Archive for category Team Nanny Jo

All types of families take work, mindfulness, and a commitment to make relationships better every day. It’s so important for parents to have a realistic expectation regarding the transition of one family dynamic into another. Building loving relationships takes time – it is certainly a marathon and not a sprint. So start pacing yourself, have patience, and understand […]

team-jo-june-2016All types of families take work, mindfulness, and a commitment to make relationships better every day. It’s so important for parents to have a realistic expectation regarding the transition of one family dynamic into another. Building loving relationships takes time – it is certainly a marathon and not a sprint. So start pacing yourself, have patience, and understand that their acceptance of you might not be on your time frame. This will help you to de-personalize any rejection you believe you are feeling.

At first, a child’s longing to remain in contact with the biological parent that doesn’t live with them will take priority over building a relationship with you. It will require time for them to find a balance and feel reassured that they have gained more security in the space that they are in now. Just like adults, children do not have the capacity to deal with too many issues all at once. A child’s loyalty to their biological parent can, in the beginning, interfere with their acceptance of you. So here are some things to try.

  1. Encourage contact with their parents. Never criticize their biological parents, as it will sabotage your child’s perception of you.
  2. Don’t present yourself as their “mother” or “father” because you are not. See yourself as the caring adult you are. With older children in their late teens, they will learn to respect you as a confidante and valued person in their family circle. For much younger children, they will see you as the loving, caring adult who looks after them every day.
  3. Let the children set the pace in which your relationship with them evolves. Don’t force it but at the same time don’t stop doing the things that a loving, concerned parent would do.
  4. Have fun experiences with them so that they see you on many different levels. You can relax and enjoy things while still being firm and responsible. This will increase your connection over time. Take an interest in what they are doing and be a part of that. Monitor their activities and offer assistance where you can. Even if they don’t want your help they will recognize that you have taken notice.
  5. For older children who do not live in the home, send them texts that don’t necessary need to be reciprocated. A simple “Hope your week is going well” or “Hi, just thinking of you. Love you” can go a long way.
  6. Last but not least, get involved with extended family activities. It allows the children to see you amongst the other family members. And, like we have always said, be the first to talk about your own family experiences. When you can be open it invites others to be the same with you.

Again, building loving relationships takes time and the challenges are very real. Be persistent, the process will not happen overnight. Keep working at it and you’ll see that the results of your positive parenting will be worth it.

 

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In a world full of selfies, self-aggrandizement and social media celebrating success with imagery of bling left, right and center, how do we find the balance between teaching our children to have healthy self-esteem but also an abundance of humility? As you will notice, I have used the word “teach” because you just can’t tell your kids to “be […]

humility-in-kidsIn a world full of selfies, self-aggrandizement and social media celebrating success with imagery of bling left, right and center, how do we find the balance between teaching our children to have healthy self-esteem but also an abundance of humility? As you will notice, I have used the word “teach” because you just can’t tell your kids to “be humble.” As parents you have to demonstrate it with your actions. Knowing what you value as a family and keeping your kids grounded will breed a respectful awareness of others. There are small things we can do every day that can make a huge impact.

  1. Be kind. People who aren’t as fortunate as you still deserve respect. After all, your value is no greater, and no less, than any other person. Being a part of your community and uplifting those around you can teach your children to have this awareness. We all make decisions in life that we must learn from and taking accountability for those choices, with acceptance, places your ego and pride to the side. Learning to do this, without expecting anything to be given in return, is a true and humbling life skill.  It is a skill that can be taught by role modeling that behavior as a parent.
  2. Serve. Whether we help a neighbour with their groceries, serve the community by clearing a beach or a park, or offer our time and service to others, we teach our children compassion. That is, indeed, a virtue we need more of!
  3. Be aware of your demeanor. When you hold yourself with patience and grace, it is the complete opposite of braggadocio. Humility is laced with true modesty. This means you should also encourage and help your children to do their best. When your children have achieved through their own hard work, it gives them true confidence. And confidence will give them the strength to be humble.

