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A Strategy to Transform Your Stepfamily in 30 Days

Blended and step families have more than their share of challenges; to stepparents and stepchildren alike, it seems that conflict and negativity are built in. What if I told you that I have a magic formula guaranteed to transform your family in 30 days to experiencing greater harmony and happiness? Well, I do! It’s called appreciation, and when practiced regularly and properly, it can work miracles.
There is a fairly new branch in the field of psychology called Positive Psychology. After more than a century of focus on the effects of trauma and negative experiences on personality and behavior, Positive Psychology turns it all around and instead focuses on what is right. There have now been scores of studies showing the profound effects of positive interactions on productivity, health and happiness. And on cooperation, I might add – a quality in high demand for stepfamilies!
Dr. Don Clifton, who has been dubbed the “father of Positive Psychology” had an extremely simple and powerful model for working with appreciation and recognition, which is described in his book “How Full is Your Bucket?”. He uses a metaphor that’s easy to visualize: each of us has an invisible bucket inside. When the bucket is full (of positive feelings), we feel great; we’re happy, generous, productive and feel connected. When the bucket is empty, we feel awful – our energy is sapped, productivity is lowered and we feel isolated from others. Each of us also has a dipper – we can use the dipper to dip out from others’ buckets (leaving us both in a more negative state), or to dip into others’ buckets, filling them with more positivity. When we fill others’ buckets, a funny thing happens – it fills our own bucket to overflowing.
This may seem overly simplistic, and it is basic – yet powerful. There are hundreds of turning points in a single day; even in mundane situations there is generally a positive or negative charge. And it’s all cumulative: the more negative interactions we have, the more our happiness is eroded. The more positive interactions, the greater our well-being. All of us need recognition, and we don’t get enough. Dr. Gottman, famous for his ability to predict marital success on the basis of the ratio of positive to negative interactions, has found that the “magic” ratio is 5 to 1. Married couples that have at or near that level of positive to negative interactions are highly likely to succeed – when the ratio goes toward 1 to 1, the chances of divorce skyrocket.
Think about your interactions with your spouse, your children, and stepchildren. We are often so focused on “fixing what’s wrong” that our attention, and conversations, tend to be fixated on the negative (“you’re making us late!”, “you didn’t pick up your towel”, “why weren’t you back home when you said you’d be?”, etc. etc. etc.) The world we live in is already a pretty negative place; each of us, including our children, tend to get “beat up” regularly. So why add to the demoralization, when we have a much better chance of getting our children’s cooperation by letting them know we care about them, and believe in them? Think of how you’d feel if someone were watching over you, waiting for you do do something wrong and then make note of it.
Whatever we focus on grows: when we begin to take notice instead of what’s right (even small, insignificant behaviors – “thanks for helping your sister with her backpack”, “I was happy to see you started your homework without being reminded”, “it makes me happy to see you smiling”, etc.) we start to get more positive behaviors. Both positivity and negativity are very contagious.
Here are a few tips for you to begin a practice of appreciation that will begin to change your family dramatically. I highly suggest keeping track of your efforts for 30 days, the time it takes to develop a new habit – it’s the regularity that produces miraculous results.
You must have a plan to make it a reality!
1. Focus on any positive behavior you see occurring, and express your appreciation in a specific way. Focus on progress, not perfection.
2. Be quick to notice small accomplishments, and focus on effort rather than outcome.
Focus on each child’s strengths and refrain from giving recognition that compares them to one another (the last thing you want to increase in a stepfamily is rivalry!)
3. Notice the first thing that comes out of your mouth: is it positive or negative? Are you providing a welcoming environment for the members of your family?
Prevent “bucket-dipping”. Ask yourself throughout the day: am I adding to or taking from that person’s bucket? Use a PAUSE button when you catch yourself “dipping”- and find something to …

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How to Make the Most of Your Family Vacations

