No longer the “No” Mom

I finally finished the book, “Discipline Without Distress:135 Tools for Raising Caring, Responsible, Children without Time-out, Spanking, Punishment or Bribery” by Judy Arnall (my original post about the book can be found here). I think I can sum the book up with one quote that she used toward the end of the book, and I am sure that the quote will not be new to any of you either. It goes like this, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Ghandi.

A new day will come tomorrow.

Yep, it is that simple. If you want peace within your home, be peaceful yourself. No over-reacting to things that don’t need over-reacting to. Look at the situation. Children, like ourselves (by this I mean adults), do not act out because they want to. They act out because they need something. I started observing my own behaviors and noticed much the same thing. I get snippy when I am tired and/or hungry. Guess what? So do my kids.

The book contains many terrific ideas and puts many everyday “annoying” things into perspective. The author also speaks a lot about choosing your battles. I am with my kids A LOT, as are all homeschooling parents. I realized that a lot of the little things were driving me crazy and thus, I was getting angry a lot and saying, “no,” a lot. Ignoring those little things works fairly well. (Until of course the one day that I was cleaning everything up around the house and realized that none of it is was my stuff. I have to admit that I wanted to go and start screaming at everyone to get inside and start cleaning. However, I took a moment. When I found the kids playing outside, I simply asked them all to come in and sit at the table. I asked them to look around and see what they had out that did not belong to me. They got the point very easily. Without even asking, they each went around the house and picked up their stuff and went to their rooms and started picking up things. WE all cleaned up together.)

Obviously, I am still a work in progress with utilizing the techniques in the book. I used most of them in the past, but somehow forgot them. Now I have the book so hopefully, I will go back to it from time to time to refresh my memory. If you are a parent who doesn’t like to yell or belittle your kids, then I highly recommend this book. If you feel that kids are beneath you and that you should be in charge, I still recommend the book because maybe it will change your thought process.

Oh-one more quick note. This book is terrific for parents with kids of ALL ages. I read all of it from infant to teenagers. I think her ideas on working with your teen were fantastic.

The “No” Mom

Do you ever feel like all you say is “No?” I feel this way a lot. My house is a bit crazy lately-ok not lately. It has been crazy for a while now. We are headed into our third year of homeschooling and that first year is when I believe the craziness began.

Well, I am tired of saying “No” all the time. Using my Dad’s advice of, “if it hurts to do something, then stop doing it,” I am moving forward on my parenting journey, and I am stopping all the “no’s.”

This summer I have read numerous books (many of them for the second and third time) on parenting. I have definitely tried a lot of the advice given in the books, and some of it has worked. Unfortunately, not much of the advice seemed to really stick. Yes, we have decluttered the house and the kids’ rooms. Yes, we have a rhythm in the home. Yes, we have specific expectations of the kids.

So what went wrong? Well, a lot of the books discussed punishment. I know it sounds harsh. right? However, by punishment I mean things like time out, grounding, counting to three, and having strict rules with specific consequences. I have found that we are not good at following up on our consequences, and there are always grey areas and different care takers (mom, dad, child-watch workers, extra-curricular teachers, grandparents). An example is this-we do not eat outside the kitchen. We watched a movie the other day, and I brought popcorn into the sunroom for everyone to enjoy while watching the movie. The next day, the kids ate breakfast in the sunroom. Uhm…..NO. I broke the rule, so it must not be a rule any more, right? So how do I work with all of these grey areas?

Hopefully, I will find my answer in my latest find, Discipline Without Distress:135 Tools for Raising Caring, Responsible Children Without Time-Out, Spanking or Bribery by Judy Arnall.  I am only through the first half of the book, but so far I am loving it.  First off, it speaks of discipline and not punishment.  I think I have turned into the punisher instead of the teacher of discipline.  Overall, there are five parts to discipline that the author covers in this book. 1. “Teach, not hurt.” 2.”Stay with your ‘no’ and honor your word.” 3. “Look for the need or feeling behind the behavior.” 4. “Separate your anger from your discipline.” 5. “Be the person you want them to be.”

