Author: Mary Ann Johnson

7 Tips for Controlling Your Response When Things Go Wrong

Last week I shared two stories about how our perception of what is happening fuels our response; that paying attention to our thoughts and the stories and emotions they generate is important when parenting and is a skill which can be learned and practiced.

Yeah right!! There was a time when I didn’t believe that I could control how I felt let alone that it was a skill which could be learned. Many of you may also have a difficult time accepting that you can control how you feel and respond.

CAN CONTROLLING YOUR STORY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

I was a reasonable person, and I lived a good life but, darn it, stuff was always happening. I mean, if the kids are acting crazy, it’s going to make you feel crazy. If milk keeps getting spilled, if the house is getting trashed, and if grades are down, you feel down yourself. When money’s tight or your spouse isn’t helping you out, you feel overwhelmed. If you feel unsupported or if you have a health issue, all of this is going to mess with how you feel and respond, right?

Back then I knew the answer was a big fat yes! But time and experience have proven to me that you can control how you feel by taking control of the stories you tell yourself.

THOUGHTS CREATE OUR STORIES

Perspective is an amazing thing. It is, simply put, the story we tell ourselves: what we think is happening or has happened. It all begins with a thought. Once we have a thought, if we hold it in our minds, it becomes a story because our brain does its job and goes to the files and finds evidence that our thought is correct. This process takes fractions of seconds and this scenario repeats itself hundreds of times each day.

You change your story by controlling your thoughts. You manage your emotions by controlling your story. When you do this, you take more positive actions and you get better results. It is a skill and the more you practice it the better you get!

TIPS FOR HAVING BETTER STORIES

TIP 1—Take responsibility and stop blaming
When we choose to tell ourselves stories that blame others, we decide to become victims. Victims parent poorly. I hear parents blame their kids all the time for how they’re feeling.
• You make me so mad.
• You have ruined my day.
• I can’t think straight because you’re so noisy.
• I wouldn’t be yelling if you would listen.

Blame is always an indicator there’s a problem with our way of being or how we perceive what’s happening.

TIP 2—Decide to think the best of others
A father expected his 16-year-old daughter home at a certain time but she was late, very late! He began writing a mental story. He imagined all sorts of scenarios for why she was late. She lacked respect for family rules. She was thoughtless. She was irresponsible. The later she was, the bigger the story grew and the angrier he became. As she opened the door, he exploded with, “You’re late! You know the rules, and you broke your promise. You’re grounded, young lady.” Of course, his daughter ran to her room crying.

To let you in on the facts, the girl’s date had taken her to a drinking party after the movie. When she asked him to take her home, he refused. She had tried to call home, but the line was busy. So she called a friend who got off work at midnight and came and got her. In the meantime, she sat on the curb in the dark because the party was out of control and not safe.

The father’s story was at the heart of the problem, not his daughter’s lateness. When we decide to think the best of others, we can manage our thoughts and the resulting stories more effectively.

TIP 3—Choose words wisely
“What’s in you is what comes out.” It’s true! Pay attention to the words you say in frustration, sorrow, and anger; you’ll get a good idea of what you’re holding onto in your subconscious mind.

Our words reveal what we truly feel. The words that we allow to come out of our mouths are what ultimately drive feelings and the resultant actions and bring the results we live with daily.

Watch the words you use when thinking or speaking about your children and teens:
• Childlike vs. naughty
• Young vs. clumsy
• Needs more direction vs. oppositional
• Tired vs. grumpy
• Preoccupied vs. lazy
• Angry vs. rebellious
• Being a kid vs. messy
• Wants my presence vs. needy
• Has a need vs. is pushing my buttons

TIP 4—Check your core beliefs
We can get an idea of the beliefs we’ve formed growing up by paying attention to the stories we tell ourselves over and over again and by listening to the words coming out of our mouths. These beliefs may not be supportive or helpful in having good relationships with others or in our ability to be Present and parent well. Once we’ve found a core belief which is not helpful, we can get rid of it by rewriting the story.

TIP 5—Track your thoughts
Because thoughts are powerful, we need to gain control over them in order to stop getting more of what we don’t want. Once you’re aware of a negative thought, you need to capture it—write it down. You might be thinking it’s crazy to write down negative stuff, but I’ve lived this, and I know it works! So pay attention to your negative thoughts and write them down. Look for patterns, unsupportive and destructive stories and repeating themes. You can shred or burn your daily list periodically. Take control!

