Best Advice Ever- Motherhood 100th Episode!

 

When I was approached by Web Talk Radio, over two years ago, and asked to do a web radio show for them on parenting and motherhood, I was surprised, to say the least! Why me? I had no idea how to host a radio show! How on earth would I make time for a weekly radio program? Would anyone even listen? Would I be able to help more people this way? Was this something I should actually do?

After much thought, family discussion, and humbling prayer, the answer was clear: Yes. This is something you need to do. Looking back, I’m so grateful they saw some spark of potential and reached out and trained me, because even though I’ve since taken the show out on my own, WebTalkRadio started me on this path I would have never otherwise taken, and now “Motherhood” radio/TV is celebrating its 100th episode!

 

Motherhood Radio/TV–100th Episode!

It’s been hard work, with a steep learning curve, but I have loved every minute of it. I love coming up with topics based on what you tell me you need to hear. I love meeting incredible, enlightening guests who have so much to teach me and our listeners. I especially love the listeners, who share their experiences with me–what they’re learning and how they’re growing. It warms me to the core to know these shows are making a difference in mother’s lives around the globe!

Today, in honor of our 100th episode, titled “Mastering Motherhood: Best Advice Ever,” I’d like to share some words of wisdom from a few favorite past guests who were gracious enough to write or record their “best advice ever” to be part of this historic episode, and a couple of my own bits of favorite advice, too.

Of course, I hope you actually watch or listen to the 100th episode (see links below), but in the meantime, here’s some of our best advice ever on how to “master” motherhood, parenthood, and basically–life.

 

 

Mastering Motherhood: Best Advice Ever

When I asked past “Motherhood” guests to submit their “best advice ever” about mastering motherhood, I began with the questions I’ve been asking countless moms across the nation these past months as I’ve been touring to research for my new book, Mastery of MotherhoodThe question is: Do you think “mastery of motherhood” is possible? If so, why? If not, why not Additionally, I asked our guest experts to chime in on, “If so, how?”

The following 20 tips are some of my favorite lines from their wise words, the fulness of which you can watch/listen to on our 100th episode, here, on iTunes, above, or below.

(Oh, and be sure to visit MasteryOfMotherhood.com to take my “Mastery of Motherhood” Survey and chime in with your thoughts and best advice! You may even be featured in my book!) 

 

1. “The fruit of motherhood isn’t how your kids turn out. It’s how you turn out.”

This is some of the best advice I’ve ever heard and learned, and now I share it with you. Let go of the idea that your children (and how they act, turn out, etc) determine your worth. It’s simply not true, and you won’t “master motherhood” until you begin to believe it.

 

2. “Let go of the need to be ‘someone’ or ‘something,’ and just be.”

My second bit of advice, to follow up the first:It’s okay. You can take the mask off and just be real. Be real on Instagram. Be real with your friends. Be real in your PJ’s, with a messy house, feeling like you’re losing it, or watching a movie with your kids instead of cleaning that messy house because you’re not going to let yourself lose it. After all, that’s the best thing you can be–for yourself, and for your children–authentic, real, you. (It’s also the first step to “choosing to grow!”) (Watch the 100th episode video to see some of my ‘realness!’)

 

3. “Progress over perfection.” ~Tenielle Shenae, speaker, coach, mentor, self-worth advocate

Tenielle’s advice is time-tested and true, and is a perfect follow up to the 2 statements above. It’s not about being “perfect” as a mom, parent, or human. It’s about progressing, one foot in front of the other, line upon line.

 

4. “Give yourself credit for what you do. Be confident, value yourself and your gifts you bring to your role as mother.” ~Sharon Martin, LCSW, licensed therapist and counselor

 

5. “Make time and listen, listen, listen.” ~Signe Whitson, author of 8 Keys to End Bullying & the Activity Book for Kids and Teens

 

6. “As you listen to your kids, they will tell you what they need. Sometimes that means listening with your ears. Sometimes that means listening with your heart.” ~Lindsay Hibbert Elmer, (my sister-in-law!), mom of 3 plus one beautiful foster baby

 

7. “Take care of you FIRST.” ~Kathy Kaehler, fitness and better living expert, host of LA Talk Radio’s “Cat & Kaehler” show

So important! We think we must care for our kids first, our partnership/marriage/relationship second, but we are wrong. Putting yourself first isn’t saying, “Me first!!” It’s saying, “Me too.” We moms MUST recognize that we have to be healthy and happy and whole in order to give these important things, including our love, to our children, spouse/partner, and family.

 

8. “#SpeakTheSecret.” ~Karen Kleiman, perinatal mental health pioneer and author of many books including “The Art of Holding in Therapy”

Karen’s powerful #SpeakTheSecret campaign reminds us that, as moms, we will have our hard times, too. We will have scary thoughts. We will have unwanted feelings. And we can and must “speak the secret” and reach out for help. Karen also reminds us that, if we do so, we will eventually be well. Speak your secret, whatever it may be. It is only in speaking up that we begin to overcome our struggle, become our best self, and yes, even flourish, again, too.

Created by Karen Kleiman and Molly McIntyre as part of the #speakthesecret campaign. Share your thoughts and join the campaign at postpartumstress.com.

 

9. “Begin planning early on.” ~Valerie Lynn, author of The Mommy Plan

Yes! Valerie is speaking of postpartum recovery, which is not only physical, but definitely emotional, mental, spiritual, and social healing, as well. The earlier we plan, the better off we will be, especially if we’ve experienced pregnancy or postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, or psychosis before. This great advice also goes for any new phase of motherhood or transitional or challenging time of life.

 

10. “Find small bits of time and fit yourself in.” ~Olivia Baylor, therapist/founder of Life Revisions

I echo this one. Motherhood doesn’t require us to lose ourselves. Instead, we can get creative and pursue our dreams along the way!

 

11. “Time management is really about energy management.” Robyn Pearce, time management expert and author of Getting A Grip on Parenting Time

Just let this one sink in. Then, listen to the 100th episode to hear Robyn’s advice on how to manage your energy. A game changer!

 

12. “How your respond to your child is the key.” ~Michael Mascolo, Ph.D. speaker, coach, author of 8 Keys to Old School Parenting

It’s not about what your child does. It’s how you respond to what s/he does that’s the key. Listen to Michael’s description of how to respond to your child in the best way (“It’s all about MILK,” he says), in the episode. He speaks to the heart of solid parenting with this advice–that parenting is about us learning to be our best so we can respond to our children and teach them our best.

