Sunshine Parenting show

Sunshine Parenting

Summary: Camp Director and Mom Audrey Monke discusses summer camp, family life, raising thriving kids, and ideas for living more connected and happier lives.

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 Ep. 78: The Danish Way of Parenting (Part 2) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:43

One of the hardest things is how to shut out all that pressure and believe in the simplicity. -Jessica Joelle Alexander In Episode 78, I’m chatting with Jessica Joelle Alexander, author of The Danish Way of Parenting. We talk about how the Danes raise happy kids who become happy adults. Big Ideas * Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world. * Danish people are happy because of the way they’re raising their children. * Happy children become happy adults. * Free play is really important for children. * The Danish way is simple and common sense. * It’s really important for students to have a feeling of belonging and connectedness. Quotes Jessica: “I have always actually been living in different countries and interested in cultural differences and studying cultural differences. My background is psychology.” Jessica: “When my kids were born I became really fascinated by Danish children.” Jessica: “I was reading the newspaper and I saw that Denmark had been voted as one of the happiest countries in the world- again. And that it had been for forty years in a row always in the top three.” Jessica: “I had this lightbulb go off in my head and I thought “Oh my God! They’re happy because of the way they’re raising their children.” Jessica: “I had to write this book because this style of parenting had helped me so much.” Audrey: “It’s not just about the parenting. It’s the lifestyle and the way they choose to spend their time and live their life that is getting these really positive outcomes.” Jessica: “The biggest beneficiaries of this time together are the kids and you really see how much they love being with their families and there’s no drama and there’s no negativity.” Audrey: “We have to work a little harder and think a little more about doing the things that we all need for our wellbeing. This connection piece.” Jessica: “Play, free play has been an educational theory in Denmark since 1871. And for them, it’s the most important thing a child can do. It’s considered learning. It’s nothing about can they read, can they write, can they do these things early? Because they know they will learn those things.” Jessica: “Simplifying is what we really need.” Jessica: “One of the hardest things is how to shut out all that pressure and believe in the simplicity.” Audrey: “In the end, what is more important is being a happy person with good relationships? And that leads to success.” Jessica: “Self-esteem is how you feel about who you are.” Jessica: “You can do anything if you believe in yourself.” Jessica: “The book is very much education. It’s focusing more on schools, but it’s also at home. A bit like talking about what you can take home from camp.” Audrey: “Let’s get the whole world to be the Danish/summer camp way!” Links Audrey’s book, Happy Campers: Nine Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults comes out on May 7th and is available for pre-order now. Visit to find links to all your favorite book retailers where you can pre-order your copy. Download the Hygge Oath and sign up for Jessica’s email newsletter at http://thedanishway.

 Ep. 77: Comparison is the Thief of (Parenting) Joy | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:37

Human beings are not designed to be excellent at everything. -Sara Kuljis Show notes at In Episode 77, I’m chatting with my friend, Sara Kuljis, as we continue our series Encouragements for Parents. You can listen to our previous episode, Ep. 75: Begin with the (Parenting) End in Mind here. Big Ideas * Human beings are not designed to be excellent at everything. * By identifying our talents and strengths, we can find more engagement and satisfaction, our quality of life improves, and we become more productive and successful. * We’re more effective and more content when we operate out of our sweet spots. * We usually do even better when we collaborate with someone with complementary strengths. * Parents need to first discover their own strengths and then help their kids to discover their strengths. * When we’re validated for the way we naturally feel, behave, and think, it validates our whole personhood. Quotes Audrey: “It’s just this general feeling that our kids have, and we often have, that we’re just not enough. That whatever we’re doing is not good enough, that we’re looking at everybody else’s highlight reel and thinking that our reality just doesn’t compare.” Sara: “We’re in a competitive society. School is competitive, getting into colleges feels competitive, club sports have been elevated to a remarkable level of importance, and that’s competitive.” Sara: “We, as parents, are anxious this decade, or this generation, about our kids being prepared for the future.” Sara: “Human beings are not designed to be excellent at everything.” Sara: “We each have gifts, and talents, and interests that are different from the next person, and that’s supposed to be that way.” Audrey: “It makes you feel good to realize that ‘wow, I have this combination of strengths that’s uniquely me’.” Sara: ‘It’s been a couple of years now that I’ve been a Gallup certified Strengths Finder Coach.” Sarah: “Each human being is designed with some special assets.” Sarah: “When we’re using our sweet spots, when we’re in our sweet spots we’re in our zone- we are more effective.” Sarah: “We’re designed to be interpersonal creatures.” Audrey: “We, as parents, need to take that role of helping our kids find their strengths because culture at large is not going to help.” Audrey: “Strengths testing sometimes measures those things that aren’t measured normally.” Audrey: “The magic comes in the mix of people.” Audrey: “Together you can actually do really amazing things.” Sara: “Identifying talents and strengths, and understanding the need for partnering and for leaning on each other to complete the package, really helps with potential conflict.” Sara: “Let’s not forget to be grateful and to celebrate, and to see who brought what to the mix.” Audrey: “I would really encourage parents to actually pursue their own strengths, and figure that out first, maybe before working on this with their kids.” Sarah: “A lot of how we’re teaching our kids is by modeling for them.” Audrey: “If we could get our kids to see each other’s strengths more, I think that’s very helpful as well because then they are encouraging each other and not comparing to each other.” Extract from Audrey’s blog post titled Four W...

