7 Frugal and Thoughtful Mother’s Day Gifts

7 Frugal and Thoughtful Mother's Day Gifts 

Mother's day is right around the corner and it is time to plan. I have noticed over the past few years, I am usually stopping in at a flower shop or picking up something last minute for mother's day. It's not that I don't love pampering my mom, and appreciate everything she does for myself and my family, I just find it hard to buy for her.  (more…)

It’s All About Connection – With Yourself!

It’s All About Connection – With Yourself!

For the past month I have been battling against my anxiety attacks, getting out and attending networking events and workshops, introducing myself and my blog to businesses and simply stepping a HUGE leap outside my comfort zone. This weekend will be the symbolic icing on the cake for me.

Do you wake up every morning looking forward to the day?

I think we can all agree that the answer will vary daily on this question. But overall, do you feel good about where you are, or feel bogged down and lost? Maybe you believe you are not reaching your true potential?

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It’s All About Connection – With Your Spouse

Are you Connecting?

5 simple ways to connect with your spouse!

It's All About Connection - With Your Spouse

By the time the children go to bed at night, I am done.

I often ask myself, did I look at my husband today? Or ask him a direct question and wait for the answer? Did we only communicate by text and a few mumbles around the kids squealing and running out the door for work or driving someone to an activity.

Our relationship seems to be the last thing we think to work on, but it is probably the most important one we should pay attention to.
Children are important, and I have shared some steps about connecting with our children as well. But have you ever wondered about the disconnect between you and your partner?

I do all the time.

Honestly, that is when I think about how we should have a date night once a month or go for a walk after supper...but then the excuses creep in.

Is it okay to leave the youngest alone with his big brother in the evening, is it fair to our 13 year old (I am talking a couple times a month here, not everyday)? What about all the other family activities we "should" be doing if we have any time? Or, where will I find the energy to go out after chasing a 3 yr old all day and running to activities all week? But it's important, and thinking about ourselves is often the last thing we, as adults and parents, do.

Spouses need to talk to each other face to face, hold hands, steal a peck on the cheek, whatever, just connect on an everyday level. I feel like we put so much value on our relationship with our children and so little on our partners in this journey of life. Again, children are very important, but to hold our family together, we need to have a friend in our partner, a confidant, someone we enjoy spending time with and parenting alongside. All too often we get lost in the whirlwind of life and forget to connect with the other adult in our family unit.

Today, I have made the decision that it is better to have some child free time together every now and then. Better for us, better for our children, making our relationship stronger makes our family stronger. So here are 5 simple ways I hope to strengthen the bond we have as a couple.

Work on a project together

Maybe a home improvement project, or something in the community. Something away from electronics and that we have to do together, talking and figuring it all out.  Right now we have home type projects needing to be done. So shopping together, planning and executing together, that is the plan. In the community I would love to volunteer somewhere together. We will have to find something we both will enjoy and feel good doing.

Hold Hands

This may seem trivial, but I don't remember the last time I held hands in public. We hold our 3 yr olds hands all the time, on either side of him, but it's been a while since i grabbed my husband's hand.

Leave the Phone/Tablet/etc out of the bedroom

Okay, I can't be alone on this one. I usually play a game before I fall asleep (which likely makes it harder for me to sleep). Every night my phone sits on the bedside table to charge. It will now be charging in the kitchen, and I will talk to my husband in the evening instead of starring at a screen. Even if I am headed to bed earlier, reading a book is replacing the constant gadget checking.

Be Present

Looking at each other, listening to each other and being responsive. There is nothing worse than trying to talk to someone knowing they are not listening. I will make a conscious effort to connect through responsive conversations, and eye contact. Even if I am taking while getting ready in the morning, a simple acknowledgement or response in the course of the conversation will help us feel that we are being heard.

Get away from the kids!

Taking an evening for a date or even an hour to go for a walk or get groceries will give us a chance to talk. If we have no option to "get away" then make a plan to do something after the kids go to bed. Sit on the deck and have a drink, play a board game, watch a movie together, anything that is just my husband and I for at least 30 minutes.

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It’s All About Connection – 7 ways to connect with your kids

Are you Connecting?

7 ways to connect with your kids

It's All About Connection  - 7 ways to connect with your kids

Are you connecting with those around you, I mean really and truly connecting? In a world where we are all "connected" most of the day, it is hard to see the lack of real face to face, person to person connection in our lives.

It really wasn't that long ago, we used to answer the phone only when we were at home (after looking at caller display to decide IF we would answer!). If work or friends were trying to get hold of us, they waited until we returned their call or saw us again. Now we are just connected 24 hours a day. You send a text and expect a reply, you are on Facebook and can see that your friend is online too, expecting an instant reply. There is nowhere to hide 🙂

I am a stay at home/work at home mom. When my kids are home, I try to put the phone down, but it's hard. When you have little to no adult interaction in the run of a day, sometimes social media is your only window to the outside world. Don't get me wrong, I take my children to activities, and get out many times during the course of a week, most weeks. I have to make a conscious decision to do so and battle with my introverted ways just to get out the door. If I can tell myself it is for the kids, then I will do it.  It is the part where I have to actually talk to someone that is hard. 