There are many fine examples of people who have served for the good of others. Having your children read about them will certainly support how you teach them. At the end of the day, humility is the brother of gratitude. People who are humble could be boastful but they choose not to be.

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Whether you’ve heard about it from a book, blog, or your circle of friends, “mindful parenting” is a hot trending topic these days. But what does it look like in practice you may ask? This approach to raising children is all about slowing down the family current, connecting with your family, and staying focused in the present moment.

In a culture where we’ve become so dependent on our smartphones, we’re often in two places at once. It’s not unusual to see parents physically on the sidelines at their child’s soccer game shouting advice to their kid whilst simultaneously checking email on their phones, as well as the weather, and their stock portfolio. In our hurried attempt to constantly multitask, we seem to have decided, as a society, that doing many things poorly is more important than doing one thing attentively and well.

Mindful parenting tells us that in order to parent effectively, we have to slow down the process in which we make deliberate decisions. So for example, when you’re spending time with your children, if you want them to feel that you are present, then your energy must convey that’s all you need to do at that very moment. If you’re playing together in your garden, think about the way the sun feels as it hits your face. Think about how the grass feels between your toes. Think about your child’s laughter, how it makes you feel and how sweet a sound it is. Concentrating on now, this moment as it is happening— not what your boss said to you at work or what you have to prepare for dinner — will make your life at home richer in quality.

As parents, the time when mindfulness counts most is when we’re feeling challenged by our children. Take a few seconds to breathe and calmly assess a situation rather than yelling, bargaining, or threatening. Jo Frost talks about this and it is called the S.O.S. technique. This approach will let your child open up to you without fear. You can then listen to what they’re really feeling and help them through it instead of creating a tense dynamic that shuts down the lines of communication. Once you’ve modeled this type of mindful behavior, you can help your children do the same. Teaching children to take a few seconds to breathe and articulate their problems can turn them into more open and empathetic communicators in the long run.

You don’t need loads of free time to start on your journey toward a more mindful parenting experience. The Jo Frost Nanny on Tour show has taught many a family how to be guided through 10 minutes of mindful meditation. During this time, each member of the family is encouraged to close their eyes, focus on their breathing, and tap into their inner self. The chaos of everyday life will still be there when everyone’s ready to get back to it.

Being mindful is so much more than just showing up — it’s being truly present with purpose.

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” — Mother Teresa.

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From those first kisses mom and dad give us when we are babies, to that cozy feeling we get as adults when we visit over the holidays, family is the strongest source of love in our lives. We all know that love and family are essential. So what we can we do as parents to make sure that the people closest to us know they are, indeed, loved? Based on what we were taught as children and what we see in the culture and society we live in, we all have a different language of love.

Our kids are our biggest measure of our language of love and they understand that it’s the little everyday things that show love. What “language of love” do you speak? Here are some of them.

Words of encouragement can show your love. Our emotional language can uplift and support our family even if we’re just commenting on a well-executed task or providing advice to help navigate a difficult situation. Even as toddlers we all liked to hear “good job!” and be recognized for our efforts. When someone really listens to our stressed-out rants and gives us reassurance that everything is okay, we feel supported and loved. In the dramatic tween and teen years, just being there to listen and encourage can go a long way to show your children they’re valued.

Spending quality time with someone can also show that you love them. Even if you don’t have the time to plan a vacation together, getting into a routine that promotes quality time at home can make your family members feel like they’re a priority. Some families have special things they do together, like movie night or father-daughter outings. Working together on a project or helping with homework are also great ways to express your love while helping kids learn at the same time. Spending mealtime together is a particularly important way of showing you care — children who have meals with their families are less likely to skip school and have lower obesity rates. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is also a great way to demonstrate your love — a book, a song, and a kiss on the forehead can make your children feel secure as they head off to the land of nod.

