Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How Do You Manage Your Family Member’s Chaotic Schedules?

Over the past several years, we’ve had a lot of wisdom shared with busy parents, especially through our “Wise Parents, Wise Kids” video chats.  I recently sat down to chat with Mary Beth Goodrich, Professor and Senior Lecturer at UT Dallas and mother of three, and with Gina Cruz, Owner and Director of Learning Rx San Antonio NE and mother of two.  They shared their thoughts on the challenges of juggling career, family, self-care, and more.  

The ideas covered can benefit you and your loved ones – whether you work full time outside home, full time within your family, or anywhere in-between.  One insightful idea that really helps Gina is using Google Calendar to keep up with each family member’s schedules and to plan where the kids will be and who is getting them there.

Don’t miss this!  Grab a pen and paper and listen to this great conversation here:

We all have goals and dreams for our families. One way to make sure they come to life is to talk about them and then create action steps that allow us to “aim for the ideal and deal with what’s real”.

Check out the many ways I can support you today in creating a better life for you and your loved ones here: 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Do This to Walk the Line: Talking to Your Kids About Natural and Man-made Disasters

Many natural and man-made disasters are in the news 24 / 7 these days.  How can we as parents educate and reassure our kids without completely isolating them from the events?  Let’s take a look at some tips to foster awareness, understanding, reassurance, and empathy during difficult times.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents, teachers, child care providers, and others who work closely with children to filter information about the crisis and present it in a way that their children can accommodate, adjust to, and cope with.

  1. Consider your children’s maturity levels.  For the really young, you may choose to protect them from the news.  For older children, a willingness to follow and discuss what is happening can inform and inspire curiosity, empathy, and discussion.
  2. Set aside other tasks to really talk.  Your child may come to you with questions or concerns when you are busiest.  Be willing to put other things on hold if they seem to need it.

  1. Seek to understand and address what worries your child the most. Listen and ask questions to make sure you really get what he or she is saying and then gently address it on a level they can understand.
  2. Reassure them that you’ll do everything to keep them safe.   Offer love, protection and reassurance that you will do your best to keep them safe.
  3. Put things in perspective.  Put the event(s) in perspective (i.e.  the hurricane was many miles away, we just got a lot of rain.  The authorities are doing everything they can to rescue those in need.)
  4. Pre-screen as much as possible.  Viewing a video clip showing a lot of violence can have a profound effect on a young child. Trust your instincts to guide you on age-appropriate content, avoiding things that may be too disturbing but sharing others that may inform and inspire them.

  1. Let your child know you are concerned or upset, within limits.   It is fine to share your concerns as long as you don’t add fuel to the fire.  Carve out time to check in with yourself and reflect on your thoughts and feelings, reaching out to a trusted friend if needed.  Remember your children are looking to you on how to react and can be easily influenced by your emotions if they are out of control.
  2. Take a time out from all forms of media.  Even when you are ‘hunkering down for the storm’, consider silencing the unnecessary news.  Read, sing songs  or play a simple game of cards to help ALL detach and regain focus. These ‘tools’ in your parent tool kit are always available - just like with a first aid kit, you have to review and make sure the supplies are ready to use.
  3. Turn to a higher source. Whether you hold Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or other belief systems, some type of prayer or reflection can calm and reassure you and your child.

  1. Ask your kids what, if anything, they’d like to do to help.  Move on to what you can do. This is a great time to foster empathy and giving - what can you as a family do to help those impacted by the event? Participating in a local relief effort can help your child feel they are taking action to overcome feelings of helplessness.  Taking action also helps those in need and deepens your child’s empathy for others.
And finally:
  1. Close by reassuring. When the chat is winding down, check to see if questions have been answered and offer to be there anytime your child wants to discuss it more.  

Taking steps to help your child understand world events without becoming overwhelmed by what is happening is an important life skill for you and your loved ones.  Using these tips as a guide can help you navigate any troubling event.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ramp Up the School Year - AIM For The IDEAL, DEAL With What’s REAL!

Over the past few weeks, we have ‘unpacked’ some key concepts to help your family design goals and take steps to achieve things you all dream about.  We especially talked about taking the Long View and developing personal grit in life.
Investing in your family by keeping the Long View in mind while dealing with the current reality is Fine-Tuned Families’ theme of ‘Aim for the Ideal, Deal with what’s Real’.
In "Aiming for the Ideal", we are dreaming of what could be.  There is room for creativity and possibility here.  That is part of the fun of coaching conversations, and you can start there with your family.  This is the area where great ideas and adventures happen.  Ask questions like "What is possible here?" or "What if we could GO anywhere we wanted?" or "What if we could DO anything we wanted?"
​The second part of the phrase is "Deal with what is real".  Life happens - things come up that get in the way.  Kids get sick, unexpected expenses arise....  That doesn't mean everything is a bust.  If you deal with what's real, you are willing to look for what you can do in spite of the issue at hand.  Plans may have to be scaled back or changed.  You can circle back to the questions above and create new ideas.
Parents make plans (family budgets, vacation plans, savings plans, etc.) for their families. Other examples are having a fire and house safety plan and a plan for what to do when you get separated in a large public spaces.
Some of the plans are:
•            Short Term (dealing with what’s real): how to best navigate a week of rushed and early morning departs form the house, getting everyone to their various after-school activities, etc
•            Long term (aiming for the ideal): how to grow and maintain family closeness—by creating traditions like family game nights, or sharing a holiday with grandparents, or other ‘big picture’ events like college planning (what a student needs to do to prepare for college, not just finances!) etc.
Taking time to plan, make goals, and talk about how you want your family to be even when real life interrupts, requires grit and a willingness to take a long view. And you know, these habits are not ‘instant’. They take time and energy to develop and maintain.
It is well worth taking time to dream, plan and live life while aiming for your ideals.  If you need inspiration, information and encouragement to help you build a family plan that is ‘gritty’ and real, call me. I am passionate about helping your family create SMAART goals for the #family win.