 

13. “Parenting is more about the parent than the child. That’s why it’s called ‘parenting’ and not ‘childing.'” 

Just another favorite piece of parenting advice, which cuts to the core of all these excellent tips and to the core of what we do on Motherhood Radio/TV–that parenting isn’t about changing our children or making them behave. It’s about choosing to “grow” through parenthood, motherhood, fatherhood, instead of just “going” through it so we can give our best to our kids.

 

14. “You can master motherhood, but you can’t master your children. Remember 3 things: teach, love, protect.” ~Becky Squire, mom and Make Mine Happy creator/blogger

I love this advice. Teach your children. Love your children. Protect your children. That is your job as a mom.

 

15. “Identify and love what you’re good at. Love your strengths as a mom and be okay with them.” Nicole Bolden, LSW, doula, therapist and founder of Thriving with Baby

 

16. “What are you doing to take care of you? Pick one thing to implement and start small.” ~Katie Richardson, founder/CEO of Puj, mom, life coach

 

17. “Your body is on your side. Your ‘symptoms’ are communication to you, from you. Trust your body.” ~Sophia Wise One, bodywork and healing practices expert

 

18. “Think of ‘mastery’ in terms of your absolute best effort.” ~Myrna Beth Haskell, writer and editor of Sanctuary Magazine

Amen, Myrna. It’s not about being perfect at motherhood or having all the answers all the time. It’s about giving your best, always. That best will fluctuate from day to day, but whatever your 100% effort is today, just give that.

 

19. “Try your best. If you feel you’ve fallen short, it’s a good learning opportunity for you and your child.~Erin Joyce, Psy.D., psychologist specializing in women’s mental health

Absolutely. That’s what it’s all about–continuing to learn and grow.

 

20. “Don’t try to love them. Just love them.” 

My final piece of advice is a favorite lesson I learned at a conference years ago. So often, we are trying to love our children, spouse/partner, family in the way we think they want or the way we think we want, but it’s just not getting through. If you really want to love your family, then love them. Stop trying and just love them. That, to me, is being a ‘master’ mother.

 

 

BONUS: Want the Best Parenting Advice You’ll Ever Receive? Watch This!

 

 

What’s your “best advice ever” for mastering motherhood, fatherhood, parenthood, or life? Leave a comment and let us know, below!

 

 

For more tips, skills, and tools, listen to Motherhood Radio here, and SUBSCRIBE on SoundCloudiTunes, or YouTube!

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Here’s to the next 100!

 

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“My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!” (again) Why Parenting is so darn Tough.

"My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!" (Again) Why Parenting is so Darn Tough; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #parenting #motherhood #fatherhoodI don’t usually post this often–3 times in one week–and I don’t usually hit the keyboard furiously the second I finally get all my kids out the door. But today, I can’t help it. My heart is racing, my head is pounding, and I feel like, if I don’t write, I may just hop in the car and head to an undisclosed location for an undisclosed amount of time.

 

Why is parenting so darn tough?

Today, I lay the “psychologist” aside and speak as “the mom,” and really, just as “me.” Why is parenting so tough?? It shouldn’t always have to be tough, right? We should feel like it’s tough only sometimes?

To me, it feels like it’s always something. Maybe it’s because I have six kids. Maybe it’s because with so many, the needs just keep flowing like a never-ending river. Maybe it’s because my four oldest are all teenagers now, and that means they live in a universe in which they are the center and everyone else must fall into orbit according to their daily gravitational pull (or mood). Maybe it’s because my husband’s been out of town most days the past weeks, with another trip coming up, and I’ve been going solo for too long. Maybe it’s because, try as I may, I never seem to get a full night’s sleep (except a week ago Saturday when my husband “took charge” for a day and I actually slept for 11 hours!) The more tired I am, the more “crazy” I feel (and act). Maybe my hormones are starting to kick in again (let me check the calendar—a little over a week away? Maybe. Maybe not.)

 

My kids are driving me crazy—again!

Yes, my kids are driving me crazy–again–and it’s a cycle that seems to repeat about every six weeks or so. They get incredibly lax on things like, oh, chores, getting to bed, getting up on time, remembering to do homework or take it to school, personal hygiene, etc, etc, and I get pushed and pushed by the piling of these “little things” until I go on a rant of some sort, which makes them listen and makes me feel guilty (I really do not like getting so frustrated with my kids!). This motivates us all to regain some order in the home, to make apologies, to work a little harder. And this brings peace once again…ahhh…until we start to get too tired and too busy and too lax again, and voila! The cycle repeats. (Read “My Kids are Driving Me Crazy! 10 Ideas to Drive Us Back to Sane)

 

It just makes me feel better to let it out…

I know I may be facing social media mockery and isolation by writing my true feelings—or rather how I truly feel today

Left the milk out, and their breakfast. And, two "forgot" their lunches this morning, again.

Left the milk out, and their breakfast. And, two “forgot” their lunches this morning, again.

—about my kids and parenting. All I ever seem to see on Facebook are posts about how great other people’s kids are. Yes, I have posted my fair share of “success moments” with my kids, too, so yes, I get it. But most days I really want to post, “I’m so proud of my six little kiddos! They stopped fighting in time to actually listen to me (the fourth time they were asked) and do their chores! How did I get so lucky? What a proud mama I am!”

I know, that’s sarcastic, and so far I’ve refrained, because I don’t believe in shaming my kids. Instead, I believe in encouraging them to do better, and today, I did just that. Instead of going on a rant, yelling about all the things they’re not doing right now, (and by yelling and rant, I mean a very long, intense talking to in which they sit perfectly still because they can see if they push even one bit my head might just explode). Instead of this, today, I tried a new approach. Ok, yes, I did “rant” a little after they left by taking pics of all the things I’d asked them to do a million times–for proof, later, if I need it. But, overall I was very impressed with my non-ranting solution.

 

“Kids!–Do This!”

Like my “Lame-o-list”—which I made when I reached a similar point of frustration with my husband and myself (yes, I

It's not pretty, and you can see from my handwriting I was working through some issues. But my "Kids! Do This!!" list is definitely effective.

It’s not pretty, and you can see from my handwriting I was working through some issues. But my “Kids! Do This!!” list is definitely effective.

expect all of us to do what we’re supposed to do—even, and especially, me). Similarly, I grabbed a colored pencil (because of course all my pens are lost—again), and in my building anxiety, began to scribble all the things my kids need to remember to do each day and each week, and all the time.

