The Preschoolers Were Acting Up, So I Gave Myself a “Time Out.” Here’s Why.

Who Needs the Time Out More?

The transition from preschool classroom to Grandma’s car was going great- until it wasn’t.

You know. Change is hard. Especially if you’re 3 ½ (boy, let’s call him B) or 4 ½ (girl, or G) years old.

As every parent, grandparent, or caregiver knows, things with kids can change at the drop of a hat – or, in this case, an accidental head bump with a younger brother.

Suddenly no one would get into the car seats. No one was happy.

“I don’t want to get in the car seat!”
“I wanna go to your house, not our house!”

“B won’t give me the bigger bunch of grapesI”

“She touched me!!!”

Everyone under 5 was whining.

Everyone over 5 (me) was getting this close to whining – or to yelling.

The preschoolers were safely inside the car, tho nowhere near getting into the car seats. I was already late for rehearsal. I could feel myself about to lose it.

So I gave myself a time-out.

I stood outside the car’s open backseat door, watching the chaos. Then I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and rested my forehead on the car.

Weirdly, that’s what got their attention.

“What are you doing, Grandma?”

“I’m giving myself a timeout. So I don’t start yelling.”

And I started counting to 20.

At about number 14, B was in his car seat. Yay! I buckled him in, and moved around to the other side of the car where G was stubbornly standing,  doling out the snacks.

One down, one more to go.

No luck.

I tried the usually effective technique:

“You have two great choices here. Either you can get into the car seat yourself, or Grandma will be your helper and I’ll help you get in the seat. (Thank you, Claire Lerner’s book, Why Is My Child In Charge?). I’ll count to 10 and you can let me know your decision.”

All of this said, as best as I could manage, in a loving and nonjudgmental tone.

This acting challenge was getting really difficult.

And, by the time I got to 9 – counting painfully slowly – I could see that it wasn’t going to work.

G  just wanted to win this one, and her own indecision and stubbornness were adding to her own stress – not to mention mine.

So I said this:

“I’m going to give myself a timeout until my mad mood goes away and I don’t feel like yelling anymore. I really hope you’ll be in your car seat by then. But if you aren’t then at least I’ll be able to help you into the seat gently.”

I turned away from G, took deep breaths and counted to 20. At 15, I said to myself (out loud, so G could hear):

“Gee, I sure hope G is in her seat by the time I get to 20.”

At number 19, she climbed in.

Score one for Grandma…and also for G, who had made the decision herself, without (I think) feeling like she had lost some battle of wills.

I think I discovered, quite by accident, another use of the “timeout.”:

By taking one for myself, I may have shown the kids that timeouts are not punishments, but rather opportunities to regroup and take responsibility for one’s own mood.

At least I hope so.

But it worked. Even if G had not gotten into the car seat, at least I showed her, by example, how I realized I had to recognize, and take control of, my own feelings.

I sure hope it works next time.

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Happier: The Authentic and Resilient Foundation for Success

John Jaramillo and I had so much fun sharing ideas, that this Book Leads podcast/show went way over the hour! Hope you enjoy listening as much as we loved chatting about leadership, books, setting and reaching goals but with a solid foundation of what really matters in the big picture of your life:

What is the Book Leads Podcast?

John speaks to specialists and experts across various industries and from varied backgrounds to learn about the book that made an impact and left an impression on their work, life, and leadership.

Here are his show notes from the episode: Enjoy!

For this episode, multi-faceted, multi-talented, and fellow multipotentialite Randye Kaye walks me through the heart of her own book on happiness and what it took for her – through the ups and downs of her own life – to come to the realization of how much we can really enhance our own happiness.

We can’t do what the self-help and development gurus suggest for us without a sound foundation of our own fulfillment to work upon. We all want to build more in our lives, working toward goals and dreams, but without that authentic and resilient foundation, anything we build today can more easily cave into itself and be undone tomorrow.

