Improve Communication=Improve Relationships. Improve Yourself.

Improve Communication=Improve Relationships. Improve Yourself; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Improve Communication=Improve Relationships. Improve Yourself; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comThere’s a big difference between talking and communicating. People talk all the time, yet poor communication is still one of the most common struggles in relationships of all types. Marriages fail because of it, children get in trouble because of it, wars are started over it!

Many of us have never been taught how to communicate effectively. In fact, with the increase in technology, including texting, chatting, and various forms of social media, people today are even less prepared for healthy communication, especially face-to-face. If we want stronger relationships, communities, and families, however, we need to focus on learning the skills of communication.

 

The Skills of Communication: Learn them. Teach them.

While there are certainly some people who are more naturally inclined to be good communicators, communication is a skill that can be learned and improved by anyone. This is excellent news for a couple of reasons: 1) Improved communication leads to improved relationships, and 2) Improved communication helps us get our own needs met, increasing our sense of self-worth and joy in life.

It’s up to us to work on communication–with those we love and, yes, with those we don’t like at all, as well. We have a responsibility–to ourselves, our loved ones, and the world–to learn and teach skills of healthy communication. As adults, we  must make the effort to learn skills of communication in order to teach them to our children; schools and churches should teach these skills, and leaders and governments should also make communication a top priority. Together, we can make a better world, one clear conversation at a time.

 

Where do we learn how to communicate?

Early on, we learn communication from our parents and caretakers. Some of us may have had skilled parents who taught us well, but most people probably grew up with poor examples of communication. We may have seen how our mother always became emotional and yelled, or how our father shut down, put up a wall, or refused to communicate at all. Perhaps our parents never seemed to resolve problems in front of us, so we have no idea how to do that now. Or maybe, we learned to just handle things on our own–not to talk about it. Whatever the case, we learn from watching our parents’ interactions, then we grow up and tend repeat the same patterns.

We don’t have to stay stuck in those patterns, though. We can learn to do better. You don’t have to have a degree in psychology to be an expert communicator. It requires effort, learning, and practice, sure, but communicating effectively will be one of the best skills you will learn, one you can apply in almost every area of your life–in your marriage/partnership, with your kids, your family, your career, friendships, community, and yes, even with yourself.

 

How to Improve Communication

In simplest terms, communication requires two parts: 1) stating clearly and accurately your need, want, or feeling and then, Improve Communication=Improve Relationships, Improve Yourself; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com2)  having a partner who not only listens but hears and interprets accurately what you have said. In other words, communication consists of talking and listening.

Talking

First let’s discuss a few things to help you improve the “talking” part of communication:

1) Learning to clearly, concisely state what you want, need, think, or feel is a crucial step in creating healthy relationships. Using “I” statements is the ideal way to do this. For example, “I feel__(hurt) when you __(uninvite me for Christmas).” This works in all kinds of relationships. Using I statements puts the ownership for the issue on YOU. It takes out the blame that happens so often in communication, and makes it much more likely the other person will stick around long enough to really hear what you’ve so clearly said.

2) Expressing your needs is important. Be specific if you can, such as “I need an hour to myself without hearing the kids crying for me,” or “I need to get to the gym three times a week, will you please help me make that work?” You’ll be amazed how eager your loved ones are to help when they know what they can do. For more  tips on How to Get Your Needs Met, read this.

3) Women tend to have a bigger issue with the “express your needs” part, especially when it comes to intimate relationships. We want others, especially the men in our lives, to be “mind readers,” to “know” what we need without having to tell him. I hear it all the time, “He should know better!” But ladies, the truth is, most of the time they simply don’t, and if you don’t ask, you have no right to expect a thing.

Listening

The second part of communication, listening, is equally important. Here are a few ways to improve your listening skills:

1) Active listening is key. Many people say they’re listening, but they fail to accurately hear what you’re saying. Take my husband, OJ, for instance. When I would tell him, “You’re not even listening to me” he used to quickly reply, “Yes I am” and repeat back the last few words I said. Sure, he may have heard a few of the words, but he’d been caught! He actually had no idea what I was really saying. There is a difference between hearing words and actively listening to the meaning behind the words. Active listening is the way to find understanding.

2) Reflective listening is a great tool. Reflective listening involves repeating back what the other person says and adding an interpretive quality. For instance OJ may say, “So, you’re saying you feel abandoned when I golf every weekend?” “Yes, exactly,” I might reply. And the conversation continues on from there until he cancels his golf plans to stay home and play with the kids all day so I can take a nap and read! Well, something like that anyway.

3) We too often fail to repeat back our interpretation of things, and that’s where we get in trouble. After all, it’s not about the facts as much as each individual’s interpretation of the facts that makes up our differences. Good communication involves making sure you understand what the other person is really saying, then making sure they know you understand.

 

Improve Communication=Improve Relationships

Couples

The examples above show how improved communication can strengthen our intimate relationships. When each partner is able to speak, and feel heard and understood, it only increases our connection and intimacy. It also helps prevent unnecessary problems from either a lack of communication or misunderstandings, and significantly improves problem-solving skills as a couple, too.

Children & ParentingImprove Communication=Improve Relationships. Improve Yourself; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Communication skills are great for children, too. Teaching children to actively listen and reflect back their interpretation of what you or others say will be incredibly valuable as they navigate friendships, budding romances, and as they become adults.

Our children are even more lacking in communication skills than we were, thanks to the digital age of texting, emails and Facebook. They don’t even have to learn to spell correctly, let alone speak face to face, if they choose not to! Asking for dates, breaking up, fighting, making up–all are done via text these days. It makes for some poor communication skills.

Encourage your children to call their friends on the phone, to speak face-to-face about more important matters, and teach them what to say and do in social situations. I’ve taught my teenage sons that if they ever break up with a girl via text I will personally drive them to her house so they can make an embarrassing formal apology!

It’s also very important to model healthy communication for our children by using these skills in our relationship with them. We can also encourage them to keep the communication open. The most important job I feel I have as a parent is to make sure my children are comfortable talking to me. I make sure that if they come to me I will not condemn them. I will simply listen and do whatever I can to ensure they are safe, well, and loved; and yes, I will enact consequences as they are needed. But mostly, I want them to keep talking to me.  That way no matter what kind of trouble comes their way, they feel safe coming to me. That matters.

Yourself

Communicating well with others only strengthens us as individuals. It is the way to get our needs met and to resolve issues that may Improve Communication=Improve Relationships. Improve Yourself; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comotherwise lead to mental or emotional distress. Healthy communication helps us improve the relationships that mean so much to us, and healthy relationships bring greater peace, joy, and love into our lives, too. Healthy communication also leads to greater health, relaxation, and less stress, overall, because when we ask for what we need, we tend to get it. Being a strong communicator is also a sign of a strong sense of self-worth. It shows we value who we are, what we think/feel, and what we need, and we are willing to make our voice known in this world.