I wrote at the top, “Kids! Do this!” and underlined it twice. Yes, instead of ranting about all my kids have not done, like I would usually do, today I focused on what my kids should do. This is a great psychological and parenting principle I learned long ago: teach kids what to do instead of telling them what not to do.

So, I did just that. I wrote a list of all they need to do, because, maybe they just can’t remember on their own. Maybe they just need to be reminded. A million times. Yeah, right.

Well, now, they are officially reminded, as you can see, to the right. They are reminded to change their underwear and put away the milk and do their homework before before school the next day. They are reminded to take the lunches I wake up very early each morning to make for them (because I’m nice like that), and to thank me for making them. They are reminded to turn out the lights and pick up the toys and shoes off the floor so the dog won’t chew them to bits while they’re at school (like she did to every one of her leashes and the items pictured below!). They are reminded to remember everything they need for school before they leave or they just won’t have it, and to actually

The remains of a maraca, Pinkie Pie pony, pants, packing tape, and a sleeping bag after our dog, Coco, had her fun this morning.

The remains of a maraca, Pinkie Pie pony, pants, packing tape, and a sleeping bag after our dog, Coco, had her fun this morning. This is why we pick things up, kids!

listen when their dad and I are trying to help them or give them important advice. (Seriously, why don’t kids just listen to us? It would make life—theirs and ours—so much easier, wouldn’t it?)

You get the picture.

Writing this list calmed me, and I even saw a few of my kids read the list, and behave extra respectfully to me after they did. Apparently, they can get the picture without me having to say one single ranting word. They can, instead, read my suggestions and do them—or not, but we all know what the end result of that choice will be.

 

Parenting is tough, by nature, but it makes us grow.

The hard truth is that parenting is tough, and sometimes, it’s really tough. It pushes us in ways we never expected and

This "zone" was supposed to be cleaned last night. My husband and I both asked two kids to do this three separate times. Ugh.

This “zone” was supposed to be cleaned last night. My husband and I both asked two kids to do this three separate times. Ugh.

can make us feel things, and act in ways, we never wanted.

Writing this, I feel like both a terrible parent and a great one all at once. Terrible, because I wish I could just handle the stress that is a natural part of parenting (and especially parenting six kids) without getting pushed to the edge of sanity. Great, because I am learning to handle these frustrations in more and more creative and healthy ways. Yes, parenting is tough because it forces us to grow.

In fact, I am now recalling I posted something similar to this not too long ago. Let me check… Yes, the last time I wrote about this was in my “Parenting Teens” article, 9 ½ weeks ago. So, maybe I am actually improving. If I can last almost 10 weeks in between my parenting meltdowns, I must be. Yippee!

 

One more time: Parenting is tough because it forces us to grow.

In my first Skype-in This is How We Grow book club, the other night, the group asked eagerly, “How are all the kids

Yes, my sons were making dorky faces on purpose, ruining an otherwise cute pic, but I still love these crazy kids. They sure do help me grow.

Yes, my sons were making dorky faces on purpose, ruining an otherwise cute pic, but I still love these crazy kids. They sure do help me grow.

doing now?” It’s the most common question I get after people read my memoir. I told them the truth—that they are great kids, trying to do the right thing and be their best, working hard to excel in life. And, they struggle. They’re going through the regular ups and downs of teen and tween years; they make mistakes, grief still hits at times, and they argue just like normal siblings. “It can be hard for us, as parents, to know how to parent each of them in the individual ways they need and not just treat them as a group whole,” I said. “But, I try to see them as individuals and give them individual attention, even while holding them accountable to the same rules and expectations. It’s tough,” I admitted.

“So, it’s just parenting. Still,” one woman wisely said.

“Yep,” I replied. “It’s just parenting. Still. Forever.” And parenting is just hard sometimes–because it forces us to grow.

There are so many moments of beauty and joy and delight as a parent, and there are all these other moments just trying to keep up and get it as right as possible. Parenting is a tough job, but when we dig in and plant ourselves, it’s the best ground to make us grow.

Here’s to growing as parents! And, may the force be with you; if you’re anything like me, you’re gonna need it!

"My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!" (again) Why Parenting is so darn Tough; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Check out Parenting Skills: “My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!” 10 Ideas to Drive Us Back to Sane!

Ok, let me have it. Do your kids ever drive you as crazy as mine seem to? How do you handle yourself when they do? What are your thoughts on the tough job of parenting and how it’s designed to make us grow? Leave a comment, below! 

Listen to my episode, “Why am I Frustrated and Yelling at My Kids Even Thought I Promised I Wouldn’t?’ with Dr. Rosina McAlpine, on  “Motherhood” radio! Listen on demand/download the episode at WebTalkRadio.net, and/or visit iTunes to subscribe to the show!

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Parenting Success Skills Top 10: #2 The #1 Rule of Parenting–Consistency

If you ask me, “What is the number one rule of parenting?” I will say, “Consistency.” So, why is it #2 on my Top 10 Parenting Success Skills? Well, as I mentioned in my article, Parenting Success Skills Top 10: #1 “Do Your Own Work First,” I had to move it to number two on my parenting success skill list because if you haven’t done your own work, none of the other tips will help. Doing our own work first is the number one skill of parenting.

 

That being said, I still believe the number 1 rule of parenting is consistency.

 

Consistency–The #1 Rule of Parenting

Kids need to know what to expect. They need structure in order to thrive. And, structure and expectations only work if they’re consistent. You can’t create household rules or family laws if they are not enforced, just like we could never have safe roads if no one obeyed the traffic laws. Consistency is the key to discipline. How can we teach kids to improve behavior when the rules and consequences constantly change? It’s also important in helping kids know what to expect as far as the rules of the house, family values, and consequences go.

 

But consistency is also important in our own behavior, as parents. Kids need to be able to count on the fact that Mom won’t completely lose it if they make a simple mistake, or that Dad will be loving even if he’s too tired. That’s why it’s so important to “Do our own work first”–so we can model the behavior we desire for our kids, so we can make sure our own “issues and mistakes” don’t get in the way of our parenting skills, and so we can love our kids even better. When we are consistent in our behavior toward our kids–in how we discipline, teach, and model behavior for them–our kids will not only behave better. They’ll learn and grow more successfully too. (And so will we parents.)