 Ep. 76: Partnering with Your Child’s Camp Director | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 18:18

One of the things that parents need to recognize is, just like with their school, it needs to be a partnership, and not every day is going to be great. – Audrey Today’s podcast, Episode 76, was recorded live at the American Camp Association National Conference, in Nashville, Tennessee on February 18, 2019. The panel participants included: Maggie Brown, Director of WeHaKee Camp for Girls (Northern Wisconsin) Sari Hirsch, Associate Director of Chippewa Ranch Camp for girls (Eagle River, Wisconsin) Mike Endres, Director of Camp Chippewa for Boys (Cass Lake, Minnesota) Cole Kelly, Director of Camp Weequahic – for boys and girls – (Northern Eastern Pennsylvania) Jason Feldgreber, Director of Camp Menominee for Boys (Northern Wisconsin) If you want to hear from more camp directors about their programs, check out my Happy Campers Interview Series! Big Ideas * Awesome parents trust and support the camp directors in doing their jobs. * Great parents call to talk about their kids. * Parents are encouraged to give as much information about their kids as possible. * It’s a good idea for parents to spend about half an hour on the phone with the camp director, to discuss any concerns they may have, before sending their child away to camp for the first time. * Some of the best parents call and ask all their questions and then they let the kid know what to expect and how they can be successful at camp. * Great parents fill out the evaluation at the end of camp and explain the things that went well, and also the things that didn’t go well. Quotes Audrey: “Today we’re going to talk about those awesome parents who make it so pleasant to work with their children, and who help us do a great job partnering with them to create these great summer camp experiences.” Camp Director: “It’s when they let us do our jobs, or support us in doing our jobs.” Camp Director: “My favorite parents are the ones that answer all of the camp forms and write too much, and send us up with the full behavioral plans and stuff that’s working at home. And when we call them, they follow our lead on their letters to the kids. They’ll support us on the phone and they will also support us in what they’re saying to their kids, which is a big deal because we’ve had the opposite happen a number of times.” Camp Director: “If you can have twenty, thirty minutes on the phone with some parent sending their child away for the first time, and they ask all these great questions about safety, about supervision, about games and activities, if they ask all of those it’s just a great start.” Audrey: “I think all of us camp people like working with people, and kids, and parents, so I think most of us would rather have a conversation on the phone with a parent than to do some big, long email exchange.” Camp Director: “Sometimes staff parents can be the most difficult ones to deal with.” Camp Director: “Some of our best parents are those who prepare their kid. They call and ask us all the questions and then they let the kid know what to expect and how they can be successful at camp.

 Ep. 75: Begin with the (Parenting) End in Mind | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 41:14

In Episode 75, I’m starting a new parenting series with my friend, Sara Kuljis. We’re tentatively titling our series “Encouragements for Parents.” In this first episode, we talk about reframing how we view success for our children and the concept of “beginning with the end in mind.” Big Ideas: * There are many different paths to success. * It’s important to be clear about your end goal and about what success looks like for you and your family. * What success looks like for you will probably not match the messages that are coming in. * Our relationships and our social connections are most important. * We need to be able to be vulnerable and share with the people we’re getting close to, in order to develop deep relationships. * Having a faith of some kind is very meaningful and valuable for a flourishing life. And having core values that you stay consistent with is an essential part of faith. * It’s a good idea to build faith into the daily flow of family life. Quotes: Sara: “Sometimes with parenting, when I have felt overwhelmed or exhausted or at wit’s end, it’s hard to keep my eye on the end result and I sometimes operate out of anxiety or fear, or I’m reacting instead of really anticipating and laying out where I want to end up.” Sara: “It’s such a wonderful feeling to know that we could be intentional about the process, rather than reactive.” Sara: “The measure isn’t what’s out there in the world. The measure is so much more what’s inside of them.” Sara: “Now I consider beginning with the end in mind. And that is ‘What is my definition of success for my children? What is my husband’s definition? Are we on the same page?’.” Audrey: “Sometimes the information in the parenting world is giving people a list, or saying you must do this thing for your child to turn out okay. And that is just absurd to think that there is a list of classes or curricula or activities that are going to guarantee your child’s success. And I almost think it could do the opposite if you overwhelm yourself or your child with trying to keep up with all of these so-called things that we must do.” Sara: “What would be the top three things that I would consider being a success for my children, as adults?” Audrey: “What leads to a happy, healthy, flourishing life?” Sara: “We have tried to stay committed to creating space and hang out times so our kids can deepen friendships on their own, in their own way, where parents are not meddling.” Sara: “I think carving out time can feel unproductive, but it’s absolutely essential.” Sara: “There’s a lot of friendship building at summer camps and those skills are absolutely essential to growing into adulthood, to the workplace, and certainly to family life and married life.” Sara: “Creating space is huge, and I think also modeling- for us as parents to be role models.” Audrey: “If you don’t have a family where you feel that connection, make one somewhere else.” Audrey: “If we value healthy, deep, and enriching relationships, that might mean that we do things differently than our neighbors, or maybe some other people.” Sara: “We can continue to choose to work out relationships and accept others for who they are and model forgiveness and model generosity and hospitality- even when it’s not easy.” Audrey: “You’ve got to have a few people where you can be really real and kind of raw with.” Sara: “Meaningful work doesn’t have to be a very glamorous, big deal. It could be something that’s very quiet but brings us joy.

