Archive for the ‘family dinner’ category

What I wish I knew as a young mom

September 6, 2012
What I wish I knew as a young mother- spend more time, less worry. love them, set limits and love with logic. Limits set kindly and firmly are the most important. I had NO IDEA how much parenting support groups would help me be a better mother

This is three families at a cottage off the coast of Maine. My family is in the front two rows. Our friend Bruce is on the second row in the plaid shirt and Colin is wearing the baseball cap.

There’s so much to know to be a good mother that young moms can’t know it all. They can learn it from their kids and from other moms. Here’s ten things I wish I knew, or I discovered along the way.

1. Time is short, even though it feels long when they’re young. Cherish their childhood. It will be gone faster than you can believe. I know everyone says this and the days are long.  Go the extra mile even when it’s hard.

2. Motherhood means sacrifice. You will eventually have more time for you. See #1. Learn to give as much as humanly possible. They’ll always want more anyways!

3. Take care of yourself. It took me a few years to learn this one. Self-care makes you a better mother. Spend some time and money on YOU. Then you have more to give.

4. Don’t fool with regret and guilt. Do your best. There is no perfect mother out there. As long as you get it right at least half the time, you’re good. Get help! See #5.

5. Other mothers and experienced mothers can help. Parenting support groups saved me and showed me how to have a respectful and healthy relationship with my kids, without yelling, threatening, spanking, bribing and punishment. It was an investment of time and effort that paid off.

6. HAVE FUN. Your kids will cherish the good times and hopefully forgive and forget the not-so-good. Kids thrive on fun. Laugh, play games, tell stories, play Charades together.

7. Kids don’t have to have it all. Learn to say “no” in a kind and firm way. Encourage them to earn money to buy more stuff. Show them how to have fun without spending a dime.

8. Kids are wonderful teachers. They are patient and kind. They will reflect back who and what we are. Sometimes the reflection is painful. They are flexible and can learn from us, especially through our actions. My kids let me make the same mistake over and over again until I figured out a different way.

9. Having family meetings and having kids do chores and family dinners are like putting money in the bank, an investment in everything you want your kids to become in the future.

10. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When my two young sons discovered a mud bath and got really dirty, my choice was to reprimand them or surrender and get out the camera, quickly, and laugh.

It takes a team to raise a child

June 15, 2012
Father's  Day is to honor fathers and the chores they do for us. the commitment they make for us. this is the father of my children, who is willing to be silly

The best father I know, Reliable Bob at the annual Country Fair selling trash and treasures.

Jane, the lead female character in “Lie Down with Lions,” a 1986 Ken Follet book,  is torn between two men. In a dramatic chase scene through the Afghan mountains with one of the men and her baby, Jane is contemplates who to choose: the good man or the evil spy. She has only two diapers for the baby for the arduous journey.

At the end of the day of he man she camped out with in the mountains washed out the diaper at the end of the day. This simple gesture, when she was mentally and physically exhausted, meant a lot to her.That scene illustrates the demands of parenthood, how one person can’t fulfill a child’s every need, and the value of partnership. I loved that scene because his willingness to wash out the diaper said something about his character and commitment.

It’s always easier to face a challenge together. I remember one night when Bob and I had one of our famous “in-house dates.” I fed the four kids early with one of their favorites — chicken nuggets, and put them in front of a movie while we shared a special dinner with candlelight and wine. Then we put the kids to bed and watched an adult movie. Voila, dinner and movie, without going out.

When we went upstairs at 11 pm to check on the kids, both boys had vomited in their beds. The only thing worse than one boy vomiting in their bed is two boys vomiting in their beds. It was disgusting. We cleaned up two beds and bathed two boys when all we wanted to do was to fall into bed. Teamwork made it tolerable, and a shared memory that strengthened our long-term bond.

Happy Fathers Day to all you guys out there. Plant the seeds of your love to grow as the tree commitment, to stay rooted when the hurricanes and tornadoes threaten to uproot a marriage.

Mother guilt & father guilt are delivered with the baby

January 23, 2012
every mother and father, mommy, mom and dad have experienced guilt when we realize we have messed up with our children. It goes with the territory of parenthood. Parenting is about learning and forgiving our selves even when we're not perfect.
Every parent strives to be good and create happy memories like the one above. All we have to be is good enough. There is no perfect parent or perfect childhood.

