Fess Up! Do You Have Bad Manners?

Bad manners are wearing us down!

A day doesn’t go by that I don’t overhear some exhausted patron or clerk, grandmother, teacher, CEO, television judge, or tennis coach exasperated by the seeming lack of manners witnessed daily. If I had a dollar for the number of times I have heard, “It is just unbelievable how rude people have become today!” I’d be loaded.

 I am not just being hypersensitive to people’s complaints because I happen to be an etiquette trainer. Quite the contrary, if I internalized all of the manners complaints that I receive via email in my role as an etiquette expert,  I probably would change careers… yesterday.  Lately, I have just noticed that the general populace believes that bad manners might be winning the war against civility.

The amusing contradiction of course is that everyone is complaining about other people’s manners but nobody seems quite aware of, or willing to, fess up to their own manners gaffs. I include myself in this group, and to drive home this point with an example, I will crassly throw my own husband under the bus. Just this past weekend, I watched my spouse repeatedly check his email from his phone while on the field coaching our son’s flag football team. I was probably doing something equally as heinous and coarse on the sidelines as I cheekily admonished his bad manners, but darned if I know what it was…

Well, I blame…

The internet, reality television, the government, texting, the football coach, and Facebook, rank high among some of today’s most favorite anti-manners villains. Were it not for outside forces “making” us behave impolitely, our manners would not be slipping. Or would they? Do outside influences have an impact on societal behavior?

Am I a victim of external sway? Have I no choice regarding my own conduct? Do the many pressures of society demand that I drop the practice of etiquette and become boorish and uncouth?

Of course not, I am completely responsible for my own actions. Yes, it is true that technology has introduced a new set of manners complexities to society, however, I have a responsibility to choose to be undaunted by today’s challenges and continue to follow basic manners principles, even online when shrouded by the curtain of internet “anonymity”. 

When we choose to act impolitely we can’t in the next breathe turn around and blame everyone else for our churlish society.  It stands to reason that if our complaint is that manners rules are slipping, collectively we are allowing our manners to slip.

If we are unable or unwilling to see our own ill-mannered behavior, and we blame everyone else for our bad-mannered society, how is it possible to turn the ship around? Why not just throw up our hands in defeat and exclaim, “Manners? I haven’t time for manners; now step aside while I notify my considerable Facebook network that I don’t much care for Mondays.”

Without manners, day to day life would be bedlam. It would be impossible to leave our homes to purchase milk if our neighbor could shoot us for our newspaper or paint our house blue to match his peonies. So as beleaguered as we all are by the stresses of life in the twenty first century, we have no choice but to practice excellent manners, model good manners and teach children etiquette. If we let manners go by the wayside it won’t take long before we live in chaos. It is inherently obvious that if just one generation is not taught how to behave politely, then good manners will quickly disappear. Who will teach etiquette to children if we don’t teach etiquette to children?

We are shocked, saddened, exhausted and a little grossed out by (as the title of the brilliant Lynne Truss’ excellent manners book says), “The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today.” But that doesn’t mean we throw in the towel, drop into an easy chair, wave a white hanky in the air, and give up on manners. If we give up, the “etiquette(ly) challenged” win.

I refuse to live in a world without manners, don’t you? Be selfish; use good manners, model good manners, and teach children etiquette so that you (and I) get to live in a more gracious society.

Now is the time to recommit to a more civilized culture. Let’s declare a war on bad manners by taking note of and improving our own etiquette. Think about all we would gain if we brought back civility, respect, and integrity. A poised, five year old little boy said it best when he quipped, “Use good manners so you don’t make everyone sick and get in trouble.” Indeed.

You Have the Power to Destroy a Child’s Future

Recently while at the post office, I bumped into a lovely stay-at-home mom I know. Aware of the success I have had as a mompreneur, she asked if I would mind giving her some career advice. After having been out of the workforce for the past 7 years, she was interested in contributing a few extra dollars per month to the household while perhaps also receiving a little mental stimulation. She had a few employment ideas, working part-time at a retail store in the mall or ringing up groceries, but was far from enthused about leaving her kids in the evening to make minimum wage. She also did not want to sell candles or cosmetics as a representative for one of the multi-level marketing companies.

“How did you do it? You have two kids and another on the way and you have created a great business.” she asked me. I responded to her the same way that I respond to the many people who ask, “Simple, I identified what I loved to do, I took a leap of faith and worked hard to put my passion to work in the real world.”

“Oh, I could never do that,” she said. She proceeded to list the many reasons why it would be impossible for her to tackle any sort of exciting venture that might charge her up and make her some money. With her endless list of road blocks she had literally paralyzed herself and drastically limited her options. Our short conversation left me a little depressed when it should have left me feeling excited for her exciting future. I knew that there was nothing that I could say to her to get her over the hurdles she had thrown up in front of herself.