 

Bottom line…

Communication is everything. In order to keep ourselves strong and healthy, and our relationships flourishing, we must be open with one another. We must practice the skills of communication in order to keep our marriages, friendships, partnerships, families, and communities strong. Practice your communication skills. I guarantee, it is worth it!

 

“True listening, total concentration on the other, is always a manifestation of love.  An essential part of true listening is the discipline of bracketing, the temporary giving up or setting aside of one’s own prejudices, frames of reference and desires so as to experience as far as possible the speaker’s world from the inside, stepping inside his or her shoes.  This unification of speaker and listener is actually an extension and enlargement of ourself, and new knowledge is always gained from this….  It also temporarily involves total acceptance of the other.”  

~M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled, p. 128

 

What would you add about communication? Where do you struggle? What strategies and skills have helped you improve communication? Share with us by leaving a comment, below!
#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

 

Improve Communication=Improve Relationships. Improve Yourself; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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Couples & Romantic Love-9 Ways to Build Intimacy in Relationships; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Couples & Romantic Love-9 Ways to Build Intimacy in Relationships; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comRomantic love: We have to work at it. It doesn’t just happen on its own. Well, it does at first. But if we sit by and do nothing, over time, the fire will die. Sad, but true.

 

Many people think romantic love is all about fireworks and passion and excitement. While these are wonderful, the true key to romantic love is intimacy. Some definitions of intimacy include: “a close, familiar, and affectionate personal relationship;”  “a close association with or deep understanding of;” “closeness.” Intimacy isn’t just physical connection. It’s about truly knowing and understanding someone; it’s about feeling close.

 

 

Couples & Romantic Love: Intimacy is the answer

Intimacy is something all couples need to build, if you want a relationship that lasts. You may be still in the flames of hot romance, in which case your relationship is almost certainly new. If so, you need to continue to get to know each other; you need to build intimacy. Or, your relationship might feel like it’s flaming out after a long haul–say, after fifteen years of marriage. In this case, it’s building intimacy that will get the physical fires going again. Even if you’re on the brink of a relationship meltdown, intimacy is the answer. You need to work on this relationship, to give it your all. That requires a commitment to building intimacy; it’s the only way to prevent a crash and burn.

 

I’ve been married now for 18 1/2 years, and I know how romantic love can fluctuate between hot and cold. I know that sometimes things feel simple and easy, while other times, it feels like the romance is gone completely. But I also know, in most cases, with work and dedication, the romance never has to fade. I’ve been working on my next book, about self-esteem after a breakup, and let me tell you—the grass is almost never greener. It isn’t easier to let the flames die completely, to “fall out of love,” to do nothing and let your relationship end. It’s much better to work hard now, to value and keep what you already have, to rediscover the love you once knew, and to improve the relationship you’re so fortunate to already have.

 

Work on your Relationship; Build Intimacy

Whatever your relationship situation, it’s important to work on things–always. Think of it like a job or a talent. If you don’t practice and give it time and effort, it’s not going to get better. You must commit to making your relationship stronger, and if you do, you will feel the benefits.

 

I’m talking about more than just a regular date-night. Though that can certainly help, I’ve seen plenty of couples who go out to dinner and a movie every Friday but never talk, or they only talk about the kids, or they come home just to get in their flannel pj’s and watch TV until they fall asleep. No romance. No true connection. No intimacy.

 

 

9 Ways to Build Intimacy in Relationships

So, make a commitment to strengthen your relationship today. Commit to building intimacy. Make it your life’s work. Keep the romantic love alive and well. Here are 9 ways to get started today.

 

1)   Work on communication. Communication is the number one issue couples complain about when they come to me for counseling. “He never talks to me.” “She won’t stop nagging me.” I’ve heard it all. The truth is communication is the most important thing we can work on, and we all need some work when it comes to communicating effectively. Most of us have no idea how to communicate what we need, how to ask for help, or how to just express things in ways our partner will actually hear. You can start by simply talking about your day. Tell your partner about your “highs” and “lows” of the day. Be vulnerable and share your fears. Be brave and share how much you missed them all day long. Just talk–about the big stuff, and the little. This builds the positive side of your relationship and protects you when the tougher times come. Then, learn how to argue fairly, kindly, with compassion. There are plenty of other ways to get the communication flowing again, and this post/video about the 5 Love Languages is a great place to start. Bottom line, however, is to first commit to improving your communication. Then, get to work and do it.

 

2)   Strengthen your physical connection. Physical intimacy is about much more than just sex. It involves spending time together, hugging, cuddling, holding hands, and even a back rub after a long day. The more you expand your definition of physical connection, the stronger your physical connection will be. Watch a move and cuddle in front of a fire. Give each other a long, tight hug after you get home from work. Kiss each other hello and goodbye. Reach out and grab your partner’s hand when s/he least expects it. Show each other you just like to be together, that you are interested in each other physically and not just sexually. Then, make sure you make time for sex, too. It’s important to keeping your marriage strong. Especially for parents, protect your intimate time together. Plan it, if need be, after the kids are asleep or when you can take them to a sitter for the night. Go away for a weekend as often as you can. You need time to just be together as a couple. You need to remember the physical fire is still there and keep it burning.

 

My husband and I, playing, as we toured the Big Island of Hawaii!

My husband and I, playing, as we toured the Big Island of Hawaii!

3)   Have fun together. Laugh. Be playful. Be silly together. Too many couples, especially those who have been married a long time, forget to have fun, but fun is important to life. In fact, research shows that adults who play are more creative and joyful. Play has also been shown to create deep bonds between strangers, promote healing, and yes, create more intimacy and connection in our personal relationships. Let loose together today. Go and play. (More on  play, read this.)

 

4)   Get to know each other better. No matter how long you’ve been together, there is always something more to know about one another. In fact, simple exercises like talking about your childhood, your dreams/goals, or your stresses/successes each day can improve intimacy by leaps and bounds. Make time to talk about your life. Have each partner write 20 questions to discuss, then cut them up and put them in a jar. Spend a night or two or ten choosing questions and getting to know each other. The more we know one another, the more we understand one another, and the greater our romantic bond.

 

5)   Get involved in each other’s passions. You like to paint and he likes to go to sporting events? That’s ok. It’s good to have your own activities. However, it’s important to try and share some passions and activities, too. Try an artistic adventure together, or go with him to that basketball game. Develop hobbies you both enjoy, like hiking or traveling, or whatever it may be. Something obviously brought you together in the first place, so keep those similar passions thriving by actively planning to do them together.

