Just Keep Swimming

This post is for all the mamas and papas out there of littles, whether of twins or not, that feel like they are “in the trenches”. I feel ‘ya. Those first few weeks, months (years???). Man.

When my B/G twins, youngest of four, stepped on the bus and left for Kindergarten this Wednesday, I sat in my quiet house for a good 30 minutes and looked back at the journey the last five years has been. What came to me was how TRUE this popular (and maybe even a bit cliche) saying is: “the days are LONG but the years are short.”

I also thought, “How the hell did I DO that???!?!?”

h and c first day K 2015 watermark

Lol. No really. Cause what my husband and I did and what you all have done/are doing — it’s the stuff of legends. Parenting our little people – it’s important, hard, a privilege and completely awesome. Not that parenting little people over five is a walk in the park everyday either… but it’s just – easier.

Anyhow, I thought it’d be a timely moment to share about the things that GET US THROUGH. Mine (especially those first two years of life with four and the youngest two being perpetually nursing twins) was this: I would sing a ‘lil Dori from Nemo to myself — “just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”

Feeling… reflective and blessed today. Thanks for listening. And hey, if you’re parenting kids of ANY age, but most especially babies, toddlers and preschoolers, and you find yourself in need of some encouragement, watch this:

What say you? What gets YOU through??? And if your kiddos are old enough, how’s back to school month 2015/16 going in your world? Comment below.

ps: the pictures above are my littles — first day of life, at 6 months old and then this past Wednesday on their first day of Kindergarten. (Plus here’s a picture of all our kids so I don’t feel guilty. Yep. Mom guilt. Ugh!!!)

tucker kids oct 2014


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Suzanne Tucker, CEIM, Parent Educator:

In over two decades as a physical therapist and parent educator Suzanne has help thousands connect on a deeper level to themselves and their families, teaching Infant Massage and Positive Parenting to organizations and individuals all over the world. Creator of My Mommy Manual, a website/community inspiring parents to “look inside (yourself) for instructions”, author and co-founder of Brentwood Center of Health, a holistic rehabilitation center, Suzanne lives in Saint Louis, Missouri with her husband, their four children, and far too many pets to mention.

How to Get Kids to Listen Without Yelling

You’re  talking, but nobody’s listening. You feel like the teacher in that Snoopy cartoon. Waaa -waaa-waaa-waaa-waaa.

You’ve been nice. You’ve been patient. You’ve repeated yourself no less than three times and YOU. ARE. DONE. You think to yourself:

‘Why won’t they just do what I ask them to do?!’

‘I could have never gotten away with this when I was a kid!!!’

‘This is exhausting. Am I the only parent on the planet dealing with this?!’

You feel frustrated, disrespected and unappreciated… and the gloves come off. ‘Nagging, yelling, shaming, bribing. What’s it gonna take to GET THESE KIDS TO LISTEN?!’

Instead of resorting to parenting tactics that leave you feeling guilty and/or disconnected from your child, inspire the listening you are looking for with these five simple strategies:

5 Ways to Inspire Listening

#1 – Pull for cooperation right from the start.

If you are parenting a strong-willed child, it is likely that each and every time you attempt to exert your authority, your child responds with some sort of resistance. Ignoring you. Defying you. Engaging you with back talk and banter. Or maybe replying with, “Sure!” just to get you off their case only to ignore you and your request yet again.

Instead of approaching your child with body language that says, “Get your back-side in motion or else!!!” (an understandable stance to take given the past) see if you can strike a team-approach that pulls for their cooperation instead.

Stand where you can be seen, heard and even felt as you gently pat a knee or shoulder. Lock eyes before you speak. Connect. Ensure your child is actually hearing what you are about to say. This means no more yelling “GET YOUR SHOES ON PLEASE, WE ARE LATE!!!” from the next room, even in the most kind or politest of voices. Distant, defensive, or hurried commands invite resistance and set you up to fail before you are even out of the gate.

Once you have your child’s attention, avoid locking horns at the front end and pour on a little honey instead. Avoid words like need, can’t and have to as these “trigger” words do little more than invite pushback and opt instead for words that invite:

  • “You need to clean up now.” becomes “It’s time to put the toys up.”
  • “You have to come to dinner now.” becomes “It’s time for dinner.”
  • “You can’t play anymore right now we need to eat.” becomes “You can play some more after dinner.”