Road blocks are the excuses people have for why they will “never be able to do it.” The fascinating thing about road blocks is they are usually very small, surmountable blips that effective people can solve before lunch. “Yeah, but, I will need liability insurance…”, “Yeah, but, I will have to get a business license…”, “Yeah, but, I will have to call people on the phone…”, “yeah, but I will have to find space to work…”, “Yeah, but, I need my sleep and can’t get up before the kids to do my work…”

Often people’s road block lists are extensive, seem never ending, and are a residual of limiting beliefs created during childhood. A limiting belief is a mental acceptance that a negative thought about oneself is true. “I am very shy so I could never speak in public.” “My brother is the smart one and I am the athlete so I could never finish that degree program.” “My father told me I would probably only be good at being a wife, so even though my idea to become an arts and crafts trainer is a good one, I better not try to start a business.” Limiting beliefs are powerful and feel very real to the person, but to the onlooker can sound like nonsense.

Limiting beliefs are not the same thing as honest self assessments, as in the following examples: “Becoming a professional tennis player is out of the question because I am 40 and have never picked up a racket;” “I am really great at running the daily operations of a company, but my abrasive personality wouldn’t be a good fit for the sales department;” and, “I worked very hard at physics in college, I even hired a private tutor, and I just do not have the mental aptitude to become a physicist.”

Parents, teachers, coaches, tutors, and trainers have a responsibility to avoid instilling limiting beliefs in children. Everyone can name at least one adult who said something so hurtful to us that we have shied away from the “offensive behavior” ever since. Having no crystal ball to see the future there is no way it is possible to know what a child is capable of achieving. Most negative assessments about a child’s abilities are at the very best premature and at the worst ridiculous, unfounded, callous, and harmful. What good does it do the child for an adult to look at his arts and crafts project and say, “Well, you probably should stop right there because you are just making a mess…too bad, but I just don’t see creativity in your future.” Or, “Manners lessons are wasted on you; you had better get used to paying high dry cleaning bills because your shirts will always be soiled.”

It is powerful to have a long-lasting and positive effect on a child. As adults we never know when a child will be touched by our words, so we should be conscious at all times of what we say and how we say it. The last thing that any well meaning, warm adult would ever want is to help introduce a limiting belief that stays with an impressionable child for life and keeps her from achieving her dreams and aspirations. Our words and actions can be the difference between someone who heads out into the world and makes things happen, and someone who sits inside too paralyzed to make a move.

Visit http://www.artsandcraftsmoms.com and become a certified arts and crafts trainer who helps build up children’s self esteem and never instills limiting beliefs in the students.

Follow Your Passion and Live the Life You Love

If we take a good, hard look at ourselves, it is clear that we all have a strong passion for something. Innovative go-getters identify that passion, take hold of it, and run towards a bright and exciting future. Martha Stewart created an art form out of daily living, and built a multi-billion dollar empire around her flair for home economics. The late, great Julia Child mastered the fine art of French cooking and became a household name and culinary heroine. Debbie Fields took her childhood love of baking chocolate chip cookies and created a sensationally successful Fortune 500 company. Sadly, many people fail to follow their passion, and get stuck in the same dead end job for years and years.

Years in a dead end job take their toll. Boredom, depression, illness, loss of direction and drive are a few of the symptoms resultant in not following one’s passion. Goals that were once set for exciting and satisfied lives tend to go by the wayside when people fail to take the leap into a career that electrifies. Monday mornings feel like torture and the week ahead stretches on interminably.

How frustrating it must be for the “closet entrepreneur” to follow someone else’s lead when she wishes she were making all of the decisions. It is not uncommon for the average person to stay in a career rut because of risk aversion and fear of taking a leap into the unknown. Concerns about health insurance, a steady paycheck, and even failure, can paralyze some individuals and keep them tethered to a job that they hate. Although rational, these fears are not worth throwing away happiness, personal growth and development, and career fulfillment.

7 Tips to escape your dead end job and follow your passion!

1. Identify your passion.
What is it that you love to do? Are you passionate about teaching or training children?  Do you spend all of your off hours doing a hobby like arts and crafts? Do you want to make a change in the world like training kids to use good manners and teaching etiquette or teaching women to be financially secure? What business idea would make you jump out of bed in the morning before the alarm rings?

2. Discover a business that incorporates your passion.
If arts and crafts, for example, ends up being the passion you wish to pursue, what kind of a business could you set up? Could you be a wonderful arts and crafts trainer who could start a small business teaching students in local schools, community centers or retirement homes? Do you create beautiful crafts that would sell in local gift shops or online? Would you enjoy teaching evening classes for an adult education program?

