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Inspiration: Start the Day Off Right

Beginnings excite me.  Every day is a new chance to achieve.

Something new is likely to come into my life. New relationships, experiences and successes all provide a new lease on life for me. Newness brings the feeling of excitement to me and gives more meaning to my existence.

I love getting new challenges and responsibilities at the school. They give me a chance to pull on my core strengths. I got the opportunity to prove myself worthy of any situation that flashes in front of me.

Starting a new project at work is like getting that second wind.  Those of you who came through the live class or the hybrid, you KNOW this about me.  Coming up with a new project is one of my absolute favorite things to do.  Brainstorming with you is something I really look forward to during your coaching sessions.

Whenever I make a long-awaited purchase, I get so excited to take it home with me. Such experiences take me back to childhood and getting holiday gifts. But I am even more excited as an adult because I see my hard work paying off.  When I get a new piece of playground equipment or classroom resources, I am definitely a kid in a candy store.

I hope you feel this way too.  If you don’t, let me send you daily inspirational quotes for the next month.  Just enter you details below and I will send you some sunshine!!!

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Failure Bow

We misbehaved.  We have not kept in touch with our clients on our mailing list.  We will do better.
We knew better.  Kate has been teaching about marketing in small business since the 90’s.  She can give you 20 ways to keep your clients engaged without breaking a sweat.  Carrie opened her first center in 1995.  Carrie maintained a waiting list from the first day she opened.  Without communication with her list, her first program would have closed within a year.

In the theater world, where Carrie spends much of her free time, there is a tradition that we would like to invoke: the failure bow.  When you mess up in public you take a bow and all your fellow performers clap.  This is usually done in rehearsals, because the audience doesn’t need to know when you messed up.  The team around you steps in and covers the error.  And then, together, you move on to do the hard work.

We didn’t follow our own basic marketing advice.  We know this.  We just got too caught up in other projects.  We take our bow.  We acknowledge our mistake and move on, with our friends.

We all need to take a bow from time to time.  There are likely times when you’re unhappy with how your school is running, what you’ve gotten gone, or which path you’re taking. That’s because you’re human. Those sentiments affect all of us from time to time. Sure, there will be days when your best doesn’t seem good enough to you, but what if your best is really just fine?

Coming to terms with your true self can help you acknowledge the awesome person you really are and what a great program you have developed. Your various characteristics combine to make something totally unique and special. No one else has your individual talents. No one else could ever take your unique place in this world. No other center can provide what you do for these children.

Accepting yourself for who you truly are can also boost your confidence and help you take advantage of your innate skills for your own benefit and that of others as well.  When you fall down, just bow and move forward.

Try these strategies to achieve contentment with where you are:

  1. Know that your program and staff are special. It’s important that you look at everyone, including yourself, as a beautiful creation. You weren’t made this way by mistake. Your beliefs, likes, and dislikes are all part of a magnificent design.  It brought this team together and attracted these families to your school.
  1. Look at the bright side. Often times, you probably feel that someone else’s situation is better than yours because they have more, their clients seem to be happier, or appear better off than you. But if you take a moment to look at the circumstances of others who are “less blessed” than you are, you’ll realize that there is actually a bright side.
  • Do you know anyone who couldn’t find a good toddler teacher for so long that they’ve given up on it?
  • Is there anyone around you who’s suffering the pain of losing a loved one?
  • When was the last time you noticed how the register family homes near you are doing?
  1. Consider your accomplishments. Throughout your life, you’ve probably achieved lots of things, both personally and professionally. Whether you accomplished a stronger bond with your staff, or completion of a project that earned your center recognition, those things all took place while you were in the skin you’re in today.
  • Remember that the person who has those accomplishments is the true you – you did it with your own strength, abilities and sensibilities.
  • You’re a winner in your own right by merit of what you’ve accomplished, and no one can take those victories away from you.
  1. Avoid underestimating yourself. One important factor that may be causing you to feel less than happy with who you are and where you are in life is the fact that you may be underestimating yourself. It’s possible that you don’t have what you want because you haven’t really tried to get it!
  • Instead of wishing you had what somebody else has, why not put some thought into how you can achieve it for yourself? Make a detailed plan of achievable steps to get what you want. We can help you with that if you need the hand up.  All of our directors are entitled to 5 hours of coaching a year.
  • Stop and consider that there’s really nothing separating you from your goals because you have what it takes to work towards it.