“I’m a bad mother,” said “Zoe” a  young mother of three children, 7, 5 and 2, at my “Act Don’t Yak” workshop on how to cut the yelling last week in Littleton.

“Zoe” repeated that statement several times during the workshop on positive parenting techniques. “I’m doing so much wrong,” she said sadly.

I empathize with Zoe’s guilt, pain and desire because I have lived it. I started taking parenting workshops when I recognized what I was doing wasn’t working.
RECOGNIZING is about 80 percent of the process. Buddhist nun Pema Chodron says that after recognize comes refrain, relax and finally, resolve.
This means we parents must manage our emotions — including guilt. We only have to be parents for 24 hours when the guilt sets in, along with new empathy for our own parents. It hurts to realize that WE have messed up because we care about our kids so much and we want the best for them. We all mess up.
I usually start my programs with a story of one of my major mess-ups. My story of a horrible-no-good-terrible-day frees up parents to share theirs. And all parents have those moments, words and days that we regret.
Zoe resolved to start the journey to change, to take more workshops and improve her parenting skills. It will take time, attention and worse, backsliding and starting over again after failure.
That’s where self-encouragement comes in. Sarah, the mother of six, shared at a workshop how she handled a difficult situation with her teenage son. We gave her feedback on what she did right — which was a lot. Sarah walked away feeling better about how she responded to the situation. This is priceless. We can practice self-encouragement when we recognize-refrain [the hardest two to achieve] then find the path to relax and resolve.
Taking a step back from parenting at a workshop allows insight, camaraderie with other parents, laughter, forming a positive parenting plan and starting self-encouragement to better manage the inevitable parent guilt. I hope to see you at one — with a friend.

FREE talk tonight at West Elementary in Andover, MA

November 16, 2011

Come for a free talk on positive parenting 7:30 pm, West Elementary School, 58 Beacon St. in Andover, Mass., sponsored by the Andover townwide PTA.

The focus is how chores teach self discipline, nurture self esteem and strenthen the parent-child connection for life. Hear more about encouragement, family meetings, mutual respect and natural and logical consequences.

You will go home with some new ideas and reminders about creating and maintaining positive parenting practices.

Bring friends!

Thanksgiving: The ultimate family dinner

November 14, 2011
Manners are a big part of family dinner. Children tweens and teens can learn to behave at family dinner table at Thanksgiving. Good manners start at home. Make it a game. Make it fun. Thanksgiving can be a relaxing time for families. Manners are a good chore to have in Mass., CT, MA , NH, RI and VT.
Children can live up — or down — to our expectations.

Just looking at the table pictured above would have given me a stomach ache if I had to bring my four kids there.

The best way to prepare for such a situation is to practice. If you’re worried about Thanksgiving at the home of a friend, relative or to a restaurant with your kids, start with a rehearsal.
Have a family meeting. Ask the kids for ideas on how to behave at a fancy meal. Write down every idea, however ridiculous, and take the best ones seriously. Then announce you’re going to have a rehearsal for Thanksgiving, using their suggestions. Would they help? Set a date and plan a simple meal, maybe a roast chicken.

Enlist their aid in getting out a nice tablecloth, the best china, silverware and glassware. Remember, a broken spirit is more permanent than a broken goblet. Let them drink from a special glass and use cloth napkins for the evening. Propose some toasts. Exaggerate. Go overboard on the manners. Use an English accent. Make it fun. Kids love fun. Whenever you can make something fun, you will have them eating out of your hand.

Parenting is all about setting reasonable expectations and managing people’s behavior — getting them to do what you want, when you want, just like at work. The best managers are kind, firm, clearly spell out what they expect, and if necessary, train you on how to do it.

Clearly spell out what you expect from your kids on Thanksgiving at Aunt Sue’s. Then practice it. Encourage the behavior you like by saying what they did. “What a nice way to ask for the mashed potatoes, Megan! Of course I’ll pass them to you. Where did you learn such lovely manners?”

They won’t be perfect, and you always remind them on Thanksgiving when they slip, “Remember how we practiced? How can you ask nicely for the mashed potatoes?”

A dress rehearsal combined with realistic expectations from parents will make the day go more smoothly.


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