3. Interview experts doing what you love.
It is really inspiring to speak with people who have made a career out of your same passion. They have taken the risk that you wish to take and made a success of it. What did they do to create a career that they love? What hurdles did they have to overcome? How hard did they have to work? Did their businesses fall into their laps or did it take some effort to make that dream come true? Was the effort worth it?

4. Work nights and weekends developing and growing your business before quitting your job.
Although it would be a dream to walk into your boss’ office and quit on the spot, this is usually not a good idea. Use your spare time to prepare for the jump. If you need training, study evenings and weekends. Write your business plan, your marketing plan and advertising strategy and begin networking after work or on weekends. For example, if you feel passionate about teaching etiquette to children, schedule weekend classes, build your clientele and get your name out there. It will take a little hard work to jump into your new life but it will be worth it.

5. Find a mentor or supporter.
Who do you know that can give you the business support that you need as you start your own business? Someone to bounce ideas off helps to keep up momentum and buoy spirits. It is great to find a knowledgeable entrepreneur willing to look over your proposed business plan and budgets and who understands firsthand what it is like to follow one’s passion. There will be plenty of not so ambitious people who will cast doubt on your decision to start your own endeavor. Your mentor should be someone who believes in you and can give you the support that you need to conquer your fears and go for your dream.

6. Save up an emergency fund of cash.
Scrimp and save while still in your dead end job. Pay off outstanding bills and put every drop of extra cash into a savings account. You will want to be as financially at ease as possible when starting your own business. When you do start your business, guerilla market! Spend as little money as possible to make your dream a reality.

7. Take action!
What action step can you take today to make your dream a reality? Starting a business can seem insurmountable if looking at all of the steps needed to become a success. Entrepreneurs chip away one task at a time, like becoming certified to do something, thinking up a business name, or writing copy for an advertisement. Once you get the momentum going it will become easier and easier to proceed toward your goal!

Failing to discover your true passion and ending up in a career rut is depressing and can lead to a very unhappy and unfulfilled life. Nobody wants to get up day after day and go to a job that is uninspiring and dull. Identifying what you truly love to do, coming up with an exciting business idea, and taking a leap of faith can lead to a rewarding life filled with hope and promise. If you are the creative type who wishes to take control of your own destiny, follow your passion and live a life that you love!

If you are interested in following your passion and living a life that you love visit http://www.etiquettemoms.com and http://www.artsandcraftsmoms.com Become certified to train children etiquette and arts and crafts. Moms on Edge distance learning “train the trainer” programs are filled with excellent content and ongoing support!

Why Good Manners Matter

“…the principle of civil reciprocity is a solid one, for which reason it is occasion for total, staggering dismay that it appears to be on its way out.” Lynne Truss fumes in her wonderfully, hotheaded bestseller, Talk to the Hand  #?*! The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay at Home and Bolt the Door.

 

“Shut up Mom!” hollers a three year old from her perch in the grocery cart. “Is this all there is?” a six year old questions, as he unhappily chooses a lollipop from the reward bag his teacher has just handed him. “I was going to invite my friend Jordan, but he couldn’t make it, so I had to invite you…” laments a 13 year old boy to a classmate, as he chews an enormous bite of a sandwich…with his mouth open…

 

“I don’t want to prepare her for a cotillion, maybe I could just get her to look up at me and stop ‘texting’ for a moment, when I ask her about her day?” says the dad of sixth grade Stephanie.

 

People are mourning the loss of etiquette. The search term that brings the highest number of people to my parenting blog, day after day, year after year is “children’s manners”. Parents want their children to be well mannered and they themselves would like to be treated with dignity and respect…maybe even a little deference.

 

Kids are kids and expected to say outrageous things from time to time. The days of “children should be seen and not heard” are long gone. However, children need to be trained to not only place their napkins in their laps, but to be aware that they are members of a large global society. As the credit card commercial says, “Membership has its privileges”. Membership also has its responsibilities, the biggest responsibility, valuing the other members.

 

If kids aren’t displaying good manners, it is not a big stretch to assume that parents aren’t teaching and/or modeling good manners. A father, who demonstrates boorish manners, gives the green light to his child to use boorish manners; dad might even think it is funny when his child acts out in public. The problem is we (instructors, teachers, coaches, admissions officers, and bosses) don’t find the child’s behavior funny, and we (instructors, teachers, coaches, admissions officers, and bosses) quickly pass him over. Sadly, the ill-mannered child never had a chance; his father chose his behavior, and the consequences of that behavior, for him.

 

Why aren’t parents teaching manners if they would like their children to use good manners, and they know that their children must exhibit good manners to succeed?

