Do Try This At Home!

If you have a picture showing families having fun or spending special time together please send it to me via email and I'll post it on my website!


When you feel like you want to * POP * . . . blow bubbles!

It was Monday evening and I had been away from home since morning. The kids had returned from a weekend at their dad’s house late Sunday evening, so they really missed spending time with me. When I returned home at 5 PM, Aidan (6) was just beginning a board game with the sitter. Both kids were excited to see me and Cameron (3) was happy to have me to himself for a while.

Once the sitter left, however, the boys began to fight with each other. They were each clamoring for my undivided attention and they would kick and hit each other to get it.

I decided to beat it and breathe.

I went to my room and locked the door. The boys were very upset. I opened the door to the patio off my bedroom and went outside. I sat in the sun and marveled at the beauty of the late afternoon. I breathed.

The boys were yelling and shouting, but it gradually faded away. They began to laugh together and play a game together. The game involved a small mess, but as I listened, it sounded as if they were really enjoying it and feeling connected to each other.

After a while, I opened my door. We cleaned up the mess together. Aidan told me he still felt angry. We talked about using the “breathing tool” from his toolbox, but he said it wasn’t working and besides the toolbox is only to use at school. I had an idea.

I went to the drawer where I had seen bubbles the a few days ago. We went outside and blew bubbles. I asked him to take in a big breath and then blow all the “angries” out and put them in the bubbles. Then we ran around popping them and watching some float away over the fence and house.

Both kids loved it. Aidan cheered up considerably. He kept saying that he still felt a little angry, and he wanted to keep at the bubbles. After a while, he said he was done. He didn’t feel angry anymore. We went inside and continued with our evening peacefully.

Creative Kids Use Positive Discipline Tools:

I wanted to share with you a recent experience I had with my 5 1/2 year old son, Aidan. About six months ago, he requested that we no longer invite his 5 year-old friends, Julian and Korina over to play while his 11 year-old cousin, Joey is over. He said that he did not like the way Joey occasionally paired off with one or both of them and that he felt left-out sometimes. I respected this wish and we no longer made plans that included both his friends and his cousin.

Last week, he approached me and said "Mommy, I'd like to have a meeting - not a play date, just a meeting. I want to meet with Joey, Julian, and Korina to check-in about why when we all play together sometimes they play together and don't include me."

A few days later, I took Aidan, Julian, and Korina to meet with Joey. They sat down at a picnic table at Joey's school and I suggested that Aidan talk to them about why he asked to have this meeting. He expressed his concerns. A few solutions were offered. Aidan indicated that those solutions didn't really work for him. Joey then suggested that if he was over playing with the three of them and didn't feel like playing with everyone, rather than pairing off with one or two people, he would sit by himself and play with no-one. Aidan said he liked that idea. The kids agreed to try that for a while.

To conclude the meeting, Aidan pulled 4 stickers out of his pocket that he had cut out of a sticker book earlier that day and distributed them to the meeting attendees. Then the four kids went off to play on the playground.

Spending special time with your kids, by Jessica Duersch:

Here’s an email from Jessica Duersch, a mom of 3 boys, ages 1 & 1/2, 3, and 5.  I’ve asked Jessica if I could share her email on my website because I think what she has to say is pertinent and familiar to anyone raising kids.  The poem at the end is one she wrote a few years back.  I hope you will print it, cut it out, and stick it on your fridge with a magnet so you can read it often.  It’s great advice!

“I have had to mend a few mistakes this week, and even figure out how to replace a shattered dustpan when out of frustration I smacked it against a chair as I was trying to get my 3 year old's attention. 

As I was picking up the pieces of the dustpan, I found myself thinking, I need a time-out, and then trying to figure out why Logan seemed to be ignoring every request I made and then the realization was 6:00pm and during the day I had fixed breakfast, cleaned up from breakfast, provided assistance in getting dressed and chores done, cleaned the house, washed, dried, folded and put away mountains of laundry, worked on bills and budgets, gone grocery shopping, fixed dinner, cleaned up from dinner - but when had I actually played with Logan?  When did he get one on one time with me?

Of the minutes I had spent with him, (and they could be counted on one hand) all of them were in response to his not getting dressed, not taking his dishes to the sink, jumping on the furniture or getting into cupboards he wasn't supposed to.  All day long he had been asking me to do things with him, and my "just a minute" responses didn't meet his needs and there was always one more thing that seemed more pressing then playing or reading books with him. 

What I did to turn things around is a reminder to me of the wonderful magic of laughter and play. 

I took a minute or two and breathed deeply and prayed for extra patience. Then I went to Logan and apologized for my actions.  I asked him what he would like to do together for fun and he said he wanted to race cars on the kitchen floor.

