Do we really want balance or peace?

July 27th, 2014

You could have balance, but what if balance meant challenges or conflicts both at work and home.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”  Plato

As a leader, you don’t have to solve employees’ problems at home, but you should at least ask so you can understand what people might be dealing with so they can have peace at work.  That question gave me these two (shareable) stories:

Story 1: A manager with two kids, a boy 12 and a girl 4, had been covering for me while I was out on vacation.  When I returned, we were reviewing a situation, and both realized he missed an update. He stopped and explained what had gone on the day before.

He had planned to take his wife out to lunch for her birthday but work ‘fires’ had to be put out, so instead he promised her a nice family dinner.  That is until they were about to leave for dinner, and his daughter asked him how rocks were supposed to taste.

“Rocks?!  You ate a rock?”

She held up five fingers.

“You ate five rocks?”

They spent what was supposed to be a nice family dinner in the emergency room.  It was understandable why he would have missed the update.  The little girl was OK.  Turned out she ate newly spread mulch.

Story 2: When meeting with a new person on my team, I expected questions about the job.  But I always begin by asking how things are at home.  She said she would like a little less conflict; she has three girls.  Not horrible conflict, just chronic.

Her girls do what most parents have experienced where our kids believe our role is to referee, calling the shots on every play.

“She picked the movie last time!”


“Well she never helps bring in the groceries!”

A technique that worked really well for me called ‘Child of the Day’ which is a very simple system of responsibility and rewards.  Each day you mark on the calendar who is child of the day. When it came time to decide what story to read, what movie to watch, or what snack to eat, the decision went to the child of the day. That was the reward part.

The responsibility part is about things that need to get done, but were not necessarily a particular person’s chore.  Those would go to the child of the day.  For example, if I need something out of the pantry, I would ask, “Who is child of the day?”
This approach took me out of the middle. Now, my children are both adults, and if you ask them who the favorite child is, they will both say, “Me!” This really works.

Child of the Day is one of the many expert responses to parents questions in Parents Ask, Experts Answer: Nurturing Happy, Healthy Children.  Yes, this is a shameless book plug!  But please do take a look at the book available for presell on Amazon.

 

Have a wonderful week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

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The pendulums sweet spot

July 13th, 2014

There is something to be said of settling in the middle.  I don’t buy in to the nostalgia of how great it was in the 1960’s where every mom was home and kids were out all day playing, only coming in for dinner.

But I was a kid that experienced that kind of childhood, which was the greatest childhood in history.  Not opinion but fact.

Why?

People had more kids (baby boomers are those born in 1946 to 1964) so there were more kids around.  More kids around means more opportunity to play.

Then in 1964, 40% of the population was under the age of nineteen which created the opportunity/explosion of marketing to and for children.  Before all the toys, books, entertainment and activities, kids entertained themselves.

The biggest challenge we face today is a child’s lack of ability to play

I’m talking about the kind of play that is non-supervised, no fees or uniforms involved, where the kids themselves figure out what they’re going to play today.  The kind of play where kids get so dirty, at the end of the day the bath water is black, and they go right to sleep because they are exhausted from having fun.

That doesn’t happen anymore.  Why?

We are afraid

Instead of locking up the bad guys, we lock up our children and keep them inside and in front of electronics.  This holds back their ability to move and play, and argue and make up, and be friends again.  It is important to be cautious, and be careful, but don’t be afraid.

We are competitive

We put them in every kind of summer camp that will help improve their math scores, reading scores and batting average.  So not only are there fewer children these days, but the ones that are around are not available to play because they are scheduled.

We are overwhelmed

We have so much to do, that we put our kids in front of electronics as a means of babysitting and/or entertainment to give us time to get tasks done.  Include them in the tasks, because they are part of a family, and that should be cooperative.

We are Julie the Cruise Director

We fill their lives with activities and events, so there is no time for boredom. Boredom is good, as Mr. Rogers famously said, “You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.”