Giving gifts can show your love. Not all gifts need to be extravagant, and the best gifts are thoughtful. A gift relating to something a child is interested in or a random surprise gift always makes kids feel special. In college, when children are first attempting to navigate the rough waters of adulthood, a surprise care package from a parent or grandparent can lift their spirits.

Even small acts of kindness can make a big impact. Making someone’s favorite meal is a great way to express your love; taking time to make something that nourishes and warms your family is one of the most caring gestures there is.

And last but not least – physical touch. Physical affection is one of the sincerest forms of expressing love, from a simple pat on the back to a lift-you-off-the-ground bear hug. A bad day can be completely transformed by a warm, encouraging embrace.

Remember the old adage “actions speak louder than words.” Let your actions prove your love for your family when words don’t seem like enough. Keep expressing the love you have for your family and it will feed and sustain you in return.

“To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.” ~David Viscott

 

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Raising children can turn a couple’s relationship dynamic from romantic comedy to horror film. While some parents tap into an innate nurturing ability, others may find themselves thrust into the role of Sargeant Major disciplinarian. Despite even the best efforts, parents will often adopt polarized positions when it comes to raising kids. This “good cop, bad cop” dynamic can be as harmful to their own relationship as it is to the one they have with their children.

Children certainly benefit from structure and consistency but they also need a parent they can lean on for both guidance and emotional support. Parents who have unrealistic hard and fast rules about every aspect of their child’s life may think they’re protecting their kids but this approach can backfire. A 2012 study from the University of New Hampshire found that parents who adopted an authoritarian style of child rearing were more likely to have rebellious kids. While the opposite approach — being an overly lenient parent who tries to be their kid’s BFF — can lead to a host of other challenges with respect and boundaries. There is a healthy medium and a parent shouldn’t feel they have to sit in one box or the other. We don’t always when it comes to politics or religion, so why should we in parenting?

Here are a few suggestions:

Take turns enforcing discipline: Having one parent act as the source of authority for a child isn’t easy on anyone. Whether you’re enforcing a time-out for your toddler or setting a curfew for your teenager, split up the emotional heavy lifting with your partner or other family members involved.

Be consistent and flexible: It’s important to be predictable when it comes to the rules that keep your kids safe and the guidelines that garner respect. It’s just as important to be willing to modify some of your guidelines as your children become more mature and this will help you gain their trust even more. If your kids have proven that they can be responsible, reward them with a bit of extra freedom. You’ll gain their trust and they’ll continue to prove they’re worthy of yours.

Lead with kindness: It may be difficult to remember when we’re at our wits’ end, but the reason we parent is because we love our little rascals! Before you rush to discipline your child, always listen first — you may discover that a sympathetic ear works better than a sharp punishment in that particular circumstance.

You and your partner are a team and you will need to behave like one, especially when the going gets tough — and it will get tough! To avoid the inevitable “but daddy lets me…” or “mommy said…,” it’s important to be on the same page about your parenting values and priorities. If you’re all pulling in the same direction, you’ll find that the hard times become a little bit easier and the good times stretch a little bit longer. And then, nobody has to be the bad guy.

