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My Dear Aunt Sally

My Dear Aunt Sally. Do you remember it? Remember having to learn the ORDER for those long math problems? Or how about good ‘ole Robert? As in Robert’s Rules of Order? Or how about my favorite? Anyone else love watching Mr. Rogers methodically hang up his sweater and neatly hang it in his closet? 

How about our children….what are we doing to teach them order? You see, understanding order and organization can be learned. First, however, we must be willing (and then take the time) to teach it.

Last week we had a rather full weekend filled with trips to Home Depot, the grocery store, and (groan) furniture shopping. Our 6-year-old boys were not thrilled. After all, it was the weekend. They wanted to play. They wanted to go to the park with their new remote control cars. They wanted to ride their bikes.  That is when it dawned on us that we needed to teach them the importance of scheduling our days (even the weekends) and creating an order that allows for productivity, peace, and park time instead of confusion, incompletion, and chaos.


So we got out our sticky notes, sharpies, and the lesson began.

We talked about priorities.

We talked about the needs of ALL family members.

We talked about timing.

We talked about planning for FUN.


Suddenly their little minds got to work. They began to create the “perfect day” where everything fit.


They were proud.

They didn’t complain.

They saw the world outside of themselves.

They helped to create order.


This day suddenly became different. They no longer complained about doing homework, but instead asked, “what did we plan after homework”? They no longer were frustrated that we "had to" be home to let their baby brother nap, but instead remarked “Look! We planned it perfectly. He is tired and it is naptime!”.

We hope that this 15 minute-impromptu lesson will teach many skills to span a lifetime: establishing boundaries (what do we have time for and what don’t we), prioritizing, scheduling and having fun, thinking of others, task completion, and an increased sense of self-esteem.  Afterall, outer order contributes to an inner calm....even in Home Depot. 


Losing Battles & Winning Wars.

“You may have to lose the battle to win the war.” 

This is a sentence I often hear from clients in my counseling practice. Sometimes it is coming from a lonely wife who “loses” the battle of caring when her husband comes home late from work time and time again.  Sometimes it is from a frustrated husband who “loses” the battle of disciplining his child because it isn’t worth the conflict he will have with his wife.  And most often, it is from a worn-out mother who will allow her child to do (almost) anything instead of fighting with her spirited son/daughter.

In some situations, I think this is a great tactic. But like in all great games of war, participants need to have strategy.  This is the piece that I would argue is missing in order to declare real victory. 

See, too often losing the battle looks a lot like throwing in the towel.  Our children will never benefit from us (parents) throwing in the towel.  In fact, many teenage clients have specifically (and in confidence) told me that they wish their parents didn’t give in so easily. 

I admit. I have lost battles before out of desperation or frustration. I have “lost the battle” of letting my kids do something because it was easier. (Ahem, eating in the brand new car or how about cleaning up after them because hearing them complain about it would ruin the peaceful afternoon?!)  Allowing for life to be easy is NOT the war that I ultimately want to win in my home. I don’t want my children to think that life will always be easy. I don’t want them to think that they will always get what they want. I want to raise resilient and well-adjusted kids.  I am sure you want the same thing.

I also have to admit that I have chosen to lose battles intentionally.  My kids happily eat Lunchables™ on Fridays (gross!). They pick out their clothes (often).  They don’t always have to clean up the playroom, and they (gasp) are allowed to mix Play-doh colors.  I want to win the war on confident (vs. anxious) children. I want to win the war on having a joy filled home.  I am sure you want the same thing. 

I encourage you to ask yourself the next time you say “I am losing ______________ battle”, what war are you winning?  If you can answer that and be happy with the strategy in place, then you have a tactical victory on your hands!

Guess What? Your Children Hear You!


I have amazing friends who are healthy in mind and body. They are inspiring to me and I love them.

We had a chance to visit with my friends this week. It was wonderful.  It filled my friendship bucket. 

One particular night we were talking about their business (they are health coaches…and they do a great job at it!) and we began to talk about doing a family health challenge called the 21 day Fix.  All adults were engaged. Things were said like “yeah I could lose 10 lbs.”, “Oh it would feel great to have more energy”,  “I need something to get me motivated,” et cetera.  That’s when I said it. Are you ready? My intention was just to add to the enthusiastic conversation so I said…

 “Yes! I want arms like Kelly Rippa”.   

Laughter and conversation (and healthy snacking) continued when my six year old son changed everything for me.

“Just be yourself.”

“What did you say, buddy?”, I asked.

“He repeated a little quieter (because I think he immediately thought he said something wrong). 

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. He said everything so right.

See what happened in the kitchen was a confirmation.  Not a confirmation of my arms (they don’t look like Kelly Rippa's (yet). It was a confirmation that:

My children listen to the life values I instill in them and they notice when I don’t abide by them. 

See, I am a therapist. We talk a lot about life lessons, confidence, self-talk, and much more. It is my job. And honestly it is my passion.  So, I interrupted (because sometimes it is that important) the other adults to apologize to them for the fact that I had made a mistake. Something that I had taught them over and over did not match up with what I was doing.  That moment right there is what TRUST is built upon.  Children are looking to see if their world matches up.  We say the stove is hot. Is it? We say that sugar could make their tummy hurt. Will it?  We say to just be ourselves. Do I?  We say to be confident. Am I? 

I should never want anyone else’s arms.  And then I publically in my kitchen thanked my 6 year old buddy for reminding me of an important life lesson that I never want to forget...and want him to hold true for a long time!