 What can you do right now so the pendulum swings back more toward the middle?

Notice I’m not suggesting that we go to the 1960’s.  I believe the sweet spot is in the middle.  Life is different today and many moms need to, or choose to work, and having a choice is a good thing.  The electronics are not bad, and in fact teach our children interesting things that take them to incredible places.  It is the moderation that we need to better manage and focus on free play, because we are not doing much of that at all.

  • Can you get the ball rolling with some unstructured evening activities?
  • Is there a community basketball court?
  • Can you get your kids to organize a baseball game?
  • Can they have a marathon board game event?
  • Break the record for the most hula hoop players?
  • Are they able to do any of these things without adult intervention?
  • And parents, instead of sitting in those sports chairs that have a holder for a cold beverage, get moving yourself!  Bring a bocce game or bean bag toss and play with the big kids, aka the adults.
  • Take up a community cause to help other children.  There is no feeling as wonderful as helping someone else.

The best way to begin is to run the idea by your kids, and ask them what they think.  Get them to organize it, and then when you get enough momentum, be a voice in your community.  If it takes off, ask the school to open the gym on Friday nights for Family Game Nights in the fall.

Then, we can get back to the best part of the 60’s – the village that we all so desperately need and miss.

“You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.” 
― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

 

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

 

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You graduated, now what?

June 1st, 2014

“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and advise them to do it.”

- Harry S. Truman 33rd President

If you are celebrating high school or college graduations this season, it probably feels like you just dropped them off at kindergarten, you blinked, and here you are.

College kids have to be pulled away from their cushy, carefree, totally unrealistic existence to the real world.  Some have secured jobs, many have not, and a very small percentage will be lucky enough to do the work they love.

High school graduates are excited about prom, parties and the pressure being off. They’ll shop for their dorm rooms, connect with their roommates, and in late August kiss their weeping parents goodbye. For these kids, it’s an escape from the endless parade of adults asking three questions since the start of their junior year:

  1.  What colleges will you apply to
  2. What major are you considering
  3. What do you want to do for the rest of your life

With more career choices than ever before, it’s difficult for anyone to figure out, let alone a 16-year-old with limited life experience.  As parents, we want our children to do what they love.

 That is a tall order, which is why I started the Project Imagine!® seminar – to help kids and parents work together to answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

 There are a few good things to call out about this webinar:

  1. Since it is a webinar, you can participate from the comfort of your home
  2. It opens the dialog for an honest discussion about choices
  3. There is no single right answer, so it is not a test. Everything depends on the individual and what is important to them.
  4. The ‘homework’ involves the child asking others about what they see.  This is an eye opening and helpful discussion since the child is pleasantly surprised to hear what others (teachers, family, and friends) see as their strengths; great for their self-esteem.
  5. The best part is that it becomes a new connection between parents and kids as you explore and learn about new careers together.

We tell our kids they can do anything they want to do.  Let’s help them actually get there!

 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? “ -Marianne Williamson

To learn about the webinar, click here

To register, click here.

 The summer is the best time for this!

 Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

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Being a good enough mom

May 8th, 2014

If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much. – Jackie Kennedy

Just a short sweet note to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day!

A few thoughts to share:

  •  It does take a village, but you need to build it.
  • The concepts of balance and multitasking are improbable, but keep trying anyway.
  • You are imperfect and so are your children.  But what you do every day is to love them unconditionally, and that is why they love you the next morning after a bad day; you taught them that.

For moms celebrating their first Mother’s Day and sadly for those who have celebrated their last Mother’s Day, just know that you are (were) amazing and have had a profound impact.  The world loves you for that.

What your children will remember are the hard times, the fun times and more than anything the wisdom you shared.  Don’t believe me?  Watch Kevin Durant’s tribute – spoiler alert, you will need tissues!

At the end of the day, your children love to talk about your missteps because they love it when the superhero messes up!