 Ep. 74: Why Summer Camp? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 20:47

Why do parents send their kids to summer camp? Is your kid going to camp this summer? Congratulations! You’re giving them an experience that may have many life-long, positive benefits. You are giving them the opportunity to grow and develop skills and character traits that are often hard to develop in the comforts of home. Let this list remind you about some of the many reasons why you are being a great parent by sending your child to camp this summer! What are some of the benefits of summer camp for kids? #1 They feel happier. Camp makes me happy and nothing can prepare me for life as well as this environment. Read more… Study Finds Campers Really are Happy Why Kids Flourish at Camp  #2 They discover their best self. Being at camp gives me this sense of belonging that I’ve never felt anywhere else. Read more… 10 Surprising Things Kids Learn at Camp  #3 They grow their grit. The counselors challenged me to do things I wouldn’t normally do at home. Read more… 5 Ways Camp Grows Grit  #4 They meet positive role models. Camp has made me into a leader, having the best role models as my counselors to look up to. #5 They develop better communication skills. The other part of camp that has influenced me the most is the simple idea of trying to always smile. Read more… 10 Social Skills Kids Learn at Camp 3 Communication Skills Your Child Needs  #6 They grow more independent. Going to camp has made me even more independent and a much better people-person. I am able to go confidently up to someone and introduce myself, or hang out with someone new because of my time at camp. Read more… Parking Your Helicopter #7 They experience outdoor fun and adventure. I have so many fond memories of camp that I can’t choose a particular one. However, some of my favorites memories include sleeping under the stars, doing fun activities, and spending time with friends. Read more… 7 Reasons to Get Outside #8 They relax. The atmosphere is so relaxed. #9 They unplug. Camp has helped me appreciate nature and the outdoors a lot more than I think I would have if I didn’t go. I can go without my phone or connection to social media awhile, because camp has shown me that amazing stuff happens when you put your phone down and have a nice conversation with someone. Read more… Five Reasons to Unplug Get Unplug...

 Ep. 73: Under Pressure with Lisa Damour | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 42:20

That was my aim in writing the book-  was both to offer reassurance, and then practical strategies for managing the stress and anxiety that will, invariably, come up. -Lisa Damour In episode 73, I’m chatting with Lisa Damour, the New York Times best-selling author of Untangled- Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood. In this episode, we talk about Lisa’s new book, Under Pressure- Confronting The Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls. Lisa is a clinical psychologist, in private practice. She shares some really encouraging insights about reframing the way that we think about stress and anxiety in ourselves and in our daughters and she also discusses ways that we can help ease the anxiety levels of our girls at home, at school, and in their social lives. Big ideas * Both stress and anxiety are normal and healthy functions that are actually beneficial to us. * Anxiety is a normal system that keeps us safe. It’s an alarm that alerts us to pay attention and notice what’s going on around us, or inside of us. * Stress builds capacity, so when we operate at our outer edge, that edge usually grows and we develop new abilities. Quotes Audrey: “You have a great way of synthesizing the information and I think that’s why people find your books so helpful. You have taken all this deep, heavy stuff about what’s going on, and really put it down to the very simple to understand terms for those of us who work with girls, or have daughters.” Audrey: “I think a lot of times parents are feeling stressed themselves about what to do and how to parent, and I think what your book provides is a sense of relief and encouragement that there are these things going on and yes, anxiety is a big issue, however, there are all these things that we can do, in different areas, to relieve some of that.” Lisa: ” The bottom line is that psychologists understand, and have long understood, that stress and anxiety are both normal and healthy functions. They both can reach troublesome degrees, and even when they do, we’re really good at treating them. But, stress and anxiety are part of life, so stress is what happens when we operate at the edge of our capacities- any time that we take on something that requires us to adapt, to stretch, to grow, we will feel stressed by it.” Lisa: “Anxiety is a normal system that keeps us safe. It’s an alarm that alerts us to pay attention, to notice what’s going on around us- or going on inside of us.” Lisa: “Stress builds capacity. When we operate at our outer edge, usually our edge grows. We develop new abilities we didn’t know we had.” Lisa: “The kinds of principles I’m putting forward in here- these are well-established, very long-standing, fully understood beliefs in psychology that somehow became divorced from where the popular culture is now, which is the sense that all anxiety is troublesome, and all stress is pathological and we need to get rid of both.” Lisa: “We run the risk now of raising a generation that is stressed about being stressed, and anxious about being anxious.” Audrey: “The message that I got is that one way to ease the anxiety is to normalize it and explain that, even as adults, we have it too.” Lisa: “That was my aim in writing the book-  was both to offer reassurance, and then practical strategies for managing the stress and anxiety that will, invariably, come up.” Lisa: “Most feelings will run their course.”

