Can You Ever Go Home Again?

I just spent the entire month of January in Hawaii… visiting my parents. It was actually a wonderful visit and given how much we doled out for the plane tickets and how infrequently my daughter gets to see my family, I did everything humanly possible to make the most of every second we had together. That includes helping care for my 93-year-old dying grandma and hosting a bevy of extended family members, who came to catch up and spoil my daughter to no end. The visit (I don’t refer to it as a vacation because in more ways it was … Continue reading

News Flash: Moms Work Hard

Subtitle: DUH! A new European poll studying the amount of work an average mother completes in a day yielded some less than shocking results. (What surprised me more is why they conducted the poll in the first place.) According to the new survey, the average mother is overworked. Now, how many of us really needed an official poll to come to that conclusion? The survey found that the average mother works five-and-a-half hours a day at a paid job but also spends 45 minutes preparing meals, 42 minutes completing household chores, and 31 minutes shopping for groceries. Add to that … Continue reading

Deranged Chicken and Other Family Lore

Every family has its ways—most of us have our own “style” and even our own language. With our shared history (and that includes both blissfully pleasant and dysfunctionally stressful) and personal dynamics, it is impossible for a family to exist without developing its own folklore. In our family, much of our “lore” has developed around language, food and ordinary life events… I have shared before that my kids and I like to play with language and words. It is very common for us to come up with nicknames, re-names and other versions of everyday words and phrases. Heaven help our … Continue reading

An Organized Closet Encourages Independence

Typically, we think of cleaning and organization in terms of how much order it can bring to our family lives, but as parents, having an organized closet—whether it be the linen closet, in your entry way or your child’s clothes closet (and this goes for cupboards and pantries too) can actually encourage our children to learn how to be more independent. Consider this: if you take the time to arrange your child’s closet in an orderly way, label and mark where everything goes, and provide plenty of accessible storage—your child can learn and be expected to put things away. If … Continue reading

What is ON Your Refrigerator?

They say you can tell much about a family based on what they eat. After all, there are anthropologists who specialize in figuring out what cultures and civilizations ate and how that connected with other aspects of their lifestyle. I would like to propose that not only can you tell a great deal about a family by investigating what they have IN their refrigerator, you can tell even more about them by what they choose to stick to the outside. What you have plastered ON your refrigerator says a lot about your family values and “personality”… Is it all about … Continue reading

What can we Learn from Our Kids?

Who is the teacher and who is the student? For the average parent, this can be a question we find ourselves asking as we notice how much we learn and expand from our role as caretaker and guide. While many of us may have gotten into parenting because we felt we had something to offer, we quickly find that we are on the receiving end of so many lessons too. In my own life, I have to admit that some of life’s most poignant lessons have come to me through parenting. My children have been a huge mirror for my … Continue reading

Cleaning as a Group—Even When They are Older

When my children were preschoolers and early elementary-aged, we did a lot of our cleaning together. Cleaning up the playroom or their bedrooms was something we did together so that I could teach them and model for them and I hoped to set a precedent for housekeeping expectations. It just didn’t work to send a four-year-old into a room and say “Clean this up”—it was too vague and too overwhelming. Over the years, and with plenty of modeling and organization, my kids have learned what is expected and have become pretty decent housekeepers. We still have a tendency to clean … Continue reading

Create Space for Conversations

Have you ever noticed how there are just some environments that lend themselves to conversation? There is a reason they have those big comfy chairs and cozy corners at your favorite coffee shop, or that fine restaurants have a different décor and arrangement that the local fast-food joint. Surely, you have been in homes that felt cozier and more open to lingering conversation than others? When it comes to our family life, we might have a perfectly utilitarian family room and a high tech living room—but is there space in your house that encourages family members (and others) to just … Continue reading

Are You Making Mealtime too Long?

Parents often complain that mealtime is the most stressful time of the day. They look so forward to sitting down as a family and having the ideal mealtime and then stressed and annoyed when children cannot behave, want to leave the table early, or get hungry and whiney and cannot even wait for dinner time to roll around. Perhaps part of the problem could be that you are expecting too much out of mealtime and you are expecting children to sit at the table for longer than they can… Very young children cannot sustain interest or focus long enough for … Continue reading

E-mailing Schedules

The other day, I got the most incredible e-mail. My eldest daughter sent me an e-mail listing the activities she’d scheduled for the coming week—including who she was going to be hanging out with, any money she might need, and other savory details. I have to tell you it was an organized mom’s dreams come true! I thought it was even better than having her tell me a half dozen times or put them on the kitchen calendar. Not only do I have the e-mail document, but I was able to jot things down into my datebook while I was … Continue reading