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They say it takes a village to raise a child, according to the African proverb. I’ve had parents tell me it can feel like it takes an army. For families making a conscience effort and putting their best foot forward, being surrounded by a helpful community can mean the difference between a happier home and a chaotic one. While raising a child “right” undeniably starts with mom and dad laying down that solid foundation, the influence of caregivers, like teachers, professional help such as nannies and close extended family members, will have a major impact on a child’s level of confidence and social behaviour.
I have found that young parents, in particular, can often have the trickiest time adjusting to parenthood. Youth is on their side and that physical energy allows those moms and dads to keep up with their rambunctious children. However, their emotional energy can run out just as quickly as the most seasoned parents. For those young spirited parents living at home with their own parents, it can often be difficult to strike the right parent-child dynamic and many fall into the perilous position of “best friend” or “big sister” role. For these young parents, setting healthy boundaries, understanding their parental responsibilities and soaking up wise words from those adults around them who know from experience will leave them feeling more empowered. Let’s face it,  you’ll have plenty of time to be your child’s friend as they get older – then you can laugh about their messy nappies and teenage tantrums. For now, it’s time to call in the reinforcements.
The easiest way to turn a child’s positive behaviour into habit is through repetition and being consistent.  Early education is vital, and through your example of these habits and other adults you are exposing your child to, you create an environment that fosters growth and education. Without even realizing it your children are looking up to you for direction to guide and teach. Children learn through play and they remember when it is a fun experience. Your children then go on to form positive connections with their teachers at an early age. This not only helps your child to pick up these good habits daily but, it also creates a yearning to learn more. If your child is not enrolled in a full-time daycare or preschool program, you still have the option to expose them in a structured environment  by signing up for classes in perhaps, swimming, music, a library playgroup, or a local One o’clock club. Of course, teachers are just the start.  You’ll want to encourage the same ideas when you choose a regular babysitter or decide which of your friends are best to watch over your children. Assembling the proper group of adults to surround your children is definitely an ongoing process but I can tell you the rewards are real. Healthy self-esteem and worth, a positive parent-child dynamic, and your child, as they become older, feeling like an important member of a larger community, all comes from good role models both inside and outside the home.
So remember that one of the most important things you are teaching your child every day is what it means to be an adult. And other grownups are your best partners in that effort. Have fun sharing your kids from an early age. Allow them to learn from all those positive adults that surround them every day as it will help shape them into the caring conscientious adults you want them to be.

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Couples often spend years imagining and planning their path toward parenthood. They want to make sure that they are financially, physically, and emotionally prepared to welcome their little ones into their lives. So…when the children finally arrive, those best-laid plans usually go straight into the used diaper bin. Sound familiar? It can be quite surprising how much upheaval each new member of the family can bring. And yet, with all the ongoing adjustments and endless transitions, few challenges compare to the daily grind of caring for your children while maintaining a career.

It was once assumed that women would stay home to raise children while men worked. (Also, diaper bin.) Now that those roles are no longer the norm, it’s often difficult for families to decide how they’ll manage childcare, career, and footing the bill for it all. Some formerly career-oriented parents find themselves eager to spend more time at home once a child arrives whilst others are still driven to climb the next rung on the company ladder. When the time comes to decide how you’ll balance your career ambitions while raising a child, you may want to keep these helpful suggestions in mind:

Be realistic about your budget: Yes, I know you have heard this before but, with childcare these days often eating up one parent’s full salary, it might make sense for either mom or dad to stay home. When deciding whether to be “house-bound” or to enlist help, parents must look at the decision from a long-term perspective — if taking a few years off would mean you would have to take a major pay cut when you re-enter the workforce, you may want to reconsider.

Give yourself a break: Every parent needs time off from changing diapers and reading storybooks. Even if you have to call in favors from family or hire a babysitter for date night, taking some child-free time for yourself will allow you to recharge and be a better parent in the long run. Perhaps in your neighborhood you could set up a token system where you can hand your chips in for free time with other parents. That way everyone comes out winning!

Set boundaries: When you’re relying on members of your inner circle for help with childcare, it’s easy to find yourself with too many cooks in the kitchen. Whether you’re dealing with a grandparent who is determined to sneak your children treats or a sibling whose style is stricter than yours, it’s imperative that you put your foot down when you feel your boundaries are being crossed. Just because you’re on the receiving end of a favor doesn’t mean you have tocompromise on your values. Clearly stating how you would feel supported encourages those around you to support you in the best way possible. At the end of the day it is about the children too.