 Ep. 72 What Could Go Wrong? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 22:19

There comes a time when couples decide to create and raise tiny helpless human beings, hoping they one day become non-tiny and less helpless. Brett Grayson In this episode, I am talking with Brett Grayson, author of What Could Go Wrong?: My Mostly Comedic Journey Through Marriage, Parenting and Depression. Grayson takes on many of the tough issues faced by parents during the first few years of family life with a great deal of humor and vulnerability. We discuss what led him to write his book, start his blog and how he has enlarged the discussion by sharing from a dad’s point of view. Grayson is a father of two young children and resides in New Jersey. Big Ideas * Humor helps us move forward, especially when discussing difficult subject matters. * Even though a pregnancy is primarily a woman’s experience, a man also goes through his own set of struggles and emotions when becoming a father, which aren’t often discussed. Quotes Audrey: “In this book, I think you have been able to combine difficult topics with humor and I’m guessing that is resonating with people.” Brett: “We’ve been through some rough things: my wife’s first pregnancy, postpartum issues, topics that women discuss a lot.  I hadn’t seen too many fathers talking about it from their standpoint: what it was like for the father to go through; what our emotions were like.” Brett: “I really felt that the humor would be the way that the people would be able to relate to what I was saying and it would make it more palatable to read.” Audrey:  “You’re so right. The things that happen in a pregnancy seem to be a lot more about the woman’s experience but its true the father has a lot going on, too. I think you did open up a great line of conversation and discussion for men.” Brett: “Men experience all kinds of struggles and emotions. Its okay to be open about it. You can still be a strong man and feel masculine in your own skin without feeling like you can’t express yourself.” Brett: “It’s amazing to me that if you have a heart problem, its totally okay to see a doctor; it’s okay if you have a broken bone to see an orthopedist; but if you’re going to see a doctor about an issue with your brain then it needs to be secretive in some sense. I’ve never understood that. Hopefully we are breaking down those walls now.” Brett: “I think there needs to be openness in your relationships. I think if you can’t tell your spouse that you’re struggling, that’s a problem. You need to be able to lean on each other and explain to each other that you’re struggling.” Audrey: “I think you have a really important message to share. It think it’s wonderful that you’ve put yourself out there and shared some difficult stories. I think your end result will be that more people will get the help they need — that everyone needs at some point, if not throughout their lives.” Links Brett Grayson’s Blog 10 Reasons I Heart Camp (mentioned in this episode) Related Posts/Podcasts If you enjoyed this episode,

 Ep. 71: Growing Your Child’s “Bushy Broccoli Brain” | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 34:27