# 2 – Respond rather than react.

Once your “invitation” is out there, if your child still resists you, instead of reacting to what feels like disobedience, reclaim your personal-power and respond to your child instead. As much as pushback can feel like a) a personal attack, b) an elaborate plot to drive you batty and/or c) a sign of some huge personality flaw in your child that will only get worse with time and needs to be broken, it is more than likely simply r-e-s-i-s-t-a-n-c-e. Resistance to change. Resistance to being told. Resistance to some unknown next thing. Resistance to stop using the brain cells that are currently firing within his or her head to find and engage some whole other set of brain cells necessary to make your request, no matter how valid it is, happen.

Once you let go of your reaction (i.e feeling shocked, offended, disrespected, etc), you can put 100% of your energy into responding to your child instead (i.e. connecting and redirecting their behavior.)

In my six-hour positive parenting class we spend two hours talking about this step alone. It’s no small thing to respond rather than react when you feel angry or irritated, but staying calm means everything when it comes to leading and guiding by example. Instead of parenting from fear, shame and/or other types of coercive power, when you re-focus your efforts on responding to what feels like misbehavior instead of reacting, you’ll find you are 110% more effective at enrolling your child into the very thing you are wanting. Being kind, respectful, responsible.

Discipline, born of the root word “disciple” which means to lead and guide by example, is a vital part of positive parenting – parenting from a clear, firm and consistent love. Responding instead of reacting to your child does not mean you are being permissive. It means you are being both firm and respectful as you teach your child what is expected of them in that moment.

# 3 – Restate what you hear your child saying.

Use a calm voice as you re-direct your child. I call this my “Siri” voice as Siri never yells at me or makes me feel guilty when I miss a turn. She simply redirects me. “Turn left at the next stop.” Drop any judgment or irritation you might be feeling at your child’s resistance (“justified” irritation on your part, but irritation none the less) from your words and your voice as you report only the facts:

  • “You like playing with your Legos.”
  • “You are having fun.” 

Look for the feeling your child is struggling with and state it calmly as well, with as much empathy as you can muster. Make eye contact as you get down on your child’s level and say:

  • “I hear you. You are sad and wish you could keeping playing Legos.”
  • “You are mad and want to play more.”

This restating, or what I like to think of as empathy, works great with teens as well, though obviously the words and the situations would change. The key here is, when you pause to restate what you hear your child saying (or think they might be saying/feeling) it’s like you’re hitting some big cosmic pause button on any old knee-jerk reaction type tendencies you might want to default to and instead, you are offering empathy. A single, well placed kind word or hug can be a complete game-changer when it comes to transforming resistance.

Simply put, empathy has the power to create cooperation. By helping your child feel heard, you are helping them to listen.

# 4 – Now that you have his or her calm attention, restate what you are asking for.

Use simple words that invite action. The more specific, concrete and actionable, the better:

  • “It’s time for dinner. Take my hand and we can walk to the table. We can play with the Legos when we are done.” 

Paint an inviting picture for your child, one they see themselves doing in their head and avoid the trap of telling them exactly what you do NOT want them to do.

  • “Bye bye Legos. We’ll see you after dinner” for the 2-3 year-old.
  • “Let’s hit the pause button (as you hit an imaginary pause button and invite them to do so as well) and we’ll come back to these Legos after dinner.” For the 4-5 year-old.
  • Time for dinner, let’s go. What will you eat first?” or any number of other enrolling question you think of to get your 5+ older child thinking about the action you are asking of them.

# 5 – Stay with it.

The last element to getting your child to listen is consistency. Once you’ve tasted the sweet success of redirecting resistance without the need to yell, it’s just that much easier to inspire cooperation from your child the next time. And though the transition from your old way of “inspiring listening” to this new way might be a bit more complex than the examples above… STAY WITH IT.

