5-ways-to-parent-on-purpose-during-a-pandemic

This too shall pass. 

As unsettling as living through this pandemic is, we need to remember that this season of Coronavirus confinement is just that- a season. It will eventually end. And if we don’t let our grievances and circumstances consume us, we can proactively use this time to our advantage in simple ways.

Let’s purposely respond to our new reality instead of react our way through it.

How do you want to feel when this is all over? 

How do you want your family to be strengthened because of this period of unexpected time together?

If quarantine ended tomorrow, what would you be disappointed if you didn’t do?

There is no denying that what we’re going through is crazy on all levels. But, amidst the chaos, there is beautiful opportunity if we choose to bravely seek it out.

Here are 5 Ways to Parent on Purpose During this Pandemic

1.  Bring back a childhood family dinner tradition OR start a new one

Our calendars typically prohibit us from gathering around the table as a family often. As we find ourselves spending time eating more meals together, why not bring back a tradition from the past or start something fresh and new?

This time of Coronavirus confinement is the perfect time to gather around our family tables with purpose. It doesn’t matter if we are supporting local businesses and ordering our meals in, or if we’re trying new recipes and preparing them with our kids, or barely getting prepackaged food on the table. What we are eating doesn’t matter near like how we are spending our time together doing it.

Family-Dinner-Traditions-During-Coronavirus

We brought ‘Highs and Lows’ back to our family dinnertime, each of us sharing what the best and worst thing about our day was. This can be a stretch considering we aren’t doing a whole lot these days, which makes us dig deeper perhaps to find gratitude for the simple things in our lives right now.

How about using conversation starters to keep you at the table talking longer? Here are some of my favorites by local Arizona makers: CLICK HERE.

What family tradition can you restart during this time of confinement?

Or what’s something fun you’d like to begin?

2. Teach life skills

My teens are home doing online school; therefore, I am not necessarily homeschooling my high schoolers. But, I am taking advantage of this unique opportunity we have together at home to teach my sons and daughter some real-life skills that our regular lives haven’t allowed the time for.

What is it that your kids are going to need to know when they leave your house for adulthood? What is it that you can take the time to teach them today toward the goal of sending off a capable, confident, responsible adult one day?

If you have toddlers, teenagers or kids in between, there is so much you can (and need to) teach them. Only you know what your child still needs to learn. Is it to tie their shoes or change a tire on the family car? Perhaps it’s merely to learn family members’ phone numbers or their Social Security number?

Make a list of life skills you want to try to teach during this season of quarantine or print off my life skills for the launch checklist HERE.

3. Cultivate a playful home

I don’t know about you, but watching my sons and daughter stare at screens more is not good for me (or them!) so knowing we want our kids on devices less, means we need to purposely set up our homes with more opportunities for play and creativity.

Cultivate-A-Playful-Home-During-Coronavirus

We replaced my beautiful candle holder with this Hook It Game from Kidstop Toys and it is so much fun! The rings are rubber so no damage is done!

Temporarily replace some of your home decor with games or opportunities for your family members to engage in play together. (Kidstop Toys will ship this game or any others to you so check out their website HERE.) We set up a folding table in the living room for continuous puzzles. Our ping pong table is dusted off and games have been pulled out of hibernation.

How can you purposely place pockets of play throughout your house?

4. Live out your values

Our kids are watching how we are handling this Coronavirus crazy time. It’s crucial that we model for our children how to live this unsettling time out in faith and not in fear. This doesn’t mean that we will do it perfectly, because we won’t. Unfortunately, we’re human, and it’s good for our kids to see that.

This is the perfect time to talk as a family about how you can help, serve and support others from home right now. Are their local small businesses or restaurants you can order from to help them stay afloat during this time? What about a favorite online small retailer? Can you pick up extra groceries for someone in need?

How can you serve your friends, family and community members while staying safe and socially distant?

5. Bravely embrace boredom

There’s no better time than the present than to allow our children to be bored. We need to purposely put away the screens and send our kids outside or to their room to figure out how to entertain themselves by themselves. We want our kids to learn that they don’t need to turn to adults to figure out how to occupy their time.

My tech expert friend, Tom Kersting, recently said that “Boredom is miracle grow for the brain” and I have to agree.