 

6)   Be a team. Every time you come together to solve a problem, you build your team. It may be working out parenting issues with your kids, deciding how to handle aging parents, or venting about an issue you both “can’t believe!” These things bring you together. Working together also builds your team–whether it’s on a home project, at work, or in the community. Seek opportunities to work together, as a team. You need to be a team. You need to count on each other. It’s a huge part of romantic love and lasting relationships.

 

7)   Support “free time” for one another. A strong partnership begins with two strong individuals. In order to keep you each strong and healthy, it’s important to have time to do what lights you up and inspires you. Support each other in solitude, hobbies, and individual passions. It will make for a happier partner and bring even better conversations, too!

 

8)   Build your spiritual connection. I recently spoke with a friend whose husband was struggling with what he believes about God. She, on the other hand, feels strong in her faith. However, they talk aobut it. They attend church together. They pray together. It may just be discussing the meaning of life, or it may be regular prayer and church, but whatever it is, it’s important to develop your spiritual connection as a couple. Make it a part of your everyday plan for a stronger relationship.

 

9)   Be social together. Going out with friends or being around other people as a couple allows you to see another side each another. For instance, my husband is “the fun guy” with our friends. He makes everyone laugh and keeps people entertained with his daring stunts and inventive ideas. I love this about him. It’s entrancing to see how he is around other people. I love that my friends love him, too. Being around friends, or in social situations, can bring out another side of your partner and remind you of some traits you might have forgotten. Go out. Be with people you enjoy. Have fun together. It will rekindle the spark and keep it burning for years to come.

 

What helps you build intimacy as a couple? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, below!
#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

 

Couples & Romantic Love-9 Ways to Build Intimacy in Relationships; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

For more on love and relationships, join my  This is How We Grow Personal Growth Group!

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Relationship Rescue: “The Reconsideration Exercise”

Relationship Rescue: "The Reconsideration Exercise"; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Relationships can be exhausting, especially when we lose sight of the person we really love.  We can get so entrenched in our feelings, our position, our hurt, that we fail to see the efforts, large or small, of the other.

 

One of the books that’s made the biggest difference in my life is Bonds that Make us Free, by C. Terry Warner. I actually learned the principles from this book back in college, at BYU, when Dr. Warner was my professor for a seminar based on his yet-unpublished manuscript. The concepts I learned in that class opened my eyes to my role in my relationships, helping me see how I betray myself every time I fail to do the thing I know is right. Every time I ignore that little voice telling me to just love the other person, I am part of the problem. Picking up the published book several years ago was an epiphany for me. It reminded me of what I’d learned long ago but so much more. I used the principles to try and help me understand my mother and father, to improve my relationship with husband, OJ, and our kids, and mostly, to improve myself.

 

Improving Relationships with “The Reconsideration Exercise”

One exercise from Bonds that Make Us Free which had a profound impact on me was “The Reconsideration Exercise” (see the exercise, below). This exercise encourages us to get out of our own perspective and see the other person as they really are.

 

It’s kind of like my work as a psychologist. Couples come to me for help, but they can only see each other for “what he did” or “what she said to me.” They can’t see one another purely. But, as the psychologist, the outside observer who is uninvolved in the relationship struggles, I see each person for who they really are. I see their strengths and weaknesses, their pain and heartache, and I usually see that both people are feeling the same way–they both hurt and desire greater love. Having this unbiased perspective helps me help the couple I’m working with to rescue their relationship. The “Reconsideration Exercise” works the same way.

 

My Experience with “The Reconsideration Exercise”

The first time I did this exercise was for my relationship with my mother. For years, we’ve had trouble understanding one another. I’ve felt, at times, like my mother wasn’t there for me. She’s felt, at times, like I’m too critical of her. She didn’t even know I was doing this exercise, yet it helped our relationship tremendously! Doing this exercise was the first time that I was able to step outside of  what “my mother did or didn’t do to me,” to step outside of how I was feeling and see my mother as an individual.

 

I saw the happy mother who’d had the best dressed little girls at church, who played with me, who drove me to countless dance and piano recitals, whom I borrowed Reebok high-tops (in every color) from in high school, who was “cool,” “fun,” whom my friends admired, whom I wanted to be just like some day. I saw her hurts—a mother who had lost her beloved father and then her youngest daughter, to cancer, and had survived breast cancer. I saw more than the grief and depression my mother had seemed caught in for years. I saw a survivor, who would yet survive losing another daughter, son-in-law, and their family, a woman who doesn’t give up even when everything in her tells her maybe she should. I saw her for her strengths and for her weaknesses. I saw her.

 

This first experience was so powerful–it helped me accept my mother at the time and let go of so much–I repeated it with my husband, kids, friends, and other family members over the years. I’ve also assigned it to couples, to mothers and daughters, and families of all types, in therapy, in an effort to help them “reconsider” one another.

 

Reconsider Your Relationships and See

Stepping outside our “box” and really seeing others allows us to  relate to them as human beings—as they really are, and not just as they affect us. It prevents the standoff of who hurt who, who’s at fault, the blame game. It allows us to step out of our own way so we can see what is really happening. Try the reconsideration exercise (below). You may be pleasantly surprised with what you see.

 

The Reconsideration Exercise

“Imagine you are living in a world that is different from this present world. You are different, in that you are taking no offense. No matter what others may be doing, you do not feel they are hurting you psychologically or emotionally. You harbor no accusation within your heart. In this imagined situation, yours is an I-You way of being.  But this is the only difference between your imagined world and the present actual world.  In your imagined world, everyone else is exactly the same as they are right now.

“Now from your imagined perspective, think of someone who has inconvenienced, irritated, or injured you in some manner, or who is doing so now.  Think about that individual as long as you like—but if at all possible only from within the I-You mode. 

“Then, when you feel ready, take a pen or pencil and write a description of that individual.

“Don’t try to make that person seem better than she (or he) really is; don’t just tell all her good qualities and ignore the bad. Instead, describe her accurately; describe all her qualities—those you have up to now thought bad as well as those you’ve thought good. Just be sure to describe them, if you possibly can, from your new, unoffended point of view…. Tell the truth.”

 (From C. Terry Warner, Bonds that Make Us Free: Healing our relationships, coming to ourselves, pp. 162-3)

 

 

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, Self-Esteem, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She’s a strong believer in doing what it takes to make relationships work.[/author_info] [/author]

 

 

Relationship Rescue: "The Reconsideration Exercise"; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Give the “Reconsideration Exercise” a try. What do you think? Was it helpful? How might this exercise and concept improve your relationships? Please leave a COMMENT, below!

 

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"The 5 Love Languages,"  www.drchristinahibbert.com“She doesn’t understand my needs at all!”

“If he really loved me, he would show it!”

