Listen

Nighttime Routines

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Think about the way you put your child to sleep. Do you throw them in the bed and then leave? 

Now let’s think about your own nighttime routine. Do you go straight to sleep when you get into bed or do you read or watch TV to unwind?  Of course you do.  We all need to unwind before bed… and kids are no different.  I feel so strongly that connecting with your kids every day is important even for just 15 minutes/day per child.  I have found the best time to do this is at night. I split my nighttime routine into 3 distinct parts: 

  1. Doing something goofy: my daughter and I play with the snapchat filters for about 5 minutes. We laugh, we record ourselves the funny voices, we act silly. You could also read a book (funny voices encouraged). Whatever you can do to engage with them on their level is awesome!

  2. Lights out: this is the perfect time for them to start talking. As soon as the lights go out, kids will always start to talk. Why? BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT TO GO TO SLEEP. You know how when you pick them up from school and ask them how their day was, they have nothing to say? They don’t talk because they are tired. But nighttime is when they DON’T want to go to sleep so they will tell you everything you ever wanted to know. This is a wonderful time to connect. These conversations often times bring about many teachable moments. Seize these opportunities. Open a judgment free zone and listen intently. Gently guide them with your input.

  3. No more talking: lay quietly for just a few minutes. Let them feel the security of you with them and then leave before they fall asleep.

Happy sleeping!

Elise  

Listen

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Recently, a dear friend of mine told me that it may be time to stop talking and just listen to my child. I had never heard something so absurd ;) 

I thought I had mastered the art of listening, but since people pay me to hear what I have to say, I often forget the power of truly listening. There comes a certain age that your kid no longer listens intently to what you are saying. In fact, they usually do the opposite of what you tell them to do. 

So what do we do? We listen. And it can be really difficult. Not difficult in the way of skiing on a black diamond slope; difficult like "I have to actually bite my tongue in order to not speak." The real kind of difficult. It's easier to just tell them what to do. But we must listen and allow them to feel heard. Ultimately, that's what every single human being wants: validation.

So what is this listening thing? Listening is having faith that you have taught your child the lessons of life and that eventually they will come up with the right decisions even if they take a wrong turn down a dark alley; faith that they will find their way back to what you have taught them. Listening gives your child the freedom to make a mistake and come back and ask for help.It builds trust. 

Ready to take the listening challenge? Hit "reply" and let me know how it goes!

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 

"Are you really listening"

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"Mom (or dad) are you listening?"

How many times have our children been talking to us and we just nod our heads and say, “ yea, yea no problem". Then, later, we find out that we have absolutely no idea what our darling child just said!

 I am totally guilty of this. My daughter actually called me out on it this past week. She must have seen the glazed look in my eyes when she said to me, "mom are you listening?"  I instantly snapped out of my wandering thoughts and zeroed in on Paytons urgent monologue about her pet fish.  I realized in that moment that if I wanted my daughter to talk to me when she gets older, I needed to  be present and interested right now. So I immediately added to the banter with my own insight about the fish. I knew I had made the conscious decision to be present now so she would allow me to be present later. 

Today, I want you to really be present. Put down the phone for a bit and really listen to your kids, your spouse, and your friends. You’ll be amazed at how far a little mindfulness can go… 

Have a fantastic 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.