053: Five Ways to Battle the Winter Blahs

IMG_2041Winter is, hands down, my favorite season – which makes sense, given that I’m Canadian by birth. And yet… when the kids were small it was such a killer! We would make plans and somebody would get sick; a simple excursion to the grocery store felt like preparing for a six week hike through Alaska; we’d all feel so cooped up all the time.

So today I want to help you handle wintertime better with your little kids that I did with mine!

This episode presents my five favorite ways to battle the winter blahs; click here to go to episode 53 at weturnedoutokay.com!

Here they are: 5 Ways to Battle the Winter Blahs

1) Play with your child; we talk about all different ways to just have fun with your littles, everything from playing dress-up, to play dough, to mixing up a favorite recipe of mine, cornstarch and water – mix about a cup of cornstarch with a few tablespoons to half a cup of water, and then just enjoy… my friend Heather Kempskie of episodes 20 and 27 co-wrote a book (with her twin sister Lisa Hanson) which will give you all kinds of ideas for kids and playing, called The Siblings Busy Book, if you’re looking for some great ideas

2) Make simple snacks and then eat them… together; ants on a log, homemade hot cocoa, favorite dip with carrots or celery – making and then sharing food together can be such a simple pleasure; for a fantastic homemade hot cocoa recipe I recommend the book Make The Bread, Buy The Butter by Jennifer Reese

3) Bring music into your day… whether it’s dancing up and down the hall together, singing, or playing musical instruments, music cheers everybody up; thanks to my friend De (whom you meet in episode 000), music became a huge part of first Max’s and then Jay’s lives from a very young age; a favorite song of ours to sing from even before Max could talk was The Ballad of Grace Darling by the Limeliters

4) Get outside; this may not be everyone’s first choice… But once you’re out there, all suited up and everything, it can be beautiful and just-what-you-needed; plus when you come back in from the cold it feels like you really went and did something; if you need something to do and you’re in a snowy area of the country, one thing that always amused us was to build a gigantic mountain of snow – gigantic to toddlers, anyway – which would give me something to do, and some exercise, and give the kids a focus for their play

5) Bath time!… A bath has a way of making everybody feel better; baths can enliven our spirits or have a really calming influence, and either way seemed to always help break up the day

Above all, I’d ask that you try to remember this: the days are long, but the years are short. Even in the toughest times in the bleakest midwinter, remembering that their childhood won’t last forever can help us focus on being in the present now.

Happy winter!

Key links:

Enjoy The Siblings’ Busy Book by friend-of-the-podcast Heather Kempskie, co-written with her twin sister Lisa Hanson

For an interesting take on food, you want to read Make The Bread, Buy The Butter

To find out how I became a podcaster, listen to episode 000, made with my four dearest friends on a night with laughter, tears, and perhaps a shade too much wine

It is in Sherry Turkle’s book, Reclaiming Conversation, that she recounts her fascinating story about the dad who has such different memories of bath time with his older daughter when she was a baby, and bath time now with his younger daughter – at least, it was in reference to this book that I heard Sherry tell that story

My forthcoming book, Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics: Key Tools to Handle Every Tantrum, Keep Your Cool, and Enjoy Life With Your Young Child, launches on April 3! Click here to sign up for your free anti-tantrum chapter 🙂

050: How to Make New Year’s Resolutions that Work Both for You and Your Young Child

IMG_1995Today’s episode is a real milestone: Episode 50! I can’t believe we’re already here, 50 episodes in. I really wanted to do something special today, to mark the big 5-0, and since it’s so close to the first of the year I got to thinking about New Year’s resolutions.

Then an instagram follower, writtenandbound, got in touch to ask me how she could best help her three-year-old daughter overcome a huge fear and go in the ball pit at gymnastics, and I knew that goal-setting and New Year’s resolutions needed to be our topic today!

To read about my 2015 resolutions and how I did with them – and for the advice I gave to writtenandbound – click here to go to this episode’s show notes.

At the beginning of 2015, I heard an episode of Mike Vardy’s podcast, The Productivityist, In which he and a guest outlined their goals for 2015 and, more broadly and incredibly usefully to me, they discussed how to think about goals in general.

People really struggle with setting goals and then failing to follow through; it produces guilt and sadness and a feeling of not being able to complete something even if it’s very important to them. (I know this firsthand, and I bet that maybe you do too.)

