Since having children, I’ve been obsessed with eliminating as many harmful things possible from my family’s diet. Food coloring just instinctively seems like a bad idea to me. And then recently, I read that studies are showing food coloring linked to ADHD in children! So it seems my instincts were right since for the past five years, I’ve shied away from using the store-bought Paas Easter Egg Dye Kits and instead chose to make my own dyes using real food. Yes, Real Food! Yes, dyes from foods we eat! It can be done!
Here’s a few more reasons I choose to make my own dyes:
- One is that I like to show my children, many things people buy at the store can really be made at home. I believe this empowers them to be resourceful and self reliant, to know that they are capable of making anything.
- It also teaches them to think sustainably, think for themselves, not to be a consumer just by default, not to blindly follow what everyone else does.
- It also connects them with nature and is a process that they can conceptually follow– food is grown from seeds in the ground; we harvested the food from the garden and then cooked it to make dyes.
- Another reason is because it is sort of a cooking adventure. It’s fun to see what color each food dyes the eggs… It is not always what you might expect!
You can try dyeing Easter eggs the natural way by following the directions (recipes) below. Note: When using natural food dyes, color intensity will depend on how long you leave the eggs in the dyes. The longer you leave them in, the more vibrant and intense the colors will be. We soaked our eggs for just a couple of hours during our Easter egg dyeing party, so they are fairly light in color, but you can leave them in the refrigerator over night if you want more intense colors. You can also experiment with other foods to make dyes. Here are some of the foods that we used to make our dyes:
The next day after our egg dyeing party, I made egg salad with the eggs we dyed. My kids loved picking out their favorite colors and I felt reassured knowing that these colored eggs were safe to eat.
Wishing you a healthy and happy Easter!
Your Sensible Girlfriend
Natural Food Dye Recipe (For Easter Eggs)
Adapted from what’scookingamerica.net
How to make natural egg dyes:
Wash hard-cooked (boiled) eggs in warm soapy water to remove any oily residue that may impede the color from adhering to the eggs. Let eggs cool before attempting to dye.
If desired, before dyeing the eggs, draw shapes, pictures or inspiring words on them with crayons or a piece of wax. Or make designs by using stickers or tying rubber bands around the eggs.
You need to use your own judgment about exactly how much of each dye stuff to use. Except for spices, place a handful (or two or three handfuls) of a dyestuff in a saucepan.
Add tap water to come at least one inch above the dye stuff. NOTE: This will be about 1 cup of water for each handful of dyestuff.
Bring the water just to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Let simmer about 15 minutes or up to an hour until you like the color obtained. Keep in mind that dyed eggs will not get as dark as the color in the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.
Pour mixture into a liquid measuring cup. Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of white vinegar for each cup of strained dye liquid. Pour the mixture into a bowl or jar that is deep enough to completely cover the eggs you want to dye.
Use a slotted spoon to lower the eggs into the hot liquid. Leave the eggs in the water until you like the color. NOTE: Allow the egg to sit in the tea for several hours or overnight. The longer the egg soaks, the deeper the final color will be. If you plan to eat the eggs be sure to do this step in the refrigerator.
When eggs are dyed to the color you desire, lift the eggs out with the slotted spoon. Let them dry on a rack or drainer. NOTE: An egg carton works nicely as a drying rack. Be careful to handle the eggs gently and minimally as some of the colors can easily be rubbed off before the egg has dried.
For a textured look, dab the still wet egg with a sponge.
Eggs colored with natural dyes have a dull finish and are not glossy. After they are dry, you can rub the eggs with cooking oil or mineral oil to give them a soft sheen.
Happy Pi Day! You may not be aware of it, but on March 14 (3/14) math geeks celebrate Pi Day (the mathematical constant Pi)… while people like me use it as an excuse to celebrate pie (the kind you eat). You may know Pi as the Greek symbol “?” or the incredibly long number that starts with 3.14159 or or the name of a boy in the Oscar Award winning movie Life of Pi. But here is the math definition of Pi– it’s the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. This means that no matter the size of the circle, the ratio will never change. There is something comforting in that… something that is forever constant… something you can always count on. On the other hand, I can count on pie (the crusty yummy kind) as a comfort I can always count on.