 

It does seem, from the many parents that I interview, that parents today are not too keen on being the “bad guys” to their children. Parents want their children to have manners, but cringe at correcting their children’s bad behavior. “I hate to come home from work after not seeing my kids all day and have to start disciplining their behavior; I would rather just goof around with them.”

 

Other parents didn’t receive manners training themselves, so teaching manners to their children is not an option. “I feel at a huge disadvantage. I wasn’t taught manners as a child and I am very uncomfortable in certain social situations. I struggle at business events because, I hate to admit it, I don’t have a lot of tact, sometimes, I inadvertently blurt out some inane and completely inappropriate comment.  I just do not even know where to begin to teach him a better way to behave.”

 

It is not uncommon to hear parents today say that their children are “gifted”, “brilliant”, “testing for genius”, or possessing “perfect pitch”. Perhaps these parents are so busy pointing out the great, it is difficult to see the not-so-great? Maybe these parents are fearful if they say anything deemed negative or judgmental, they will damage their children’s psyches? Maybe pointing out a child’s “not-so-great” behavior makes the parent look “not-so-great”?

 

Many people hypothesize the reasons behind (per the sub-title in Lynn Truss’ book), “The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today.” Maybe the trend is a consequence of high divorce rates, increasing single parent homes, the great number of two working parents, political correctness, video games, The Media, The Internet, the pornification of society…maybe a combination of the list? But is the question even relevant? None of these “possible causes” are going away any time soon.

 

So it becomes our job as parents to accept the culture as it is today, and teach our children good manners. Arming our children with manners and values allows them the opportunity to make good choices when faced with the curve balls, “the world” will inevitably throw at them.

 

Respecting and valuing others, developing high integrity and making others feel at ease, are probably the key reasons that society practices good manners. Manners put us at ease with those people that we know. Manners make us feel safe around complete strangers.

 

It would be anxiety provoking, to say the least, if there were no rules of social etiquette. What if, when browsing through a dress rack at the mall, it was perfectly acceptable for the stranger browsing alongside us, coveting the discounted blouse we got to first, to pop us one in the jaw and wrestle us to the floor for the garment? How often would we go to the mall?

 

It is okay that social standards have relaxed over the past 75 years. Rigidity and strict rules don’t fit today’s world. Pinafores, cotillions, white gloves, dessert spoons, sipping tea from the saucer, and pillbox hats seem out of place in most social circles. But the basic tenets of etiquette still hold strong and true.

 

Proper table manners, pleasant conversational skills, appropriate dress and the use of tact are social graces that make interacting with others easy and agreeable. Etiquette rules that embrace the goals of respecting and valuing others, having high integrity and putting others at ease, make living side by side easy. It is hard to argue the merit of good etiquette.

 

Fail to teach children manners and fail them. Without proper manners training, children will run into awkward situations as they mature that will probably limit their options for success. We want our kids to be participatory members of a thriving and exciting, civil society. The last thing that parents want for their children is for them to have to “Stay home and bolt the door.”

 

 

 

 

The Time is NOW to Teach Kids Good Manners

Moms from all over the world, and especially here in the USA, contact me every day to share their concerns about raising kids. One of the biggest issues, I am asked about, is children’s manners and respect. Moms everywhere are concerned about their kids learning table manners, communication skills, sharing, and all of the basic social courtesies that create a civil society…they are worried that as a society we are doing away with everyday etiquette.
So many etiquette challenges…For instance, teachers voice their frustration with kids who interrupt class without raising their hands. Moms complain about table manners, use (or non-use) of “please” and “thank you”, challenges kids have entering conversations, and lack of tact when a child doesn’t like something or when another child makes a mistake. Kids are kids, and nobody wants to do anything to break their wonderful spirits or sap their energy. At the same time, many parents and teachers wish there was a fun and easy way to instill the basics of etiquette, manners, respect for others — all in an engaging way that kids actually enjoy and that lets them express their natural creativity and “kid-ness”.

You asked for it so we created a solution: An engaging and simple system to teach kids etiquette, manners and respect

If you are a Mom or teacher who loves working with kids and would like to prepare your own kids and perhaps the kids in your community for a lifetime of success — while earning an excellent extra income stream —  then I would like to invite you to check out our wonderful new program called Etiquette Moms. Go to our new site http://www.etiquettemoms.com to learn more.The goal is simple: Create an army of caring Moms and teachers who instill good manners and habits in our kids. This program is nothing like the old, stale, boring etiquette classes. Instead, it is MODERN, fun, and uses tons of great games and activities to teach kids proper habits while having a great time. You and your kids will love it!

If you want to make a difference and lay a foundation of success for your children and the children in your community, please visit Etiquette Moms now. Before you know it, you could have a wonderful new way of earning extra income and spending time with your kids.

