Tag Archives: parenting

5 Tips to Help Deal with Sassy Kids

kids-on-grass-2It seems to be that there comes a time in every child’s life when they transition from a cute and loving child, to a snarky and sassy tween or teen.  In this phase, kids go from good-natured to short-tempered, accommodating to resisting, happy to hold your hand to embarrassed to even be seen with you.

 

Let the eye-rolling begin.

Some parents roll with this change with remarkable good humour and grace; the rest of us may end up resorting to less-than-helpful responses to our kids.  If you think you may fall into that second category, here are five tips for getting your relationship back onto a better path.

1. Take a deep breath and don’t take it personally. 

Yes, it’s true that sometimes our kids can find just the right thing to say to cut us to the quick.  But they’re not necessarily trying to wound us that deeply, they’re often just trying out different ways of relating to others and seeing which ones give them a feeling of control and confidence.  It’s ok to respond calmly with something like, “That was very disrespectful.  I don’t like being spoken to that way, and I’m going to leave the room until we can agree that we’ll speak to each other more pleasantly.”

2. Harness the power of role modelling. 

As much as parents like to joke about the “do as I say, not as I do” method of parenting, children don’t tend to see the humour in it.  While there’s no doubt they can quite effectively push our buttons, a part of them is watching us to see how we’ll handle it.  Our kids look to us to learn how to behave in the world, and if we respond to them with anger, or an attempt at control by trying to put them in their place, then they learn that this is an effective way of responding to someone who is upsetting them.  While it might not seem like it in the moment, continuing to model respectful behavior towards our kids (and ourselves) does give them a blueprint for how to stand up for themselves appropriately and how to navigate difficult conversations.

3. Take a time out. 

We often get into the habit of believing that every parenting issue must be dealt with immediately.  But the reality is that sometimes we all need space to cool down, before we can get a real handle on the situation and think about the big picture.  It’s ok to tell your children, “We’ll talk about this later,” and then follow through and do it.

4. Catch them being good. 

You may have heard this phrase before; it’s something of a staple in parenting.  If we catch more flies with honey, than we want to be on the look-out for opportunities to acknowledge and appreciate those times when our kids express themselves assertively while still being respectful.  They don’t have to be talking to you; if you happen to overhear a conversation between two of your children, or one of your kids and a friend, it’s ok to pull your child aside later and quietly let them know that you thought she handled herself very well in that difficult situation.

5. Keep a healthy perspective.

While you may worry that the attitude demonstrated at home may be transported out there into the world at large, you can breathe easy knowing that it typically isn’t the case.  Kids generally reserve their worst behavior for family (lucky us), and they have a pretty good idea of what would and wouldn’t be considered acceptable with friends and other adults.

These little moments may not be the best part of parenting, but hang in there.  Keep in mind that a strong relationship is your best insurance against the dismissive and disrespectful attitude from our children, so don’t lose touch with them.  Find opportunities to chat and share, create little moments of connection, and soon the scales will start to tip in the other direction.

 By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

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Boosting Your Child’s Self-Confidence

Purple Butterfly on HandIt can be hard to watch someone you love struggle.  Whether it’s with a complicated math problem, or a cartwheel, or a difficult friendship, our kids will run into a challenge that tests their mettle.  And at the same time, most parents would put “self-confident” on their list of qualities they hope their children will have.  Since we can’t dictate how our children feel about or respond to a challenge, what can we do to help them feel confident in the face of adversity?

The parenting author Jane Nelsen defines self-esteem as “the belief that I count, I’m capable, and I can control what happens to me, or how I respond.”  This is a fantastic cornerstone to our efforts to boost the self-confidence of our children, and helps us break down this notion of “self-confidence” into practical and manageable ideas.