TIP 6—Teach others what you’ve learned
Teaching others what we’re learning and experiencing is a powerful tool that helps us make even greater changes. As we teach others, we clarify for ourselves. If we teach what we learn to our family, we’ll be heartened as we see them making changes also, and our whole family will be blessed.

TIP 7—Keep practicing
Keep working at controlling your thoughts. This is something you need to do daily. There isn’t a point when you’re so good at it that you can stop working on it

Would you like to know more about these seven tips on controlling your responses with your children, then check out the book Becoming a Present Parent: Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less.

Your Shares are the BEST Compliment. : ) 

When the Result Stinks You’re the Problem!

My mom, NaVon Cazier

My mother has come to live with us. She is eighty-seven and has Alzheimer’s. That makes every day an adventure.

My mother and my husband both go to bed a bit later than I do because they sleep in. Recently, early in the morning, I used my blow dryer for about a minute and a half. This is not an exaggeration as my hair is short and I do very little to it.

All of a sudden my mother appeared at the bathroom door demanding, “What in the H___ are you doing that in the middle of the night for!” Whoa, that took me back and I replied, “Well mom, it isn’t the middle of the night. It’s six forty-five and I am getting ready for work.” By this point, she was already heading back to her bedroom mumbling about the inconsideration of some people and having her sleep disturbed in the middle of the night.

My husband, Don

I have a wonderful pair of scissors. They cost a bit of money and I keep them in a drawer with my sewing supplies and I NEVER use them for anything but cutting material. Recently, I was sewing an item and left the scissors sitting on a pile of material scraps on my kitchen counter.

Later that day I found them outside, on the patio, in front of the door of our new office where my husband had been doing some electrical wiring. I knew that my husband, unable to find the pliers, had used my good scissors to cut his electrical wires! I picked them up and marched into the house, stood in front of my husband and said in a very irritated voice, “Why were my good sewing scissors outside by the office? These are expensive scissors and are only for cutting material!” Needless, to say he was taken back and replied, “I don’t know why they were outside.”

These are two really wonderful examples of how the story we tell ourselves can and does impact how we respond.

OUR RESPONSE MATTERS   

When we’re parenting children understanding the connection between what we think is happening or has happened and how we respond really matters.

It matters for two reasons:

  • What we think will determine if our response is appropriate or not
  • Our response will send a message to our child about how we feel about them and often about who they are regardless of whether this was our intention or not

Frequently, if our story is skewed, our response is harsh and inappropriate and the message it sends is damaging to how our children feel about themselves.

In the case of my mom, her story was that it was the middle of the night and so she felt that I was totally inconsiderate of the rest of the family and that fueled her angry response.

In the case of the scissors, my story was that Don was using them inappropriately and that he was an adult and should have known better and that fueled my accusatory and angry response.

In both cases we were wrong in what we perceived was happening.

My mom and I both sent a message that we didn’t really intend to send. My mom was bugged that her sleep was interrupted but she doesn’t really believe I am an inconsiderate person but if I had been an impressionable child or teen her response could have sent a negative message that could have been internalized as true.

I know my husband isn’t inconsiderate and inappropriate but my message implied that he was both. Often the message that we send to our children when we’re not in control of our response is that there is something wrong with them, not with what they may or may not have done.

Thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs create a story and based on those stories we feel an emotion and then respond. Our response generates a result which can be good or bad, helpful or unhelpful.

Paying attention to our thoughts and the stories they generate is important and is a skill which can be learned and practiced. As we do so our lives get better and happier because we have more positive outcomes for ourselves, our relationships, our children, and our family.

Next week I will share seven tips to help you begin practicing the skill of controlling your response even when you are angry, frustrated, irritated, etc.

Your shares are the best compliment.

 

Sixty-Eight Thanksgivings and Counting!

In two months I will be sixty-nine years old and my husband will be seventy. I contemplate that and I am amazed and astonished. It makes me smile with pure joy. Can you even imagine such a thing; to live this long! What an amazing thing to accomplish!

