here – and yet we awoke to a virtual winter wonderland.

Two steps forward – one step back.

As parents, we see that a lot in a child’s development.  Everything seems to be going well when,  “oops”, we  encounter some short-lived regression along the way.  This can be frustrating to parents, as their child  perhaps begins to wake up repeatedly in the night, pee their pants, whine and want to be carried, become afraid of the bath – all after months of independent practice.

But take heed – just as we accept the vagaries of nature – the cold front slipping down from the north causing this spring storm, we need to expect and accept these setbacks in development when they occur, and meet your child where he/she is right at that moment.

Usually a regression in a child reflects a developmental leap, some  stress, or change in his life that is troubling him.  It could be a nightmare that he had, a scary video he watched at a cousin’s house, not enough sleep, a new house, a new bed, an ear infection, traveling, sibling issues, or just needing some more and deeper connection with you.

It’s best to meet this in a positive way.  Ignore focusing on the regression and, instead, give the extra love, patience, and attention to your little one.

And just as the snow will melt, the sun will come out and the daffodils sprout in our neighborhoods after this little detour toward spring,  your children will feel your warmth and acceptance,  and bloom  –  once again –  in their own way and time.

Happy Spring!

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On Friday at Play Shoppe many of the children decorated kites.  Perfect timing, don’t you think?  “The March winds doth blow and we shall”  … fly kites!

As the morning drew to an end, Henry, a little guy with kite in hand hurried his mom to get going.  “I want to ‘fly-test’ my kite” he repeated excitedly several times on his way out the door.

“Fly-test” – I really like Henry’s personal word for trying out his kite.

It stuck with me all weekend – “fly-test”.

I came to realize that’s  actually what we do as parents on a pretty regular basis.  We fly-test our approaches to parenting – especially the bigger issues – from the time they’re babies figuring out sleep and feeding schedules and why this baby is crying,  right through toilet learning, school issues, temperaments, extracurricular activities, bedtimes, expectations, sibling rivalry – the list goes on.

We fly-test our strategies to see what works well.

We fly-test our strategies, hoping to make our family’s lives be the best it can be – to make things fly.

But parenting is not a perfect science – and sometimes they don’t.

So we reconsider – what didn’t work, what do we need to do instead.  And we learn, just as with keeping a kite aloft, that parenting takes much energy, positive thinking, balance, thrust, passion, resilience, determination, a whole lot of faith and a dream – like Henry had – that his kite  will soar.

If any of you are in the middle of “fly-testing” a solution to a parenting concern and would like some insight, give us a warmline call at The Parenting Place – 784-8125 and ask to speak to one of the Parent Educators.



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stick to it

“Drop it – put it down – Now!” that’s what the three children walking ahead of us on our Sunday walk heard, as one after another discovered a stick of their choosing.

Obediently they did as they were told.  The oldest child of about 8 years of age took the longest to comply – but did.  He had the most special stick – a sturdy 4-footer with twists and turns.  He recognized its specialness I could tell – the way he held it, the care he was taking in carrying it.  He hoped it could be a “keeper”.

After all, a stick like that doesn’t come along everyday.

What is it about sticks and children anyway?

When I was growing up, my sisters and I would hunt  for “walking sticks” – not the type you see people using as a support when walking or hiking.  No – these sticks were going to walk along with us.  They were not easy to find. They had to be tall and strong but not thick – just thin enough on the bottom to hop along as you walked it – being careful to hold it off to your side, as occasionally it would miss a step and get stuck on a crack,  and you could get jabbed in the stomach.

A walking stick was magical – a stick companion that appeared to come alive as you walked it along.

Sticks offer children an immediate connection with nature.  Just the feel of the rough or smooth bark in ones hands, the different shapes, lengths, curves and hooks can conjure up any myriad uses for this new-found treasure. And a treasure it is – not picked off the boys’ aisle or the girls’ aisle in the toy department of some big box store – but discovered – in nature – by one’s self – the perfect stick for you.

I realize I’m not addressing the concerns this particular mom and other adults might have about the dangers of playing with sticks.  That’s a blog for someone else to write.

This is about keeping the  adventure alive.

It’s about make-believe,  risk-taking , connecting to nature,  imagination, freedom, treasure – and also, yes, self-regulation and discipline.   For only by playing with sticks can we learn and experience just what it takes to be careful with our sticks, to be mindful of others while we play with our sticks.

And in doing so, keep our spirits and imaginations growing and strong.


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