I Count

All of us need to feel that we matter.  That desire for belonging never goes away; we need it as adults, too.  One of the most important ways to help a child feel that he counts is to really listen when he talks.  This means everything to kids – no one likes to feel as though they aren’t being taken seriously or that their problems aren’t significant enough to warrant time and attention, and it’s easy for us as parents to forget that when we’re preoccupied or when our children are experiencing what we might consider to be minor dramas or quick fixes.  Ask questions more than giving answers or your own observations or solutions.  Being included in decision-making through family meetings is an important way for kids to feel that their voices and opinions matter, and that they are an important, contributing member of your family.

I’m Capable

We gain confidence not by being told that we’re great, but by experiencing the overcoming of obstacles.  Being told “You’re the best!” doesn’t mean much compared to that feeling of actually conquering a challenge.  Kids need opportunities to learn new skills, fall down and get back up again, and then look back and see how far they’ve come.  As tempting as it might be, don’t jump in and get involved right away.  Have faith in them that they can find their own solutions (perhaps with you as a coach) when possible.  If you step in too quickly, your child may get the message that you don’t believe in him, that you don’t think he’s able to handle the situation on his own.  “I believe in you” and “You can do it” are among the most powerful words you can say to a child.

I Can Control What Happens To Me Or How I Respond

There are times in life when we can choose the outcome of a situation.  For example,  if we choose to spend the night before a big test or exam out watching a movie, we may very well be choosing not to do well on that test.  Sometimes our actions have a direct relationship to the results we get, and in those times, we need to empower our children to recognize the control they do have.  But sometimes we can’t control what happens to us, that’s very true.  As humans, a feeling of control over ourselves and our surroundings is extremely important to us.  Which is why it’s critical in those moments to remind our kids to recognize that there is something they can always control – regardless of what is happening – which is how they respond to challenges.  They can choose to be angry, resentful, or bitter.  They can choose to be defeated, despondent, or hopeless.  The can choose to be determined, focused, or accepting.  Armed with the understanding that even if they can’t control what happens to them, they can always control how they respond, our kids can learn to look for the elements of a situation that are in their control and take action.  At the end of the day, there are millions of ways to have a positive impact on your children’s self-confidence.  Spending one-on-one time with them, teaching them a skill you have, having a hobby that you share together, showing interest in their school lives and friendships, asking them what they think they should do next, reminding them of their successes, giving unconditional love…the list goes on and on.  Let I Count, I’m Capable and I Can Control What Happens To Me Or How I Respond be the structure of how you think about your child’s self-confidence, and fill in the rest with all of those little moments that happen every day.

By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

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Staying Connected To Your Tween

The-best-top-desktop-purple-wallpapers-purple-wallpaper-purple-background-hd-28If you’re the parent of a tween, you may look at parents of younger kids, out for a walk at the mall or on their way to school, and see the little ones willingly reach for Mom or Dad’s hand…and cry a little on the inside.  You may find yourself butting heads with your 10 year old and think, what happened to the little guy who was easily distracted by a hug and a game of Uno?  Gone are the days when you begged the kids to go play in the other room because you needed some peace and quiet!  Now you’re the one being shooed out of the room.  Sigh.  We know they’re growing up, but did it have to happen so soon??  We typically expect teens to be much more connected to and interested in their friends than in their parents.  But we need to not give up on them, because friends are not a good replacement for parents.  We need to stay connected, even if that connection evolves, so that we can continue parenting and leading our kids.  And that evolution starts well before they actually hit the teen years.

Step one: spend some good time together.  Between homework and racing kids to activities, it can be easy to become disconnected.  Start by making sure that not every interaction you have with them is a negative one!  If the only time you really seem to have their attention is when you’re disciplining them, you’ve got a problem on your hands.  A few kind words in the morning, leaving little love notes for each other, a little chat over tea in the evening, interesting discussions at the dinner table, and turning off the TV and the electronics during all those windows take little time but can pay back big dividends in a relationship.  It doesn’t have to be anything big, but create some good times together. Building in regular time with you and/or as a family – weekly game nights, perhaps lessons in a sport you can do as together – helps to give you all something in common.

