Monthly Archives: December 2014

a word

It’s hard to believe 2015 is at our doorstep – the beginning of a new year.

At this time, conversations often revolve around who’s made New Year’s resolutions and what they are.  Probably most of us think about making them or  consider, at least, how we’d like to make this new year different in some way.

Resolutions, however, are often broken or forgotten as January turns into February into March, leaving us feeling a bit guilty or discouraged that we were unable to keep them up.

However, I recently read about a suggestion for setting a different tone – a touchstone if you like – for the new year ahead.  Pick a word – one word that encompasses something/or some direction you’d like to focus on.  Try out a few until one resonates with you.

One word to guide you through the year – to think about, respond to, return to, grow with and toward.

Write it down.  Leave it in places for you to notice – on a shelf, on a window sill, on your calendar, on your dashboard, on your cell phone.

And then see – one word, for the year, might make a difference.

Simple as that.

“I think I’m going to try this.  What about you?”

All of us at The Parenting Place wish all of you and your families a very special New Year 2015, filled with all the words that mean the most to you.


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my way

Talking with four-year-old Henry after Play Shoppe on Friday, I realized once again how much we can learn from children.

Explaining to me all about Lego sets, Henry wisely shared that he doesn’t usually follow the directions.  “I just do it my way.”

And his way is good for him.

That’s the message for today – your way is good for you, my way is good for me, Henry’s way is good for him.

Whether we’re talking about life styles, cooking, routines, parenting, personal styles – we all have our individual differences.  Finding our comfort level in accepting and embracing these differences is key.

I spoke with a mom last week who was stressed about Christmas gifts for her relatives  – their expectations of her and how to meet them.  Her idea was to bake and give a homemade pie to the people on her list but she was hesitant to do so.  I encouraged her to be herself – to be the person who gives pies for Christmas – to distinguish herself by giving a gift that brings her joy to make and to share – a gift that says who she is.

And anyway – who wouldn’t love a pie?

This holiday week, be particularly mindful of what young Henry shared.  Often when we are around extended family, we are reluctant to show them who we’ve become, what we believe, how we parent – our way.  But it’s time – you’ve earned it – you’re someone’s mom or dad now – and it’s okay to do things your way.

I wish you all a joyful and loving holiday in many different ways.

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For children, routines reign supreme.

Children thrive on the predictability and security that routines provide.   Routines make sense of the day ahead, and reassure children that their needs will be met.  And within this framework of routine, lies a child’s comfort, freedom and joy.

When this routine – regular bedtimes, meals, naps, active times, quiet times, snuggle times gets mixed up, delayed, missed, even forgotten – everyone feels the pain.

During busy social times with family and friends, especially over the holiday season, it’s easy to take on too many activities into our schedule.  Being selective, however, is difficult,  because most of these activities are fun, anticipated and things we always were able to do pre- children. But without paying attention to how much is too much, we pay the price of melt-downs (both children’s and parents’), fatigue, and disappointment.

It’s helpful to make a list of activities, options, expectations, personal needs of our families and see how everything fits together. You can pick and choose what works best for your family at this time.  When traveling with children, don’t expect your child’s schedule to be exactly as it is at home.  Children, however, can be very flexible as long as mealtimes, quiet times and sleep times are a predictable part of this new routine.

To spice routines up, especially during the holidays, is great fun and tradition, but just as too much spice can ruin the soup, too many extras can result in frustrating results for everyone.

Try and find the pace that resonates with your family best – that allows you to feel connected with one another, to be relaxed, to be present – and to be able to enjoy just enough “spice” to make your holiday deliciously joyful and memorable!

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a moment

I love when I’m  treated to a private moment of love personified.  That’s what happened recently as I waited for a haircut at Great Clips.

It wasn’t probably anything that anyone else would have noticed.

But sitting there was a mom and her six or seven-year-old, shaggy-haired son, waiting for his haircut also.  He sat on the edge of his seat close to his mom as he played a game intently on his hand-held device.  His mom sat close, an arm draped ever so slightly on his shoulder.  There was a sense of peace flowing between them – even though there was no verbal communication.  It seemed to me I could feel the acceptance, trust, and belonging flowing between the two of them.

There were no admonitions, no reminders, no questions – just a quiet peace.

At one point the mom leaned over and kissed him on the back of his head, ever so quietly and lightly – barely noticed – just part of the flow.

I guess this made such an impression on me because this was very late afternoon.  I’m sure the boy had just been picked up from school or after-school-care – the mom perhaps coming from work.

Yet conversation wasn’t needed to reconnect – just a mom’s gentle touch said it all.

Sometimes if we are struggling to connect with a child who is challenging us, remember the strength of the gentle touch – often communicating louder and deeper than words.

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Simplicity – so many families I know are really seeking simplicity – trying hard to determine what things are essential in their lives.   But, especially at this time of year, our desire to foster a simpler approach is challenged at every twist and turn.

Yet there are moments – a small, stuffed, hand- stitched felt evergreen tree received – a red cardinal perched on its boughs – a ribbon to hang it on my own Christmas tree – a gift so lovely in its simplicity and its charm.  Perfect!

And then there’s the mom who told me about the Thankful Tree they have on their kitchen table.  Each day the family adds thankful leaves to their tree – remembering something, somebody for which they are grateful – realizing the richness of their lives.

In spite of Gray Thursday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, we can nurture ways that will bring more meaning and more connection to our families’ lives.

You’ve heard this before perhaps – what children really want – what children really need – to make their holidays special is not presents, but presence – the presence of family time, of one-on-one time, of sharing meaningful time together.

I remember a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip where Hobbes tells Calvin his Christmas present is outside.  When Calvin finds it, it is a pile of ready-made snowballs that Hobbes has made for him.  And very smartly, Hobbes has his own pile of snowballs prepared too.  Let the snowball fun begin – together!

This season let’s try and think more like Hobbes – more like little felt evergreen trees – more like a Thankful Tree – and enjoy our presence together.



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