Five things I Wish I’d Learned Before I got Married

I got married at 24, and while I am very glad I gave myself time to mature a little before marriage, there were some things I wish that I had learned sooner rather than later. Here’s the list 🙂

five things I wish I'd learned before I got married

1. Marry your finances! We still have separate checking accounts, and moving from two incomes to one and back has created a nightmare when it comes to making sure you know what bills are paid from where, transferring money from one credit union to another, etc etc etc.We are just now working on combining.

Finances are a BIG deal- a huge percentage of couples who get divorced say that money contributed. Manilla.com says that 65% of couples argue about money. For some reason, we both felt safe in our minds financially because there would be two of us earning money and thinking about the bills. The problem for us was, imagining that everything was ok just because we would be in this together has created many financial train wrecks. We didn’t communicate and each take responsibility for making sure we were making wise financial decisions. We are now reading the books Financial Peace and Total Money Makeover, both by David Ramsey. It would have made a massive difference for us and saved us from so much grief and arguing if we would have taken the time to read these books sooner.

If I could do it over, I would make sure that hubby and I looked at, thought through, and made plans for our financial lives BEFORE getting married. Couples argue about money. It happens. Use that information to your advantage by making sure that you and your sweetie talk about finances openly and honestly and make plans together to avoid financial pitfalls that may cause arguments later.

2. I am not always right. There is a great TED talks about being right. On it, Kathryn talks about serious problems that can come up when we are blinded by the belief that we are right. We start to make ‘unfortunate assumptions’ about the thoughts and feelings of the people around us (like that they are an idiot for not knowing what we know, for example). These kinds of feelings toward a spouse can wage war on healthy relationships.

One of the things that hubby and I both had to learn is how to admit when we are wrong…. and how NOT to make each other feel bad when we are. When you are dating, it’s easy to think about all of the wonderful qualities of your partner, but after a couple of years of marriage, it’s easy to see all of their mistakes. I really had to recognize that my criticisms fueled by my sense of ‘rightness’ hurt my hubby’s feelings and did much more harm than good. I think marriage should be about having someone by your side who supports you, and creating this ethic in your marriage takes a healthy dose of humility on both sides. Asking yourself the question “How would I want my spouse to talk to me about this?” and trying to follow that golden rule can help loads!

3. I expect you to…. Expectations can make or break a relationship. It was very difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that the man I married was different from the person I always pictured being married to in my mind. The funny thing was, I didn’t even realize I had some of these expectations. If I could do it again, I would write down all of the things I expected my husband and my marriage to be like. That way, I could recognize some of the pitfalls I had created in my mind for both myself and my husband. I realized through sad experience that I had created expectations in my mind that neither of us could ever live up to.

There are, however some expectations on both sides that are valid and important. After you’ve got your list, narrow it down to those things that are most important to you, then talk to your partner about them. Sometimes you will be surprised! Expectations that seem reasonable and obvious to you may be completely off the wall for your partner. The only way to learn this and prevent lots of potential misery is to talk about them.

When you decide which expectations work for you both, you can set goals together and make commitments around them. Sometimes it makes a world of difference just hearing your honey say that they are willing to commit to take their shoes off before they come in, and it saves you both the bother of nagging or blame. It also really helps to have a commitment, because when you have promised something, it’s much easier to own up to a mistake and try again. Imagine the difference it makes when you hear “Honey, I just want to remind you of a commitment you made…” rather than “I’ve asked you five times to…”

4. Courage to be different! When I first got married, I sometimes found myself afraid to express myself or make a particular choice because I *thought* my hubby wouldn’t agree with me or like what I decided. I finally discovered that a simple conversation (with a little gumption) made a huge difference. Most of the time the things I was afraid would upset him were not issues for him at all.

Relationships work best when you are both whole, complete and different people. Having the courage to do what I really want to do without feeling like it had to fit some kind of imaginary mold has freed me in a big way. We have had amazing connection and happiness as a couple as we have both had the courage to openly share what we think and feel. Sometimes those differences of opinion need to be worked out- such as how to spend money or how to discipline your children. The rest of the time, though, those differences add interest and variety. We have had some great conversations as we’ve tried to learn about and understand each other’s different point of view.