Spend time getting to know your kids’ friends.  If you don’t know who your tween’s best friend is, make a point of learning, pronto.  Including friends in some of your fun family outings is generally painless and informative (and may make your tween more interested in participating!).  And as far as that goes, find out more of your tween’s other “favourites”.  Nothing makes a kid sigh in exasperation louder than having his parent go on about his favourite food/tv show/singer/movie, when the kid has already moved on and has a new favourite.  Don’t get hung up on who you think your child is; you might be clinging to an idea that’s outdated, which might lead him to feel that you really don’t get him at all.  Be curious about your kids and their evolving ideas and tastes.  It’s these little things that help kids to feel as though you’re really on their side, and that you’re okay with the independence they’re developing.

Your child is turning into an adult, so don’t be afraid to change the way you relate to him or her.  Share more of yourself; talk about your day, what your “favourites” are, what you’d really like to do over the next year.  I’m not saying you should talk to her like you would your best friend, but you might be pleasantly surprised by the insight and personality that’s developing in your not-so-little one.  And the relationship you cultivate now will keep you closer and more connected in a few years when she’s just that much older.

By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

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Coming Out to Family & Friends

Getting Over BreakupWow!

Congratulations on making this decision!  But isn’t it terrifying too?! Every experience of deciding to tell your social circle you are gay, lesbian or bisexual is different. It is also unpredictable. You may assume it will be okay because you have an open-minded parent, BUT there is a difference between being open to anyone else being LGBT and your own child. This can be a challenge for any parent.

I do not say this to scare you, but to prepare you. You will need to have either a trusted person in your life to talk to during this process or a professional to support you. This is especially the case if you come from a faith community or culture in which being LGBT is simply not accepted. It is important to keep in mind that this time is not just about you. Please recognize that you may be changing the perceptions and worldview of the people in your life. This will take time. Please be compassionate but ALWAYS expect and insist on being treated with personal respect.

If you have a family that is willing to work it through with you, you will need to create a safe place for the people in your life to say and ask what they need to in order to take this new information into their spirit.

Examples:

  • Your mother may wonder what she did wrong.
  • Your sibling may feel there is an important part of you they have never known and need to grieve this.
  • Your grandmother may worry about you and you being judged by others.

Yes, there are some stereotypes inherent here and it will be easy for you get angry. However, these are also real feelings and concerns for your friends and family members. If a safe place is created to explore this together, this can be a time to strengthen yourself and your family.

However, if the reality of your family is that it is not accepted, please remember that you deserve love and respect. There is support out there. I wish you love and light!

By: Lisa Shouldice

Lisa Shouldice

 

The “Wow Factor” and The Holiday

Ease Holiday StressThis is the time of year when expectations run high, and it’s easy to fall victim to the thinking that if we don’t do something perfectly, we’ve ruined Christmas. That’s why this is the perfect time to employ the Wow Factor. I didn’t invent this principle – I first heard about it in the book The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn – but I think it’s particularly applicable around the holidays.

What this principle does is allow you to recognize the value in your time (or money, for that matter), and whether or not spending it on a certain activity is worth the amount of “wow” you’ll receive in return for your efforts.

Let’s consider gift wrapping. There is a certain Wow Factor in seeing all those pretty parcels decorating the bottom of the tree. Let’s say your enjoyment of those wrapped gifts rates a 5 out of a possible 10. You may feel as though you need to up the ante by not just wrapping each gift in paper, but by wrapping them a la Martha Stewart. But the amount of effort it will take is significantly increased. Shopping for ribbons and coordinating paper, assembling all the scissors and tape you’ll need to create those fabulous bows, and the work to actually wrap and tie every individual package is also part of the Wow Factor. Is the enjoyment you will receive from perfectly wrapped gifts going to raise the Wow Factor from a 5 enough to justify the time and effort it will take?

