Family Happy New Year

Favorite family activity to wish a SoSooper New Year!

The Family Feedback

One of our most precious family moments comes after Christmas. That’s when we share what each person does well and how we can be even stronger as an individual and as a family.

We” means the kids start with the feedback and Mom & Dad L.I.S.T.E.N.

[bctt tweet=”The Family Feedback:  kids share and parents LISTEN.”]

The structured process keeps discussion positive.  Each child gets to share:
One Great Thing that Mom or Dad do
(and the kids want them to keep doing)
– One Thing they would like to Change about Family Life
(it would hugely improve family life for them)

PARENTS LISTEN.

You may be surprised by the suggestions!

Some “To change” suggestions could be a no-brainer “YES.”  One child asked, “Please, no more lemon cake.”

Other requests could merit deeper discussion.  (“More screen time.”  “No veggies.”)  Talk it over while everyone is calm and together.

The Family Feedback works with kids of all ages

with teens

Teen boys

Click here

 

with kids

Family meeting with parents and kids

Click here

 

with tots

Click here

Free downloadDownload Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

 

We’d love to hear from you.  Give us YOUR feedback too in the comments below!

 

Cover photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Happy New Year tiara for girl

The Family Feedback with little children

How much can your young child tell you about YOUR job as a parent?

Quite a lot.

By listening you share encouraging words for your kids.

The Family Feedback with tots

The Family Feedback is ONE GREAT FAMILY TIME where kids give feedback to parents. They start with the good stuff 🙂 and move onto deeper discussion.  Read more here.

For very young kids, we stick to sharing family highlights.  

You want your kids to associate “family” with “fun”?  Then ask them to tell you about a fun time with Mom or Dad.  This strengthens the neural messaging in their brains so that they can more easily access memories of great times as a family.

Our brain is amazing…and malleable.

Ask, “Tell me about a time you felt really happy with us.”

“When we played ball together.”

Help your child fully recall with the experience through specific and factual questions.

“What color was our ball?” “Was it before or after lunch?” “Who else was playing with us?”

Then gently probe for what generated the positive emotions.

“What was soooooo great?” “Which part made you feel the most special?”  “What did you do to show you were happy?”

Thank your child.  

“Your telling me when you were happy makes me very happy too.  Thanks, Darling.”

We tried it & loved it

Here’s what one mother shared after a SoSooper workshop where she and her three year old daughter enjoyed such a conversation:

“My daughter was probably a little bit young (only 3) and I think was struggling to really engage with the activities. However, even though she dealt with it on her level, I think she still got a lot out of the experience – and found it nice that it was a time where mummy was ready to listen to her and find out what she found fun and loving about being in our family.

This workshop reminded me that we do all right as a family (eating together, playing together, respecting each other). As I’m sure you know only too well – it’s a tricky job, mummying, and can seem very unrewarding sometimes. If I were a business, (actually I’m a secondary school teacher) I wouldn’t put up with clients who were so demanding and so seemingly ungrateful for all my efforts. I think what you’re doing is so important – just like in any job, you have training for that ‘shot in the arm’ of enthusiasm and clarity to do your job better every day. Parents need that more than anyone!”

Free downloadDownload Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

Cover photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash

Mother and child

Get the Mother’s Day Gift Money Cannot Buy

YOU are a Gift

We’ve prepared a gift of encouragement for you to remind you that YOU are the best mother your kids have.

You are special.  Probably not perfect.  But absolutely precious.

Our Gift to YOU

Discover this gift below… (or click here if you have difficulty viewing it).

As a 24/7 on-call mother, it is hard to stay in touch with that magnificent purpose we felt when we first cradled our babe in loving arms.  We promised to give that child our best.

And we did.

Then came

“No”

 

“GIMME”

 

“MORE”

 

“NOW”

And somehow it feels like those children know how to bring out the worst in us.  They push our buttons and we mothers “loose it.”

What happened to Home Sweet Home?

There IS sweetness in your home.  (So what if there is other stuff too…  Challenges might hide the treasures but they don’t erase them.)

This short quiz helps bring that mother-wonder back into focus.