 

 

 

 

Now you can join an amazing group of like-minded moms and teachers, and take action to make a huge difference in the lives of your own kids, and in the lives of kids everywhere! Plus, we could all use an extra income stream these days, and this program shows you how to create your very own part-time or full-time etiquette training business. I can’t think of a better way to earn an excellent income than by providing an incredibly valuable service for children!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 


Potty Training-A Simple 4 Step Formula for Initiating Toilet Training.

moe-logo.jpg“I’m so done with diapers!” groans a mother as she looks at the high price tag on the jumbo pack of diapers. “Is it time for my child to start potty training?” 

Potty training is a big milestone for children. But how do parents know when to start? Intuition, expectations, common sense and observation play key roles in initiating potty training. 

Step #1-Create a Parent/Child Team

Potty training is a combined effort between parent and child. Some parents may assume that they are in charge, while other parents place the child at the helm. In actuality, potty training is a partnership. Parents provide support, potty training tools, books, and dry clothing; children do the “going.”

Grasping the concept that potty training is a team effort between parent and child, and not a command and control situation, is critical to success. Strict, impatient pursuit of the goal puts undo pressure on the child, resulting in stress, anxiety and in some cases delayed potty training.  

Step#2-Starting early doesn’t ensure quick results

In depth research on intensive potty training has proven that initiating the process early is in fact correlated to extended duration of potty training. Those parents who start training prematurely find that the potty training process lasts longer.  Children must develop bladder and muscle control before they are able to control toileting.

Parents may adhere to this rough timeline of readiness: 15-18 months the child senses that his or her clothes are wet; 18 months the child may urinate on the potty if placed on it; 2- 2 1/2 years the child might alert the parent that he has to go; and 3-4 years the child may have the ability to “hold it” and visit the bathroom alone.   

Step#3-Determine readiness by child’s development

When deciding to begin the potty training process, chronological age may not be the correct indicator for readiness. The parent should look for signs that the child is developmentally ready. This is especially true for babies who were born prematurely and children who are developmentally delayed. 

Some good signs of readiness are: child can sit and walk well, child can stay dry for 2 hours or more, child is interested in doing what big kids or grownups do, child is able to follow and execute simple instructions, and child seems to understand what the potty is for and uses words relating to using the toilet.  

Parents should assess the temperament of the child. Important questions to ask are: is the child able to focus, what is her attention span, does the child frustrate easily, is the child easily angered or discouraged. 

For most children potty training occurs between 2 and 3 years, with the majority of children potty trained by 4. 

Step#4-Go on now, go!

Today is the day! Parents should make sure that the child is in good health, and that the household is calm with no impending turmoil such as a move coming up, a new baby being brought home, or a parent going away on a trip.  

Dress the child in easy to remove clothing like sweat pants with an elastic waist. Snaps, buttons and zippers are difficult for little hands and time consuming to manipulate when the urge arises. To reduce the pressure on the child, allow him to stay in diapers during the early days of potty training. Gradually transition him into underwear for short amounts of time as his dry times become more and more extended.  

After a meal, nap, or when coming in from outdoors are good times to encourage the child to hop on the potty. Parents should be on the look out for indicators of when the child may have the urge to go.  

Accompany the child to the potty and stay with him. The visit to the bathroom should be short and sweet; five minutes is plenty of time. Offer reading material, or use a fun potty training tool or toy to make the five minutes engaging. Important: if the child wants to get off of the potty before five minutes, don’t force him to stay. 

Praise, praise, praise! Little milestones deserve lots of hugs and kisses. It is really something for a little tyke to hop on the potty by herself, pull up her own pants, or make it into the bathroom (even if only to be a little late.) Be kind, patient, sensitive and proud. Don’t scold the child for having accidents, ever.

Top Three Mistakes Parents Make When Dealing with Separation Anxiety

Moms on Edge LogoSaying goodbye is one of the most difficult tasks that people learn in life. Learning to handle separation is an emotionally difficult task that begins in infancy. Too often, parents and caregivers mishandle the child’s transition between them, and the child is left feeling scared and abandoned. “Maybe mommy isn’t ever coming back.”

 

Failing to provide the necessary support that children need, to separate well, may have a negative effect on the child’s future relationships. The parent’s own feelings of anxiety and sadness, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, insensitivity to the child’s emotions, can have a profound effect on a child’s level of separation anxiety.

 

If separating is handled with sensitivity, children develop confidence and independence and feel secure when left in the hands of a loving and competent caregiver.

 

Mistake #1-Ignore the child’s fears-Many parents think that ignoring a child’s anxiety, anger, stress and fear makes separating easier. Mom or dad might believe that springing the separation on the child and sneaking out, like ripping off a band-aid, won’t give the child time to get worked up, tearful and upset. Other parents may not be sensitive to the fact that separating is a big deal, “Why is he so upset, I am just running out for an hour.” Don’t tell the child his or her feelings are insignificant.

