Or you could do this instead….

Who nags at their kids? What, me? Nagging is… wait a minute. Ok, I nag. But seriously, sometimes it’s like talking to a WALL! A wall that needs to shower and is wearing Kardashian amounts of makeup. No hablas ingles?! It’s probably in the top 10 annoyances of parenting – it is, I checked. You have something super important to communicate like, empty the dishwasher or wake up or do your laundry. And in return….crickets. Why don’t they realize that if they don’t do what you ask that they won’t turn into proper adults who can cook and clean after themselves? Well, we know the answer to this but often forget. I hope you enjoy them.

1. Connect before you correct.

I should get this on a T-shirt, I love it so much. Also because I forget to do it so much! When I come home, after being up at 5am to teach an early morning religious class for teens and then working from 9 to 5, I am hungry and ready to just relax. So of course what awaits when I open the door? Nothing that I have asked to be done! Dishes are still in the dishwasher! Kitty litter is not taken care of! Nobody is making dinner! This is when I would start barking. Not fun, not cool. I forget to connect before I correct. Kids need to know they matter before they will start to be a slave for you do housework or even listen to you. Our brains don’t learn well when we feel attacked – what a concept! Also, kids are more likely to do what you ask of them if they have a healthy relationship with you – another amazing concept! Sit down on the couch with them and ask them about their day, or go down to their room and say hello. After that, you can start to correct. If you need to do some serious positive self-talk in the car before you step foot in your house then do that. Do what you need to tame the bear.

2. Write it down.

Most teens don’t like their parent’s voices unless it’s to hear an invitation to go shop or eat. Then all of a sudden it’s music. Instead, write it down. The possibilities are endless! Leave a little note by their bed – the funnier the better; this takes the edge off for everyone. You could write it on your whiteboard or chalkboard. This only works if they know to look at it and follow the instructions. Once in a while just leave a joke and see what happens. I could write an entire post on whiteboards (note to self). Get some newsprint and leave a humongous note at the front door! That’ll get their attention. Leave a note in their mittens (for us Northerners), shoes or backpack. And remember to not always have it be a request. Once in a while tell them how cool you think they are or how happy you are that they are in your family. Awwww, so sweet.

3. Short and sweet.

When it comes to asking your kids to do things, the less you talk the better. Not only are they already annoyed that you aren’t inviting them for burgers, but they are gearing up for the lecture. Remind them that they agreed to do something and that it isn’t done. State facts, don’t get all emotional about it. If they still don’t do it, just state a fact in one sentence, “The TV is still on”, and walk away. If you have to use 2 sentences you have to said too much. Think, cave man.

4.  Point.

Point you ask? What what? Yes, just point. Most times you can just point to the dishes on the table, the computer that is still on, the clothes that are scattered and that will get them moving. Often this follows or comes before #3. Try it with your teen and see which order he prefers. Again, it takes the emotions out of the equation and it considerably lowers the chance of you lecturing. Win-win.

5. Interpretive dance.

Get creative! It not only helps get their attention but it makes everyone laugh! And when they are laughing they are happy, and when they are happy they aren’t scary and defiant. Keeping things light is a great way to interact with your teen. So no, you don’t have to dance but you could play their favorite music or dress up in a ridiculous costume all evening or say things in a foreign accent. Keep in mind that to be creative means you have to put yourself in the right headspace. When you do that you stand a much better chance of success. So often parenting becomes a negative thing. It’s us saying no or reprimanding bad behaviour. Change. Change it to be something lighter and enjoyable.

I love feedback so please leave comments about how you keep nagging at bay. I also hope you will follow my blog. I still have that need for acceptance – middle child, need I say more? πŸ™‚

My next post is going to be about if and when to invade our teen’s privacy. Keep following.

Things I did right, aka I don’t totally suck at this.

As parents we rarely, if ever, pat ourselves on the back. We focus on our shortcomings, our mistakes, that time we yelled, that hundredth time we yelled, that time we did more than just yell. Guilt comes very naturally and sometimes it’s helpful, it reminds us to get back on track and stop stepping in it so often. But often it keeps us down and tells us that we suck at this parenting thing, blerg. Well, this post isn’t about the stuff I did and will continue to do wrong. Trust me that’s coming, or should I say, THOSE posts are coming. For now, let me tell you a couple of things I did right.

I noticed when I was lacking and apologized. Yup, saying that you are sorry, that you messed up and made a mistake is one of the best things you can do for your children. Maybe you were raised to think that parents or adults do no wrong and are always justified in their words and actions. Were you? I was. I think it was a generational thing. It was a sign of weakness to say sorry. It meant that your kids were going to take over the house and never listen to you again and the world would stop spinning! Today we know better. Start young, but if your kids are older now, start now. And don’t make excuses for your mistakes, just apologize. It shows them that you are human, that they matter enough to you that you are comfortable fessing up and show humility. It’s modeling good behavior 101, so do it. It pays off, I promise.

