Family

Tips for a great Spring Break!

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What to do With Your Kids During Spring Break?

It’s that time of year again, spring break! My son is on a birthday trip to L.A but my daughter Payton is staying at home with us.

What does your spring break look like? Are you a working parent? Are you a stay home parent? Are you taking care of your friend’s kids?

No matter what situation you are in (there are many out there), the overall consensus is that we want to make spring break fun! This is the time of year that nobody has to wake up extra early and rush to get ready and out of the house! Kids are getting sick of school so it is a time to be grateful for as it is our last break before summer!

Sometimes staying at home can be tricky for your kids if you are a working parent who also works from home (such as myself). This can be confusing for the kids as they think that you are always available to them when you really can’t be. Boundaries and the proverbial line in the sand start to become very gray so work with it and not against it.

This past summer when I was working on writing my Happy Family in 90 Days™ book, the lines got very blurred and my daughter was confused and wanted my attention.

How did I deal with it and stop from going crazy? The trick is to get your kids engaged in age appropriate ideas/activities that can be done inside the home (or nearby outside, in the yard etc.). They can ride their bikes or skateboards, play soccer, run with the dog etc.

If your child prefers to stay indoors, make sure they are AWAY from their electronics and limit all electronic time to 1 hour. If you have the free time to spend with your child, get them to help you with some spring cleaning of the closets, reorganizing of the kitchen etc. You can’t spend all your time and money at Chuckie Cheese, or camps! Playing music and making the chore fun turns it into a time of connection not just a boring chore.

Even if you are a working, time take that extra 15-20 minutes that you have available in the morning to talk/cuddle etc. with your child. It makes a difference!

Elise

One step to a happy vacation

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I recently returned from a vacation with my kids. The day I was leaving a friend said to me: “Good luck. I sure hope your kids behave and that you can enjoy your vacation”. My first thought was: “You know what I do for a living right? You are my friend?”  Luck has nothing to do with having a great vacation with your kids.  Planning appropriately is the key to whether you enjoy your vacation. I don’t mean planning out the vacation details. Rather, plan your parenting guidelines. 

Make plans for various behaviors. What are you going to do when your child acts up on the plane?  On a ride? An excursion?  Do all house rules go out of the window? Hell no. This is the moment of truth. If you follow through on your consequences during vacation your kids will know you really mean business. 

Start your behavior modification plan early. Don’t start punishing your child when they won’t stop kicking the chair in front of them when you have never experienced that before. Don’t start new rules immediately before your trip. You should start a month before you leave. Prepare your child. Clearly explain you expectations and what will happen if they don’t adhere to your rules. It’s that simple

If you say: “We are leaving this beach right now if you don’t listen”; If your child doesn’t listen, get up and leave the beach. I know it totally sucks for you but I promise your child will be much better behaved afterwards.You just taught them that you mean business and follow through. 

Happy vacationing,
Elise

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Hi Friends, 

This evening, I'm writing to you right after I put my little one to bed (she's not so little anymore... almost ten years old).  I was reminded of how precious time is. Time with our children, time with our spouse, time with our family. It sounds super cliche but it really does go by so fast.

So I want to ask you, are you present when you're with your kids? Are you really in the moment with them, even for just for 15 minutes a day? Sometimes we are "with" them all day but are we really present?  

This week, instead of getting annoyed when your children interrupt you, try actually listening. I get it... when we are busy with all of the other pressing responsibilities that go along with parenting, even 15 minutes seems like a lot; but find the place in your life where children are not a distraction, but rather a gift.

There will come a time in the not- so- distant future that you will be beggingthem to talk to you. So enjoy all this time now, it goes by so fast. Be in the moment.

If you're feeling inspired and want to connect with other like-minded parents, come on over to my Facebook group. We've really created a community over there and I feel so honored to be a part of it. This Thursday night, at 9 pm, I will be doing a Facebook live. So come with an open heart and lots of questions. I'll see you then!

Lots of love,

Elise 

Setting the tone for the year

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Is it really time to start buying school supplies?

In the blink of an eye summer seems to have come and gone. I hope you've taken the opportunity to recharge your battery to get ready for the upcoming school year.

Remember to embrace the new year! Your children are always watching you so if you are excited, they will be too. New school years are a symbol of new beginnings. This brings about chances to start fresh with friends, grades and study habits. Start the year with routines in place to encourage great study and homework habits. And if any of your kids are expressing anxiety about the upcoming school year, encourage them to talk through their fears.

 A strategy I use for this kind of anxiety is called "take it the worst possible place.” For example, if your child is nervous about the upcoming school year ask them why?  Perhaps, they will answer, "all of the homework." Take this to the worst possible place. Ask them what is the absolute worst thing that can happen to them if they do not finish their homework. Doing this exercise makes them realize whatever their anxieties are, it is not going to be the end of the world. Remind them of their blessings. 

As always, feel free to reply to this email with any questions or thoughts! I love hearing from you… 

Elise

Laugh all weekend long

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Is there anything better than a child's laugh?

My kids and I were sitting at the dinner table last week and I must have said something funny because both of them started hysterically laughing. So then I started to laugh uncontrollably; the kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt. What better medicine, right? 

