I read about this in Miriam Adahan’s book Raising Children to Care. (Excellent book, by the way!)

She writes about how when you are trying to instill in your children positive patterns and behaviors, it won’t work to teach them at the time of panic.  Just like in a fire drill there is no tension because everyone knows it’s not a real fire, making drills in your home to teach proper behavior patterns can also be fun and worthwhile when the tension is eliminated.
 
One example she brings in her book to explain the concept of drills is the following:

Everyday the children come home from school and instead of hanging their coats up nicely they throw their coats on the floor. One day, drill them on hanging their coats up properly.  Have them put their coats on, go out of the house, come back in and immediately hang up their coats.  Do this a number of times to erase the old program and instill the desired action instead.

We tried this in my house a few months ago.

After we tucked our kids into bed at night they would continuously call us to cover them. One night, when my husband couldn’t take it any longer, he decided to have a drill with them.  He told my kids to all get into bed. He covered all of them and then told them to roll around under the covers and when he said stop they all had to quickly cover themselves.  Then he told them to pretend to be sleeping and he pulled the covers off of each of them.  When he said “cover” they all had to cover themselves.  He continued with a few more fun drills like that until he felt that they could all cover themselves properly. 

That night, after saying good night and shutting the door, we sat down to eat our dinner. A few minutes later we heard a faint “Abba, cover me.”  :)


 
When one of the kids is acting up, send them away and ask their nice counterpart to come back.

Here’s what I mean:
 
Rachel is hitting/yelling/insulting etc.

So you say:

“I don’t know what happened to my Rachel. My Rachel is this nice sweet girl. She talks nicely, she shares with her siblings, she picks up her toys… And do you know what happened now?  I lost her and instead this other girl came.  She looks like my Rachel and she has the same clothes as her and her voice is the same.  But my Rachel doesn’t act like this.  So you know what?  I want you to leave.  Go! Leave!  (And send her out of the room.)

And then either ask her to please send your Rachel, the “nice” Rachel back or call out for the “nice” Rachel.

And when she reappears, give her a huge hug and tell her in detail and with lots of exaggeration what happened.

“Oh Rachel, I’m so happy to see you!!!!!

Do you know what happened???

There was a girl here.  She looked just like you!  She was even wearing the same clothes as you! And I thought maybe it was you!  But it wasn’t you! Do you know why? Because she was hitting and she wasn’t talking nicely at all.  And I know that my Rachel doesn’t do that.  So you know what I did?  I sent her away.  I told her to leave and to never come back.  And oh, am I glad to see you…”

After doing this once with one of my kids, the next time she acted up she suddenly stopped and on her own asked me to call the “nice” Rachel to come!

Try it in your home and let me know how it goes…

 
When the kids are being difficult, not listening, giving you a hard time… instead of yelling, getting frustrated or feel like you’re talking to the wall – try singing what you want to tell them instead.
 
To explain what I mean, here’s what happened in my home:

For a while now, two of my kids have been fighting every morning over who gets milk poured into their cereal first.  Whichever one gets first yells out “I got first” and the other one starts crying and sometimes even refuses to eat her breakfast (and then of course it gets soggy and is completely wasted…) As you can imagine, it is a very frustrating way to start off the day. 

At first when this happened I told my kids that it doesn’t matter who gets first and I tried a little chant.  I would say “It doesn’ttttt….” and they would have to yell out “matter”.  But that didn’t work.  So a few days ago, after feeling so burnt out and frustrated I started singing. 

And here’s how my song goes (to the tune of “She’ll be comin round the mountain when she comes”)

Oh it doesn’t really matter who gets first

Oh it doesn’t really matter who gets first

Oh it doesn’t really matter

It doesn’t really matter

It doesn’t really matter who gets first.

The truth is that they still fight and get upset over who gets first.

BUT, at least now I don’t get all worked up about it. When I start feeling my blood pressure rising, I just start singing the song and it keeps me sane.

So, if your kids are fighting about something or you’re trying to get a certain message across – SING!  Even if they don’t get the message, it’ll keep you in a good mood which ultimately is the best thing you can give them anyway!

 
It’s 3 days this year! That means lots and lots of cooking to do.

I’m starting to get overwhelmed just thinking about it!

I think what calms me down the most, is having a plan.

When I have a plan I’m able to see how it will all get done.

 

So, start making a menu for each meal, NOW.

And start buying everything you need to make those meals, NOW.

And whatever can be made in advance and frozen, start cooking it NOW.

If you plan what you’re making, and do a little at a time, the cooking will not only get done, but you’ll probably feel a lot more relaxed and calm as you cook.

Shana Tova and happy cooking!

 
This one is for the first day of school/gan (nursery school).
I’ve heard this a few times from different people –
Put a note in your child’s lunch bag to show them you’re thinking of them.
For kids who don’t yet know how to read, draw a picture instead – a smiley face, a heart etc.
The note alone is enough or you could add in a little treat as well.
Try it at random times during the year, but especially at harder times for your child: first day of school, first day back from vacation, the day of a hard test… 

Last year, I remembered to do this a few times throughout the year.  The first time that I did it, I simply drew a heart on a piece of paper with a smiley face in the middle and put it in with my daughter’s sandwich.  When I came to pick her up at the end of the day, her teacher said that she held onto it the entire day!

This is one thing that is so simple to do yet it means so much to our children to know that we are thinking of them.
 
Wishing you and your children an easy transition back to school and a wonderful school year!

 
“Ma, what’s for dinner?”
It’s the most overwhelming question a child can ask at 5 pm, right?

