Last week I had lunch with a very good friend.  We hadn’t seen each other in awhile but no matter – we are always able to just start up our conversation, our connections – where we left off.

Both of us have a child close in age.  Our friendship goes way back to when they were just 5 and 6 years old.  It’s taken us through our children’s elementary school years, high school, college,  even weddings – and ourselves through being stay-at-home-moms to working full-time out of the home – supporting and sharing our evolving roles all the way.

It is such a valued friendship that I am grateful to have.

And one of the biggest joys of my job at The Parenting Place has always been seeing this same type of relationship develop between the parents that come to our parenting groups and Play Shoppes.  For parents come to our groups new to parenting, new to La Crosse, looking for socialization and resources for their child – and so often finding a bonus – a good friend – a support network.

For parenting is definitely a journey that is easier shared with others who are going through the same experiences, stages, joys and concerns.

At our recent Parent Cafe at The Parenting Place, when asked “How do you stay grounded and secure as a parent?”, a participant shared that it’s through being able to parent her children among other parents who know and love her children.   Even if her child might be having a difficult day, there is always that love, understanding, friendship, and support toward both her and her children that she can rely on and trust.


If you haven’t been to one of our parenting groups at The Parenting Place, check out our website – or give us a call – 784-8125 and ask to speak to a parent educator to find the group that works best for you.

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I’ve been more in tune with the vagaries of weather and how we must accept and adjust to it recently, since I am temporarily walking “Tootsie” at the early crack of dawn.  I realize it’s not until I open the door do I really know what to expect.  A few days ago it was so furiously windy and bitter cold, that in the early morning darkness, I definitely felt winter’s wrath.

But … we deal with what Mother Nature offers us.  We accept the plunging temperatures even as we await the sunny, warm days of summer, only to adjust once again when the heat intensifies too much.

And isn’t that what parenting is like?  Every day is not” a sunny 72 degrees in June”.  But when the temps  heat up or we feel the chill seeping in, we make the necessary changes – doing what needs to be done, finding our way through a particularly stormy day.

That flexibility, resilience, and acceptance is what we should recognize and celebrate in ourselves.  It’s an acknowledgement that in spite of inconveniences, distractions, messed-up schedules, loss of sleep, unpredictability, we are there for our children – taming the tantrums, putting out the fires, being the meteorologist of emotions.

And during the storm and in the sunshine, we are growing strongly into parenthood.

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sweeter dreams

“My heart melts whenever I see a little child in their “jamies” I told a mom the other night as she scooped up her pajama-clad children from the playroom after an evening program at The Parenting Place.

And that’s the truth!  They look so darn comfy, innocent and trusting.

But then it comes time for them to go to bed.

We hear from parents all the time that bedtime scenes in their homes are often less than cozy – in spite of their pajama-clad little ones.  I was recently reading an article about bedtimes for children being fraught with such stress, upsets and discord.  And the suggestion was perhaps to change the way we portray bedtime.  So often going to bed is presented as a threat -as a terrible place to go – “You’re going to go straight to bed if you don’t stop”, “You  get in that bed right now”, “the way you’re acting, you’ll go to bed without any bedtime snack”, “Get in bed and don’t let me hear another peep!” 

Often, even time-outs are spent with a child sitting upset and sad on his bed.

So, why not offer a softer tone, a more peaceful approach.   Why not consider and share how helpful sleep is for our bodies – how when we rest, our brains sort out all the things we learned today to be ready for learning new things tomorrow.  Call it growing time …slowing time …knowing time.

It’s a small thing – but maybe it will make a big difference – if we change our bedtime enforcement tone to an invitation that sounds pleasant and special, dreamy and safe.

So -go  find your bunny, your bear, your blanket … it’s time for some cozy time, nestled and snug in your bed.

Sweet dreams!


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Thank you, February for starting off the week with sun – bright and pure against the deep blue sky.

I’ve missed the sun so much this winter that I don’t even care that Jimmy the Ground Hog in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin will see his shadow – and predict six more weeks of winter.  I needed to feel the energy this sunny day offers.

I know the temperature outside is very chilly but the sun shining in on me as I sit at my desk is beautiful, warm and nourishing, and I’m so grateful.

Sometimes even as parents, we’re happy for an unexpected napping child even when it means a schedule that’s thrown off a bit – just because we needed it, right that very moment.

Sometimes our child gets the  cookie she wants right before dinner (the exception, I know) because we really needed it.

