Tag: stress

No More Hassles Over Picking Up Dirty Socks

No-More-Hassles-Over-Picking-Up-Dirty-Socks

Dirty Sock Dilemma

After a long and tedious day I finally started to wind down, hours after I had hoped to.  I started to head to bed only to find a heaping pile of filthy clothes, shoes and socks, right in the middle of the family room. I wanted to scream. I wanted to pull my sleeping barbarians from their beds and give them the scolding of a lifetime. I wanted to know why my children hadn’t cleaned up after themselves…they weren’t being raised by wolves. They are very capable of cleaning up after themselves, they just choose not to.

Instead of nose-diving into complete frustration, I decided to try a little trick I learned in a recent Love & Logic® class I attended. I picked up all of the shoes, socks and dirty clothes, hid them in my closet and went straight to bed.  There was no need to get mad or create drama at the end of my long, tiring day. Tomorrow would be a new day and I was ready to try out this technique on my children. They had no clue they were about to be my personal guinea pigs and I was hopeful the experiment would work.

A Penny for Your Socks

As morning broke, the house was full of its customary commotion and, as the kids were almost ready to leave for school, I mentioned that I had picked up their dirty clothes and shoes the night before. Normally they wouldn’t care that I had cleaned up after them, however; when I mentioned I would be willing to sell their items for $.50 each, a look of curious disbelief came over their faces. After all, they needed their shoes for school which put me in complete control. With a wonderful sense of calm and a renewed appreciation for my general awesomeness, I calmly traded shoes, socks and jackets for money. They protested slightly before relenting and pulling out the money I was owed. With little to no fighting or arguing, I was able to teach them a lesson they won’t soon forget and save my sanity in the process.

Underpaid and Overworked: Welcome to Parenthood

Let’s face it, parenting is a thankless job. You’re constantly pulled in multiple directions and expected to take care of everyone else’s needs without considering your own. You cook, clean, bathe, clean, shuttle, console, clean, did I say clean? It’s a never-ending battle of maneuvering the same mess from one location to another. It’s the constant struggle of picking up the same toy 37 times a day, only to step on it 5 minutes later. When you consider all the annoyances of daily life as a parent, it’s no wonder we lose our cool from time to time.

With a little practice, though, it’s possible to stay cool and teach our kids a lesson at the same time.
Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

Standing Up to Teen Defiance

How to deal with teen defiance, love and logic, parenting classes, denver, co

Big Problems with Teen Defiance

Siblings and rivalry go hand-in-hand so it’s no surprise that 14 year-old Preston taunts and pesters his younger brother, Kyle. Recently, Preston refused to stop pestering his brother and was provoking him by throwing things, hassling him and doing anything he could to elicit a response from his brother just for entertainment. This was much more interesting to him than sitting down and doing homework.  As mom listened to the bickering, name-calling and yelling, she wondered how she would diffuse the situation without aggravating her defiant, strong-willed adolescent even further.

Parenting was so much simpler when the boys were little but now as a single mother of 3 boys, parenting was often aggravating and left mom wondering what to do. After all, two of her three sons were teenagers and had outgrown the parenting strategies that had worked long ago. She wondered how it was possible to reprimand her sons when they became defiant without putting herself in harm’s way.

Taking a Stand Against a Big Kid

When Preston refused to leave the room even when mom demanded it, it was apparent that he had his own agenda. Finally, he left the room but only to return minutes later exhibiting the same behavior that got him in trouble the first time. At that point Preston was worked up and mom was frustrated at her son’s unwillingness to cooperate. Nothing was resolved and mom felt miserable with the state of her family, but it was time for bed. There was no way that this mom was going to try and reprimand her strong-willed teen when he was clearly fired up. She knew better.

Get Out of the Red Zone

Stepping away and allowing her son a chance to cool down elicited a much different response the next morning. After a good night’s sleep, mom decided to tackle her son’s growing defiance when the situation was no longer in the red zone. That morning, she took her son’s phone away for the defiance he had exhibited the night before. Although he was unhappy with his mom’s decision, he was no longer fired up and he begrudgingly handed over his phone.

Be Persistent

After surviving a day without his cell phone and then getting it back, Preston was back to his old tricks. He was taunting his little brother and pestering him for no reason.  This time, however, mom set boundaries immediately for his unwanted behavior and stuck to them. A quick glance from mom along with a calmly executed, “This looks like defiance” was all it took for him to stop. Preston had figured out that his mom was not willing to let his poor behavior be left unchecked..

