“You Are the Average of the Five People You Spend the Most Time With.” Who Are Your Five?

A week and a half ago my friend and mentor Cliff Ravenscraft reached out to me and invited me to attend his workshop titled “Creating an Online Business Around Your Podcast.” I told him I had checked out the sales page but that it wasn’t in our budget. However, after further discussion with Cliff and my husband, I decided to make the investment.

As I figured it would be, the workshop was jam-packed with amazing information and Cliff’s presentation of that information was outstanding. The workshop was hosted in the Next Level Studio in Cliff’s home (“The Home That Podcasting Built”). Cliff and his family were so welcoming and hospitable. In addition to a great day and a half of content, the networking and relationships built were invaluable.

After the workshop I asked my friend Heather if I could swing by her house to say hi, as she lives just a few minutes away from Cliff. We sat on her back patio, and she asked some questions about the workshop. I answered enthusiastically, still on a high from it all.

Then Heather said, “I bet it was nice to get away and have some adult interaction.” I paused, then said, “Yeah, that was pretty nice.”

It hadn’t occurred to me until then. Sure, the workshop and relationships were awesome. But what I think refreshed me most was getting some time away to be in the presence of other adults—especially like-minded entrepreneurs who all have the same goal in mind: to build a responsible online business.

I didn’t realize how badly I needed it. The life of an entrepreneur can be incredibly isolating, especially in the early stages.

In the workshop, Cliff talked about Jim Rohn’s belief, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Cliff asked us to write down the five people we spend the most time with (outside of immediate family). It could be face-to-face interaction or interaction via phone, text, social media, etc.

I began to write down my five, starting with my church family and another close friend. I then realized that other than that, most of my in-person interactions are with my kids and husband. I have close friends, but I’m not intentionally getting together with them in person or picking up the phone to call them.

Cliff then asked us to take some time in the days coming up to write down the five people we want to intentionally spend the most time with moving forward. Who are the people I want to intentionally allow to influence the way I think through direct interaction?

I realized that in order to write my list and put it into action, I am going to be making some major commitments. I’ll be committing to investing in myself by committing to spending time with and investing in others.

But how in the world am I going to do that?? I’m a full time mom building an online business on the side. I don’t have time for intentional friendships!

That’s the issue though. I historically have not made (keyword “made,” not “found”) the time to be intentional about friendships. I was very academically focused in school. I got married my senior year of college, started graduate school a year later, and went straight into a job from my grad school internship. I worked full time until I had Margaret, then gradually moved down to part time, then resigned after my maternity leave with Charles. No matter which of these stages I was in, I struggled with being intentional about friendships.

After last weekend, I decided: No more. No more playing the “I’m a tired/busy mom” card. No more neglecting the amazing friendships staring me in the face because they’re just so much work. No more excuses. No more.

Is it going to be easy? Maybe not. Is it going to be worth it? Absolutely.

Jesus wants us to live in community. After all, he spent a good deal of time with his twelve best buds. It seems to have served Him quite well.

Take some time this week to do the following exercise:

First, write down the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Second, write down the 5 people you want to spend the most time with.

Third, set a plan into action that will help you grow your relationships with those people.

It may seem like a lot of work and time that you don’t have to invest. I get that. But if you make this a priority, you’ll be amazed at the way your world changes.

Are you spending time with people who are lifting you up? Are you intentional about being around positive people who have your best interests at heart? What can you do to deepen those relationships?

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I Took All My Daughter’s Toys Away…and She Didn’t Care.

I don’t remember exactly why I did it.

I think I may have said, “Margaret, if you don’t clean up your toys, I’m taking them all away.” (I don’t like taking things away as punishment, but I apparently wasn’t too patient that day). She said to me, “Take them away!” Begrudgingly, I began to pick up every little thing. I wasn’t thrilled about cleaning up her mess, but I had to follow through. (Okay, to be fair, I didn’t take ALL of her toys away. She still had her blocks, coloring books, and a few little trinkets).

As I began picking up her toys, she didn’t seem to care. Then I found her on the floor in her room, sobbing, “Don’t take my gym shoes away!!” That kid. I said to her, “Margaret, your shoes aren’t a toy. I’m not going to take them.” She continued to fuss for a bit, terrified that I would take her precious gym shoes away. It was adorable. No really, it was pretty cute. Of all things—gym shoes.