Next week is Thanksgiving. My sweet husband will be hovering around me like a moth, giving me little kisses, hugs, and small touches as I make the pies. That is a tradition

SWEET SWEET PIES

Back when we had just ourselves and our seven children we had at least 2 pumpkin, 1 cherry, 1 apple, and a lemon meringue but as we added spouses it grew to include 3 pumpkin, 2 cherry, 2 apple, the lemon meringue, a pecan, and a chocolate cream.

This year as I bake I will be thinking about past Thanksgiving days while we were raising seven children. I realize that this year is decidedly different. Past days were about family being together, having enough food, laughing and feeding pie to the neighbor kids and those brought home from college.

This year there is a new feeling. Don and I are both feeling the magnitude of what we have created in our almost seventy years.

When we married we were 21 and 22 years old; fresh, innocent, foolish, full of wonder at each other and the possibilities of life. At just shy of seventy we are no longer fresh, innocent and hopefully not as foolish, but I think we are still full of wonder at each other and the possibilities of our life together.

Can you imagine how it feels for us when we are with our family? As we look over our seven children and see wonderful, well adjusted, kind, loyal and intelligent adults it is remarkable. And now we have a bevy of spouses.

Added to our children and their spouses are thirteen grandchildren. They are all still fresh, innocent and full of the wonder at the possibilities of their lives. They are young, only three have passed eighteen.

When Don and I are in our mid-seventies, just a mere six years from now some great-grandchildren will most assuredly have been added. Can you imagine how that will feel? We are filling the world with beauty, loyalty, and kindness, it is our greatest achievement. This year we see it clearly, through older eyes and we can barely contain the joy of it all.

Family, it is the height of what we create in this world, the only truly enduring thing, that which should consume our most treasured hours. Parenting is a big job. It can feel overwhelming and can often feel as if we are failing. But there are some simple adjustments in our thinking which can help us use the time we do have with our children to better advantage so that our relationships are stronger and sweeter.

 

All We Have Are The Relationships

We Have Forged

As I eat Thanksgiving pie this year they will be sweeter than ever before. Despite the difficulties of raising a family, learning to parent, learning to be a good spouse, making a living and all the rest I am content and I thank Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that I have been so richly blessed.

At the end of the day, all we have are the relationships that we have forged –healthy or unhealthy, strong or weak, good or bad. This is especially important to remember when building our family relationships. Simple things, done consistently over time, lead to amazing success in the home.

Here’s wishing you a very wonderful holiday season. And I hope you will take a bit of time to learn how to strengthen your family relationships without breaking your time bank. Get your free chapter HERE.

Your shares are the greatest compliment. : )

You Can Improve Your Parent-Child Relationships

What Is Really Important?

Here’s a true story. A father was painting the outside of his home. His five-year-old son wanted to help. So this good father gave his son an old shirt with the sleeves rolled up several times. They both went to work on the door, dad painting the top and son painting the bottom. It just happened to be the door to the main entrance.

Now because of his age and size, the young boy wasn’t able to spread the paint evenly and consequently, the paint was beading up. That certainly wasn’t how the father envisioned his front door. So each time the five-year-old bent down to get more paint the father would hastily smooth out the paint on the bottom panel. It couldn’t do any harm, the boy didn’t know what was happening and the door sure would look better.

Well, father and son painted in silence for a time, the boy doing his best and the father smoothing it out. As the father thought about the situation and his redoing of his son’s work he decided that working with his son trumped a first-class paint job. He realized that his son was doing a mighty fine job for a five-year-old. The relationship that was being forged over the painting of a door was more significant than the appearance of the door. He stopped smoothing out his son’s work.

Ever after that when the father approached the front door and saw its distinctive style of decoration he was reminded of what is really important.

The father of this five-year-old boy spoke about his experience, with his own father. His father had a workshop in which he made wonderful things. His son said, “I would wander into this workshop and watch him. Just to be in his presence was a thrill for me. He invited me to help him by passing a hammer, a screwdriver, or some other tool. I was convinced that my help was necessary and that without me he would not be able to complete his task.

As I look back and reflect upon those wonderful memories, I realize that my contribution was not necessary for my father to complete the work he was engaged in. I was the beneficiary, as through these experiences I came to know him and to love him. I came to know about a Fathers Role In Parenting .”  We All Have a Father in Whom We Can Trust, Ensign, May 1994, p. 30

Sometimes parents can care too much about the outcome and too little about the relationship. When we take time to be present with our children we give them the opportunity to know and love us. We give them a gift. And they, in turn, return that gift by loving us back. It is the best use of our time because the relationship that develops is the thing of greatest significance.

