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 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.

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 7.45.16 PM

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.



Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 7.51.47 PM

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.

Posted in Compliance, Parenting

Tips for Increasing Your Child’s Compliance with Homework

Maybe you’re lucky and have a kiddo who sits down every day after school, with a smile on their face and does their homework. Maybe. But if you’re not so lucky and you have a kiddo who whines or complains about homework, or takes forever to do it, or refuses to do it completely, I have a few tips that might help. As always, these are general tips and may not be appropriate for you or your kiddo, depending on your individual situation. If homework completion truly is an issue, consider seeing a behavior therapist for a few sessions!

  • Be consistent.  If you want to have your child do homework as soon as they get home, go for it.  Or give them 30 minutes to relax, then have them do homework until it’s done.  Whatever you do, be as consistent with it as you can.
  • Have certain activities that have to be “earned” by doing homework.  One option would be to set the expectation that there will be no television time until homework is completed.  Pick something your child enjoys so that it motivates them.
  • Practice using calming strategies both before beginning homework and during, if they become upset or frustrated.
  • If you think your child struggles with confidence, practice positive self-statements, like “I got this” or “I can do it.”
  • FOLLOW THROUGH.  Make sure that homework gets done… if your child doesn’t complete the homework before school the next day, have them do it the next evening after their new homework.  This might seem harsh and, yes, it might keep accumulating.  But if you let your kiddo get out of doing homework just one night, they’ll know that they can get out of it in the future.
  • Praise your kiddo for completing their homework, especially if they do so without arguing or whining!
Posted in Parenting

Parenting Doesn’t Always “Feel” Good

During the second night of doing the whole “sleep training” thing with my daughter to transition her to sleeping in her crib in her own room, I sent my mom a text message about how bad I felt.  It wasn’t fun leaving her in the crib while she cried and wanted out.  It was a little easier because I knew she was tired and just being stubborn, but still really difficult for me not to run in and just hold her.  My mom responded with this pearl of wisdom:

“Parenting doesn’t always ‘feel’ good, even though you know you’re doing the right thing.”

How true that is!  I experience the same dilemma when my daughter gets her vaccinations.  I know vaccinations are a hot topic right now, but my belief is that they are good for her and the benefits outweigh any risks.  Still, it was difficult to sit there and let the doctors poke her.

This could also apply to setting boundaries, having clear expectations, and using consequences with children.  It may not “feel” good to say “no” when your child cries for a candy bar in the checkout lane at the store.  It may not “feel” good to tell your child they’ve lost their electronics privileges because of a bad choice they may have made.  It may not “feel” good to tell your child they cannot do something their friends are doing (that you believe may be unsafe).  A lot of the things that we KNOW are good for our children (including discipline) may not “feel” good, but it helps to remember why you’re doing it and that everyone will be better off in the long run.

Posted in Emotion Regulation, Parenting

Five Things I Do for Self-Care

To prove that I practice what I preach (that caregivers should engage in regular self-care), I thought I’d share what I do to help me manage the stress and anxiety of adulthood/parenthood.

1. Exercise – this is the most important one for me. I can tell a HUGE difference in my mood if I don’t exercise 2-3 times per week. When it was nice outside I would jog or walk with the baby and dog. Now that it’s cold, it’s more difficult to get in, but I try to get on the elliptical or treadmill a few times per week.

2. Read – when I’m not SUPER tired (so maybe 3-4 times per week), I try to read before bed. Earlier this week I finished Dan Brown’s new book, Origins.

3. Get out of the house – I get real bad cabin fever if I don’t leave the house every few days. Yes, it can be a pain to get the baby out, but I get pretty grumpy if I don’t get out and make an extra trip to target or hobby lobby, or just walk around the mall.

4. Play games on my iPad – this is going to sound soooo childish and I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I’m hooked on Cooking Fever and it’s one of the first things I do after the baby goes to bed. It just helps me disconnect from the stress of the day.

5. Play the piano – full disclosure: I don’t get to do this as much as I want to. Every time I start playing the piano, the baby crawls over and wants to bang on the keys. I’m happy to let her do that, but I cannot play and hold her in my lap at the same time!

My challenge for EVERYONE is to do at least one thing each day that is for you only and makes you feel happy, calm, and/or less stressed. If you make it a priority, you’ll see positive results!