So on March 14th, to celebrate Pi Day, I made two apple pies. One for my family and one for a friend who recently gave birth to twins while at the same time struggling to care for a five year old and her aging father. In my opinion, it is one of the most comforting foods in the world you can give as a gift and one of the most loving foods I make for my family.
I like to do random acts of pie giving which I find just as meaningful as random acts of kindness. It has a similar impact, yet sweeter and more delicious. I’ve said this in earlier posts, but It’s worth saying again… I think it’s important to do unnecessarily kind things, especially to those closest to you. And making a pie for no reason at all is one of those things that I know my boys will remember in their childhood. I believe the aroma that lingers in the house will be etched into their brains into adulthood so that whenever they smell apple pie, they will remember the star-studded, sugar-sprinkled, flaky, crusty treat that mom used to make. I actually see it as a form of parenting… creating memories on purpose, a not so often, but regular family tradition. A tangible way to have my children see that life can be randomly and for no reason, sweet and good. And it shows them how a simple thing can bring so much pleasure.
Okay, this is going to get more personal than most of my posts just because this is about pie.
I may put pie on more of a pedestal than most people. That’s because pie and I have a history together. When I was 16 years old, I worked 16 hour days waitressing at my dad’s coffee shop. I was only allowed to sit down if I was eating, so pie and I became very good friends. I loved summers where you could get juicy, fresh peach or strawberry pie. My mom used to make the best lemon merengue pie, just tart enough that you’d get that little twinge that happens in the side of your cheek when you eat it. My all-time favorite was boysenberry, heated with whipped cream on top. Pie even made me fall in love. I was on a first or second date and my date took the liberty of ordering me dessert when I was in the bathroom. Without even knowing that I had a thing for pie, he ordered me boysenberry and he had them heat it and top it with whipped cream! I fell head over heels in love with him partly because of this pie incident. I prefer pie over cake any day, so when I was a cub television reporter, I wanted to thank my friend Dateline NBC Anchorman Stone Philips for mentoring me and calling me when I was sick in the hospital. So instead of sending him cake on his birthday, I sent this boy from the South his favorite Pecan Pie. This was one of my first random acts of pie that sent the message of appreciation and love. My best pie baking techniques come from my beloved Uncle Mervyn. One of the secrets to the flakiest crust is adding vodka to the recipe; yes vodka! It keeps the dough moist when you roll it out, but the moisture dissipates when you cook it. I even love the science behind pie!
As you can see, pie conjures up so many comforting and pleasurable memories for me. I love that I can pass on the pleasure with my random acts of pie giving. Although not mathematical, pie will be a constant in my life. Happy Pi Day!
Who Do You Want To Be Today?
If You Could Do Anything This Year, What Would You Do?
This is a timely question that we can ask since we are just still in the second month of this year. I want to revisit my last post to add a little more to what I was really trying to convey:
We adults can learn so much from children. In asking my young boys this question, I noticed they didn’t edit their answers based on fear or self doubt or even reality. They just let their minds wander to the outer reaches of what they could perceive to be right for them at the moment. And they didn’t judge it. As they talked about it, you could see in their faces and their bodies that they were actually experiencing this imaginative vision as they spoke about it!
What does this kind of imagining do for us? When we imagine, we embody the experience (just as I talked about my kid’s faces and bodies “living” the experience). Happy endorphins rush into our blood stream so that we are changed physically. Once we are changed physically, we actually act differently which causes us to attract and gravitate toward things similar-in-feel to what is on our mind. What does this mean? This means by allowing our minds to imagine our best lives (without limitation), we allow ourselves to attract anything that resembles our “best lives”. Otherwise said, we “manifest” the essence (the feeling) of what we imagine. Once we have felt the “feeling” in our bodies, we can recognize anything that resembles or gives us that same feeling. We can begin to more easily connect with these things, places and people that give us that feeling… And this leads to manifesting what feels to be our “best lives”.
