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    The journey. The tantrum. The reboot.

    It usually starts small, the tantrum. A child’s desire – often seemingly ridiculous by adult standards: must wear two socks at once; must brush one’s teeth by oneself, completely; must screw off the lid of the toothpaste and apply (read: blob, smear, ooze, dribble) toothpaste to the toothbrush (and sink and hair) by oneself; must retrieve and put on (or not) pull-up and jammies in exactly the precise way – resisted or redirected, or ignored, because they seem silly to us, or time-wasting, or aggravating. And this resistance resistance/redirection is met with a pout, a kick, an unkind word. To which we adults respond with incredulity or insistence or more resistance. Why are they doing what they’re doing? Why are they escalating? What happened?

    We direct, they resist. We push, they push back. We are focusing on the destination. They are focused on the journey.

    At its core, a tantrum is a need unmet: a child trying to express something right that isn’t quite right – maybe they are coming down with a cold, maybe a sibling took something from them earlier without asking, maybe they need your attention and you’ve been busy with your own tasks, maybe they are sensing the hectic nature of a very busy day and need to slow down, maybe they’re frustrated about not being able to reach/tighten/loosen/tie/fit something somewhere but they don’t have the words to express what they’re feeling, or maybe even if they did, they don’t really understand what they’re feeling because… they are new to this whole human thing. And then, just when they’re feeling the most vulnerable or confused or frustrated and trying to communicate these new feelings, the people they’re trying to communicate with – us adults – we’re shutting down the expression, because we’re exhausted, or have things to do, or we’re just trying to get to that end point (get to school, get grocery shopping finished, get to bed). Enter tantrum: an explosion of expression that’s been brewing, needs ignored, feelings contained or misunderstood. Boom.

    You know, I think most parents, and kids, just want things to flow smoothly – I think it’s in our human nature. Because, ideally, working together feels good. Harmony feels right. Getting to where we’re going peacefully is awesome. But in reality, well, while my kids and I may move along in generally the same direction, but we’re not always on the same page in terms of smoothness of travel. The kid side of our parent-kid pair might be able to see the objective, might even recognize the importance of it (or my own perceived and conveyed importance of it), but it’s in their nature to resist it – because honestly, who wants to be told what to do or how to think, especially when it doesn’t seem very fun?

    Take bedtime for example. I’m saying: Okay, let’s get your teeth brushed, let’s take a bath, let’s get your jammies on! But they’re hearing: stop having fun, and so… they resist. And we push. And they push back. Maybe bedtime isn’t what they want, or, maybe they just want something else at the moment, or maybe they feel something else in the moment (those unmet needs & unexpressed feelings, remember: jealousy or frustration or illness coming on), and to them, in the moment, that destination you’re pushing towards, it just doesn’t matter. If they don’t feel good NOW – that’s all that matters, and they respond to and express those feelings in the now. Loudly. Forcefully. Smooth travels be damned.

    I know in some ways, they’re on to something – living in the now, appreciating the awesomeness of every moment, loving that smooth trip would be ideal, right? But wow, it’s hard sometimes. It’s hard to ease up on the things we think we should be doing (getting to bed on time, cleaning up after each activity), whilst encouraging the things that need to be done (getting up & dressed for school), and keeping cool, calm, and fun (all without losing ourselves along the way) in the process – particularly when we’re being yelled at or random toys are being thrown in our general direction. But, process, the now, the path, the way, the journey, the flow… they are right. That is the most important part; the end goal can be awesome too, but if you’re not enjoying yourself along the way...

    Anyhow, back to tantrums. Last night was particularly challenging in terms of me trying to get smoothly to our desired destination (a reasonable bedtime) and my children resisting. Suffice it to say on tantrum number three of the evening, at I’m-not-admitting-to-how-late-it-was o’clock, when said children still were not drifting off into dreamland, I was just about ready to be done. The journey sucked, the destination seemed way out of reach, and I wanted to walk out of the room and go do my own thing. I so wanted to.

    Instead, I decided that getting to sleep was less important than getting there smoothly and happily, and really, truly, getting to the core of the tantrums, the expression, the pushback. Somehow, I reached down into the depths of my patience (I was scraping the bottom folks, seriously), and I acknowledged the moment – and recognized the unmet needs that had been piling up all day.

    So then what? What do you do when the tantrum that starts small becomes the tantrum that isn’t really ending? How do you stop the train in its tracks? How do you go with the flow, instead of resisting?

    What did I do? I rebooted our bedtime. I took a deep breath. Then calmly (yet loudly, because, you know, I had to be heard over the yelling) stated that I didn’t like how things were going with the current bedtime, that I wasn’t feeling good, that I was sensing THEY weren’t feeling good, and that I was restarting bedtime.


    The sudden silence was like, awesome.

    Suddenly, the destination wasn’t the important part anymore, instead, it was enjoying the trip. On went the bedroom lights. Off went the pjs, and back into the tub the kids went. Seriously, we just started over. Just rebooted our mom-kid computer, basically. I stopped directing. They stopped resisting. We started having fun. Bubbles started bubbling, tub time shenanigans ensued. Teeth were happily re-brushed (well, sort of. In one case, initially brushed. See: tantrum number two), jammies were cheerfully put back on (which, truth be told, never quite made it all the way on in the first place. See: tantrum number three), stories were re-told, songs were re-sung, and everyone settled down, peacefully, holding my hands, calmly… they went to sleep. Sleep, blissful sleep. The journey and the destination achieved with bliss.