Why Does a Work Ethic Matter?

My grandpa Ted, hard worker, entrepreneur, and teacher

Learning The Value of Work

It was early in the 1960’s and I was seated in a red vinyl chair, the kind you would have seen in a 1940’s dinner. I was waiting for a customer and I knew one would come. One always came when my grandpa took a break and headed out the front door to the Golden Spur Café next door.

I was about 10 and my responsibility was to measure the feet of tall cowboys and grizzled farmers. Then I would show them fancy riding boots, a good working cowboy boot or maybe a steel-toed work boot.

I had been measuring men’s feet since I was about 8 years old, every time my grandpa took a break. I had never yet sold a boot but I had shown a good many cowboys a good many boots.

What I didn’t know at the time was that my grandpa was sending those cowboys and farmers over to give me experience. When I stayed at my grandparents during the summer this was my daily routine.

At night I would find myself behind the counter in my Grandma’s Sweet Shop. My grandma had only a

My grandma Roselia, hard worker, entrepreneur and teacher

fourth-grade education but she had taught herself what she needed to know to run a successful business for many years. It was right next to the theater and in those days there were no concessions inside the theater. You had to come to my grandma’s Sweet Shop to get them.

After a movie or the high school football game people come in for lime rickeys, an ice cream soda or a foot long hot dog with her famous and very secret sauce. I washed root beer mugs and ice cream dishes but occasionally I had the privilege of selling popcorn and candy. It was a delicious experience, no pun intended!

Verl and NaVon, my parents, hard workers, entrepreneurs and teachers

My dad was a hard worker and an entrepreneur too. He did many things and then went back to college when he had nine children. I learned the meaning of that word in high school but although I didn’t know the word till then I knew what one was. It was a person who owned their own business; who kept the books and hired people and paid the bills and sometimes got paid very little. I knew it was somebody who was always thinking up new ideas and putting them to work. It was a person who knew how to work hard and do it well. It was a person who could earn what they needed to care for themselves.

My mom was busy raising nine children but she was an entrepreneur too. She took in ironing from the neighbors. She used those meager funds to buy us Christmas, trips to the fair and the occasional pack of hot dogs for dinner. What a treat!

I learned about entrepreneurship and the value of work by being involved with my dad, mom, and

Me, learning the value of work, entrepreneurship and doing a job well

grandparents from my earliest days. This call to work and to do it well became part of my personal value system. It served me so well when I was putting myself through college and when I entered the workforce and on into my parenting days.

Learning to work paid off in many ways. I was able to do my chores well when properly motivated. : ) I got my homework done and I knew that doing it well mattered. No one ever bailed me out if I chose to do a poor job or to be late in getting an assignment done. I knew that if I needed something there was work I could to earn the money.

I became an entrepreneur myself despite being a stay at home mom raising seven children. I taught myself to make wedding cakes and did a fabulous job from my kitchen counter for fifty years. Many of our family perks came from those wedding cakes.

My children couldn’t help but develop a strong work ethic themselves. I will never forget the summer my five-year-old Jodie set up a rock selling business. She collected rocks on the side of the road and went door to door selling them. She sold some too. Her next venture was a large cardboard box christened “Junky Jimbo’s” (don’t ask me where she got that name!!) on the corner of a busy street where she sold lemonade. And so it went with all of my children.

Understanding the value of work has been passed down to my grandchildren. They know that if they want something then there is a way to get it; come up with an idea and then go to work. My grandchildren have been babysitters, dog walkers, poop scoopers, pet sitters, vacation gardeners, tattoo sellers, magic boat sellers, cool bib sellers, creators of events for families, tickets 25 cents, lemonade sellers, newspaper deliverers, lawn cutters and now I have a granddaughter, just out of high school, who is working in a dental office. She’s saving to serve a mission for her church this summer.

WORK Develops Important Character Traits In Kids

Children reap many advantages when they learn to work. Work is key to developing important character traits.

  • self-motivation
  • integrity
  • determination
  • consistency
  • confidence
  • persistence
  • judgment
  • personal satisfaction
  • confidence
  • the ability to use and value self-denial

We don’t have to run our own business to help our children reap the advantages of having a strong work ethic. When we teach our children to work and do the very best job they can we give them gifts that will be of inestimable value when they become adults.

