Moving Into A New Year With Intention

There are so many emotions wrapped up into this time of year: stress and anxiety about holiday shopping, holiday parties, and seeing extended family, merriment and joy in spending time with loved ones, and hope looking towards a fresh start in a new year.

If you’re anything like me, the new year always starts off with good intentions and resolutions, but they all seem to fall flat by the time mid-February rolls around. So this year, instead of having good intentions, I plan on being more intentional in the way I approach this year ahead. I’m not focusing on weight loss, or better eating habits, or sleeping more–I have to think bigger. Here are the intentions I’ll set for 2020:

Practice More Self-Care

This is the top of my list because this is something I don’t do often enough. As mothers, we tend to put everyone’s needs before our own, and usually at our own expense. I definitely don’t spend enough time on myself. So in 2020, I don’t care if this self-care comes in the form of exercise, sleep, eating right, manicures, massages, or a weekend away with girlfriends–the important thing is for me to simply set the intention to take that time for myself.

Be More Present With My Children

I really try to not be addicted to my phone, but it is challenging sometimes, especially since I spend time on social media for clients. And when I am working, that is fine, but there’s really no need for me to check my email while I’m at the park with my kids, or waste time on Twitter while they’re splashing about in the tub. Being too connected to technology is not necessarily a good thing; my intention for 2020 is to disconnect from my phone more, so that I can connect with my kids more completely.

Find More Room For Creativity

So many moments in my life are planned, which leaves very little room for spontaneity. But I need those spontaneous moments, or the moments in between plans to be creative. I am a creative person by nature, and I don’t have enough time to create for myself, for pleasure. I used to paint, write, read–all types of leisurely pursuits that I haven’t prioritized in the past few years. My intention for 2020 is to make more room in my life for creativity.

What are your intentions for 2020?

Are you planning on setting intentions for the new year ahead? If so, share them with us in the comments below!

 

What Are The Holidays Really About?

This time of year, which strives to be joyful and merry for children, can be incredibly stressful and anxiety-inducing for parents. In my house, we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, or Chismukkah as we like to call it, and this year was the first year that my almost-5-year-old understood what that means (my 18-month-old still is completely oblivious). And while there was a lot more excitement this year about getting to celebrate dual holidays, it also raised a big question for us as parents because both holidays seem to come with an abundance of gifts.

We decided that instead of doing eight nights of gifts for Hanukkah, we would only do one night since Christmas was right around the corner and the kids had a big haul coming from Santa. And we tried to limit the amount of Santa gifts that came from my in-laws as well. But when Christmas was finally over and we asked my oldest what she loved most about the holidays, her response was “the presents!”

And this troubled me. Because to me, the holidays aren’t about receiving as much as they are about giving. It feels so good to give a thoughtful gift, or to support a charitable organization, or to simply just lend an ear to a friend who struggles during this time of year. And I am not really sure how to convey that to a 5-year-old.

So when I came across an article in Popular Science titled, “There is such a thing as too many gifts for kids,” I was intrigued. The piece includes an interview with Manhattan-based psychotherapist, Sean Grover, who provides insights on how to make holiday time count without such a strong focus on receiving gifts.

More Stuff Isn’t Merrier

Grover told PopSci that “the gifts you buy children can leave a powerful positive or negative mark on their self-esteem,” in two ways:

      • Transient self-esteem, which is based on materialism. “In gift speak, this means products like sneakers or a brand new phone that a kid thinks will make them more popular among their friends and classmates. But gifts that make a child feel accepted externally and maybe not internally can be problematic—and can build dependency on materialism. After all, the sneakers will go out of style, and a newer, fancier phone will be released in a couple months.”
      • Internal self-esteem, which is based on attributes that cannot be bought like strength and admiration. “What’s important is getting the little one something—maybe only one thing—that they will cherish and remember forever. Gifts that give a kid a chance to be creative and develop a sense of identity are the ones that pack the most punch. Whether the kid is musical, artistic, plays soccer, or likes to code, offer something that nurtures that creative spirit and doesn’t just spark an exciting moment on a single day. If you feel like the transition from a bunch of gifts to one or two special items is jarring, it’s okay to talk to the children in question about it.”