This was a big wake-up call for her son and a feeling of accomplishment for mom.

She had busted through the fear of angering her teen and was able to take control of the situation with minimal struggle.

Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

8 Tips to Survive the Holidays as a Parent

HHP_8TipstoSurvivetheHolidays

Last year, a client of mine plopped on the couch in my office right after Thanksgiving, sighed a long, tired sigh and admitted to “dreading December.”

These are the unspeakable thoughts that can be said behind a therapist’s door but that few dare to say when everyone else looks like they are enjoying the bustle of creating magic and memories for their children and doing it with grace and ease. (Note: this is an illusion.) She was tormented by Pinterest and all the great ideas that made her think, “I should do this!  I could do that!  My house would look great if I made those!”

Her questions to me were:

“How do I get it all done and have fun doing it?”
“How do I deal with the ‘icky family stuff’ that comes with the holidays?”

 
Here’s a list of ideas I gave her. I’m sure they can work for you too!

Making Priorities that Work for You

1. Take an inventory of everything you expect to accomplish.
2. Circle the ones that make you happy.
3. For those you don’t enjoy, can you skip or make them less work?
3. Make “jobs” more fun by inviting friends – baking cookies, wrapping presents, addressing holiday cards.

Dealing with “Icky Family Stuff”

1. Treat time with exhausting relatives like a sprint relay that takes a lot of energy for a short time.
2. Find activities such as baking cookies or shopping to do with your select relatives to take the focus off negative conversation.
3. Stay calm and polite, and when you feel yourself breaking – take a bathroom break.
(This is also a good time to “pass the baton” to your spouse.)
4. Play “stupid and cheerful” to avoid falling into family drama.
5. Take breaks to just play with the kids.

Here’s the full letter from the mom most recently freed of holiday stress:

Dear Kerry,

I just had the best December I’ve had since becoming a mother! I tried some of the things we talked about. I want to tell you which ones worked for me so that you can tell other moms that they don’t have to settle for feeling overwhelmed and stressed about getting ready for Christmas.

The best thing I did was to make an inventory of everything I expected myself to get done in December. I circled the ones that made me happy. For the ones I didn’t enjoy, I asked myself if I could lower my standards or skip it. I made some of the “jobs” more fun by inviting friends to do them with me. My girlfriend came over with her kids and we spent the day baking cookies and it was a blast! The kids were happy and so were the moms! My sister-in-law and I got together while our husbands who are brothers watched our kids and we had a “wrap-and-gab-fest” and got almost all of our wrapping done on one Saturday afternoon.

I loved your story about the girlfriend who had great memories of her mother having a huge cookie exchange every year. I remember the daughter had worked so hard to keep that tradition alive even though it was a lot of work and stressed her out. She was so surprised when her mom told her that the big exchange had only happened a handful of years. She couldn’t believe it! That helped me decide that as long as the things I do for my family are done with a good attitude, it doesn’t matter quite so much whether or not they happen every single year because I am still creating great memories for my kids.

The last thing I have to share is how dealing with my “icky family stuff” went. My stepmother-in-law always stressed us all out and somehow I usually ended up being the one who got stuck sitting and politely listening for an eternity. This year I treated time with her like a sprint relay that takes a lot of energy and can only be endured for a short time. For little chunks of time, I was the politest daughter-in-law ever. Then when my heart rate started to rise because I was getting annoyed with her, I excused myself to go to the bathroom. On my way, I kissed my husband’s cheek and whispered that I was passing the baton to him. Then it was his turn to go be a polite, listening son-in-law while I went for a walk or played with my kids. I felt so much calmer knowing that I had an “exit plan” when I’d had my fill of being the good daughter-in-law. It also helped when I asked my mother-in-law to walk or shop or cook with me because then there was something else to focus on other than just the problems that she couldn’t stop talking about. I also tried the idea of wearing a scarf and/or necklace over my heart and fiddling with it as a reminder not to let her suck me dry. I was determined to save some of my energy for my kids and husband. The idea sounded silly when you mentioned it, but I think it helped. I took more breaks from her and as a result, I had more fun with my kids.

Thank you for helping me have more fun and peace of mind this year! Now maybe my kids won’t be as likely to remember Christmas as a time when mommy was stressed and grumpy!!

All the best,
Brittany

Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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