If you’re going to spend an additional six hours prepping and wrapping gifts but the Wow Factor is only going to go up to a 5.5 on the scale, is that really worth it? Or could your family do without those extra trimmings and be perfectly content with a 5 out of 10? In fact, will they even notice and appreciate the extra work you’ve put in? Because if they won’t, you’ve misspent energy that could have been put to better use on something else.

The Wow Factor can be used in so many situations – it really is a handy tool. (In fact, I even used it to help me pick my wedding dress!) When shopping for gifts, it’s easy to go overboard. But let’s face it: after the first few gifts, the Wow Factor drops off sharply. Those first two or three gifts are as good as gold to a child, but after that the enjoyment per gift really does decrease. So maybe it’s not worth it to spend your time and money shopping for a dozen perfect gifts when your children will be just as happy with only three or four.

Your time and money are valuable. Don’t waste them on things that don’t really bring you enough satisfaction to justify spending them.

Find some time to savour this holiday season. It goes by so quickly, really, as does the childhood of your children, so resolve not to let another holiday pass with a stressed out and cranky parent. You deserve to recapture some of that childhood enchantment of the holidays, too, so make the effort to slow down, just a bit, and remember why your 10 year old self loves this holiday so much.

By: Andrea Ramsay Speers
Andrea Ramsay Speers

Top 5 Tips for Blended Families

Family, Counselling, Therapy, Couch, Talking, Step-parentsBlending families is an adjustment, to say the least.  Depending on the personalities involved, you can expect anything from excitement (every parent’s dream) to indifference to unfiltered hostility (every parent’s nightmare).  But there are steps you can take to make the transition easier and help everyone to feel comfortable with their new situation.

First of all, keep your expectations realistic.  This is a new experience for everyone, and it’s not always going to be a smooth transition.  Accept reality: you will not be able to keep everyone happy all at the same time.  Take a deep breath and accept this natural limitation.  Now that you’ve freed yourself from the idea that total satisfaction is possible for everyone involved, you can face the challenges and decisions with a more balanced perspective, and hopefully, a little less internal pressure.

Start by focusing on relationships.  Keep in mind that we are always more forgiving and more generous towards those that we know personally and have a good relationships with.  If your relationship with one of the kids is strained, this is the time to develop that relationship.  Find an activity or hobby that you can share together, find common interests to discuss, volunteer to be the one to drive this child to activities or friends’ houses.  Look for little windows to connect – instead of hauling out your laptop to get some work done after dinner, sit on the couch next to your family member and strike up a conversation about his or her day.  Or your day.  Invite the kids to come with you on typical errands like groceries, and recruit their help to work as a team to get the shopping done.  Don’t get discouraged if it feels as though you are getting a bad return on your investment.  You might need to do the “right” things over and over before you make any progress.  Don’t let a string of declines deter you; keep making the offers and trying to create opportunities to spend time, particularly one-on-one time, with each of the children.  One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to discipline their step-children too soon; this can backfire in a big way and cause a ripple effect of bad feelings that can take a very long time to overcome.  Err on the side of caution, and at first, just allow each parent to discipline their own kids, while supporting each other’s efforts, and continue to work on developing a good relationship with each of the kids in the house.

Develop routines that everyone can live with.  Routines and predictability help kids to feel safe, so try to keep as many things consistent as possible.  Keep in mind, though, this means blending two possibly very different ways of doing things, so total consistency from one family to the next is not possible (see my first point).  Find a balance between the routines from your two previous families, and incorporate those habits that make sense and will fit well for your new circumstances, adapt those habits that can be made better with some tweaking, and accept that certain things are just going to have to be left in the dust for the new family to work.  That’s ok.  Things will evolve as both your comfort level as a household grows, as well as the age of your children changes, so you’ll have lots of time to find what works best for you.