When Margaret finally comprehended that I wasn’t going to take her shoes, she set them down and began handing me her toys to take away. Not putting her toys away— giving them to me so I could take them away. “Here, Mama, take this.” “Mama! You forgot this one!” What??

So this was…over a month ago. I had tossed the toys into a toy bin and put it in my husband’s and my bedroom. I figured after a few days Margaret and I would have a little chat and then I’d give the toys back. But she hasn’t asked for them. Every once in a while when she comes into our bedroom she’ll see something and ask for it, so we’ll give it to her. But other than that, she doesn’t care. She probably doesn’t even remember what’s in there. I certainly don’t.

So what have I learned from this?

Even though we had already purged a lot of her toys, Margaret still had more than she “needed” (wanted). It kind of makes me want to just toss that whole bin without looking at what’s in it. Her blocks and coloring books are plenty to keep her perfectly happy. (Just kidding, Jeremy!). I’ll be putting some of it back, but definitely not all.

It has been amazing to see how my daughter’s interests and her play have changed since we cleared out a lot of her stuff a few months back and recently when we chose to stop watching TV. She is more active during the day and is more engaged with her brother (1 year). Her favorite thing to do is play in his crib with him. And he adores her. I love hearing the shrieks and giggles coming from his room.

I encourage you to take some time to evaluate all the “stuff” in your house. Do your kids really need all those toys? Books? Clothes?

If you’re ready to clear out and clean up, check out my course “Clear Your Kids Clutter: How to Ditch the Mess in 3 Hours or Less.” This course will get you results crazy fast. Click here to check out the promo video. Even if you have no intention of buying the course, go watch the video. Margaret is in it and it’s pretty stinking cute.

What are your thoughts? Do your kids have too much stuff? What’s one action step you can take to eliminate some of the clutter in your household?

How Are Your Actions Affecting Your Relationships?

Do you ever find yourself fuming over something your kids did, only to lash out at them with biting words and drastic punishments?

In these moments, it can be challenging to take a step back and see the situation for what it truly is. Chances are, it’s not that big of a deal.

We may get angry, but we can’t let our anger determine the severity of our punishments.

I frequently remind myself of the words of Viktor E. Frankl. Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. He said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

When you find yourself in a frustrating situation with your kids, ask yourself, “Is what I’m considering doing right now an appropriate response to their actions?”

Consider also how your reactions affect your relationships. If we are angry and hateful in response to our kids’ disobedience, what is that doing to our relationship? Are we “beating them into submission” at the expense of fostering a safe, loving, and secure relationship?

Let’s go back to Frankl’s words. We have the power to choose our response to any circumstance. In our response lies our growth and freedom.

Are you choosing responses that are growing your relationships with your kids and freeing you to be a kinder and more loving mama? Or are your responses crippling those relationships because you’ve become a slave to your emotions? Take some time this week to make use of the space between the stimuli of your life and your responses.

How do you handle your emotions in regards to your responses to your children’s behavior? Share in the comment section below!

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Toss the Phone and Get in On the Action!

This week’s post is short and sweet. I’m presenting a challenge to you.

Go ONE WEEK without taking pictures or videos of your children.

Now, for some of us, this is no big deal. Whatever.

For others of us, it’s unthinkable! They’re so darn cute! I have to capture these moments!

Last fall, I challenged myself to do just this. One week. No photos or videos of my kids. Man, was it difficult! There were so many adorable photo ops. Between my birthday, my friend’s daughter’s birthday, my daughter just playing around being silly, and my son, well, being an adorable 3 month old, I had a hard time keeping the phone tucked away.

In those moments, I thought, Awww, I’d love to capture this!

But then the moments passed. And I didn’t care anymore. Just like that. It’s kind of like that candy bar screaming your name in the checkout aisle. By the time you’re at your car, you’ve forgotten about it.

So what’s the big deal? Why put the camera away for a week?

Here’s the thing: While we’re busy capturing and sharing memories, were missing out on being a part of those memories.

Do we want to view our children’s lives through a lens? Or do we want to be part of the action?

Do we want our children to feel like they’re being evaluated by their ability to produce picture-worthy moments? Or do we want them to feel loved and feel connected to us?

How much time are we wasting looking to see who has commented on our latest post of our adorable kid or how many likes it’s gotten? (Guilty).