You were uniquely created with the talents and skills to have a fulfilling life. However, remember that what you put in is also what you get out. Make the life for yourself that only you can design and achieve!

Once you have gotten back into a good place mentally, take 2 hours to evaluate where changes need to be made. 
What do you know you should be doing for your school, that is not getting done?  Are you getting contact information from parents who call, email, and tour?  Did you follow up with them?  When did you last send out newsletters to your current families?

What about with your staff?  Do each of them have an annual training plan?  Are you practicing your “Management by Walking Around” and taking notes to catch staff doing a great job?  I know I get into a routine and forget to get up and go into the classes and just be for 5 minutes, letting the class flow around me.

Are you being a good scout: be prepared. 
Monthly safety checks are easy to let go.  When was the last time the screws and bolts on your trikes were tightened?  Scissors and tweezers wander away from first aid kits.  Does the emergency folder have up to date contact information and medical information for all the students and staff?  Are health forms up to date?  Are there licensing issues that need to be addressed?

Take a bow and do what needs to be done!

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7 Simple Hacks to Simplify Your Life and Get More Done Each Day

Life is fast moving and complicated. There’s a lot you can do to simplify your life and still get more accomplished. There’s a seemingly endless supply of “hacks” online. There are hacks for work, your love life, exercise, and everything else under the sun. Getting through all of the hacks requires a hack of its own.

Keep things simple and focus on a few powerful strategies:

  1. Make a short list. The fewer things you try to accomplish, the more you’ll get done. Make a list of the 2-3 most important things you want to get done at work. Before you drive home, make a list of the 2-3 most important things you want to get done at home. Make a new list for the weekend.
  • The act of making the list will force you to prioritize so you can accomplish the most important tasks.
  1. Focus on one task at a time. Switching back and forth between two or more tasks is inefficient. Learn to focus on one task until it’s complete before moving on to something else. Try this for a week and notice the difference it makes.
  2. Simplify your diet. The next time you’re at the grocery store, stick to the edges of the store. What do you find there? Lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and dairy. Throw in some nuts and healthy whole grains and you have a healthy diet.
  • You’ll save time and money at the store and do wonders for your health.
  1. Try to limit your emails to five sentences. If an email is five sentences, no one will complain that your email is too short or too long. You can maintain relationships without spending a lot of time typing a senseless email. Pick up the phone as the situation calls for it.
  2. Go to bed early. Any extra time you’re awake at night probably isn’t productive. It’s probably spent watching TV while nodding off in your favorite chair. Get to bed early and get up early. You’ll get more done.
  3. Sort your mail as soon as you get home. Each day, grab the mail and stand over the garbage can. Throw out the junk and sort the rest. Put it all away in the appropriate place.
  • Avoid the frustration of lost bills and clutter. Save your time and energy for more important tasks than going through a huge stack of junk mail every time you need to find a bill or other important paper.
  1. Work offline. It seems that more and more work must be completed on the computer, but there are pitfalls to working online – the internet. The internet is both the best and worst thing ever invented. It provides tremendous resources, but it’s also the perfect way to waste a lot of time.
  • Would you rather complete the billing report for your boss or watch a video of kittens riding on the back of a goat? See how easy it is to get distracted?
  • If you’re at home, pull the Ethernet cable or turn off the Wi-Fi. You can find a similar solution at work.
  • One famous writer once stated that the only way he could get any work done was to glue the Ethernet cable into the port and then cut off the cable. He couldn’t control himself if he had access to the internet.

 

Try out these seven hacks and see how they impact your life. What other hacks could you add? Consider where you seem to waste the most time. This is a prime area for developing a hack of your own. Keep your life simple and it will be easier to get through the day with a feeling of accomplishment.