Most of the time when you plan a family vacation, you are looking for a way for your family to get together and just enjoy themselves without the worries of every day life. Take the time to learn some of the various different ways that you can go about planning a family vacation that is going to make the most of your time together as a family. There are so many different things pulling families in every direction that it is often difficult to plan a vacation that will satisfy the whole family. Taking a few different steps will help you to make the most of it, for everyone involved.
While families can consist of young children, parents, teenagers, young married adults, grandchildren – the list goes on- you will see that it is important to find a way to bring them all together comfortably. This can reduce stress for everyone in the family. Take the time to find a time for your family vacation that will be good for everyone who plans to attend. There are a lot of different things that go on, between other vacations, school, sports, work, and holidays that pull families apart. Make sure that you talk to people in your family to find a time that will be just as convenient for one person as it is for another. Making sure that everyone is happy with the time that is set is the first way to make sure that you have a happy family vacation.
Plan to do some fun things while you are on vacation. There are definitely some things that cater to children more than adults, but the adults can often have just as much fun as the kids when they visit these places. Remember everyone when you are planning the places that you will visit on your trip. You should take the time to plan a few different things so that everyone is sure to do something that they will enjoy while on vacation. A vacation should be enjoyed by everyone involved.
Another way to ensure that you are able to make the most of your family vacation is by ensuring that you do not spend a ton of money on your trip. Financial hardships can often cause a lot of stress. If you take the time to find some of the best vacations at the most affordable rates, everyone will remain happy and stress free because they do not have to worry about the money that is being spent. There are many ways to find vacation deals that will meet the needs of any budget, be sure to find the one that is best for you and your family.
When you are planning the next family vacation, remember to take these things into consideration. If you do this, then you are sure to have the happiest and most productive family vacation you have ever had before. This will make sure that everyone enjoys the time that is spent together as a family.…

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3 Simple Tips to Make Family Time a Good Time in Your Hectic Life

Any working person’s life can become extremely hectic at times. The common suspects are: a busy schedule, loads of work, as well as faithfully keeping the promise to never put off until tomorrow any work that you can do today. As a consequence, you may be totally satisfied with your rapid career advancements. Yet, this imbalance is very bad for your family life, as it can make you lose the precious bond with your spouse and children.
If you suspect that you are losing touch with your family, you need to do your best to avoid making the matters worse. Here are three tips and tricks that could help you start spending more quality time with your family, even if you have an extremely hectic life:
1. Plan your day or week in advance. Scheduling your day or even a week in advance could take as little as 15-30 minutes, but it could truly make a difference for your family. Thus, you could start bringing your “family relationship improvement plan” to life without sacrificing what needs to be done at work.
2. Turn off your cell phone every now and then. When it comes to spending time with your family, a cell phone is one of the most disruptive devices. If you have scheduled a family outing, make sure that your cell phone will not disrupt it. Consider setting a new voice message that will state that you are currently unavailable.
3. Try to achieve a 50/50 work-family balance. Being a success at work and “failing at family” cannot do anyone any good. Try to be a success at both, home and at work.
Keep reminding yourself that your spouse and children are your first priority. Time spent with your family is invaluable, while time lost cannot be compensated.
Relationships take an effort to build, and yet it’s so easy to damage these bonds by constantly being busy, distant and unavailable. Being continuously distant can lead to a family relationship cool-down, which may be hard to warm up again.…

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Simple Tips And Tricks For Parenting Better

It takes a lot to be a parent, especially, when you have a few kids, a job and other demands. But if you can learn to prioritize and enjoy the fun along the way, then you should do fine. This article can help you to meet some of those demands as a parent.

The most important thing to remember while disciplining your children is consistency. Parenting during the terrible-two’s can be challenging, for both little one and adult. At this stage children like to push the limits of what is and is not allowed. Make sure that you set clear boundaries and are consistent with your time-outs so children know what is expected of them.