Twenty minutes of hot wheels cars racing, and spinning around on the kitchen floor brought the healing sounds of laughter and love back into our home.  Logan didn't immediately start obeying, but our relationship is much improved - and it really brought things back into focus for me that my kids are much more important than the other seemingly important things that need to be done. 

P.S.  I am happy to share that I have done a better job this week of taking the time to play with my boys, especially my 3-year old, Logan, early in the day and it has made all the difference!  I am still challenged as a working mom and teacher feeling a little stressed as the school year approaches with many things yet to do, though I have been so pleasantly surprised at the change in Logan as we have played for 20 minutes every morning this week.

Yesterday, we pretended the trampoline was a ship and Scooby Doo was on board with us.  I followed his lead and found myself smiling and laughing and truly enjoying being with Logan.  I invested a few precious minutes and the dividends have been wonderful.  He has been so much better about helping out with the dishes and putting away his clothes without even being asked.  It surely reminded me that "kids do better when they feel better" and so do I!

Thanks for the opportunity to share my story and my poem.


By Jessica Duersch

Invest 20 minutes of each day.
Make the time to play, play, play.

One on one, each child, each day;
Take the time to play, play, play.

Put kids first and you will see
How much they add to your family.

Sharpen your focus, just on them;
Let no distractions enter in.

The magic of this simple task -
Creating relationships that last.

From puzzles to board games or taking a walk.
Books and bike rides to building with blocks.

Drawing a picture and coloring it too,
There are many thing you two can do.

Don't instruct or criticize,
Just view the world through your child's eyes.

For the secret's in doing and talking things through.
Listen to your children, so they'll listen to you!

Though there are those things that have to get done;
Take time each day for some one on one FUN!

Some ideas that are really working for our family

Do vs. Don’t - My kids respond so much better when they know what, where or when they can do something rather than hearing "Don't...!" or "No, not right now..."  frequently.

Creating safe places to explore - a well designed space is so valuable for toddlers and preschoolers who are hardwired to explore their environment.  I find myself often considering, what do my kids need and can they access things like cups for water, jackets, clothes, toys, and the things they need?

I have observed that as soon as a child can walk there are many things they can do to help.  They can carry things from the table to the sink with minimal help, toss toys in a bucket, put clothes in a basket, etc.  The part that Garin (1 1/2) likes is the excitement in my voice and actions and a high five when he completes a task.

Picture charts posted at kid eye level, remind my boys about all the things they can do and establish predictability to our days.  It helps with transitions and teaches responsibility.

Playing together
When I play with my kids I find there are many opportunities for teaching skills of sharing, taking turns, trading toys, and exploring how the world works.  Laughter, smiles, fun, and strong friendships are also good reasons to play together. 

Lynn's interview of a mother and daughter about recovery:

In my work with addicts and those who care about them, I’m always curious as to what that magic moment is when someone decides to get into recovery. There’s a lot written about addicts hitting bottom and co-dependents trying to “help” them get clean and sober. There are many opinions as to what works and what doesn’t. I thought I’d go right to the source and interview a mother and daughter, asking each of them what were the things that influenced the decision to get into recovery or the things the parent did that she thought turned her daughter around. I wondered if there would be any overlap. What follows is my interview with each. Occasionally, I’ll put some of my thoughts in parenthesis, but mostly you will be reading an unedited version (except for names) of what each person had to say. Hopefully, by reading what each had to say, whether you are addicted to a substance or “addicted” to getting someone into recovery, you’ll find some help and insight.

Mom started off sharing what she did to help her daughter Caroline get into recovery and stay there.

1. I was always there for her, sometimes too much, but I was always available when she reached out.

2. I would go up and down about being enabling. I’d enable for awhile till I reached my limit. Then I’d be very kind and firm and follow through. For example, the first time she was living with us, we were feeling like prisoners in our own home because of her obnoxious behavior. One day I told her, “The next time you behave this way, your clothes will be on the front porch and the locks will be changed.” She did the behavior again and I followed through, adding a letter that said, “Let me know when you’re willing to go into treatment.” She lived on the street for a week and then she called me and I took her to lunch and then to a treatment center. (This is most parents’ worst fear that their loved one will be living on the street….forever if they set a limit and follow through. Notice that Caroline spent a week there and then decided treatment was better than a life on the street.)

3. Here’s another time I put my foot down. She called and wanted a first and last payment for an apartment. I said no and she got so furious she threatened to report me to Oprah. She also compared me to her dad. I didn’t take it personally.

4. I got support from friends and reading the book Positive Discipline for Parenting in Recovery to know what to do. The support system was so valuable.