 

 

What prevents consistency?
Let’s be honest. Sometimes, we feel “sorry” for our kids, and that affects our consistency. We give in, go back on our word, give up! But, most of the time, we fail to be consistent because we’re just plain worn out! It’s tiring be a mom or dad, and following through is a tough job. That’s why it’s so important to work on our methods for consistency before trouble hits—so we’ll know exactly what to do (and have the strength to do it) when the time comes.

 

 

6 Ways to be more Consistent!
Here are 6 things I have learned and used to help me be more consistent with my kids. I hope they will help you be more consistent in your parenting skills too!

 

1) Know why you’re doing what you’re doing.

It’s hard to be consistent in discipline, rules, and expectations when you don’t really know why you’re doing it, or don’t really believe in what you’re doing. Ask yourself, “Does this rule really matter to me? Why or why not?” If it doesn’t, what does matter? If it does, remind yourself of why you’re following through on it. This goes for values you want to teach too. Get in touch with what really matters to you as a parent and consistently do those things.

 

2) Learn about the principles of reinforcement.

This is an area of psychology that helps us understand how human and animal behavior becomes Parenting Success Skills Top 10-#2 The #1 Rule of Parenting--Consistency; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comconditioned. It has helped me tremendously as a parent. In very simple terms, continuous reinforcement (giving a reward or punishment every single time) is the quickest way for us to learn a behavior. Think of training a dog. If he knows he gets a treat every time he rolls over, he’s more likely to learn to do it. Kids are the same. They need continuous reinforcement if we want them to learn something new. After a while, though, spaced out rewards are more effective. This is intermittent reinforcement. Intermittent reinforcement is a great way to keep a behavior going after it has been learned. Think of a slot machine, where you’re always hoping for the big payoff! That’s intermittent reinforcement.

The thing is, these principles work for negative behavior too. If your child knows there’s a consequence every time he misbehaves, he’s more likely to stop the negative behavior. If he knows he might not really get in trouble every time he talks back, however, you’re dealing with a slot machine. He’s gonna take his chances and hope he wins big! And, get this: Being inconsistent with consequences even one time can give your child hope for the slot machine payoff, making her more likely to roll the dice with bad behavior. That’s why being consistent, especially with discipline, is so important!! Remembering these principles can be highly motivating to us parents when we’re feeling too tired to follow through.

 

3) Create household rules or family laws, write them down, and post them.

If they’re in writing, they’re much easier to enforce, helping you be more consistent. It also prevents you from having to decide what to be consistent on, because it’s already settled! We created family “laws” several years ago in a family meeting. I asked for input from all the kids, we created a list, then consolidated little rules into main “laws.” I typed and printed them, and they’ve been hanging on our fridge ever since. We’ve updated them as the kids have gotten older, but for the most part, they’ve stayed the same. If a kid breaks a “law,” I simply point to it on the fridge and say, “Sorry. You know you better,” and implement the consequence that’s right for that kid. It makes it so much easier to be consistent in my discipline and in my own behavior when I have to discipline.

 

4) Think about the consequence before you say it.

If you’re not willing to follow through with a consequence, don’t say it! The best way is to give yourself time to figure out what you’re willing to do before you speak. In our house, we try to “make the consequence benefit us” (the parents). I know I don’t usually want to ground my little kids from play dates (I want some free time!) or my teenagers from going out (they just lay around and sleep!) but I DO love extra help with housework, early bedtimes, or help babysitting siblings (more free time!). Always give it thought before you commit. Because once you say it….

 

5) Once you say it, you must do it.

That’s why #2 is so important. (If you don’t remember why, go back and re-read #2!) Saying you’re going to do something and not doing it opens up the casino for business!

 

6) When following through, try to keep the emotion out of it.

It can be tough, for sure, when kids break the rules and you have to consistently follow through. It’s actually tougher on the parent than the child, most of the time! But, doing so in a matter-of-fact way is the best. Having written rules helps take the anger, frustration, and emotion out of following through. (If it’s there, in writing, you know they know about it. Often, you don’t even have to say a word—just point to the rule and the written consequence!) Keeping your own emotions in check not only models good behavior for kids, it: 1) shows kids you mean business, 2) helps them see they’re not “bad kids” and you don’t “hate them” for what they’ve done, and, 3) teaches them this simple fact: That, in life, when we make a mistake, there are consequences. That’s just the way it is.

 

 

[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. (And trust me, she’s learning a lot about parenting, raising 4 sons and 3 daughters!)[/author_info] [/author]

 

Parenting Success Skills Top 10-#2, The #1 Rule of Parenting--Consistency; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

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Parenting Success Skills Top 10: #1 Do Your Own ‘Work’ First

I’ve always said the number one rule of parenting is consistency. And, I still believe that’s true. But, as important as it is to be consistent, there’s one thing even more important: doing our own work first.

 

 

What does it mean to “do our own ‘work’ first?”

As every parent knows, parenting is work (and lots of it!). But, often, we focus so much on the work of making our kids behave, or improve, or be better, that we forget to do the same.

 

Until we see our own faults, strengths, mistakes, limitations, expectations, it’s always going to be a challenge to parent our kids. We won’t be able to model the things we want them to do. We won’t be able to be consistent, or practice any of the other parenting success skills we want to learn. Until we do our own work, we won’t feel successful as parents.

 

I learned this skill years ago, when my kids were little (and before I had so many). I began to see the irony in asking them to do something I wasn’t doing. It didn’t feel right to expect my kids to work on becoming their best, if I wasn’t doing the same. For example, if I don’t want my kids to complain, I’d better curb my own complaining. If I want them to follow their hearts and pursue their dreams, I’d better get pursuing; I’d better show them how. It’s great to expect great things for our kids. But, isn’t even better to model great things for them?

 

 

Why is it so important to do our own work first?

1)   Doing our own work first helps us improve. And, the more we improve, the better parents (and people) we will be. Parenting is as much about growing parents into better people as it is about helping children grow.

 

2)   Doing our work provides a model of self-improvement for our children. Do we want to discipline our kids to be better, or inspire them? Do we want them to have to figure it out on their own, or show them the way?

 

3)   Doing our work gives us understanding and insight into our own values, beliefs, and expectations, helping us be more effective as parents. For instance, it’s hard to set consistent rules, structure, and discipline when we’re not clear on our own limitations and expectations. (How many times have we said, “If you do that one more time, we’re going home!” but didn’t really mean it, so didn’t follow through?)

