just an observation

“Have you noticed that we haven’t been complaining lately about our mattress?” I asked my husband recently.

He agreed – and it’s true – that same mattress that bothered us for months after purchasing it – that just didn’t reach our expectations –  now was seeming very comfortable.

People had told us it takes time for the mattress to settle in and adjust- to conform to our sleeping styles.  They were right.

And that observation led me to consider a parenting parallel.

For isn’t that the way it happens with the stages our children go through – especially the challenging developmental ones.

Think of the early days of infancy, night-time feedings, diaper changes, crying, teething.  Consider the toilet learning stage, learning to share, screaming fits, messy mealtime behavior, teasing, bedtime struggles, whining , tantrums, favorite word NO.

As new parents,  this isn’t always what we expected.

Yet somehow, these sorts of behaviors somehow seemingly disappear  – and we are left thinking – wow – remember when?

So, just as that new mattress of ours conformed to us and our sleeping comfort, it is kind of the same for us as parents.

Our children are watching us – modeling after us — as we eat, sleep, take care of ourselves, work, play, share, talk, love, believe .

And that’s how they grow, adjust, conform –  how they become who they are, comfortable in their own way.

And that’s when you may get to sleep soundly too.






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the power

Sometimes the best way to convey a message and connect with others is through sharing a story.

I spent today in Madison at a workshop encouraging us to do just that. During our time together, this group was moved to laughter, caring, and reflection. And I love learning more about a message I already support and believe in so strongly.

Often parents and caregivers tell me their children “don’t listen to me”.

I wonder then, if we are talking with or talking at our children when that happens. Because sharing a story feels different.

It’s not preaching – it’s not lecturing.

It’s relating.

It’s remembering a struggle, a prank, a punishment, a game, a best friend, a funny incident, a regretful moment, a vulnerable time that happened when you were their age.

It’s giving them something to consider –   then allowing the story time to rest – to resonate with your child –  letting the story make its point – in its own way – trusting the moment.

Try it.  I think you’ll feel the power of sharing.



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Some things in life just almost take you by surprise – but none so much as how quickly years pass and children grow and all of a sudden, we wonder – how did that happen?

I admit I’ve spent some time reflecting on this during the past week as my husband and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary.

And asked how we did it – what was the secret  – I’d have to say – the years passed with a rhythm of its own, days to weeks to months to seasons, rituals were shared, familiar and anticipated – that bonded and refreshed us all – and daily routines helped us embrace the ordinary.

And, for young families, that’s what I would encourage – develop and trust those seemingly repetitive habits that happen everyday.  Share and enjoy with your children the sense of belonging that comes from being able to say “In our family, we always …”

It’s about sharing, acceptance, humor, forgiveness, caring, patience, laughter, faith.

It’s about family.

It’s about love.


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Take a deep breath – hold it – now, slowly … let it out.  Repeat this three times.

Did you feel the tension slip away?

And the good news is – according to a recent report from the American Lung Association’s 2019 State of the Air report, here in La Crosse County, we can breathe easy – because … La Crosse County has some of the cleanest air in the United States!

So, it seems, breathe deeply and we should all be pretty stress- free.

But wait – that doesn’t always seem to be the case.  Between work and home and raising children, parents often feel out of breath. As much as we love being parents, let’s face it.  It’s sometimes a juggling act, and that’s when the stress sets in.

Parenting is all about balance – and setting limits as well as making choices that benefit all.

If you feel this  imbalance cropping up in your life – why not join us at the stress-free Balancing Work and Family discussion group at The Parenting Place, Thursday, May 16th, from 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM – and hopefully, you’ll all leave –  breathing a little bit easier.

Registration is required and childcare is available upon request.  Call us at 608-764-8125 or email registration@theparentingplace.net.



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screen free

Have you ever heard yourself lamenting about too much screen time in your family – even as it continues to hold you and your children captive?

Well – this might help.  Today starts the beginning of 2019  National Screen-Free Week, April 29th – May 5th.  What an opportunity to take a break and capture some real interaction and connection in your family life.

