Parent Tips for Making the Holidays Bright

While the holidays are a very special time of year for most families they can also be a source of tension, disappointed expectations and stress. As parents we can take certain steps to make sure our children have a mostly positive experience.

1. Being really present for your children trumps even the most lavish of presents.

2. In-laws do not have to be out-laws; take the time to dig down deep and listen, invest and connect at the holiday dinner. Try to avoid controversial topics and too much alcohol. #small eyes are watching.

3:Try to not overbook and stay calm.  Maintaining routines is essential as the holidays can be stressful for children. Adhering to normal bed, meal and rest times is both assuring and calming.

4.. Tis the season to assess and rejuvenate tired family scripts and roles that make holiday gathering, tense, predictable and inauthentic.

5. Showing family members  love, gratitude and admiration has so much more oomph than declaring it. #Show don’t tell.

6.. Make sure to find a quiet time to connect with the children amidst the flurry of expectations and activity

7. Find ways to include your children in meaningful participation in holiday activities,traditions and preparation of meals..This is the stuff that childhood memories are made of.

8  Be clear about holiday behavioral expectations. .Our expectations for our children while  traveling and having meals at the homes of friends or relatives must be carefully delineated and explained.

9. Maintain a sense of humor and don’t forget to laugh. Try to keep perspective and worry more about the hands around the table than what is or isn’t on the table.

10. Think about toting along a care package of activities, toys and healthy snacks  for your child. Gatherings can be long, noisy and boring.


Weight Watcher’s Redux

Back in the Saddle again. A WW veteran of over 25 years I returned to a Saturday morning class with a  reluctant husband in tow. We negotiated the weigh-in without gasping, bought some expensive two -point WW products and picked up  the weekly WW propaganda and food diaries and made the wise decision to stay for the meeting.

It might be the last place on earth we wanted to be on a promising sun-lit Saturday morning. Lots of deja vu as the  leader a savvy veteran we have studied with for years greeted us warmly. We have cycled in and out of many classes with our dedicated leader.  I even hit goal in the early 90’s. Convinced that I was a “civilian” and cured of my eating issues I ignored the attendance/weigh-in rules for members reaching goal. I believed that I I had the eating crazies nailed. Within a  year all of the weight  I lost was back on. It was both devastating and humbling.  Have been back many times since and never even close to reaching goal again and playing half-heartedly at being a member more than committing to the endless tracking and tedious counting of points. For some reason I sabotaged my own success and was not really interested in losing weight.

A few weeks age I decided I was ready to begin anew and convinced my husband it was time to try again now that we were grandparents and “up the ladder of years.” Something about being a grandparent makes one think about longevity and doing something to prolong it. We actually enjoyed the class and found some of the discussion very encouraging and  helpful. The group was  open, committed and smart. Significantly, there was a large number of members who had impressive success with weight loss and reformation of eating habits/patterns. By the conclusion of the long class my husband and I agreed to follow the program guidelines 100 % and to actually track on a daily basis. We left with the best of intentions.  To be continued…….

This is our first grandson, Max and we are so smitten!


Filling some big shoes; On becoming a grandma

Pacing the floor of the Chestnut Hill Mall on Saturday Evening, November 19, the three of us were in an excitable state. We had finished what we thought would be a celebratory dinner – waiting for the birth of our first grandchild and my younger son, Robert, his nephew. The text from the father-to-be  at 5:00 exclaimed, “ready to start pushing!” The vigil party (had been following news since the previous night) made the decision to head for Charley’s ;our place to gather in recognition of family milestones. As time passed and we downed our wine, picked out our entrees and looked at our watches and scanned our various electronic devices for news we began to worry.. “How long could she possibly be pushing?”  “Had something gone wrong?”

We paid the bill and decided to pace the square footage of the empty Mall floors until we heard news.. I finally relented and sent a carefully worded text to  our son at 8:30 pm. He texted back that our grandson, Robert’s nephew had been born at 6:13 and they were in a total state of bliss with Max and forgot to let us know. So began our heady path into grand-parenthood. Uncharted territory with unwritten rules and expectations for newbie grandparents and uncles.


Parent Tips For Dealing With The Debacle In Tuscan.

As representative Gabrielle Giffords and other victims struggle for their lives in the wake of yesterday’s unthinkable violence parents need to develop a strategy of talking with their children. Continuous coverage and graphic descriptions of the shocking events is apt to have an impact upon children.

Here, then,  are some steps for beginning a most difficult conversation.

1. It is wise to initiate talking with your kids before others do.

2. Reassure your children that they are safe and that you are there for them.

3. Less can sometimes be best. How much does your child know? Do not share more than they need to know or can handle. Parents need to keep explanations and discussion simple and developmentally appropriate. Parents should also be sensitive to individual child’s emotional state and personality. Listen, listen and listen some more; take your cues from your child’s understanding and guestions around the event.

4. Avoid overexposure by limiting TV viewing and uncensored parental discussion. 

5. In the aftermath of a traumatic national event it is prudent to maintain normal familial routines.

6. Use this event as an opportunity to reinforce family values around compassion and respect for others and their viewpoints.