5. I see the best in you. I recorded and started listening to some affirmations recently. (I know, how very new-agey of me… but they work!) As I was recording some positive statements about myself, I thought it might be a good idea to include some positive things about my husband… and it worked! Really, it’s been amazing! Since I have started listening to it, I have really noticed those positive things in him. Our relationship has been even better than usual this past little while. It makes sense because you always find what you are looking for, and having that daily reminder of some of his best qualities helps me see them and think about them.

I think people tend to really have a sense about what other people think of them, even when they don’t say it. (Have you ever seen an episode of Lie to Me?) When I changed what I was thinking, Hubby started responding to me in an even more loving and sincere way as well, probably because he can tell when I’m looking for the best in him.

Well, we are definitely not perfect, but I can truly say that Hubby and I are happily married. I enjoyed remembering these lessons, and it honestly helped me a lot to review them. Hopefully some of this information can help others along their journey, too.

God bless,

Amorie

Coconut Milk Curry

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Curry is one of our favorite dishes. My husband is addicted to curry powder, and we go through massive quantities of the stuff. He puts it in fried potatoes, chicken, steamed vegetables, you name it. Here is a picture of our now-empty curry jar to prove it.

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I had to ban him from putting it in my potatoes. 🙂

As for me, there is only one way I really like to eat curry, and that’s in a tasty curry dish. This recipe is one of my favorites. I made it for guests with kids, so it’s sweet and very mild. It’s hard to be exact with all the measurements, because I am always changing up the veggies or tweaking the spices to suit my taste at the moment. Feel free to adjust for your tastes.

For example, I love me a sweet curry, but if it’s not your thing, it is also delicious without any sweetener. I have added a few suggestions for changing it up if desired.

This would be classified as a yellow curry, though as I made it, it looks fairly green. Be careful when you purchase curry powder, and only buy it if it lists ALL of the ingredients rather than just listing ‘spices.’ Some things to watch out for are MSG, natural flavor, maltodexterin, anti-caking agents and preservatives. Curry is only a mix of spices and shouldn’t have any junk in it. There are some great recipes online for mixing spices to make your own curry powder, which would be a good option if you don’t trust the premade stuff that is available in your area. Also be sure if you use zucchini that it is organic to avoid GMO’s.

Here is my time-saving chicken secret: I never cut up my chicken before cooking it! Gone are the days of waiting for chicken to thaw or fighting with raw gloppy breasts on my counter! I just toss the whole breasts into my skillet and after the chicken is white on all sides, but not quite done in the middle I just cut it into large chunks using my metal turner. I continue to cut it into smaller chunks each time I turn the food, and as the chicken is cooked enough to make it easy. By the time the meal is cooked, I have bite-sized chicken pieces!

Coconut Milk Curry

1 T coconut oil, olive oil or butter for cooking
3 organic chicken breasts
1 organic yellow onion, chopped
1 13.5 oz can organic coconut milk (or homemade equivalent)
1 organic red bell pepper, chopped
2 small organic zucchini, sliced
Handful of whole, fresh basil leaves
2 t organic Curry Powder, divided
1 t – 2 T organic sugar
1/4-1/2 t salt 1 1/2 t Ginger powder, divided
1 t Garlic powder
1/4-1 t cayenne pepper (optional- I didn’t use any this time because I was feeding kids)
water
1 drop doTERRA basil and 3 drops doTERRA Ginger essential oil (if you don’t have doTERRA essential oils, don’t worry, I’ve made this curry for years with great results without them, but I just love the added zing and I highly recommend their oils for cooking and many other applications)

Place the oil and the chicken breasts in a large teflon-free skillet and coat with 1 t curry, 1 t garlic and all of the ginger. If using fresh chicken, rub the spices into the chicken before placing in the skillet. You may need to add 1/4 c to 1 c of water as it cooks to keep the chicken from scorching. If your chicken is frozen, just sprinkle half the spices on one side, and sprinkle with the rest when you turn them. Cover your skillet and cook on medium-high heat while you chop the onion, turning the chicken every 2-3 minutes.