Enjoy.  Because you’re worth it.  Just do it.  You’ve come a long way, Baby.*
* From some of my favorite “philosophers”:  l’Oréal, Nike, and Virginia Slims.

Click here for the survey.

 

Cover photo by journey cloud on Unsplash.  Online survey powered by Typeform

Boys jumping for ball

Enjoy Kids NOW. They grow up!

Dear SoSooper (and previously Home Is Fun) readers,

For eight years I (Denise) blogged on Home Is Fun and shared photos and life in a diversity-filled couple with four energetic boys, all born within seven years.

Time has flown. As Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, shares, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

[bctt tweet=”The days are long, but the years are short. @Gretchen Rubin”]

Boy-and-baby
“Fragile? What’s that mean?” Welcome home, tiny tot!
Terrible (and terribly funny) two's.
The terrible (and terribly funny) two’s.
Family-vacation-small-kids
Is this “vacation” or “extra work”?
Boy-guitar
When the guitar is bigger than they are…and nonetheless, the sound still rings out loud and strong! “Do you like my song, Mommy?” “I love you, darling. :-)”
Family-first-ties
First time wearing ties. Mixed responses…like to most novel experiences. Throughout Mom & Dad still put their best face forward.
Boy-electronics
When the generation gap stops being a concept but a daily reality.
"You can do it, darling."
“You can do it, darling.”
Kid_powder_skier
When finally all that practice pays off. After innumerable falls (and try-overs) they assert, “It was hard. And I did it!”
Family-pyramids
When the family encourages seeking adventure together…
Boy-extreme-sports
…and Mom & Dad worry when the children seek their next challenge to overcome.
Graduation
And in a few short years, they fly on their own. It’s what we hoped for them all along. Bye bye baby. HELLO NEW RELATIONSHIP!!!
Brothers hug
There was a time when I was in the energy-management business: expend theirs & conserve mine…
Boys grow up
…now the future’s so bright…they take the shades off for the photo 🙂

May YOU enjoy YOUR children NOW.  Before they grow up.

(And take pictures, no matter how bad a photographer you are. I did!)

Try spending 5 minutes this week simply observing one child without à priori. Just watch him/her.

Better yet.  Admire him/her.  

(Choose to do this for your “problem” child.  It’s transforming 🙂 )

This works for teens as well as for tots. They might engage you and ask you to join in a game. For these five minutes let them know that you are admiring them and will join them in a few moments. You can even invite them to put on the timer!
Parents who have done this exercise marvel at their children. They are indeed beautifully and wonderfully made!

For more family news, we celebrate 25 years of marriage! (Read about the glue that keeps us together.)

 

Cover photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Happy Birthday Wishes – Million $ Dollar Birthday Chair

One of our favorite Happy Birthday wish is to seat that special person in The Birthday Chair.

High Bang for Buck Happy Birthday Wishes

Boy blowing up balloons for birthday party
Wishing himself a Happy Birthday! “Can I help decorate the Birthday Chair?”
Happy birthday chair
Happy Birthday Wishes for ME!
Brother giving happy birthday wishes
Happy Birthday Wishes serenaded with the kazoo!

This balloon-decorated chair gets big bang out of little time, energy, and funds…and it does it every year. For less than $1, your precious child feels like $1 Million!

Decorate one chair BIG TIME: at least 6 balloons and as many streamers. The chair goes in the middle of the room where the kids (of all ages) gather for the presents.  At Birthday Cake time, he gets the star seat.  It’s the throne on which he reigns during the Birthday Story Telling.

Make it ultra special by kindly yet firmly reserving it for the birthday child; it’s part of letting him know he is one precious kid.

Happy Birthday Wishes – Telling the Birthday Story

Do you know what happened the day you were born? Loads of people—and surely your child—want to know about theirs.

Regale your precious one with nuggets of news.

“Dad admired you first. Mom could not see past her tummy!”

“When I took you in my arms, I discovered an additional love. It wasn’t sharing the love I had for others; it was MORE.”

“You were almost born in the taxi!”

Easy Peezy Happy Birthday Wishes

– Tie up balloons into bunches of three.

We use extra-long strands of ribbon and curl the edges…à la gift wrap.

Why 3’s? One three-balloon group has LOADS more impact than three singles. Try it; you’ll be convinced too.