Next week we’ll take a look at some ways that we can encourage our children to work and do it well.

Your shares are the best compliment. : ) 

Are You Withholding the Reward?

You have probably heard the saying ‘begin with the end in mind’. In other words, visualize how you want something to turn out. However, if we want more enjoyment when we do things as a family then we should begin with the WHY in mind.

I love this comment by the motivational speaker Dan Clark: “Begin with the why in mind rather than the end in mind. This allows us to reward effort rather than results.” I love his comment because when adults adopt this attitude we and our kids have more fun and satisfaction in just about everything we do together.

Remember why you’re going for a family drive, why you’re letting the kids help you paint, why you’re making cookies, why you’re folding socks together or why you’re preparing dinner. The purpose of just about everything we do in a family is to build relationships.

Stop worrying about how the cookies taste, how the painting looks, if all the socks got matched, if dinner tasted great, whether there’s a mess, or how long the project takes. Keep your mind focused on relationship building.

As adults, we have motives that can prevent us from rewarding our family’s efforts to work and play together, regardless of the outcome. These motives can make it more difficult to give ourselves a reward just for being together, for enjoying each other, for working on our relationships.

MOTIVE 1—We want the experience and the outcome to match our expectations

When we plan any activity, vacation, chore, etc. with our family it is almost impossible not to have an outcome in mind. However, if the family event doesn’t match that outcome then it’s easy to feel dissatisfied, even angry. It’s important to watch our expectations.

Keep expectations from getting in the way of enjoying your family. Avoid the trap of giving up because, well, what’s the use, what can they possibly be getting out of this? Keep the perfect from becoming the enemy of the good. The point is not what you teach, or how well it looks, but being together. There’s great value in linking your satisfaction to being with your family even when it falls short of your expectations.

MOTIVE 2—We want a reward

In our world, we get rewards for getting stuff done. If the job’s done right, we get bigger rewards. Rewards are what we’re used to.

In our families, the reward isn’t a paycheck but a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of happiness. Frequently, we withhold this reward from ourselves and other family members if what we’re doing doesn’t turn out right, in other words, if it didn’t meet our expectations. We don’t give ourselves the reward for simply engaging with our family and solidifying relationships.

It’s OK to reward ourselves with a sense of satisfaction and happiness even if we fall short of our expectations.

MOTIVE 3—We want others to think well of us

We want to look like the family we have in our mind – kids with clean hands and faces, no bickering, clean plates at dinner, clean rooms, happy conversation in the car…

That family doesn’t even exist but for some reason, we think it does and that if ours isn’t like that we have somehow failed. We want this imaginary family because sometimes our motive when being with our family is to look good to others – to look like that imaginary family. When we have this motive in mind it can suck the joy right out of any family activity with a REAL family

Success in any family endeavor can be measured by how people feel during and after an activity together. Is the family energized? Did you have fun? Did you feel happy being with one another? Was there a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment? Was individual esteem strengthened? Are relationships better? Is the family feeling still strong?

If we can answer yes to even one of those questions then we can reward ourselves because we will have succeeded in WHY we are together as a family – relationships!

When we remember why we do things as a family it’s easier to jettison these common motives and have greater enjoyment as we work and play together.

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE –

Your family gathers at the table for dinner. You notice that one of your children’s hands are filthy and send them to wash. Another child complains that now you all have to wait to say grace because of so and so’s messy hands. The child with the messy hands comes back and gives their sibling a raspberry with their tongue. You intervene, remind them it’s time for grace and pick someone to pray.

During the prayer, the smallest child tips their milk. They should have had hands folded for prayer but they were reaching for a slice of bread. While the family finishes grace you head to the kitchen for a towel.

Both you and your spouse feel a bit frustrated but as you wipe up the milk your husband says, “Guess what I saw today?” One of the children responds with, “What?” “Well, I saw a sign for the circus, it’s coming to town.” There is a round of happy comments and someone says “Can we go?” “Well, we can talk about that at our family meeting. But do you know what my favorite thing was when I went to the circus as a kid, the Kaliope.” Someone responds with “The whatopee. I never heard of that.” And so the conversation goes for the next few minutes. Then your oldest child asks to be excused which starts an avalanche of request to be done.

