Monday, March 1, 2010

Life Around the House: Jeannene's Top 4 TIPS : )

My travel adventures continue and I'm loving stop Costa Rica! I will be Son-Rising with another amazing family in beautiful and different surroundings. Experiencing new things and being spontaneous, I feel totally alive, present and fully engaged in life. I wish this feeling for everyone!

Through out my travels, I have seen a lot of different home environments and parenting styles and have learned so much from my experiences with kids and families (including previously being a foster parent myself). I am very grateful to all the families who welcome me into their lives and for my growth. Whether you have typically developing children, children with special needs or know someone who does, I hope you find the following tips helpful to promote more harmony in the home.

Tips for Life Around the House:

1. Set up your home for ease and safety --this is just as important outside the playroom as it is inside the playroom.

a) De-clutter! The more things you have around your house, the more there is for your child to get into and make a mess with, which means more boundary setting and tidying.

b) Create safe and simple play areas (less is more) with toys that are easy for your child to enjoy with minimal supervision so that you can get done the things you need to do. For example, set up a cozy reading corner in one part of the kitchen with a bean bag and a special collection of books that you bring out just while making dinner.

c) Remember that YOU run your home (not the kids...or the dog!) That said, you are in charge of setting your boundaries (wants and not wants) as well as honoring your children's boundaries. It is beneficial for all people (yes, even kids with special needs) to know that others have different boundaries than they do. Being able to state our own boundaries and deal with others boundaries is an important and necessary part of life! Boundaries give children an opportunity to practice deciding to be happy even when they do not get what they want.

Pick your battles (if you can't follow through, don't set the boundary or find a way that you can follow through). When you decide to set a boundary, do so in a loving and firm way. When your child is in the act of doing something you would prefer he or she not do, tell him or her WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE him or her to do instead, in other words, offer an alternative when you can. For example, if you child is climbing onto the counter while you are cooking dinner you could say: "If you want to climb, you can climb on the couch cushions and pretend they are a big, tall mountain." Or you can say "This is not an option right now but you can read or play Lego".

2. Set aside time for YOURSELF. Parenting is a very full time job! And like any job you can let it take over your whole life if you don't set boundaries. To prevent stress and to model to your children your own enjoyment of life, prioritize giving yourself breaks to do what you like. Set up a plan with your spouse (or a neighbor or friend) so that you each get time to do your own hobby or have a cup of tea or a bath to relax and unwind. This is very reasonable and doable, you just have to make it happen...your kids won't do it for you. You may need to put a lock the door to your office or bedroom so that you have a space for uninterrupted time in your own playroom : )

3. Use FIRST, THEN statements (e.g. "First put on your jacket, then we can go outside"), give warning and choices. Set it up so that a more preferred activity comes after a less preferred activity, for example, "In two minutes, it will be time for a bath, then it will be snack time!" Follow up your direction with a choice: "It's time for a bath! Do you want bubbles or foam?" Or, "Do you want me to chase you to the bath or do you want a ride?"

4. Make gratitude and celebration a central part of your lives...not just regarding your child, but regarding yourself, your spouse and life. Make it a game to see who can celebrate the most!

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