All of next week, I invite you to join me for a week-long pre-Mother’s Day celebration in my Facebook Group, Confidently Connected Moms! Whether you’re a new, expectant or seasoned mom, you won’t want to miss this event featuring experts from the Mindful Mamas Circle of Kansas City–including me!

We’ll each host educational workshops and lead discussions throughout the day on topics that can help you and your family live a more mindful, happier and healthier life. So invite your friends and connect with us!

Here’s the line-up and schedule:

More Mindful in May (8)

 

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Screenshot 2016-04-18 13.13.35

I’m thrilled to announce that the Parenting Media Association honored my feature article What Kind of Mom Are You?” which appeared in the December, 2014 issue of Kansas City Parent magazine with a bronze award. The light-hearted quiz won in the print editorial category “Non Traditional Story Form Feature” at the PMA’s annual design and editorial awards convention this past weekend. 

Here’s what the PMA had to say regarding the award:

Bronze: Kansas City Parent Magazine; “KC Parent Quiz”; Michael Gimotty, publisher, Margaret Sarver, editor, Kim Tappan, art director, Christa Hines, writer. This feature is a fun and interactive way to engage readers that mirrors popular online quizzes. Questions are relevant to most moms and are likely to keep them reading through to the end.

What Kind of Mom Are You? by Christa Melnyk Hines

Aren’t we all a little guilty of labeling other moms? Sure, we all share the common goal of nurturing a happy, healthy family, and we make different choices to get there. But just for fun, have you ever considered what “mom” category you most likely fall into? Take the quiz! 

Member parenting publications from the U.S., Canada and Australia compete in the annual competition. Submissions were collected in November, 2015. Judges considered issues published between December, 2014 through November, 2015. In this year’s competition, magazines competed in five categories ranging from design and editorial to general excellence. Overall, Kansas City Parent magazine won eight print and digital awards, including five for KC Parent and three for KCParent.com.

Thank you to Kansas City Parent for nominating my article! 

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cup of tea

Photo courtesy: SergeBertasius/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether you want to become a stronger, more intuitive communicator or you’re trying to raise one, time spent alone and unplugged from the rest of the world can make a big difference. Here’s why:

  • Time spent in solitude helps you develop more self-awareness. When you feel a strong sense of self-reliance and independence, that confidence comes through in how you interact with others. People sense it and adjust accordingly with how they interact with you. You’re better able to advocate for your needs and others because you clearly understand those needs.
  • Taking breaks from your hyperconnected online community can help you manage stress and anxiety. Don’t sleep with your electronic devices by your side or feel compelled to answer every text or email as it arrives. Technology may work 24-7, but it’s meant to work for you on your terms. Don’t let it become a distraction to the relationships that matter most or your personal priorities.
  • Kids who receive regular, unstructured time to play on their own develop creativity, self-confidence and independence. With these skills, they rely on a core belief that they’re good enough without having to constantly seek external approval, which is rampant in a “like me” culture. Every strong communicator needs these skills. These are skills that will only continue to grow in demand as our children enter the workforce.    
  • More and more college graduates leave school so accustomed to being directed in all of their activities that they’re nervous about showing initiative. They aren’t used to taking risks–trying something and seeing if it works. Make room in your daily schedule for quiet, non-electronic play that gives kids a chance to put their imagination to work and try new ideas. Instead of telling them something won’t work or supplying answers to their questions, let them play, research ideas and experiment with materials on their own. 
  • Time alone gives us a chance to consider questions like: What am I curious about? How can I solve a problem I’m dealing with? What brings me joy? Who could I talk to about this? How can I learn more? Kids and adults need time to play with these questions. 
  • In unplugged space, spontaneous side-by-side conversation can happen. Parent-child relationships grow stronger. For many young adults, spontaneous conversation, where they can’t control the message in a text or email, is risky. According to Sherry Turkle in her book Reclaiming Conversation, some employers are now vetting job candidates based on their ability to converse face-to-face and over the phone. Engage in idle chit-chat with your kids. Use conversation prompts to practice conversation and to make impromptu talk more fun.