Boredom-Bucket- for-Kids

You can even make your kids a boredom bucket, bin or box that they can turn to for creative activities when they aren’t quite sure what to do with themselves.

What are other ways you are choosing to parent on purpose during this pandemic?

My Mom was never confused in her role as a parental authority figure when raising my sister and me.

She knew that her “job” was to raise adults who could capably move out of her home at the age of majority.

She didn’t worry about my grades in school or my performance on my softball or tennis teams.

Yet, how we tend to raise children today bears little resemblance. How can we better parent on purpose today so that we can send capable, confident and compassionate adults into the world tomorrow?

5 ways to Parent on Purpose in 2020 and Beyond

1. Be the parent, not the pal

My Mom didn’t feel the need to make sure I was happy and to be my friend while I was growing up. Yet somehow I struggle to create boundaries and say no to things that will make my child unhappy with me, even though I know it’s for their benefit.

When I remember that my goal should not be to make my child happy but to train instead and help my sons and daughter to understand how the world works so that they can move into it one day as a capable person, it is much easier to lead them. When we strive for friendship with our children during adolescence, we miss out on the opportunity to provide the parental guidance that our kids’ desperately need in this chaotic culture they are growing up in.

Remember to surround yourself with friends your age and be confident being the adult role model that your son or daughter needs.

2. Claim your destination

Where are you headed when raising your child today?

Too many times we spend our days of full-time parenthood reacting to what comes our way. Instead, we need to parent today, remembering that our goal is to one day launch our son or daughter into adulthood. What do you want your child armored with as they walk out the door of your home into the real world? Begin to teach them those skills and strengthen those values today.

Parent-on-Purpose

When adulthood is our end goal for raising our kids, we will do a better job of remembering to teach them relevant life skills as they grow. We will allow them to make mistakes and problem solve on their own because we understand they will need critical thinking skills when they leave our home as adults one day.

3. Redefine success

Childhood wasn’t meant to be a season for building a resume to get into college.

Stop today and define what success looks like to you. Who do you want your child to be as an 18-19-year-old young adult walking out the door of your home? What character traits do you want them to be armored with as you send them off to college, the armed forces, the workplace or wherever they may go upon leaving your home?

Redefine-Success-Parent-on-PurposeIt’s great that this son of mine does well in school and on his travel hockey team, but when I stop and define success for him as a man, it is not his high achievement or performance that matter. It is his loving heart, soul and character that will sustain him and develop him into a caring and loyal husband, father and neighbor.

The problem becomes when we get so focused on our kids’ achievement and performance that we forget to take the time to create the opportunities that will help our children become the type of people that we say we want to launch into the world.

4. Teach your children what you want them to know

No matter what age or stage your child might be at, they can and should be learning life skills.

Toddlers can do chores as can busy teenagers. We’ve just got to slow down and let them. We want to send capable adults into the world who know how to get themselves up on time in the mornings and who don’t always rely on Siri or Mom to solve their problems for them.

Parent-on-purpose-chores

Expect your child to help out around the house. Yes, it is easier for you to do everything yourself, but that’s not teaching your son or daughter any skills but to sit and be served.

5. Let another’s hindsight be your insight

Learn from those who go before you.

In my book, I talk about the strategy of parenting six years ahead by looking at what parents are facing six years forward of where you are currently parenting from today. Watch how others around you are leading their children when it comes to technology, schooling, social boundaries and more. Learn from their successes and their mistakes. Become confident now in making future decisions for your children based on your family values.

Join a parent group in your area and learn from those who go before you. We were not meant to raise children alone, so learn from your community. Read, learn, watch and grow from the insight of others and then have the confidence to raise your child with your parental instincts.

Parenting on purpose takes effort. But, I guarantee the efforts you put in now will pay off later as you watch your children grow into capable, confident and compassionate people this year and beyond.

For your chance to WIN, comment below and tell us why you need a copy of my signed hardcover book- Parent on Purpose- A Courageous Approach to Raising Children in a Complicated World! Winner will be selected by random on February 20. 

Valentines-Day-Tradition-14-Hearts-of-Loving-Affirmation

One gift that you may want to give your family members this year for Valentine’s Day is 14 Hearts of Loving Affirmation because there’s nothing better we can do than speak and write loving truths to our loved ones.

