Tag Archives: connection

Life’s Routine or My Routine?

Ah, routine. It happens. Sometimes it’s a routine that we fall into and it works, so we run with it. Sometimes it’s a routine that we try to set up and it doesn’t work, so we scrap it.

Either way, routine happens.

Take, for example, our current morning routine. I get up before the kids, do what I need to do, then I wake them up. I always allow time for snuggles before they get out of bed (and if I’m lucky and one of them has snuck into bed with the other at some point through the night, I can snuggle both of them at the same time and make sure that no one is left out or that one doesn’t get more time than the other). They are close enough in age that their sleep requirements are about the same and they go to bed within a half hour of each other and wake up around the same time together. This simplifies things. It wasn’t part of the plan, but it has worked out nicely and I’ll take it with a giant dollop of gratitude.

Then we all head to the kitchen for breakfast. After breakfast, we tidy up the kitchen and head back upstairs to get dressed and ready for school. This can sometimes take half an hour. There will inevitably be fights over who gets to use the bathroom first, how much time there is for play before getting dressed, whether or not we’re walking or driving to the bus stop, etc. But generally, if I plan right and allow enough time for them to move themselves through their morning routine, they manage themselves fairly well. (And isn’t it all about teaching them those executive function skills so that they can manage themselves and won’t always expect me to do it for them?)

Our morning routine is something that just kind of happened. Obviously, I had to originally do some planning to get them up and out the door for school (and in my current, somewhat disabled state, the help of my parents is mostly what gets us through our morning routine), but this is the routine that we have fallen into and the one that works (right now):

  1. Mom gets up first and completes basic morning prep (mostly sitting for five minutes in a mindful state, splashing cold water on face to wake up, brushing hair, getting dressed)
  2. Wake kids up and have a morning snuggle (this reconnects us after a night apart in our own beds)
  3. Head down for breakfast, eat and tidy up together
  4. Head back upstairs to dress and get ready for school
  5. Head back downstairs to pack lunches and school bags
  6. Head out the door

The thing about routine, though, is that sometimes it needs to change. I had to let go of our old way of doing things when I realized (after way too long) that it wasn’t working for us.

I used to get up at the same time as the kids and insist that they get dressed before they ate breakfast. After breakfast, I would send them upstairs to brush their teeth and wash up while I packed lunches and school bags. That turned out to be a stressful routine for us. I was constantly yelling up the stairs for them to hurry up. They weren’t taking responsibility for their school bags (and really, they are the best ones for that because how do I know what books are supposed to go back to school and which ones can stay home on any given day?) So I let go.

And we floated for a bit, without a routine. It was a bit chaotic, and my condition and the extra adult or two in the house were also contributing factors to the floating, but the extra help made it easy to float and to slowly, intentionally drift toward another routine that could work.

We ended up landing in a nice, comfortable routine that is working…for now. It’s comfortable, safe and works well for everyone.

I remember when Little Brother was about five months old. I caught him napping in his baby rocking chair a few mornings in a row at around the same time each day. I remember being surprised that he seemed to dose off at precisely 10am morning after morning and wondered how I could have missed this napping routine that he had created for himself. So I started taking him out of his chair just before 10am and putting him in his crib in his bedroom. And sure enough, he’d fall asleep in his crib at precisely 10am and he would sleep until about 11:30am every morning.

Of course, that napping routine didn’t last forever (and I was very sad when he gave up his morning nap), but it was a routine that we enjoyed for many months and was one that I didn’t force or try to create to suit me. It just worked.

And that’s the point, I think, with routines. Routines are necessary, especially for children. They create a sense of knowing what’s coming next. But in order for them to be effective, they have to be kind of natural. Forcing a routine has never worked in our house. All it has done is forced me to re-evaluate the reason and need for that particular routine.

So now, we let routines show themselves and then we intentionally and lovingly slip into them until they no longer fit. We’re trying hard not to hang onto old routines once they are worn out and no longer useful and we are all happier because of it.

Slowing down, slowed down, stopped

So, I haven’t been around in a while. I kind of gave up. I got tired. I was overworked (in every area of my life) and now I think I might be a little bit ready again. I miss this space. But this space is going to be a slow space now.

I learned a lesson recently. I won’t go into details. Life presents so many lessons. But I’d like to share this post that I read this morning from UnTangled that kind of frames the lesson I learned…http://drkellyflanagan.com/2014/08/13/why-you-should-unsubscribe-from-my-mailing-list/.