Once the chicken is white on all sides, (about 2 turns) add in the onion and continue cooking, chopping the chicken into chunks with your turner as you go. If your chicken was frozen, it may need to cook a little longer before you can easily cut it. Cut up the pepper and zucchini while you wait. When the onions are cooked and the chicken is almost cooked through, add the coconut milk, salt, the rest of the spices and the vegetables. Cover and cook 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, and checking the veggies for doneness every 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook them! Curry is best when the vegetables still have a little crunch to them.

Drop the essential oils into a bowl with 1/2 cup water. Stir well, and add 2 T of the mixture into the curry, adjusting to taste. Serve immediately over brown rice, riced cauliflower, or quinoa. I used toasted brown rice for mine.

Suggestions for changing it up:

veggies to try: yams, carrots, fresh tomatoes, peppers, bamboo shoots, snow peas, celery, diced squash, potatoes

For a stronger curry flavor, add up to 2 T curry powder. My husband’s favorite is about 2 T curry powder and 1 t cayenne, but I can’t handle that much spice!

Other spices to try: whole bay leaves (remove when done cooking), dried basil, whole pressed garlic cloves, grated fresh ginger, a dash of nutmeg, coriander and cumin.

Enjoy!

~Amorie

How to change your life with Gratitude

Or just make it a little bit better. Everyone I have talked to this about has noticed a difference when they try it. For some it is monumental and life-changing. For others, it’s small and simple. But it has made a difference for all of them. Maybe you’ll be the same…

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I’m LDS, and one of the tenets of our religion is to count your blessings and be grateful for what you have. This practice is also a part of many other religious and spiritual belief systems. It seems so simple. So easy.

So easy, in fact, that for many years of my life, I mentioned it by rote in prayer without a second thought (I’m grateful for this day, for my family, etc.) It didn’t really make a noticeable difference then.

And it just seemed so dismissible…

Until I started attending life coaching and self-help seminars that mentioned the same thing. Be grateful, with no religious connotations whatsoever. Be glad about the things you have. Be thankful for the things you enjoy in your life. Even then, I thought “Sure, yeah, I’m grateful. I’m sure glad my life isn’t miserable right now,” but it still didn’t mean much to me.

I never thought about it when my life WAS miserable

And here’s the clincher- You have to try it when you are NOT feeling great about life. Whether you’re happy, sad, or ambivalent, it needs to be a HABIT to notice things to be grateful for.

It’s a huge key to happiness.

Unconvinced? DON’T STOP READING HERE.

Let’s try it. I want a chance to show you how this works. We’re going to do a little experiment. Don’t freak out, just go with it. No biggie 🙂

Think for a second about how happy you feel right now. Be as honest as you can. Are you upset about something? Did you just get great news? What is going on in your life right now?

Ok give yourself a score between one and ten for how happy you feel, one being miserable and ten being bouncing up and down screaming with joy. 😛

Now, list out loud 5 things you are thankful for in your life. Really dig here. If you are like me and you have been “grateful by rote,” try to think of things beyond the obvious, or if you do think of the obvious, think about how much you really do mean it.

For example, “I’m grateful for my husband. No really, I am. He means the world to me. If he were gone tomorrow, I don’t know what I’d do. I love the way he laughs with me. I love when he does sweet things for me…” etc.

So for each thing, just make sure you mean it, and say it OUT LOUD, starting with I’m thankful for, or I’m grateful for, like

“I am sure grateful that I have deodorant”

Ok. Say the first thing out loud.

I’ll wait.

.

.

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Good! Now for number two….

Three

Four

And really dig here… Five.

I’ll wait again, just in case you think of more than five

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.

.

See what I did there? I made you have to scroll. That’s so you would really do the experiment. Yeah, I’m tricky like that.