5. At a workshop I attended, I volunteered to role play the parent whose daughter was taking advantage of her. The person role playing the daughter said all the things my daughter has said to me, like, “Can’t I just come and sleep on the couch?” Playing the parent, I said, “No, Honey. I love you and the answer is no.” It was so helpful to hear what the person who played the daughter said at the end of the role play. She said, “I felt more loved when I couldn’t take advantage of you than when I could.”

6. When my daughter had children, I knew she was using and she knew I knew, and still I didn’t cut her off. I kept telling her over and over, “Caroline, you’re a diamond in the rough. I know who you are. If you would use all your intelligence in things that were useful, you could be a CEO.” This went on over many, many years.

7. I was always hoping for the best. I’d get fooled into thinking she was doing better. I bought a house that she and her husband could live in, and told them that if they missed payments, I’d sell the house. They paid regularly for about 6-7 months. When they quit paying for 4 months, I said they had to move, and they did.

8. We always invited them to family events even though they’d show up and sneak off to smoke and drink. We kind of knew that but didn’t do anything about that.

9. Having kids helped them a lot, but they were still addicts. I would always tell them what great parents they were. They refused to get a divorce because they didn’t want to put their kids through that. I said, “It is so interesting to me that you’d refuse to get a divorce but you’d keep using.” I planted seeds this way and I know they germinated.

10. They’d stay with me for a week and I’d do counseling with them, even though they didn’t follow much of it. When their son was in an accident that his father caused because of drunk driving, I let Caroline come stay with me for 2 weeks. It was an opportunity to spend time together. It gave Caroline a chance to get out of the environment, which always helped her.

11. This last year things really speeded up. Her father bought them a house. When he died, I volunteered to buy it from his widow so I’d have the hassles rather than her. They didn’t make more than 2 payments in a whole year. Caroline hit bottom and was suicidal, and I drove down, no questions asked, and I picked her up. I sat there, she started to cry, and she said, “I want to go home with you.” I put her in the car and drove her home. I’d signed up for a self esteem workshop and I invited her to go. She said she wanted to go. We were together for 4 days before the workshop and we drove together. She stopped smoking. We spent 7 days at the workshop. She had an attitude shift. There was give and take. She wasn’t resistant. She was helping herself. She listened to Carolyn Mace CD’s. We went home and I warned her that though she had changed, her husband would try to bring her down when she got home. He did and she fell again.

12. I invited her to the workshop follow up (each workshop was $2000 which I paid). She did and heard that a person needed to take full responsibility for what they create. She really heard that. She wasn’t as cooperative, but she still learned a lot. I made it clear, “I’ve been willing to spend money and time with you. I have faith in you. I love you. But if I find that you ever lie to me again, I’ll love you, but I’ll be done having a relationship with you. And I’ve spent a lot of money trying to help and if it doesn’t work, I’m done and I won’t rescue you again.” I knew I had a big attitude shift that I knew I was done enabling. I think she could tell the difference, too.

13. Things got really bad between her and her husband. She was suicidal again. I drove over (7 hours) because she wanted me to come. She was willing to have me come and I was there for 3 days and spent a lot of time with her building on all the stuff she had learned. She was willing and open. We got to have the conversation about her attitude about me getting a divorce. I said, “I figured out why you have such a problem with that even though your brothers didn’t, because you were a spoiled brat.” She agreed. She had no self worth, but when I was there she was willing to listen to me. I told her, “You’re crawling and go ahead and crawl. I’ve done it in my lifetime. Just do it till your done doing it.” I think that was a big shift.

14. She’s very open to feedback and I’m very honest with her. When she got a job, I’d follow her to work and would tell her, “When I see how upbeat you are and enthusiastic, I wish you could be that way with your kids.”

15. When she and her husband were fighting over who would get the kids, I said, “Don’t expect me to take sides. If you fight, neither of you will get the kids. I’ll tell everyone about your drug use.”

16. I talked to her about the difference between a decision and a promise. She said she had made a decision and asked me to drug test her so she could prove to me she was done. She said if she was ever resistant or resentful, I’d know she was using again.

17. I am happy to help her when she helps herself. I reduced her $800/month rent to 300/month. She makes $1200/month. She’s cleaning up her house. She’s excited about not having bills. I said I’d buy the paint if she paints. I told her I’d buy carpet and drywall if she puts it in. It feels like teamwork and not enabling.

Caroline agreed to the interview and was very open. When asked what her mother did that helped her get into recovery, she told the following story.

