Today, we finish up our three-part series about the three best gifts you can give your children; we also finish out the year, so best wishes for 2016 to you and your family!
In December's Just You and Me episodes, we've been Stopping the Holiday Insanity by focusing on gifts we can give our children, one episode per gift.
Today's gift, though, does more than bring enjoyment and a smooth schedule.
Today's gift, Gratitude, could be the most elusive – but it could also be the most important one.
Starting in early January 2015, I write down (if I can't write that day because of tendon issues, I say out loud) five things I'm grateful for each night before I go to bed. It doesn't seem like much, I know, but it's one of the most important micro-changes I made this year; these tiny changes have made a huge positive impact on my health. It's as if focusing on what I'm grateful for shows me all the good things in my life! In fact in today's episode I read from a favorite book of mine, The Slight Edge, about a happiness researcher named Sean Achor and the impact of gratitude that Sean has found in his research (if you want to see a great Ted talk, here is Sean's… you'll laugh and learn all the same time.)
I want to share something I'm so grateful for, which is… You.
The joy of connecting with you, helping you worry less and enjoy more in your parenting, well, all that's helping me! 2015 has been a tumultuous year – the year in which I got to ski in Colorado, for the first time since spending the winter of 2011 unable to walk more than a few steps, and not only did I ski but I skied with my parents and my children. It was the year in which we adopted dogs, and five weeks later needed to give them up because I had a relapse in my tendon condition; the year in which I won the first story slam I ever entered; the year in which Ben helped me get this podcast off the ground (and the year in which I conceived of it in the first place.)
A year full of ups and downs. But one of the biggest ups is the way that this podcast was received; when you contact me by email, or instagram, or Facebook or twitter to ask a question or say thanks, that's when I feel the most gratitude.
Thank you SO much for listening, commenting, questioning – I look forward to lots more of all the above in the new year.
Here's to a great 2016!
Carey Andersen, Tuesday's guest in episode 45, had so many wonderful and inspiring things to say; we can learn a lot from her positive approach to balancing family and work – and the fact that she does it all with multiple sclerosis. Our chat this past Tuesday isn't a prerequisite to today's Your Child Explained episode, where we always get right into the minds of our children and see what makes them tick. But go back and give it a listen if you can; posted during one of the busiest weeks of the year for many of us, the lead up to Christmas, my talk with Carey Andersen will have you remembering why we do everything that we do!
Today, I'm thinking about a story Carey told regarding the terrible lottery placement her five-year-old ended up with for his kindergarten year, and how the appeals board allowed him to move to a more suitable school based on his very simple declaration:
"I don't have enough time to play."
Carey and her husband heard that simple sentence and knew they needed to make a change for their son, and it got me thinking about what can happen when we really hear our children.
Even when they are pre-verbal, they might be trying to tell us a simple truth – and it's up to us to hear it.
In real time, this episode drops on Christmas eve, and if your life is full of Christmas crazy, and you still made the time to listen, I hope that today's episode gives you something that you really need. For my part, I want you to know how much I appreciate that you listened! I wish for you a peaceful and wonderful time as we start to say goodbye to 2015.
If you're listening to this the day this episode drops, it's three days before Christmas… in many parents' lives one of the busiest, most harried and frustrating days of the whole year. The laundry list of gifts for teachers, snacks for parties, plans for travel or hosting, endless shopping and wrapping certainly has me reaching for the chocolate vodka more often than is strictly necessary! If that's how you're feeling too, this episode just might be the best antidote to Christmas Crazy that you could find.
I met today's guest during Hub Week, Boston's first annual October celebration of all the cool things going on in the city. I attended several great events, and one of the best-of-the-best was called The State of the Podcast 2015 and featured a hero of mine, Christopher Lydon of Open Source, who's been in radio for a long time and – as I found out at the event – was one half of the first podcast ever posted.
The event was incredibly well-planned and well-run and felt very intimate even with hundreds of people in attendance, and afterwards I got to talking to today's guest – and found out that she was one of the organizers! As we kept talking, Carey Andersen shared about her experiences parenting a six-year-old while living with multiple sclerosis. Long story short, Carey graciously agreed to come on the show, and even suggested a direction for our conversation: asking for and receiving help. A difficult thing, but something that every parent needs sometimes.