“We’re living like roommates now–the spark is completely gone.”

As a Clinical Psychologist, I hear these complaints all the time. Couples who don’t understand each other, couples who don’t feel loved, couples who fear they’re beyond repair. And I get it–maintaining strong relationships is one of the toughest parts of life.

But, to the couples who have small struggles, to those with seemingly huge struggles, and to all in between, I say this: You’re never past repair until you quit. As long as you’re both willing to work on your relationship, there’s always hope. And the one tool I believe offers the most hope is “The 5 Love Languages”.1

The Problem with Intimate Relationships

I recently posted the following question on my Facebook page: “In your opinion, what is one of the biggest roadblocks to relationship success?” Some of the responses I received included: “Failure to communicate,” “Being too busy to take time for each other,” “Lack of appreciation,” “When your spouse just doesn’t care,” “Expecting the other person to make you happy,” “Lying,” “Money disagreements,” “Infidelity,” “Insecurity,” “Selfishness.”

Great answers–true answers–but sad ones. It’s sad to me that so many couples feel so disconnected, disengaged, even disgusted with one another. Sure there are some whose partners really have changed for the worse, who aren’t invested in the relationship anymore. But for most, this isn’t the case. For most of us, the problem is always the same: We never learned how to communicate love. In fact, look at the list above again. All of those issues could potentially be solved if couples were better able to give and receive love. All of them.

And “The 5 Love Languages” are key in being able to give and receive love. Let’s take a look.

The 5 Love Lanugages

The idea is that we each speak our own language of love, and until you understand and learn to speak your partner’s language, you will continue to struggle. The 5 languages include:

1)   Acts of Service

2)   Words of Affirmation

3)   Quality Time

4)   Receiving Gifts

5)   Physical Touch

Most of us have 1 or 2 main ways we prefer to receive love, and this is usually how we choose to show love too. The trouble comes when I’m speaking “spending time” to a partner who only speaks “gift-giving” or vice versa. It’s only once I learn to speak my husband’s language that he will really feel the love I am trying to show.

3 Minutes to a Stronger Relationship? Watch this “Love Languages” video! 

This 3-minute video explains it all. Go grab your spouse, partner, boyfriend, or girlfriend, and sit down together. 3 minutes that can change your relationship for the better? I say it’s worth your while! “The 5 Love Languages” have made a huge difference in my marriage and I’ve seen it work for countless others too. And the best part is that the “5 Love Languages” can not only improve your marriage or partnership–it can improve any kind of relationship. Trust me, you’re about to learn one of the best things you’ve ever learned!

 

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So, what do you think? Any  questions, comments, concerns? Are you gonna give the “Love Languages” a try? Have you tried it already? Please leave a comment below and let us know how it goes! 

 

 

 

For more on relationships and love, be sure to check out my bestselling memoir,

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com

Available now on Amazon.com!

 

 

"The 5 Love Languages,"  www.drchristinahibbert.com

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Related Articles/Posts:

50 Ways to Love Your Loved Ones

17 Secrets for Making Marriage Work

Slow Down & See: How to Appreciate the Richness of Life

“The 5 Gifts of Meaning”

The 3 Layers of Self-Care: How to Build a Healthier, Happier YOU!

Weather the Storms Together: 4 Ways to Strengthen Families Through Times of Stress

How to Make Lasting Change: 5 Lessons that Will Change Your Life!

Women & Friendship: The ABC’s of Making & Keeping Friends

 

Related 30SecondMom Tips from Dr. Hibbert:

Relationships: Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood  (video)

Feel the Love!: Improve Communication with The Love Languages (video)

Starting Over: What to Say when a Conversation Turns South (video)

 

Resources:

1. Learn more, buy Dr. Chapman’s book, or take “The 5 Love Languages” quiz at www.5lovelanguages.com!

 

50 Ways to Love Your Loved Ones

50 Ways to Love Your Loved Ones, www.drchristinahibbert.com

50 Ways to Love Your Loved Ones, www.drchristinahibbert.com“I love you”–it’s perhaps the most important concept of all time, and yet it’s one of the most taken for granted. We feel love, we say we love, but are we truly loving the ones we love?

 

Despite what the dictionaries say, in my book, loving is a verb—an action—something we do. When I am loving you, I am showing you how I feel and not just feeling it. Loving moves “love” from an abstract concept into a dynamic experience, creating “moments,” memories, and more meaning in each relationship that matters to us. Loving is the key to a lasting marriage, to a life-long friendship, to a successful parent-child relationship.

 

And most of us can do a little bit better; I know I’m always looking for ways to better love my loved ones. That’s the great news! We can move beyond simply feeling love or saying, “I love you,” to showing our loved ones we really mean it. To get us started, I’ve come up with 50 ways to love your loved ones. Pick one, ten, or twenty, and start loving a little better today!

 

50 Ways to Love Your Loved Ones

 1)   Listen.

2)   Say, “You are important. You matter to me.”"Play together"--50 Ways to Love Your Loved Ones, www.drchristinahibbert.com

3)   Laugh together.

4)   Play together. (I love playing paddleball when we go to the beach! [My husband and I have the record, but my son and I are a close second-I'm the family champ!])

5)   When you feel like criticizing, hold your tongue.

6)   Look for the good in them. Then, tell them what you see.

7)   Leave a love note in their lunchbox, purse, briefcase, or on their driver’s seat: “Somebody thinks you’re special. Make a great day!”

8)  Forgive quickly and often.

9)   Learn their “favorites” (color, food, treat, song). Surprise them with a favorite something.

10)  Create a memory. Sometimes love is spelled t-i-m-e, so slow down and share your time with those you love. The memories you get "Create a memory. Sometimes Love is Spelled t-i-m-e"--50 Ways to Love Your Loved Ones, www.drchristinahibbert.comwill be well worth it! (Like this memory at Lake Powell–we definitely slowed down and spent time!).

11)   Say, “Thank you,” and “I appreciate you and all that you do to love me.”

12)  Create something together.

13)  Teach each other something. Learn from one another.

14)  Smile at them in a way that makes your eyes crinkle.

15)  When you think something nice about them, share the compliment with them.

16)  Apologize as soon as you know you’re wrong.

17)  Serve others together.

18)  Dedicate something to them.

19)  Share your goodies and gifts with them.

20) Bring home a little “treat” from the grocery store.

21)  Do one of their “chores” for them.

22)  Seek first to understand, then to be understood."Cook or Bake Together"--50 Ways to Love Your Loved Ones, www.drchristinahibbert.com

23)  Daydream together. Imagine all the wonderful possibilities the future may hold.

24)  See their great potential. Tell them what you see.

25)  Cook or bake together. (My youngest loves baking bread together!)

