Finding Room For Family Time In A Fast Paced World

By Steven C.

Sometimes work schedules stretch mothers and fathers to the breaking point with little time left for the people who matter most: children. Thankfully, spending time with family is more than ticking away the hours of a dull day; it is about quality interaction between parents and children. Even though it may seem like the twenty-four hour day needs to be lengthened, it actually provides plenty of time to accomplish the most important mission of all—time with family.

Schedules, including work, travel, and possibly continued education, often seem like the enemy. They appear to rob parents of valuable time with children during their formative years. This seemingly dark cloud does have a silver lining, however. Work provides valuable resources for the family in terms of food, shelter, health insurance, and savings. Additional education enriches the parents’ lives, broadens their horizons, and can lead to more rewarding careers. Beyond the obvious, these necessary activities outside parenting provide parents with a very important reminder: Time is precious.

In parenting, as in life, it is vital to remember the value of your time varies by how you spend it. If a parent spends all day at home watching television, obviously the child is not benefiting from their presence. On the other hand, if a parent spends just fifteen minutes devoted to interaction with their child, that parent will have done wonders for their little one. Quality, not necessarily quantity, is the main feature of a healthy parent-child relationship.

Presence is more than a physical state. Love and care are involved in the selection of childcare, clothing, and feeding children. Every aspect of a child’s world exists because of the efforts put forth by the parent or caregiver. The parent sustains the life of the child. This vital role does not evaporate when the parent dons business attire and continues on their morning commute after dropping their child off at school.

Children whose parents work are not always suffering souls. Involvement in extracurricular activities and preschool as a result of parental work schedules often benefit the child. High quality, loving daycare and preschool settings enrich children’s lives and provide a solid foundation for the future. In fact, in a 1996 study entitled The Five to Seven Year Shift: The Age of Reason and Responsibility researchers found, “Children with extensive preschool experience tend to adjust to kindergarten more easily than those who spent little or no time in preschool. Children who start kindergarten with peers they know and like generally do better.”

Part of being there for a child is letting that child know they are in your thoughts; it is a matter of doing little things that show you care. Small remembrances like sending a note in your child’s lunch or bringing them a healthy snack or something to drink when picking them up at the end of a long day at school or preschool are a token of affection your young child will treasure. Older children may also appreciate hearing a retelling of a joke heard by the parent during the day, the chance to engage in a conversation about their school day, or a discussion of plans around the table in the evening. In all cases, showing that a child’s feelings matter and they are remembered even in their absence is an important part of family bonding. These small acts do not require vast amounts of time; they only require small continual acknowledgements by the parent.

In an effort to build a strong bond and fond memories, set routines can be a benefit to hurried, harried parents. The morning rush out the door can become more pleasant through planning. For younger children, getting an early start each day, with a morning book reading as the child is waking, sets a nice tone for the day and makes waking up less of a chore. Reading to children, for as little as five to fifteen minutes each day, at a young age provides children valuable skills for the future. According to Gabrielle Simcock, author of a recent study related to children and reading published by the American Psychological Association, “…research shows that very young children can learn to perform novel actions with novel objects from a brief picture-book reading interaction. This common form of interaction that takes place very early in children’s lives, may provide an important source of information to them about the world around them.”

All the way out the door and up the steps to school, through reinforcing and comforting routines, parents can work to create bonds that will set the stage for strong family ties. For example, children love to play games in the car. Younger children can enjoy play games of I-Spy and variations of the License Plate Game to pass the time on the way to class. Encouraging words from the parent as the drive goes along can help the child learn about the world and experience the affection of the parent.

Later in the day, routines can be a blessing as well, dinner at the table—even if it is a fast food meal picked up on the way home—can provide quality family time. Discussing the day’s events before dispersing for homework, housework, or bed gives families the opportunity to check in with each other and show that they care. Reading a book at night, before tucking the child into bed is a tried and true parenting routine beloved by generations of children. Time conscious parents will be happy to note that story books listing the average length of the story in minutes can be found in the children’s section of the bookstore. Some titles with this handy device include: Disney’s 5 Minute Bedtime Stories by Catherine Hapka, A Treasury of Bedtime Stories by Linda Yeatman, and Three Minute Tales: Stories to Tell When Time Is Short by Margaret Read MacDonald.