It’s never too late to start this easy yet meaningful Valentine’s Day tradition in your home!

(And I’ve even given you a printable below to help you get started!)

The 14 Hearts of Loving Affirmation Valentine Tradition

  • Take the time to write out 14 loving affirmations or messages on paper hearts for each of your children.
  • Beginning on Feb. 1, tack one heart a day on their bedroom door or wherever makes the most sense in your home. I always see parents do it on bedroom doors, but I decided to do it on the kids’ bathroom mirrors so that while they’re getting ready for school in the morning and getting ready for bed at night, they will have no choice but to see loving words and reminders staring back at them.

OR If doing this daily for two weeks isn’t possible or seems daunting, put all of the hearts up at once and surprise your loved one on Valentine’s Day! Make the tradition work for you! Read more

have-kids-make-their-beds

How we choose to start our day matters.

My husband and I have an unwritten rule that whoever gets up last is in charge of making up the bed. The entire bed. Decorative pillows and all.

For a long time, I would get up and contemplate if anyone was coming over during the day who might wander in and see my unmade bed. If not, there would be no harm in leaving it undone, right?

We’re only harming ourselves when we take shortcuts and avoid making small efforts.

Does it matter if we make our bed or not?

Starting the day off with this one simple accomplishment sets you up for success. I walk past my bed many times a day and notice when it’s pretty and pulled together. Simple efforts do make a difference.

Once I saw this video, we’ve made our bed every morning since and encouraged our kids to do the same. It is an excellent reminder of the payoff of simple daily efforts in our lives. 

How you do anything is how you do everything. 

There are enough tasks for our teens to complete on early school mornings that making the bed in our home isn’t required, but its importance is a subject of conversation in our family. Some mornings I check the kids’ bedrooms and shoot off a text on our family chat stating 3/5 taking note of how many kids accomplished the morning task on their own. 

I don’t need to battle my kids when it comes to the simple task of making their beds, but I do want them to understand the importance of accomplishing minor everyday tasks. Our youngest son makes his bed every day without fail because it was a habit ingrained in him from living in his foster care group home for years.

have-kids-make-their-beds

If we begin shortcutting the simple things, how will we ever be successful in the big stuff? It’s a great topic of conversation to have with our kids for sure.

Do you make your bed first thing in the morning? Do your kids?

Youth-Hockey-Coach-Player-Meeting

When did it become okay for moms and dads to rant and rave in the stands and feel entitled to text, email and call up their child’s coaches about anything that rubs them wrong?

I recently read this article about a high school coach who left her coaching position because of the overinvolvement of parents. Unfortunately, this narrative is becoming commonplace at all levels of youth sports.

How did my husband Keith ever make it to the NHL without his parents intervening?

My Father-in-law, Jack, says that he never once questioned a coach (good or bad) during Keith’s ENTIRE youth hockey career. Jack also coached football himself and said that he had to ask kids to track down their parents if he ever needed them because they were nowhere to be found.

Youth-Hockey-Coach-Player-Meeting

We don’t have a problem tracking down parents anymore.

They are found on every sideline and set of bleachers today and have made their child’s sport a priority in their adult life.

The problem is that many parents are negatively making their presence known today.

Parents overinvolvement affects our children’s sports experience and their overall love and passion for the game. Three of my five children have played high-level multi-sports, so I get the intensity of it all, but there are certain things parents should refrain from bugging the coaches about.

Let’s begin giving the game back to the kids by letting the athlete be the athlete, and the Coach be the Coach.

Read more

Family-Meeting-Agendas

Growing up, I hung out at my best friend Mary’s house a lot, and, every once in a while, Mary’s mom would tell me it was time for their family conference and that I was going to need to leave. As my two feet carried me home, I thought about how their family ritual seemed ludicrous. My parents didn’t do this sort of thing in our home, so why in the world would my friend’s family need to have meetings when we didn’t?

As I aged, I began to appreciate the fact that Mary’s family set aside sacred time for them and them alone. Her Mom wasn’t worried about catering to me or anyone else that she had to send home. They had an intentional system to connect, and I carried that idea forward into my family today.