 

 

How do I know what my “work” is, and get working on it?Parenting Success Skills Top 10: #1 Do Your Own 'Work' First; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

I’m lucky. I’ve always believed in self-improvement, 100%. I naturally look for ways to be better, and I’m continually working on something or another. But, when it comes to parenting, I always have room to improve and often see the need to step it up. This doesn’t mean I have to feel like a “bad” parent. No. In fact, when I find something I’m doing wrong, I do my best not to judge myself, but rather to see it is a positive step in helping me be better, and therefore, in being a better parent for my kids.

 

That’s the first step in doing your own work: Be willing to see what your “work” is. If you’re not sure, ask yourself the following questions (I ask myself these all the time!):

  • What are my strengths, as a parent and personally?
  • What are my weaknesses?
  • What kinds of behaviors am I modeling for my child(ren)? (health-wise, temper-wise, character-wise, etc.)
  • Is there work I need to do, but have been putting off or been unwilling to do? If so, what is it?
  • How does putting off my own “work” affect my parenting skills, and my child(ren)?

 

Second, choose one thing to work on, and start today. We’re not seeking perfection here—just a willingness to do your own “work,” to consistently seek small improvements. Ask yourself the following:

  • Am I willing to give 5% more effort today to being the best I can be, as a parent, and as a human being?
  • How might this 5% affect my parenting skills, and my child(ren), over the course of their lifetime?
  • What is one thing I can start working on today that will improve me and help me become a better parent? (Write it down and put it somewhere you’ll see if often.)

 

It’s not as hard as we think. Even 5% more effort to do our own work first can have a magnificent parenting payoff down the road.

 

 

Disclaimer: This is not meant to make anyone feel like a “bad” parent!

In no way am I trying to lay a guilt trip on parents, or to say everything our kids do is the fault of their parents. No. I do not believe that, and that is not what I am saying. We parents certainly don’t need anything else making us feel “not good enough.”

 

Instead, I’m saying maybe we all need a little nudge to look more closely at ourselves—to improve, acknowledge our weaknesses, increase our strengths, and to show our children what personal growth and self-actualization really look like, so they will want to follow in our footsteps.

 

 

Do Your Own Work First, and Discover Parenting Success!

As long as we are honestly checking in with ourselves and working to be our best, we will be doing our best. And, that is definitely good enough. It’s not only bound to make us successful parents. It’s bound to help our kids feel a little more success in life too.

 

 

 More “Parenting Success Skills Top 10” to come!

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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. She’s definitely learned a LOT about parenting so far, but still has a LOT to learn![/author_info] [/author]

Parenting Success Skills TOP 10: #1 Do Your Own 'Work' First; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

Do you agree it’s important for parents to “do their work” first? If so, why? If not, why not? How does this affect our parenting and our children? What are some barriers you think prevent parents from doing our work? What “work” do you see a need to do in your own life? I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment, below!

 

 

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

Why does Mother’s Day always make me think of all I’m not doing right as a Mother? Every year I try to avoid it, but I can’t escape. The images of crafty, fulfilled, do-it-all moms who are (seemingly) perfect, fill the world, and at first, I love it. I love glorying in this role that I truly find life-altering, holy, and divine–being “Mom.”

But at some point I start comparing to those images. I see what I want (or wanted) to do and be, and feel I’m missing the mark. This week, for example, I had just returned from a days-long stay alone to work on my book and try to catch up on sleep. (It sounds heavenly, and it was–if you like writing for hours and hours). But one long drive, two kid-interrupted sleepless nights, four sick kids, and less than two days later, I was already burned out, and on the verge of losing it! “Really?” I chastised myself. “You can’t even handle your life after a major break? Weak.” Sometimes I’m not very nice.

 

The Irony of Mother’s Day

It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the very images and words meant to lift mothers up this time of year can have the opposite effect? The worst, for me, was about 8 years ago, when I had 3 kids. Caught in a contract with a group psychology practice, I was working far more hours than I’d planned. Add in work for my newly-founded Postpartum Wellness Coalition, and I felt like I was “doing it all.” That is, until Mother’s Day.

Sitting in church, listening to a lovely man speak of his angelic mother moved me. It inspired me to be like that. Then, it moved me to tears. Because I wasn’t like that. It hit me–wham!–like a wrecking ball, “You’re not being the mom you wanted to be.” I was truly wrecked. I cried for literally 8 hours strait! I couldn’t stop, so I shut myself away in my room all day, humiliated, defeated. I was only saved through a “Say-Anything”-esque rescue by my dear husband, OJ–standing on the stairs playing Coldplay’s “Fix You,” in the dark until I finally let him show me the love I felt I did not deserve.

 

Mommy “Fails”

And I’m not the only one. In the past few weeks alone I’ve heard stories from numbers of friends who fear they may be “failing” at motherhood. I asked, on my Facebook Page, if anyone was willing to share some of their “mommy fails,” and got some pretty honest responses:

  • “All 3 of my babies rolling off the bed onto wood floors. You’d think I’d learn the first time!”
  • “Calling my kids by the wrong name. I hated when my mom did that to me.”
  • “Letting my mood swings get in the way. I wish I could have been more ‘stable’.”
  • “My kids are little, but I’ve already cut nails so short they bleed, and both my girls have pulled chairs on themselves in the kitchen, leaving bruises. But the worst is when my daughter screamed and cried when her Grandma gave her a dress because she didn’t think the dress was pretty enough. Spoiled, much?”
  • “I could write a whole chapter on my mommy fails!”
  • “I was shopping with my 3 kids and it was great. Until the checkout. My 4 year-old started screaming for candy, but I was taking a stand. And I did it. We got all the way to the car, him screaming the whole way. As I was putting them in, an older woman came up and said, ‘I just want to tell you that you are doing a great job at being a mom. My daughter only has 2 kids and she is a mess, so keep up the good work.’ I said, ‘Thanks.’ Then I got in the car, and yelled to my son, ‘Shut up! Not another word ’til we get home!’ It could’ve been such a good ‘mom moment, and I had to go and ruin it.”
  • “Growing up, I was pretty afraid of my mom, so I try to make sure my kids don’t feel that from me. One day, a few years back, I’d gone off my medication (I suffer from anxiety) to try and get pregnant. My kids were not cleaning their playroom like I asked and I lost it. The angry voice came out. I was throwing things and saying who knows what, and my 3 year old daughter is crying by now and she says to me, ‘mommy stop it you are scaring me.’  I had to walk out of the room. It didn’t matter anymore if it got cleaned. I felt horrible. But I know I’m not the only mom who feels like this. I’m just grateful my daughter called me out on how I was making her feel.”[1]

 

3 Things Every Mother Needs to Know This Mother’s Day

1) You’re Not Alone. She’s right. She’s not the only mom who feels this way. In fact, we can relate, can’t we, to at least one of the scenarios above? We all have “mommy fails.” We all feel less than adequate from time to time. I see it with every mother I meet, "Mommy Fails" & Mother's Day-3 Messages All Moms Need to Hear; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comwhether they openly acknowledge their “failures” or try to hide them. It’s no secret we all make mistakes. It’s part of being a mother, and it’s ok.