On the weekend, when more time is available, scheduling a regular family game time every other weekend-as an important meeting-gives everyone something to look forward to on the day off. Finding and collecting board games can be fun for the whole family and offer a variety of entertainment that transcends the focus on gadgets, gizmos, and time in front of the television or computer screen common in this modern life. Parents can try such classics as Clue, Sorry, Monopoly, or branch out into new realms with the family board game with such emerging classics as Khet: The Laser Game—a blend of checkers and chess that involves laser light—or Cadoo: Family Fun—an inventive game which, as the name suggests, is fun for the whole family.

There are many ways to play an active role in family life, but parents do not need an extra hours in the day to do it. All it takes is a kind word here and there, a brief remembrance, or fifteen minutes to an hour set aside in time pockets throughout the week. Children are adaptable and appreciate the time that parents give them. The only requirement is that the parent demonstrates they care and are tuned in to their child through positive interaction. Parents should also remember that quality time and parenting in general are not about perfection but about persistence.

They say your kid is a reflection of you. Visit Gagazine.com to learn how to raise a better child by raising a better parent (YOU) first.

A Plea To Black Women: Do Not Block Your Son From Seeing His Father

Dr. Rosie Milligan

Boys need fathers in their lives. I am making a plea to African-American fathers to be active participants in the lives of their sons; and for African-American women to assist these fathers in the transition of their reentering the lives of their sons.

Most every ill that plagues the Black male child is mostly related to fatherlessness. Having a father as a role model and teacher is critical for a male child. The male who understands this best is the male child whose father was present, and participated, in his life. Unfortunately, for many Black males, they have not had the experience of having a father role model. A male child who did not have his father present can not relate to the critical differences it makes, for he has no comparison to make. Therefore, it becomes easy for him, as an adult, to abandon his son; especially, when it becomes a challenge to be a part of his life.

In addition, I believe that we must revisit history as we examine the family structure of Blacks in America. An absentee father was the norm for the African-American family. Families were separated by force! Slavery severely impacted the lives of the Black family. Considering the fact that our physical exodus from slavery has only been 140 years, that’s not a long time, and we are still experiencing its effects.

Blacks were forced to produce offsprings, not for themselves, but for their master’s economic gain. Today, Blacks are not forced to produce babies; however, because of the residual effect of slavery on the Black family, their offsprings continue to be an economic product for the modern-day master called PRISON. Today, in 2005, Black males in prison are paid less for their labor than they were paid 140 years ago.

Black men were not socialized as other men, that is, to be accountable or responsible for his family. In order to understand why the Black man and Black woman are having such challenges in their relationships, you must understand how their experience and living conditions in America have impacted their lives and the lives of their family.

When a Black family needed assistance from Social Services programs, the father had to remove himself from the family in order for his wife and children to get assistance. Black men have a long way to go to get back to their African roots of being a provider and protector. Black men have come a long way, and they will get back to their God-Created-Nature, with the help of God, Almighty, and with the understanding of their past.

It is the responsibility of the father to help provide for his child. And providing entails more than financial provisions. I’m pleading with women, to not prevent the father from being a part of his son’s life because of the father’s inability to support financially. A male child needs his father in his life, and the woman only hurts her son(s) when she tries to prevent them from having a father-son relationship. The many ills of Black men are inevitably traced to their Fatherlessness.

Most Black men really want to be with their families and children. What they need is someone to be a father-like figure for them. A Black man needs guidance. Most of them are trying to be something or somebody that they have never seen or experienced, and must be taught that. The womans ideal of what a man is supposed to be is distorted because she too has not experience a father in her life.

You see, a father is a role model for his son and a father gives definition to his daughter as to what a man is. A mother is a role model for her daughter and she gives definition to her son as to what a woman is. 70% of Black households are headed and ran by a female with the father most times being totally out of the picture. The sons and daughters are both confused about male/female responsibility.

Many men are not allowed to have relationships with their children. If these men are allowed to participate in their childrens lives, it must be on the woman’s terms only. When it becomes unbearable, he leaves the woman and the child behind. The real victim is the child.