I looked at my kids and wanted to savor the moment. I wanted to savor their innocence and their ability to laugh anything. 

I thought back to the different ways I used to make my kids: talking in a goofy voice, making fun of myself, and — the most fun —  dancing around the kitchen with whisks as our microphones. We serenaded our pretend audiences to our favorite LIVE song.  

It's so important to have laughter and fun in the house. We get crazy running our kids around from activity to activity, making sure they are eating correctly and getting their homework finished. So often, we lose sight of just having a good laugh. I want my home to always be the place that brings my kids joy, comfort and laughter. 

So when things get just a bit too hectic in your house, step back and have a good laugh. It will work wonders. 

Till next time, 

Elise

Have you ever felt misunderstood?

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Have you ever been in an argument with your spouse, sibling, or a friend where you felt utterly misunderstood? 
 

Think about how you felt.


Frustrated, alone, confused? In most cases, these arguments are on an even playing field. We often yell until you are understood. We fight until our feelings becomes validated. 

Now think about how it feels to be a child and not feel understood. Think about how it feels to be punished for yelling and being disrespectful. They, too, have opinions, wants, and needs; but if it doesn't align with their parents', then often times they are dismissed. Think about how you would feel if your spouse dismissed your feelings? Your reaction may be to do something to get their attention to make your point.

Children feel the same way!


Next time your child starts acting out or "fighting back” to a request, just ask “why?”. Give them the validation they want through listening and making them feel respected and worthy. This automatically diffuses the situation and makes them feel less defensive. This opens up a discussion instead of an argument. Validating feelings doesn't mean you agree, it just means you hear them and are offering empathy. 

The next time you find yourself in an argument. Step back, listen to the other person, validate and then come together to come up with a plan. It will work wonders. 

Elise 

Are you resistant to change?

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I don't want my baby to grow up. 

Over the last year, I’ve been telling my youngest child, leading up to her tenth birthday, that she’s not allowed to get older. I want her to remain the same beautiful, innocent human that she is. She agreed for the entire year up until a couple of days ago. She proclaimed, “I'm ready to grow up.” After some resistance, I agreed that yes she could, indeed, turn double digits.  I then began thinking about why I didn’t want her to grow up?  Payton is kind, sweet, funny and loving. Why would anyone want that to change? The answer is: FEAR! It drives parents, friends, spouses and employees absolutely crazy. We’re scared of the unknown. In this case, I feared what this milestone would mean for my precious Payton. My job, as a mother, is to nurture and mold this tiny human into an incredible, independent adult that makes a difference in this world. And to do so, my angel will have to spread her wings, fall down and shed some tears. Rather than resist, I’ve decided to embrace it. So as I  celebrate her birthday I will no longer be sad, even though time seems to move way too fast. I will love every molecule of her being and appreciate every moment I have right now. I will honor her growth by being present and for the first time in my life I will embrace the unknown.  

Today, I encourage you to get curious about what you may be resisting. You may have gotten comfortable in a lack-luster relationship or a “just-okay” job. I want you to remember that your life can evolve into a much more exciting, fulfilling version when we just let fear take a backseat and get behind the wheel. You’re so much more capable than you know… 

Have a wonderful weekend, 

Elise
 

Do you always say what you mean?

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What I say is what I mean and what I mean is what I say! 
 

I was on the phone with a friend of mine who happens to be a famous boxing coach. He promised me tickets to one of his most prized fighter’s next match. I thanked him profusely and he said,“what I say is what I mean and what I mean is what I say!”

 

It got me thinking….how often do people actually do that?  We are taught to be kind to others and we teach our children to be kind to others but how often do we forget to put in in to practice? Why don’t we actually say what we mean and mean what we say?  Often times we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings and, in turn, we keep our thoughts to ourselves.

 But at what price? We get angry and bitter towards the people that we’ve suppressed emotions towards. 

But guess what? With just one shift in your thinking, you can learn how to truly say what you mean and mean what you say!

 

Is the other person more important than you? Are they more worthy of peace and understanding? NO. So why shouldn’t you tell them how you feel? Remember no one is going to take care of you if you don’t take care of yourself…

 

I’ve never had the problem of keeping my feelings to myself. If anything I am a bit too transparent (if you have ever seen my weekly Facebook lives you would know what I mean). However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that life is not so black and white and I would like to think that I found a way to express my feelings with conviction without hurting anyone in my line of fire. For those that suffer from oversharing their feelings, I have a couple tips for you.

  1. Take a step back and put yourself in the other persons position.It sounds so simple but it’s incredibly effective. How would they feel receiving the information with your delivery?

  2. Take a moment to understand what your goal is in communicating. Do you want to feel understood? No one will understand what you are saying when you say it in an inflammatory way, so take the emotion out of the conversation and stick with facts about yourself. For example, recently on facebook a women misread a comment I made and came back to me with a bit of a zinger. I could have responded in an inflammatory way but what does that achieve? Nothing…it just starts a fight. What I really wanted her to know is that she misread the comment so that was all I said and ya know what? She ended up apologizing without my starting a Facebook fight (life’s just too short for that!).