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-pictures. I love pictures. But I think we’ve gotten way too obsessed with taking them, sharing them, liking them, commenting on them, and so on.

You may find yourself thinking, But they’re never going to be this small again! I don’t want to forget this moment!

Let me ask you this: What’s more important, remembering what has passed or enjoying what is right now?

So again, my challenge to you: Go ONE week without taking any pictures/video of your kids. I think you’ll be surprised and quite pleased by the results. This is an awesome experiment as we head into summer. It just might give you that little nudge to jump in on the action instead of watching and documenting it from the sidelines.

Notice how you feel more connected with your kids. So refreshing, right? From there you can decide how you’ll find a happy medium between tossing the phone and filling every gigabyte of storage with pictures and video.

Next week, come back and share you experience in the comment section below. I’d love to see how it went!

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Connect Before You Correct: The Incredible Power of Physical Touch

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my first three and a half years as a mama is the incredible power of physical touch. In particular, physical touch as it relates to the “connect before you correct” approach to children’s behavior.

Our bodies are powerful tools when it comes to communicating our feelings.

Children are prone to hitting, scratching, flailing, shaking, biting, pulling hair/clothes/jewelry, etc. when they’re upset.

We might then react by hitting, spanking, shaking, or pushing our kids away. Putting them in time out. Sending them to another room. Cutting off our affection because they need to understand the gravity of their actions. To learn their lesson.

I want to take a look at a different approach: Connect before you correct. A huge part of this approach is the use of gentle, soothing physical touch.

Physical touch pulls us out of the intensity of the moment. It brings us together to connect and calm our emotions before addressing whatever the issue is.

Scenario:

Margaret starts throwing a tantrum because she doesn’t want the food I’m giving her for lunch. She’s refusing to get in her chair and insisting I give her something else.

I pick her up, hold her, and hug her for a few seconds. I don’t say anything about what I want her to do. I simply hold her for as long as it takes for her to clam her body.

Once she stops flailing I then explain to her, “This is the food we have made, so you need to eat it today. Would you like it in the green bowl or the orange bowl? (Providing options gives children ownership). Orange? Okay. Would you like me to put you in your chair or would you like to climb in? Climb in? Okay.” Margaret then willingly climbs in her chair and eats her beans, rice, and vegetables. She even says it’s “Yum yum yummy in my tum tum tummy.” (Daniel Tiger, anyone?) 😃

Jeremy and I have been using this approach for a year or so and it works wonderfully. I would say 9 times out of 10 it works to help Margaret calm down so we can handle the situation without out of control tantrums and drama.

Side note: Like most things with our kids, this approach is much more difficult when they’re tired. We must make sure our children are getting adequate sleep between nighttime and naps. Lack of sufficient sleep is one of the biggest contributors misbehavior in children.

Connecting before correcting helps us tune into and release some of the negative emotions we’re feeling. This can prevent us from reacting irrationally to our children’s misbehavior. It also helps keep their emotions from getting out of control.

Simply holding each other can calm down both parent and child. Sometimes it’s as much for our emotional benefit as it is for theirs.

Connecting before correcting helps us be mindful of what we’re feeling and help our children and ourselves deescalate.

So what’s next?

We acknowledge and validate our children’s feelings before we do anything else. As an example, while rubbing our child’s back we may say, “I know you want to play now. I do too. There are so many fun things to do. First, it’s time to go potty.” This way, our children first and foremost feel heard, understood, and cared for. From there, we can move forward with seeking a resolution.

If you tend to jump straight to time-outs, removing privileges, yelling, threatening, spanking, etc., I encourage you to try something different this week. Connect before you correct. It may be a hug, rubbing your child’s back, or even placing a hand on his back or arm. It’s going to be challenging, and it’s going to take a crazy amount of patience on Mom and Dad’s part.

Notice what it does to how you’re feeling. Notice how your child reacts to it. It may be awkward at first, especially if it’s something new and different. It may not work the first time. Or the second time. Or the tenth time. And it won’t work every time. But I strongly believe that if you continue this approach, you’ll begin to see an amazing change in your child’s behavior. This has the potential to radically improve the atmosphere in your home. I’ll even dare to say that it could alter the course of your child’s emotional development and ultimately, her life.

So give it a shot! Then, come back and share your experience in the comment section below!

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