There are some things that a man needs to teach his son, such as: how to bathe and clean his genital area, how to shop for clothing, how to choose his friends, how to respect himself, how to drive an automobile, how to resolve conflicts, how to fight, how to avoid a fight, how to play sports. I am not casting blame on the Black woman. I am only pointing out the facts that are hindering the progress of the Black family. I believe that if we could get a perspective of the Black man, as related to who he was before coming to America and what America has made him become, then we would have a better understanding of our family dynamics and we can embrace each other and begin to value ourselves and our children again.

*Editorial Note* While the above piece cites data from 2005, the essence of the message still remains an unfortunate truth.

Dr. Rosie Milligan, Counselor/Author: Author of Negroes, Colored People, Black, African-Americans in America, Satisfying The Black Man Sexually, Satisfying The Black Woman Sexually and Why Black Men Choose White Women.
For more information from Dr. Rosie you can visit: http://www.Drrosie.com/

Black Folks & Self-Determination….A Beautiful Thang

By Aiyana Ma’at

Today is the second day of Kwanzaa and we are lifting up Kujichagulia which means Self-Determination. I love this principle not only because it is so powerful for me on a personal level but because it is do necessary for how we live our lives every single day.

Issues with your man? Try some Self-Determination.

Issues with you kids? Self-Determination….

How about issues with your self-esteem? Some old-fashioned Self-Determination is all you need.

Listen in as I ramble a bit (…but it’s purposeful rambling….lol) about Black Folks & Self-Determination.

Love ya’ll.

StopPlayingStartPushing
*DISCLAIMER*— Ayize (my hubby) is responsible for the ratchet cinematography….Lol! -Aiyana xoxxo

 

 

Mom..It’s OK To Take Care Of You

Where are you on your daily to-do list? If you’re like a lot of moms these days, you probably fall somewhere near the bottom, or perhaps you’re not even on the list at all. The thing is, if you want to be able to continue to function at your best, to tackle your to-do list, day after day, tuning into and honoring what you need is absolutely essential.

Let’s take a moment to consider the regular maintenance that you extend to the car that you drive. Do you make sure that it is filled up with gas when needed? Do you make arrangements for the oil to be changed on a regular basis? If you car starts making funny noises, do you have someone check it out?

Now, what if you chose to ignore your car’s signals, because you were too busy with everything else? Would you expect your car to continue to perform for you? Of course not. But for some reason, we moms expects our bodies to keep going and going, even when we’re not providing any regularly scheduled maintenance for them. Should we really be surprised, then, when our bodies stop performing at their best?

Just like your car has signals to communicate its needs (gas gauge, oil light, etc.), our bodies have signals, too. Stop and think about a time when you were feeling stressed, frazzled, run-down, or even experiencing a cold or other symptoms. Chances are there were some moments, over the previous few weeks leading up to this state, when your body asked you to slow down, to rest, to take a break…these are the whispers I’m talking about.

When you don’t hear these whispers, eventually your body has to kick it up a notch. This is exactly what used to happen with me. I would end up getting sick, and then I wasn’t able to get anything done and I was definitely a lot less pleasant to be around. I convinced myself that I had to do everything and take care of everyone else. Most moms can certainly relate to this.

But when I would think back to the weeks leading up to a cold or whatever I ended up experiencing, I could recall moments when my body whispered to me, requesting that I go to bed instead of staying up late again, asking me to sit still for a few minutes, reminding me that the sugary snack I was reaching for wasn’t really going to sustain me. But I didn’t listen. I pushed through, again and again. I ignored the signals, and time and time again I would come down with a cold or something worse. This was my body’s way of forcing me to rest.

This pattern was repeated so many times in my life. I wasn’t keeping up with my body’s maintenance plan, but I was still surprised when it would break down. After this happened again and again, I finally got the message: I wasn’t paying attention to my body’s signals and honoring my own needs. Once I became aware of this pattern, I was then able to make some changes. I’m still a work in progress, but I am definitely more in tune these days with the whispers, so my body no longer has to knock me over the head in order to get my attention!

It hasn’t been easy, but the guidelines below have really helped me with this process. I encourage you to give them a try, especially if you’re missing the whispers in your own life.