To learn more about raising skilled communicators, check out my book Happy, Healthy & Hyperconnected: Raise a Thoughtful Communicator in a Digital World. 

 

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Is Your Online Space a Reflection of You?

by CMHines4 on February 18, 2016

Tree of hearts

Illustration courtesy: Stuart Miles/FreedigitalPhotos.net

Every day we get to make choices about how we want to use social media. For most of us, our pages reflect who we are and what we believe in. We’re essentially architects of our online identity. If you feel uncomfortable being yourself because of social media “friends” judging, shaming and harassing you for your opinions, it’s time to take a critical look at who you’re allowing into your space.

People who attempt to make you feel bad about yourself, ridicule your beliefs or bully you because they disagree with your worldview, aren’t friends. They’re toxic trolls that attempt to feed on a person’s self-confidence. They don’t deserve to be part of your circle.

By the same token, not everyone in your online community needs to agree with everything you say or praise every carefully crafted word you write. Even when they openly disagree with you, there should be an expectation that you’ll treat each other with mutual respect. Because that’s what friends do. And if the discussion is happening on your virtual turf, you can demand that. Your page belongs to you. You get to make the rules.

When friends enter a thread you’ve started, they’re entering your living room. I welcome people who are willing to engage in thoughtful discussion. People will push you on your point of view. Push back. Ask them questions. Raise the level of conversation by setting a tone for safe, respectful discourse. And have an exit plan if conversation goes south.

The truth is, when we promote a post or share an opinion online, most of us aren’t hoping to ferret out the naysayers. Usually, we’re looking for affirmation from cohorts who agree with us. On the flip side, I have friends who revel in confrontation and they do it well, without alienating or slamming those who disagree in a hurtful way.

If your goal when entering an argument is to convince others who disagree, get yourself a tall, cool glass of water and pull up a comfortable chair. You’re in for a long, heated battle. Prepare for friendship casualties. For the most part, people are entrenched in their views. As Winston Churchill said, “If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.” Chances are you won’t win over dissenting hearts and minds with your political arguments, no matter how thoughtful or evidence-based your remarks. 

Members of your online community have every right to use their page to share their identity and to express their opinions. If you don’t like those views, you have choices. You can choose to ignore the posts. You can put forth your opinion in a thoughtful manner or even ask non-judgmental questions to better understand their viewpoint. Or, if someone seriously upsets you, you can choose to block or defriend that person.

Look, we all lead busy full lives. Why should we spend what free time we have in a space that spawns more stress and anxiety? Cultivate a supportive, kind online community where you can happily hang out for a few minutes a day. Design your space to reflect your individual creativity and your values. Make it a place that gives you a sense of joy and peace and attracts others who value the same. It’s your real-estate. Own it.

How do you manage your online space? What do you like to see in your feed and what do you prefer to leave behind?

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Welcome back to my monthly series on building self-confidence to enhance relationships and strengthen communication skills. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, this is the perfect time to talk about healthy sexual communication with your partner. This month I had the opportunity to interview sex educator for moms and author Sarah Swofford, MPH. Read on for some great tips to build self-confidence and get the sparks flying in your love life!

Screenshot 2016-02-08 12.04.00CMH: Self-confidence plays an enormous part in building and maintaining strong, healthy relationships. In your opinion, what role does self-confidence play in healthy sexual communication between partners? Do you find that women especially struggle in this area? 

SS: Self-confidence absolutely influences healthy sexual communication. Since I work predominately with women I can say that yes, women struggle in this area. But men do too! 

Our sexuality is a place of deep pleasure, intimacy, and vulnerability. So, when something isn’t going well in our sex-lives it is very easy to internalize it and assume the problem is occurring because something is wrong with us…and since sex is a largely private issue, way too many women struggle with these feelings and challenges alone. This is why I do the work I do, to help women realize they aren’t alone and that there is help available.