Ok now I want you to rate your happiness level again from one and ten. Just so you don’t have to scroll up, let me remind you that 1 = misery, 10 = screaming hallelujahs.

Your number went up, didn’t it? I bet it did. It might have been a huge difference, and it might have been a tiny difference, but definitely noticeable.

Want to know why it works? I’m gonna get really hokey here and say it’s the law of attraction.

Ok, no really, there is something measurable here going on in your brain. Remember when I said the trick was to make thinking about things you’re grateful for a HABIT?

Here’s why.

You have something in your brain called the Reticular Activating System, also called the Extrathalamic Control Modulatory System. There is going to be a test later, so get that spelling down…

Let’s just call it your RAS. The job of your RAS is to bring to your attention things that are important. The RAS is the reason why a mother can sleep through other noises, but will wake up as soon as she hears her child’s cry. If you are a caveman, your brain will make you aware of the roar of a saber-toothed tiger that might try to eat you so you can get away. See how that’s helpful?

So here’s what happens. When you think about something a lot, the RAS assumes that it’s important, so when you see things that relate to it, your brain brings those things to your attention.

Here’s an example. While I was pregnant with my son, it seemed like everywhere I went, everyone was pregnant. I saw so many baby bumps, you would have thought the world’s population was about to double. Now that my son is here, all I see are babies… so what happened? Is nobody pregnant anymore? Were there no babies when I was pregnant? Of course not. It’s just that I spent lots of time thinking about pregnancy when I was pregnant. Pregnancy issues, how far along I was, how my baby was developing, etc. This made my RAS go into overdrive about pregnancy, and BOOM, if there was a pregnant woman anywhere in my vicinity, my brain made me aware of them.

The same thing happened when I bought a Volkswagen. All of a sudden, there were Volkswagens everywhere. It’s not that they weren’t there before, it’s just that my brain didn’t NOTICE them. My brain dismissed them because to my RAS, they weren’t important.

It works for things that make you happy, too. If you spend lots of time doing or thinking of things that make you happy and that you enjoy (Things you are GRATEFUL for), BOOM, RAS picks it up, and everywhere you go, happy, happy, happy.

Want to know why depression is so hard to get out of? Believe me, I’ve been there.

It’s because the misery works the same way. The more you think about things that are miserable, the more miserable you feel, and the more miserable you think and BOOM, good old RAS makes you aware of nothing but situations, people and events that make you miserable.

It works with ideas, too. Ideas like “I am going to get a rockin’ awesome job” as opposed to “no one will give me decent a job.” Focusing on the positive message makes your RAS pick it up, and turn on your radar- meaning you will notice when an opportunity for a job presents itself. Remember, it’s not that the opportunity wasn’t there, it’s just that your brain didn’t bring your attention to it.

As interestingly explained here, (warning, strong language) It’s difficult to get your mind to focus on a positive when there is a more compelling negative for it to attach to. This means depression and misery can turn into a negative cycle that literally keeps you only noticing the negative things that create more misery.

Enter gratitude! (dub superhero theme song)

Remember how listing things you’re grateful for made you feel better? This simple activity gets your RAS to start making you aware of situations, people and events that make you feel happier. Feeling more happiness is what will get your RAS to notice and pay attention to even more opportunities for you to do or obtain things that make you feel happy.

If you start habitually thinking about and being grateful for positive things in your life…. BOOM, happy, happy, happy. So here’s my challenge: Try to think of and vocalize 5 things you are grateful for every day, and really mean it. Extra special brownie bonus points if you can make it a habit to think of them when you are feeling upset or depressed about something.

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” -Proverbs.

Hey it works.

Maybe there’s something to this law of attraction stuff after all…

Ready for your test? 🙂

Amorie

Grain Free Pancakes

Here’s to mornings. Here’s to when your cell phone isn’t working. Here’s to eating a good-for-you breakfast anyway 🙂

My body likes it when I take a break from grains for a couple if days each week. I can’t say it’s my favorite way to live (read: I’m addicted to baking)  but I know it’s good for me, so I try to compensate for the lack of grains with deliciousness.

