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Friday, September 27, 2013

Nigel's Naughty or Nice 90 Day Notice from North Pole Behavior Bureau

My son is a pretty sweet kid. Never gives us any major trouble, an angel at school, etc. But from time to time, especially since his sixth birthday, he struggles with a bit of Know It All Syndrome. His smart brain can lead to a smart mouth. We've been trying a couple discipline techniques, and seeing some improvement, but not a ton. Last week after a scolding I heard him grumble to himself, "Now, I'm never going to make Santa's nice list!" Light bulb moment! I decided to have a little fun with him and use the approaching holiday season as an incentive. I wrote the following letter and addressed it to him from the North Pole Behavior Bureau. It should arrive in the mail today. I'll share an update this weekend!


September 25, 2013                                           North Pole Behavior Bureau
Naughty or Nice List Status
90 Day Notice

Dear Nigel Ayodeji Shoyoye:

This letter is written as a reminder that Christmas is just three short months away. It has come to the attention of the Chief Elf in Charge that your behavior has been mostly nice, but just a little naughty. 
This news is quite a shock for Santa and his crew.
Since your first Christmas in December 2007 you have been one of the best behaved boys in North America! We have always been very impressed by how hard you work to be kind, well mannered and a good friend. I am sure that you will make the proper adjustments to guarantee that you will have a very Merry Christmas full of peace, love, joy and lots of cool toys.

May we suggest:
  • Playing nicely with your little sister.
  • Working hard to have excellent behavior at school everyday.
  • Using a respectful tone and polite language when speaking to people – especially parents, grandparents and elders.
  • It is very important to follow your parents instructions the first time, maybe the second, but definitely not on “Nigel Time.”  (Yes, we've been talking with your Mom)
  • Please do not shout, whine or stomp your feet when asked to take a bath or go to bed.
  • Keep your room tidy and ask what you can do to help with house chores.

Santa believes in you and he knows that you are a very good boy. Smart too! Remember he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake; he knows if you've been bad or good – SO BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE!

Benjamin Lee Elf, Chief Elf in Charge

North Pole Behavior Bureau

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Commit To "Me Time" - 6 Ways To Make Time For You!

As CEO of your home you have an endless list of responsibilities and obligations. At work you and your spouse juggle client meetings, work travel and can't-miss deadlines. Your child's schedule is bursting with projects and activities. The hustle and bustle just doesn't stop, leaving most of us in dire need of a little personal time.

Since having children I've worked between 20-40 hours a week, spent 3 years as a full-time graduate student and completed a year long internship. I assumed that my most recent stint as a stay-at-home mom would provide an opportunity to do all the things I was previously too busy for. My experience has been quite the opposite. There's always something to do at home, an appointment or errand, homework to review, meals to plan, etc. People may assume I having an easy go of it (cue the soap opera and bonbon stereotype) when in reality my days fly by faster than ever with hardly any time alone. The expectation is that stay-at-home parents have all day to themselves, but realistically we've been dodging telemarketers, taming tantrums, in the kitchen or shuttling kids in the car all day. Working hard to keep my family healthy, happy and high functioning isn't a complaint. As an adult I recognize we all have duties to fulfill and sacrifices to make. Whether you are a working professional or full-time homemaker, it's often hard to prioritize even just a sliver of time for the things we WANT to do instead of NEED to do. Making time to relax and recharge can relieve stress, improve your interactions at work and home, positively impact your physical and mental health and help you sleep better at night. But how do you find the time?

1. Become an early bird
When I go to bed exhausted the last thing I want to think about is waking up an hour early. However, if you're desperate for a little peace and quiet one of the easiest ways to get some solitude is to rise a bit earlier that the rest of your household. Set your alarm for 5:30 or 6 am. Use the stillness of dawn to meditate, deep breathe and start your day with positive affirmations. Stretch, take a run or do a little yoga. Make a cup of coffee or tea and grab fresh air on your porch or balcony. Starting your morning with peace and balance may allow you to carry those feelings throughout your day.

2. Give yourself a gift card
Lack of time can keep us from doing the fun stuff we enjoy, but sometimes it's a lack of funds that prevents us from taking advantage of an opportunity. Be prepared when the free moment presents itself. Once a month buy yourself a $50 gift card to your favorite spa, retailer or restaurant. When you see a great Groupon deal buy it! That way when you have a sitter or a free Sunday afternoon you won't have to worry about blowing your budget.

3. Standing salon appointments
Going to your hairstylist or favorite manicurist doesn't have to be a single girl luxury. If you patronize a popular salon scheduling can already be a headache; couple that with tying down a sitter for Saturday morning and you could find yourself struggling to get serviced every two weeks. Talk to your spouse, babysitter or extended family about committing to a regular time (preferably a weekday) when they can keep the little ones busy while you're getting beautified. Maybe your neighbor takes the boys to soccer practice every other Tuesday afternoon. Or, Dad does breakfast and school drop every Friday so you can keep your 8:00 am standing appointment. When you look good, you feel good. Don't deny yourself the simple pleasure of a little pampering.

4. Find a gym with childcare
I dream of a life where I hit the gym twice a day and get back to my pre-baby body in no time, but two and a half years later I'm still carrying a bit of belly bulge. I thought putting my career on pause would leave lots of time to focus on my physical health. Having to find childcare during workouts has been a hindrance (and an excuse), but there are ways to fit in fitness. Lots of people have success using DVDs at home or taking jogging strollers on their runs. I encourage readers to explore these options, but I've tried and they're not for me. I enjoy exercising in a gym - taking classes, using the sauna, access to a trainer etc. Now lots of facilities offer free on-site childcare for members. Do some research online, find a gym in your area and give it a try. Of course, take you and your child's level of comfort into account. If they're not used to the setting start off with a short workout and increase the length as you both become regulars. If you have older children try to schedule separate classes that meet at the same time. That way being active becomes a family affair, but you each have solo time to exercise and socialize with peers.

5. Buy tickets in advance
Keep up with your favorite performer on tour, sports team or production at the local theater. Professionals may take for granted the benefits of mental stimulation and grown up experiences. But, full time parents know what they're missing. There's only so much Veggie Tales and Barney one person can take. Consult with friends and buy tickets to a event well in advance so it can go on the family calendar right next to all the other activities.

6. Take a class
I'm raising my children to be lifetime learners. What better way to practice what you preach than by beefing up your resume or adding to your skill set with a class or workshop? Sure you could use free time to take in a movie or visit old friends, but enrolling in a new field of study is just as rewarding. Again, you have the benefit of a schedule to aid in planning for regular childcare. Classmates and instructors can become a part of your network, or even new friends. The intellectual and creative activity will be a great joy, and your family will think it's cool seeing Mom or Dad as a student. You'll enjoy having something fresh to share at the dinner table.