How will you decide what works best for you?  You’ll need to communicate.  A lot.  About just about everything.  Communication is one of the biggest black holes in many marriages and families, so the importance of it cannot be over-stated.  Family meetings would be a tremendously helpful idea here.  Find a consistent time once a week to sit down with everyone in the family and address as a group any complaints or concerns that are coming up, as well as to acknowledge and thank others for doing what they can to help out.  I think family meetings are one of the most important tools parents can have in their tool box, and many, many family problems benefit from a group problem-solving session.

And finally, put aside some time for you as a couple.  Not spending enough quality time together is the killer of many relationships, and with the additional stresses that come with a blended family, it’s more important than ever that you two keep some time sacred just for the two of you.  There will always be something going on or someone who needs you – make sure that you put yourselves on that list instead of putting your relationship on the back-burner while you put out the more immediate fires.  When your relationship reaches crisis status, it won’t demand attention the way other family crises do.  Instead, it will burn away slowly and run the risk of fizzling out altogether.  Don’t let that happen.  Connect daily, even if only for a few minutes, show appreciation, develop routines and hobbies that you can do together, focus on quality communication, have fun…all the same stuff that’s going to keep your family strong will keep your marriage strong, too!

By: Andrea Speers

Andrea Ramsay Speers

How to Balance Personal Care and Raise a Family

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy in Toronto

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy in Toronto

When I first started my undergrad studies 13 years ago I attended school with a famous retired movie actress from London, England.  She one day asked me out to lunch and took me to a very swanky restaurant in Toronto and gave me the best advice I have heard till this day.  She told me all about her life as an actress and then when she married and become a wife and mother.  She told me “Dayana always remember, if you don’t take care of yourself first, then you won’t have anything to offer your children when you are spent”.  At that time I was 20 years old and the world was my oyster.  Marriage?! Please!! I was never getting married or having kids!! I was going to go to graduate school, be a famous psychologist (in my mind) and raise my three dogs!  However for some reason those word always remained.

Now let’s flash forward 13 years later.  I currently have three children all under the age of four, one dog, a husband, a house to maintain, a private practice to work in and I’m applying for my Ph.D. next year.  Needless to say my “never getting married or having kids” theme went out the window with raising my three kids instead of dogs at this point.  However the one thing that has never changed for me regardless of how busy I have become is remembering to take care of myself.  Don’t get me wrong at times I have completely forgotten about myself when life became too hectic.  However all it took was one look into the TTC subway window doors for me to say “wow you should have really combed your hair this morning”.  For anyone who rides the subway, you completely understand what I am saying here.  My friend calls it the “subway window check”.  That when you begrudgingly cram yourself into a tiny tin subway cart and turn around to stare out the window and you catch the first glimpse of what you really look like in the morning.  Or more like what you really look like to the world.

Part of raising a family means having very little time for your self. Nonetheless, part of maintaining a healthy attitude and outlook on life is providing personal care for yourself in order to maintain a beautiful mindset.  Beauty at the end of the day is a mindset.  No amount of makeup or clothes you wear will ever make you feel beautiful if you don’t already believe that within your inner self.   However how you look and physically feel about yourself does play a big role on your attitude and outlook.   So lets look at four areas where small changes can help!

Time

No matter who you are, what you do for a living or how many kids you have; we all have the same amount of time in a day, 24 hours and no more.  How you divide your time and how you manage it is up to you.  Part of what happens when you start providing no personal care for yourself is when we stop carving out time to do this.  Make sure you take time out during your busy day or week to do something awesome for yourself.  My children normally nap during the day from 12pm-2pm.  During this time I will read a book, nap, paint my nails, do my hair, pluck my eyebrows or whatever needs to be done on me.  I don’t always get to do this all the time, however when I do get the time I take advantage of it.  Dishes will always need to be done and laundry will always need to be folded.  But if I look more like the disheveled house maid and less like the one that owns the house, well then maybe I need to take a step back and re-evaluate my time.  Since time is limited for everyone scheduling in a “you” day even if it be for an hour can really make a difference.