We talk about some really cool stuff! Here's a sampling:
1) how Carey and her husband moved their kindergartner from an unsustainable situation – when he was five, their now-six-year-old would come home from school saying "I don't have enough time to play" – and into a different public school, where he is thriving in first grade
2) Carey shares a story about asking for help from an unsympathetic Cambridge police officer (who, it turns out, had just completed a departmentwide empathy training) and helping him understand that, even when somebody doesn't look sick, they still might need help
3) we share about how our respective health problems have a similar upside: the ability to feel gratitude for every good thing, no matter how small
My conversation with Carey Andersen, a woman with a job she loves, a supportive husband and family, and a great little boy showed me the power of asking for and accepting help. With 2015 drawing to a close, it feels right that our last guest interview of the year focuses so clearly on giving and receiving and feeling grateful for everything we have.
In today's Just You and Me episode, we jump into the second of the three best gifts you can give your kids
In the previous Stop the Holiday Insanity episode, 41 (click here to listen), we talked about Time. Today in this second installment of Stop The Holiday Insanity we discuss the second of these three best gifts: Ritual.
Growing up, every year around December 1 my Mom got out wrapping paper, scissors, ribbons, and tape and we would make a chain that functioned as our Advent calendar. It's such a thrill to share that ritual now, with my boys. Even though they're 15 and 11 years old, they look forward to the day we make our Christmas chain.
There are other such rituals in our holiday celebrations – Christmas eve dinner, for example, which is always French onion soup and a delicious French-Canadian meat pie called tourtiere, with cookies for dessert. I think ritual is one of the most important gifts you can give your children.
In good times, rituals are what bring us together and help us feel as if were part of something bigger than ourselves.
Involving the kids in our holiday rituals from an early age has so many benefits for them! It exposes them to the traditional foods of our cultures, and as they grow it becomes something they can remember from times past and also look forward to in the future.
Plus, if there have been major changes since last holiday season (like a divorce or loss of a loved one) predictable and comfortable routines over time help kids get through the tough stuff.
Also, they can see their own growth and development. Something that was hard for them to do last year, and it easier to do this year, shows kids their own mastery or competence.
So in thinking about these first two gifts we can give our kids – Time and Ritual – what are some simple teens and rituals you can start this year? What are some that you can keep going from previous years?
Thanks for listening, I hope your holiday season is less insane than those of holiday seasons past! Next week we have a great guest, someone I can't wait for you to hear from, and then during the last week of December 3 great gift we can give our kids – the third and possibly best way to stop the holiday insanity – will air. Keep hanging in there!
Links Discussed in This Episode:
Here's episode 39, an E-rated conversation with cartoonist and author Emily Flake… Please enjoy it with headphones, so you don't upset children, coworkers, or relatives.
Click here to head to instagram, where you can be part of the giveaway to win Emily Flake's new book Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting. The drawing is on Christmas day, so you still have some time to enter! To do so, just scroll down in my instagram feed until you find the picture of Emily's book, leave me a comment under that picture, and tag a friend. Maybe you'll week on Christmas morning to find an extra present for you!
If you're enjoying the podcast and getting good value from my advice, but still feel like it's not enough, or that you need advice more tailored to your situation, check out my Parent Coaching page.… I'll help you worry less and enjoy more in your parenting.
Today's Your Child Explained episode – where we always try to get into the heads of our kids – is a little different. Usually, the Thursday YCE pertains to the previous Tuesday guest episode. This week, though, I wanted to share something a little different.
Last night my husband and I got to attend a live presentation with interest-led learning expert Blake Boles. His most recent book, The Art of Self-Directed Learning, is geared toward helping teens and young adults figure out what they really want out of life, and how to get it.
In today's episode, I'm really thinking about that presentation, and specifically one question from an audience member. Find the show notes to this episode here, on my website.
It can be tough to find time to read the paper on a Sunday morning. In fact, I generally don't finish it until much later in the week! But Sundays, I always find time for a favorite column, Miss Conduct, because author Robin Abrahams – stand-up comedian, doctor of research psychology, researcher at Harvard business school and professor of psychology and writing – shares great relationship advice in her own special, fun way.
When Robin agreed to come on my show, I did a little happy dance! And… I did another little happy dance when we had our conversation :-)
1) Robin's most favorite question she's ever been asked – and why
2) how the Miss Conduct column is similar to Seinfeld
3) outstanding advice for listeners in the midst of the crazy-busy month of December (or, any crazy-busy time leading up to an event): include the children in the lead-up to the big event, and try to spread the joy out over several days… I'm heeding this advice and it's really helping me enjoy the season
I hope you find our conversation lively, fun, and above all helpful as you navigate this next crazy few weeks, which for most of us is going to be pretty darned busy!
Today, the first of the three-part series about stopping the Holiday Insanity by using the three best gifts you can ever give your children, we dive into: Time.
In each of the Just You and Me December episodes – today's, December 15, and December 29 – we talk about one of these three gifts.
Today's is time!
For the show notes to this episode, go to the We Turned Out Okay website by clicking this link.