*Offer gratitude on a daily basis for your body. *Acknowledge and appreciate the wisdom that it offers.
*Begin to consciously tune into your body throughout the day. Become more aware of its maintenance needs for sleep, healthy food, exercise, and relaxation.
*Create space in your day so that you can regularly check in with your body and hear what it’s saying. *Allow for some slow, quiet time.
*Start to identify your body’s communication patterns: does it speak to you with aches and pains, cold symptoms, headaches, knots in your stomach, etc.?
*Realize that it’s about more than just physical needs, too. For example, a knot in your stomach might indicate that just having said yes to yet another committee at school was really not in your best interest.
*Pay attention to the whispers and make the changes necessary. (Go to bed earlier, eat a real meal, step away from your computer, start saying no, etc.).

As moms, we serve as important examples for our children. Honoring our bodies and taking time for self-care serves as a model for our kids; they’ll be able to learn at an early age how to tune into their own signals and what they can do to honor their needs.

If you are a mom who needs a release and needs to know how to experience self care and why self care is important we (Ayize & Aiyana) invite you to join us as we take you through an inner work process that will prove to be enlightening and healing.  CLICK HERE to join us.

14 Easy Ways To Make Mommy Time With The Kids Less Overwhelming & Way More Fun

By Michelle Jayne

At 36 years old I fell pregnant and that was when my whole life changed. I went from being a successful computer applications specialist , party and dancing girl, to a full time wife, mother, task master, shopper, health nut, trainer, household manager, business owner, cook and baker, just to name a few. Basically, it was motherhood and mothering, and to me, it was tough.

Although happy about my new little one, and determined to be the best mom ever, by the time the first year had passed I felt like I had aged 25 years. Although busy as heck, I was also bored, fatigued, fed up, it seemed like I was never having any fun. I missed the nights of dancing, partying, staying out late and never having to worry about responsibilities at home. I missed the little freedoms that people without kids take for granted – but most of all, I missed myself and who I used to be. The idea that I was responsible for a little life made me stressed out and often times depressed at the thought of doing it all wrong. Nevertheless, I wanted to find a way to laugh everyday like I used to when out with my friends and dancing, as apposed to being a constant task master and constantly advising what to do and what not to do and how to do this or that.

One day, while chatting to a friend, who seemed to have it all together, I got such a shock when she said to me, “I love my kids, but there has to be more to my life then this or I am going to lose my head!” She and I both agreed that the days for us lacked fun and excitement and although we were proud of our developed motherhood skills, and proud of the job we were doing, all the more reason we deserved to have some fun in the midst of everyday mothering.

Then it occurred to me that although grown up fun doesn’t usually mix with kiddie fun, I could still find ways of putting a little craziness into the day that would leave lasting memories for the family, make me laugh, and above all else, feel alive.

Here are some of the crazy, fun, out of the ordinary things I have done with my kids to add laughter, smiles, and memories, and have given me a sense of fun ever day. They also make for great stories to tell friends and family and have added value and life to my journey as a mom.

1. Feeling tired and just want to put your feet up for 5 minutes? How about doing it at the beauty salon? Give your child a brush, hair clips and a mirror and let them do your hair. Most kids love this and it also gives mom a chance to put her feet up and relax for a while.

2. Need your child to relax, not be so hyper and chatty? Give them a baby massage. This massage benefits child and parent. Follow the massage with a cup of herbal baby tea and honey. This also offers your child health benefits and for mom it offers a quiet, calm household for at least a little while. You will love it when afterward your child cuddles close to you and you can smell the essence of the massage oil you used and the atmosphere in the house.

3. At the end of year, take a family photo and choose a theme. Everyone has to dress up to match the theme. Have one nice photo taken and one silly one. Each year when you hang the new photos, you and you kids can laugh and remember things that took place when you took the previous picture. A useful accessory to motherhood is the ability to take captivating, skillful pictures.

4. Want your hubby to know just how hard your job of mothering is? Switch roles! You are sure to come out of it with a big prize when he sees what you have to deal with and how gracefully you do it everyday. Take photographs of him and his facial expressions while he is struggling through the simplest things, or when the kids throw food on him, or when he looks like he can’t stand for another minute. When he puts the kids to bed, take one last photo of him. Print the photos and put them in a special book to show your kids and share with friends – trust me, it’s hilarious!