If you and your child are in a dance, resisting one another in the same area of life, over and over, talk about your dance when the situation is not up in your face; the following afternoon for instance. You might open with something like, “Hey, I’ve noticed getting to the dinner table is always a battle for us. What can we do fix this so we can BOTH feel good in the end? We’re on the same team and I want you to like whatever plan we come up with. Do you have any ideas?” … and then LISTEN. Write down every idea your child has, even the crazy ones:

  • “I know. I get a piece of candy every time I come right to the dinner table.” (yeah, right)
  • I’ve GOT IT! We could get a new puppy if we all listen to you and come to the table right away every night for a week!” (not on your life)

You get the idea. Write each one down with a smile, throwing in your own ideas here and there. Allowing for your child’s silly ideas as you make this list is a big part of making this brainstorming session work, especially for kids aged 3 to 9. Heck – everybody likes to laugh and crazy ideas help keep things light. Have fun with it and throw in a few wacko ideas yourself! In the end, find an idea you both like and circle it. You have a winner! When allowed to be a part of creating the solution, even at age 3, your child will be that much more invested in having this solution work.

Putting all five strategies in motion.

Here’s an example of some “listening” a family I’ve been working with privately created. They had been battling their five year old son who had been putting his feet up on the table every night, without fail, at dinnertime. Mom’s gentle reminders fell on deaf ears. Repeating and reminding gave way to frustration and anger and not only was dinner NOT finding it’s way into their three children’s little mouths due to all the unrest at the table, but mom and dad’s goal for dinner to be “a peaceful time to reconnect and share about our day over a healthy meal” (a meal mom had just spent over an hour making) was going up in smoke every night. Even the playful ideas mom had tried to make mealtime “fun” for her son and keep him cooperative and at the table failed to keep his feet where they belonged and all the “fun” was quickly becoming more of a chore than an assist.

That’s when this family hit the reset button.

After just two one-hour support sessions this mom decided to ask her son to help her create a solution. She used the steps above. She approached the issue as a team, from her “center”and in a calm moment the following afternoon. She recapped the issue and her goal, free from “trigger” words and asked her son for ideas. She listened and wrote everything he offered in the way of a solution down. Through this process she felt calm, connected and on the same page as her son even in the face of discussing the misbehavior that had been driving her up a wall for weeks.

In the end, here’s the gem of an idea her son came up with:

Brainstorming Idea By Child


He decided if he put a long strip of paper with “x’s” all along the edge and taped it to the table, he would remember to keep his feet down.

And wha-laa. It was that SIMPLE… and it worked. He listened that night, following the family rule to keep feet under (instead of on) the table, and he continues to follow it. Nightly battle transformed.

Where could you and your family use a breakthrough towards more listening? I’d love to hear if and how you put these five strategies to the test and what you create with your family. Together.


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Inspiration and support for the journey of motherhood.  The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone! Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too. xoxo



Training Wheels






Training Wheels

not perfect parenting






Not Perfect Parenting



How to Party: Birthday’s to REMEMBER

I’m a HUGE fan of birthdays. (Why celebrate for a day when you can celebrate for a month?) This doesn’t mean a big amount of money has to be spent on birthday parties each year.

We just celebrated the twins first birthday. Complete with food, decorations and prizes with 25 adults and 20 children we spent around $225 or just under $5 per guest.

I got the idea for a first letter themed party off the internet (where else!?!?) and loved how it turned out.

The theme ran through everything, including the shirts we made for them to wear, invites, decorations, the games we played and the little H and C cakes I made, complete with the best homemade baby icing you ever tasted (no sugar — just 2 parts cream cheese mixed to 1 part maple syrup and of course some coloring to make the cakes pretty.)

For our older kids now eight and ten, we tend to cycle between smaller parties with a few friends to bigger ones every few years. There are pluses and minuses to big parties, small parties, parties held at home and parties held outside the home (often at a rental place where alot of the work is done for you.)

With so many choices, let me walk you through our party planning process:

1) THEME: When picking a theme, be guided by a) your budget b) whether you want to have the party INSIDE or OUTSIDE your home and c) your child’s interests.

Smaller parties with one to three friends gives you a bigger budget per guest. Ideas: sleep overs, six flags, the movies, spa day, paint ball, sports games, music.

Big parties might be fun on big birthdays like turning five, ten or for baby’s first b-days. Ideas: Plan a themed party at home or rent a party room with a flat rate or low per guest fee. Ideas: Any number of bounce places you might have around town, favorite place your child likes to visit like the zoo, indoor or outdoor pool, a “kid-friendly” museum or other fun place in your city.