Sometimes the routine changes a little bit.  Sometimes the rules give a little bit – just because we really need them too – at that very moment.

But that’s when we know we’re only human, and that’s when we know it doesn’t always need to be perfect – and that’s when we know we need the sun to shine bright today.


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911 please

I saw a little girl of four on early morning national news today who had dialed 911 because her mother was experiencing a seizure.

This little girl’s mom has epilepsy and so from the age of two, her mom practiced with her how to correctly call 911, what her mom’s full name and complete address was – always praying the time would never come that her daughter would have to use this skill.  And wondering would she be able to really do it if it did.

But this little smarty did it.  And not only was the mom seizing, but in the little girl’s words to the 911 dispatcher, “she is very very pregnant too.”.

Help got to them, the little girl rode in the ambulance with her mom (which she said she liked a lot) and a baby brother was born soon after (which she said she loved a lot.)

What clear thinking and action this 4-year-old displayed under frightening circumstances.  Yet it seemed all in a day’s “work” for this young lady – her confidence and resilience strong.

Hopefully none of our children will face emergency situations like that one – but showing them how to call 911 and ask for help is very empowering.  Just like learning various practical skills such as being able to get themselves some cereal and milk, clean up spills, make a peanut butter sandwich, peel a hard-boiled egg, get dressed – raises a child’s self-confidence and can-do attitude.

It’s a win-win for everyone.


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the wisdom is in the room

The wisdom is in the room.

I sense it often when I facilitate Play Shoppes and other parent activities .  I feel it when I talk to a parent on a warm- line call and when parents sit and talk to me during a one-on-one parent coaching session.

I believe it when I listen and observe the love and caring and responsibility that each of these parents hold for their families.  I know it when I hear their story – some stories a struggle requiring great fortitude – some stories easier but no less of a concern to the parent holding it in their heart.

And when these stories are shared, when these concerns blend, when answers and new ideas are caught not necessarily taught, then we can be sure the wisdom is in the room.

I liken it to one of my favorite poems from childhood by Christina Rossetti.

Who has seen the wind

neither I nor you

But when the leaves hang trembling

the wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?

neither you nor I

But when the trees bow down their heads

The wind is passing by.

Recognizing the beauty and the significance of parents sharing their ideas, their stories with one another, The Parenting Place is offering A Parent Cafe – The Wisdom is in the Room – on Thursday, February 5th from 5-7:00 PM.  The Parent Cafe is a unique co-learning and sharing experience that changes the lives of children through conversations that matter.

Parents share a meal, talk about questions that are meaningful to them, listen to each other, their thoughts, their differences, their connections.

If you would like to be a part of The Parent Cafe at The Parenting Place, don’t hesitate to call Fran at 784-8125, ext. 216 to register.

The wisdom is in the room.  Experience it.

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yes you can

Browsing recently in a large children’s resale store, I observed a mom and her little girl, probably around two-and-a-half,  in the aisle ahead of me.

The little girl was sad as she slowly followed her mom.  She really wanted to use a child’s shopping cart, but someone else was playing with it.  Mom slowly moved along, looking at the clothes items on the rack, but noticed her daughter lingering back to watch the lucky child with the cart.

She called to her to come, that she needed to stay by her, to which the little girl then began to cry – even as she came – “But I want to use the shopping cart”, she whimpered.

Mom, continuing to browse, said gently, “I know, honey.  I’m sorry.”

With that this little girl continued to sniff a bit more, pulled herself together, then shakily said, “I can use it when that boy is done with his turn”. 

“Yes you can” said her mom as they slowly continued down the aisle.

I was impressed – with both of them.  The mom heard her daughter’s sad feelings and validated them – yet didn’t rush into try to fix it for her, with all kinds of other suggestions and things she could do.  She just heard her and accepted why she was sad.  The little girl felt her mom’s strength and confidence in her – in a way, I think, knew it was her own to resolve – which she bravely did.

“I can use it when that boy is done with his turn”.

Such a perfect example of allowing our children their sadness – acknowledging that it’s there, but trusting them to get through it.

“Yes, you can”.

Check out The Parenting Place’s upcoming workshop,” How Much is Enough?  Recognizing Overindulgence” – Thursday, January 22nd, 6-7:30 PM, at The Parenting Place in La Crosse.  Limited childcare is available.  Registration for the workshop and childcare is required – 784-8125.  Fran Swift – Facilitator.

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