Reflecting

I haven’t written in this space for a while. Life has taken over again.

But this I must put down in writing somewhere and I do not have my notebook with me today.

On the way to daycare drop-off this morning, my sweet little girl was in one of those moods. She grumbled and whined all the way to her babysitter’s house. She wouldn’t let go of whatever it was that was turning her beautiful smile upside down.

Normally, this would irk me. I would let it get to me and it would force my smile upside down. Which in turn would make my daughter worse and my little boy a grumpy or sad mess.

I’ve read tons of parenting magazines, books, articles, blogs, etc. Many of them give fantastic advice. Some of them are ridiculous (they’re good for a laugh, though). But one piece of advice that I have read over and over in my lifetime (and not just from parenting “experts”) is that how other people treat you is not a reflection of you, it is a reflection of them and their circumstances.

Until this morning, I never really applied that to my children. I often think of it in terms of the adults in my life. But I have always taken more of a I-control-how-my-kids-feel attitude toward the little people in my life.

But today, my little girl was grumpy and whiny and I looked up at the grey sky and thanked God for her, grump and whine and all. And my gratitude reflected back to me and I felt good. All the way to daycare.

And when I dropped them off, she gave me a wonderful kiss and a hug. And she walked happily over to her friends. Perhaps my gratitude for her shone some light into her and cheered her up.

Whatever it was, for the first time, I did not feel like her mood was my problem. People get grumpy sometimes. All we can do is stand by and be there when the sun comes out for them again.

Writing for Print in a Wired World

I’ve been doing a lot of writing off-screen lately; which is weird in this wired world. If you write something, you share it. Why would you have a thought that isn’t shared with all of your followers and fellow Tweeters? Well, that’s the way it seems anyway. Every thought, every little scribble that used to be reserved for ourselves is now shared with everyone.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t share our thoughts and make connections via social media. But lately, I’ve taken my writing off-screen and into an old fashion journal…and it’s liberating. Back when I started blogging, I had business cards printed (similar to the ones from YouPrint and Moo), which made the sometimes isolating process of blogging more real. Handing those cards out at social media conferences and to new acquaintances established the blog in real life and has had an effect on how long this blog has existed.

Recently, I’ve also been working on several print projects. There’s something about the printed word, whether it’s a card, a brochure or a document. Seeing your words in print lends credence to the idea. Ideas are easily shared via social media, but printed words come alive and express a certain permanence to me. It takes effort to share it, so its worth is in the time someone has taken to pass it on.

One of the projects to which I’ve been dedicating my time has been a monthly newsletter. Crafting the words, laying them out on the page and entrusting them to a printer is like sending your child to the first day of kindergarten. Terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.

When the newsletter is published and distributed, it invites conversation among the group members, individual articles are photocopied and shared, and the printed pages are kept in an archive for future group members. These words that I write for print establish themselves in the real world. And that is really quite something.

‘Tis the season for family learning!

I’m a book worm. I have always loved reading. I wish I had more time for reading in my life. But I have two young kids, so the reading I do involves them. I would read all the time if I could. I’m terrible at getting my kids to put their books away at the dinner table because I’d be just as happy to sit there and eat and read along with them. But someone has to teach them that it’s rude to read at the table. So I sacrifice.

With the Christmas holidays upon us, we’ll have more time to snuggle up and read. I can’t wait!

This article from ABC Life Literacy Canada pretty much outlines how I’d like to spend our holidays:

The winter holidays are here—kids off school plus adults off work adds up to family time for learning new things and practicing literacy skills together. ABC Life Literacy Canada offers these holly jolly holiday family literacy tips to make your season “bright!”

  • Family book snuggle: Gather the family together with a favourite holiday book. Get the fire going if you’ve got a fireplace. Then snuggle in and take turns reading aloud to one another. A little hot chocolate is always welcome!
  • Come a-carolling! Invite family and friends for an evening of singing carols—or singing other songs. Singing encourages learning patterns of words, rhymes and rhythms.
  • Bake-off: Get the whole family involved in baking—cookies are a perfect choice because everyone can participate. Following a recipe is a great way to practice reading and comprehension skills. Measuring ingredients and following baking times are practical (and delicious!) applications of math skills.
  • Out on the town: Take in a holiday musical or visit a museum. Family outings offer fun learning opportunities—and make sure to read the theatre program and the exhibit descriptions.
  • Make a list and check it twice: Grocery shopping is easily adaptable for family literacy activities. Your child can write the holiday food shopping list, read signs and labels as you make your way through the aisles, and count items as they go into the shopping cart.
  • Choose your own ABC: For each letter of the alphabet, take turns thinking of holiday things that begin with that letter. Things beginning with C could include candles, cookies and cousins. No need to keep score – just move on to the next letter when no one can think of anything else.
  • Looking for a gift idea? Encourage reading by giving books, magazine subscriptions and bookstore gift cards—gifts they’ll keep opening throughout the year!