5. Barney, Sprout channel, Sesame Street? – Blah! Turn your kids on to Bob Marley, Whodini, or Jill Scott. Let them move and groove to the music. Give each one a present for doing a dance show for you. Take pictures for you and the kids to laugh at later. You will marvel at your mothering when you see how not only adorable they are but how their little bodies are so uncoordinated and how they move so adorably. You will have a smile on your face for hours and your child is sure to come up with a funny dance move that you can imitate and make them laugh. Not to mention this is great exercise for the kids.

6. Go the movies – no baby sitter necessary! Take your baby to the movies. (Infants love the dark, and loud trailers make them snooze immediately….. usuallu) Munch on your goodies in peace and enjoy the flick – without the fifty million interruptions!

7. Let them help you escape. Let your kids be the excuse to do the things you want to do, like hopping out for a manicure or pedicure, having an unusually junky meal for dinner, or going to an amusement park. Use your kids as an excuse for not doing things you don’t want to do or don’t feel like doing. Believe me, there are perks to motherhood and you deserve to use them!

8. Every Mother’s Day, have a picture taken with your kids. Store the pictures and the keep sakes from your kids in a nice box (let your kids decorate it and gain some time for yourself in the process). Every year visit the box and see how much your kids have grown and how much their crafts, coloring, writing, and drawing skills have improved.

9. Give your kids quiet time every day. Teach your kids to play independently with books, crayons, blocks, and music. These are just a few healthy ideas. When your children learn to play on their own in frees mom up to get tasks done in a reasonable amount of time, without all the interruptions. It also gives mom an opportunity to have a chat with a friend on the phone, which I am sure you will all agree would be a nice piece of grown up time. It is also very beneficial for your kids.

10. PJ Day is one of my favorites! The kids, well, lets just say they wish everyday was PJ day. Mom and kids hang out in their PJ’s all day. Matching PJ’s are extra fun! Eat your favorite foods and watch your favorite movies. Kids can watch their movies on a laptop while mom watches hers on the TV. Lay out drinks and snacks so they won’t disturb you for these things.

11. Star Gaze the night away. Tent up in your backyard with a radio, s’mores and other great camp out food and drink. Use it as your reading room or to star gaze. Kids can star gaze and play while mom reads in the tent.

12. Do you have a house fairy? No! Well, you had better put one in place as soon as possible. Invent a house fairy, give her a cool name and tell the kids she is always watching them and keeping track of all their good deeds and naughty means.

13. When your child falls asleep at night. Lay next to him and absorb his sweet baby smell and listen to him breath. This experience will relax you, and will add one of the warmest memories to your collection of motherhood.

14. The Laugh Master Game. Have fun, be a kid, be a little crazy and make them laugh. It’s contagious and you will soon all be laughing together. Embrace their laughter, their smiles, their funny faces, and their out of breath flops when they are pooped out from laughing. My little one is pooped out after this and usually falls asleep just after dinner.

Motherhood is a wonderful part of life but requires that we constantly give of ourselves. Learning to find fun and laughter in the things we do and the ability to laugh when we don’t feel like it is a gift worth giving yourself. It makes us all the more better at what we do – for ourselves and our kids.

Michelle Jayne (AKA The Parent Fairy) has 22 years parenting experience, with a teenager and preschooler under her wings and enjoys sharing what she’s learning along the way.

Missing My Mom On “Mother’s Day”

By Russell Friedman

In mid-April there are two things you can count on in the United States. One is the due date for filing your tax return. The other is the arrival of the annual brochures or emails reminding you to order those special flowers so they will be shipped on time for Mother’s Day. However, the company that sends the notices doesn’t know that my mother died nearly 19 years ago.

Needless to say, Mother’s Day has been different for me ever since.

I remember the first year after my mom died, when the floral reminder came in the mail. I stood in the den sorting through the mail and couldn’t help noticing the vivacious motherly and grandmotherly pictures in the full-color brochure. Within moments I fetched my handkerchief from my back pocket to dab the tears from my eyes.

I thought about sending a note to the flower company asking them to take me off their mailing list. After all, one less piece of junk mail would be good for the environment. Wouldn’t that make my momma proud? Her son had finally become a solid citizen – the fact that I was 51 years old at that point, notwithstanding.