2) You’re better than you realize. You’re not a failure. We see what’s wrong because we care. If we didn’t care it wouldn’t bother us if we yell or if our kids get hurt. The fact that it bothers us proves we love our kids. And when we can see this and then choose to learn from our “fails,” it proves we’re actually better at this mom thing than we may have thought. In fact, one of my Facebook friends decided to ask her daughter  what her “mommy fails” were. She says, “I expected a heart wrenching conversation. I have at times completely lost it with my kids. Yelling, tears, the works. But her response was, ‘Oh that’s easy. When I was sick and made toast I asked you to watch it and you burned it black!’ I asked her, ‘That’s it? What about me yelling you and making you cry a few weeks ago?’ ‘Mom,’ she said, ‘that is just real stuff. It doesn’t make you a ‘fail.’ I have done that to you too, and I kinda like knowing your not some super hero and that you cry too. Besides everyone’s mom freaks out on them sometimes.”[1] See, chances are, you’re doing better in your kids’ eyes than you realize.

3) You are enough. This one is important, so I’m going to say it again, “You are enough.” Being Mom is a daunting task, but you have what you need to do the job only you can do. You have enough love. You have enough wisdom. You have enough of what it takes. You are enough. Happy Mother’s Day, Moms.

[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. Despite her many “fails” as a mom, Dr. Hibbert keeps loving. Isn’t that what really matters anyway?[/author_info] [/author]

"Mommy Fails" & Mother's Day-3 Messages Every Mom Needs to Hear; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com .

 
 

How do you handle your “mommy fails?” Feel brave enough to share one with us? Leave a comment, below. I did.

 
 

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[1] Huge thank you to Elizabeth, Diann, Jesica, Jana, and Holly, for sharing your “Mommy Fails” with us! You just proved how incredible you are as moms, owning up to your mistakes like that. Big hugs to you! 

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

Yes, my sons were making dorky faces on purpose, ruining an otherwise cute pic, but I still love these crazy kids. They sure do help me grow.

Yes, my sons were making dorky faces on purpose, ruining an otherwise cute pic, but I still love these crazy kids. They sure do help me grow.

A little too often, I get to this point where I feel like I’m in the back of a beat-up pick-up truck, hanging on for dear life as it drives perilously along winding cliff’s edges, the sounds of laughter and snickering mocking me from inside the cab. And who is inside that cab, driving the truck? My kids! (And sometimes my husband too). I know, this may sound a little extreme, but it’s how I feel a lot of the time—like my kids are driving me crazy! (Some weeks, in fact, I could swear they’ve taken a secret oath to push me all the way off the cliff, or make me so insane that I choose to just jump myself!)

 

So, may I just “vent” for a moment?

Besides the usual “sibling arguments,” “lack of doing zones (chores),” “ignorance of bedtimes,” and “morning grumpiness,” here are 5 categories (even when venting I prefer to be organized!) of things my kids have done lately that have been pushing me closer to the edge of crazy!:

 

1)  “I just forgot…”:

“…that I had a major science project due today.”

“…that I was supposed to pick up my little sister and drive her home from school.”

“…that I was supposed to call you when I got to my friend’s house.”

“…to come home after school, to do my homework, to bring my homework to school, to bring my lunch to school, to wake up for school!” You get the drift.

 

2)   “Whoops!…”:

“…I dumped a bottle of glitter on the floor and ‘just forgot’ to clean it up!”

“…I wrote with red marker on the newly-painted front of the house, oh, and on our friend’s car too!”

“…I just gave my brother a swirly!”

“…I spilled ‘Yoo-Hoo’ on the carpet (and ‘I just forgot’ about the rule of no food out of the kitchen!)”

“…the computer just magically stopped working while I happened to be downloading YouTube videos!”

 

3)   “By the way,…”:

“…I have a field trip today and need to be there early—in ten minutes, in fact.”

“…(said at 8 pm) tomorrow I have a soccer game at 8 am at the Grand Canyon (1 ½ hours away), because, (by the way) I signed up for the soccer team at school!”

“…I have a golf tournament on Friday…and on Saturday…and Tuesday (this is my husband, and this is constant).”

“…I promised I’d bring a homemade dessert to the church activity tonight (one hour before), so what are you making?”

“…I’m over you!” (Sent by my 9 year-old daughter via note when I told her we really might not be getting a dog–See the actual note in the image, above, left).

 

4)   “Sorry, Mom…”:

“…We didn’t mean to; we  just thought it would be fun!” (To dismantle the new pink chandelier I installed above her bed, into literally dozens of tiny pink pieces with her friend–proof is in the image, right).

“…We just wanted to look pretty!” (So we smashed your makeup and dumped it all over the floor to do so).

“…I just thought it would be cool to have my name in tape on the wall!” (and color it with a permanent black marker, thus smearing marker all over the walls).

“…but I just went to the neighbor’s house to see if I could pet their dogs!” (Said the 4 year-old, when her older brothers were supposed to have been babysitting, about the scary neighbors we don’t even know).

“…I told [brother x] to watch her!” (to which [Brother x] replies:) “I told her not to go, so I didn’t think she would!” (Unsaid: “…While we both played video games downstairs!”).

 

5)   And, of course, there are the plethora of  ways in which my kids interfere with precious sleep:

“I just wanted to finish the movie, mom (so I was 1 hour late for curfew, thus making you wait up, wondering where I was).”

“My covers are all out of order, Mom (whispered the 4 year-old at 3:30 am, three times this week so far).”

“’Whoops!’ ‘Sorry, mom!’ We forgot you were trying to sleep!” (Said the boys playing nerf basketball just below my room at 11 pm).