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Director’s Keys to Professionalism

We need to be ever mindful of the effect we have on others lives. We are taking care of this world’s most precious commodity: the children. How they are treated affects what the world will be like tomorrow and for years to come.  When you are in a tight spot, ask yourself how you would want to be treated if you were in the other person’s shoes? What is morally right? If you use these as your guideposts, you will have a lot fewer professionalism concerns.

keyConfidentiality: The three rules that you and your staff MUST make reasonable efforts to keep confidential:

  1. Medical and developmental issues
  2. Family status
  3. Financial information

keyConsistency: Questions to ask your self:

  1. Is this what is in my documents?
  2. Did I do this last week?
  3. Is this how I want to be remembered?

keyEducation: Continue professional development through continuing education courses, workshops or college courses. Participate in professional organizations and conferences.

keyEthical Conduct: If you have questions on what is right or wrong, review one of the professional codes of conduct in the next section.

keyResourcefulness: Have an active Rolodex, appropriate resource directories and actively network in and out of your field.

keyHonesty: Convey the facts to clients. Keep staff up to date about issues. Be accurate in paperwork.

keyAlertness: Know your staff and your parents, spot observations. Read pertinent periodicals.

keyMindfulness: You are a model to the community, your staff, children in your care and parent.

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Why Waiting for the Right Moment is Often a Mistake

Are you waiting for the perfect time to launch your grand plan? We don’t like to wait in line, but we’re more than content to wait for some other things. Diets are commonly started on a Monday, or the first of the month, or the first of the year. It’s rare that someone chooses to start a diet right this very minute.

The same mindset applies to starting a business, going back to school, learning to play guitar, writing a book, or having a difficult conversation. We believe that challenging objectives require optimal conditions.

The idea that perfect conditions are necessary is flawed:

  1. Life is much too short. Eventually, we all run out of time. No one can wait forever. That doesn’t mean to be impulsive and throw all caution to the wind. It does mean, however, that it would benefit you to act soon.
  2. Life will always get in the way. Waiting for the right moment is like saving the money you have left over at the end of the month. You’ll never have any time to spare, just as you’ll never have any money left over.
    Make time for the important things you want to do or accomplish. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to get started.
  1. Waiting is passive. Each day is filled with unique moments. It’s not necessary to wait until the perfect storm of opportunity, convenience, and motivation finally occurs. You can create special moments whenever you choose. Plenty of good moments are happening each day, but you’re failing to make the most of them.
  2. You don’t learn anything while you’re waiting. You’re not enhancing your skills or gaining any experience when you’re inactive. Make the most of right now and you’ll be better prepared for the future.
  3. Avoid regret. Do you really have the time to spare? Those that wait too long are filled with regret at the end of life. Do you want to look back on your life and think, “If only I would have …”
    Few things are worse than regret, especially when you’re no longer in the position to do anything about it. You might still be able to climb a mountain or learn to play the piano at the age of 80, but it might be easier when you’re 45. You’ll also have more time to enjoy it!
  1. Taking action results in a more exciting and fulfilled life. Taking action and failing is better than doing nothing at all. Even in failure, you’re learning, taking risks, and living life to the fullest. You’re better prepared for the future and gain a new perspective.
    Make your life interesting and fulfilling by deciding that right now is a good enough time to get started.
  1. Waiting results in a lack of control. While you’re passively waiting for the perfect situation to occur, you’re giving away control of your life. One common symptom among those with depression is the belief that they lack control over their lives. Why wait? Take action now to create the life you want and take back your control.

Become button

Valuing yourself will result in valuing your time. When you value your time, you’ll begin to make the most of it. Every moment is important because you’re important. Avoid waiting any longer for the perfect moment to finally arrive. Get started today and create your own moments!

 

 

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Dealing with Sibling Rivalry

As directors, we often function as a counselor for both our teachers and the parents of our students.  This is not always the easiest part of the job, but it is a key role.  By being a sounding board for client issues we maintain the professional distance between teachers and parents, and increase family loyalty.  In helping teachers with their personal challenges we make it clear that we value them and help them to be able to focus when in the classroom.

Everyone at the center has family issues that can effect the program.  The director is well positioned to minimize that effect.  Below is an example of how one of those conversations might go.

Q: We have two daughters, Shelley and Jessie, who are very close in age. Shelley is 10 while Jessie is 8. They fight all the time. They’re always arguing and hitting each other, so it’s hard to have a peaceful home.

I’ve tried to discipline them and take away their privileges, but it’s not working.

How can I end this intense sibling rivalry between my young daughters? What can I do to stop their arguments, fights, and bickering?