AN EASY way to pick a theme is to think, what is my child into lately? If they are one, it might be fun to build a party around a favorite board book. One mom I know had a party for her three year old built around “The Hungry Caterpillar”, complete with butterfly wing making craft, games to play while wearing ones new wings, foods from the book and a reading of the famous board book to end the “butterfly” party which she held outside in their garden. The ideas here are endless from “The Little Engine That Could” all the way to Harry Potter.

2- Invites
Have fun with this! To really drive home the THEME of your party, make them with your child. If you use the online resources that are available to us all, the options are endless (and most likely FREE.) For example, just by searching google my friend found this site that helps you make a custom concert ticket which would make a great rock ‘n roll party invitation. Another idea is to create your invite with Evite. They have hundreds of different themes/backgrounds that are super easy to customize. Once you’ve selected your invitation template and fill it out, you can either email it out or if your children are like mine and they want to be able to hold them in their lil hands, print them and pop them in the mail.

Get your little guests excited about the party by listing details. For example, instead of just “Swim Party” try “SWIM PARTY!!! The pool has a Laser Slide and a wave pool!” And being creative doesn’t cost anything more and adds alot of fun and excitement – EXAMPLE: for a swim party, tape each invite to beach ball from the Dollar Store to be left at each guest’s door.

3- Planning the Party
This part is easy when you have a strong theme working for you. Think food, games/small prizes and at least one crafty/creative activity which can ALSO double as the party favors/take home gift. Let your theme do the work!!! Little touches go a long way with kids. And again, remember, it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Example: For a rock n Roll party, the kids can make guitars out of paper, cardboard and some colored chalks which they then get on “stage” with and lip sink to their favorite songs. For almost any themed party, a scavenger hunt can be organized with the list of items to be found created around the party’s theme and hidden around the house for party goers to find, etc.

4- Thank You Notes

I think it’s important for kids to learn to write thank you notes after receiving birthday gifts starting at a very young age. By age 2 they can just doodle on them. By age 4 you can write or type a basic thank you note to which they can sign their name to each. And as they get older, by around six or seven, they can begin to write a short note on each. Example: “I love the truck you gave me.”

Including a photo of the kids at the party is always a nice touch.

I have a zillion more tips but have to draw the line somewhere or this post will go on for PAGES! Plus, I’d rather hear from you. Tell me, what was the best party you’ve ever thrown with your kids? What made it special? Do you have any tips to share on how you make celebrating birthdays special in your home?

Sleep Secrets

A veteran mom, I know better than to brag on what good sleepers my little ones are. There is no surer way to reverse one’s good fortune and you AIN’T gonna hear these words coming from me… not even followed by “knock on wood!” But what I will do is share nearly a dozen sleep secrets with you that are sure to help both you and your sweet babies get some much needed zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s.

And BTW, the reason I videoed these tips as opposed to writing them out is because my three week old twins are actually napping at the same time right this moment… and I knew I could get all this info to you if I sat for a minute and just told them to you. (Work smarter not harder, right?) Hope they help. [Read more…]

How to Boost Your Mood: 7 Easy Ideas

Put energy into helping another person. I work to make my daughter's annual Father Daughter Dance special. We have tea and do her nails to get ready.

Mental Health Breaks for Short-Attention-Span People

Life is a long-term self improvement project. Sometimes we just need a little break to help us feel better fast. Here are some ideas.

1. Take a Real Lunch Break

On the second School Snow Day this winter, I hit a rut. Trying to work from home with high energy kids was driving me nuts. Around lunch time, my friend Alyssa and her kids stopped over on their walk around the block. We scrounged up lunch together. [Read more…]

Zen Mommy Minute: Fun Halloween Tips for Parents

This Halloween, keep it safe for sure… but also keep it FUN! Here are three simple tips to keep you and your kids smiling all Monster Mash night long:

  1. Share stories from Halloween past with your kids. Tell them about when you were little. What were your favorite costumes growing up? Favorite candy? Family traditions?
  2. Look up the meaning and origins of Halloween on the internet with your kids. Tweens might especially get a kick out of this.
  3. Keep the pressure off, especially around costumes, telling jokes and going to a certain number of houses to trick – or – treat. There’s no right or wrong here. Focus on the F-U-N. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the things your neighbors are doing but remember (especially for young kids) less is more. [Read more…]