Practicing healthy sexual communication when sex is easy and fun and enjoyable prepares couples for when things are challenging. Every couple and every situation is different, but if you are in a long-term relationship, the fact is, you will have challenges in the bedroom. So learning to talk about what you like and what works for you when things are good, prepares you as a couple to be able to talk in a healthy way about challenges when you are experiencing them.  Often just voicing the elephant in the room, for example, “it has been a long time since we’ve had sex,” relieves tension and makes it easier to discuss. Healthy sexual communication is a lifelong journey and requires regular practice. 

CMH: As parents, work, kids and various other stressors tend to take up so much of our time and energy.  Often this means couples stop prioritizing one-on-one time with each other. How can a lack of attention to your partnership be harmful, and what are your suggestions for busy parents that can re-energize their love life?

SS: We’ve all been there, right.? You realize how long its been since you actually had enjoyable one-on-one time with your partner and you wonder when you will again.  It’s not that we mean to not make the relationship a priority—it just happens. And we often realize it a little too late, when the relationship is feeling the stress. Stress that shows up in various ways: petty fights, or bigger fights, disinterest, snappiness, less sex, irritation, resentment.

There has been a lot in the media lately about how modern-day parenting is centered wholly around the kids, and the adult relationship is left with the dregs. There are several things parents can do to turn this around. 

-First, let go of any guilt you might have about spending time without your kids. 

-Next, put some time together on the calendar and plan it out (and hire babysitting) for months at a time. This way when the time comes, it’s already there as a to-do item on your agenda, you don’t have to plan it. 

-Leave your kids overnight every now and then. I know, this is a hard one for many parents, but a couple of hours here or there really isn’t enough to feel like yourselves again. Or if you really can’t leave them overnight, act crazy, young, foolish (and turned-on) and get a hotel room for a couple of hours instead of going to a movie. 

-Hiding sex from your kids is a great relationship-building exercise.  See how many creative ways you can get it on without the kids realizing. For example, “do the laundry together” with the door closed.

-Go on a weekend (or even a week) trip with your partner. Again, not possible for everyone, but I’m always surprised by how many parents don’t take advantage of the opportunities they do have. I’m lucky, my mom lives across the country but takes our kids for a week or two every summer. We call it (not in front of the kids) Divorce-Prevention Nana Camp.  We live it up while we can and then any time during the rest of the year when we feel distant from one another, or tired, or irritable with each other—we have it to look forward to. The first time we left the kids I remember how surprised I was by how much I really really like my husband. 

Remember, as hard as it may be, if you hope to still be with and like your partner when the kids leave for college, you have to make your relationship a priority now.

CMH: Let’s talk about sex and new motherhood. It’s natural for intimacy to take a back seat for a little while after the birth of a baby. But, even beyond those first couple months, many new moms feel self-conscious about their post-pregnancy bodies. What is your advice to new moms that can help them boost their self-confidence in the bedroom?

SS: Many sex educators I respect give parents a sex pass for A YEAR after baby. This means they (and I) believe that parents should give themselves and each other a break and understand that intimacy is going to be a challenge and most likely not very frequent for at least a year after having a kid. I think when moms can do this for themselves too (relax about weight loss, sex, motherhood), it can take the pressure off. 

One thing I know is that if you aren’t feeling good about yourself, you probably aren’t going to enjoy being intimate very much. I have an entire section in my book devoted to this–finding ways to build your own self-confidence and feel good in your skin. 

We have to start with ourselves. When you’ve had a baby, you give so much. You’ve grown a child, nourished it, cared for it, and everyone else. It takes time and patience to find the sensual spark within you again. Some moms do this with their partner, and many moms do this with a vibrator 😉

Being able to give yourself pleasure reminds you that your sexuality, your libido, are yours— first and foremost. It lets you enjoy the pleasure your body is able to give you without caring about how you look, or what your partner is feeling. And moms need that. They need to rediscover their sensuality without outside pressure.