Build A Different Family Culture

If you want to create an organic sense of giving with your children, that has to start with you as a parent. As the PopSci article so eloquently puts it: “You probably want that little human to grow up to be kind, generous, and open-minded—and showering them with gifts is just not the best way to get them there.”

Grover suggests involving your children in helping to pick out other gifts for family members, which allows them to understand the thought process behind the power of gift-giving, and gets them involved in the happiness that comes from watching someone receive a meaningful gift from you.

“If you’re going to enter into this realm of gift-giving,” Grover says, “you have to make sure that your child has a sense of altruism and generosity.”

Give Back to The Community

Although Grover doesn’t mention this in the PopSci article, giving back to the community in both large and small ways has become an important part of the Chrismukkah tradition in our house. Knowing that we’re going to be bringing more stuff into the house around this time of year, we started encouraging my oldest to go through the toys and clothes that she no longer wants, wears, or plays with and putting it aside to donate to kids who really need it.

It’s been pretty incredible to watch her easily part ways with these material items. And it’s not just about watching her not be so attached to possessions, it’s also about showing her that she is very lucky to have so much abundance in her life and to experience gratitude and appreciation.

Meet A Parenting Expert: Maria Sanders

Meet Parenting Expert Maria Sanders

 

Name: Maria Sanders

Website: www.mariasandersparentcoach.com

Location: Montclair, NJ

 

Tell us about what you do. I am a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and a PCI Certified Parent Coach®. As of March 2020, I will also be a Certified Trainer in Collaborative Problem Solving. Many parents struggle with managing their children’s challenging behaviors. I work with parents to find loving solutions to their parenting challenges. I’ve spent my entire professional career working with children and have two daughters, so I understand the unique struggles that parents face on a day-to-day basis.

How long have you been working with parents and children? I have worked with families for over 20 years as a social worker in several different capacities and have worked as a parent coach for 4 years. 

 

 

 

 

Why were you drawn to working with parents and children? I don’t even know why–it’s just always something that I have been drawn to. It was never a conscious decision, I just love children. As a parent coach, I work primarily with parents. I enjoy being their partner and watching them build their confidence with regard to parenting. My hope is that kids will feel connected to their parents and always have someone who sees them and hears them for who they are. 

 

What is the biggest misconception you think parents have about parenting? I think parents think they need to do things a “right way.”  There is never a right way, but instead, a way that feels right. Also, I think parents think everyone else has it all together because social media typically shows us what families look like when things are peachy and that’s not always the real case. It’s so common for us to compare ourselves to other parents, especially when we’re feeling defeated by parenting. The truth is, we’ve all got it tough and it comes at different times and phases for everyone. 

 

 

What do you think is the hardest part of parenting today? We are always on the go and often overscheduled. That’s a tough thing to keep up, especially if you’re short on self-care. The best thing to do is get clear on your own values and boundaries, get support and most importantly make some steps towards taking care of yourself. 

 

What’s one piece of advice you can share with us today? Sit with your decisions before you act on them and breathe. We don’t always have to respond right away. We need to take time to consider if our decision is based out of fear or confidence and how it will propel us to move toward our end-goal. A breath creates space and that space allows for opportunity. Taking the breath allows you to pause so that you can respond instead of reacting. It enables you to consider your parenting goals and allows you to feel empowered that you have a choice in how to take the next steps. 

What are your favorite resources to share with parents? Books! Children learn best from books! I always suggest that parents go to the library and make friends with the librarian.  Books are great tools to work through an issue or explain a tricky topic. They are written at the developmental age of your child and typically answers the questions they are curious about.

 

 

 

 

Which topic will you be speaking about at the Revolutionizing Parenthood conference? I will be co-leading a talk on Conscious and Collaborative Parenting with Sheryl Stoller.  We will discuss why these two approaches are so important for building a strong and healthy parent-child relationship.  Parents will learn about how their (and their child’s) behavior is a reflection of their inner landscape. They will explore the importance of bringing awareness to their thoughts, feelings, and actions.  And finally, parents will learn how to shift their thinking about challenging kids and their challenging behaviors.

