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Sometimes you come across a person that likes to help – that can be counted on to get the job done – and done well.  Sometimes you come across a person that brightens everyone’s day with a cheerful vim and vigor that just makes you feel good.

At The Parenting Place we’ve been fortunate to have a person just like that – Barb Ryan who has worked at The Parenting Place as a Childcare Certification Assistant for seven and a half years.

Perhaps many of you won’t know Barb.  She never sought attention – yet was always busy in the background. But if you were fortunate enough to meet her on duty at the front desk – or passed her in the hall – you will remember her.

Barb met every participant who ever walked in our door with the same grace, bright humor, and hospitality she has shown to all of us.

But as Barb has told us, it’s time.  It’s time for her to retire, to take the time for herself (yes, Barb, yourself!) and enjoy family and friends.

And with her leaving, The Parenting Place will definitely miss Barb’s caring consideration and abundant energy, her bright and sassy personality, and the light she’s spread amongst us.

Thank you, Barb!

You will be missed.

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take two

There’s a new study in town.

We’ve all probably heard about the healing benefits that being outside provides.  But in a recent large-scale study from the University of Exeter in England, researchers have established that just two hours a week spent out-of-doors – I repeat – two hours a week – will help all of us physically, mentally and emotionally.

And to make it even more simple, more doable- this time does not need to be one long stretch but can be taken in small increments adding up to 120 minutes out of our week.

In case you don’t actually know the benefits of spending time outside, it is pretty much a magic potion – enhancing our moods, our mental and physical health, reducing stress, and giving us all a lovely sense of well-being.

Parents often tell me how irritable their children are at the end of their school day.  We know  that often some of that is low blood sugar and they are hungry and need a good snack.  But see what happens if you use a bit of these 120 minutes for some running and playing  and just being out of doors after school, and see if the moods improve.

This really is a prescription for a healthy family.  And I know there always seems to be one more thing that is expected of us.  But I believe, this one is simple, doable and will bring so much to the health, behavior, and well-being of our families if we just give it a try.

So – are you with me?

Are you ready to take two?



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“I raised my boys to be helpers” a mom of three older boys told me when I remarked on how very helpful I’ve seen them be.

And I thought of the intentionality of her words.

Most parents want their children to feel loved, to be respectful, kind, sharing. But – to be helpers- I had never heard that expressed so directly.

Other parents have complained that getting their children to help do anything is like pulling teeth. But maybe the answer is appreciating and starting younger than we think possible.

So don’t dismiss your toddler emptying the grocery bags or putting his boots where they belong as insignificant.  That can grow into your school-aged child sorting socks, folding laundry, setting tables, wiping down the bathroom sink, raking and shoveling snow – together.

A good way to start is remembering that children do love this camaraderie of working within a group – and completing a job  as a team. Want the playroom cleaned up fast?  How about putting on some great music or setting the timer for five minutes and then everyone moving fast – together – to “git ‘er done”?

I’ve heard from parents that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.  It ‘s easier for them to do it themselves. But who said any part of parenting is easy.

It’s all about this “invitation” to help which starts the ball rolling.

Building a sense of achievement – significance -responsibility – and belonging within the family – that’s what being a helper can do.

Want some help?



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Anticipation – there’s no time like the holiday season that we find ourselves anticipating – anticipating the way we expect our celebrations to go.

But as parents – we know better.

Our children are not always at their best – with too much everything challenging them – too much sugar, too much attention, too much to open, too many people, too many expectations – and perhaps, not enough sleep.

So …I encourage you to expect this, to dial back a bit, to relax, to, perhaps, watch your child open one gift and forget about the others for a while – if that’s what happens – and let that be okay.

The storyline going through our head, though, demands attention I know.  “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be” – but young children, even teenagers, often rewrite our parent, grandparent scenario and so …

breathe – be in the moment – have a sense of humor – let go – enjoy – be grateful.

If you are alone or with loved ones, if there’s food on the table, surprises enjoyed,, laughter and love abundant – in any way or order – embrace it.

Believe “it’s a wonderful life!”

Best wishes to everyone to celebrate and enjoy the holidays in their own personal way.


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Just watch

Sharing is an essential part of life.  Learning to share – willing to share – happy to share is a developmental journey that takes time to reach.

For children – our expectations are high.  ” He needs to learn how to share.”  And as single days turn into weeks, months, years – it happens.  It does.

It happens through caring.

It happens through being on the receiving end of sharing.  It happens by observing adults in their life modeling generosity – within their own family – within their circle of friends – with a stranger.

For one thing we know – children are always watching us and little ears are always listening.

As the holidays unfold, when families gather – when grandparents’ homes are filled with several young children from several different families, parents often worry about their child being the one not willing to share.

A perfect solution is to provide each child there with the same toy.  It doesn’t have to be an expensive item.  Often a Dollar Store toy works – done with, perhaps, by the end of the day – yet working magic in the meantime – bringing children together in shared play and interaction..

The same goes for siblings.  Yes we want to provide lessons and opportunities that in our family we share with one another.  So why have two of the same item – or one for each child?

Well … do you remember – did it ever work out – that you and your sibling did both get the same special toy – and the automatic common bond  that happened between you?

It’s this secure bond, this interaction, this easy play and relationship experienced that evolves into an increasing ability, a growing desire, to naturally share with others.

Just watch.






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an empty bucket

How many times have you heard it?  “I can’t do it!  I need help!” Really – how many times have you heard them say “It’s too hard.”

But you know they can do it, right?   (whatever “it” is).  They’ve been doing it all along.

But not this day – and sometimes not this week.

So …what’s the answer- besides insisting, ignoring, yelling, losing patience – tears, anger  – and then resorting to doing  it for them anyway.

How about when a particular behavior pattern like this happens  – we take another tactic. For when a good child repeatedly resists following through like this, I believe his “bucket is empty”.

She’s overtired, hungry, stressed, dis-regulated, discouraged.

And so – I’m suggesting offering help before this melt-down begins.

Parents usually have radar about their child’s moods. So if you need to leave the house in five minutes and you see your child’s boots still not on his feet – how about offering a helping hand.

“Here – let me help you with your boots.” And do so – gently – not roughly. This is an offer of love – not one of impatience and frustration.

Try this tactic for a few days – a week – at the times you suspect your child’s mood is off.

Don’t qualify it with “you should be doing this on your own.  Look at your brother. He’s got his boots on already!

No –  as I said – this is an offer of love – and acceptance – and given gently.

I believe you’ll notice a difference in behavior – in disposition – in a light in his eye.

I believe you’ll see him  doing it on his own –  with new spirit – once his” bucket ” is full.

For sometimes – we all just need a little helping hand.

Sometimes – we all just need an extra dose of love.




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let’s sing

What a good idea we had heading down to The Rotary Lights parade the day after Thanksgiving.

The rain/snow had held off – the temperature was mild, and the crowds were festive, the paraders bright and merry, and a definite sense of community was in the air.

Standing next to us were three families who had come down together to watch the parade.  There had to have been seven children between 4-5 years of age and a few toddlers and a baby.  They arrived about fifteen minutes before the parade began, excited with their candy bags in the ready

But when you’re eager for a parade to start, it can seem like it takes forever.  But I was impressed.  Instead of waiting for this row of young ones to break line and fall apart, their moms said “let’s sing”.

And sing they all did – Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, We wish you a Merry Christmas and others.

It was magical – because this was some serious singing – the children sang out along with their moms.

So hats off to these families who proactively brought cheer and delight to all those standing nearby – the moms who were on the ready and shared with their children the fun of singing together.

It definitely lit up the night!
















But when you’re waiting for a parade to start,

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