That first reminder encouraged me to call my dad and my sisters and brother to talk about Mom. So I did, and we did. We talked, we remembered momma, we laughed, we cried. For me, the fond memories mingled with fresh tears in a way that made me feel very connected to my mother, even though I could not see her or touch her in a physical sense. I believe something similar happened for my dad and my siblings in our respective conversations. Openly communicating the range of feelings we had about mom felt so normal and natural and healthy.

The next year when Mother’s Day came around, I didn’t need a post card to kick me in the emotional pants to urge me to make contact with my family. Remembering the sweet sadness of the previous year’s Mother’s Day calls, I got on the phone again to my family. It was much the same only a little bit different. Each of us had been adapting to Mom’s absence for another year. Each of us was dealing with day-to-day life without Mom while dealing with the emotional reality of it all.

That year, I had Mother’s Day Sunday brunch with my Alice and her daughter Claudia and several friends. When Claudia presented her mom with a card and a beautiful bouquet of flowers, I couldn’t help noticing that one of the young women in our group seemed to turn away. Her name was Moira. I turned to her and asked her what was going on. She told me that it had been years since her mom died, and she still missed her, but that she’s always afraid to say anything at these events and ruin everyone else’s joy.

I told her that my mom had died about a year and half ago and one thing I’d learned was that wonderful things happen when I tell the truth about my feelings.

CLICK HERE to read more.

Sheree Whitfield Talks About The Realities Of Being A Reality TV Mother

If you’ve ever wondered what the experience is like trying to raise a child while you’re a reality TV star….well wonder no more. : )  Here’s some insider information.  Former “Real Atlanta Housewives” star Sheree Whitfield chatted with HLN’s “Raising America” about what really happens when you are raising children as a reality TV show mother.

 

Ready To Grow Your Family? Check Out These 6 Essential Tips.

By Susan F Taylor

There are many reasons why a woman cannot conceive a baby. If you are one of these women, who are experiencing difficulty with getting pregnant stop what you’re doing and read on to get tips to improve your chances of conceiving a baby. You likely have heard of some of these, but the question is are you doing these things?

 

1) You have to consult first an obstetrician for you to be diagnosed. Your doctor could conduct series of tests to know if you have hormonal imbalances.

 

2) Engage yourself to physical activities or exercise routines everyday for at least 30 minutes. Try different sports such as playing tennis, swimming, badminton, or volleyball. Or you can do simple exercises such as walking your dog, jogging or biking.

 

3) You should consider your sexual positions during sex. The advisable positions are dog style and missionary positions. During intercourse, do not shift to different positions especially sitting to standing positions. After intercourse, you have to raise your hips by putting a pillow under your bottom to help the sperm swim near your cervix.

 

4) Do not stress yourself if you cannot conceive. Do it naturally and with love. Remember that a child is a product of your love with your partner.

 

5) Another tip for improving your odds of getting pregnant is to know your ovulation period. Timing is very critical in conceiving. Knowing your ovulation period will give you the best time to have intercourse with your partner.

 

6) Eating healthy and nutritious foods will help improve your chances of conceiving a baby. You have to include in your balanced diet the following: milk, orange, poultry, beans, nuts, green leafy vegetables and lean meats. Avoid in your daily meal trans fat food such as potato chips, cookies, French fries and doughnuts.

You Are The “Busy Mom” Because You Choose To Be

By Lori Radun

Let’s face it. We live in a fast paced world. As moms, it is hard to keep up with everything on our plates. We have piles of laundry, piles of dishes, and piles of school papers. Along with the many errands we have to run, we also play chauffer for our children. It may be martial arts on Monday, soccer practice on Tuesday and music lessons on Wednesday. Weekends may be even worse with baseball games, gymnastics meets or ballet lessons. And it doesn’t end there. Many of us also try to squeeze in time to volunteer at school and church because we know they need help.

When life is too busy, stress increases and adrenaline levels rise. Eventually, our bodies begin to tell us we are in trouble. Common problems of an over-stressed lifestyle include physical illness, disease, anxiety and depression. Our bodies can handle only so much before they scream STOP! Relationships may also suffer, as everyone becomes tired and irritable. Children, who are over extended, may not be able to communicate their stress in words, but tantrums, fighting and other unacceptable behavior may all be warning signs.