Monthly-Family-Meeting-Agenda

WHY SHOULD PARENTS CREATE A HABIT OF HOLDING FAMILY MEETINGS?

Because families today are going in all directions. Holding mindful family meetings is a way to slow down and purposely connect with your family members regularly. These meetings are a relaxed way for everyone to gather and communicate together.

Family meetings are a time to get honest about the strengths and weaknesses of your family and to talk about how things are going within your family unit and individually. Family meetings are meant to be fun and promote a sense of belonging.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU HOLD FAMILY MEETINGS?

Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?

Decide what works for your family according to your current schedule. If you have younger kids, it will be easier to meet up around the family table for weekly meetings. As kids get older, this becomes more difficult, although just as important. 

Adriane Thompson of Raising Kids With Purpose says she and her husband, along with their three sons ages 9, 6, and 1, meet on Sunday evenings, and “the meetings are usually a mix of screaming, running around, dancing, and cheering with a dash of order.” She says that even with the chaos, something amazing happens:

  • Our kids have input on decisions that impact them.
  • Problems or challenges get addressed in a judgment-free zone.
  • Our family values are highlighted and reiterated.
  • We find out if something is going on with someone that didn’t come up during the week.
  • Everyone feels like they are part of something bigger than themselves and that they have others cheering them on.
  • Chores and family contributions are assigned.



HOW LONG SHOULD YOUR FAMILY MEETING LAST?

Adriane says they keep their weekly family meeting to 15 minutes. “When we first started having meetings, we would all say something nice about each person in our family. Then once all the compliments were finished, that person would get to dance around the house hearing us chant their name. My toddler loved this part. But what ended up happening was the meeting got dragged out making it too long to keep attention,” she said.

WHERE SHOULD YOU HOLD YOUR FAMILY MEETINGS?

I want our “formal” dining room table to be a place where we regularly gather for connective tech-free time together, so this is where we hold our meetings.

The Thompsons’ prefer to switch up where they meet, and Adriane says, “You may even want to consider changing it up once a month and doing it at a park, a froyo place, Chick-Fil-A or somewhere where the kids can have fun afterward.”

FIGURE OUT YOUR PURPOSE 

Claim what it is you want to accomplish through holding your family meetings.

“The goal of a Family Meeting should be to open communication between everyone in the family. Allowing our kids to have a voice gives them autonomy, but also in this type of environment they can get a lot of guidance and know who is ultimately in charge,” says Adriane.

SET THE MOOD

Purposely set the mood and tone of the room to match how you want your family meeting to feel. Do you want it to be fun and upbeat, or do you want it to be serene and serious? Our family meetings always include a dessert, and I light candles so that the space feels calm and inviting.

Adriane agrees to include a special treat for the kids to enjoy during the meeting. “This can be anything from popcorn, special smoothies, muffins to frozen yogurt. Our kids aren’t used to getting a lot of sweet treats, so a family meeting is a perfect time to let them indulge a little,” she says.

END THE MEETING WITH A FUN RITUAL OR FAMILY EVENT

When you have younger kids, you can add an element of fun to the very end of the meeting, such as a dance party or something silly.

For those with older kids, Audrey Monke, Mother of 5 and Writer at Sunshine Parenting says, “Playing a board game or watching your favorite TV show together could be a reward for having the meeting.”

Family-Meeting-Agendas

PLAN YOUR AGENDA

Both Adriane and I, have Family Meeting Agendas that we print out and use for our family meetings, while Audrey says, “You don’t have to get fancy with your agenda. We keep ours on a legal pad, and we take turns being the “chair” of the meeting. Leading the session is good communication practice for kids.”

DOWNLOAD ADRIANE’S WEEKLY FAMILY AGENDA HERE

HERE’S WHAT TO INCLUDE ON YOUR AGENDA

  • What’s working well in your family, and what’s not working so well?
  • What changes do we need to make and what do we want to keep the same?
  • Talk about a value or life skill you want to strengthen.
  • Discuss how well you are serving and loving other people.
  • Coordinate the Family Calendar.
  • Discuss any needs for school or work projects, so you get out of the habit of running out last minute for that poster board!
  • Do you want to payout allowance or any other rewards?