26)  Ask, “What can I do for you?”

27)  Cry together when you or they feel sad.

28)  Bring them breakfast in bed.

29)  Help them sleep in when they are tired.

30) If you say the wrong thing, say: “I’m sorry. That isn’t what I meant. Can we start over?”

 

Especially for Couples

31)  Hold hands. Kiss. Hug often.

32)  Think fondly of each other when you’re apart. Think of the things you love & remember the good times. Text “Thinking of you” or call and tell them.

33)  Start a journal together. Take turns leaving notes for one another about your feelings and experiences together."Create a Memory"--50 Ways to Love Your Loved Ones, www.drchristinahibbert.com

34)  Support their hobbies and passions.

35)  Sing a love song to them. (My husband [who doesn’t sing] has done this and it’s highly effective).

36)  Take a trip or plan a date based solely on the things they would love to do. Next time, do what you would love to do. (Our anniversary “date” in the dune buggy to Sedona! Guess who’s “love” this was? Actually, it ended up being both of ours.;)

37)  Schedule time to be together. Write it on your calendar and keep it like the important appointment it is. Then, do (or don’t do) anything–together.

38) Give them a back or foot rub.

39) Overcome something together.

40) Overlook the little things that can drive you crazy. Instead, remember what first made you “crazy” about them. Share it.

 

Especially for Kids

41)  Light up when you see them.

42)  Say, “I think you’re lovely just the way you are.”

43)  Be interested in their interests. Ask them to tell you all about it and learn to love it too."Draw Pictures of How You Feel About Each Other"--50 Ways to Love Your Loved Ones, www.drchristinahibbert.com

44)  Get down on the floor and play, laugh, be silly.

45)  Rub their feet when they’re tired and cranky.

46)  Draw pictures of how you feel about each other. (This one was drawn for me by my then-six year-old daughter–isn’t it lovely?).

47)  Ask, “What were your highs and lows today?” Then, sit patiently and listen.

48) Encourage their efforts rather than praising results. Say, “Wow! You worked so hard on that!”

49)  Take them on a one-on-one “date” at least a few times a year. Let them plan what you do.

50)  Snuggle as much as you can for as long as they’ll let you.

 

Bonus:

51) And it doesn’t hurt to say, “I really do love you, and I always will, no matter what,” and mean it, as often as you possibly can.

"Song of Love," YouTube Video, www.drchristinahibbert.com

 

 

(Speaking of singing a love song, click the photo, left, to hear my daughter and I sing, “The Song of Love,” an original song we wrote together!)

 

 

What are your suggestions for showing your loved ones love? Share them below, by leaving a comment!
#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

 

 

50 Ways to Love Your Loved Ones, www.drchristinahibbert.com

For more on love and relationships, join my  This is How We Grow Personal Growth Group!

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5 Things I Know for Sure About LOVE 

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Learning Self-Love: 5 Tricks to Treat Yourself More Kindly

Discovering Self-Worth: Why is it so hard to love ourselves?

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“The 5 Love Languages”: Improve Relationships & Feel the Love! (plus video)

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Self-Esteem vs. Self-Worth: Q & A w/ Dr. Christina Hibbert (plus video)

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Beyond Happiness: 10 Ways to Increase Joy!

The Positive Psychology of Flourishing: What is it? And am I doing it?

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The Skills of Overcoming…Depression, Grief, Parenting Struggles, etc. etc.

Parenting Teens: Am I doing a good enough job?

Learning Optimism

Joy is in the Moments

Weather the Storms Together: 4 Ways to Strengthen Families Through Times of Stress

How to NOT Be Ungrateful: 10 Things for Which I am Not Ungrateful

What Matters Most

Frustration & Expectations

 

30SecondMom Tips:

Starting Over: What to Say When a Conversation Turns South

Feel the love! Improve Communication Using Love Languages

Improve Communication & Relationships by Stating Your Needs

Key to Stronger Relationships?: Don’t Just Repair–BUILD!

Holiday Stress: Relationship Survival Guide!

Holiday Stress: Relationship Survival Guide; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Holiday Stress: Relationship Survival Guide; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comHoliday Stress 

Relationship Survival Guide!

Let’s face it; as much as we love the holidays, they can be stressful, especially on our relationships. In fact, holiday relationship stress is the most common thing I hear about in my psychology practice this time of year. Whether it’s kids, parents, partners, siblings, friends, or extended family, the stress of the holidays can definitely push relationships to their limits.

 

Holiday Relationship Stress & Expectations

So, what causes holiday relationship stress? There are a plethora of answers we could list here, from past relationship issues, to financial stress, to the “busyness” of the holiday season. But, for the most part, holiday relationship stress really boils down to one thing: expectations. Specifically, two types of expectations:

1)   Expectations from others: Your in-laws expect you to visit for the holidays, but you really want to stay home. Your kids and spouse want to stick with the old traditions, but you want to start some new ones. Your parents and siblings booked a small cabin “for the whole family” to stay together for 3 days/nights, but you’re already exhausted and know it’s a disaster waiting to happen!

2)   Expectations from yourself: You expect the perfect gift from your husband. You expect the kids to gather lovingly at your feet each night for hot cocoa and a holiday story. You expect your friends to add to the magic of the holiday season, not add more drama to your life with their personal problems. You expect your extended family to understand why you’re staying home for the holidays this year.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, “All frustration comes from expectations”. And at no time are expectations higher or loftier than during the holiday season.

 

Holiday Relationship Survival Skills

So, what can we do to ensure our relationships survive the holidays? Start by following these three simple rules:

1)   Examine, alter, and communicate expectations. When your expectations are too high or unrealistic, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, identify what you expect and compare it with the expectations of your loved ones. If they don’t match up, then you either need to alter your expectations or your reality. (Hint: It’s much easier to alter expectations than reality!)

If your expectations, however, are realistic, then make sure you communicate them. For example, if you expect a nice gift and he expects no gifts, you should probably discuss and compromise before the holidays hit, otherwise you’ll end up frustrated and disappointed. (For more on this, check out “Frustration & Expectations: 4 Steps for Lowering Expectations & Obliterating Frustration”).

2)   Listen to your heart, not your head. It may seem counterintuitive to let your heart run things during the holidays, but I’ve found that, when we’re talking about relationship stress, we tend to ignore how we really feel because our head tells us to “be nice” to others, to make sure they’re not hurt, to just keep the peace. And while all of these are worthy ideals, they’re not always the healthiest for us or for our families. That’s where listening to your heart comes in. Ask yourself, “What is the loving thing to do?” Then do it. And remember– “pleasing” others and “loving” others is not the same thing; and you don’t have to please others in order to love them.