It’s been a struggle all my life. I was at the end of my ropes when I tried to take all those pills I did and end it all. When I decided I couldn’t go that way, I’d have to go the other way and work at this. Just because everybody thought I couldn’t, especially my husband Steve, I wanted to prove everybody wrong. (That’s some pretty big motivation!) It helped a lot having Steve out of the house. I’m not blaming him, but he was a big part of it. I was starving for love and I’d get false love when we were getting loaded together, meaning he’d talk to me, listen to me, want to be with me, sex was big part of it, more for him, mostly the attention I was getting from him was what I was seeking. (This is a very honest statement of the “purpose” of Caroline’s drug use. She used drugs to solve a problem, namely how to get her husband to show her “love.”)

I’ve actually wanted and tried to be clean and sober for the past 10 years. We’ve done geographical moves to get away from this shit, but he’d always find a connection wherever we’d go. We would move to a new location, and since our addictions were different (he could do it a couple times and stop, I couldn’t stop once I’d start doing it), so he’d find a connection and deep down inside I’d want to, too. I still wasn’t done. Moving doesn’t change that. What changed my life more than anything was going to a self esteem workshop (here’s where Mom and Caroline finally overlap) because the things I learned there were things like everything is perfect as it is. I’m a good person not a bad person.

(Co-dependents, listen up! This is for you!!!!) You can’t tell somebody that they’re killing themselves because they don’t care. You can’t tell somebody that their life will be better because they can’t see it. You can’t force somebody to quit. It’s impossible. You can’t threaten them, cut them off, anything. It’s got to come from within.

At the workshop I spent time with my mom, did this meditation where you have this guardian angel and my mom was my guardian angel. I finally realized that and took it to heart and hit rock bottom and decided to go back to the place. I decided my mom is my guiding light so talk to her and be honest. She has helped me so much you have no idea. The honesty with myself and being honest completely with her was key. (Once an addict decides to get sober, having a person in their life who can listen without judgment while still sharing his or her thoughts or feelings seems to be invaluable.) Listening to her feedback without any judgment on my part or her part was key. I was falling apart at the seams 2 months ago. I was a complete and total wreck. I don’t know what changed in me. (She really does know what changed in her, because she told us what effect the self-esteem workshop had. Yet like anyone, insights are easily forgotten. That’s okay, because the awareness and self-acceptance triggers the changes needed to move on.)

Caroline said this to parents: good luck. You can’t put a price on it. You can’t put a time zone on it. You can’t put a time limit on it. The thought of losing my family, my kids who I love and adore, my husband who I want to stay married to, the thought of losing that was too much to bear, so that was my major turn-around. I was getting kicked out. (Here’s another big factor in Caroline’s decision to get sober. She truly believed that she was getting kicked out of her home by her husband.) My life was falling apart before my eyes. Honestly it was turning around. Steve was moving out and that has been key. If Steve was in the house it would be so much more difficult. Forcing someone into treatment doesn’t work.

What made me open to go to a self esteem workshop with my mom was the realization that I was caught and that I could no longer go on. Addicts want to do what they’re going to do. I had a secret plan to kill myself. I didn’t tell anybody, because people who want to kill themselves don’t tell anybody. And somehow Steve came home and looked in my eyes and he knew. (Some of you reading this may not have been so fortunate as to have a person call you for help before it was too late.) He called my mom and said, “Get your ass down here now!” This was the moment of my surrender! I gave up to my mom, my husband and my addiction. I didn’t really want to kill myself. I didn’t want to be a drug addict. I didn’t think I could ever quit. I couldn’t do what I was doing and I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want to be a single mom. I didn’t want to be with visitation rights. I didn’t want to do that to my kids. I figured everybody would be better off, because they weren’t better off the way I was.

What’s amazing to me is that I can do this interview without crying. It’s triumphant! It came to me that there was another possibility when my mom said pack your bags and I said that I was already packed. All kinds of things came together at the right time. It’s gotta come from within the person. There’s nothing she could have done unless I had it within!!!!! (Once again, co-dependents, Caroline is talking to you!!)

My mom could have been here to pick me up that day and I could have stayed pissed off. My mom’s been doing this for 20 years. Why now? I think the $3500 my mom spent on a self esteem workshop was money well spent, but still it could have been money wasted. It’s gotta be the person. It’s gotta be from within!!! It can’t be anybody else. Others can help. I’ve got to be willing to accept, not get pissed off, go back to my own ways.

I hit bottom on April Fools Day! Until I made the decision, it wouldn’t work at all. Once you’re ready, if you have somebody like my mom around, look out world.

To stay with Steve, he’d have to get his shit together, talk openly, accept feedback, take responsibility, adore me for who I am, and not spend money foolishly. He’s super cute. The way he was raised has a great deal to do with it. His mom was broke and she’d take them to get $100 hair cuts. They’d spend money foolishly when they had it not thinking of the future. Not his fault, but now it is because he is no longer being raised by her. I’m not gonna settle because I’m too happy now.