One word

Usually on Mondays I teach a quick phrase – this week it was supposed to be just one word – in the WTOO Facebook group, but instead I was getting an MRI and so couldn’t get in there.

So I decided to use this space to teach it to you (many of you are in the Facebook group already, so this week you’re getting this here, instead of there: )

A few weeks ago, we Kolps had a problem.

Not a new problem. One that comes up every so often, especially as we emerge from a vacation or a time of rest.

Because when you live with a tendon disorder (as I do) and recharge your batteries on a vacation or due to a change in routine, returning to normal can be frustrating and difficult.

This time I had had three weeks off our usual routine. Two of those were when the kids and I got to visit family, and ski and relax and not really have to DO anything, except for pleasure.

The third week off came about unhappily. We picked up a horrible bug on the plane home and were out of commission for the whole next week. Imagine the grossest stomach flu ever, and then double or triple it, and you’re probably getting pretty close to our experience that third week. Yuck!

But it really contributed to hand and forearm rest for me. Plus, after you’ve been sick like that there’s kind of a good reset because suddenly you’re grateful for the tiniest things.
Cinnamon tea, or dry toast, for example.

Anyway: three weeks of rest.

And then back to our regular routine. And as I jumped in I started to notice pain in one wrist. And then it was compounded by pain in my other elbow.

After a while, the pain didn’t go away when I ceased using my hands. Instead they just ached all the time.

I couldn’t knit anymore, something I was doing breezily and comfortably for the whole time we were away.

Driving became difficult (and this was compounded by a tendon problem in my leg, which is why I needed the MRI that took me away from this past Monday morning’s Facebook live.)

Suddenly I could see the downward spiral happening, right in front of my eyes. And I just couldn’t allow it to keep going.

So, I started calling out family members, instead of picking up after them.

If somebody left a jacket on the floor, or a bunch of books on the table, I didn’t just tidy them. Instead I went and got that person and asked them to clean it up.

I did this and similar things multiple times a day, which was really hard and uncomfortable!

Especially with Ben. He works so hard. Not just at his job, but here at home as well. He’s had a wife with special needs for nearly 8 years, so he does the lion’s share of cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. – and here I am, showing him the tea mug he left by the sink and asking him to put in the dishwasher!

I felt terrible about it. But I knew I needed to bring up these tiny little things just so that I would not spiral into longer-term problems, and the despair that accompanies them.

And my family all felt criticized. Which made me feel awful.

But we were able to talk about it, and I helped them understand: this is simply what I need. It’s not a value judgment.

It reminded me of the disagreements Ben and I used to have, and how one word saved us from so many arguments, especially in front of the kids.

How one word can stop fights

We chose the word “tippytoes.”

And we used it every time a conflict came up in front of the kids.

Once, Ben started to tell an embarrassing story not just in front of our sons, but in front of guests as well. I remember the puzzled look on his face when I all but shouted “tippytoes!”

But he did stop. He did not share that embarrassing story. And later, when we were alone, I thanked him for stopping, and told him how mortifying that story felt to me (he did not feel the same way, hence the conflict.)

Ben has used our one word when he wanted to take a discussion off-line, away from the kids. I’m not remembering any specific situations, but this occurred multiple times while our sons were young. We still use it sometimes!

Why does it work?

In the moment, here is how it feels:
– My trusted partner is about to say something hurtful or embarrassing
– I use the one word
– My partner, without knowing or understanding why I would have a problem with this, doesn’t continue with the hurtful or embarrassing stuff
– I feel safe, secure in the knowledge that my trusted partner will not betray that trust.

When I am the person who is about to share something hurtful or embarrassing (even if it doesn’t seem so to me), my trusted partner will use the safe word, and now I am not betraying our trust.
It brings me out of my own head and out of this immediate situation, and makes me think differently about my words or conduct.

So it works for 2 reasons:
1) We can communicate our concern superfast (if we are the one using it); and
2) It helps us shift our perspective (if we are on the receiving end), so we can change our behavior quickly

It’s powerful. It’s quick. It affirms the trust between you and your partner.

If you’re not already using one, I recommend giving it a try.

You can even use “tippytoes” if you want : )

Keep reading below for What’s up on the podcast/on YouTube/in the Facebook group… And for the picture of the week!

Wishing you a wonderful parenting week!

What’s up on the podcast this week:
We’re talking about how to bring your parenting partner around to your way of thinking, how you can be on the same wavelength with him or her as you raise your kiddos.
Click to listen!

What’s up on my YouTube channel this week:
Extending on this theme, the live YouTube (I do one every Thursday) is called
“My spouse isn’t on board with how I’m raising our kids” and it is available at the link just above! Or,
Check out my YouTube channel by clicking here.

What’s up in the We Turned Out Okay Facebook group this week:
Each Monday at 10:30 a.m. EST, I do a superquick Facebook live that I call “Magic Words for Parents”… and while it was off this week due to an unexpected medical thing, as I’m sure you’ve already read about since you are down this far, it’ll be back next week! Click here to join the Facebook group : )

Up here in New England we are just getting into the hiking season again and that is reminding me of this, when we loaded up our little Jay into a carrier pack and the four of us hiked up Mount Israel in New Hampshire.

This past weekend Max (on the left in this picture, at about 5 years old), who is now a young adult, took his girlfriend on a hike. They came back apple-cheeked and happy, and it reminded me of how grateful I am that hiking has always been a thing in our family.

Here’s hoping that whatever your family thing is, you all enjoy it to the fullest.


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