    Posted: Feb 24 2012, 00:35 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    A Vision Board for Family Harmony

    We’ve been dealing with a lot of BIG feelings around here recently – at ages 7 and almost 5 (along with ages 34 and 36!). Some days I find the bickering, along with the nudging to: “be gentle”, “stop fighting”, “treat each other with kindness”, paired with constant redirection, repeating, and reminders of why we SHOULDN’T hit, and what we SHOULD do instead when we feel angry… all to be a bit too much for me. At times, I’ve felt out of control as a parent – meaning, I feel like my children are just tumbling forward ahead of me in a snarling cat and dog tangle, and I’m running behind, holding a broken leash, discouraged (will they ever understand that peace feels better than conflict?) and confused (what am I doing wrong?).  I KNOW my children’s actions and feelings aren’t mine to control. Yet, I also know it is my job (and desire!) to encourage and teach them to express their feelings in creative and helpful ways – instead of destructive and hurtful ways. But I’m not so good at being that proverbial rubber ball. The things our children say and do all have an effect on me! So, it’s a delicate balance of letting them work through their OWN feelings, keeping myself from being hurt by words they may throw without fully meaning them, telling them when they do say things that aren’t acceptable, and giving them gentle (yet firm at times), direction and examples.

    Parenting is hard, that’s just a fact. Doesn’t matter whatever else you have going on in your life, parenting is still a difficult job – a ton of responsibility – not just to physical everyday tasks (the washing, care, and feeding of kids), but the emotional guidance and teaching of a new and small human to whom everything is NEW – feelings, reactions, objects, experiences, everything.


    In a moment of calmness today, I sat down at my computer, feeling still frustrated, yet hopeful about finally finding that key to helping settle the next cat-and-dog quarrel, when suddenly an email I’d written a year ago, popped out to me from last year. The title was VISION BOARD. Vision board, what’s a vision board? I opened the email, (which was just a link to an image…) and was met with a collage of inspirational words: Possibilities. Power. Happiness Lingers. Energy. Prosperity. Love. Be Transformed.  Along with beautiful images: flowers, a women jumping, an island in the middle of a calm sea.

    (source: http://powerful-living.biz/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/lc-2008-map.jpg)

    My hope increased. This, I thought, is EXACTLY what I’m going to do. Make a vision board!

    So, what IS a vision board? 


    It’s a visual reminder of what you’d like to be, where you see yourself in the future, what you believe you can achieve, or what you would like to have more of in your life. It’s a way to envision where you’re going and what you’re reaching for – and to take that vision out of your mind, and into a place where you can see it every day.  The intention of making a vision board is to put your desires out in front of you (and into the universe), in order to help you focus on what you want more of (Peace! Harmony!), instead of what you don’t want (Bickering. Quarrelling.); all in the hopes that you’ll discover what you want finds you more often, and in greater quantity.


    I liken in to the experience of waking up after a less-than-stellar night’s sleep (what? No sleep? Huh?) – and having your thoughts turn to, “ugh, I’m SO tired, HOW am I going to make it through this day?” – and then continuing through that day, which, often turns out to be pretty rough. Versus a day when, in spite of bone-tiredness, you get up, smile in the mirror, and find something wonderful about the day – maybe it’s even the thought of that first yummy cup of coffee – I’ve found THAT day is remarkably more wonderful than I’d expected, given the lack of sleep.


    Why is that? Simply, I believe that what you think, what you BELIEVE, is what you become.


    I think a vision board is this same idea – crafted so you can SEE and be reminded of what you would like MORE of in your life! For me, seeing things – like writing myself lists or calendar reminders – helps me stay on track better than keeping lists in my mind.


    With the hope of increased peace, we started out with creating our own vision board for our house! We talked about what we’d like more of – peace, fun, cooperation, happiness – and began cutting out pictures and words from magazines (& print-outs from websites) that made us feel good, then arranged & glued them down on construction paper, and decorated with stickers & sparkles. Simple! The kids had fun, and I think it turned out sparkly, happy, and inspiring. My daughter looked at it first thing this morning after breakfast, which warmed my heart.


    Will it guide us towards more fun, deeper breaths, and peaceful conflict resolutions? I hope so. I can envision us passing by our vision board, smiling, and being reminded of the way we’d like to feel (and for me, the mom I’m striving to be) – calm, peaceful, happy, and fun. If nothing else, I know we enjoyed creative family time together – and that in itself is worth it!


    (our vision board, completed - and DD apparently already got the message!) 


    Peace to you.


    Ps: if you make, or have made a vision board yourself, please leave me a comment & let me know! I’d love to see your creations!

    Posted: Feb 21 2012, 10:58 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    Wordless Wednesday: Look Up at the Sky

    I never get tired of the blue sky.
    ~Vincent van Gogh

     In the midst of your hectic day... kids, work, school, activities, meetings, errands, meals, exercise, to-do-lists, [fill-in-the-blank here]... take a moment to pause & look. Up. At the sky, in all its splendor: always present, always changing.  It grounds me and fills me with energy. This past month, I've observed the sky more than usual. Perhaps it's been the unusually warm weather we've been having that has drawn my eyes (and camera) upwards. Regardless of the reason, I'm glad of the moments of peace our sky has given me, and I hope these images give you a bit of peace, too.

    Take a moment wherever you are, and look up! Peace to you.