Remember that it’s only temporary: Especially on days when you feel a little bit disheartened. It is definitely a marathon you are running and not a sprint. Stay present and be mindful of what you have accepted together. The first years of your child’s life may seem interminably long, but in the blink of an eye, they truly do become teenagers who want to spend as little time at home as possible as the world opens up to them. Parenting can make even the most compassionate individuals crazy once in a while! OMG! I feel like I have  been talking ga-ga for so many years so, keep this old adage in mind: the days are long, but the rewards are plenty…You’ll see!

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Having the occasional argument with your partner is completely normal, even very healthy. But discussions can get heated sometimes and turn in ways you later regret. When this happens, and it will, both parents need to safeguard their children as much as possible. Remember, when the adults don’t get along, the kids suffer, too. It’s during confusing times like these that children need the guidance that only a parent can provide. So, as difficult as it can be in the midst of turmoil, it’s up to each partner to protect their children. And while they’re at it, maybe even provide some essential life lessons along the way.

Fighting Impacts Children

study from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University reports that “when [the] home is not stable… executive function skills may be impaired, or may not develop at all, limiting a child’s success in elementary school and later life.”

You probably don’t need a PhD to know that fighting in front of your kids is not a good thing, but the impact on children can be profound. It can cause acting out, struggles in school, feelings of guilt, and other negative behaviours. However, a disagreement in front of your children that is resolved respectfully can be a great example of how to handle conflict. Arguments are going to happen, so be prepared with a couple of practical strategies ahead of time.

Always try to speak calmly and fairly with your partner. Sometimes that means just giving in. Let your partner take the slow route to your in-laws. It’s not really that important and it’s a great lesson for your children on how to manage a situation. If you’re the bigger person you’ll spare everyone a lot of bad feelings and, in time, it will be reciprocated. And don’t forget, when you get stuck in the traffic jam that you knew was coming, try not to follow up with an “I told you so.” The kids will pick up on the final dig and you’ll be hearing it from them the next time they think you’re wrong.

Disagreements are inevitable but unfiltered anger is another matter. It’s important that both partners agree, in advance, to take the discussion somewhere else if it gets too impassioned. Have a pre-determined neutral spot that takes the stress away from the rest of the family. Then do your best to resolve the matter, even if it’s only temporarily. It will take the edge off any lingering resentment and provide some relief for the entire household. (It will also help you sleep better. I know couples that promise never to go to bed angry. It can never be one hundred percent successful but it is a great habit.)

Your Child is Not Your Peer

Sometimes it can be difficult, especially with a teenage son or daughter, to remember just how young they really are. We all have a need to confide in someone we trust but even older children should not be leaned on for guidance when it comes to marital problems. The confusion for a child playing the role of “best friend” can ultimately lead to feelings of depression or anger.  It can also create a dangerous triangle of resentment between you, your partner, and your child.

Confiding in your children can also saddle them with the burden of feeling they have to fix things. This is a no-win situation for everyone. Both parents should commit to always keeping their children away from these kinds of discussions. Never talk with your kids about your partner in a negative way. They’ll learn to respect you for it and, eventually, expect it of themselves.

It’s Ok to Seek Support

If a situation becomes abusive or dangerous you should immediately get help. But even if it isn’t at such a dangerous stage, it’s imperative to find support outside of the home. If there’s not a friend or other trusted advisor in your life, try your church, support centers or community groups. Sometimes your doctor can have excellent advice. Even online resources can provide a sympathetic ear. Having someone to talk with can ease the pressure and help you work toward positive solutions.

Difficulties at home and periods of stress are a natural part of the development of all relationships. Don’t let that bring you down. Be accountable and stay optimistic. Every person, every couple, every family charts their own course through these periods of conflict. Just keep sight of the responsibility and love you have for your partner and your child. As long as you do that, you will succeed in handling even the most trying times. Just remember to let go, compromise, and practice healthy communication.