3)   It’s ok to set boundaries: Healthy boundaries=Healthy relationships. Most of us think if we set a boundary we are just “hurting” or “keeping love away from” others. Sure, others might not like our boundaries (especially if we’ve never set them before), but boundaries are really there to help us express our needs and keep us safe and healthy, so we can send more love out. Yes, setting healthy boundaries is quite often the loving thing to do.

Imagine if you never set boundaries with your children, allowing them to talk disrespectfully and order you around. Is that healthy? No. Setting a boundary of “you will treat me with respect” makes you, your child, and your relationship stronger. The same goes for your partner, friends, and the rest of your family. When you know you’re just going to be upset, hurt, or otherwise negatively impacted by a person or a situation, boundaries are necessary—for you and for them. Identify what you need, communicate it and then keep your boundaries.

 

“How do I implement my new ‘Holiday Relationship Survival Skills’?”

Good question. To get you started using your relationship survival skills, I’ve listed a few ideas. Try one, several, or discover your own Holiday Stress: Relationship Survival Guide; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comideas, and make this holiday season a time for your relationships to not only survive, but to thrive!

With Kids:

Ask each child “What is your favorite tradition?” and then focus on only those things. Asking allows them to communicate their epectations to you. And that allows you to choose to focus on what matters most to them and let go of any other expectations you thought they had of you. Chances are your children don’t care as much as you do about most of what you’re stressing about.

Couples:

Think of one or two things you would like your spouse to do for/with you and then clearly communicate those things. State, don’t ask for your expectations to be met. Say, “This is what I need. How can we make it work?” (Watch my 30SecondMom tip on this!).

Be ready and willing to compromise. If you want your needs met, you have to be willing to also meet your partner’s needs. Listen to their expectations, then help them identify whether those expectations are realistic or not and how you can meet them half way!

Remember their love language. If they care a lot about gifts, make sure you get a good one. If they’re more about verbal affirmations, write a poem or make sure to continually tell them you love them. Speaking the language of love they like to hear will help you both feel close and connected all holiday season! (Watch my 30SecondMom tip for more on this!).

Extended Families:

Remember, you really can’t please everyone, so focus on communicating your love to your family while ensuring your own well being too. Simply say, “I love you, and this is what I need right now.” For example, you could agree to a holiday dinner with extended family, but not the entire 3-day cabin stay. You could stop by your in-laws for an hour or two, express your love and gratitude and then go home. Or, you could opt to do things on your own this year or alternate years to try something new. It’s even ok to simply say, “You know I love you, but it’s just not going to work for us this year.” Remember to use your heart and do the loving thing!

Friends:

Involving friends in your holiday plans can be a wonderful time to reconnect. But if they’re not in a healthy place, it can be tough. For friends who are in crisis during the holidays, just remember to ask yourself: “Is this my problem or theirs?” You are not responsible for other people’s problems. If you can support them, then great! But if they’re dragging you down it’s ok to say, “No.” Remember, healthy boundaries are good for healthy holiday relationships.

 

 

What do you think? Do you ever feel like holiday relationships are challenging? How so? How do YOU handle holiday relationship stress? Leave us a comment below!

 

Be sure to check out my new bestselling memoir, 

This is How We Grow, available now on Amazon.com!

Holiday Stress: Relationship Survival Guide; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comDon’t miss a thing!

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17 Secrets for Making Marriage Work (In Honor of our 17th Wedding Anniversary)

eiffel tower c & o

17 Secrets for Making Marriage Work

(In Honor of our 17th Wedding Anniversary)

I am honored today to host my very first guest collaborator—my husband, OJ. OJ and I met in college and just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on October 19th. We’ve been through some huge challenges over the years (here’s an example) and we’ve seen some great successes (here’s an example). But the biggest success, in my mind, is not that we’re still married or that we still love each other; it’s that we genuinely like each other very much—and our “like” keeps on growing.

 

But that in no way means we find marriage “easy”. Ha! No! Not at all. We have our disagreements, struggles, insecurities, and yes, even, our all-out fights. As I tell OJ all the time, “You are the one person in the whole world who drives me the most crazy! In both the good and the non-good way!” And he always laughs and says, “Of course I am! We’re married!” Yes, no matter how “good” a marriage is, it requires work, hard work, and, very often, simply “making it work” (as Tim Gunn would say).

 

17 Secrets for Making Marriage Work

So, in honor of our 17 years, OJ and I would like to share our “17 secrets for making marriage work.” Some we learned years ago, and others we’re still working out, but we hope that one, two, or all of our secrets will help your marriage work too! (Though we agree on all of these, OJ’s tips are preceded by his name and written in his own words!)

 

1)   (OJ) Make sure your core values are in harmony, even if they’re not at the same “burning” levels. When it comes to whether to have kids or not, religion, politics, financial principles, and basic life values, it’s very tough to make a great marriage with glaring differences. Make sure you look closely at this before you tie the knot—it can make or break you!

 

2)   Accept responsibility for your mistakes. A while back I realized (and explained to OJ) that too many of our arguments grew out of each of us being too defensive. Since then, I try to make myself admit my mistakes and apologize as soon as I see them. And OJ is constantly saying, “My bad…” when he says or does something wrong. It’s hard to be upset when your spouse admits their mistakes.

 

3)   (OJ) Be on each other’s side when it comes to the kids. Don’t let the kids pit you against each other. Back each other up. If you disagree with your spouse, back her up in front of the kids and then discuss it in private. The kids need to know you’re a united team, and your wife needs to know it too.

 

4)   Learn & speak each other’s “love languages”. If he loves physical touch and you love verbal affirmations, it can feel like you’re literally speaking a foreign language to each other. Learn to speak the “love language” that your spouse speaks. For instance, if I offer up a little “physical touch,” OJ’s so much more likely to help with the kids, give me “free time,” and talk about my day. (Watch my  30SecondMom tip on Love Languages).

 

[one_third][box] “…Let there be spaces in your togetherness. …Stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet[/box][/one_third]

5)  (OJ) Space is a good thing in a marriage. Having your own hobbies, friends, vacations, and sometimes even sleeping quarters can help each of you feel like your individual needs are met, and this helps you come back even healthier and happier to your relationship. As long as it doesn’t become an “all the time” kind of thing, having time apart works wonders!

 

6) Build the “like” as well as the “love”. It’s great to build the romance, but it’s perhaps even more important to become great friends. Get to know each other. Talk and share your lives with one another. Have fun together. Play together. It’s just as important to build the “like” as it is to build the “love”.

 

7) (OJ) Say “No” to the kids and “Yes” to time alone. It’s so easy to get overscheduled when you have kids. And that not only takes time away from your relationship, it can place a strain on it. You just have to say “no” to too many activities, traveling sports that keep you apart all the time, etc., and say “yes” to time together without the kids.