So rather than (more) tear jerking mom tributes, let’s laugh at some of our less than stellar moments.  I’ll go first:

When Noelle was around five, I would buy her tights that cost $7 a pair.  The good mom part of me encouraged her to go out and play outside, where she would promptly rip each and every pair.  My response was “Well, you’re going to start buying your own tights!”

In what universe can little kids buy their own clothes?  Please don’t leave me out here alone.  Share a story that your children would love to tell about you.

And if you need a last minute gift, here is an idea.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom® 

 

Screen free week is here!

May 3rd, 2014

Lost time is never found again. – Benjamin Franklin

I’m so excited!  As I previously wrote in my earlier post, Party like it’s 1914, Screen Free Week begins, and I just planned play tweets for the entire month of May.

As a reminder, Screen Free week starts this

Monday, May 5th and runs through May 11th 

In reading the bubble over the heads of my snarky friends and followers, “How do we read tweets if we’re going cold turkey?” The screen free part is family time; after all you most likely have to work!

I love the timing of this program as most families are currently involved in sports so they won’t even miss the screen time!  This is a great way to saunter into summer and set a pattern to enjoy time with each other and the great outdoors.

My prediction is that after a single week of less screen time and more family time, your stress will significantly drop and fun will dramatically increase.

Here are some guides/info to help:

Thanks to the folks from Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood for putting this together!

Hope you find this helpful at the very least, and life changing at best.

Let’s give our children back a childhood! 

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Follow me on Twitter  #justplay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Party like its 1914

April 12th, 2014

The weather today is amazing!

Until recently, we didn’t believe that we could do without coats and boots, but spring has finally arrived and the prison of outerwear is behind us.

Now what…after a deep breath and squinting glimpse of sunshine, have we learned to appreciate the beautiful outdoors, or will we sink back to the lethargic habits of hiding behind screens of various forms?

Two interesting things might change your perspective:

1.       Today, April 12th is National Big Wind Day

On April 12, 1934, Alex McKenzie wrote about the wild day on Mount Washington in New Hampshire.  Between noon and 1 p.m., the wind was 220 mph with gusts up to 229 mph. Then at 1:21 p.m., the wind out of the southeast was recorded at 231 mph. It is still the highest natural surface wind velocity ever recorded in the world, according to mountwashington.org.

 What a great day to fly a kite!

2.     May 5 through 11 is Screen Free Week, which is the reason for the headline.  The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has a complete organizers kit to kick it off.

I love this concept and I love this kit!

In case you need to think about this idea, ask yourself these questions….

  • Do you see your child more agitated and aggressive when he is in front of a screen?
  • Do you see middle-schoolers texting the same friends they are standing next to?
  • Have you witnessed a lack of social skills and increase in obesity?
  • Do you struggle getting your kids to complete homework assignments?
  • Do you find it hard to engage them in conversation?
  • Does the discussion center around what’s trending, rather than what really matters.

But the biggest challenge hasn’t yet materialized 

This generation of children believes everything on the Internet is true.  This is without thinking it through, experiencing it, or discussing it with you.   The Internet is the authority.  It’s as if you’ve opened your front door to a world of strangers who are talking to your kids.

Take it back and Just Play

In support of Screen Free Week, I’ve committed to tweeting play ideas beginning May 1st running through May 31st.   Initially I thought it might be a good idea to indicate age ranges for play ideas, but since they are all fun, let’s just say the ideas are appropriate for kids ages 1 to 100.

#justplay

Play is so essential to children’s health and well-being—and so endangered—that the United Nations lists it as a guaranteed right in its Convention on the Rights of the Child.  We owe it to our kids to have a childhood like the one you remember.

“Play is the highest form of research.” 
― Albert Einstein

 

Have a great week, and more to come!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

https://twitter.com/parentalwisdom

#justplay

Spring awakening – Our children need to explore

March 22nd, 2014

As I read the article The Overprotected Kid in The Atlantic Monthly, I couldn’t help but think of the joke:

What do you call 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

A good start.