 

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Everyone has moments when they don’t feel like the best parent in the world. Whether you’re just having a bad day, you feel like you’ve lost control of the house, or you have that gnawing sense that something is amiss, there are steps you can take to restore your confidence. Remember, it’s important for everyone in the family that you stay in touch with the good parent that you are. With that in mind, here are some tips to help keep your parent muscles strong.

Routines
We talk about routines a lot. They’re a great way to build confidence in yourself as a person and as a parent. Also, creating regular, positive habits will help you manage what may seem unmanageable. Whether it’s keeping to breakfast or bedtime schedules, making sure Mary practices piano before school, or having a family walk every Sunday, those type of structures will give you a grip on the day and your family a measure of comfort.

Talk
It’s another deceptively simple step. Parenting can be difficult when there aren’t other moms or dads around. Try to cultivate those people you can share your thoughts with — really talk to — and you can help them with what you know. Discussing your worries will lighten your load and you’ll be surprised how much your experience can benefit others.  It will be a healthy reminder to see that everyone goes through similar struggles.

Find Ways to Get Out
Take up offers of help when you can. You don’t have to be proud. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent if you want to go to a coffee shop or a movie in the afternoon. Even if it’s just a half hour to get in a walk while your son or daughter is at the neighbors, it’s valuable and important to find ways to get a little time to yourself. When you can, earning a few favors by helping out your neighbors can be very helpful, as well. You might discover that watching over their kids for an afternoon is a lot easier than caring for your own!

Develop New Relationships
Parenting support groups, resource centers at local schools, meetings at the neighborhood library, or online groups are a great way of finding people you can talk with when things are difficult. This is important, especially if you don’t have anyone in your life with whom to share your concerns. If you’re fortunate and have supportive people around you, building new relationships can still be empowering. With every new friend comes the added security and strength that only another person can give.

You are the most important person in your child’s life. It is a big responsibility, and a rewarding one, but it’s not all that you are. Make sure to care for yourself and cultivate the interests that help make your life complete. Take a class at the local community center. Join a tennis league or a book club. Then stick to your plans. By making sure to invest in yourself, you become a happier person and a better parent for your family.

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When we talk about sleep problems in families, the conversation often centers around the needs of the family’s youngest members when, in fact, sleep deprivation can be a major problem for parents as well. Even the most compassionate moms and dads can find themselves at wits’ end with their little ones when they are caught in a self-perpetuating cycle of bad days and worse nights. It may be a challenge, but developing healthy sleep habits for the whole family can have positive effects that will last a lifetime.

Until around five, children need at least twelve hours of sleep, and when they don’t get it, the effects can be devastating. In a young child, a lack of sleep can be the catalyst for tantrums, feeding problems, cognitive impairment, memory issues, and, some researchers theorize, may even be a precursor for ADHD.  By the time elementary school rolls around, children need an average of ten hours per night and teens need just over eight. However, sleep deprivation remains a very real issue for older children as well, with consequences like mood swings, anxiety, and poor performance in school.

Parents often bear the brunt of their family’s sleep deprivation, spending their days having to wrangle grumpy children while in a fog of exhaustion. The impact of too many sleepless nights can potentially result in everything from mood disorders to heart disease and obesity. It may seem that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to solve the family’s sleep problems, but a few easy tips may help get you back on the right track.

Take some down time before hitting the sack: Having a routine before bed can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Whether you read a book or do a few yoga poses, a relaxing ritual every evening before your head hits the pillow can make a big difference.

Keep other activities out of the bedroom: If your family loves to eat, play, or watch TV in bed, now’s the time to break yourselves of that bad habit. Make your bed a sacred space for sleeping and you’ll have an easier time turning in at night.

Implement a “no screens before sleep” policy for everyone: A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that reading on your phone, tablet, or computer within an hour or two of bedtime might actually be the reason you’re having difficulty drifting off. So avoid those glowing electronics before you go to sleep.

You can’t be your best self when you’re exhausted. Taking a few simple steps now can help you, and your family, look forward to a happier, healthier, and better-rested future.

 

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