 

8) Never discuss important matters when it’s late and you’re tired. In fact, we have a rule: “No serious discussions after 10 pm.” Having heated discussions when you’re tired is a recipe for disaster! Just say no.

 

9) (OJ) Be polite. Talk nicely and respectfully to each other. It goes a long way.

 

10) It’s OK to go to bed angry sometimes. In fact, it’s often the only way to stop the crazy arguments that come from exhaustion (when rules 8 & 9 are not followed). I always feel like I can see things more clearly with time and sleep. It gives both of us distance and helps us calm down, so we’re much more likely to resolve things the next day.

 

11) (OJ) Take vacations without the kids. You need time completely alone to remember why you fell in love in the first place, to experience new things together, and to just be you, as a couple.

 

12) Jump off “cliffs” together! OJ likes to jump off literal cliffs (like this huge one in Costa Rica), and I like to jump off symbolic “cliffs” (like writing my first book). And sometimes life pushes us both off “cliffs” we aren’t sure we’ll even survive. Marriage is an adventure, so encourage each other to come along for the thrill; then make sure you’re always waiting, smiling, & cheering for each other at the bottom!

 

13) (OJ) Indulge in each others’ dreams and fantasies. I went with Christi to Europe not because I wanted to go to Europe, but because she did, and we had a fabulous time (see us at the top of the Eiffel Tower, photo top left). Likewise, she indulges in my dreams too, like “hook-ups” in odd locations (the Huey Lewis concert; the mountaintop…).  (Me: Ok, dear, we get it).

 

14) Practice thinking fondly of each other when you’re not together. Building the positives up in your mind is so helpful. Think of what you love about him/her; remember to send a kind little text; or just sit and think of one thing you appreciate, and smile.

 

15) Support each other’s hobbies and interests. OJ loves to golf—I mean he LOVES it. In fact, he’s trying to golf so often I call golf his “mistress”. But I see how happy it makes him, and I want him to be happy. And he wants me to be happy too. We used to do “time for time”—where however long he was gone, I’d get the same time to do what I wanted. But now, when we each have something we want to do, we simply try to make it work. Because a happy spouse is a good thing.

 

16) (OJ) Grow together. So many couples who’ve been married a long time and get divorced say, “We just grew apart.” To that, we say, “Grow together.” Keep tabs on your friendship, your goals, and your values. Keep the conversation open. Make sure you grow together.

 

17) Laugh often. Research shows that couples who laugh together have stronger relationships. And couples who can laugh and tease even in the midst of tense discussions are even stronger. Laugh at yourselves. Laugh at the silly things the kids do. Laugh at each other (kindly), especially in those moments when you can see how ridiculous you’re both acting. Keep the fun, lightness, “like,” and love in your relationship by laughing together as often as you can.

 

 

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. Learn and Grow with Dr. Hibbert and her community of really great people![/author_info] [/author]

 

 

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Whether you’ve been married 1 year or 40 years, I’d love to hear your secrets for making marriage work. Leave us a comment and share below. We couples need all the “secrets” we can learn!

 

 

Dr. Hibbert Joins “30 Second Mom”!

Dr. Christina Hibbert

Hello everyone! I am so happy to announce that I am now a regular contributor for 30SecondMom!

30 Second Mom is a fabulous website and smartphone mobile app that gives tips to moms in 30 seconds or less. All you have to do is visit the site, set up your login, select the topics and contributors you’d like to follow, and voila! Tips appear on your “stream,” tailored just for you! So, if you’re a mom-on-the-go, take a moment and visit www.30SecondMom.com. This just might be the “tip” you need to make your full life just a little smoother!

Check out a couple of my tips:

Starting Over: What to Say When a Conversation Turns South

Summer Survival: Helping Your Kids Set Summer Goals (watch the 30 second YouTube video of this tip)

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. Learn and Grow with Dr. Hibbert and her community of really great people! [/author_info] [/author]

 

Parenting Practice: 7 Strategies for Summer Sanity

Parenting Practice: 7 Strategies for Summer Sanity; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Parenting Practice:
7 Strategies for Summer Sanity

Summer is upon us once again with its longer days and warmer weather. Yet for we parents of school-aged children, summer break can be anything but relaxing. I admit, my past few summer breaks have started with a mental breakdown on my part. But this year is different. I have looked back, taken notes, and learned from my mistakes; with only four days of school left, my summer sanity plan is firmly in place. So, allow me to share my 7 strategies for summer sanity in hopes it will bring a little sanity your way this summer too!

1) Evaluate & adjust expectations. This is a biggie. As I’ve written before, “All frustration comes from expectations” (Dr. John Lund); expecting your schedule to remain the same in the summer is simply not possible and your sanity will pay the price if you don’t make some changes. For example, I’ve learned that I need to cut back on my own “projects” during the summer. The less I expect to get done, the less interrupted and frustrated I feel. Instead, I now try to read, relax, and play a little more in the summer, reminding myself that, even though I’m not getting much of my “to do list” done, I am doing some very important things (like strengthening my relationships and resting up for the fall). Expecting a little less in the summer can bring a whole lot more peace of mind. (For tips on altering expectations, read this).

2) Set up summer rules. What are your policies for summer sleepovers, playdates, chauffeur services, and chores? Call a family meeting, discuss, and write them down; then, post them in plain sight. Having written “rules” takes the guess work out of summer days, providing structure and helping children (and parents) know what to expect. One of our rules involves “Summer Kitchen Hours”. These hours are posted next to the other rules, telling the kids when the kitchen is “open” and when it is not. This helps prevent constant grazing and entices my hungry teens out of bed a little earlier, but mostly it helps me feel like I’m not constantly cooking and cleaning. What policies might help your summer run a little more smoothly?

3) Don’t over- or under- schedule. While it certainly helps to have some scheduled activities each week, resist the temptation to sign up for too many. Let’s face it—we live in an overscheduled world, and overscheduling wears parents and kids out. Instead, let summer be a time to slow down from the hustle and bustle of the school year. Planning one activity a day is plenty; and it’s ok to have days with nothing planned at all. It’s actually good for kids to have “nothing to do” sometimes—it allows them to hear their own thoughts and invokes creativity; it also helps them appreciate all they get to do at other times. When my kids start in with “I’m bored,” I tell them, “Great! I’m happy you’re bored—it’s good for you! Go sit and be bored for a while!” This gets plenty of eye-rolling, of course, but usually does the trick. (If they continue complaining, I say, “Oh, good! I need someone to help me get this work done”–they sure run away quickly after that one!). So, be careful with your scheduling–keeping kids (and you) entertained but not drained is a fine line to walk!