To encourage breastfeeding in an infant, offer your child plenty of skin to skin contact. Skin to skin contact makes a young infant feel content. It also allows them to smell Mom’s milk and so, want to breastfeed more. The feeling of bonding and closeness that skin to skin contact facilitates is also great for Mom, as it reduces stress.

Use clothes or items from the mother to wrap a bottle in if the baby is having trouble getting used to drinking from it. The smell of mom in the clothing will help calm the baby because he will associate it with his mother, thus making him more likely to give it a try.

If you need to use the restroom, and your baby is upset at being placed in their carrier, turn on the bathroom fan and sink. Both of these noises mimic the sound of your heartbeat, which your baby was consistently soothed by in the womb. This technique should give you a few quiet minutes to take care of yourself.

Close Family

As a parent one should make sure to set time aside specifically for the family. This is important for maintaining a happy and close family, because with our busy lives it is easy to let other outside activities such as sports and work get in the way.

Good Relationship

As unfortunate an event it may be, divorces happen all of the time. In order for you, a divorced parent, to hold a good relationship with your college aged and older children you must never get them in the middle of your divorce. This will push them away for you and your ex-spouse.

Mom And Baby

Look into slings and baby carriers designed for twins. They do exist, and they are fabulous. There is a learning curve for getting two babies into a carrier, but the benefits to mom and baby are enormous. Wearing your babies will allow you to get things done with your hands free, and the twins get the emotional connection and intellectual stimulation from being right with you.

As recognized in the beginning of this article, it really can take a lot to be a parent, maybe sometimes, more than you may think you have. But somehow, you make it through and are ready for the demands of the next day. By using the advice in this article, you can, indeed, make it through yet another day.…

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How To Make The Most Of Your Pregnancy

Going through pregnancy can be either amazing or traumatic. It depends on how you approach it. But, it is possible to turn a bad experience into a positive one with the right knowledge. The advice here is going to help those who are pregnant to appreciate and understand this time.

Listen to your body. Some women will find that they need more sleep when they are pregnant, and others will find that some foods no longer agree with them. Don’t push your body to do something it clearly does not want to do. Being able to listen to what you need will help your pregnancy go a lot smoother.

Go ahead and give in to your pregnancy cravings. Doctors aren’t quite sure if cravings are a result of emotional changes or of nutritional deficits in your diet, but not getting the foods you crave can be stressful during a time when you don’t need the added stress. Just be careful that your diet is healthy overall.

If you are trying to get pregnant, but are not yet, start tracking your menstrual cycles. This will let you know when you are ovulating, and will also be able to tell you what date you conceived on when you find out your are pregnant. This will help you to be more accurate with your due date.

Eat small meals to help with the nausea that can happen in the first trimester. Keeping your stomach with something in it will help keep those upset stomach issues at bay. Eat fresh and light foods as well. Fresh fruits, meats, and vegetables are very helpful.

Keep exercising. Especially in those first few months when you may not feel so great, it is even more important to discipline yourself to staying active. Go for a walk in the morning or the evening. Do some light weight lifting. This will keep you body toned during pregnancy and make losing weight after the birth much easier.

Make sure you remember to make time for your spouse while you are pregnant too. Most likely, he is nervous about the baby’s arrival too, and he probably requires reassurance. Do things together, like going for a walk or taking in a movie. Cherish the dwindling time you have alone together before the new addition arrives.

Baby-Sitting

It is important to learn how to take care of a newborn. Baby-sitting other people’s toddlers and newborns is a great way to learn this experience. Caring for other people’s newborns not only helps make some money on the side, but also gives you the life skills you need to take care of your own child.

Mom And Baby

Exercising in pregnancy is good for mom and baby. The benefits include decreased risk for gestational diabetes, less complaints of constipation and back pain and a quicker recovery from birth for mom. Stop exercising and see your doctor if you have signs, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, fluid leaking, uterine contractions or vaginal bleeding.

It was announced at the start of this article, that pregnancies can be a difficult or easy experience, dependent on your preparations. Understand your body changes. Use the advice you’ve just read in this article.…