By the way, florists recommend displaying flowers in odd numbers (think 13 red roses, but not next to the balloons).

– Use multiple colors, sizes, and shapes of balloons.

(If you’re using long balloons, include two long ones in your bundle of three, and choose your colors intelligently. Word from the embarrassed wizened!)

– Tie the bundles to the chair so that balloons are visible from all angles…think photo opportunity.

– Throw curly-cue party streamers on top of the concoction…even better, get the siblings or your child’s friends to do so. The Birthday Chair will gain in precious-ness.

The kids revel in the Birthday Chair every year. Grandma does too.

Birthday_Wishes_Grandma_3
Grandma, in her Birthday Chair, sharing her happy wishes…at the liberation of Paris after WWII!
Birthday_Wishes_Grandma
Oh, the Happy Birthday fun for kids of all ages in the Birthday Chair.

Encourage Appropriate Behavior in Kids: Parenting Tips inspired by Snow!

It has been snowing all week.  Every day.  All day.  Every night.

We go to the mountains to have snow, but deeeeep down, here is my real wish:  I awake every morning to optimal ski conditions.  Abracadabra.

Snow fall, ski slope grooming, and snow plowing would have all happened during my sleep 🙂

Do parents have a similar wish for their children’s good behavior?

Mom or Dad ask for a clean room.  Like magic children’s toys are put away, the floor in spotless, the books are neatly stacked on the bookshelves, the bed is made, and the desk is cleared and ready-for-work.  “Aussitôt dit.  Aussitôt fait.”  Say the word, and it’s done.  Just to our liking, no less!

No need for any teaching, training, or follow through!

We moms and dads must have received our parenting tips straight Mary Poppins and Nanny MacFee.  Or maybe our children were born with an innate understanding of what parents consider appropriate behavior…

Ski cabin "Shelter" in snow
“Abri” means shelter

Children skiing and falling in snow

Cars covered in snow

Appropriate Behavior – Down to Earth Parenting Reality

Just as we adults benefit from training in our jobs, children benefit from training in order to be able to behave well.

[bctt tweet=”Like adults who get training in our jobs, children benefit from training in order to  perform well. “]

Think about it.  Did our sons and daughters clean their room in the womb?  Did our babes learn proper table manners at the breast?

We parents often teach through discipline.  We tell our kids what is wrong.  “Your room is messy.”  “Elbows off the table, please.”    

How do they find out what is desirable behavior?  Is there a more appropriate and encouraging way than through trial and error?

Would you like your boss to keep on telling you, “NO,” until you get it right?  How motivating is that?!

Snow Inspired Parenting Tips for Teaching Kids

1. Enjoy the magic of NOW

Earth stills when snow falls. 

Sounds are muted.  Senses are chilled.  Worries from the office seem faaaaaarrrrrr away.

These extraordinary apprenticeship years of our kids are precious and last such a short while.   Sooner than later our kids graduate and move out.

What life skills and talents do our children take with them as they go out on their own?  THIS is our parenting vocation.

My mother is celebrating a BIG birthday and we are writing her letters of thanks.  I realized that I have many more memories with her AFTER having left home than while I was a child.

The birthday parties I recall through photos.

Here is what I remember through experience and which lives in my soul:  the ambiance of love, the assurance that she had time for me, and her belief in my potential (especially when I acted out of line).

These qualities are communicated by savoring the present.  The magic of small successes.  Noticing appropriate behavior.  Appreciating hard work.  Encouraging me to persevere.

Aren’t those life skills you wish to pass onto your darlings?

Happy grandma cuddling children

Loving grandmother keeps grandkids coming home

 

Admiring grandmother taking photos

2. Slow down before crashing

I love skiing FAST.

Except when there is no visibility and I wonder if I am about to speedily crash and plant my face into fresh powder.

When it snows, it is time to slow down.  Just a tad.

When your child misbehaves, might it be an invitation to shift into a lower gear? 

  • What is the cause of the inappropriate behavior?
  • Do the children even know exactly what is expected of them?
  • Do they have the capability of carrying out those tasks?
  • What could help them succeed even better?