This can work in the negative sense when we allow our minds to “worry” or imagine what might happen based on fear. So why not decide to manifest your best life. Here is my idea of my best life:
Full of fun
An abundance and endless amount of love (given and received)
An abundance of wealth (whatever comfort level feels right to you)
An abundance of vibrancy, health and energy
A sense of wellbeing
A feeling of empowerment
A great sense of achievement
Stability, groundedness, safety
A sense of adventure, newness, spontaneity
Enjoyment indulging in creativity
A knowing and trust in my own wisdom
Feeling happy in my own skin and my own body
Feeling and knowing that my husband and children feel fully cared for, nurtured, loved, supported, cherished, admired, empowered by me and deeply connected to me
Connecting deeply with dear friends
Connecting deeply with other people
Connecting with the beauty of nature
Creating beauty all around me
Creating meaning in all areas of my life
Sharing the beauty and meaning that I see and create
Assisting others to help themselves to discover and live their best lives
Did you notice these are all feelings that I can embody? Having a list like this to meditate on is the fastest way to manifesting your best life. If you do create a list of more concrete things such as “making a six figure income while working less than 20 hours a week” or “owning and driving a 2013 Audi allroad T2″ or “comfortably wearing size 4 pants” or “weighing 105 pounds”, make sure that you are listing something that you actually believe you can achieve. If not, your doubtful thoughts will be the feelings your body will experience and manifest.
Here’s a recap on how to live your best life:
Ask yourself, “If I could do anything (be anything, experience anything), what would I do?”
Imagine your best life
Create a best life list
Mediate on these things and embodying the feeling of living it
Expect and know that these things will happen (very important!)
Know that you deserve it (also very important)
Enjoy living your best life!
Please email me to let me know that this is working for you! I’d love to hear what your best life feels like!
Your Sensible Girlfriend
“Live life fully while you’re here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don’t try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human.”
? Anthony Robbins
I am proud to be a homemaker. I believe homemaking is nearly a lost art. Since women have shifted from homemakers to being working women, it seems that working women pride themselves on the fact that they are working women (feeling some level of pride or human right being able to compete with men in the workforce). I am glad and very thankful that women are able to work and compete for jobs with men, but I believe our sense of value in ourselves is misplaced when only based on our careers outside the home.
Nowadays, it seems that home life is an afterthought. It is just what happens after you come home from work and the kids come home from school. It has become (for many families) just downtime from school or work– grabbing some food and many times eating by the company of your favorite television program.
On the other hand, I am a conscious homemaker. I see homemaking as a meaningful, fundamental social art. I put a lot of thought into how I raise my family because I know that the rhythms, the rituals and the structure that I set up will have a lasting affect on my children and my husband. What we do as homemakers shapes who our little ones turnout to be, affecting their feelings of safety, security and self image as well as their paradigm of the possibilities in this world. It also creates a meaningful foundation for our husbands to operate from to be successful the the world.
Meaningful Family Rituals:
“It’s What We Do”– if you and your kids can say this about something your family does, then you have successfully created a meaningful family ritual.
-Dinner together at the dinner table starting with a blessing at the beginning of the meal. (This creates a feeling of security in the rhythm and unity of family being together on a regular basis.)
-Family game night. We sit down as a family to play a board game. (This creates a feeling of unity, fun and family commeradarie)
-Making blueberry pancakes on the weekend. (This creates a feeling of specialness to have a relaxed morning of cooking and eating together.)
-”Special Time” is at least five minutes of individual time every day with each child: sitting down with them, telling them (in the same way each time) how much you love them and doing an activity of their choice for five minutes. (This fills their resevoir of feeling love, self worth, individual importance; creates positive reinforcement and a feeling of security in a repeated ritual)
-Teaching my children how to do a household chore and reminding them to follow through with it at the same time every day. (This creates a feeling of accomplishment, capability and responsibility.)