What is this doing to us? What is it teaching our children?

Daily I have to remind myself to stop looking at my phone or laptop, and look my kids in the eye and talk TO them, not AT them. Looking at their faces when they realize I grabbed my phone again to look something up or answer a text. It jolts you to the core sometimes. They want us present, not just there, in the same room, but present. There is no true one on one attention being given if we are constantly trying to multi-task our lives.

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(Fishing, going for a walk and playing at the park, all great activities that require no phones or electronic devices)

Here are 7 simple steps to truly help connect with our children:

Hugs or snuggles

Take a few seconds or minutes each day to hug. Physical contact goes a long way to making our children feel connection to us. My 13 year old still gets a hug before bed. I am making a conscious effort to make it a real hug, not a pat on the back. He comes to me every night for that hug, the least I can do is make it real. Younger kids are easier to snuggle with or hug. The key is to give 100% attention to them while doing so. No snuggles while talking on the phone or texting, just a few minutes totally devoted to them. It makes a world of difference. As I sit here typing, my 3 year old asked for a drink. I picked him up on my lap for a snuggle and a nose kiss. He smiled, that's what I wanted to see.

No Electronics or Off Time

Make an effort to turn everything off, or put the devices in a different room. I like the idea of no electronics at meal time and also none outside when it is playtime (this is more for us parents than for the kids).

Give Them Control

This is a fun and educational activity for parents. Tell your child that they are "in charge" for the next 20 minutes (or longer). They make the decisions on what to do and give instructions. Not only will this make them happy, but will also open you up to seeing how your children see you and your relationship. This is a connecting activity, but may also lead to realization of your good and perhaps not so good parenting methods. It's a great way to see how your kids feel when you are parenting them, and will allow you to adjust what you are doing well and maybe not so well. It's like looking in a mirror!

Have A Routine

Routine when it comes to mornings and bedtime are very important, no matter what age your children are. Most children rely on routine to feel secure and less stressed. If you can provide a routine at least morning and evening, they will be much happier. Routine will also help slow you down and help you take that extra moment to smile and connect. With Clayton (3yrs), we read every night before bed, and then tucking in, kiss goodnight and a tickle on the neck.

Play Together/ Walk Together

Many people feel playing takes time, but you can fit quality play into a busy schedule. Make your time together fun. It can be board games (maybe a game night, 1 hour, once a week), I Spy (we do this in the car while waiting for one child to finish at lessons or school), tag outside, or hide & seek with a special toy. Taking 10 minutes, or an hour, stopping what you are doing to play means so much to them. Maybe you are driving somewhere and have 15 minutes before you need to be there, stop at a park closeby for a 10 minute play. Yes, you can wait in the car or grab another coffee on the way, but that little one watching you get through your busy day will connect with you and smile at you if you stop and play! Not only does this make them happy, but will also help teach them to finish activities with a time frame. Tell them when you start that we are going to stay for 10 minutes to have some surprise fun, but we need to be "here" at "whatever time".
If you have older children, perhaps a game night or a regular walk is a good idea. Walking and talking, sometimes that is all they need to disconnect from their electronics and school life, and talk to you. It's important to remember that although they NEED you less for the everyday stuff, they often need you more to be there to listen.

Talk TO Them and Validate Their Answers

I make this mistake all the time having a 3 yr old and 13 yr old. I ask a question to the older and either before or while he is answering, the 3 yr old is interrupting or into something. Trying to listen can be hard, really hard. Even though you may hear and answer, it is the acknowledgement you give that person that counts. As parents we are always telling our kids to "just answer me!!". They will expect the same or simply not answer because that is the example we set. The best time to talk to my kids is in the car, and we are in it often during the week.

Do something THEY enjoy:

Ask them what they want to do. We have a tendency these days to schedule our children and leave very little time to do whatever they feel like doing. Try to have at least a few hours together to ask them what they want each week. You may be surprised how reasonable they are in their choices. Many times I ask, the answers are things like, go outside and swing, or play ball, maybe go to the library or fishing. It's okay to make suggestions, but start off by asking them what they feel like doing. On a rainy day, perhaps jumping in puddles and getting wet in the rain will make for the best memories and biggest smiles you have seen all week!

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Our  children are constantly watching us. If we are stressed, always hurried and rarely connecting with others, then they will be the same. I am not perfect, and find myself falling into the zoned out world of multi-tasking and social media all the time. It takes time and work to break habits that have developed over the course of a few years. I try to remind myself everyday to step back and see things how my 3 year old would see them. It can be a sad view some days. Trying the above steps is helping, and I hope they will help you.
Feel free to share any ideas or other things you do to connect with your children.

Happy Parenting!
~ Ruth Ann

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