Have we let our litigious society stop us just short of bubble wrapping our kids to the extent that we have taken the very joy out of childhood?  Five-year old Kyle said to his Nana, “I’m never allowed to play outside with my friends.”

They know they are always being watched.   Each generation of parents wants their children to have a better life.  Unfortunately when it comes to play, we are the ones standing in the way.  This video demonstrates that.

In 1994 I joined others in my community to build what is called a creative playground.  The event is similar to an old fashioned barn-raising.  The school children were asked to make sketches of what they would like in a playground, and the drawings were turned over to architects.  Parents and local businesses raised money for materials which lead to a five day playground build.  It is still to this day one of the most awesome experiences I ever had.  The playground was fun and popular for many years.

But as I read this article, I realize the playground was sterile.  Missing was adventure and the ability for children to imagine and reinvent fun.  The only playgrounds they knew were out of the box yet we expected them to think out of the box – not possible!

Children are supposed to move and play and learn and honestly express themselves.  Some time ago, I interviewed Dr. Vicki Panaccione on the topic dealing with anger.   She suggests that we have a lot of angry children because they aren’t allowed to be little children.   We are in control of everything they do.  On the one hand we say kids grow up to fast, but on the other hand they don’t get the space and freedom to grow up at all.

Here is an excerpt from the Atlantic Monthly article.  I encourage you to read it and hope it inspires you to make change in your own community.  It might be a change as simple as starting with “playworkers” which the article references, and I first learned about from the International Association of the Child’s Right to Play. This concept is brilliant because playworkers are professionally trained to keep a close eye on kids in public parks but don’t intervene all that much.

To see the full article, visit The Overprotected Kid in The Atlantic Monthly:

The Land is an “adventure playground,” although that term is maybe a little too reminiscent of theme parks to capture the vibe. In the U.K., such playgrounds arose and became popular in the 1940s, as a result of the efforts of Lady Marjory Allen of Hurtwood, a landscape architect and children’s advocate. Allen was disappointed by what she described in a documentary as “asphalt square” playgrounds with “a few pieces of mechanical equipment.” She wanted to design playgrounds with loose parts that kids could move around and manipulate, to create their own makeshift structures. But more important, she wanted to encourage a “free and permissive atmosphere” with as little adult supervision as possible. The idea was that kids should face what to them seem like “really dangerous risks” and then conquer them alone. That, she said, is what builds self-confidence and courage.

The playgrounds were novel, but they were in tune with the cultural expectations of London in the aftermath of World War II. Children who might grow up to fight wars were not shielded from danger; they were expected to meet it with assertiveness and even bravado. Today, these playgrounds are so out of sync with affluent and middle-class parenting norms that when I showed fellow parents back home a video of kids crouched in the dark lighting fires, the most common sentence I heard from them was “This is insane.” (Working-class parents hold at least some of the same ideals, but are generally less controlling—out of necessity, and maybe greater respect for toughness.) That might explain why there are so few adventure playgrounds left around the world, and why a newly established one, such as the Land, feels like an act of defiance.

If a 10-year-old lit a fire at an American playground, someone would call the police and the kid would be taken for counseling. At the Land, spontaneous fires are a frequent occurrence. The park is staffed by professionally trained “playworkers,” who keep a close eye on the kids but don’t intervene all that much. Claire Griffiths, the manager of the Land, describes her job as “loitering with intent.” Although the playworkers almost never stop the kids from what they’re doing, before the playground had even opened they’d filled binders with “risk benefits assessments” for nearly every activity. (In the two years since it opened, no one has been injured outside of the occasional scraped knee.) Here’s the list of benefits for fire: “It can be a social experience to sit around with friends, make friends, to sing songs to dance around, to stare at, it can be a co-operative experience where everyone has jobs. It can be something to experiment with, to take risks, to test its properties, its heat, its power, to re-live our evolutionary past.” The risks? “Burns from fire or fire pit” and “children accidentally burning each other with flaming cardboard or wood.” In this case, the benefits win, because a playworker is always nearby, watching for impending accidents but otherwise letting the children figure out lessons about fire on their own.