I love that message most of all from my conversation with Randye: We need to have a sound foundation before we go out and try all the advice that’s out there for how to achieve more. I’ve seen it in my coaching when clients have finally gone back to who they’ve always been – their values, needs, and wants – and what they had forgotten and forfeited, but return to again, feeling more authentic and fulfilled.

Some highlights from this episode:

From Randye: “The combination of being comfortable with yourself — that we’re more than just our achievements — and that we’re lovable even being stripped of our achievements and titles, is also important at the end of the day with how your life has been lived.”

The Stephen Sondheim quote, “Anything you do, let it come from you. Then it will be new.” comes up and is pertinent to our conversation. This is a major lesson we need to hear and understand when it comes to how we express ours views in life. We learn what the acronym B.R.E.A.T.H.E stands for. This kind of happiness is not about Toxic Positivity – that everything has to work out 24/7.”

The MAIN QUESTION that underlies my conversation with Randye is, Do you know what happiness really means to you, what your own definition and feeling of it are?

About Randye: Connect, Create, Communicate – that’s the thread that runs through Randye’s work as radio personality, improv and stage actor, drama teacher, humorist, podcast host, writer, motivational speaker, voice talent, and audiobook narrator. Her latest book, Happier Made Simple: Choose Your Words. Change Your Life. reached #1 International Bestseller status on Launch Day. Her previous bestselling title, Ben Behind His Voices: One Family’s Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope, was nominated for a Publisher’s Weekly Award. She lives with her family in Connecticut.

Learn more about Randy, her work, and her book at www.randyekaye.com and www.happiermadesimple.com

Watch the episode on YouTube: https://lnkd.in/ey_KTZe

Learn more about The Book Leads: https://lnkd.in/eFb76ck

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Happier Made Simple is an Audiobook Too!

If you’ve been hoping to hear Happier Made Simple “read by the author”, you’ve got your wish! Soon it will be on Audible, but in the meantime you can get it through Kobo/Walmart
or Chirp!

here is a sample:

and – another one!

Enjoy!

Randye

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Nine parenting Lessons Re-Learned: A Weekend of Grandbaby-sitting

  1. Not my home, but a similar mess 🙂

    Losing the tv remote can be a good thing. (Really, we didn’t fake it.) The morning was more creative, less argumentative, and they “forgot” to have the morning snack they usually think they need.

  2. Kids love, and need, to be needed. With a freezing cold day ahead, and all 3 kids sniffling (ages 6, 4 1/2 and 3, in case you were wondering), I declared the “activity” of the day would be laundry. The littler ones fought for the right to fold the kitchen towels…and they figured out stuff to do when they weren’t “helping.” Also told the 3yo (boy) what fun it would be to take a paper towel and get on the floor and make all the water drops disappear. Child labor. Don’t tell my daughter.
  3. What a gift to have siblings. See corollary.
  4. Corollary: sometimes it’s best to separate said siblings and tell them they are not allowed to play together until they figure it out. Do not become a referee except to call time out – from each other.
  5. Not everything has to be recorded on the smart phone. Record it in your mind. Savor the fashion show (the older 2 are girls, not that that matters to a fashion show but you might have been wondering), the puppet show, reading in the teepee. Stay in the moment and savor, savor, savor- for this too shall pass and the next one may be the blood-curdling scream the youngest emits when overwhelmed.
  6. If possible, have a partner who will babysit with you. When I was a single parent, one of the hardest things was having no one to turn to when the kids were being awesomely cute…or when they weren’t. Or when they needed to be in separate places with separate adults. So grateful for my husband right now
  7. Getting outdoors, even for ten minutes, can be a game-changer. See lesson six. Very rare that all three want to go outside at the same time.
  8. Make sure you have 2 Aleve left in the bottle for when you go home.
  9. Notice what fantastic parents those three kids have, Count your blessings.
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Funny You Should Ask: “How do you stay so positive?”