4) Do activities that you enjoy. Hiking? Reading? Drawing? Gardening?—whatever you love, look for opportunities to share it Parenting Practice: 7 Strategies for Summer Sanity; via www.DrChristinaHibbert.comwith your children; it’s a great way to teach them about the things you love. I love travelling, and now that I no longer have babies in tow taking my kids on trips is something I adore. (The photo to the right, is from when I decided [the week before] to take the fam to Utah. Once there, I took all the kids to Sundance for the day, to hike, bike, ride the lifts, and play frisbee [while my husband played golf]!) I also love music, so writing songs and playing instruments together is another great activity for us. The point is to find what you love and do it—you’ll be so much more engaged in what you’re doing, and your kids will be so much the better for it!

5) Set up some summer help. To avoid breaking down you need some breaks, and summer camps, babysitters, family, or friends can be a big help. You might set up a childcare co-op and swap “free time” with a friend; you might enlist grandparents to take the kids for a while; or, you might ask your partner or spouse to take over for a night or day each week. Whatever your situation, look for opportunities to get some help and then take them! Your sanity will thank you for it, I guarantee.

6) Create daily quiet time. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a work-at-home parent, a work-at work parent (oh, let’s face it—we’re all working parents!), you need some time and space that is just for you. Being “on” all the time is a sure way to burn out. To prevent burn out, set up daily “quiet time”. In our home we have 1 hour of “quiet time” each afternoon. I help the little ones settle down with books, a movie, or coloring, put a sign on my door (“Mom’s Quiet Time—Please Do Not Enter”) and hit my bed for reading, a nap, and usually some dark chocolate. The older kids entertain themselves and they all know not to interrupt or else “mean mom” might make an appearance. It’s good for everyone to have a break from activities and from each other. What can you do to establish some quiet time each day?

7) Be flexible. All this being said, summer really is a test of flexibility. Just because you have a summer “plan” doesn’t mean it won’t change–it will. Just count on it. Remembering strategy #1, if you can expect things to change, you will handle those changes much more smoothly. Just roll with it—that’s what summer is all about. (For more on flexibility, read here).

So, here’s to the summer of sanity! My hope is that, by using these 7 strategies, your summer will not only be more a little more sane, but perhaps even a little (or a lot) more satisfying too!

 

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She’s also always looking for ways to stay just this side of sane![/author_info] [/author]

Parenting Practice: 7 Strategies for Summer Sanity; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

What are your summer survival tips? What gets you frustrated? What have you found to make things easier? Help us all out by leaving a comment below!

 

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Related Posts/Articles:

“Mommy Fails” & Mother’s Day: 3 Messages Every Mom Needs to Hear

Parenting Practice: Getting Good at the ‘Let-Go’s’

Parenting Practice: “Sit Back & Enjoy the Ride”–Making the Most of Family Drive Time

Parenting Skills: “My Kids Are Driving Me Crazy!”–10 Ways to Drive Us Back to Sane

17 Secrets for Making Marriage Work

50 Ways to Love Your Loved Ones

How to Get Your Needs Met: 4 Tips on Asking & Receiving

The 5 Love Languages: Improve Relationships & Feel the Love

“Let’s Get Real”: 10 Confessions from “The Psychologist, The Mom, & Me”

5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth

Frustrations & Expectations: 4 Ways to Lower Expectations & Obliterate Frustration

 

30 Second Mom Tips/Videos:

Mommy Mental Health Tip 1: Prioritize Your Mental Health

“Going from 3 to 6 Kids”: The Moment I Really Felt Like a Mother

Use Drive Time Wisely & Connect w/ Kids in the Car

What I Love Best About Being a Mom: My Kids Know They’re Loved

 

The Baby Blues and You

Infant Yawning


Your Postpartum Emotions:

The Baby Blues & You

Up to 80% of all new mothers will experience what is called “The Baby Blues.” If you are aware of this fact then lucky you because many families have no idea what is in store emotionally after the baby is finally here.

Postpartum Emotions for Moms & Dads

Too many families are never told that 4 out of 5 moms will feel sad, frustrated, tearful, anxious, and/or overwhelmed, what many women describe as “an emotional roller-coaster,” in the first days or weeks postpartum. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense that your emotions might be a little out of whack after pregnancy and childbirth, considering all your body and mind have been through. The abrupt changes in hormones, sleep deprivation, and the psychological adjustment to becoming a parent, not to mention the exhaustion of labor and delivery, can easily trigger fluctuations in emotions.[/two_third]

And those first few days are not just tough on moms either. A dad can also have the Baby Blues and is more likely to have symptoms if his partner has symptoms too. It’s sadly ironic that just when we parents desire to be at our very best, we are often physically and emotionally at a disadvantage.

The Good News

The good news is that The Baby Blues are temporary. Neither a “diagnosis” nor a “disorder,” The Baby Blues is a normal reaction to the stress surrounding childbirth, and symptoms should improve within two weeks or so. Knowing this helps normalize the craziness we feel those first few days and relieves the layers of stress we add when we start to fear we are not “normal.” Feeling emotionally abnormal at this time is, in its own way, normal. And telling ourselves we’re “normal” can be just the relief we need even if we are the only ones saying so.

What Can We Do?

So here are a few things couples can do to safely navigate the baby blues:

1) Education: Learning all you can about postpartum emotional adjustment can help normalize your symptoms and also tell you if or when it may be time to get some outside help.

2) Practical Support: Letting others help with housework, childcare, and other basic duties can give you the space you need to let yourself (and your emotions) settle in and heal. It can also give you a chance to catch up on that much-needed sleep that’s likely wreaking havoc on your emotional state!

3) Emotional Support: Having a trusted friend, partner, or family member you can talk to can make all the difference. It’s ok to feel what you’re feeling and having someone who is ok to let you feel it may be just what you need.

4) Partner Support: My best advice for couples is to be patient and kind with one another. Realize this time for what it is–a temporary adjustment period when a tiny baby has all the power and the helpless adults are simply trying to keep up!

Beyond The Baby Blues

The Baby Blues can feel very permanent but they really should only last for a few days or maybe a couple of weeks. If your “blues” are hanging on longer than two weeks or if your symptoms seem to be getting worse you may be experiencing a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder. Seeking counsel from an expert in perinatal mental health can help determine what your emotions are really up to and give you the tools you need to overcome them. (For resource options, click here).

Hang In There!

Your emotions may feel out-of-whack but that’s just part of having a baby. Eventually your body and emotions will resume a more “normal” routine. In the meantime, hang in there. It really does get easier over time, and it really is ok to just give in a little bit and go along for the ride.

Questions about the “Baby Blues”? Leave a comment and let me know!

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[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. Learn and Grow with Dr. Hibbert and her community of really great people![/author_info] [/author]

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