My two top tips for new moms struggling with low libido are: 1) get a great vibrator and use often, and 2) do sixty pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) a day. Kegels strengthen the muscles that help you have strong orgasms. And the action itself of doing a Kegel is pleasurable, so it becomes a little reminder of your own sexual power throughout the day.

CMH: Tell us about your book From Ouch! to Ahhh…The New Mom’s Guide to Sex After Baby and where new moms can find it. 

It is available on Amazon in print and on every digital e-reader, too.  You can read about it on my website, sarahjswofford.com

Thank you for having me, Christa.

SarahSwofford012114_9201About Sarah: Sarah J. Swofford, MPH, helps moms have better sex. A sexuality educator with a master’s degree in public health, she supports women who are navigating sex and intimate relationships amidst the demands of parenting. She writes about women’s sexuality throughout motherhood and teaches workshops on sexual intimacy for moms. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two children. Connect with Sarah at www.sarahjswofford.com; On Twitter: @sarahjswofford; or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarah-J-Swofford-MPH/223650211047834

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Warrior posesamarttiw

Photo courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.com/samarttiw

Welcome back to my monthly series on building self-confidence to enhance relationships and strengthen communication skills.

Uncertainty holds many of us back from joining new groups of people, networking or reaching out to people we don’t know well. Whether you’re headed into a job interview, preparing for a presentation or getting ready to meet with a difficult or unknown individual, performance anxiety may shackle you in terror.

Here’s how to manage nerves and build your confidence before heading into an anxiety-provoking situation. Remember, your body language sets your frame of mind as much as it communicates to those around you.

Harvard Business School researchers found that people who prepare for a stressful presentation or interview by practicing power poses appear more composed and project more confidence during the presentation or interview, resulting in more positive evaluations from the audience.

Take up space. Have you ever noticed how a dog tries to look larger by raising its hackles when it’s scared or faced with an opponent? Through body language, the animal is instinctively trying to appear more confident in the pending face-off. Before going into your meeting, stretch your arms out as far as you can. Stretch your legs. Put your arms on the arms of your chair and sit up tall. Stretch your back. If you can get away with it, prop your feet up on your desk and sit back. You’ll immediately feel a boost of confidence as your body language signals to the brain that “you’ve got this”.

Stand like Superman or Wonder Woman. Stand in front of the bathroom mirror. Put your hands on your hips and your legs out in a wide stance. Smile confidently. Rehearse what you plan to say.

Show victory. Channel your favorite sports hero and stand with your fists up, arms out in a Y for victory. 

Hold a Warrior pose. This is one of my favorite yoga poses that inspires strength and confidence. First stand with your feet hip-length apart. Then turn your right foot out. Move your left foot back keeping the arch of the left foot in line with the heel of your right foot. Your toes of your left foot should be pointed towards the front of your body, while the toes of your right foot should be pointed toward the right wall. Raise your arms and send one arm towards the right wall and the other towards the back wall. Your arms should be in alignment. Palm down, stretch your right hand toward the right wall and stretch your left hand toward the back wall. Hold the pose for two minutes. Repeat on the opposite side. 

While practicing you preferred power pose, take deep breaths in and out. Visualize yourself succeeding in front of a friendly audience. If it helps, choose a mantra to repeat to yourself like, “I am strong. I am confident.” While it may sound corny, repeating a mantra out loud can help build your self-confidence. I was resistant to mantras for a long time but once I actually tried it, I was pleasantly surprised at the effectiveness of the practice. Try it and see if it works for you.

How do you get yourself pumped before an anxiety-inducing social situation?