When you include fun learning activities in your family’s holiday time, everyone stays sharp and ready for the New Year. For more family literacy tips and activities, visit www.FamilyLiteracyDay.ca.

Boundaries in an Overconnected World

The title of this book grabbed me. It took hold of all the swirling thoughts and buzzing phones and beeping computers and spun them around in my head until I could only see blurred lines from all the chaotic movement.

What I wanted to do was draw a circle around my brain just inside the vortex of buzzing and beeping and ringing and people vying for my attention and call that my boundary and force all of the noise out.

That’s what I pictured when I read the title of the book.Boundaries cover_a

And that’s what the book is all about. How to draw that line, create that boundary, stop the noise.

Anne Katherine authored another book called Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin, which I now of course have to read because it’s the basis for the concept of boundaries.

And if there’s something I’m not good at, it’s creating and maintaining boundaries.

On page 73, Anne Katherine succinctly describes my biggest issue with boundaries (or lack thereof):

“Yikes! You Mean I Have to Set Each of My Boundaries Myself?

As with any new skill, boundary setting can feel awkward at first. Many of us fear we’ll lose a friend if we set a boundary. But think about the cost to the friendship if you don’t set a boundary. Over time, the friendship is likely to fade anyway if your boundaries continue to be trampled (or if you keep trampling on someone else’s).”

To get to the meat of Boundaries in an Overconnected World, it’s a fantastic read, straightforward, serious and relevant. Though I enjoyed the whole book and all the help it provided as I become better able to establish boundaries, I was particularly interested in Chapter 10: Protecting Your Children.

As my kids get older (and spend more time online), I’m going to have to start thinking about the boundaries for them. As Anne Katherine says in her book, “Children and teens are so accustomed to computers and life online that we grownups can easily feel that they are way beyond our own capacity with electronic media. They probably are. But we still have better judgment and a clearer idea of how a chain of events can become dangerous.”

Chapter 10 provides great tips and tools for parents to help their children develop boundaries for their online activities. But beyond that, Anne Katherine really gets to the heart of the “connection” issue. Boundaries in a digital world are as much about setting rules and guidelines as they are about creating real connection with each other. She states in chapter 10: “Working closely with your children around Internet use automatically strengthens family intimacy boundaries.”

And, as a parent, what I want most is for my kids to be involved and understand why we set boundaries, and for them to know that, no matter what they encounter in the great big digital world, they can always come to me and their dad and we will help them.

For those without children, Boundaries in an Overconnected World also covers personal information boundaries, online dating, chat rooms, work boundaries and many other useful topics including what to do if you can’t set boundaries for yourself.

It’s a very well-written book with lots of helpful information. Given how busy life tends to get and the fact that my blog’s name is based on how much Life Takes Over, becoming more clear on boundaries by reading this book is going to be very useful.

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Title: Boundaries in an Overconnected World: Setting Limits to Preserve Your Focus, Privacy, Relationships, and Sanity
Author: Anne Katherine
ISBN: 978-1-60868-190-7

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I received a review copy of Boundaries in an Overconnected World. The opinions above are entirely my own. I received no compensation for my review.

Where did all the fun go?

When did our world (and by “our” I mean “my”), get all hung up on little things and stressed out?

Some time ago, my daughter was doing her homework at the kitchen table while I made dinner. My son wanted to join the homework fun, too. I offered him colouring books, writing activities, puzzles, etc., none of which caught his attention. Then I pulled out a game/puzzle exercise a friend had given me for my son. It had belonged to her son when he was younger and had been sent to him from his relatives in Germany.

I laid it out on the kitchen table and read the instructions. There were, of course, English instructions, but some of it was literal translation and a bit of German crept in. So, to make things fun, I used a German accent when I read the instructions out loud.

Both my kids dissolved into a laughing mess. Continue reading