Stress-Free Mornings Hack #5: Fill Up Your Kids Love Tanks

Hopefully, by now you’ve been implementing the morning routine hacks, and your mornings have already improved a little bit. This new hack will make a world of a difference as well, because it’s all about starting the day connecting with your children.

The payoff of taking the time to ease your children in their first transition of the day, from being asleep to being awake, is tremendous. A few minutes devoted to connecting with your child first thing in the morning will vastly transform your mornings, and your family dynamics.

When our children feel connected to us their mood and self esteem are higher, and they are more willing to cooperate with us. Children with their connection and love tanks running on empty will feel angry, disengaged, oppositional, defiant, cranky, unloved and uncooperative. When they are sent into the world (bus, school, park…) they feel insecure, they question themselves, they can’t socialize properly, and they feel out of place.

To the contrary, children whose connection and love tanks are full, feel loved, confident, motivated and eager to start the day. When they are sent into the world they are secure in themselves, they are confident in who they are, they don’t need to look for love or validation in others because they already have enough of that at home.

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Five minutes of connection first thing in the morning can transform your morning and your child’s day! By starting the day with connection, our children are so much more likely to be co-operative! So, let’s fill their tanks! This is how I try to connect with my daughters in the morning:

Let the light in slowly. I open the drapes to let the day light in, instead of turning on the lights. One of my daughters is particularly sensitive to the light in the morning, and she’d rather get their eyes used to the natural light before turning on her bedroom lights.

Wake them up slowly

Ideally, if your children get enough sleep at night, they would wake up naturally, without the need of an alarm clock or without you having to go into their rooms. However, when my daughters don’t wake up naturally, I make sure I don’t wake them up yelling from the doorstep, or rushing them out of bed. I help them wake up slowly.

Cuddles and conversation

I take the time to lay down with them on their beds and cuddle. I take that time to help them feel loved. I want their first thought to be about how loved they are, and not about how much they need to do and rush in the morning. I also use this time to talk to them:

  • Check in about their night: how did they sleep? did they have any cool dream? are they rested?
  • Set the intention for the day: Are they excited about anything in particular? What are their goals and plans for the day?
  • Gratitude: I help them think of at least three things they are grateful for. They need to be specific, instead of just saying ‘I’m thankful for my sister,’ they would say ‘I am very grateful that my sister A always helps me with my homework’
  • Positive affirmations: I tell them good things about them, being as specific as possible and giving them examples when necessary. Lately I have been using cards that I got them for Christmas and they love them! These cards help me showcase their positive attributes in an easy and beautiful way. You can get them in Amazon if you’re interested in using them.

Empowerment, Trust and Self-Discipline

When it’s time for my 9 year old twins to finally get out of bed and start their day, I let them know I trust them to follow their routine charts (I’ll talk about this in more detail in my next post), and that I will join them downstairs for breakfast. After that, I do a simplified version of the steps above with my three year old, and I help her follow her morning routine. She loves being independent and do things on her own, so my main role with her as she’s getting ready, is to be patient.

Family Breakfast

This is a perfect moment to love and support each other before we head out into the world. We always make time to sit and eat breakfast together as a family. During the weekends, our breakfast are even more special since my husband cooks for all of us.

Extra Time

This is what I’m looking forward the most in the morning. When I only had the twins, we had plenty of extra time in the mornings. When I had my third daughter, our mornings got a little bit more hectic and I usually found myself rushing more and barely having any extra time. Since our au pair joined our family, I’ve regained a little bit of extra time in the morning, which is a tremendous blessing.

These are some of the things I like doing with my daughters with the extra time:

  • Read with them. I will certainly do a post about our family reading, because it’s one of our passions.
  • Play with them in their playroom following their lead.
  • Play in the backyard with them and our dog.
  • Go for a quick walk with our dog.
  • Meditate together, and repeat positive affirmations.
  • Put on our favorite music and dance to it.

Put Away Your Phone

Our electronics usually get in the way of our connection with our children. It’s easy to get lost reading an article, checking Facebook, reviewing the agenda for the day… Therefore, in my house we only check the phone once in the morning before coming down. If we want to play music, know the weather, know the time or an answer to a random question, we use Alexa.

 

 

Every single one of these things sounds simple on its own, right? Do I accomplish all of them every day? Absolutely not! But at least I try, and even if I don’t do it all, I know that they are starting their days with their love tanks full.

How do you connect with your children in the morning?

Much love, Diana-

3 bulletproof ways to connect with your child

February is the month of love. The best way to make our children feel loved is to improve our connection and bond with them. As I mentioned in a previous post, every child’s love language is different. However these are three things we can do that will improve our connection with our child, regardless of what love language they prefer:

1) Talk and listen to them:

Ask them questions about their lives, get to know them, discover what makes them feel loved, figure out what you could improve as a parent, and take interest in their interests. Listen with the intent of getting to know them better and creating a connection.

Avoid jumping into immediate judgement or problem solving mode. As parents we tend to offer our advice even before our kids finish telling us their stories. That’s very disempowering for them, let’s learn to listen to them and sit with whatever they’re telling us.

I once read that when we are trying to improve our communication with our kids, we should consider ourselves to be on a “word budget”, and try to use as few words as possible. Listen more than you talk.

You will be amazed what a huge difference these simple changes in the way you communicate with your child, will make in your ability to connect with your child.

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2) Have special one on one time with each child:

Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, make sure you connect individually with each one of your children. Of course, it would be fantastic if you can take more than 10 minutes a day, and if you can incorporate longer periods of time at least once a week.