 

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Understanding Preconception Health & Why It Matters

by CMHines4 on January 13, 2016

pregnant

Courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net/StuartMiles

January is Birth Defects Prevention Month

Normally, I reserve this space for sharing communication issues related to mothers and family. But some discussions need to occur long before we become parents (or while adding to our broods) and one of those is understanding the influence of preconception health on pregnancy. One in five babies die due to birth defects. Here’s my story.

When I became pregnant for the first time, I knew little about “preconception health.” Actually, I’d never even heard the term. I may have mentioned that we wanted to start a family to my doctor and she prescribed prenatal vitamins, but that’s about as far as the discussion went. I naively assumed that pregnancy didn’t begin until you were actually pregnant. Go figure.

I imagined pregnancy as nine blissed-out months of admiring an expanding baby bump, reading “What to Expect..,” decorating the nursery and running out for fried chicken at two in the morning. Birth defects seemed like vague notions that happened to other people. 

Heading into our 20-week appointment, my husband and I eagerly anticipated finding out the gender of our baby. As the ultrasound tech grew increasingly quiet, a persistent whine of fear began to leach into my otherwise cheerful visions of my bouncing baby boy. The tech measured and remeasured the images on the screen. When she excused herself to retrieve my doctor, my husband reached for my hand. That day, we learned that our son suffered from numerous and severe birth defects and wouldn’t survive the pregnancy. He died a few weeks later.

After that appointment in subsequent pregnancies, the ultrasound room became my own private hell–the fuzzy black and white unveiling of everything that can go wrong. Like a thunderclap to my conscience, it suddenly occurred to me why new parents traditionally count their newborn’s fingers and toes.

According to the CDC, one in 33 babies will suffer from a birth defect. Often, as in my case, there’s no rhyme or reason to why things go wrong. And, given that I had a miscarriage a year after we lost our son, having a healthy baby began to seem like a crapshoot.

Timing, genetics, environment, lifestyle and maternal health are pieces of an intricate puzzle that contribute to the development of a healthy baby. While there’s never a guarantee that all the pieces of will fall into place as they should, every small step you make now can up the odds of delivering a healthy baby even if he’s still only a playful figment of your imagination.

If you’re planning to become pregnant or even if you’re not (half of all pregnancies are unplanned, underscoring the importance of taking daily vitamins that include folic acid), read the tips that doctors and maternal health specialists shared with me in my article “Healthy Babies Start with Proper Pregnancy Planning” in the winter issue of Kansas City Baby magazine.

Practice caring for yourself now. Give yourself the gift of a healthy body. Connect with your doctor to find out what you can do to prepare for a healthy pregnancy. Surround yourself with caring friends and strengthen your social network for optimal emotional health. When you do become pregnant, chances are your pregnancy will go off without a hitch, and you’ll celebrate each miraculous milestone.

But if things don’t go according to plan whether during pregnancy or after, know that you aren’t alone. There’s an empathetic, quiet network of women who’ve been there; who’ve struggled, worried and suffered. Don’t be afraid to reach out. We’ll catch you if you fall. 

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14 Ways to Raise a Skilled Communicator from Babyhood and Beyond (1)A survey conducted by Pew Research found that 90 percent of American parents believe that developing strong communication skills is one of the most important skills kids will need to learn in order to succeed in today’s world. Whether you have an infant or an older child, here’s how to make sure your budding connector is on the right track.

  1. Talk to your baby all of the time. She loves to hear your voice.
  2. Kids learn language best when loved ones interact with them directly. Label things that you see, sing songs and ask questions.
  3. Read to your child daily. He’ll build empathy, listening and language skills.
  4. Role model. Show your kids how you ask for assistance on the phone and in stores, and how to interact with people you don’t know well, from random strangers to customer service representatives.
  5. Be aware of how and when you use your phone. Children will use their devices according to how they watch their parents use theirs.
  6. Coach conversation skills by suggesting questions they can ask a new friend.
  7. Tell stories to impart your values, teach resilience and build pride in your family’s heritage.
  8. Teach manners early. Small courtesies like please and thank you foster a sensitivity toward others.
  9. Ask your kids open-ended questions. Then listen attentively.
  10. Invite your youngster to talk to relatives and friends on the phone, Facetime and Skype.
  11. Encourage kids to think of ways to problem-solve social challenges from sharing to bullying. Work through troubling issues together.
  12. Create sacred tech-free spaces in your home and car to encourage casual conversation.
  13. Carve out unstructured play time every day. Kids build communication and storytelling skills through imaginative play with dolls, building blocks, action figures and even empty boxes.
  14. Take walks and drives with your child. Kids are more likely to open up when you aren’t looking directly at them.