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Just because you aren’t eating grain doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy buttery, drippy, delicious pancakes, and the recipe is super simple.

Grain Free Pancakes

1  organic ripe banana

2 organic eggs

Mash the banana between your fingers before peeling. This makes it easier to puree. Whip the banana in a bowl with a fork or whisk until smooth, then whisk in eggs until fully incorporated. Pour batter by 1/4 cup onto a greased preheated griddle and cook until bubbles form and edges pull up from griddle very slightly, then gently loosen all the way around and flip over. Cook one more minute or so until done. Serve with butter and maple syrup, sucanat syrup or honey if desired.  Recipe makes about 5 thin pancakes, enough to serve one adult or two kids.

These pancakes take a gentle hand to turn and it can be tricky to make them pretty, but they are fluffy and delicious. Definitely worth it.

They are also naturally sweet, and can be served with fresh fruit, yogurt or whipped cream instead of syrup. (Although I won’t blame you if you top it with everything, cause you know I do)

Enjoy!

Amorie

Parenting: Discipline is NOT a dirty word

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As a nanny with many years of experience, the hardest thing to do when starting with a new family is to undo improper discipline. Children who have good discipline instilled at a young age are happy, well adjusted and wonderful to be around. Children with spotty or no discipline at home are bratty, rude, disrespectful and are only fun to be with when they are getting what they want.

Always getting what you want can be a big problem, because in life we don’t always get what we want. This means that undisciplined kids have a tough time adjusting to school, playgroups, babysitters, and especially authority figures.

So what is the difference between a respectful, happy, sweet child and a bratty one?

I say it is in the way the child learns to understand the world.

A child who is disciplined understands that authority figures are there to support and protect them and ensure their needs are met. This child feels safe because she knows that she can rely on her parents.

A child without good discipline faces an uncertain world. This is because the way things are handled at home are always changing based on his parents’ moods, priorities, issues, etc. He discovers very quickly that if he exploits whatever mood mom or dad happens to be in, he can get whatever he wants.
These kids are incredibly versatile, creative and spot-on intuitive when it comes to knowing when exactly is the right time to push mom and dad’s buttons (or the nanny, teacher, sitter, etc.)

It goes like this: Kid is doing X. Parent tells kid to stop or Y will happen. Kid checks in with mood of parent and sees that the parent is bluffing. Kid continues doing X. Parent gets frustrated, starts yelling, getting upset, etc, Feels guilty that they are being a ‘bad parent,’ etc. Kid continues doing X until they know for sure that some sort of discipline will actually happen.
By that time in this scenario, the discipline comes in the form of threats and anger from the parent.
The kid gets exactly what he wants plus some because by this time, mom or dad feels guilty about losing their cool and wants to make up for it.

Not effective, folks. The huge problem with this scenario is that Y, the original discipline put forward by the parent didn’t happen.

Here is the truth. Kids know when you are bluffing.

Let me say it again. KIDS ALWAYS ALWAYS KNOW WHEN YOU ARE NOT SERIOUS. They can smell a fib from 50 feet away… And the cute little buggers are going to call your bluff time and time again, until you get serious.

I’m not kidding. If that scenario is playing out in your house, it’s time for you to grow a pair. Take it from a nanny who was requested many times by parents of children that others refused to sit for.

Here’s what I mean by ‘grow a pair:’

Step One: choose some kind of disciplinary action as a consequence. My favorite is time out. (Don’t start freaking out or stop reading here if time out hasn’t worked for you in the past. I’ll get to the best methods to use with it) Other consequences could be loss of allowance or TV time, having to go to bed earlier, etc. etc. The key here is that whatever you use must be motivating for the child, something they don’t want. It also has to be something that you WILL do consistently every time (Read: grow a pair and get ready to be a parent)
Okay, we are going to use a little math here… Stay with me. We are going to call your chosen consequence Y.