-Making something from scratch with your hands. Baking, cooking, gardening, woodworking, or building with materials such as cardboard, paper, wool or fabric. (This creates a feeling of self sufficiency, capability, and an understanding of creation.)
-Making a conscious effort to do something new together as a family (This creates a feeling of adventure, excitement, novelty, discovery, a departure from our everyday lives.)
These are just a few of many. Every family can create their own family rituals. The important thing is to see homemaking as an important mechanism to influence and shape the physical, emotional, social (and even spiritual) well being of your family.
Your Sensible Girlfriend
(Article As Seen In Mauimama Magazine April 2012)
Since Springtime is about growth, renewal and life, it’s the perfect time to renew and enliven your relationship with play. Play helps children in so many ways. Here’s how it it can be used as a parenting tool to stop power struggles.
Real life power struggle scenario:
My boys were playing in the Childwatch room at the YMCA with a sweet young boy. His mom and I came to pick up our kids after working out. Our boys were having so much fun together that our new friend did not want to go. At first he refused to put away toys and started to get upset. I said, “hey, let’s play a game. Let’s see which dinosaurs win the race jumping into the bin!” He immediately got excited about playing the game and the boys put away all the dinosaurs while laughing and having fun. Next I said, “who wants to push the ‘dinosaur train’ to the shelf? Whoo-whoo!” All boys took a side pushing the box of dinosaurs together and lifted the box on to the shelf. Next the boy refused to put his slippers on. His mom spent some time trying to convince him to put them on and with each minute, his stubbornness began to grow stronger and stronger. I finally stepped in saying, “do you know how an inch-worm moves?” This immediately stopped his tantrum. I put my finger down near his slipper and inched it along showing him. I asked him playfully, “can your toes walk like an inch worm into your slippers?” He smiled liking the idea of his toes walking like an inch worm and in seconds both slippers we on his feet. I assured him that we would see him soon and play with him again. He said, “okay” and left with his mom without a struggle.
How did I know how to help this child? I am not a miracle mom who is just magical with children (there are some who are, but that is not me). The truth is, I had just started reading a book called Playful Parenting by child psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen, phD. He talks about stopping power struggles in this way, which does not come naturally to many parents, including me. I often step back and see myself getting caught up in the “treadmill of life”, focused on completing tasks that I have for the day. I remember thinking when I was a young child, “why are adults so serious? They can do anything they want, so why don’t they choose to have fun?” My answer to that now is, we adults often forget we have the choice to make life fun.
Some parents might say, “I don’t have time to play every time my child gets upset.” Or “the child should just learn to listen.” Or “I don’t want to be too lenient with my child or he/she will think he can get away with everything.”
Cohen says that when a young child is locked in a power struggle, his/her mind does not have the ability to learn or reason. The child becomes mentally focused on what they want (or don’t want), making them more and more distraught and feeling more and more isolated. In this isolation, the child feels unloved and misunderstood. This sets up an antagonistic relationship with the parent, does not make the child want to behave the next time, only more resentful, especially if more reprimanding occurs. This resentment will be released later as seemingly unreasonable, bad behavior, passive aggressive behavior or powerlessly giving up in hopeless dissociation. What works to break the child’s negative focus is to connect with the child. You can try to sit a child down to talk with him/her or hug him or try to look her in the eye, but in many cases, the child will turn away. Playfully connecting breaks down that wall the child protectively builds in a light and easy way. It is quick. Quicker than arguing or trying to convince your child to behave. It changes that antagonistic relationship to make them feel like you are on the same team. Playing and laughing together makes them feel loved rather than disciplining him/her for having emotions. Children release feelings through play. Instead of talking things out, they play through their feelings to work through their emotions and that helps them to let things go.
Ways To Stop A Power Struggle:
1. Connect through play.
2. Make the child laugh.
3. Turn it into a game or something fun.
4. Do something silly or ridiculous to make them laugh or distract them.
5. Talk to them in playful way.
5.Use laughing together as a way to connect.