  3. Finally: you never know what someone is going through. Don’t say something you don’t mean in the heat of the moment in response to a person who may be rude to youIt never solves anything. Express the same compassion you desire as well.

 

Now it’s YOUR turn, hit “reply” and let me know one thing thing that would help you stay true to your word. 
 

Have a wonderful weekend, 


Elise 

Enjoy the days of summer

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Summer is in full swing! 
 

Now is the time to soak in the joy of no homework or school projects. No deadlines or parent-teacher conferences. 

Take the opportunity to clean out closets and toys. Start with something small like a drawer or a shelf. You'd be amazed how fun cleaning can be when you blast fun music and relax a little. And what an awesome project to do with your kids. While cleaning, reminisce about all the fun times you had with a particular toy or a funny story about an experience with a certain outfit. Use this time to let your children know the importance of giving to those less fortunate than us. You can even turn it into a friendly competition: whoever has the biggest giveaway pile wins something fun. 

 

Enjoy the slower days of summer because before you know it, we will be back in the grind of alarm clocks and PTA meetings. 

 

Until then, soak up the sun and be present in the days you'll be day- dreaming about soon! 

Elise 

Elise's Story

By the time my son turned 3-months old, my maternal instincts kicked into high alert and had me questioning his behaviors.

Why didn’t he make eye contact with me? When he cried, why did he cry harder, louder and longer than any other child? Why was he not playing with toys that were in front of him? Why didn’t he care about toys and people? Why did he only like vents, fans, and wheels?

There were no answers.

Pediatricians told me to stop comparing him to other children and that he would be fine.

I knew differently.

One day when I was reading, I came across a checklist of traits for autism. If you answer yes to 9 out of the 14, your child is autistic. How could it be so simple to test? But I read the questions and answered yes to nearly all of them.

My heart sank and I was paralyzed.

The overwhelming sense of responsibility washed over me again. What do I do? How do I help my innocent and seemingly perfect child? I researched and found out that my state conducted free tests to determine reasons for which children do not hit milestones. I signed up and was put on a 4-month wait. Then the day finally came for our now 23-month old son to be evaluated.

It was like cheering for a losing team.

You watch and want them to be able to make the basket, score the touchdown, or make the goal but not one can be done. After a grueling 3 hours of watching my child not achieve any of the tasks asked of him, the therapist sat me down and explained that my little baby had PDD: Pervasive Developmental Disorder; it’s on the autism spectrum. The good news is that I was right. Mommies always know their child.

The bad news was I was right. My son was autistic.

I immediately went into SUPER MOM mode, calling anyone and everyone that could possibly help us. Not everyone has that reaction. Some ignore and hope it will go away but it doesn’t.

I had to help my son. He was my responsibility.

I hired a team of therapists with me as the quarterback. I sat in on every therapy session my son has ever had, even to this day. I can’t risk missing important information about my child. So I read every book, knew all the terminology and I sounded educated. The doctors and therapists listened to me because I made it my business to know their business. But this was exhausting. I started boxing as a means of coping. After 30 hours of therapy each week and a screaming child all the time because he was on sensory overload, hitting someone felt really good. 

But that wasn’t enough, I was falling apart.

I did everything in my power to try and understand how my son felt. I wanted to get into his world, so I could better help him get into ours. I suffered because no one was taking care of me and without me, the ship would sink.

I wish I had someone who would have told me I was going to be ok, regardless of how my son was doing. He was the sun, moon, and stars to me so I probably wouldn’t have believed it. I took him around the country for every therapy imaginable, but piece by piece, I was losing myself and losing my way.

How is it possible to find happiness and peace when your child suffers?

I medicated myself so that I became numb. I drank excessive amounts of alcohol and got divorced.  On top of everything else, I was now a single mother of two children.  I adopted my darling daughter from China to give me a chance at mothering a typical child. I became alone, sad, and scared that my children would not be ok. FEAR paralyzed me and “what ifs” consumed me. I was having a nervous breakdown. I never took care of myself. 

Everyone else had typical children so it was much easier for them to be happy. I believed that as a parent of a special needs child I would never really know true happiness and peace. This mentality all changed the day I went to a yoga class, my instructor said something that resonated with me and has since become my mantra.

We are happy, our natural state is happiness.  Anything that takes us away from our natural state is merely a disturbance or a distraction.” 

At first, I thought, that was easy for him to say since he didn’t have an autistic child. Nothing applied to me, I couldn’t control my happiness. How am I supposed to be happy when I am fighting with the school board and also advocating for my son?  It was then, while I was sobbing, that my instructor said to me,

“Elise, you can give yourself permission to cry and react for a couple minutes. Stomp your feet and say it sucks, it’s not fair, no one understands but then realize that you can get just as much, if not more, accomplished when you are calm and happy.” 

So I screamed and cried and complained for about 15 more minutes and then I got on the phone and happily kicked ass. I never again let anyone or anything, not even my children, take my happiness from me. I no longer let my son’s Autism define me.

I have arrived at my destination, it is peace.