Step Two: When the kid starts doing X or says he won’t do Z, Say,”ok, you have ___  time  to do it/stop or Y will happen.
This is the most important part, people: At that EXACT second, begin timing/counting. Don’t stop the clock/counting under ANY circumstances. You are a parent here. This is NOT a negotiation. This is where you get to be dictator. This is where you teach your children that you are someone they must respect.

If you get to the end of the allotted time and he has not stopped/started doing what you have asked, you do Y IMMEDIATELY. If it is time out, you tell them they owe you 2 minutes, or they lost 1/2 an hour of TV time, must go to bed 1/2 an hour earlier, etc.

Step Three: If he is still being belligerent at this point/ still not doing what you asked/mouthing off/ trying to negotiate/trying to beg you to stop/ANYTHING other than what you have asked him to do, then you up the ante. Say, okay, you are going to owe me another minute of time out, or another 1/2 hour of TV time, etc. Take a deep breath. You can do this.
Keep going, upping the ante, increasing the punishment until he does what you have asked. This makes it easier for him to do the right thing than the wrong.

(Quick PS here, no offense meant by saying using a boy as an example. I have seen plenty of girl hellions too)

Okay, now if you are new to this, or if this kid has always gotten his way, he most likely will not make the first couple of times you do this easy for you. Remember this: no matter what he does, or how much he fusses, etc, you must stay calm. If the situation starts to get out of hand, for example, if he starts screaming/crying/tantruming, DO NOT talk to him or respond to what he is saying in any way. This is not up for conversation or negotiation. Immediately pick up a tantruming child and put him in his room or another neutral space and tell him that he is welcome to come out when he has calmed down.

(note: his own bedroom is the very best place for this. Never put a child outside, in a garage, or any place he is afraid of.  The point here is not to punish him, but to let him calm his tantruming.)

If he comes out and is still whining/crying/tantruming/bratty, etc, put him right back in his room and tell him that he can come out when he is calm.

When he comes out and is calm, or after he has calmed down and you go retrieve him, tell him he owes you consequence Y for his behavior, but that if he does what you originally asked him to do without complaining, he will not owe you any more.

Step Four: Mete out the consequence. This is a big deal. You must do what you said you were going to do, whether it’s bedtime, tv, time out etc., it must actually happen that day.

Here’s an important little trick: If what you requested was for him to do something, like clean up his toys or take out the garbage, have him do it now, before you mete out his consequence. This way, if he starts to slack or complain or does not to it all the way, you can continue to increase his consequence until he has finished his task. Then, you thank him nicely for doing what you asked, and tell him he still owes you consequence Y, and have him do whatever the consequence was.

‘But,” you might be asking, “What about their little egos? What about their feelings,” etc etc … Well, I am here to tell you that unless kids have good positive discipline at home, those little egos and feelings can quickly turn them into bratty little monsters. OF COURSE you tell them you love them and that they are special, OF COURSE you be sure that they know you believe in them and you will always be there for them….But you do not, under any circumstances allow them the walk all over you.

The best way to care for their feelings is to never punish or discipline in anger. Remember to stay calm. Calmly explain what the consequence will be. Calmly tell them when they owe you a consequence. Calmly mete out the consequence. You are in charge here.

The most incredible thing I discover after I have had to discipline a child with time out, etc, is how affectionate and sweet the child is to me afterward. Honestly, I am not kidding. After the kid gets out of time out, he will sometimes give me a hug, or want to come play a game with me. This is the best time to show some affection. Tell them you love them, and you don’t like it when you have to discipline, but that you need to make sure they stay safe and do the right things.

I have seen miraculous things using this method. Parents have told me after I have taken care of their children for a couple of weeks that they have seen a change in them, and they ask me how I do it. Children can be and should be wonderful to be around. They are one of God’s sweetest gifts, and I promise you that if you can get good discipline down, your child can be sweet, obedient and wonderful to be around too.

Here is an explanation of the best method I have discovered for disciplining, using Time-Out.