Sleep

There’s an old saying “manage your time or someone else will manage it for you”.  I use to love to sleep in.  Sleep to me is the best thing ever created.  However once I had children, I realized that my sleep schedule was now being dictated accordingly to my children’s sleeping patterns.  Someone once told me “you can either accept the fact that after having kids you will never truly have uninterrupted sleep for a while, or you can fight against it and frustrate yourself even more”.  Once I realized the truth in this speech, I gave up the idea of sleep on my schedule and readjusted my thinking and time frames.   I can’t say I get 6-8 hours of sleep at night.  Last week I got 4 hours in two days because of work and the kids.  However, I can say that I no longer carry a negative mindset about sleeping.  I now realize that my sleep will be affected for a while and the best thing I can do is adjust my attitude towards it.  I also bought really good concealer to cover up those dark under eye circles on days that I don’t get much (or any sleep) like last week!

Beauty

Beauty is really skin deep.  However with all that being said, if your outside reflects more like you have been hit by a tornado of sharks (hey I saw the movie) then few people will approach you thinking you have actually been hit by a tornado of sharks.  When I was growing up my mother always said “Dayana the day you have kids you will cut your hair short in order to save on time”.  I have three kids and the youngest is 9 months old.  My hair touches my lower back.  I have no plans of cutting it soon.  Sure does it take time to wash, dry and style? No doubt.  However I know short hair does not suit me and I will not affect my own self esteem simply to save time.  Instead, in the last four years of raising my children I have made it a point to always crave out time during the week to keep my appearance reasonable. Sure at times I have not always looked the greatest, but those days have only been far, few and in between.  If I can take time out to shower, eat and dress and then I can also take a few extra minutes to comb my hair and slap on some lip gloss.  Your appearance speaks volumes about you.  The last thing I want is people wondering if I live an unhappy life because I constantly look like I rolled out of bed. Rolling out of bed is not a look.  Period.  How you see yourself in the mirror reflects greatly on what is going on inside you mentally.  So pay attention to your appearance as your children see it as well.

Mindset

Your mindset is either your greatest weapon or worse enemy in keeping up with your personal care. If you believe giving up all rights to yourself and devoting them solely to your kids and household will benefit you then be careful, as everyone burns out with no personal care.  This is like the workaholic who never stops working and neglects themselves for the sake for other duties.  Everyone crashes and burns when they “don’t stop to smell the roses”.  My kids need all my love and attention and I make sure to give it to them.  However if I offer nothing to myself and I am spent with nothing to give them, then what exactly am I am offering them if I am all burnt out?  This is how frustration, resentment and depression can potentially set in.  In my practice I have seen many parents burnt out because of lack of personal care.  Make sure to always take care of yourself, there is only one of you and many people depend on your better wellbeing.

By: Dayana Romero

Dayana Romero

Mat Leave Over? 10 Tips to Keep Your Sanity When You’re Headed Back To Work

 20131019_Mother_Baby_0442It can be tough to watch the days tick away in your maternity leave.  Many moms I’ve worked with feeling a growing sense of anxiety and dread as their return-to-work date approaches.  But there’s lots you can do – before and after you’re back at work – to smooth the transition and tame those anxieties.

1. Feel confident in your day care arrangement.

This one might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many moms feel pressured to make a day care decision, for any number of reasons, and have a gnawing discomfort with the decision they’ve made.  You might never love the idea of being away from your little one for eight or more hours a day, but at least make sure that you’re not spending your time at work fighting the feeling that something just isn’t right.

2. Plan ahead.

If you’re like most moms, you probably took care of the bulk of the cooking, cleaning, and other home-caring while you were on maternity leave.  Many women then find themselves in the position of trying to continue to do all of it, even when they’re back at work full time, simply because they and their husbands have fallen into the habit of assuming that she’ll take care of it all.  If you can have this conversation before you even go back to work, that’s great, but it’s never too late to sit down with your husband and do some planning and problem solving about how all of these jobs will get done once you have two people out of the house for most of the day.