“The neuroscience is saying that when kids miss these developmental milestones, their brains aren’t as interconnected as they would have been had they been actively participating in a wide variety of activities. They need a full sensory upbringing, not doing too much of any one thing.” -Jenifer Joy Madden In Episode 71, I’m chatting with Jenifer Joy Madden about the latest research on brain development and ways we can help our children grow healthy and “durable” brains. Jenifer Joy Madden is an award-winning health communicator, author, and educator. She founded to encourage all people to cherish and maximize the curiosity, creativity, compassion, and so much else they alone possess as human beings. Big Ideas * Jenifer defines durable as being “effective and strong in body, mind, and spirit for as long as possible.” * The “Bushy Broccoli Brain” — Jenifer uses the Broccoli vs. Broccolini metaphor to show how the brain develops more interconnected, as synapsis fire from rich stimuli, whereas the broccolini is a stalky, more truncated structure, showing a lack of development.  New research on the brain supports the idea that in order to be more durable, our children need 3D, multi-sensory, 360° experiences. The rich sensory environment at camp is a perfect example. Being outdoors and interacting socially stimulates the interconnections in the brain. * If a kid is limited in their activity and they do one thing for a long period of time (such as playing a game online) it crowds out some of the other things they need to be doing during their day to promote full brain development. * The brain develops over time so there are windows of opportunity throughout childhood to develop certain skills. Missing these windows can have detrimental effects, such as “Virtual Autism”. In France and Romania, doctors have identified “Virtual Autism” in kids under age four who have free reign all day to be on a tablet. After days and days of being on the screen, they stop responding to their names and adults can’t catch their eye. When kids return to a regular kid lifestyle and they’re playing with physical objects and playing outside, that “virtual autism” goes away. * After a visit to a treatment center for internet addiction, Jenifer determined that one of the primary causes of this kind addiction is a lack of attachment. Attachment starts a little before birth that the child starts attaching to the primary caregiver — the mother. Kids who don’t securely attach to a caregiver become agitated and insecure and have trouble coping. We need to feed their love mechanisms early on in life, otherwise, they’ll be kind of shaky their whole lives. We need to make sure that babies’ first images are not obscured by a device. * Jenifer describes her course for new parents called New Parent’s Confidence Kickstart. * Recommendations for parents to help kids overcome addiction to their devices: * Give them chores. They must have a purpose and be responsible contributors to the household. Physical activity is key. * Help them develop skills, genuine relationships, curiosity (“The Triple Crown of Durability”.) Quotes Audrey: “There are all these basic needs that our kids have and to get this really bushy broccoli brain; a big part of it is the social connection. Talking face to face and making eye contact–all that great stuff–I think of that as making a bushier brain.” Jenifer: “Human beings that are young need to have that attachme...

 Ep. 70: Parent on Purpose with Amy Carney | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:36

“It is not about creating some outcome for the kids. It’s just about us coming together to figure out what values are really important to us, what type of adult we would like to launch, and how we can help them to get to that place.” Amy Carney In Episode 70, I’m chatting with Amy Carney, author of Parent on Purpose: A Courageous Approach to Raising Children in a Complicated World. In the course of raising triplets and another daughter just one year younger, Amy found herself simply “surviving” motherhood and came to the realization that she needed to be more proactive, instead of reactive, as a parent. Her intentional parenting philosophy contributed to her family’s courageous decision to disconnect from their busy lives and travel around the U.S. in an RV for seven months. With their children approaching ages 13 and 11, Amy and her husband felt that life was speeding by and an overhaul was needed. Their goal was to reclaim time together, to solidify the foundation of their relationships, and connect with their kids before they left home. So in 2014, they pulled out of the typical American life they led and went on a journey to find more happiness and unity. Big Ideas In the book, Amy shares the lessons learned to help parents: * LEAD — Visualize the end, determine your values and claim your authority. Pause and figure out your destination. As a family, ask yourselves: Where are you headed? Where do you want to go? * LOVE — Play, disconnect to reconnect, create timeless traditions. * LAUNCH — Prepare kids for adulthood by teaching them how to work. * Make time for kids to volunteer and work outside of the home. A part-time job in a restaurant, retail store, or family business can be excellent training grounds for the real-life skills that kids need. * Kids also need to do their share of work in the home, to contribute as part of the family. As they get older, they can take on more responsibilities such as cooking dinner and running family errands. * We discuss ways parents can build their relationships with their children by doing less. Amy encourages parents to get off the sidelines of their children’s lives and create a culture that children will want to come back to, with fond childhood memories. Quotes Amy: “Being stuck in a small space with a family of six forces you to work things out, to communicate — where at home if you have arguments, everyone could go to their rooms. That wasn’t possible. So we really learned how to communicate, to apologize, to come together, move on and become more flexible.” Amy: “People ask if I homeschooled them. I ‘unschooled’ them. Our whole point was to get away from the stress and pressure and see there is so much more to the world. There are other things that are just as important as their formal education.” Audrey: “I think in life we tend to not be intentional enough. Even with our own personal values. Often times we haven’t articulated them to ourselves or taken the time to reflect, so that we can, in turn, share them with others.” Audrey: “It’s about bringing it into congruence. When your values and your actions aren’t matching up is when you don’t feel good about your life. But when they do, you feel much more at peace. This is where we want to be.” Amy: “I see a lot of parents launching their kids with guilt and regret. Because their kids are gone and they didn’t do all the things they had hoped to do. I think if we look more to that end and parent today with that in mind, we will be able to launch them with a little more peace.” Audrey: “I think that is what we all want, to launch our kids with core values that will help them have...