7. Find positive messages and meanings. Let your children know that their feelings are shared by many people in our country. Talk about the incredible response by the immediate, national and international community.

8, Keep channels of communication open by encouraging ongoing dialogue.

My first Yoga Class

Yoga Class at a Gym

Image via Wikipedia

My very first yoga class and all I could think of was how can I possibly hold up for 90 minutes? Yoga is one of many backlogged items on my bucket list. I ran into an old friend at the gym who looked fit and radiant. Yoga was her secret. She invited me to meet at a Saturday Iyengar Yoga class at our gym but warned me that she might not be able to make it. I agreed, reluctantly.

As the first person in the mirrored sun-lit room I was apprehensive.  A fresh pedicure, new yoga pants, sports bra that fit and comfy black T-shirt did little to quell my  anxiety around being the “newbie. I clung to the brand new sticky yoga mat, my husband unearthed from the recesses of my messy closet, as I awaited the teacher and class. The instuctor was the next in the room. Beth was tall and  slender with delicate facial features and  alabaster skin   I wasted no time in letting her know that I was brand new and rattled off a litany of physical ailments that would leave most in bed with the vapors. Beth was calm, centered and very attentive as I imagined a Yoga teacher might be.  She assured me that we would start in a way that would be appropriate for my fitness and  flexibility level. As other members of the class poured through the door the specter  of 90 minutes of stretching, flexing and contorting became a chilling reality. No sign of my friend. I took some deep yoga breaths and thought about bailing.

My departed mother’s words rang in my ears Marshy, you never finish anything you begin, do you? I settled my hot pink yoga mat, horizontally, on the gleaming hard wood floor and neatly placed a folded blanket and two blocks at the head of the mat as Beth instructed.  We started with a basic cross-legged position and did some breathing. As we segued from that to more difficult and complicated postions and movements Beth gave me licence to do as much or as little as I felt comfortable doing. Ten students in the glass and I was the only one who could not participate in the “full head stand”. Later I found out that most of the students were very advanced with years of experience.  While in a classic crouching postion Beth suggested that we detach ourselves as much as possible and I found myself morbidly glumped onto my matronly image in the mirror noting that I was the fattest, shortest and oldest of the group.

And so I morphed back into the awkward, over weight and shy girl in the middle school gym who was last picked for every team and the clumsy girl hiding in the back row in dance class hoping that the teacher would stop reprimanding her for doing everything wrong.

As is usually the case, my performance was not as poor as I imagined. A perfectionist I expect miraculous outcomes and can be very hard on myself. The reality was that I  was good with certain exercises and  actually felt calmed by some of the new positions my body found itself in. Beth gave me a few, “nice, marsha” comments and I could feel myself relaxing. It might have been in the 82nd  minute in which we lay on the floor of the now darkened room in a powerful guided meditation that I finally let go. What I am sure of, however, is that I am going back. At 62 it is exciting to have something new to look forward to.

Crushing the Rear View Mirror and other Confidence-Building Tips

Many of us experience periodic bouts of  low self-confidence that can temporarily impair  self-esteem.  Here are some simple steps  to ease some of the negative feelings and help us regain our sense of self-worth.

1. Do an honest and  comprehensive strengths and weakness assessment

Instead of focusing on the weakness list (which people with lack of confidence tend to do) focus on core strengths and resolve to find ways to utilize them in your every day life and interactions. Playing to your Strengths Ask trusted friends and family members for feedback on what they value most about you, or how they see you. For many insecure people there is an enormous discrepancy between their self image and the view of significant others.

2. Assessing Expectations is Next

Are our expectations of self reasonable?  In this age of role-strain,  multi-tasking and constant digital demands it is important to review the expectations that govern our everyday lives and set performance goals. Are they realistic?  One solution is to prioritize core expectations and outsource or dump the less critical. We are mere mortals.

3. Let go of obsessing about the “why” and over-analysis.

“Fake it till you make it”  is the mantra of many successful people. If you are “afraid of success’ and crippled in moving up a ladder you might have to “just do it.”

4.  Crush the rear view mirror.

Highly successful people do not spend much  time looking back and being overly self-critical. Moving forward and towards goals is a better way to harness your energy. Being positive is contagious.

5.   Work  on the projection of a more positive self image by working on your   posture,wardrobe, voice, and  overall presentation of self.

6.   (This might seem to contradict number 5. It doesn’t) .Worry more about connection than how you appear to others.

We usually do our best when we shift our consciousness from self to that of others.  Whether giving a presentation, interacting at a dinner party or talking with a client it is best to strive for connection. The rewards are great.

7. Exercise and care for self.

Emulate habits of more confident people. If you can’t invest in yourself why should anyone else? You are worthy.

8. Forgiveness is cleansing.

Forgive parents and other relatives, friends, bosses, colleagues, and acquaintances who have hurt you. Holding on damages us  more than the targets of of our resentment and anger.

9. Practice, rehearse. Study others who are confident.

10.Visualize positive outcomes.

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