In manufacturing circles, we refer to a bottleneck: THE operation that slows the entire process down.

No matter how much we improve other aspects of the manufacturing cycle, the process will only improve when we address THAT critical juncture.

Where is the weak point in your child’s ability to carry out your request?  Slowing down helps you observe your sweethearts and identify their appropriate behavior “bottleneck.”

Are they not listening to instructions?

That’s a sure guarantee of misbehavior!  So, the parenting issue to address is getting their attention before giving instructions.

Bend down to their level, make eye contact, smile, and THEN stipulate, “Honey, it is time to clean your room.”

Do the toys not have a home?

Playthings are tumbled into a box.  To reach that one desired game, your child rummages through the entire stack (a.k.a. dumps them all over the floor).  The issue is too many toys or finding a better way to store games.

“Sweetheart, you like a comfy home.  Your toys want to be more comfortable too.  Here are two boxes: toys-at-home and toys-on-vacation.  Do you want to choose which toys go on vacation this week or should I?  YOU can change every weekend!”

Slowing down helps identify your child’s unique bottleneck.

3. Break down the big job into smaller steps.

When it snows, visibility is reduced which renders many skiers less comfortable on the slopes.  That’s when we CONSCIOUSLY rely on ski technique:  bending down further to propel us through the turns in heavy snow, maintaining supple knees to  absorb obstacles we no longer see, keeping our body weight correctly balanced over the skis…

Many of these gestures we do without thinking…until it snows and we once again recall and apply our technique.

In a similar way, when training the kids, why not break down a large task into its many smaller bits.

If our initial instructions (ex. clean your room) seems foggy to the kids, let us help them return to their comfort zone by reviewing the individual steps required for success of the total “project” (and securing appropriate behavior can seem like a PROJECT).

A clean room means

  • Nothing on the floor
  • The bed is made…and nothing is hiding under it
  • Clothes are put in the appropriate drawers
  • Toys and books are placed their assigned home
  • The desk has space to be able to work correctly

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: make bed

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: stack books

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: clear desk

Think of our children’s tasks like a gourmet dish.  There is a recipe to follow.  Step by step.

If it’s good enough for the best chefs in the world, I’ll give it a go in our home too 🙂

4. Specify the criteria for “acceptable behavior” and “very well done.”

After snowfall, some slopes get plowed and others are left virgin.  Different strokes for different folks.

A good skier can master the smooth surfaces even with minimal visibility.  An excellent skier dances through the powder.

“Sweetheart, a cleanish room is when the bed is made and the clothes are off the floor.  A super-dooper-totally-awesomely-amazingly-clean room is when you also put your socks in the sock drawer, your shirts in the shirt drawer….”

5. Celebrate performance

A steaming hot chocolate and warm (greasy) fries taste especially delicious when coming in from difficult ski conditions.

“Darling.  Well done.”

Teen boys and kids warming up from skiing

Upon leaving our mountain chalet, we clean up.  Kids help with the chores.  During one vacation with my sister and her family, our Make-A-Loud-Fuss son resisted doing his job:  to clean the bathroom sink & mirror.

She taught him the secret to super-shiny-bathroom-cleaning (Spray the chrome with window cleaner.  It sparkles!) and off he went.

He made the chrome sparkle.

My sister rounded up the crew of siblings and cousins and they ALL marched to the bathroom to recognize a job well done.

Since that day, Mr.Fuss REQUESTS bathroom cleaning.  He is the recognized family expert on appropriate bathroom cleanliness.  We have delegated to him the responsibility of coaching his brothers on quality control.

That’s a win-win situation!

Children parade to congratulate appropriate behavior
Ready? Set. Go! checking out the spotless bathroom.

Children parade to check out clean bathroom

Proud teen and admiring brother
Our cool dude still takes pride in “clean.”

Helping our Kids Learn Appropriate Behavior

How would you and your family’s life be different if you took a fresh look at a “bad news” situation?

  • What one special thing can you appreciate about this time of life right NOW?
  • What is REALLY happening? Slowing down enables fresh observation.
  • What behavior do you, the parent, desire? What are intermediate steps?
  • How can you help your children differentiate between good and great?
  • How will you encourage REPEATED excellent behavior?