After making them laugh and play, they will be open to listening to your direction or request and feel happy to do what you ask. It works like magic!
If you need permission, here it is: Go ahead and have some fun!
Your Sensible Girlfriend
In my house, cute goes a long way. These two-inch crispy yum nuggets went over very well with my three and four year-old (and my husband who saw them and literally said, “Wow! Yum!”) Within minutes their plates were clean! I’m loving this because in each two-bite morsel, they ate a well-rounded meal– protein, vegetables and grains. And on top of that it was so easy to make!
I was inspired by the cooking show called Chopped where two chefs battle against each other to make the best dish using whatever ingredients are in their basket. The chef from Portland made some kind of potato cakes out of random ingredients and they looked fabulous.
My battle was similar, using whatever I happened to have in my refrigerator, I found purple potatoes, a tiny bit of leftover chopped green onion, a yellow onion, cilantro, leftover cornmeal/panko that I had mixed for a past meal, and three salmon filets in the freezer. Sure, I could have just baked the salmon, boiled the potatoes, and enjoyed a simple meal. But the Portland chef’s potato cakes popped into my head and I knew this combo could work.
While my kids and I were making a pirate ship out of a milk carton, I boiled the potatoes and stuck the frozen fish fillets in hot water. (These were the kind that come sealed in plastic soaking in a red pepper marinade.) This hot water immersion is the quickest and easiest way to cook this type of fish. No pans to clean afterward! Once the fish was cooked, I tossed it into a large bowl with egg, chopped cilantro, both green and yellow onions, the purple potatoes smashed and added some cumin, cayenne, chili powder, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Next, I formed little patties and dusted them with the cornmeal/panko mixture.
The little cakes turned golden brown in coconut oil cooked over medium heat. From start to finish (with child interruptions) it took about an hour to prepare and cook. I dropped a dollup of marinara sauce on each cake, placed in on a lettuce leaf and voila! Dinner is served!
The next time you don’t know what to make for dinner, think about throwing your random odds and ends into a potato pancake! You could use almost any meat ground, chicken or fish; most vegetables diced small, and a variety of herbs and spices which could range from Mexican flavors to Italian Flavors to New American to East Indian or Asian Flavors. It is definitely the cutest, most versatile, easy dinners that I’ve conjured up while cleaning out the leftovers in my fridge! Now that is a sensible meal!
Your Sensible Girlfriend
I never knew I had a green thumb. I grew up with parents who kept us indoors and cautioned against getting dirty, which meant I never played in the dirt or even touched it.
And then recently I decided to grow my own food. (Reasons: concern with GMO foods, limited choice of organic produce, to show my kids where food really comes from, and my love of food and cooking fresh, flavorful food.) As a person who never touched dirt, of course I had no idea of what I was doing. I started off with okay results. …And then my friend (Sandra) introduced me to small batch composting. Suddenly my garden went gang-busters! Everything started to look healthy and robust, really alive!
Like many people I’ve talked to, composting had never worked for me in the past. I found it difficult and it seemed to bring more bugs into my house than into my garden. But small-batch composting (as I call it) is totally different. It is so easy and the results make it sort of addictive. It has made my garden so lush that my friend’s husband actually gasped when he saw my garden and immediately wanted to know why it suddenly looked so good.
So here’s how to Small-Batch Compost:
Find a spot where you can dig a small hole. Don’t worry if your soil is rock hard and you can only dig a few inches deep, that is actually deep enough.
Next throw in your compostable food waste. I dump in the refuse from my juicer, so everything is already in tiny shreds (which makes the process go faster). But you can throw in anything that was grown from the ground.
Next cover it with dirt so that none of the debris is showing. Turn and chop the soil maybe once or twice before a week is up.