 Ep. 69: 10 Secrets Happy Parents Know | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:39

In Episode 69, I’m chatting with Karen Lock Kolp of the We Turned Out Okay website and podcast. We talked for the first time back in Episode 38: We Turned Out Okay with Karen Lock Kolp. Karen is an early childhood development expert and parent coach. On her website and podcast, Karen helps worried and hovering parents by bring reassuring, helpful advice and conversations. Her new book, 10 Secrets Happy Parents Know: How to Stop the Chaos, Bring Out Your Child’s Good Behavior, and Truly Enjoy Family Time. The Amazon description of 1o Secrets says: Often parents feel so lost. We want to say and do the right things in the moment to connect with our young children, but sometimes we can’t even get them to just listen, and respect us. 10 Secrets Happy Parents Know helps with that, and more.  This book shares what author Karen Lock Kolp has learned over many years working with parents and kids.  She wrote it to give hope, encouragement, and useful tools to parents of young children.  If you are the mom or dad of a young child, the ideas in this book will change your life and your relationship with your little one. Read all about these 10 Secrets today! Big Ideas Drawing on her vast knowledge of child development, her many interactions with coaching clients and participants in her Ninja Parenting online community, and her own experience raising two boys, Karen developed her book, 10 Secrets Happy Parents Know. The book is comprised of two parts: * Finding the good behavior within your child. * Truly enjoying Family Time. Karen highlights some of the “Secrets” found in her book: * Secret #1: Communication cuts through chaos! For some families, she suggests spending 10 minutes a day together, screen-free. This relaxed family time together can be the key to connection. * Secret #3: Words Matter. Karen shares Magic Words in her book and online in a weekly post to her Facebook parenting group. They are productive, helpful phrases or single words to use in the moment so that you maintain connection with your child. Using Magic Words can help parents to avoid saying something in frustration that they may regret later. * A Magic Words example: When you want your child to know that you love them you can say, “What can I do for you right now?” You’ll be surprised by the responses you might get. You may be asked to watch their video game or even just to give them a hug. * Secret #8: You’re only preliterate once. Children’s academic and developmental progress shouldn’t be rushed. Help them when they ask for it. Appreciate and respect each child’s individual journey. * Secret #9: Celebrate every day. The holidays can be so stressful for families. Karen suggests celebrating every day as a way to mitigate the pressures of celebrating special occasions. Kids can find something joyful in every day and that is something parents can learn from their kids. Quotes Audrey: “It’s a huge gift when someone just listens and isn’t distracted while they’re talking to us. Giving kids your full attention – even if it’s just a few minutes a day – can be so valuable.

 Ep. 68: 12 Parenting Tips for Happier, More Connected Families | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 36:10

Each month this year, I’ve shared a One Simple Thing tip for creating happier, more connected families. For this episode, I share all twelve tips! 12 Tips for Happier, More Connected Families January: Daily Family Sharing February: Calm the Morning Chaos March: Discovering Your “Authentic” Self April: How to get Closer to your Kid in 5 Minutes a Day May: 3 Reasons to Give Your Kid a “WOW” Today: How to Create More Positivity at Home June: Pick a Summer Theme! July: 4 Ways to Focus on our Kids’ Strengths August: More of, Less of, Same of September: The Magic Relationship Ratio October: Why We Need to Unplug to Connect with Our Families November: 7 Reasons to #optoutside December: 100 Family Memories Related Posts/Podcast Episodes 5 Simple Year-End Reflection Activities Ep. 30: How to Raise a Durable Human with JJ Madden 31 Days of Happiness Focusing on the Gain not the Gap Each month this year, I’ve shared a One Simple Thing tip for creating happier, more connected families. For this episode, I share all twelve tips! 12 Tips for Happier, More Connected Families January: Daily Family Sharing February: Calm the Morning Chaos March: Discovering Your “Authentic” Self April: How to get Closer to your Kid in 5 Minutes a Day May: 3 Reasons to Give Your Kid a “WOW” Today: How to Create More Positivity at Home June: Pick a Summer Theme!

 Ep. 67: Working Together to Find a Happier Life Balance – Project “We” with Kelly Pietrangeli | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:48