To learn more ways to raise a competent communicator in today’s digital world, check out my book Happy, Healthy & Hyperconnected: Raise a Thoughtful Communicator in a Digital World available for download here, on Amazon (also available in paperback) and other online retailers.  

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Is Teasing Bullying?

by CMHines4 on December 16, 2015

Girl Teasing

Photo courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stockimages

“Oh, honey, you know I’m just teasing you,” I said, smiling as I ruffled my then 6-year-old’s hair. He was miffed that I was gently ribbing him about the Dennis the Menace cowlick in the back of head and how we needed to go and get him a haircut.

“Teasing isn’t allowed at school. It’s bullying,” my son responded.

This stopped me in my tracks. Is playful teasing really the same as bullying? I’d mostly thought of teasing as a form of affection especially within the family and with close friends. I’d grown up in a family that teased each other. My husband and I lovingly tease each other and as our kids have begun to understand humor, we’ve begun teasing them too.

Sure, teasing can be mildly irritating, but among family and friends it comes from a place of love and knowing the other person well enough to see his or her idiosyncrasies.

When it comes to understanding the nuances of teasing, context and the nature of the relationship is key. Several years ago, communication researchers Carol Bishop Mills and Amy Carwile, at the University of Alabama examined the difference between teasing and bullying. The media and schools often link the behaviors as part-and-parcel in response to episodes of school bullying.

The researchers found that the lighter side of teasing actually benefits our social life by building and strengthening relationships and helping us navigate conflict. The ability to recognize and respond appropriately to light-hearted teasing is a valuable skill for any competent communicator.

Teasing is positive when:

  • Both parties are laughing, smiling and joking with each other.
  • Both individuals sense that the teasing is playful and not meant to be hurtful.
  • The person being teased responds in a playful way, which increases his or her like-ability in the group.
  • There’s a balance of power in the relationship. For example, two friends who often rib each other.

Teasing should stop immediately when:

  • Facial expressions convey that the other person is feeling hurt by the comments.
  • Taunting or cruel name-calling is used (epithets related to race, weight, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion and disability are unacceptable).
  • Comments are derogatory in nature, insulting and mean-spirited.
  • The teaser shows disdain and dislike for the other person.
  • There’s a power difference between the individuals. For example, one is the “popular” kid and the other is struggling in the social setting.

In many social situations, the teaser’s intent isn’t always clear. As parents we can coach our kids to “tease” out the difference between mean-spirited teasing that’s associated with bullying and affectionate teasing. For example, teach them to recognize playful social cues like tilting of the head, smiling, warm eye contact, nodding and tone of voice. They can then learn to respond in kind. 

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Bucket Lists LKWelcome back to my monthly series on building self-confidence to enhance relationships and strengthen communication skills. This month, I’m excited to host Lara Krupicka, an incredibly gifted writer, author and speaker, and a leading expert on how to create family buckets lists.

When we see our family as our home team, we’re empowered to achieve so much more than if we’re all spinning in different directions on separate quests. With a fresh new year on the horizon, now is the perfect time to learn how family bucket lists can inspire increased confidence in both you and your kids while helping you pursue your individual and collective dreams.

CMH: How can setting and achieving bucket list goals help enhance self-confidence? Should we start with smaller goals first or what’s the best strategy when starting out to avoid setting ourselves up for failure?