A: It’s normal for siblings to have an occasional argument or disagreement. Although parents would prefer that their kids be perfect angels at all times, it’s not a realistic concept.

Children need to test boundaries and learn from their experiences as they grow.

One way they test boundaries is to challenge their siblings. The first step to have a more peaceful home is to understand this and learn how to help them.

You have to dig down to the real reason for their fights. Are they caused by boredom, overstimulation, or other issues? Are they caused by jealousy over the time you’re spending with the other sibling?

They could also be fighting to get your attention and involvement.

Once you’ve answered these important questions, you can begin to formulate a plan to improve your daughters’ behavior.

Q: I don’t think Shelley and Jessie are bored or overstimulated. I try not to favor one over the other, but they still fight.

It’s possible they’re doing this to get my attention. I work full-time outside of the home, and so does my husband. After work, I have chores and so many obligations that I can’t spend a lot of time with them.

If they’re doing it for attention, how can I fix it?

A: The best way to stop these desperate attempts for your attention is to give it to them. However, your busy lifestyle makes this more complicated.

You’ll want to figure out ways to involve your daughters in your after-work routine. Can they help you with chores? Can they entertain you with their stories while you do the dishes or cook in the kitchen?

The key is to spend more time with both Shelley and Jessie, so they don’t feel left out.

You can set aside some weekends for special mother-daughter activities. However, your weekday routine should also include them.

Q: I can definitely try to include them more in my after-work routine. However, I’m really worried about my oldest daughter, Shelley. She seems to hate Jessie and has detested her from the moment we brought her home from the hospital.

I sometimes wonder if Shelley is just starting fights with Jessie out of hate.

She says awful things to her and wishes she was never born. She calls her terrible names, breaks her toys, and even messes up her homework.

I’ve tried to make my daughters care about each other, but it’s hard. What can I do to help Shelley?

A: It sounds like Shelley has taken sibling rivalry to another level and is actually bullying her younger sister. This does occur in some families, and the older sibling tends to control the situation.

First, try to step back and closely evaluate both Shelley and Jessie. Did the hatred really start the minute you brought Jessie home? Or, did it start after Shelley felt you weren’t paying attention to her because of the new baby?

Older siblings can feel left out while their parents shower the newborn with love and care. They may be used to being the only center of attention, so the arrival of siblings changes everything.

It’s important that Shelley feel that you love her just as much as you love Jessie.

Also, if Shelley is bullying Jessie, examine the circumstances. Is the abuse physical or just name-calling and emotional? Shelley may benefit from therapy to help her overcome her feelings of jealousy.

In addition, consider how you react to Shelley’s behavior around Jessie. Do you tell her to stop and do nothing beyond words? If you want to stop the sibling rivalry, it’s important to be an active parent.

Q: I’m at a loss of what to do with Shelley. She seems to start most of the fights, and I use more than words to stop her. I take away her computer and TV privileges. I take away the sweet snacks she loves.

However, this doesn’t seem to faze her, and she just keeps fighting with Jessie.

What else can I do to stop their arguments?

A: It’s good that you’re doing more than empty threats. By taking away her privileges, you’re showing her that there are consequences to her actions.

You may need to try an additional step to get through Shelley. Instead of simply punishing her or yelling at her, sit down with her after you calm down and talk. Have a real heart-to-heart conversation with Shelley alone.

Discuss how her behavior disrupts the entire family. Ask her why she is fighting with her sister. You may learn something new about their relationship and find a different way to address the issues.

Shelley needs the chance to voice her concerns and share why she misbehaves.

Again, therapy may be a good option for her so she can share her feelings in a safe setting. She may discuss things with a therapist that she isn’t comfortable talking about with you.

You may also want to consider family therapy in addition to individual therapy for Shelley.

It’s possible certain dynamics in your family are creating a chaotic home atmosphere that breeds arguments among your daughters. Do you fight with your husband all of the time over minor issues? Shelley may be copying you and your husband in her interactions with Jessie.

Counseling can help you find the path to a more peaceful household.

Q: I will definitely consider therapy for Shelley and maybe the whole family, if it will help with this problem. Meanwhile, can I do something to help my daughters bond and build a stronger relationship?