I took time for myself. Full disclosure, I didn’t always do this but eventually figured it out. I try to stay linked to who I really was deep inside and before kids. When I separated from my first husband I got certified to be a group fitness instructor. I LOVED it! It reminded me that I was capable of being me even when my life was falling apart. I had a purpose and my brain and body got what they needed to get through. I will post more about divorce later (it’s gunna be good). When you practice self-care you are filling your lamp, so to speak. You give your amygdala a break from working overtime, you get some balance in your life. Who benefits? Everyone does. Everyone around you get’s the best part of you. You get to enjoy life and are reminded, “hey, I’m pretty cool”, “I can handle this”, “I’ll be fine when I bump into my kid in the kitchen-it won’t be awkward”. Maybe you like music, archery, painting, macrame (it’s cool now). Maybe you don’t remember what brings you joy and balance. Take the time and invest in your mental health and keep doing it, forever.

I made changes and became teachable. I eventually noticed when I was doing the wrong things over and over again just because I was exhausted, upset, didn’t know any better, or on autopilot. I wasn’t parenting on purpose, and with purpose. I was reacting and allowing my lack of planning and let my emotional brain take over and it wasn’t doing a very good job. More on this in another post. When I finally opened my eyes to improvements I could make, I made them. Yes, I kept messing up but not as often and not as epically. Stay humble and brave enough to look at yourself with critical eyes.

I told my kids I loved them. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Telling your kids you love them should be second nature. But do you really love your kid when he swears at you or makes the dumbest choices ever? When he breaks all the rules, and shows zero signs of respect? Yes, you do. You do love them, darn it all! Saying it just becomes weird and almost wrong when they are in the depths of the teen pool of insanity. This is when they need it the most. Make it a habit, start right now, text then, tell them, leave them a note. Remind them that no matter what they do, that you will always love them. You may not like them and for sure you will probably hate what they might do, but the love will always be there. Doing this helps your teen feel secure. Safety and security are your jobs. I’ll post more about how your teen receives love from you in another post. For now, just tell them.

I reminded myself of where they were developmentally. To this day I remember my mom showing me articles explaining why kids didn’t or couldn’t do everything I was expecting of them. I also remember brushing her and her article off. Dumb move on part. This was GOLD! Learn where your child or teen is at developmentally. #justletmebeyourfrintallobealready – You have to lend your frontal lobe to your kids because theirs isn’t done yet! Have conversations about decisions or mistakes and help them see the reality of things. They can’t always do that on their own. Do this with respect and if you can’t do this without yelling and judging, wait until you can. More on this to come. For now, you can find information on great parenting fundamentals below. This is a program that I’m trained in and love. Download the free PDF book. Read it. Invest in your parenting toolbox. http://www.positivedisciplineeveryday.com/public/forparentsTwo.php

β€œThe more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.”

― Henry David Thoreau

Why the hashtag?

I decided on this hashtag a camillion (add to dictionary) years ago when I learned about the frontal lobe and the lack thereof in kids. Watching my kids make poor choices not only caused me to question my abilities as a mom, but I wished I could just take over their brains for a couple of years until their were done. Picture me shaking one of my kids by the shoulders and pleading with them to not be stupid. Raising kids is hard, but raising teens is another animal. A hormonal animal that loves you one second and hates you the next, this animal wants to be with his friends 24/7 but still wants you to make him breakfast. She makes no sense, has attitude to spare, eats all of your food but doesn’t like any of it, breaks rules, complains, and wants to paint her room black.

I still remember an interview with Katie Couric a few years ago. I can’t even remember why she was being interviewed, a book maybe. Anyway she said something that hit me to my core. She said that the saddest people in the world are mothers of teen daughters. Truth bomb if there ever was one. Uh, had she just been at my house?! How did she know me so well? It’s like parents of teens are too tired, sad or stressed to actually come out and say it. “I’m a mess, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m giving up, pass me that party sized chocolate bar”.

The black hole…

A cool fact about me is that I struggle with/try and keep a handle on depression. Good times, good times. One of the reasons I started this blog is to have an avenue to share truths about myself that I didn’t always feel comfortable admitting to. I’m self conscious and want people to like me soooo ya. Middle child, need I say more? Now that I’m old (practically 50, what?!) I care more about how I live my life than how others perceive my life. Came with age and lots of self help books!

So parenting with depression is fun. I’ll probably write more about this in future posts but for now I just wanted to let you know that there are many of us out here that find raising kids while navigating the dark clouds of depression HARD. Yup, I give up all the time. I do it monthly, I have the stamps to prove it. 4 more and I get a free car wash. It takes medication, conscious effort, some good ole CBT and chocolate healthy snacks to get me through some days.