Raising Kids With Purpose Family Meeting Agenda-10

HOW TO KICK OFF THE MEETING 

Start By Saying Something Nice

We used to start our family meetings by turning to the person next to us and saying something we loved about them. Complimenting one another no longer flies with the teenagers, but that practice certainly made for some sweet memories and strengthened our bonds.

Use Conversation Starters

Our family loves using Conversation Starter products around the table. Our favorites are Togather or Food With Thought These questions always seem to lighten the mood of the meeting, and we gain better insight into who one another are. 

Say Highs and Lows

You can also begin with Highs and Lows, where everyone thinks of something positive and something not so positive that recently happened to them.



OTHER GREAT IDEAS TO INCLUDE

Word of the Week

Adriane says her family picks a word from a “words to make you sound smarter” list or “words to study for the SAT,” and they discuss the meaning as well as try to use it throughout the week. I love this idea!

Meal Planning 

Take the time during meetings to plan your weekly dinner menu or to plan for school lunches. Get the whole family involved in what they want to eat for the week and decide who is going to help shop and make the meals too!

No matter if we are raising toddlers or teenagers, we must take the time and make an effort to connect with them regularly. Family meetings tell our kids that they matter. That our family matters. That our thoughts and actions matter.

Setting aside this sacred time for your family, whether it be weekly, monthly or quarterly, is a perfect way to let your kids know you care about them and the overall health of your entire family.

What do you think is important to include in family meetings?

Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

We’re headed off on a week-long family trip, and in our excitement, we post pictures on Facebook of our departure from the country.

Our son receives a prestigious award at school, so we proudly post him holding his certificate on Instagram. #proudmom

It’s our daughter’s birthday, so we lovingly celebrate her by sharing a collage of pictures throughout her life even though she’s not even on the social platform.

Yes, we are proud of our offspring.

Of course, we want to share our child’s cute face and shining moments for friends and family to see.

Naturally, we’re excited to head off on that much-awaited family vacation. 

But, should we be sharing our kids’ images and our precious family moments online?

Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

With June being Internet Safety Month, it made me think about my ‘sharenting’ habits and question if it’s a problem posting all that we are on our social feeds?

Are there risks to our ‘sharenting’? 

Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy, says absolutely and it’s why she doesn’t do it. She is a mother of two tweens who you won’t see anywhere on her social media feeds. She and her husband purposely keep their children offline.

“Neither one of us post anything about kids on social media,” says Strohman. “I’m really specific what I allow to be tagged as well. It’s not my right to post on my child’s behalf when it’s not their choice.”

Where do we draw the line between our freedom as a parent to post and a child’s right to privacy?

“I am a full believer that kids should come into adulthood with as little digital footprints as they possibly can,” says Dr. Strohman. “As a parent, I feel it isn’t our place to ‘brand’ them at a place in time with something that could come back and haunt them later. I mean, who would want our hairstyle from the ’80s to show up in any searchable database?”

Why we may need to change our ‘sharenting’ habits

Parents need to understand that the choices they make today could impact their child ten years from now. “If I’m sharing something about my child that they did when they were seven, who is going to see that?” questions Dr. Strohman. “You have zero control if you post on social, where those images go.”

Podcaster and Writer, Meagan Francis witnessed this firsthand when someone lifted her photo from Facebook and turned it into a meme that quickly went viral. Having a stranger turn her difficult mom moment into a viral meme was never her intention when she originally posted her picture, yet it’s the reality that can happen to any of us who post our images and stories online.

Allow your child to create their own digital identity.

“I recommend that you don’t post about your kids. You are creating a digital footprint on behalf of them that they haven’t created themselves or wanted to,” says Strohman. 

But, if you must post, think long and hard about what information you are putting online. What is the purpose of posting that image or story?

Most parents say they are posting on social media to keep families up to date with the latest photos of the kids. “The problem is when you do this publicly rather than in a file sharing program that doesn’t make it public like Dropbox or Google Drive, then you have no control who will see them, rip the images and use them in a way that you could be horrified to find out later,” says Dr. Strohman.

Put your child’s pictures back in the photo album where they belong.

Sharents need to mindfully print and preserve precious family photos instead of constantly posting them on the internet.