I think I recognize the eyes and the hair. Is that my friend Beth behind the N95 mask? (One of the all-too-familiar new brain tasks in our Covid-19 world.)

Yes, it is Beth, and we carefully hug each other hello (faces pointed away to avoid germs, sheesh) in the supermarket aisle. It has been way too long. 

I really miss seeing people’s faces and hugging without fear. Sigh.

Anyway. After the health and family check-ins, Beth says:

“I’ve been meaning to call you for ages. I really want to talk some time about how you stay so positive through all this, and everything else that has happened in your life.”

(Seriously. I have not made this up.)

“Funny you should ask,” I say. “I’ve just written a book about that very thing.”

guess I should have worn this button sent by Book coach Cathy Fyock!

Beth’s question represents the reason I wrote Happier Made Simple. 

It has been a decade since I wrote the memoir about our family experience with serious mental illness, and the grief and hope that seesaws with that challenge. I’ve spoken to a lot of groups about our journey, and that very same question almost always comes up in the Q&A after a talk.

I answered the question “How do you stay so positive?” so often that dozens of people followed it with, “you should write a book about that.”

I procrastinated for ten years, but now the book is written, and on its way to readers soon.

Thanks for asking!  Your questions have been the inspiration to do my best to answer them. We non-fiction authors hold the same hope: that our words can be of help.

 

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Happier, Not Happiness. Why? Setting the Record Straight

“Randye, I really hesitated bringing up the topic of happiness tonight, because of your book. I don’t want to negate your message.”

Those words, from the leader of our Mussar study group (I’ll explain later) last night.

I so appreciate her concern, but immediately move to set the record straight. 

Constant happiness has never been the goal of my book – or, indeed, of life. I state that right away in the first chapter, and in the subtitle: Shortcuts to More Serenity in a Complicated World. (Italics added here for emphasis)

Why more serenity? 

So we can be less distracted by needless anxiety, creating more emotional space for things like appreciation, love, and service to the world.

Happier is not the same as Happiness. 

When we are Happier, we can meet life’s challenges with a clearer mind, 

What is Mussar? It’s “a traditional Jewish path of spiritual development that leads to awareness, wisdom, and transformation.”

I think of it a Jewish Zen of a sort. Mussar’s roots are in Judaism, but the applications seem universal.

Ethics, philosophy, spiritual belief… the group meets every week or so on Zoom to explore teachings that cultivate “personal growth and spiritual realization.” 

That description comes from the back cover of our optional textbook, Everyday HolinessFrom its chapter on Trust:

“t makes sense that God created this world replete with all its difficulties. It’s because it’s not our job description to be happy and fulfilled….It is only when you are running after the elusive goal of being happy that this world seems so terrible.”

From my book:

We’re not supposed to be happy all the time. We’ve got a beautiful range of emotional states that co-exist so we can tell the difference between them – and put all that energy to good use.

There is no conflict here.

Not “constant happiness.” That is not the goal. Just happier – so we can love more, work better, have the space to find and fulfill our life purposes.

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Hindsight Resolutions: What Got Done in 2021?

What Got Done is Also Who You Are!

Happy New Year! If you feel like you’ve already let yourself down by not yet making any Resolutions for 2022, you can opt to give yourself a break.

How? Just decide not to make any resolutions this year. Instead, take a look back and see how 2021 played out for you. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much you accomplished – or at least survived – in the last 12 months.

Yay, you! Pat yourself on the back.

For inspiration, take a look at your calendar, and some photos, of the past year. Then answer these two questions:

  1. What got done in 2021? This is the place for things you accomplished, even (maybe especially) if you just went with the flow and took a spontaneous shot. It could be anything, from finally replacing the toaster to earning a PhD. If you feel proud (or relieved) it counts! This list is more proactive – life didn’t force it upon you. You created the change.
  2. What challenges did you meet/survive/learn from in 2021? Here is where you give yourself credit for getting through the stuff life threw at you this past year. We all get a free square for living through another year of Covid.
  3. If you rewrote (or wrote) your 2021 resolutions now, with the hindsight of what actually happened, how cool would you look?