Learn how to be your own Life Coach by understanding what’s working in your life – and what’s not – and become consistently proactive about making positive changes. As you become the Expert of You, you’ll gain clarity over your bigger picture dreams, and have ongoing support for making them happen. Kelly Pietrangeli   In Episode 67, I’m talking with Kelly Pietrangeli of Project Me for Busy Mothers. Kelly is on a mission to improve women’s well-being by helping us focus on an important project – ourselves. If you’re a regular listener, you may remember Kelly from Episode 36: Project Me for Busy Mothers. Kelly lives in London but previously lived in Madrid, Spain. It was there that she met our mutual friend, Jill Stribling. I am grateful that Jill connected me with Kelly, as I have been inspired by both our chats as well as Kelly’s encouraging emails and resources. Kelly’s website, resources, book, and in-person workshops have provided hundreds of women with the tools needed to improve their well-being, one life area at a time. Her newest project, Project WE, starts in 2019 and provides an online forum for collaboration and support for women seeking to do their Project Me in community with others. BIG IDEAS * When Project Me was created over 10 years ago, Kelly’s initial goal was to organize her own life and find balance in 8 key areas (see Project Me Life Wheel). She created the framework of her methodology over time and with the help of monthly meeting with two girlfriends (her “Power Posse”). This led to her blog, online programs, and her book, Project Me for Busy Mothers: A Practical Guide to Finding a Happier Balance, all of which have helped thousands of mothers to “learn how to put themselves on the front burner.” * She discovered that connection with others is a critical component to success. Just as her “Power Posse” informed her journey as Project Me came to be, involving others in the process of meeting one’s goals provides support and accountability. * In Project WE, Kelly is creating a community of growth-mindset, like-minded women to check in with, create action steps and help develop the habits necessary to keep each other on track. * There will be two parts: * Access to resources for individual work through: * Video Training * Audio Insights * Expert Interviews * Resource Library * Q&A Vault * Action Sheets * Community resources, such as: * Group Challenges * Monthly Project Life Wheel Check-In * Space to Share and Celebrate * Tools and Strategies to Help Us Help Each Other * The 8 Parts of the Life Wheel * Productivity and Time Management * Family * Love * Health and Well-being * Work * Fun & Friendships * Money * Personal Growth * Work on one thing at a time. Activities which combine more than one focus area can help to create more balance. * Project WE membership is designed to help you find your focus, better manage your time and energy, find a happier balance, connect, become a magnet, and build a life you love.   QUOTES Audrey: “Loneliness and isolation are the biggest issues people have now. We’re so much better together.

 Ep. 66: Is it Rude, Is it Mean, or Is it Bullying? with Signe Whitson | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 32:06

It is really important to shine the light on actual bullying behavior when it is toxic, relentless and cruel. But if we mistake things that are rude, joking or even mean and over-label them as bullying, then we are going to stop paying attention to bullying just as fast as it came into the spotlight. That’s a real disservice to the kids that are feeling the real toxic stress of what is actually ‘bullying’. Signe Whitson In Episode 66, I’m talking with Signe Whitson. I first learned of Signe when reading her article in Psychology Today entitled, Is it Rude, Is it Mean, Is it Bullying? Her article resonated, because I, too, have experienced both kids and parents using the term “bullying” for social situations that don’t meet the criteria for bullying. I found Signe’s insights, experience, and advice incredibly helpful, and I hope you do, too! ABOUT SIGNE Signe Whitson is a certified school social worker, author, and internationally-recognized speaker with 20 years of experience working with children, teens, and families.  She presents customized training workshops for professionals, parents, and students on topics related to understanding and ending bullying, managing anger in children, changing passive aggressive behavior, and intervening effectively in crisis situations in schools and treatment organizations. BIG IDEAS 1. Not all bad behavior is bullying. What is the difference between behavior that is rude, mean or bullying? * Rude = Inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else. * Mean = Purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once (or maybe twice.) It typically occurs after a disagreement between friends or teammates. * Bullying = Involves the 3 Ps: Purpose (intentionally aggressive behavior), Pattern (repeated over time) and Power (an imbalance of power, particularly social power). 2. Flip the conversation. When kids report bullying behavior, instead of treating them as victims, empower them to view the situation with compassion. Instill empathy by discussing what could be going on with the other person. Help your child recognize that sometimes kids lash out when they are struggling within themselves. 3. Empathy and kindness are the antidotes to bullying. Focus on promoting positive behaviors, such as giving compliments and celebrating each others’ victories. 4. Young people are going to have to learn to deal with rude or mean people throughout their lives. We can teach them the skills they need to know what they’re dealing with and learn how to stand up for themselves. 5. When kids report bullying behavior: * “Don’t just do something, stand there.” Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes. Don’t freak out. When parents overreact, it exacerbates their child’s stress level. Be silent and listen. Resist the urge to rush in and fix the situation. * Say, “I am so sorry that happened to you” or “That is really hurtful when people say things like that.” Show sympathy. * Always thank the child for reporting bullying behavior. It takes a lot of courage. Typically,

 Ep. 65: Raising Engaged, Happy Kids with Mary Hofstedt | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:46

