Posted in Parenting

Five Things I Do as a Stay-At-Home-Mom to Stay Sane

I’m about 10 months into this whole Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM) morning thing and feel like I’m starting to figure it out a bit. I also work very part-time (just a few hours on some evenings and Saturday mornings). There are benefits to this, but it also is more responsibility and takes away some time from my already-too-short days. There are a few things that I’ve made part of my routine in order to help me stay sane:

  • I have my daughter “help” with chores. This morning I swept and vacuumed while I had her in her carrier on my front. Sure, it’s a little harder, but it gets done. Plus she thinks it’s funny to watch the broom go back and forth, so win-win!
  • I read aloud to her from books that I enjoy. Sure, I read her children’s books too, but I also read adult books that I find entertaining. Today we finished The Help (had to censor some of that!) and next we’ll start A Christmas Carol.
  • I go to bed early. My daughter goes to bed consistently around 7pm. I usually go to bed between 8:30 and 9! Almost every night I want to stay up later and enjoy some adult time, but I go to bed because I know I need a full night of sleep and, to do so, I need to go to bed early because…
  • I wake up early to exercise. This doesn’t happen every morning, but if I slept moderately well, I will wake up about an hour before the time my daughter wakes up so that I can get a 30-minute workout in and shower afterwards. Do I want to sleep in most mornings? Yep, and sometimes I do. But I also know that exercising is a great start to my day and great for my mental wellbeing.
  • I plan meals for the week and make big batches. This past Sunday, I made a big pot of chili and also cooked chicken in the crockpot. I just finished the chili today and the chicken should last us through the week. It takes a little more time on the weekend, but it makes evenings soooo much less stressful. I also try to plan out meals for my daughter, now that she’s eating more solid foods. On Monday I cooked a pot of brown rice that will last her all week.
Posted in Parenting

Behavior is a Choice (and How Parents Can Use This Knowledge)

It may not feel like it, but every behavior is a choice. I went into our master bathroom today and, as usual, my husband has neglected to pick up the hangers from his clothes (and for some reason this drives me crazy). Before I sighed and rolled my eyes, I thought to myself… I can either get mad about it, or I can just do it myself and move on with my day. So I picked them up and moved on with my day.

Some behaviors don’t feel like choices. When I pay my mortgage, I don’t feel like I have a choice to do otherwise. But I do! I can choose to pay my mortgage, or I can choose not to and suffer the consequences of late fees, a hit on my credit, and potentially (eventually) foreclosure and homelessness. My husband may not feel like he has a choice about employment, but that’s only because to choose not to work would mean choosing to not be able to pay bills and provide for the family.

As adults, most of us are pretty good at using our well-developed brains to think through what the consequences of each of our behaviors are. I know that if I run a red light, I might get pulled over and get a ticket. I know that if I don’t do laundry, I won’t have clean clothes to wear. I know that if I eat a bunch of junk food I feel sluggish and my face breaks out.

Children’s brains aren’t as developed and they probably have a difficult time thinking about the consequences of their actions without a reminder or repetition. That’s why consistent consequences are so important. If you are consistent with putting your child in a timeout every time they hit their sibling, it won’t take long for them to catch on that hitting = timeout. Once you know that your child is aware of the consequences of a behavior, you know that they are making the choice to misbehave even though they know there will be a consequence. This, to me and many of the parents I’ve worked with, makes discipline a little easier. It makes you, as a parent, feel less like “the bad guy.” Your kiddo knew that they had a choice to make and chose something that would lead to consequences, so they take on that responsibility.

It’s also really helpful to frame it that way to a child by telling them the choice they made, followed by the consequence. Some examples:

  • “You chose not to eat your vegetables at dinner and the consequence is no bedtime snack.”
  • “You chose to argue when told it was time for bed, so now you won’t get a bedtime story.”
  • “You chose not to complete your worksheet at school, so now you won’t have any free time until it’s completed here at home.”
  • “You chose not to clean your room when I told you to, so now you owe me an extra chore after you clean your room.”

Speaking this way let’s your kiddo know that the consequence is a result of a behavior (choice) that they made, not because you’re a “mean” mom or dad. It can also be beneficial to remind your child of their choices and consequence if they are struggling to make the right choice. If you tell your child it’s time for bed and he begins arguing, reminding him that choosing to go to bed right away results in a bedtime story, while choosing to argue results in no bedtime story, you can help him make a better choice. Granted, he may choose to argue anyways, but at least you can be 100% sure that he knew what the consequence was before making his choice.

Posted in Parenting

The ABCs of Parenting (for Stress Management)

Parenting can be extremely stressful and it can be hard to stay on top of managing that stress! I found this while researching and was so impressed, I thought I’d share. There are a lot of great tips on here! “Accept the things you cannot change” and “Negotiate time for the couple” are ones that are difficult in my home. Pick one that you’d like to do more and go for it!

Posted in Emotion Regulation

Get Grounded! A Strategy for Regulating Emotions

One grounding technique (to assist those dealing with overwhelming emotions) is to list 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel/touch, 3 things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

I use this myself when I am trying to stay in control of my emotions and think it could be a great strategy for children.  To help kiddos remember to use the strategy and how to do it, I created a sign that can be printed (get the pdf here.)

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Posted in Compliance, Parenting, Uncategorized

Super Simple Sticker Charts (They Don’t Have to Be Complicated!)

I’m all for fancy behavior charts and sticker charts, but they’re not absolutely necessary.  Your child might be content with a simple table and some fun stickers.  If you don’t want to mess with finding the perfect one or tweaking one that someone else made, it can be fairly easy to make your own.  I have two examples to share below.

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This first one would be an example of a sticker chart to work on bedtime routine – you have your days of the week running along the top and the tasks of the routine along the side.  The kiddo would get to put a sticker for each task on each day, so potentially a total of 4 stickers per day.

 

 

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This second one could be for any behavior and splits the day up into two different time frames.  So, for example, if you’re working on Following Directions, your kiddo would get to put a sticker in the “Before Lunch” on Monday square if they follow directions between waking up and lunchtime.

These are simple to make in Microsoft Word or Excel or by hand (I’d want a ruler because I’m a bit of a perfectionist).  They look boring to start, but most kids LOVE putting stickers on, so it won’t be long before that chart will be filled up with shiny (possibly glittery) stickers.