People who try to handle too much often become disorganized and forgetful. (Have you ever searched everywhere for something you just saw yesterday? Or remembered an appointment – three days late?) My husband and I are perfect examples. I was scheduled to attend a teleclass on Monday: on Wednesday it dawned on me that I had forgotten all about it. Last week my husband returned home twice after leaving for work. The first day he forgot his briefcase; the next day, he forgot his samples. Today he forgot his suit jacket. It really is a vicious circle. Every time we have to take time to return home or worry about things we have forgotten, stress levels increase even more.

For many of us, volunteering becomes a time-stealing trap. Don’t hear me wrong. Volunteering is a great thing. Our world needs volunteers, and volunteering is very rewarding. It is also our responsibility to teach our children the importance of community service. But moms overwhelmed with volunteer work may be over scheduling themselves at the expense of their families and themselves. When people identify a kindhearted person, who likes to help, they may take advantage. It is easier to approach that type of person than one who is never willing to volunteer. Volunteering is important, but keeping our lives balanced is more important. Expect others to do their share, but when they do not, do not step in for them. Knowing when to say no is as important as knowing when to say yes.

How wonderful it would be to have a magical machine with the ability to create peace in the midst of chaos. With this machine life would be slower and we would feel like we have all the time in the world. If I had this machine I know what my life might look like: I wake up 15 minutes early every day to meditate and pray. I have time to spend on laundry and housecleaning because there is nothing on my schedule. My children have time to relax and play because they have eliminated many of their extracurricular activities. Each night my family sits down to dinner together and shares the best parts of their day. One night of the week is designated as family game night. Saturday night is date night and the children enjoy their babysitter. Everyone in the family is happier and less stressed. Real connections with loved ones exist.

Is this a “Fantasy Island” that can never be reached? No it is not. In fact, no magical machine is needed. We all have the power to create any kind of life we want. We can transform our stressful lives into more relaxed and enjoyable ones. We may have to rearrange our priorities. We may have to make some hard choices – eliminating some of the activities and responsibilities we once believed were necessary. We may have to develop new habits or change old attitudes. But it can be done. Change is not always easy, but isn’t a happier, less stressful life worth it? Think about this: The lives we model today will probably be the types of lives our children live as adults. We do have a choice – choose wisely.

Lori Radun, certified life coach for moms. To receive her FREE monthly ezine and the FREE special report “155 Things Moms Can Do to Raise Great Children”, go tohttp://www.true2youlifecoaching.com.

 

15 Ways To Have A Closer Mother-Daughter Relationship

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Mother-daughter relationships are complex and diverse. Some mothers and daughters are best friends. Others talk once a week. Some see each other weekly; others live in different states or countries. Some spar regularly. Some avoid conflict. Others talk through everything. And undoubtedly, there’s a hint of all these things in most relationships.

There also are ups and downs, no matter how positive (or prickly) the relationship. In her private practice,Roni Cohen-Sandler, Ph.D, psychologist and co-author of I’m Not Mad, I Just Hate You! A New Understanding of Mother-Daughter Conflict, sees three primary complaints that daughters have about their moms: Moms try to parent them and are overly critical and demanding. From moms’ perspective, daughters don’t listen to them, make poor choices and have no time for them.

Whatever your relationship with your mother or daughter, you can always make improvements. Here’s how to enhance your communication and connection and cut down on clashes.

1. Make the first move.

Don’t wait for the other person to make the first move, said Linda Mintle, Ph.D, marriage and family therapist and author of I Love My Mother, But… Practical Help to Get the Most Out of Your Relationship. Doing so inevitably leaves relationships stuck. “Think about how you feel in the relationship and what you can do to change.”

2. Change yourself.

Many think that the only way to improve a relationship is for the other person to change their ways. But you aren’t chained to their actions; you can change your own reactions and responses, Mintle said. Interestingly, this can still alter your relationship. Think of it as a dance, she said. When one person changes their steps, the dance inevitably changes.

3. Have realistic expectations.

Both moms and daughters often have idealistic expectations about their relationship. For instance, kids commonly think their mom will be nurturing and present — always. This idea can develop from an early age. When her kids were young, Mintle found herself setting up this unrealistic belief during their nightly reading time. She’d read a book about a mama bunny who rescued her son every time he ventured out and tried a risky activity, such as sailing or mountain-climbing.