One challenge the author gives is to take a day and find other ways to get your point across without saying “no.”  I have attempted this several times since I started the book, but I haven’t made it through a full day yet.  Although, it did make me aware that sometimes I just say “no” because it is easier.  My kids ask ALOT of questions and they ask for EVERYTHING when we go someplace.  I have found that as they look at items in store, they simply are talking aloud and not really needing an answer.  When they really, really wanted something, I simply asked, “Is it something we NEED right now, today?”  The answer was “no,” of course.

One of my biggest pet peeves is wrestling!  We have never condoned any type of violent actions, but as most of my friends with bigger boys tell me-it is just part of being a boy.  The more I ask them to stop, I think the more they want to do it.  So this week instead of asking them to stop, I simply asked them to change rooms because it really bothers me to watch them hurt each other (now, obviously, they are not really hurting each other, but it does look painful at times.).  So far, they have stopped every time and moved onto another activity.  Will it last?  Who knows.  I am hopeful.

I will give another update on the book as I finish it.  If you have read it, I would love your thoughts.  If you are looking for a parenting book, check this one out and let me know your thoughts.

“There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community.” M.Scott Peck


In the past few weeks, I have spoken with several different moms who have chosen to school their children at home. A couple are new to homeschooling-even newer than I and a few who are experienced. Through my conversations, I have noticed a few trends. We all start out trying to have a school at home including a school room, lots of books, specific curriculums, a schedule and grand ideas. Very quickly, everyone has found that school at home is not reality. In reality, kids and parents get sick; appointments happen; the laundry and the housework still has to get done; and as much as you want to stick to a schedule, life happens. So what are the common attributes among these women and families that I have witnessed?

Courage. Courage is the ability to overcome a fear or an uncertainty in my mind. I have yet to meet a homeschooling mom or family who has not questioned her/their ability to teach their children. However, somehow they find it within themselves to go against the current of society and stick with it. Is it tough? Definitely. It is not only the first few months that require courage but throughout the process. Daily, we are questioned by everyone about how we like homeschooing, how do we know what to teach, and many more items interrogating our process and way of life.

Vulnerability: Obviously, we do not know everything. We are teachers just like teachers in school. I have to allow myself to be vulnerable to my kids. They need to know that I do not know everything. However, I do know how to learn and this is what I teach. If there is something that I do not know the answer to (which happens quite often), then I have to seek the answer. It also requires vulnerability to take the first leap into homeschooling. There is a huge feeling that we might screw up or completely hate it in the beginning. I am sure everyone who homeschools felt this way at one point in the process.

Respect: One of the goals of most of the families whom I have met is for their children to respect others and the world around them. You see this in the parents’ interactions with their children.

Risk-takers: Schools create logs of their test scores, teacher retention percentages and graduation rates. Schools do this to give parents a piece of mind that “yes, this school is good enough for my child.” Each homeschool family is different. I have yet to meet any two homeschool families who do everything exactly the same. There are no scores or graduation rates. There is no guarantee that your kids will graduate with honors. My children are my world right now. My goal is for them to be happy, healthy and to know how to learn. Taking them out of a formal school was one of the biggest decisions I(we) have ever made. Most of the decisions that I have made in my life only effected me. This decision affects three innocent people. This is a risk.

Humor: When the day goes awry, what else can you do?

Resilience: Everyone melts down. Everyone has the day that they think to themselves, “I can’t do this anymore,” or “they are driving me nuts!” The amazing thing about the families that I have met is that they go through this, and then they pick themselves up and say, “I can do this.” Typically, they bounce back even stronger and more amazing than before. Each meltdown is an opportunity to learn and grown.

Love: The most important one. I have met some amazing men, women and children in this journey. They all homeschool for different reasons but they all resonate love for their children and their families. They love to see the smile on their kids’ faces when they discover something new. They love to be with each other and to have fun together. They love to love.

Whether you are new to the journey or an old pro-do you see these attributes in yourself or your friends?