Quickly you and your husband find yourselves sitting alone at the table. You realize that you are going to have to call those assigned to clean the table back and that you are going to have to argue with the ones assigned to wash and dry. But for now, in this brief moment, you and your husband look at each other and one of you says – “Well that was nice.”

And it was nice. You all sat down together. You ate together. You kept your cool and managed your responses. You had a full five minutes of conversation as a family. No one went away feeling less than. It was a success! Reward yourself with a sense of satisfaction and a happy feeling that you are managing just fine because you are!

COMMENTS? I’d love to hear them!

 

Your shares are the best compliment!

A Stroll Down Memory Lane for Halloween

My granddaughter’s, Aubrey and Lizzy, in their Halloween finery

Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. I was young enough to celebrate it in the 1950’s and very early 60’s. It was a far different holiday than today; no big box stores, just the five and dime and Woolworth’s. Very few kids had ever seen a store bought costume let alone owned one.

The big scares for the night were pushing over someone’s outhouse, stealing a melon or two and running through the neighborhood in large packs of very mixed age groups. We would go with our friends but we would all be towing a younger sibling or two. Pillowcases were the treat bag of choice and parents never went with us. No one drove to another neighborhood.

Halloween Pumpkins

Decorations were carved pumpkins and sheets hanging from trees. There were no moving monsters and skeletons which screeched when you walked by. There was just the occasional dad or teen hiding in the bushes to jump out and scare the daylights out of you.

Treats consisted of apples, homemade popcorn balls, wrapped

Candy apples, a Halloween staple in my day!

homemade cookies and cupcakes, taffy bites, tootsie rolls, lots of suckers and an occasional, much sought after, candy bar. We were often invited into a home for hot apple cider and cookies so we could warm up.

Our costumes would be admired. For the most part, we were ghosts, witches, gypsies, brides, princesses, scarecrows, superheroes and an occasional Dracula or mummy in a bed sheet. Trust me, our costumes were pretty simple compared to even today’s homemade costumes.

Please notice the very scary face and the very scary claws on his feet!

After I turned 9 or ten I don’t remember my mom making a costume for me. My friends and I just figured stuff out. When my grandson was three (he is now ten) he figured out some stuff too. He came to his mom with a costume that he had put together all on his own. Sometimes it’s good to get out of our children’s way and just let them create instead of being so interested in the end result or what other people might think.

A Halloween Trick!

As an adult, I LOVED Halloween because I had such fond memories from my childhood. One of my favorite things was to dress up as a witch. I had a laugh to envy.

One year, just before Halloween, my children watched a movie about witches. It was deliciously scary. They learned that witches have itchy heads and that they can smell mice.

That Halloween after I played my part as a green-faced, long-nosed witch with a fabulously authentic laugh, my five-year-old began asking me if I was a witch. I would give him an eerie smile, open my eyes really wide and say, “Why no, Barry”, while I scratched my head. He asked me multiple times.

One day, as I was cleaning under the sink, I discovered that we had a mouse. I hollered to my husband, “We have a mouse under the sink.” Barry, who had been standing at my side ran away and thumped up the stairs, all the while yelling at the top of his lungs, “She is a witch, she is a witch.”

What Makes Halloween Special?

As funny as that story is, and we still laugh about it, I realized that as much as my children liked the trick or treating they were scared by all the posters, window clings, and more and more gruesome costumes. Times had changed from when I was a girl. So I made a change in the way we celebrated Halloween.

I asked myself what it was about the holiday that I loved so much. It was the night, the freedom, the

Food, friends and fun. That’s what really makes the Halloween season.

friends and the treats. So we began having parties with other families and made sure there were lots of games, friend’s, food and treats. My children never stopped going trick or treating but they would bring their friend’s home for games and treats.

Don and I like being home on Halloween. We like talking with the children and their parents who visit our home, asking them about their costumes and such. We have pumpkins and gourds, bales of hay and corn stalks, maybe a scarecrow or two. We keep it simple, not too scary and loads of fun.

How do you and yours celebrate Halloween?

 

Your shares are the best compliment!

A Home Management Tip for Autumn

Stuff! Stuff! Stuff!

I lived in Montana in the same house for over twenty-one years with a husband and seven children. I bet you can imagine the amount of stuff we accumulated!