Mike and his guest suggested thinking differently about goals, and in a way that really resonated with me: they encouraged me to think about the roles I inhabit on a daily basis, my life goals for each, and what I can do about each in the coming year. So, that’s what I did!

Today I read out each of the roles I inhabit, my life goals for each, and my goals within each for 2015. Then I share about how I did, and finally I share a few of my goals for 2016.

Here are my 2015 goals and how I did with them:

  • my life goal for my role of Self: Physical is to be strong and healthy, able to do all the activities that are most important to me, like skiing, walking, hiking and swimming, knitting, tech use, writing, cooking and baking
    • in 2015 I wanted to: STOP overdoing it on the tendons and soft tissue; while I have not completely achieved this goal, I have made some progress
    • take joy from what I can physically do now, especially skiing, walking, and strengthening; I have achieved this goal and I’m so grateful for all the things my body allows me to do (in the 4 1/2 years since I developed my Mystery Tendon Disorder)
    • eat well, emphasizing high-quality protein, vegetables, healthy fats; this is another toughie that I have not completely achieved, although I do have a better relationship with food than I have in the past
  • my life goals for my role of Self: Mind is to love and accept myself as I am, and to always be a learner
    • in 2015 I wanted to: smile – instead of scowling – in the mirror; this was such a challenge, and I’m happy to say that, for the most part, I’ve achieved this goal
    • recognize self-criticism and change it to be more positive and supportive; this is been possibly the most important goal that I’ve set and achieved in 2015, because it’s made me feel so much better about me and my abilities… If you set just one goal for 2016, I would ask that you consider this goal, it’s been so helpful!
    • keep learning through books and deep conversations, two of the best things in the world; one of the best things about We Turned Out Okay is it’s given me the opportunity to have fabulously deep conversations with people I would never have met or spoken to in my pre-podcast life, this was a fun goal to achieve in 2015
  • my life goal for my role of Family: Wife is to be a true partner to Ben, giving love and support to him always
    • in 2015 I wanted to: contribute my brainpower for everything that Ben is doing now as a substitute for me with my mystery tendon disorder – the cooking, the cleaning, the homemaking in every sense – I want to contribute through planning, organization, corralling of children, striving to lighten his load and make these tests more pleasant for him; I’m certainly a lot better at the end of 2015 with this goal than I was at the beginning! I’m calling it achieved, and working to improve in this goal in 2016
    • give Ben time to pursue his favorite things, like fishing and carpentry; I was not able to give him as much time as I wanted to, but things are better in this category than they were at the beginning of 2015; I will keep working in 2016 to give him more and more time for his favorite things
  • my life goal for my role of Family: Mother is to help the boys grow up to be strong, creative, and joyful
    • in 2015 I wanted to: give them opportunities for classes, social gatherings, and alone time, which I did achieve and continue to do
    • really listen to them, help them know that their ideas matter, which again I did achieve and continue to do (and we have a great relationship as a result)
    • spend time with them, exercising, talking, playing around, laughing; we’ve always done these things with our boys and continue to, to our benefit as much as theirs
    • try to be a good example for them about how to overcome challenges and find joy; I can only hope I’m achieving this goal, will have to wait a few more years yet to find out 🙂
  • my life goal for my role of Family: Daughter, Sister, In-law, Family-I-have-chosen is to spend quality time with these people that I love
    • in 2015 I set the goals of: cheering on the young people at their sporting events, which I’ve achieved, in that I went to more of their sporting events than ever before – but I want to do better at this in 2016
    • hike, camp, ski – be out in the world together; this one I did achieve, and have a goal of continuing to work on in 2016 because I believe you can’t do too much of this stuff with the people you love
    • go to and host gatherings with these special people; be so thankful that they are in my life! Always, always.
  • my life goal for my role as Entrepreneur: to create a successful business that helps people and supports my family
    • in 2015 I set the goals of: starting a fun, supportive podcast for parents of young children – which, done 🙂
    • remember to take tiny steps, just a few each day, and be patient – I can only go at my body’s pace; despite some setbacks, I have achieved and continue to work at this goal

Looking back, 2015 was a wonderful year, and setting these goals and working towards achieving them is a big part of why it was a wonderful year.

I hope that my goal-setting exercise helps you as you are dreaming about what 2016 could be!