 

The Necessity of Self-Care

This time of year gets crazier than usual, between holiday shopping, gift wrapping, parties, and travel, burning out seems like it will just come with the territory. This year, however, you can implement new routines, habits, and practices that help you take more time for yourself.

Mother-Daughter Self-Care Routines

When we talk about self-care we so often only talk about how moms can indulge in time for themselves, but this article shows how powerful it can be when mothers and daughters share a self-care routine.

The Plight of Burnt Out Moms

"Mom! Mom! Mom! When all the kids want is you...it's a struggle.

Motherly’s 2019 State of Motherhood survey found that 51% of moms feel discouraged when it comes to managing the stress of work and motherhood. And roughly a third of moms said that their mental and physical health is suffering as a result. This article takes a look at the fact that sometimes self-care is simply not enough.

Raise Resilient Children

A play therapist lays out 5 pieces of actionable advice to help parents raise happier, more resilient children. You may or may not be surprised that all of it involves time and attention rather than anything that can be purchased.

 

Screen Time Guide

The Screen Time Struggle

Pediatricians, parenting experts, and teachers alike have long been warning against the dangers of too much screen time for kids of all ages. A recent study released by researchers at San Diego State University and University of Georgia found that children as young as two-years-old are developing mental health problems as a direct result of the use of tablets and smartphones. For the study, researchers analyzed data provided by parents of more than 40,000 American children between the ages of 2 and 17 in 2016 for a nationwide health survey. The results determined that just an hour a day of screen time can be enough to raise the risk of depression and anxiety in children, and have a negative impact on their emotional stability and self-control.

Professors Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell worked on the research study and said that the findings support the current guidelines laid out by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is a maximum of one hour per day for children between the ages of two and five. Their study also found that a similar limit should be placed on school aged children– a maximum of two hours per day.

Among the findings:

  • Adolescents spending more than seven hours a day on screens are twice as likely to have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression as those who spent an hour.
  • Among 14 to 17 year olds, more than four in ten (42.2%) of those in the study who spent more than seven hours a day on screens did not finish tasks.
  • Links between screen time and wellbeing are stronger among adolescents than young children. Even moderate use of four hours is also associated with lower psychological well-being than one hour a day.
  • About one in eleven (9 per cent) of 11 to 13-year-olds who spent an hour with screens daily were not curious or interested in learning new things.
  • Pre-schoolers, aged five and under, who are high screen time users are twice as likely to often lose their temper and are 46% more prone to not be able to calm down when excited.

If you’ve been struggling with how to manage your child’s screen time, some of the Revolutionizing Parenthood parenting experts have weighed in with helpful tips and advice for how to win the screen time battle at every age. Enter your email into the form below to download our special screen time guide.

 

Screen Time Guide

The Season of Gratitude

Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season, and it got me thinking about gratitude. Why is it that we dedicate only one day of the year to being thankful? It’s so easy to get caught up in the stress of the day-to-day, especially during the holiday season, and forget to be grateful for our lives, our children, our health, our friends…the list goes on. This week’s round up is dedicated to finding ways to being more gratitude into our homes this holiday season.

Teaching Our Kids to Be Grateful

Gratitude isn’t just something stressed out grownups should practice; it’s also a wonderful practice to teach to kids. But where do you begin? This article lays out 7 ways to teach kids of all ages how to live a more grateful life.

Welcoming Gratitude Into Our Homes

Although this article from MommyNearest was written with Thanksgiving in mind, the tips laid out here provide more ways for you to welcome gratitude into your home this holiday season. As the author notes, gratitude “invites a spirit of humility, graciousness and joy which are crucial pieces to creating a happy life.”

Conscious Gratitude

Again, this article from conscious parenting expert Dr. Laura Markham is focused on Thanksgiving, but there are so many juicy tips in here that can be used for daily life. She even starts off with a poignant quote from Christine Carter that’s worth sharing: “If we want to be happy, and to raise happy kids, we need to practice gratitude — deliberately, and consistently, or we may end up feeling more entitled than appreciative. When we feel entitled, we often stew about unfulfilled expectations. Disappointment is not a happiness habit. Gratitude is.”