Before I ever mete out a time-out, (if I have just started with a new family, for example) I give a warning about it first. If a child is not doing what she should, I say, “If you do that again, you will owe me a time out.” I make sure that all of the children have been warned or heard a warning to another child and understand that there will be consequences for bad behavior. I always try to use the simplest discipline that is effective. If a warning is enough, I immediately stop. That’s important, you must be fair. Always immediately STOP disciplining once you get what you want. Children will have immense respect for you if they feel that you are fair.

When a child that has been warned has bad behavior, like refuses to clean up toys after I ask nicely, for example, without negotiating I say, “You have 5 seconds to start cleaning up,” then IMMEDIATELY start counting “5, 4, 3, 2, 1”. If she has not started cleaning yet, “I say, Okay, you owe me one minute of time out. You have 5 more seconds to start or you will owe me another minute, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.” I continue to countdown and add minutes and stop as soon as they start cleaning up.

If at any point they stop cleaning, I will say “I don’t see you cleaning. If you don’t start cleaning again, you will owe me another minute, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

After the cleaning is done, I take them to the time-out spot. This should be a place free of any clutter or toys where they cannot see the other children, but you can see them or check on them often. (Don’t stare them down or watch them the whole time. Ignore them during time out unless they move out of the space) I like to have them sit on the stairs, on an empty counter, or in a chair that is at least 10 ft away from anything they might be tempted to play with. Explain that if they move from the spot, they will owe you an extra minute, and be sure that you give it to them if they do.
Set a timer for the time and tell the child they can come back and play when the timer is up. If it is an especially bad or dangerous altercation they are in time out for, I tell them I will get them when the timer is up. I then take a minute to talk about why they were in time out, e.g. why we don’t hurt other’s feelings, why it was dangerous, etc. Also, if the child’s feelings were obviously hurt, or if they are visibly still upset, we talk through their feelings, why they were in time out, and how they can do it differently next time. It is very important at this point to listen to them. This should be a discussion, not a lecture. Ask questions and really show them that you care about them and want the best for them. Then let them go back and play. After their ‘sentence’ has been served, be sure that you mentally give them a clean slate. It’s very important for each child to feel they have been treated fairly.

Time out disciplining is never an angry affair. If more than one child is involved, calmly talk through what happened, speaking to the children separately if necessary, then mete out the discipline accordingly, eg “I know Sarah hit you, and she will get a time out, too, but it was not okay for you to take away her toy, so you owe me one minute of time out…”

Here are some common issues you may encounter:

  • Screaming or Tantruming: immediately pick them up and put them in a safe place and tell them you will talk to them after they are done. Alternately, if the child is older, you may need to use the countdown method with a time-out consequence for tantrums.
  • Negotiation: Some kids are amazing at getting into your head to get out of doing what you want, like the kiddo that yells “Stop! Don’t count…..” and tries to talk to you or reason with you to get out of consequences. It’s important that you stop this behavior in it’s tracks unless you want to be in a state of constant negotiation for at least the next 10 years. If they start trying to talk to you when you are trying to discipline, DO NOT ENGAGE with them. Say “I’m not going to talk to you about this right now. I need you to do X or Y will happen.” Don’t get flustered. Breathe. Remember that you are always going to be available to talk to your children when they need you, but if they are demanding that you listen to them because they know you are disciplining them, that has got to stop. Put on your grown-up panties and show them you are their leader, not a doormat. In some instances, you may also need to discipline negotiating behavior, e.g. “You have 5 seconds to stop talking/yelling/whining and start doing X or you owe me a minute of time out. 5, 4, 3…. etc.
  • Leaving the time out space/yelling or tantruming and/or making noises while in time out: Some kids are just really going to test you. They have to be absolutely sure you mean business before they will listen to you. If you have one of these children, I don’t envy you. But don’t despair! It will take some consistency, on your part, but it can be done! The second they leave time out, add another minute to their time, “You moved out of time out/are not being quiet, so you owe me another minute. You have 5 seconds to get back in time out/stop making noise or you will owe me another minute, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1” If they leave the space and really think it is a game and don’t return, calmly pick them up, set them back in the space and say “you now have an extra minute. If you get up again, you will owe me another one.” As many times as they get up, stop the timer then CALMLY pick them up and put them back in the space and assign them another minute. NEVER restrain a child physically unless it is necessary to keep them from harming themselves or others. Physical restraining can be dangerous, easily escalates to violence, and shows a lack of respect and trust. Be patient, and keep picking them up and putting them back as often as they get up. You have to outlast them, even if it means they have to finish their time out later on that day. It is important that they understand that the easiest thing to do is to just serve their time out. This process may lead to the next bullet:
  • Exceeding a reasonable number of time-out minutes: depending on your child’s age and disposition, it is unreasonable to expect them to quietly sit in time out longer than 5 minutes for younger or 10 minutes for older children. (note that this doesn’t include time spent testing you/out of the time out space) Decide ahead of time (and discuss with the kids!) the maximum time out time and alternative consequences that escalate to a large consequence (early bedtime, no allowance, no TV for a month, etc). Once the child has maxed out their time out, move up to a bigger/different consequence. Be sure that they receive ALL consequences that they have ‘earned.’ It’s okay if things escalate to take a break and have them serve the rest of the consequence out later. This means that sometimes the time out ‘sentence’ will not get served until after they get back from school or the store, etc. Just make sure that you do what you say you will do.
  • Disciplining in anger: Take a time out, walk away and breathe, etc. if you are feeling angry. Say something like “I am upset right now, so I’m going to take a break, but you are going to owe me a consequence for X, and I will tell you what it is when I get back.” Discipline is meant to teach, not to satisfy your anger habits. Set up a place where you and the kids can go to cool off. Make it a nice, pleasant place with quiet games, soft lighting and pillows. Teach kids how to manage their feelings by example. Tell them that the ‘cool off’ space is a place where they can go when they are feeling upset so they can calm down and decide what to do. Use the space yourself when you notice you are getting too angry to calmly deal with whatever is happening. Remember that consequences should stay arbitrary. Keep them fair and predictable if you want your kids to trust and respect you.

Well, there you have the discipline method that works for me. Keep in mind that this method may not work for everyone, for example, a child with autism or other developmental delays or disorders.

I also know there is always more than one way to do things. What methods work best for you in disciplining children?

Loves,

Amorie

X-men, Pregnancy, Sourdough and Hello

What to write my first post about?

I was (over) thinking it through, and I realized that no matter what I post, there will always be more to add. Like X-Men… you have the first movie and everyone’s like, “Hey, what happens next?” and “How did all of these people get here?” Hence we have X-Men First Class, X-Men Origins, X-Men Last Stand, etc etc etc. None of them actually come to you in order. People are like that too. We don’t come to each other in order. You will always come into someone’s life somewhere in the middle.

So….  I might post about the Spackman Family Origins…. but today is not that day 🙂 Welcome to the middle.

I am currently 19ish weeks pregnant. With a boy. Joy, yikes and whahoo. All common feelings. All happening at once. I’m 19ish weeks because I have three different due dates. Yes, three.

It’s actually funny to me how our crazy schedule-hungry society reveres due dates. Having a baby is like getting pregnant though… it happens when it’s going to happen and we just get to live life around it. Lest I get too crazy here, I’m putting that rant on a shelf for later….

Yes I just said ‘lest.’

Didn’t the title mention something about Sourdough? Oh good. I love sourdough 🙂

I’m making a sourdough culture again. I had a wonderful, glorious, delicious and revered culture for about a year and a half… then one fateful day… or three or four days in a row…. I didn’t feed it. And it died…..

Well, in reality it got taken over by a gross bacteria. Which only happens if the culture itself gets really really weak.

It’s actually hard to kill an established sourdough culture (unless you leave it unattended for a week on your countertop in summer) ahem..

Later. Later there will be a huge entire post about sourdough. How to culture it, what to make with it etc etc etc.

But not today. Hello and welcome. You came in right in the middle, remember? 🙂

Loves,

Amorie

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