And now for writtenandbound’s question of how to help her daughter overcome her fear of the ball pit; first of all, I love that three-year-old Lauren (I started calling her Lauren, just for giggles and because I thought I had read that name over at writtenandbound’s website) asked her mom “I want you to help me jump in the ball pit.” That truly is Lauren’s goal, and I love that her mom’s response is to help in any way she can!

In this episode, I suggest creating a book about a girl named Lauren who gets up one day, goes to gymnastics class, jumps in the ball pit more than once and is so happy… as a preschool teacher and then as a mom, I found that when a child can read a book about him or herself – or look at the pictures and have it read to her if she’s preliterate – that child will begin to see herself as a person who can do this. Plus, they just love to read stories about themselves!

I recommend a website called toondoo.com if Lauren’s mom wants to create a graphic novel of the story, and I ask her also to remember that done is better than perfect; even just a few pages of printer paper folded over, with a sentence on each page and a few stick figure drawings is so helpful.

Writtenandbound, if you take my advice, please drop me a line and let me know how it goes! Best of luck in helping Lauren achieve her goal of jumping in the ball pit 🙂

Key Links:

For Mike Vardy’s podcast, The Productivityist, click here.

Click here to visit Michael O’Neal’s podcast site, solohour.com

Want to make a graphic novel about or with your child? Click here to go to toondoo.com.

I made you a present! Grab my free 9 1/2 Key Resources for Old-School Parents here, on my website.

047: Stop the Holiday Insanity, Part 3 – The 3 Best Gifts You Can Give Your Kids

Today, we finish up our three-part series about the three best gifts you can give your children; we also finish out the year, so best wishes for 2016 to you and your family!

In December’s Just You and Me episodes, we’ve been Stopping the Holiday Insanity by focusing on gifts we can give our children, one episode per gift.

The first two, Your Time and Ritual/Routine, help make family life run more smoothly and also bring lots of enjoyment – to both you and your kids.

Today’s gift, though, does more than bring enjoyment and a smooth schedule.

Today’s gift, Gratitude, could be the most elusive – but it could also be the most important one.

Starting in early January 2015, I write down (if I can’t write that day because of tendon issues, I say out loud) five things I’m grateful for each night before I go to bed. It doesn’t seem like much, I know, but it’s one of the most important micro-changes I made this year; these tiny changes have made a huge positive impact on my health. It’s as if focusing on what I’m grateful for shows me all the good things in my life! In fact in today’s episode I read from a favorite book of mine, The Slight Edge, about a happiness researcher named Sean Achor and the impact of gratitude that Sean has found in his research (if you want to see a great Ted talk, here is Sean’s… you’ll laugh and learn all the same time.)

I want to share something I’m so grateful for, which is… You.

The joy of connecting with you, helping you worry less and enjoy more in your parenting, well, all that’s helping me! 2015 has been a tumultuous year – the year in which I got to ski in Colorado, for the first time since spending the winter of 2011 unable to walk more than a few steps, and not only did I ski but I skied with my parents and my children. It was the year in which we adopted dogs, and five weeks later needed to give them up because I had a relapse in my tendon condition; the year in which I won the first story slam I ever entered; the year in which Ben helped me get this podcast off the ground (and the year in which I conceived of it in the first place.)

A year full of ups and downs. But one of the biggest ups is the way that this podcast was received; when you contact me by email, or instagram, or Facebook or twitter to ask a question or say thanks, that’s when I feel the most gratitude.

Thank you SO much for listening, commenting, questioning – I look forward to lots more of all the above in the new year.

Here’s to a great 2016!

044: Stop the Holiday Insanity, Part 2 – The 3 Best Gifts You Can Give Your Kids

In today’s Just You and Me episode, we jump into the second of the three best gifts you can give your kids

In the previous Stop the Holiday Insanity episode, 41 (click here to listen), we talked about Time. Today in this second installment of Stop The Holiday Insanity we discuss the second of these three best gifts: Ritual.

Growing up, every year around December 1 my Mom got out wrapping paper, scissors, ribbons, and tape and we would make a chain that functioned as our Advent calendar. It’s such a thrill to share that ritual now, with my boys. Even though they’re 15 and 11 years old, they look forward to the day we make our Christmas chain.