In just a week you will have dirt that looks like “devils food cake” as my friend Sandra puts it. This dirt is so full of nutrients because you have just “fed” it. And that is all there is to small-batch composting! Yes, it is that easy! Make sure you spread this nutrient-rich soil all over your garden. Mix the soil up well before you plant your seeds. (I’ve learned to sprout them first before planting them). You will be amazed at the speed your plants will grow and how vibrant your garden will look!
Good Luck and Happy Gardening,
Your Sensible Girlfriend
(Two Year Old In Training, Washing His Dishes)
(Three Years Old Now, Washes Dishes Without Help)
Article As Seen In The Mauimama Magazine (Scroll Down For New Info Below)
It’s a given, your children are going to test your patience, push the boundaries. They are going to misbehave. Mine certainly do.
The hardest for me is when I am sleep deprived (and as we mamas know, that is almost always!) I would wake up crabby and tend to snap at my kids if I was tired. I didn’t like who I was when I was this way and it was not good for my children. I knew I needed to do something to change this. Then the idea came to me: I needed to train my kids to start their day. Only then, could I wake up refreshed with a smile and a reserve tank full of patience. Only then could I be the mother I intended to be.
Flash forward, a year later: My friend, a Waldorf school teacher with young kids of her own, came to visit from the mainland. She asked me, “when do your kids wake up in the morning”? (My boys are three and four years old) She was shocked when I told her my kids wake up around six-thirty, but I get up around seven-thirty. She was even more shocked to learn that they get their own breakfast and wash their dishes all on their own while I sleep in! She asked me how I get them to do this? My answer: rhythm, repetition and training. (I am not suggesting that you can leave any child unattended. You have to gage whether your child is emotionally and physically ready… that is after you spend the time to properly train him or her so that they feel safe, confident, happy and are competent in what they are doing.)
My belief is children come into this world with their own innate wisdom and they are capable of more than we usually think. But at the same time, as they assimilate into this world, they need to learn the rules according to societal culture as well as your family’s rules and values. However, we can’t just expect them to know how to behave. We need to tell them what we expect from them, and train them to do it to our level of expectation. (Fact of Life: You get what you expect!). So how can we best get them to voluntarily heed our guidance?
I have the fortunate advantage of remembering what it is like to be a child since I can clearly recall life as early as the crawling stage. From this perspective, I can tell you what helps children to behave.
(Web-Only Info Starts Here:)
• Children need to be told what to do. Choices at an early age are confusing. If given no choice and trained early on, children just take it as a given, that this is what is supposed to happen.
(My children have been trained to get their own oatmeal out of the rice cooker, pour their own milk from a small stainless steel pitcher, and pour their own syrup- each get a tiny dish of syrup set at the table. There’s no argument about what they are going to have for breakfast!)
• Rhythm and Routine Make Life Predictable. Predictability makes their world seem safe. It builds self esteem because they feel like they “get it”; they have a sense of control over their life.
• Giving children tasks at the top of their ability level and showing them that you trust them builds great self confidence and self esteem.
• Children Can Be Taught What To Believe. We parents can shape their belief system. I tell my kids that they are each other’s best friend. I’ve said it so may times that they parrot my words and believe it themselves.
• Children Need Step By Step Training on how to do something, several times.
• Children Need To Be Told And Reminded Over And Over. My mom used to say, “I will tell you a hundred times until you get it”. Sometimes it takes having that kind of mentality to have patience to repeat yourself again and again.
• Children Respond Better Doing It The Same Way Every Time. Yes, they can be flexible, but when you are “in training” they take hold of the concept easier if it’s the same every time.
• Children Feel More Confident When They Are Told What Is Going To Happen That Day. It makes them feel safe knowing what to expect. If you give them a visual picture in their mind’s eye of their good behavior, it helps them to see themselves being good in that situation.
• Children Will Know How To Behave If They Know What Is Expected Of Them. They need to be told what they can do and what they can’t do.
• Children Want To Know The Rules, Who Is In Charge and They Will Be Treated Fairly.
Exactly How Did I Train My Children?