 

Solution: Explain to the child calmly, clearly and briefly, what he or she should expect. Use the same ritual before each separation. For example: enter the room, hang the child’s coat, put the snack away, take out a loved toy, give a big hug and kiss, etc. Do not sneak out or use a distraction to duck out of the room. In new situations, parents should allot adequate time to hang around while the child becomes acclimated to his new surroundings. The parent should reassure the child that mommy/daddy is coming back soon and should expect the child to feel some distress. Separating is tough.

 

Mistake #2-Emphasize the fun and excitement of the activity-Disregarding that the child is feeling frightened, and instead focusing on how much fun she is going to have, does not ease separation fears. The child may be confused and not understand why she is being left and wondering if mommy or daddy will ever return. While upset the child is not able to focus on the fun things in store for her while mom is away.

 

Solution: Short absences initially (30-90 minutes) are easier for children. Ensure that the child understands what is happening by using the same description of the situation before each separation. “Mommy is going to have her teeth cleaned, remember we passed the dentist’s office on the drive over here? I will be back shortly to pick you up and then we will go to the park and have our lunch. I know that you feel a little afraid because this is a new place to play and I am leaving. Miss Melanie is really kind and happy to play with you, I like her very much. I love you and I am coming back to pick you up as soon as my teeth are shiny.” Explaining what to expect gives the child a sense of control.

 

Mistake #3-Neglecting to give the reunion its proper consideration-“Grab your coat, let’s get in the car, we are late!”…is not a proper hello after being separated from a child. Having a conversation with the caregiver before acknowledging the child, is also a mistake.

 

Solution: Handling the reunion between parent and child with sensitivity is just as important as the goodbye. The child is relieved that the parent has returned as promised. Develop a warm and loving routine used for returns. Positive relationship development relies on reuniting with joy and happiness. Using a special routine honors the loving bond between parent and child.

 

How to Survive the Supermarket with Kids in Tow

Moms on Edge Logo“Before kids I used to happily peruse the supermarket aisles, slowly selecting interesting new items, scrutinizing labels and creating a few evening meals in my head as I shopped. Now I have two small kids and my creative shopping days are over. I run through the store and I am lucky if I get half of the essentials that I need to get through the week,” writes a frustrated mom when asked about her biggest daily stressors. 

With small children in tow, visits to the supermarket can be unproductive and filled with anxiety. An extra twenty minutes of indecision, waiting at the deli, or traveling unneeded aisles, is just enough time for kids to lose their marbles and cause the parent to flee the store, shopping incomplete. Supermarket shopping must get done, and bringing the children, for the majority of parents, is the only viable option. 

Survival Tips 

  • Create a weekly menu.

On Sunday, find 7 simple dinner recipes made with basic, healthy ingredients. Include an easy lunch menu for 7 days and then decide breakfast choices for the week.  The Food Network website yields hundreds of tasty, easy to prepare meal ideas like beef stroganoff and tacos. Writing a weekly menu will relieve the stress that families feel each evening when deciding what’s for dinner, leaving more time and energy for family time. 

  • Make a list.

Using the weekly menu, make a shopping list on the front of a plain envelope (reason for envelope in next tip) of all of the items needed to prepare the week’s breakfast, lunch and dinner meals. The food list complete, go through the house and add to the list, beverages, paper, cleaning, and bath and beauty products running low. A pad of paper and pen in an accessible area lets family members jot down items they need. 

  • Study the floor plan of the grocery store.

It is really helpful to know the layout of the grocery store when creating a grocery list because the list can be made to correlate to the store. For example, if the deli is the first place passed and the dairy is next and then meat, deli items should be grouped at the top of the list followed by all of the dairy items and then meat. Although seemingly obsessive-compulsive, correlating the list to the store layout eliminates doubling back and can save enormous amounts of time.  

  • Clip coupons.

After the list is created, find coupons that match items on the list. Only use coupons for those items regularly used, or those items the family might enjoy trying. Put the coupons needed for the current shopping list into the envelope with the grocery list printed on it. Place a check next to those items on the list that have a coupon. Don’t add extra items to the list just to use a coupon. Compare prices, sometimes another brand might be cheaper than the brand with the coupon. 

Do be creative with the weekly menu to incorporate coupons, for example make chicken instead of pork chops if there is a chicken coupon. Don’t compromise on health to use a coupon; don’t buy a 10% juice beverage with a coupon instead of 100% juice without a coupon or settle for high sugar cereal with a coupon in place of a healthy cereal without.  

  • Choose off-peak hours.