There are other such rituals in our holiday celebrations – Christmas eve dinner, for example, which is always French onion soup and a delicious French-Canadian meat pie called tourtiere, with cookies for dessert. I think ritual is one of the most important gifts you can give your children.

In good times, rituals are what bring us together and help us feel as if were part of something bigger than ourselves.

Involving the kids in our holiday rituals from an early age has so many benefits for them! It exposes them to the traditional foods of our cultures, and as they grow it becomes something they can remember from times past and also look forward to in the future.

Plus, if there have been major changes since last holiday season (like a divorce or loss of a loved one) predictable and comfortable routines over time help kids get through the tough stuff.

Also, they can see their own growth and development. Something that was hard for them to do last year, and it easier to do this year, shows kids their own mastery or competence.

So in thinking about these first two gifts we can give our kids – Time and Ritual – what are some simple teens and rituals you can start this year? What are some that you can keep going from previous years?

Thanks for listening, I hope your holiday season is less insane than those of holiday seasons past! Next week we have a great guest, someone I can’t wait for you to hear from, and then during the last week of December 3 great gift we can give our kids – the third and possibly best way to stop the holiday insanity – will air. Keep hanging in there!

Links Discussed in This Episode:

Here’s episode 39, an E-rated conversation with cartoonist and author Emily Flake… Please enjoy it with headphones, so you don’t upset children, coworkers, or relatives.

Click here to head to instagram, where you can be part of the giveaway to win Emily Flake’s new book Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting. The drawing is on Christmas day, so you still have some time to enter! To do so, just scroll down in my instagram feed until you find the picture of Emily’s book, leave me a comment under that picture, and tag a friend. Maybe you’ll week on Christmas morning to find an extra present for you!

If you’re enjoying the podcast and getting good value from my advice, but still feel like it’s not enough, or that you need advice more tailored to your situation, check out my Parent Coaching page.… I’ll help you worry less and enjoy more in your parenting.

041: Stop the Holiday Insanity, Part One – The 3 Most Important Gifts You Can Give Your Kids

IMG_1871 Today, the first of the three-part series about stopping the Holiday Insanity by using the three best gifts you can ever give your children, we dive into: Time.

In each of the Just You and Me December episodes – today’s, December 15, and December 29 – we talk about one of these three gifts.

Today’s is time!

For the show notes to this episode, go to the We Turned Out Okay website by clicking this link.

Always, but especially during the busiest times of year (such as the current Holiday Insanity), time for parents of young children is fleeting. And yet, the best yet gift that we can give to them is our time; here are some ways to incorporate time-savers and hacks into your busy parenting life!
1) remember that kids spell time T-I-M-E… as often as you can, try to have a chunk of time with a planned, open-ended something to play with along with your child; play dough, Lego, blank paper and markers or colored pencils all are great for connecting with your child, without a ton of preparation or in-activity thought on your part
2) make the time multifunctional; can she bang pots and pans together on the floor while you make and freeze appetizers or desserts for a family party? Can he play with paper, stickers, envelopes while you stuff and address holiday cards? Can they help you roll out sugar cookie dough? Even if it’s sorting the year-and filing together… It doesn’t matter what it is; it matters that it happens
I do recognize that it’s not easy. Especially during holiday insanity, but at other times of the year too! I’ve “eaten” enough play dough hamburgers in my time to fill a fairly large wastepaper basket, and I’ll say this: at the time, I was ready to gag at the thought of just one more. But now that it’s been five or six years since my boys lost interest in play dough, I’m thankful for every one of those hamburgers, shaped by little fingers and given with love.
As the saying goes, “the days are long, but the years are short.”
Make the most of the time you’ve got with your littles – and give them as much of your time as you possibly can.
Important Links from This Episode
Today, these ideas came up… For more information on each of them, here are the links you’ll need:

My interview with Emily Flake, author of Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting

Jessica Lahey’s page, where you can read more about her amazing book, The Gift of Failure, and also her article from a few years ago in The Atlantic Monthly

For links to my free gift for you, The 9 1/2 Key Resources for Old-School Parents and Parent Coaching, head to my homepage.

Thanks again for listening! If you liked what you heard today, and think other parents you know would like it too, copying the link and pasting it into your favorite social media outlet is much appreciated! It’s the modern day word-of-mouth, the BEST method for finding new listeners – because if you loved it, you know they will too 🙂