For our morning routine, I first needed to teach them how to get their own breakfast. One day I told them (in a very positive and excited voice) “we’re doing something new! You are going to learn how to get your own oatmeal out of the rice cooker, so that when you are sooo hungry right when you wake up, you can get it yourself and you don’t have to wait for mommy!” They were very excited to try this. I walked them over to the rice cooker which I put on the seat of a chair so they can reach it. I showed them how to open it and scoop out oatmeal without getting burned. I let them each try it themselves. Then we set our bowls on the table where I had set out a tiny bowl of maple syrup with plastic wrap covering it and a spoon next to it. And I walked them over to the refrigerator where I had placed a stainless steel pitcher of milk low enough for them to reach. We brought the milk to the table, poured the milk and syrup into the bowl. They loved being allowed to pour their own syrup and milk even though it is a small portion; they were just into having control over something they thought was cool. We stirred and blew on it until it was not hot anymore. I did this with both my boys for five days, showing them step by step. By the third day, the three year old was pushing me aside saying, “I know how to do it.”. After that, he wanted to do it for the two year old, but the two year old wanted to do it himself. They loved being self sufficient!
Repetition makes it stick:
After the five days of training, they came to me in the morning as usual saying they were hungry, I said, “remember, you know how to get your own oatmeal, so you don’t need mommy anymore!” They laughed and beamed with pride saying, “oh yea!” I told them that I was going to rest in bed a little more while they ate and that they could wash their bowl and spoon after eating. (I had trained them in the same way to wash their bowls and spoons.). Then they ran off excited to get their oatmeal all on their own.
(Smiley Face Incentive Charts)
To keep the motivation up, I also give them an incentive to getting their own breakfast, washing their dishes and any other thing that I want them to do (like get dressed quickly, put away toys and get in the car with their seat belts fastened). The incentive is: for each task they complete, they get a smiley face drawn on a chart. Once they have five smileys, they get a piece of gum (xylitol gum which is good for their teeth). (I make getting five smileys very easy to show them how good they can be every day. This gives them a good self image.) Because of this incentive, they are eager and willing to do all these tasks very quickly! We can get out the door in the morning with them fed, the house clean and no power struggles! Even better, I have a smile on my face from being well rested with an hour more sleep and I am more energized to be engaged and patient with them all day.
Other things I’ve trained my kids to do:
Water the garden and house plants
Brush teeth (although I still help to get them really clean)
Sort dirty dark and light clothes, put clothes in the laundry and move them to the dryer when they hear the beep.
Fold clothes and put them away.
Run the bath water and take a bath (I make sure they get scrubbed clean)
Drain the bath tub and put bath toys away
Get in bed and fall asleep by 7:30pm
Rhythm: The great thing about getting them into the routine of doing these things is that they accept these tasks as part of life so there is no fight in getting them to do it. And when you follow the same routine every day, it sets up a rhythm. This rhythm makes them feel safe and confident because life is predictable and they know what they are supposed to do next.
*A very important part to training your kids is making sure you spend each day giving your child a good amount of your focused attention playing and interacting in ways that nourish their soul. If you don’t do this very important part, they will not take to the training very well. They will feel like they are just being ordered around like soldiers without demonstrative actions of your love. If their love tank is full, then they are eager to please you.
Some examples of what I do to fill up their soul love tank:
-Spend individual “special time” with each of them (can be as little as 5 minutes) (we do this everyday)
-Sit on the floor and play with them
-Engage in imaginary play with them
-Read books to them
-Sit down with them to tell stories that I make up
-Bake or cook with them
-Work on arts and craft projects or science experiments with them
-Have them participate in gardening with me
-Include them in my daily household work, asking them to help with specific tasks
I do at least four of the items from the list (above) with them daily. If I do less, we will have more whining, neediness, or acting out. These are signs that their love tank needs to be refilled.
Training kids into behaving well is just one tool of parenting that I use. And believe me, I am forever learning more. And again, my kids are far from perfect, but understanding them and training them helps ease the the way to many smoother sailing days.