LK: In many ways setting bucket list goals is about getting to know yourself better and understanding what you are most drawn to in life. So when you acknowledge those goals by putting them in writing, your self-confidence receives a boost because you are in essence telling yourself your inner dreams and desires are valuable. And achieving bucket list goals gives such satisfaction and energy that our self-confidence can’t help but be boosted. Plus we’re able to draw on memories of past success when we face challenges. Bucket lists really call on us to push our boundaries and often let us see we’re capable of more than we realized.

I think small goals are great! We often get tripped up on the idea that bucket list goals are so far out there that they’re unreachable. But if you think about it, the only requirement for something to go on your bucket list is that it be something you haven’t done yet, but have wanted to do. Which means we can include simple, inexpensive goals too.

I advocate for starting small with bucket list goals (unless a big goal suddenly comes within reach) because of the energy and momentum we can gain from seeing success. And don’t forget that many big goals could be looked at as a series of small goals ( for example, running a marathon starts with training short distances and building up your endurance – each bit of training can be its own goal).

CMH: In your experience, what kind of trickle down effect from parents to children occurs as kids see their parents making a conscious effort to go after their dreams?

LK: In a lot of ways, Mom and Dad are pretty two-dimensional people to kids. We’re the parents. Period. And a lot of times we get sucked into this place of being focused on helping our kids succeed that reinforces this view, because we stop being individuals with hopes and desires for ourselves. When we go after our own dreams it’s expansive. Our kids see that it’s not all about them and that we’re people, not just parents. Plus they get the thrill of cheering us on toward our goals – it’s a role reversal. That alone changes the dynamics and creates a feedback loop for goal achievement, where everyone is inspired to keep dreaming and doing.

CMH: How do you think creating and fulfilling bucket lists as a family can help kids grow more confident in how they look at opportunities in the world?

LK: Again, it’s the idea of pushing boundaries. Bucket lists are essentially a way of engaging more broadly and deeply with our world – trying new things, meeting new people. The more we take kids outside of their everyday settings, even if it is something as simple as going to a new restaurant, the more they see that “new” and “different” aren’t scary, they’re just unfamiliar. That’s what makes a family bucket list so powerful. Doing things as a family provides the security kids sometimes need when approaching the unfamiliar. We’re all in it together. From there kids learn that they can approach even their individual goals with confidence because they know their family will be there to back them.

CMH: It’s not news that we live in a busy world with plenty of distractions. How can creating a bucket list together help build a stronger family? How can your new Udemy course help families make that happen?

LK: Creating bucket lists as a family gives you an opportunity to talk about heart matters – those inner hopes and dreams. You get to know each other in new ways. And you learn to lean on each other for support as you tackle different goals.

My new Udemy course, Build Stronger Bonds Writing Family Bucket Lists is designed to walk you through practical steps (geared toward the ages of your kids) to not only get your lists down in writing, but also make the most of the interactions that happen as you do so. And students in my class learn how to make it a natural part of everyday family life that enhances relationships. The goal is to help parents bring family members closer, create more camaraderie and make quality memories.

Thank you for letting me share with your readers. I hope they’re inspired to bring bucket lists into their families.

Thank you, Lara!

2012LaraKrupicka headshotAbout Lara: 

Lara Krupicka is an internationally published parenting journalist and author who encourages parents to make the most of the years while raising their children by setting out of the adventures that matter most to them. Lara is best known for her Bucket List Life Manifesto and her books Family Bucket Lists and Bucket List Living For Moms.

Lara’s work has been published in dozens of magazines and newspapers including The LA Times, San Diego Family, Family Australia Magazine, Calgary’s Child, and the Chicago Sun Times. She also serves on the executive board of the Redbud Writers Guild.

When she is not at her desk writing, Lara loves beautifying the world through crafts and sampling new food, skills, sports, and locales. Lara and her husband, Mike, are raising their three daughters in the western suburbs of Chicago.

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