I know – you might be imaging whining and complaining and nagging and tantrums – but think of what can replace this computer time and you might be quite surprised.

You might be surprised because actually research has shown that our kids really do like it, even crave it, when parents actually spend personal time with them.

And this is a perfect time of year, with daylight lingering longer –  good for getting out in the yard, raking and preparing garden beds – everyone pitching in. If the bikes are still in the garage since Fall, perfect time to get them out and clean them up for an after dinner ride.

Walks in the neighborhood or down along the river (rain or shine), look for treasures (an interesting stone, a stick, a puddle to play in), count the robins that you see, stop for a root beer float or ice cream cone, go to the garden center and choose some plants for the garden, play Tag (get your heart rate up while having a lot of fun).


Take a trip to the Library after dinner and each choose a book to read for the week.  Have board game night (if you already do – Kudos!) Get every member to hand write a letter to someone (put a smile on that person’s face), make a campfire and roast some marshmallows, explore a new playground, color together, play a game of pantomime and laugh hysterically.

You get the drift – keeping things simple- keeping things shared.

I know – but what about homework – our children need to use their screens –   but cutting out the extra personal online time will still make a difference.

(Wow – though, wouldn’t it be great if the schools would join in on screen-free week and do some learning the old-fashioned way?)

Don’t be too quick to dismiss this – take a chance, trust yourselves, trust your children, accept the challenge.

Make it simple, make it fun, make a difference in your family life.


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Walking on egg shells

From my favorite spot to sit in my house, there is a window that faces my neighbor’s side door entrance – the main door that they use for coming and going.

And I notice whenever my neighbor comes out on her steps, even to just check the temperature, pick up the newspaper, look down the street, she reaches for her handy broom, always kept within reach – and sweeps the landing and the steps.

This fascinates me – because it happens  so frequently – summer, winter, spring or fall.

No seed, leaf, grass, dirt, or flake of snow has any hope of hanging out on her cement steps.

And, as usual, my mind turns to parenting, and families, and young children.

It makes me consider how often small things happen throughout our days for our children, for ourselves – how they gather on our personal “steps”, yet, aren’t tended to –  things like not enough sleep, a missed breakfast, an itchy shirt, a rushed morning, a cross word – and Bingo! – a melt-down.

When emotions pile up in our family lives, we are often faced with handling our child’s temper tantrums and, perhaps, controlling our own. So often, because of time factors , fatigue, and fear of setting off a tantrum, we  find ourselves walking on “egg shells” to avoid one.

And the more emotions pile up – or go unnoticed – the better chance a storm is brewing.

If you find this sort of thing happening in your family, register now for the temper tantrum discussion group “Walking on Egg Shells, Thursday, May 9th, 9:30 AM – !!:00 AM at The Parenting Place in La Crosse.  Registration is required; free childcare available upon request.  Call us at 784-8125 or email registration@theparentingplace.net.




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There’s a new public promotional ad I’ve seen recently on TV with a young Dad doing push-ups with his baby face to face.

And the baby and Dad are connecting – beautifully – and the message is … “Do not disturb is on.  Be in the moment.”

And I love that message so much.

But because families are so busy and often distracted, parents can feel they just don’t have the time to make those connections. But when you discover – it only takes a moment or two – a moment of playfulness, of genuine interaction, of spontaneous affection, appreciation, warmth, laughter, acknowledgment – you realize it’s doable, you know it can happen.

Looking at my window right now, I just noticed a neighbor dad and his young son riding their bikes down the street – just the two of them – for fun.  Score!

And parents, overly critical of themselves, might realize, “Hey, I do that all the time, but I didn’t think it counted.”

That’s because we are often made to feel it’s the whole day out at an amusement park, or a week’s vacation , or some special event that makes our child feel special, feel loved.

Those are definitely fun times, but the ones that resonate and make our connections strong are the intimate exchanges that happen everyday that fill our child’s “bucket” and assures them they are loved, they are noticed, they are enjoyed, they are cherished.

So…really … trust your moments – they can mean the most.


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