“Oh, ‘sorry, mom.’ I wasn’t that close to your room, so I didn’t know it would bother you.” (Said the boy playing the drums when I’d just begged everyone to please help me get a nap!)

 

Whew!…I feel better now.

I don’t care what anybody says–“More kids=More trouble.” And, with 6, I am hopelessly outnumbered. So, thank you for letting me have my little “vent”–it really does help to get it off my chest. It helps me feel like, perhaps, I’m not the only parent in the world whose children can push them sometimes. Also, when I vent it all out, especially in writing, like I just did, I can once again see the truth:

1) That these are all little issues–certainly nothing to jump off a cliff about! And…

2) That no one can really “drive me crazy”.

Sure, life is hectic and frantic, and too-often, chaotic. But, that’s just the name of the game when we parents are trying to raise kids who care, when we want the best for them and are trying to teach them to be the best they can be. Yes, it is our choice to let them get to us! And when I vent all my complaints out, I start to see just how much I let these “little” things get to me. I let the “craziness” of parenting drive me crazy far too often. Instead, I need to remember that I am in the driver’s seat of my mental well-being. I choose to let the crazy in or not.

 

 

Driving Back to Sane

So, today I’m choosing to take back the wheel and implement the following 10 ideas to drive me back to sane. (If you’re feeling near the “crazy cliff” with your kids too, give these a try, and add to or alter them as needed!):


 

1) Breathe more deeply and more often.

2) Laugh more.

3) Nap more.

4) Let things go more.

5) Make Mr. Golf (my husband) take over so I can get a break.

6) Take more baths with the jets going (so I can’t even hear what’s going on outside).

7) Call a friend and “vent” or write out my frustrations, just like I did here (thanks for listening–it really does help).

8) Remember that they are children—it’s their job to mess up and it’s my job to love them as they learn to clean up the messes (and believe me—I make them clean up!) (Maybe I should write this one down and put it on my bathroom mirror?).

9) Pray for strength, energy, patience, and greater love for each child. Then…

10) Love them. And love myself while I’m at it.

I love my kids, really I do. But if I’m not careful, I can let the challenges of parenting prevent me from loving myself. And self-love is something every parent needs a little more of. For, when I love myself, I have more love to give–I am more patient, understanding, and can see just how “little” the little things really  are. When I love myself, I teach my children to love themselves and others. Then I can let their love for me into my crazy little heart, and watch my heart soften. Yes, love is the key to driving away from the cliffs and right on back to a happy, loving (and sane) home.

 

I want to know: Am I the only one whose kids drive me crazy? It’s tough to admit, but oddly, it’s very freeing. Let me know about your “cliffs” and how you avoid them! How do you drive yourself back to sane? We parents need all the advice and support we can get, so leave a comment!

 

 

 

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Parenting Skills–Back-to-School Mental Health: 7 Strategies for School-Year Sanity

Parenting Skills--#BackToSchool #MentalHealth: 7 Strategies for School-Year Sanity; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Ok, I admit it–Last year I was so wiped out after the first day of school that I dropped my husband and kids off at a “back to school” party and checked myself into a hotel. I’m not proud of it, but it was necessary at the time.

 

 

Back to School Mental Health (for Parents and Kids!)

I used to think summer was the toughest part of the year, but with the sudden shift back to early mornings, various schools, sports, activities, appointments, and homework, adjusting to the school year can be just as challenging (at least, for me). In fact, between trying to get kids to bed on time, mountains of paperwork, and  school supply shopping (see this year’s $350 “required” pile in the photo, left! And we’re not even done yet!), the first week (or day) alone can zap my sanity!

 

I know that, as the parent, I am responsible to keep us all sane (myself included), and I’ve learned the hard way that, in order for that to happen, I need a “back to school sanity plan.” Over the years, I’ve boiled it down to 7 strategies that, when followed, will ensure a successfully sane (and sweet) school-year for my family and me. I hope my 7 strategies will help make your school year a little more sane (and sweet) too!

 

 

7 Strategies for School-Year Sanity

1) Write down your top 5 priorities for the school year. Perhaps this year you need more family togetherness, or more focused study time with the kids. Perhaps you need to loosen up a bit, or maybe you need to tighten the reigns. What are your top 5 prioirities for the school year? For me, getting my family together for dinner, prayer, and family night is my main focus this year, whereas when they were younger, getting them out and entertained took top priority! Things certainly do change, so make it a habit to check in on what matters most at the start of (and throughout) each year. (Read “What Matters Most” for tips)

 

2)   Get organized. 1) Create an area to keep all school-related papers, homework, and projects. We have a desk in our kitchen with two cubbies where I keep papers and to-be-completed work. Completed homework goes in the child’s backpack, in our “mudroom,” where each kid has a cubby for backpacks, jackets, and shoes. Whatever your system, having one place for everything helps everyone stay on top of things. 2) Set up a calendar and write everything down. I know, I always hated “day-planners” and “calendars,” but with a large family, I need them. I have a personal calendar on my phone, and a corkboard calendar in the kitchen for the family. They not only help my kids and me stay on top of things (even when I’m not home), but writing it down clears my mind of clutter!

 

3)  Give kids age-appropriate responsibility and share the work! 1) Let them pick their own clothes, do their own hair, make their own lunches, or even walk or ride a bike to school! I know it’s tough to give wiggle room on this one, but giving kids age-appropriate choices and responsibility will not only make your life easier; it will empower your child too. 2) Then, Share the work. Let’s face it, we parents are all working 24/7 and we need help! I know kids are busy nowadays, but housework is important in building responsibility and keeping kids connected to the family. All 6 of our children have chores, according to their age and ability; at age 8 I even have my kids do their own laundry—it helps me out, but, more importantly, it’s teaching them to take care of themselves.

 

4)   Let go of the need to meet some parenting “ideal”. Not everyone’s cut out for homemade lunches, walking kids to school, and chaperoning field trips–that’s why we have school lunches, busses, and other parents! Instead, ask your children what matters most to them. It not only teaches them to prioritize, it will enable you to be present for the activities/events that they really care about and to let go of unrealistic and unnecessary expectations about being a “super parent.” Trust me, everyone will benefit if you learn to just let go! (For tips, read “Getting Good at The Let-Go’s”)

 

5)   Commit to the “Yes” and “No’s” of After School Time.   1) Say “yes” to being available after school. It’s hard, I know, but the fact is that the “second shift,” as I call it, is very important. When kids come home, they’re more likely to talk about their day, ask for advice on problems, and let you into their world. Often we parents have so much on our own schedules we end up frustrated by our children’s after school needs. Learn to accept that they need you after school and make it happen–it’s one of the most important things you can do! 2) Then, just say “no” to overscheduling! Spending all your time in activities wears everyone out and diminishes family time. With your top 5 priorities in mind, set limits on activities—it’s good for your children, you, and your family. Remember, saying “no” to an activity really means saying “yes” to something else–something that matters even more.