We frequently had to reorganize the garage. One whole end of the garage was a special room dedicated to storing stuff. In the house hours of time went into cleaning out closets, drawers, and toy boxes. I can recall the time required to sort, launder, store, and fold all of the clothes and bedding we managed to accumulate.

Eventually, we decided to move to Utah. I was ready! I began cleaning out the house. I held numerous garage sales. I wanted to let it all go. My husband felt stressed when he left for work because he wasn’t there to monitor what was being sold. He was worried about what we were going to have to replace.

Here’s what happened. After over thirty years of living together and raising seven children, we pared it all down to one small U-haul and a van. Would you be surprised to know that in all the years since we haven’t replaced a single item?

More Stuff!

“ …We invest a great deal in the acquisition of stuff. Companies bombard us with slick, relentless propaganda as to why we must have their stuff, and we judge an individual’s success by their stuff’s sheer quantity and supposed quality… Stuff beyond our basic needs does not liberate. Consider the overall investment of your time. You have to shop for stuff. You have to clean, maintain, and organize stuff. You lose stuff. You look for stuff. You polish stuff, secure it against theft, trip over it, recharge it, upgrade it, accessorize it, pack it, move it, unpack it, insure it, fix it, and eventually sell, trash, or bequeath it. Stuff has no use beyond this life, and it takes a lot from us.” -Shawn Miller

If you’re having a hard time keeping your home clean you probably have too much stuff. If your dishes are always piled up you probably have too many dishes. If your kid’s rooms are a disaster they probably have too many toys, too many gadgets, and too many clothes.

Stuff is Energy Draining!

Each item we own requires some of our energy. The more belongings we have, the more emotional energy, as well as physical energy, is needed to maintain it. I want you to visualize something.

Close your eyes and imagine you have threads of energy attached to your shoulders and these threads connect to every item you have in your possession. Every item—each dish, cup, and pan; pictures in the photo album, CDs, and hammer; each nail, sock, book, pile of papers, sweater, car, guitar pick, and even your computer files. It’s one energy thread per item.

Now envision wherever you go you energetically drag all your possessions with you. You drag them via the connecting threads of emotional energy. How much are you dragging?

What if you eliminated a quarter of your belongings? How much lighter would you feel? Would you even miss any of the things you discarded or gave away? Through my experience, the answer is surprising: not really.

I have a very wealthy friend; she could buy just about anything. Her home is lovely, not cluttered or crowded. There isn’t a plethora of stuff. She gave me a perfectly beautiful blouse one day and I asked her why she was giving it away. She replied, “I have a rule. If I buy something new I have to give something away.” Wow, really wise woman!

In last weeks article, I talked about a principle which allows us a great deal of freedom – keep things simple. Getting rid of stuff is a way to simplify your life, to free yourself and Autumn is a perfect time.

Tips for Successfully Homeschooling Special Needs

Learning about the letter “M”

Deciding to homeschool a special needs child can be challenging and rewarding. My granddaughter, Maggie, has severe cerebral palsy. Some of Maggie’s CP symptoms include – she can’t verbally speak, use her arms and hands well, walk, move on her own, or express herself in words. That can be challenging when it comes to homeschooling her along with her siblings. Despite the challenges, when Maggie was 5, her mother decided to teach her at home.

Maggie’s now 12 and attends a regular middle school. She still has all of the same physical difficulties that she had when she was five, however, schooling at home for a number of years was one of the reasons that Maggie was able to transition so well into public classes.

During those homeschooling years we learned some things that made our efforts more successful:

• Be patient
• Let them do everything they can even if the results don’t meet your expectations
• Help as much as they need, they will still feel accomplished. Sometimes, Maggie needs a lot of help. However, at the end of any project, even if she has needed a great deal of help, Maggie smiles as if she did it all by herself.
• If your child is non-verbal develop a system so they can answer questions. (Maggie can point to one of two or three fingers to answer yes or no questions and even more detailed questions. For example: Do you want to color the shirt in red, blue or something else?)
• Remember, they are just like any child in their need to do and learn.
• They are interested in the same things as other children their age.
• Don’t be afraid to let them try. They aren’t afraid to try!
• If possible, find others who can help you a day or two a week.