I always dreamed of my two girls getting along and becoming best friends. I’m disappointed and feel like a failure as a mother because they seem to hate each other. Shelley may start most of the fights, but Jessie isn’t an innocent angel either. What can I do to make them see that they should care about each other?

A: You can do several things at home to help your daughters bond.

First, pay close attention to their interactions. You may even want to take notes. Do your daughters ever get along? Take note of the time of day and activities that make them more peaceful and more rowdy.

Once you’ve analyzed their interactions, you can figure out what tends to trigger their fights and arguments. Then, you can devise some strategies to combat their fights.

Do they always fight right before dinner, and could this be caused by low-sugar levels and hunger pangs? Do they always fight before going to a concert or other family outing because they don’t want to participate?

You have to understand that your daughters are unique individuals. Despite the fact that they share DNA, they’re still special in different ways.

Q: I’m wondering what type of strategies I can use. I would love a clear plan that makes it easier to handle them. What should I be doing at home each day and night to help them get along better?

A: First, sit down with both of your daughters and have a serious discussion. At 10 and 8, they’re old enough to understand that their behavior isn’t just hurting them. You have to explain that it’s also hurting you and your husband.

Although you should also talk to them individually, it’s important to have a conversation with both of them present. This way they’ll know that they’re both responsible for the issues.

Second, make it clear that you love both of them equally. You can’t favor one daughter over the other because they’ll notice. This breeds jealousy and hate, so you truly have to treat them the same.

One of the best ways to stop jealousy is to avoid comparing them – ever.

You also don’t want to take sides while they argue. Make it your goal to calm both of them down and not choose one over the other.

Q: How can I help them communicate better? I sometimes think Shelley just takes over all the situations and doesn’t let her sister have a voice.

A: You may need to intervene and show Shelley that she needs to give Jessie the chance to talk.

For example, if Shelley decides she wants to play with Jessie’s toys, she shouldn’t be allowed to just grab them and walk away. Instead, you should stop her and calmly ask her to get Jessie’s permission first. This will show Shelley the correct way to communicate.

It’s crucial that you stay calm while this is happening.

If you start to yell at Shelley because she took the toys, it will destroy the chance to build a better relationship with Jessie. She needs to see that there’s a calm, peaceful way to talk to her sister.

By yelling at her, Shelley will retaliate by yelling back and won’t be able to stay calm.

Also, use positive reinforcement. If you see her playing happily with Jessie, praise her. You should also praise Jessie, so she doesn’t feel left out. Show your daughters that you want them to be happy and calm instead of arguing all the time.

Another idea you may want to try is the bickering table.

The bickering table can be any table in your house, but it would be preferable if it was small. You set two chairs around it. Then, you let your daughters bicker, but only at that table and only at a specific time at night for 20 or 30 minutes.

Many children have pent up tension and stress from school and other issues.

The bickering table lets them get out the frustration in a safe space. Ensure that both daughters get a chance to talk. Monitor their interactions, so they don’t get out of control.

The table can be a good way to reduce the total number of arguments between your daughters. Eventually, your daughters may get tired of the bickering table and won’t be willing to use it. Nevertheless, insist they keep using it for at least a week or longer because it will teach them that bickering isn’t the only way to settle their issues.

Another tip is to give them an incentive to avoid the table by telling them they don’t have to use it at night if they behave during the day.

Q: I can stay calm and use a normal voice. However, I’m wondering what can I do to help Shelley and Jessie spend more time together?

They’re close in age but don’t really like to spend time together. Each one has her own room and likes different things. I sometimes think they’re like strangers who meet in the hallway to throw toys and yell at each other. They don’t even like eating dinner together.

How can I encourage some togetherness?

A: The key is to teach them to respect each other and respect the private spaces. Once they do that, it will be easier to connect with each other in other areas, too.

You can help by creating a chart with family rules. This chart will clearly outline what you expect from your daughters. It can show them the consequences for bad behavior and rewards for good behavior.

If they work together and get along, reward them. The rewards can vary from trips to the museum to new toys. You can decide how often they should receive them. The pleasant rewards will encourage more of this type of behavior.

Sibling rivalry takes time to overcome in all families. However, recognizing that an issue exists is the first step, and the desire to change is the second step. You’ve already taken these two important steps forward. Good luck in your journey ahead as you continue down the path to more peace and tranquility in your home!