This special one on one time doesn’t have to be a whole production. You can play together, read together, cook together, go for a walk, go for dinner, lay in bed before the lights go off at night… let them choose how they want to use those 10 minutes that they have you all for themselves. During those, imply BE with them, look at them, set aside the electronics, and dive right into your child’s world. You will be surprise how just 10 minutes of undivided attention can change your whole relationship with your child.

3) Find them doing good:

Make sure you point out when you see your child doing something good, so they feel appreciated and loved. I am going to give you an example, one of my daughters has been going through a phase of pushing boundaries for the past few weeks. We were trying everything we know, but were still not getting through to her.

A few days ago, I remember this positive principle ‘catch them doing good.’ So, that’s what I did, I started focusing on everything she was doing right, and making sure I told her, and it has made a huge difference. She feels better about herself, and she’s starting to do good things on her own without being asked, and taking the time to make the rest of us feel loved and appreciated.

On Valentine’s Day, when I came out of the shower I found my bed already made and two teddy bears on the bed, with a mom and dad hearts. I went downstairs and I learn that my daughter – who actually hates making beds by the way – had made our bed, bought Valentines for us, and placed them on the bed. It melted my heart!

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When we are going through rough patches, we sometimes forget that our children actually want to do good, and when we acknowledge all the good things they actually do, they just want to do more. When interacting with your children, remember the 5 to 1 ratio, for every criticism, correction or negative comment, we should give them 5 positive ones.

Let me know if you try following these tips, and how it goes!

Much love, Diana-

10 Things To Do When You Lose It With Your Child

We have all been there. None of us is perfect, and we all have days or moments when we lose control and our ‘positive and gentle parenting’ goes out the window.

I have never spanked, hit, pushed… or used any other form of corporal punishment with my daughters. But… I have yelled at them, I have taken their ‘priviledges’ (whatever that means) as a consequence for ‘bad behavior,’ I have even done a couple of time-outs (yes! not time-ins, time-outs). I KNOW none of those actions are right, but in the heat of the moment, on those (rare) occasions when I lose it, for a few seconds, I thought it was fine to do it (but it wasn’t!).

Did they work? No; Did they scare, anger, sadden… my girls? Yes; Do I regret it? Absolutely! And that’s why every day, I work on myself, to better myself as a parent. Because, at the end of the day… when we lose it, it has nothing to do with our children, it has to do with ourselves. It has to do with our lack of ability to cope in a positive, constructive, respectful way in that particular moment. So… to avoid those situations, we shouldn’t try to change our children, but ourselves! Now, that’s another article!

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While I know each day is better, and this ‘crazy momma‘ moments are very rare; I also know that they might never completely dissapear. I wish they would, but I’m human, and therefore, imperfect. So, just in case, I lose it again, I make sure I know what to do AFTER the storm, to repair the connection with my daughters, learn and move forward. This is it:

1 – ACKNOWLEDGE

My feelings: “I got really angry with you when you made a huge mess in the bathroom”

My actions: “I yelled at you for it, and that was not nice or respectful”

My intentions: “I was trying to get you to understand that it is not nice to throw all the bath toys, body soap and towels on the batroom floor. I also wanted for you to fix it. But yelling didn’t accomplish any of that, right?”

My child’s feelings: “I scared you very much, didn’t I?”

2 – APOLOGIZE

“I am so sorry for having yelled at you. That wasn’t nice at all. I disrespected you and scared you, and I’m very sorry about it.”

3 – LET THE LOVE FLOW

“I love you very much, regardless of what you do”

My kids tend to hug my by this point, which is tremendously heartwarming, and a lesson on forgiveness. Our children are incredibly forgiving of our mistakes, especially while they’re young.

4 – PROMISE TO IMPROVE

“I promise I will do my very best, every day, to find ways to control my temper, and not to yell at you again. If I ever do it again, please know that I’m having a hard time controlling myself, that it has nothing to do with you, and that it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you”

I don’t promise them I will never do something again, because you can only promise to do your best to change that behavior. I don’t like lying to my kids, and wouldn’t make them a promise that I might break if I lose control.

5 – ASK FOR HELP

“Will you help me avoid yelling again at you? If you ever see me about to yell, or if I start yelling, please remind me that I am a nice mom and that I don’t want to yell because it scares you and makes things worse not better”

6 – THANK AND CONNECT

“Thank you for being so understanding. I love you! What can we do to have some special time together now?”

It can be hugging, reading a book, racing, having a snack… anything that brings back the love and connection with your child. Always connection, before correction! We will deal with the mess later.

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7 – DEAL WITH THE ISSUE

Now it’s the time to deal with the issue at hand, the one that drove me crazy to beging with.

“How can we fix this mess together?”

8 – PREVENT

“How can I help you remember not to do this again in the future?”

9 – FORGIVE YOURSELF

This is one of the hardest steps for me, because I know better, because I am a parent coach; and for some reason, even though I know I am not perfect and will never be, in my mind I still require that of myself from time time and I’m pretty hard on myself when I’m not the best I can be.

10 – SELFCARE

The last step is figuring out what made me lose it, was I too tired?, was I sleep deprived?, was I stressed about something?… what was it that put me in a state in which I couldn’t control my temper? It was not what my daughters did or didn’t do, that I know, so I always try to figure out what was going on with me, that made me too stressed, too tired, too overwhelmed, too distracted… to control my reactions.

More often than not, I blow up because I’m too tired or because I haven’t had the time to just relax and leave my mind wonder. If that’s the case, I make sure to go to sleep early that night and rest, and to take a bath before that to relax and free my mind.

Do you find yourself losing your temper with your children? What are your strategies to reconnect with your children after you blow up?

Much love, gentle mamas!

Diana Blanco~