It is much more efficient and pleasant to schedule supermarket visits when the store is empty. Mornings, after people are at work and older children are in school, are quiet in grocery stores and lines are short or non-existent. Later evening for working parents, or early mornings on weekends are typically light. Take note when visiting or just call and ask a store manager, “When is the store is at its most quiet?” Schedule visits during off-peak hours. Workers are much more pleasant and helpful on a whole when not facing hoards of impatient customers. 

  • Hug the perimeter.

The healthiest items in the supermarket are found along the perimeter of the store. Fresh produce, meats and seafood, and the dairy cases all sit along the outer edges. The majority of cart time should be spent along the perimeter. Fresh foods are, more often than not, healthier than the ready-to-eat foods found in the middle aisles. The amount of sodium and fat added to fresh foods while cooking is up to the cook, not the manufacturer.  

  • Ask for help and bring a pen.

Supermarket workers are knowledgeable and generally willing to help. Instead of wandering the aisles in search of a product, ask. Staff will often go out of their way to locate a hard to find item. The butcher can slice cuts of meat and chicken exactly as recipes call for, saving prep time at home. It is perfectly reasonable and a good use of time to alert the butcher or deli clerk, and shop while they are preparing the order.  

Bring a pen and cross items off of the list as you put them in the cart, or you will waste time checking and rechecking your list. Finally, accept the bagger’s offer to bring bundles to the car. Let the bagger push the cart, load the groceries into the car, and return the cart. The parent can keep the kids safe in the parking lot and buckle car seats and seat belts. Safer and a time saver – and baggers often like to get out of the store.     

Family Time: Instant Protection Against Dangerous Influences

Moms on Edge LogoFamily time is a necessity for those wishing to build happy and healthy families. Parents that take time out to eat as a family, play, read, and talk together, teach children that they matter, that relationships are worth nurturing, and that strong family bonds breed success. 

Setting aside blocks allocated for family time can be very difficult for busy families. By the time everyone is home from work, school, sports, and other outside activities people are tired, playing a board game seems like the least important item on the to-do list. However, playing a board game, metaphorically, is the most important item to cross off of the list.  

Family time is valuable time when parents can take time out to observe their children, follow their children, hug and kiss them, encourage, guide, and laugh. Family time is when children feel comfortable opening up to their parents; this is a time when the mood is relaxed and children feel supported, valued and loved. 

Eat together

Studies have shown that the family activity with the greatest positive impact on children, is sitting down together to dinner each evening. Benefits for children include learning patience, (family members should wait for everyone to be served before eating and remain at the table until everyone is through), sitting quietly and calmly to eat, and listening attentively and participating in the conversation. If an evening meal is impossible to schedule, families can find a different meal to gather, a fun idea is to set the table later in the evening when everyone is home, and have dessert together.  

Children should be included in meal preparation, setting the table, and clean-up. Although table manners must be taught and reinforced, mealtime should be a pleasant experience with a focus on togetherness. Quick behavioral reminders will reinforce good manners and then conversation can be resumed. Parents should choose to be in a good mood and not let the day’s issues weigh down the meal. After all, this is family time! 

Creative planning can make the evening meal easier to put on the table and clean up afterwards. Simple meals, and meals prepared in advance and frozen, are good ways to ease the evening scramble and help keep the focus on family time, not on cooking and cleanup. Instead of spending an hour cleaning the kitchen after the meal, simple meals free up some time in the evening for togetherness. 

Shut off the television and the computer

Shutting off the television in the evening helps to place the focus on the people in the house instead of the strangers on the screen. The evening hours spent interacting as a family instead of staring at the television will benefit everyone greatly and will help create warm and lasting memories.  Shutting off the television and the computer eliminates the risk that children will be exposed to damaging levels of violence and sexual content. Experts claim that violence and sexual imagery negatively change the brain chemistry of children, resulting in permanent changes in the brain’s wiring.   

Set a relaxed mood

Bathe young children and put them in their pajamas. Put on some light music that isn’t jarring or offensive, this often cues a little impromptu dancing from children, always good for a laugh. No arguing, bickering, or crabbiness. Family time should be warm, joyful and happy. Parents should be demonstrative and giving, snuggle, hug, and kiss the kids and each other. Family time like this is ideal for modeling loving, kind behavior. 

Find fun games and activities

The nature of children is to be fun loving and flexible and open to many ideas. Coloring, board games, guessing games, acting, playing with dolls or cars, and reading are all fun things to do together. Allow children to help set the evening agenda. One idea based on the Montessori principal of learning suggests observing the child and leading by following the child.  

There are other opportunities during the day for family time

The evening is not the only option for family time. Parents should seek out other times to be together. Take the kids on the morning and afternoon dog walk, invite them to join in on gardening, ask them to help wash the car or help with the laundry. It is probably true that activities will be completed slower with kids as helpers, but their happiness far outweighs the inconvenience. 