Let’s make it wonderful to be a kid again.

“If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play”

― John Cleese

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

 

Words that start with B

March 8th, 2014

A very long time ago, my mother picked me up from my kindergarten class in P.S. 153 Brooklyn, NY. The teacher pulled her aside to say, “Tina is a boss.”

That is why I found today’s WSJ article, Don’t Call Us Bossy, by Sheryl Sandberg and Anna Maria Chavez so fascinating.  I encourage women who have been called bossy, or anyone with daughters who are called bossy to read this article.

They discuss the word bossy which is the PG rated B word used before you enter the workforce, where assertive women are called the PG13 rated B word.

Serendipitous timing as today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day.  Read inspiring, empowering, or amusing quotes from women who have paved the way, and others who believe in women.  Also watch the video by Google.

Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition.

Marilyn Monroe

Here’s a thought as we work through the alphabet of adjectives.  Let’s skip to the L word and call our girls Leaders.

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Constraints help us be more creative

February 23rd, 2014

Next week, parents and teachers join forces to celebrate Read Across America Day, annually held on March 2. This nationwide observance coincides with the birthday of Dr Seuss, who is known for writing children’s books.

Teachers dress up and plan activities demonstrating the fun of reading.  Though geared to students, there is a lesson we can all learn from Dr. Seuss.

In 1960 his publisher at Random House, Bennett Cerf, made a wager with Theodor S. Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) that he could write an intelligent, entertaining children’s book only using 50 words.

Geisel won the bet and $50; one dollar for each word. Despite the limitation of words, over 200 million copies of Green Eggs and Ham have been sold.

Kids of all ages can learn how constraints help us be more creative.

Constraints are often used as an excuse for not moving forward.  Instead, let’s embrace them and come up with creative solutions.  Don’t buy your child a creativity kit, which is an oxymoron, but rather give them things you have around the house and ask them to create something.  You might be surprised at the result. Talk about how limitations helped the ground crew bring home the astronauts from Apollo 13.

In business, we look for reasons that stand in the way of us being innovative.  We don’t have the time or money, or we haven’t vetted out ideas properly, or don’t have the right talent. I’ve written this before, but if we wait till all the lights are green before we leave for work, we will never begin.

As our children’s greatest role model, what is it that you would love to do?  Get started despite the constraints, and your children will follow your lead.

You may even want to fry up Green Eggs and Ham!

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

 

When is a minute not equal to a minute

January 26th, 2014

Some of the best ideas I get seem to happen when I’m doing mindless manual labor or exercise. I’m not sure how that happens, but it leaves me free for remarkable ideas to occur.  – Chuck Palahniuk

The January 25th WSJ featured an essay entitled, Why Mom’s Time Is Different from Dad’s Time.

The premise is that even though moms are working more and dads are contributing more, even if the time is equal the tasks are not.

So when does a minute not equal a minute? The answer is when the intensity of the task takes more focus, thought, single mindedness, etc.

When divvying up tasks, most moms will take the dishes because, “The dishes don’t talk back to you.” 

Reading through this, my thoughts trailed back to my childhood.  As the second eldest in a family of six kids, I remember my mother doing the dishes and singing Everybody’s talking at me.

In our multi-tasking, attention grabbing, never quiet present day society, we would willingly gravitate to the tasks that are, for lack of a better word, mindless.

I know I do…call me crazy, but I LOVE ironing!  My mind wanders, but yet at the same time there is attention to detail on the task at hand.

Most would agree that Moms are the CEO’s of the household and in that role, need time for quiet reflection.  So dads, volunteer for bath time after dinner, so moms can get lost in the dishes.

For fun, here are two links:

1.   From the past the classic Honeymooners show “A woman’s work is never done

2.   Present day link from Buzzfeed “Why dads can’t be Trusted to do Anything Right.”

Now, if you will excuse me…the ironing pile is calling.

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®