Wishing you lots of happy days with your children,
Your Sensible Girlfriend
A mother’s intuition is an astonishing phenomenon. Against all statistics, against all odds, against knowledgeable, expert advice, a mother can know what is best for her child. Elizabeth Davis, author of Orgasmic Birth calls it the “mother-mind, a highly intuitive way of thinking”. I’ve learned to, above all, listen to it- what I call this wisdom of the heart, especially when it comes to parenting or the health of my children.
Before having children, I wasn’t always this tuned in. I used to be ruled by my thoughts. My mind told me to take jobs that were not good for me, stay in relationships that were no longer healthy, and make choices that were swayed by doubt and fear. I would think things out in my head, analyze a situation, make lists taking into account all the pluses and minuses and make decisions from there. This is called thinking with your head. This kind of thinking built me a life that sounded good and looked good on paper (I was a television producer living a Beverly Hills lifestyle full of shopping on Rodeo Drive, getting spa treatments and going to all the hot spots in town)… But deep down I knew there was a life more satisfying than this. And I found it by learning to “think” or listen to my heart’s wisdom. The heart has a way of pushing aside the fears, doubt and wishful thinking to allow you to see a perspective that is the most true for you… And that ultimately leads to a fulfilling life.
The Institute of HeartMath in Boulder Creek, California has produced scientific evidence to backup the “intelligent heart” theory. Research has shown that the heart is more than just a pump. Similar to the brain, it actually communicates with the body! Neurologically, the heart sends messages to the brain. It also sends energy through the pulse as a blood pressure wave. Biochemically, it releases a chemical which blocks stress hormones. Electromagnetically, it produces an electric signal that can be picked up anywhere on the body as well as the space around us (this space is called your aura).
The founders of HeartMath agree, if we tune in to our hearts, it helps us to make better decisions, to give balance to our emotions and thoughts, and is the key to a fulfilling life.
So how can you tune into your heart?
My technique is to be very quiet and still. I focus on my heart while I ask a question or feel out a situation. The key is to feel for the answer in your heart rather than to search with your mind. Your mind may try to influence with doubt or wanting, but if you truly tune into the higher wisdom of your heart, the truth will reveal itself. Your job is to listen.
The HeartMath people have other helpful techniques.
Excerpt From care2.com:
Step 1. Notice and admit what you are feeling.
To gain more insight about your emotions, you will need to become more aware of what you are feeling. Noticing and admitting what you are feeling requires slowing down and taking stock. Periodically, throughout the day simply pause and notice how you feel. It takes only a few seconds to ask, “What am I feeling right now?”
Step 2. Try to name the feeling.
Simply by naming the feeling to yourself, whatever it is — worry, anxiety, frustration, hurt, resistance or even a vague disturbance — will help you admit what you are feeling. Being honest about naming what you are feeling helps regulate your emotional energy, slowing down the emotional energy running through your system and giving you more power.
Step 3. Tell yourself to ease…as you gently focus in your heart, relax as you breathe and e-a-s-e the stress out.
As you tell yourself to ease in your heart, relax and ease the stressful emotion out, feel as if the unwanted emotion is leaving your system. Don’t force it out; ease it out. Befriend the reaction by holding it in your heart, then let the feeling ease out of your system.
Use the Notice and Ease Tool for one minute often throughout your day. Keep using the Notice and Ease™ Tool for one minute or longer, until you feel something lighten up, even if you don’t get an immediate, complete release. Quite often you can experience so many feelings within just five minutes. Don’t let this confuse you. Don’t even try to figure out why. Just keep practicing the Notice and Ease™ tool until your energies come back in balance. Then listen to the intuitive guidance of your heart on what to do next.
or to learn more go to http://www.heartmath.org/
This Valentines Day take the opportunity to begin to listen to your heart. It is the most loving gift you can give to yourself and your family.
Wishing you a heart-lead life and a very happy Valentines Day,
Your Sensible Girlfriend