Kids need time in adolescence to answer the questions: Who am I? Where do I belong? Am I normal? They need reflective spaces, quiet time, time for daydreaming, time to listen to music on the couch, not having anywhere to be. We need to protect this time for our kids. Mary Hofstedt, Challenge Success   In Episode 65, I’m chatting with Mary Hofstedt of Challenge Success. We discuss the origin of Challenge Success and their mission to help students become engaged learners and thriving adults. BIG IDEAS * For over 15 years, Challenge Success has been partnering with schools, families, and communities to embrace a broad definition of success and to implement research-based strategies that promote student well-being and engagement with learning. They offer a year-long program for middle and high schools, parent education, professional development for teachers, and research tools including student and parent surveys. Over 350 school communities in 20 states have participated in our programs. Their solutions and strategies are making a difference. * As a society, we need to change or broaden the way we define success, to include well-being, deep learning, and health. * Engagement is more important than performance. Often kids that “do school well” seem engaged but are not necessarily acquiring the skills they need for college and life after they leave home: independence, resilience, and creative problem-solving.  Many students experience unhealthy forms of stress, depression, and anxiety from being over-scheduled and sleep-deprived. * Schools can promote a healthier academic culture by making systemic changes like later school-day start times and better course workload management, among other things. Suggestions for families: * Make sure kids are getting between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each night. * Get devices out of bedrooms. Research shows that blue light impacts sleep. A half-hour to one-hour of no devices before bed is advised. * Establish healthy technology habits early: put the cell phone on Do-Not-Disturb setting so that it is not distracting. * Make time for PDF: Playtime, Downtime and Family time. This includes creating space for teens to “tinker” in some way (like they did as children, building forts out of cardboard boxes, playing the piano for fun, shooting hoops.) Playtime means activities that are freely chosen, intrinsically motivated and personally directed. QUOTES Mary: “We look at what are the root causes of the unhealthy forms of stress our kids are experiencing and what we can do in practice and policy in our schools to more deeply understand the student experience and to make lasting changes that help kids to be more engaged.” Mary: “Kids need “PDF”– Playtime, Downtime, Family time: We know those are really important protective factors that help kids thrive long term.” Audrey: “We need to set up these cultures in our schools and in our homes that have (PDF) time built-in. You can say, ‘This is free time, but we are putting away our screens.’ We have to have some boundaries around the screens because they take away from the real play time that kids need.” Mary: “If your kids say, ‘I’m so bored’ that is great because that is when they figure out what to do with the boredom. To have that experience is important.” Audrey: “That’s one of the best things about being at camp–there is built-in reflection time, there’s built-in rest time. There’s a lot of built-in free play time. Some kids might play cards, other kids might be throwing a frisbee, and others might be reading or relaxing. Its the environment.” LINKS To learn more about Challenge Success,

 Ep. 64: Home for the Holidays: Preparing for Your College Kid to Come Home | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 34:53

I think when you’re talking about your kids coming home for a longer period of time, whether it is for Christmas or summer, setting that expectation up is really important because otherwise, you get frustrated with them on the couch and we don’t always use our best parenting skills when we are frustrated. Maria Horner In Episode 64, I’m chatting with Maria Horner from Catalina Island Camps. Our topic is “Home for the Holidays: Preparing for Your College Kid to Come Home.” We discuss the intricacies of their re-entry, how to manage and communicate expectations, and how to make your home the soft place to land that your tired kid needs. If you like listening to us chat, you can find our previous episodes (the Jedi Mom Tricks series) here: Ep. 22: Jedi Mom Tricks with Maria Horner, Part 1 Ep. 33: Jedi Mom Tricks with Maria Horner, Part 2 Ep. 42: Jedi Mom Tricks with Maria Horner, Part 3 BIG IDEAS When kids come home for Thanksgiving or any other holiday, even summer vacation, it is always a big change – especially when they return after their first semester away at college. Every member of the household must adapt to a new normal. It may be a familiar experience for families whose kids attended summer camp. One of the great things about camp is that it helps to ease parents into the realization that their kids are okay without them, maybe even thriving. Camp is good preparation for later life. Letting go of the tendency to over-parent before they leave home makes it much easier when they return. Ways to create stress-free re-entries for your child * Talk with your child about what is different about their life at school and at home. * Discuss your schedule so that expectations are set and keep lines of communication open. * Make a list of family events on the calendar so they are aware of obligations ahead of time. Leave the rest of the schedule open for them to make their own plans. * Give them assignments so that they are contributing to the household. * Pick your battles. Parents will need to adjust their demands to avoid causing more contention. College Freshman particularly are going to be exhausted and need downtime. They are going to want to reconnect with their friends. * When you have multiple kids, and one is coming back into the home, think about what could be sticking points ahead of time. * Ask your children for their input on how they feel these issues ought to be handled. * Keep up the traditions you may have had when kids were younger so that your connection time is coupled with these familiar touch points and experiences. Other Words of Wisdom * Find like-minded parents who have kids just a few years older than your kids and turn to them for wisdom and advice. * Think about what you are doing, even when your kids are young, to maintain some of your self and have something outside of your kids, and to stay connected to your spouse. * Have regular connection time with friends outside of your family. * Find a hobby or practice a talent such as art, knitting, tennis, or cooking.


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