4. Communicate.

Lack of communication is a common challenge with moms and daughters. “In some ways they can be so close or feel so close that they believe that each of them should know how the other one feels,” Cohen-Sandler said. “What happens as a result is they don’t communicate.” Or they communicate harshly, in ways they’d never “dare speak to everyone else,” which causes hurt feelings that “don’t go away so easily,” she said.

Because moms and daughters aren’t mind readers, be clear and calmly state how you’re feeling. Also, speak your “mind in a very heartfelt but gentle manner.” Is your mom treating you like a child? Simply say, “Mom, you’re not treating me like an adult.”

5. Be an active listener.

Active listening is “reflecting back what the other person is saying,” instead of assuming you already know, Cohen-Sandler said. When you reflect back what your mom or daughter is saying, you’re telling her that she’s being heard and that you understand.

Also, listen “to the feelings underlying the message,” which is often the real message, she said. If “mom says, ‘you’re acting like a doormat,’ the daughter hears that as being horribly critical [and that she’s not good enough], but what the mom is really saying is, ‘I feel so protective of you because you’re not protecting yourself.’”

6. Repair damage quickly.

“One of the key principles in sustaining healthy and satisfying marriages is to repair damage quickly,” Mintle said. Healthy couples don’t avoid conflict. They realize conflict is inevitable and they deal with it head on. This applies to mother and daughter relationships, too, she said.

Not resolving conflict can have surprising consequences. “If you don’t deal with your mom (and dad) by resolving conflict, you’re going to carry those same patterns into your future relationships,” whether that’s with your friends, partner or boss, Mintle said.

“Working it out with your mom,” however, is “the best gift you can give to your daughter,” she said.

But pick your battles. If it’s not that important, “Instead of being in a tug of war, just drop the rope,” Mintle said. Case in point: Years ago, Mintle’s mom told her to put a hat on her baby so she didn’t get sick. Instead of arguing about something so small, Mintle put the hat on and moved on.

7. Put yourself in her shoes.

Mintle refers to empathy as “widening the lens.” She uses the analogy of a digital camera, which just offers us a snapshot. But a panoramic lens provides a much wider view, letting us see the object in a larger context.

If you’re a daughter, think of your mom as a woman with her “own wounds and hurts,” who was born and raised in a different generation with different values and difficult family relationships and issues, Mintle said.

As such, address your mom or daughter’s feelings with empathy and offer a compromise, Cohen-Sandler suggested. If mom really wants to hang out, instead of saying “Stop asking me, you know I’m busy,” say, “I know how much you want to meet with me, and I wish I could but I can’t do it this week; can we do it next week?”

8. Learn to forgive.

Forgiveness is “an individual act,” Mintle said. It differs from reconciliation, which takes both people and isn’t always possible. Forgiving someone isn’t saying that what happened is OK. It’s not condoning, pardoning or minimizing the impact, she said.

Mintle views forgiveness as key for well-being. “I’m constantly telling daughters you have to forgive your mom in order to be healthy.” “The power of forgiveness is really for the person who forgives.”

(On a related note, “the better you can forgive, the better you can repair damage quickly,” Mintle said.)

9. Balance individuality and closeness.

It can be challenging for daughters to build their own identities. Sometimes daughters think that in order to become their own person, they must cut off from their moms, Mintle said. Or, quite the opposite, they’re so fused that they’re unable to make decisions without her input, she said. Both are clearly problematic.

But daughters can find their voices and identities within the relationship. We learn how to deal with conflict and negative emotions through our families, Mintle said. “You don’t grow and develop and become your own person void of relationships.”

So how can you strike a balance between staying connected and still being true to yourself? “You can take any position on any powerful issue and hold your own and not become defensive and angry. It’s this balance of connection and separateness,” Mintle said.

Mintle and her mom had a positive relationship but sometimes struggled with this balance. When Mintle was a well-established professional in her 30s, her mom would still tell her what to do. Every time she’d visit, she’d say, “Linda, it’s getting late, it’s time for you to go to bed.” Mintle recalled being furious with her mom and unloading her frustrations on her husband. Then, she realized that she had to talk to her mom in a different way. The next night her mom said the same thing, Mintle used humor: “Mom, if you hadn’t been there, I probably would’ve stayed up all night.” “I need to back off, don’t I?” her mom responded.

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