Rachel Musnicki spoke for many kids in her article on Your Teen Magazine, “We hate it when you tell our friends embarrassing stories in person; it’s worse when you post them on Facebook. Remember, nothing ever goes away on the Internet. We don’t want to be followed by that embarrassing nickname or baby picture on the Internet forever. I’d be mortified beyond belief if pictures of me with braces were on the Internet. Some images should remain hidden in a photo album.”

Consider removing images you’ve already posted of your child.

My daughter is embarrassed that when you google my name, a photo she doesn’t like comes up of her from five years ago on our RV sabbatical around the United States. At the moment she was okay with me posting the image, but five years later she wants it removed from cyberspace.

Fortunately, I know the owner of the podcast where it appears, and she agreed to take the image down. Other photos will remain online as they are attached to freelance articles that I’ve written, so they may unfortunately forever live on the web.    

Make a conscious choice to find other ways to connect with family and friends.

When prom season rolled around, I had to refrain from adding my teens’ pictures to the feed. Several good friends asked to see photos, and I was able to share the images with only my closest family and friends. 

My sons posted their prom pictures on their social media accounts, which is how it should be. We want to let our child create their digital footprint, instead of us building it for them.

What if we’re not ready to stop our ‘sharenting’? 

What should we consciously do before we post our child’s images and information online?

3 Things You Should Never Post

1. Don’t post your travels in real time.

You should never post ahead of or during a vacation.

“You are absolutely inviting people to your home especially if you are listed on the state website listing homeownership,” says Dr. Strohman. A driver’s license or a travel itinerary shared online could be valuable information for identity thieves and burglars. At least wait until you are back before posting your memorable moments.

2. Don’t post celebratory birthday messages.

With just a name, date of birth, and address (easy enough to find in a geotagged birthday party photo on Facebook, for example), bad actors can store this information until a person turns 18 and then begin opening accounts.

 “There is a lot of information people can pull from knowing your birthday,” says Strohman. “It takes away a huge unknown variable, for instance, if you are trying to steal someone’s identity.”

Get-Kids-Permission-Before-Sharing-on-Social-Sharents

3. Don’t post images of your child that they didn’t approve.

Always ask your child permission to post their image online and then respect their wishes if they say no. Also, understand that even if your child says yes today, they may later be embarrassed or upset about that photo living online later. 

Never tag your child or use their real name when posting their images either.

Remember that less is more when it comes to our ‘sharenting’.  Let’s be more mindful about the risks and consequences of posting on our child’s behalf. 

Have you experienced any issues from posting your child’s or family images online?

6-things-you-should-do-when-your-kid-has-a-smartphone

Whose bright idea was it to think that giving our youth iPhones was a good idea?

And why have we continued to follow along knowing that giving our kids these powerful digital devices isn’t smart?

I’m not sure how our family fell into society’s technology trap, but we did. Our teenagers have personal smartphones, but they don’t come without limits, rules, and restrictions.

6-things-to-do-when-your-kid-has-a-smartphone

1. Have a family cell phone contract

Read more

Screen-Free-Week

Screen-Free Week brings awareness to the most significant battlefield we face as parents raising children in popular culture today- technology. However, digital devices are not the problem. Our time and habits spent on our screens are the real issues.

It’s important that we purposely provide our kids with regular screen-free space in their lives.

It’s one of the reasons we send our kids to tech-free sleep-away summer camp, and since our teens will soon be living in the woods without their beloved devices, we will not be totally shutting off their screens this week. But, we will be using this time to discuss our current usage and habits on digital devices.

Here are 3 ways we can allow National Screen-Free Week to empower us to create healthier screen time habits

Read more

4-tips-for-giving-kids-an-allowance

Don’t pay your kid for scoring goals in a game.

Don’t pay them for achieving A’s on their report card or for eating their vegetables.

Don’t pay your child for doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, or scrubbing their toilet.

Instead pay your child a consistent allowance because he is a contributing, valued member of your family and you want to raise a financially responsible person.

The pay-for-performance debate has been a subject of discussion for families for generations. If we don’t tie the money we pay our kids to chores, grades, or other accomplishments, then why give them an allowance at all? 

One way we can teach children financial responsibility is by giving them a consistent allowance and then helping our son or daughter learn how to save, spend, and give their money away.

4-tips-for-giving-kids-an-allowance

Read more