Here is an example in one of those early at home, school days with Maggie

One of the things that increased the success level for Maggie was finding her a special friend who would come and help one day a week. This gave Jodie a break or allowed her to work with the other children. Cindi Walker was a neighbor and went to church with Jodie and her family. She became a good friend and then transitioned to being a very special friend to Maggie.

The photos and example below occurred when Maggie was six, her brother Jack was four and her sister Mary was 2.

A homeschool day for Cindy and Maggie

When Cindy came she had learning activities that she could help Maggie do despite her physical limitations. She included Jack and Mary if they were interested. Sometimes they were but Maggie was 6 and so many of her activities just didn’t hold their attention.

On this day Maggie was learning about the letter “M”. Her lips do not close like most children’s so it was an

Making an “M” collage

extraordinary challenge for Maggie. We hoped she would eventually be able to say this important letter. (Maggie is still non-verbal but the effort to teach her to speak was fun for both her and those of us who worked with her. She does say the letter I perfectly.)

In order to practice using the ‘m’ sound Cindy helped Maggie make a collage of many different pictures all starting with M. Cindy had pre-cut the pictures but helped Maggie use the glue stick and stick them on the paper. When the collage was finished Cindi would say the M word and then Maggie would give it a try.

Discussing what to write in Maggie’s journal.

Next, they read a darling picture story about “Mary, the Mouse with Measles” which Cindi had written. Maggie loved reading the story and so did her siblings, Jack and Mary.

Cindy and Maggie were putting a “Learning Journal” together. Cindy would help Maggie hold a pencil and write. On this day they wrote about the trip that they all had taken to the Utah School for the Deaf when Maggie’s had her ears tested. Here is what they wrote together: “Jack and I had our hearing tested. We can hear.” (Cindy asked Maggie, “Do we need a period or an exclamation mark?”) Then they practiced saying “We can hear” with emphasis!

While Maggie was busy learning Jack was all over the table and chairs

“Luke I am your father!” Yes, Jack does say that with just the right amount of breathiness. : )

blowing his train whistle, eating cookies and making comments. He also turned the popcorn popper lid into a Darth Vader mask. Cindy is VERY patient with Maggie and all her siblings.

Maggie drew some “M” pictures with special crayons. She loved and still does, working at holding on to things with her hands and seeing the result.

Of course, they ended their “m” session by eating marshmallows. Maggie enjoyed that the most!

To finish off the day Cindy read to the children from the classic “The Secret Garden”. This book did NOT appeal to Jack or Mary but Cindi remained patient with their wiggles and giggles.

Homeschooling a special needs child can be a successful adventure. It is worth giving it a try. If your child comes to a point where they need more than you can give them at home, their time at home will be a great foundation.

How do you make homeschool work for your special needs child?

 

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Precious Autumn-Graceful Change

Fall is in the air- I love it! Although it still seems a bit like summer here in the west where I live, I know fall is just around the corner. There’s a slight chill to the air and the suns rays seem a bit thinner. The flowers are brilliant and blooming like mad in the final days of warm weather.

Why do I love autumn so much? Well, things begin to gear down. It feels somehow, restful. It feels peaceful. I have a desire to sit on the porch and soak up the sun. I want to bake bread! These autumn days make me feel cozy. I have a desire to be home puttering and preparing for winter.

Mostly, I love this season because the falling leaves remind me that to everything there is a season. There is a time for gathering and a time for letting go. This is a time when I feel the need to simplify, to let go.

Just as the leaves of fall must let go so the tree can rest we too need to occasionally take stock of what we have and ask ourselves, “Is this serving a purpose or is it just clutter?” Are there commitments or obligations that I have taken on that are not serving my family or me? Is my calendar cluttered? Is there too much ‘stuff’ in my home? Are the cupboards of my mind too full? What about my emotions? Are there any old wounds and hurts that I need to release to the wind?” Fall is a time for taking stock and cleaning house.

When we think of this type of cleaning many of us think of spring. But for me, fall is the time. I don’t want to be closed up for winter with too many obligations, too much stuff, too few hours for home and family or feelings that burden my days and nights. Winter is for rest and I want to be free to rest.

This is a principle which allows us to have a great deal of freedom: Keep it simple. When you put something in, take something out. This principle, when observed, can help us have more time for family, relationships, and learning.

As my darling daughter, Jenny, so elegantly said, “Precious Autumn demonstrated graceful change to me today, to change and release with grace.”