Parents who zone out each evening in front of the television or computer for hours and hours rob children of the necessary family time that they need. It is stingy of parents to choose to channel or web surf over spending time with their kids. In a blink of an eye the kids will be up and out of the house and parents will have the rest of their lives to stare blankly at a screen, alone.  

Making a conscious effort to spend quality family time together is vital to the health and welfare of children. Children do not thrive if parents don’t interact with them daily. When parents choose to have kids, they automatically choose to sacrifice their time to raise their kids. Family time is a parenting tool which helps to regulate the content that children are exposed to and introduce healthier activities. Developing strong relationships with children also will build bonds that last a lifetime.   

Nurture Your Child Not Your Ego

moe-logo.jpgParents should never allow their egos to become wrapped up in their child. Many parents measure their own value and success by their children’s successes and failures. Children behaving like children, not hitting milestones early enough, or not living up to a parent’s unrealistic expectations, can be devastating to these parents and to the healthy development of their kids. The parent becomes focused on what the child can do versus on who the child is.  

A perfect example of a parent never satisfied with her son’s accomplishments was the mother of a preteen tennis player. When complimented by another mother about her son’s skills, the tennis player’s mother responded through clenched teeth, “Well, he’s no Roger Federer.” (She was referring to the number one tennis player in the world, a living legend, and perhaps the greatest player in history.) 

The mother’s response was typical of a parent desperate for her child to astonish and dazzle the world. Her expectations were destructive to herself and to her child. Her comparison robbed her of the joy of watching her son play, and because even Meryl Streep isn’t a good enough actress to hide the kind of disappointment the mother was feeling, this child’s self-esteem was most likely suffering as a result of her conditional love. 

The other side of the coin is the parent who takes all of the credit for the child’s success and creates an entire identity around that child. This parent yearns for an exceptional child. The parent is special because the child is special. The child becomes responsible for the parents feelings of self-worth.  

It is important for parents to disentangle their egos from their parenting. As soon as the umbilical cord is cut, children begin their own journey through life and even though hands on, attentive parenting is vital to their growth, children deserve to own both their disappointments and successes. Parents are then able to comfort, encourage, applaud, feel pride and express love.  

Taking parenting personally can also make parenting much harder. Unable or unwilling to see the child realistically, the parent misses what skills, manners and behaviors need work, and then the parent gets frustrated and confused when the child acts out. “But my child is gifted, why is he unable to potty train? I must be a bad mother.” 

Recently a very well known parenting expert was quoted in the New York Times, “The thing about toddlers is that they are uncivilized,” Dr. Karp says. “Our job is to civilize them, to teach them to say please and thank you, don’t spit and scratch and don’t pee anywhere you want. These are the jobs you have with a toddler.” 

To a parent who has their ego enmeshed with their toddler, the Dr.’s insight above would be terribly offensive and even hurtful. Instead of saying, “Yes, that is exactly what I am experiencing with my toddler, and I am really enjoying helping my toddler to become civilized,“ she says, “How dare he say that my child is uncivilized.” The mother is unable to actually see that the Dr.’s statement is not a personal attack, he is saying that her role is vital and it is okay to have a child who doesn’t understand proper social skills, and with her unconditional love and training the child will learn. 

Being objective and establishing appropriate boundaries with offspring is an important step towards not allowing ego to get wrapped up in the child. “Helicopter Parents” or parents who hover, are very inappropriately involved with their, often, adult children and have skewed the division between themselves and their child. For example, it has become commonplace for parents to come to the defense of their children who have been given a low grade or have been reprimanded by a teacher. Their ego is damaged when their child needs correcting, and in response they bristle and challenge the professional. The term “helicopter parenting” has been coined to describe these hovering parents. 

A true but unbelievable example of “helicopter parenting” happened at a large insurance agency. The father of a smart, well educated and capable, twenty-five year old woman, called her boss to discuss her job performance. Weeks later this same young woman missed a flight to a meeting she was supposed to take with her boss. He understandingly told her that she should go straight to the office and work. Instead she took an 8 hour train ride to the city to try to attend the meeting anyway. When questioned why she did not go back to the office as she was instructed, she responded, “My mother told me that I had to go to the meeting.” 

Parenting without ego helps develop healthy self esteem in kids. Children experience their parent’s unconditional love and feel valued for who they are and not what they succeed at. When parents allow their children to be their own people instead of an extension of themselves, children begin to take responsibility for their own decisions, likes and dislikes, good and bad behavior and choices. Establishing appropriate boundaries between parent and child helps the child become autonomous and independent and not feel pressured to excel in the hopes that their parents will feel fulfilled.  

An excerpt from a wonderful poem that summarizes this theme is in Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet: 

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.