If, at least, sometimes, life is what happens while we are making other plans, then what does your personal history have to teach you?

Share your top three items in the comments! (just click the bubble next to this article’s title)

Be proud! You are a rock star.

Continue reading

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“I Appreciate You”: Does Enduring Love Require Gratitude?

“Without gratitude, love cannot endure.”

This quote stood out to me in the required reading for an adult learning class on Mussar ” a traditional Jewish path of spiritual development that leads to awareness, wisdom, and transformation.” That week’s topic? Gratitude, which happens to be a vital element in Core Phrase #4 in Happier Made Simple‘s chapter about Appreciation.

Three things come to mind:

1- Resist the temptation to take things for granted. Whoever gets up first in my house makes the coffee. These days it’s often my husband, even though he switched to tea months ago. I always, always thank him for the coffee. It’s such a joy to come downstairs and smell the caffeine. A relationship gets stronger with every sincere thank you.

2 – Express the gratitude whenever possible – don’t keep it inside, don’t make someone guess. I first heard my daughter say “I appreciate you” to the man who later became her husband, and I love how that sounds and what it means. When you are grateful to the person and not just for the task done, it adds another layer of positivity.

3 – Appreciation is the opposite of contempt – One study on marriage ( Drs. John and Julie Gottman) found that the strongest indicator that divorce might be near was the attitude of contempt, as expressed in gestures like eye-rolling. Imagine what might change, if we could catch ourselves before expressing contempt, and substitute appreciation instead.

Judaism changes with the times, but one practice in its roots is the concept of everyday blessings for simple situations.  An early form of the “gratitude list” – but expressed many times in a day, in the moment. I don’t spout Hebrew prayers all day (don’t even know those prayers), but I love the concept. My days are richer when I look for appreciation moments instead of trying to remember it all and make a list before bed (which seldom seems to happen).

In my book, I also talk about thinking how we are grateful to other people (as well as a higher power if you wish), and not merely grateful for.

This simple change can add the element of Engagement and Connection to Appreciation.

No one is an island.

Say thank you. Or I appreciate you. Your relationship will be stronger for it, your life richer.

Thank YOU for reading this, and for any stories you care to share.

 

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It Is What It Is: How Accepting Reality Leads to Happier

Core Phrase #2: It Is What It Is.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because (a) I did not make up the phrase – it’s widely used, and (b) the Reality concept here is also about something we also hear a lot about: Acceptance. 

Whenever I find myself spinning my wheels about “why me?” and “this shouldn’t be this way”…I realize I’m doing just that…spinning my wheels, and with absolutely no traction. In mud. Or snow.

So I’ve learned to come back to It Is What It Is…and that seems to lead to a more useful thought/question: Now What?

Yep. Acceptance is hard – and the difficulty increases along with the gravity of the situation. But if we don’t (eventually) get there, we can stay lost in the negative emotions that keep us stuck, and we never ever move forward from Pity Party Land. Or the Judgment Zone. 

There is an audio preview of this chapter on soundcloud. enjoy!

 

 

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Happier Made Simple: The Book, Some Listening, and You

What is Happier Made Simple really all about?

It’s about little changes that can make a big difference.

Like: the words we use when we talk to ourselves, and to others.

Like: trying some actions even before they feel like second nature- and noticing what happens.

Like: taking small, consistent steps until you reach your goals.

I’m thrilled to let you know that I’ve finished writing the book Happier Made Simple: Choose Your Words. Change Your Life (Shortcuts to more Serenity in a Complicated World)

How? One 30-minute writing session at a time.

The road to publication is in progress, too, and here’s where you come in.

You can get a sneak peek by:

1- joining the new facebook page

2- listening and subscribing to audio messages – link below to one

3 – signing up for my mailing list to stay informed.

 

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