 

6)    Make bedtime and sleep a priority. When you or your children are suddenly feeling stressed, when grades drop, or performance suffers, it can almost always be traced back to being too tired.We live in a sleep-deprived world, and too many of us underestimate the damage of too little sleep. Help your children sleep better by helping them wind down at night, getting them to bed on time, and getting yourself to bed on time too. A good night’s sleep will improve attention, focus, performance, and mood (and will also make the mornings much smoother)! (For sleep ideas, read: “Sleep Better, Cope Better”: 6 Insomnia Causes & Cures)

 

7)   Take a break each day. If your kids are in school, make sure you take some time for you in the middle of the day. If you have little ones at home, set up “quiet time”. Even 15-30 minutes to do something you love–to take a short nap, a bath, to read, or to call a friend–can be just what you need to dive back in when that “second shift” rolls around. (For help, read Mom Mental Health (& Happiness): The Importance of Alone Time & Mom Mental Health: HOW To Get Alone Time [25+ Strategies!])

 

 

What are your tricks for a back-to-school mental health? Share your school-year sanity tips with us by leaving me a comment, below!

 

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Parenting Practice: “Sit back and enjoy the ride!” Making the Most of Drive Time

Parenting Practice: “Sit back and enjoy the ride!”

 Making the Most of Drive Time

The past three weeks I have been: 1) to Sea World with my daughters and their friend for my 9 year-old’s birthday, 2) to basketball camp in Utah with my 3 teenage sons and their friends, and 3) back to San Diego with my husband and our 6 children for our family vacation. I thought school-year chauffeuring was exhausting, but summer-time can be even more so!

Fortunately, I’ve also learned a valuable lesson from all this “drive time”. See, I love to travel with my kids, to show them new places and people, but it can definitely be loud and stressful. Past experience has taught me that the more people you cram in a car and the more hours you drive are positively correlated with the level of noise, crankiness, and arguing that’s bound to occur. But I was prepared to handle the stress, to keep order as much as possible, and to employ my music/audiobook-stocked iPod and headphones the minute the noise and stress became too much. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that my plan wasn’t benefitting me at all! In fact, by tuning out I was missing out! And so, I ended up letting go of my need to “be the parent,” to “keep order,” or to “tune out the noise” and instead decided to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Drive Time=Time to Connect

Sitting back, observing, listening, or even joining in the fun can turn “drive time” into a time to connect with our children and open our eyes to things we might otherwise miss. For example, these past weeks I have learned that: My 4 year-old daughter, “knows” mermaids are “real” and that they “live in Japan, of course!” My 9 year-old daughter is “crushing on” One Direction and intends to go downtown and perform their songs with her BFF to “make some money”. My 11 year-old son has been stalking the Verizon ads and telling his brothers, “They can do up to 10 phones now, so mom can’t tell me we already have the 5 cell phone lines we’re allowed!” My 13 year-old has apparently been doing very well with his “business” of selling sodas, chips, and iPod covers to his older brothers’ friends, and my 15 year-old is astoundingly good at doing accents (his “Russian” gets the most laughs)! Finally, I overheard my almost-sixteen year old son share his best pick-up line for when we finally let him date (in two months): “Kiss me if I’m wrong, but is your name Optimus Prime?”

See? There is so much to learn about and from our children, and even if they seem like small facts or unimportant details, to our kids these facts and details mean everything. Drive time is the perfect time to get to know our kids, if we’ll just be present and pay attention.

Here are some suggestions:

1)   Let them choose the music—The music your child selects can give great insight into how they are feeling and what matters to them. I was pleasantly "Sit Back & Enjoy the Ride!": Making the Most of Family Drive Time; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comsurprised last week when I let my oldest “DJ” our drive home only to find he’d given up the angry “rap” he was into last year and settled back into the “acoustic” music we used to play together on our guitars (a sure sign his teenage “angst” is coming to a close)!

2)   Join in the games and the fun—For longer trips, play a good, old-fashioned car game (we prefer the A-Z game where the first to find all the letters of the alphabet on road signs wins), or participate in whatever games your kids come up with (my sons and their friends took turns drawing pictures of each other on an iPad. It was creative, hilarious, and highly entertaining for us all!)

3)   Engage in conversation with your kids and with their friends–Kids act different around their friends. If you want to get to know this other side of them, drive their friends around too. Ask questions that help you get to know them, (What do you guys think about…?), joke around, make them feel comfortable. You’ll not only get to know your kids better, you’ll get to know the kids they’re hanging out with too!

4)   Sing together!—Let everyone take turns choosing a song from the radio or MP3 and sing along. This not only helped me stay awake on our 8-hour drive from Utah, but I was shocked to find that my sons and their friends knew all the words to “Living on a Prayer” and “Jessie’s Girl”! Learn the words to their favorite songs, too. (I can sing along to Eminem (the clean songs), Katy Perry, Coldplay, or One Direction–and my kids think I’m pretty cool when I do!)

5)   Laugh together!—Take turns telling jokes, share fun and humorous memories, or trade interesting stories. Laughing together makes for a very memorable ride!

6) If all else fails, just sit back and listen. Sometimes the best you can do is observe. Not every kid at every age will let you participate in their fun. (I’ve had my share of “Mom, can’t you put your headphones on?”, believe me!) I try to respect that sometimes kids just need to be kids without the eyes and ears of a parent overseeing everything. In these times I sit back, watch, and listen. You can learn so much by tuning in to what your kids say and do when they think that you’re tuned out!

I know it can get old chauffeuring kids to and fro (I’ve certainly had my share of complaints about it)! But trust me, if you make the most of your drive time it can help you get to know your kids (and their friends) in a whole new way. In fact, it can improve your relationship if you let it! So, the next time you are driving hither and yon with SUV-loads of kids, sit back and enjoy the ride!

 

[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]

 

Any tips you’d like to share for making the most of “drive time?” We’d love to hear about it, so leave a comment below!

 

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