Do you feel the daily stress of trying to figure out what to make for dinner, and once you figure it out, you realize that you don’t even have the right ingredients to make it? Wouldn’t it be nice to eliminate that stress and be able to answer your child with a smile?

The key is having a PLAN.

Planning in advance will make you feel in control and on top of the situation.

I’d like to suggest making a 2 week dinner schedule.
Here’s what you can do:
Of the 2 week period, each night of the week can be the same food in a different variation.
Example:
Sunday –Leftovers
Monday – Fish and Rice
Tuesday – Baked Ziti/Macaroni and Cheese
Wednesday – Chicken and Potatoes
Thursday – Eggs and noodles

All this would mean is having 2 different variations for each night’s meal to switch off with. For example: 2 different fish recipes, 2 different chicken recipes, 2 different noodle recipes and 2 different types of eggs (it could be as easy as one week scrambled and one week omelet.)

Once you’ve written out your 2 week schedule, make a shopping list that will include every item needed for these 2 weeks.  (Other than fruits and vegetables which you may need to buy on a weekly basis.)  Keep this shopping list and use it every 2 weeks when you go shopping.  The alternate week can be a small shopping for fruits and vegetables and items you know you just ran out of.

Feel free to send in recipes and we can all make a 2 week schedule together!

 
Spending lots and lots of time on the computer these days?

Too much time?

I’ve been noticing that this seems to be a common problem with many of us. We are constantly checking our email, constantly getting distracted by things we really don’t need to be reading and are simply wasting LOTS of time on the internet.

Wouldn’t it be nice to just check our email once a day? Or even skip a day?

If you’re spending too much time on the computer, it might mean that you’re bored and unstimulated and have too much time on your hands. Find something meaningful and rewarding to do to replace the computer time. This could be a new hobby, exercising, volunteering (could be from home volunteering), etc.  There are many possibilities out there.

Set a specific time in the day as computer time and spend the rest of your free time doing something meaningful that you would really enjoy.

(If you’re not sure what you would even pick to do, coaching might help to clarify what your interests are and where your excitement lies and get you moving in that direction.)

*Spending too much time on the computer can also be a procrastination technique. Stay tuned for a future post dealing with procrastination.

 
As I’m just entering my 9th month of pregnancy, I thought it appropriate to share this game with you now.
 
I call this game the “9th month game” because I came up with it when I was in my 9th month of pregnancy and had no energy to move.  What’s great about this game is that the kids can get their energy out without you having to move off the couch! You can play it while you’re resting, nursing or just need some quick way to entertain your kids.

Here’s how it goes:

The idea of the game is that you tell your kids things around the home to touch and they have to run and touch them and then run back to you. Start off with simple things and then make it harder.

For example:

“Run and touch the fridge and then run back to me.”

“Go touch the front door and then come back.”

Other items can be:

Your bed, the bathroom door, the kitchen table, etc.

Next, have them touch two things.

“Touch the fridge and then touch your bed and then run back here.”

After a few rounds of this, change it up a bit by having the child/children do things

as they are going to touch the fridge (or door or table…)

For example:

“Jump all the way to the fridge and then jump back to me.”

“Hop like a bunny to the table and then hop back.”

Other examples:  Crawl to the fridge, walk with your eyes closed, walk backwards, walk holding both hands with your sibling (reduces the competitiveness!), pretend to be a chicken all the way to the fridge and then a frog on the way back, etc.

Be creative, and of course, HAVE FUN!

 
Here’s a fun way to encourage your kids to clean up when there is a huge mess of toys on the floor:
 
Call out a color and everyone has to clean up that color.
For example, “Red” and everyone has to put away all items that are red.
Then call out another color, etc. until the entire room is clean.
Alternatively, assign each child a different color to clean up.
To vary it, you can also call out shapes.
This is a great way to reinforce colors and shapes for a child who is learning this.

For older kids, instead of calling out colors or shapes, give clues.
For example:
Pick up something that keeps you warm and put it where it goes (sweatshirt)
Pick up something that you can look through and has a button to press (toy camera)
Etc.

Use this fun and creative technique to get kids to pick up toys, clothes or just about any mess.

 
A few weeks ago, I went to a laughter workshop.  The presenter taught us all sorts of exercises to get us to laugh.  A few days later I was attempting to serve my kids dinner. But they were all crying!  I couldn’t get them to stop crying and I simply didn’t know what to do.  And then I thought of the laughter workshop I had gone to a few nights earlier. So I decided to laugh.  While they were busy crying, I just laughed.  And one by one, they each stopped crying and just stared at me.  (“Uh oh, this time Ema has really lost it” is what I think they were all thinking.)  And then I started doing one of the laughter exercises I had learned.

It’s called The Laughing Tree.

You crouch down on the floor and pretend to be a little sapling.  And you let out a little giggle. And then very slowly, you start straightening your body and spreading out your hands. As you do this, your laughter gets louder.  You keep straightening out until you are standing fully upright with your hands up in the air like branches on a tree. And as you straighten out completely you let out a huge loud laugh.

Well, I started doing this in front of my kids (who were slowly wiping away their tears) and then next thing I know, my 5 year old jumps down from her seat and starts doing it with me. And then my 2 year old joined in.  And pretty soon the mood had completely changed and we were all laughing as we pretended to be laughing trees. Now when my 2 year old wants to do this exercise, she goes around saying “laughing tee, laughing tee.”
 
So when the kids are crying and you just don’t know what to do, instead of throwing your hands up in despair, throw your hands up and LAUGH!

To learn more about Laughter Workshops by Yehudit Kotler, visit her website at www.yehuditkotler.com