3. Talk to your husband – a lot.

Maybe you’ll find that your carefully laid plans just aren’t cutting it once D-Day comes and you’re back on the job.  Don’t trap yourself into feeling that you’ve got no options – at the very least, put aside some time to chat with your husband, your partner in this big game of life, and let him know how it’s going.  Don’t make assumptions about what he’s thinking or what he would or wouldn’t be willing to do; you owe it to both of you to be honest about how you’re coping and what might be falling through the cracks.  This is also the time to acknowledge just how great a man you’re with, and recognize the efforts he’s making.

4. Be prepared to compromise, and accept that you can’t do it all.

This flows from the last point.  Not only will you have to accept that you’ll probably have to cut some corners when it comes to getting things done the way you like them, but if you want to retain your sanity, you’ll have to also accept that your husband may not do things exactly the way you’d do them.  And that’s ok.  As long as what needs to be done is getting done, you’re much better off just going with the flow than trying to insist that certain protocols be followed.  Let each of you figure out the best way for you to do what you need to do, and let that be ok.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Here’s the truth about having a baby and returning to work: your life is going to be different now.  That might seem obvious, but I think we all have a tendency to try to fit our “old”, pre-baby life into our “new” baby-filled life.  You might have to readjust your priorities and simply let go of some of the assumptions or habits or preferences that just bog you down in your new schedule.

6. Make time for your marriage.

You’re going to have a lot of demands on your time, but don’t fool yourself into believing that your marriage can wait.  The number one contributor to marital breakdown today is not spending enough time together; don’t kid yourself into thinking that your marriage is the last on a long list of priorities.  Invest even just a little time now, and save yourself a lot of heartache later.  Don’t let yourselves to be reduced to just co-workers in the business of running your family.  Even a quick 10 minute daily chat over a glass of wine or cup of tea goes a long way toward keeping the two of you as more than just roommates.

7. Make time for you, build in downtime for yourself.

This is a ridiculously easy one to put at the bottom of your list, and a ridiculously hard one to make time for.  But it’s critically important.  You can’t give away what you don’t have, so if you’re burning the candle at both ends, you’re setting yourself up for a crash.  A few minutes a day of quiet time, such as reading, taking a bath, or connecting with a friend, is a long-term investment in your mental health and ability to cope with the day-to-day challenges that are thrown your way.

8. Ask for and accept help.

You don’t have to go it alone.  If someone offers to take the kids for the afternoon or to pick up some of your groceries, accept it!  We tell ourselves that everyone else seems to be able to pull off this whole working-parent thing, so we should be able to as well.  But the reality is that we never know what’s going on behind closed doors, and sometimes we need to be honest with ourselves instead of trying to live up to some lofty ideal.  We are among the first generations in recorded history to raise our kids without the benefit of a “village” of family members and neighbours to help share the load, so if someone wants to be a part of your village, let them.

9. Remember that there’s a time for everything.

We live in a land of opportunity.  From camps and lessons and experiences that our kids can have, to Zumba and book clubs and job promotions available to us, there’s a lot we could be doing.  Remember, though, that while you can do it all, you probably can’t do it all at the same time.  This might not be the time to tackle a new project; perhaps in order to feel as though you’re doing well in all of the jobs you’ve currently got, you need to not take on anything new.  That’s ok.  Don’t beat yourself up thinking that you “should” be able to do more, be more, have more.  Time is our the resource that can’t be recouped once it’s spent, so invest this precious resource in only the areas that truly matter in your life today.  Just feel good about where you are right now, and enjoy the time you have with your family as it is, right now.

10. Keep the big picture in mind.

You are stretched thin at this moment.  That’s a fact.  Raising little ones and working is a lot to juggle.  You’ve got a lot going on in your life, and it’s easy to get swept up in the day-to-day of it all.  Build in time for fun with your family and remind yourself that your best is good enough.  Take time to step back and love what you have.

By: Andrea Ramsay Speers Andrea Ramsay Speers