Check out this fantastic offer to move from Dreaming the IDEAL to REAL-izing it:

Click Here to Create and Realize Your Ideals!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The value of Grit and 'being Gritty'

I recently watched this fantastic TED talk on GRIT that is being shared across the internet. It is a video worthy of your time. 
Angela Lee Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania Psychologist defines grit as the “perseverance and passion for long-term goals".  In a blog post by Jenny Williams, she states it "... is a better indicator of future earnings and happiness than either IQ or talent.” )
Duckworth explains her research underscores the need for us all to be ‘gritty’ when helping our kids develop grit.
How can a parent help a child develop grit, you ask?
Duckworth acknowledges that she does not fully know. (Refreshing, right?) A child is unique. Learning is not ‘one size fits all’. We must all learn to learn. How successful you are as lifelong learner is determined by more than just a measurement of IQ or talent.
Learning is a lifelong function and needs a marathon mindset. Learning is not ‘done’ at the end of a grade, or when a project is turned in for a grade.  Learning is not a sprint. Learning is more than memorization and the ability to perform certain tasks and skills. Learning also includes the ability to wait, the ability to reset after failure, and to know that failure is not a permanent state.
Duckworth highlights a ‘growth mindset’, referencing a study from Stanford University, as an important concept to share with students. It actually empowers them to understand what happens to the brain when we learn. The growth mindset concept allows the student to adapt, to wait when needed, and to learn in the struggle. Learning to wait for an hour before playing a video game, waiting your turn in line, waiting to buy something with money saved over time is all part of the ‘growth mindset’ and will ensure a student’s ability to be gritty and thrive.
Duckworth challenges us all to be “more gritty”.

Creating a plan of action that guides our family through busy and demanding times also helps build grit.  It supports a marathon mindset and moves us away from constantly running around putting out fires.

Here is a powerful tool to help your family develop a ‘growth mindset’ and foster grit:  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Doing This Will Help Your Family Thrive PLUS I Share an Inspiring Story!

"Take the long view: to think about the effects that something will have in the future instead of in the present. "    
Identifying and embracing your family's long view (how your family wants to live EVEN when times are tough) helps you live out your values. Your family's long view helps inform your family how to respond and be proactive in all seasons of life. As parents, taking the long view is an important family philosophy AND life skill to cultivate.

Stephen Covey, author of international best seller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, urges us to “be proactive” and to “begin with the end in mind”, (Habits One and Two) – which is key to taking the long view. Being proactive means you create and strive to live by a plan of action that you adjust as you move through your day, week, month and year. Beginning with the end in mind means you have an idea or a picture of where you want to go.  Otherwise, as Dr. David Campbell wisely covers in his book of the same title, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else”.

I recently had the pleasure talking with Carol Graham, as a guest on her internationally famous podcast, Never Ever Give Up Hope.  In it, I shared some of the incredibly difficult season of our lives, where for my family, taking the long view was the way we made it through my son's life threatening accident and healing. We all had to keep the long view in mind as we navigated hospitals and the long road of various therapies and miraculous recovery . The blessing and good news is through recovery and some major adaptation, we continued to focus on the long view for our family and recently celebrated a significant milestone because of it.
Listen to me talk about our struggles and triumphs through my son’s near fatal car accident and recovery here:

Every family walks a different path, and every family can cultivate a long view to help them grow strong and be strong in all seasons of life.
That is my passion—to help families flourish as they take the long view.

Use this great tool to design and embrace a long view in your loved ones:

Friday, July 21, 2017

Fun Reading Ideas to Help Your Family Thrive

After the festivities of the 4th of July fizzle out, we have the long hot days of summer ahead of us. What is your survival plan?...And why just survive? Why not thrive….AND have FUN!
The one thing we all can do and it really does not cost any money at all is read. After all, the family that reads together, grows together.

I heard an author comment on his approach to reading in his family recently on the podcast “Think Out Loud” (OPB/ NPR). He recommends that you think of your kids’ reading in the summer like time at the amusement park. Letting them pick the ride correlates to letting them pick what they read in the summer.  When I think about it, it makes sense. If they pick the item/topic to read, they will read it. He keeps it simple by making sure they all read together twice a day. Around breakfast time—a luxury for him he acknowledges as he starts the day with the family due to his ‘hallway commute’ of a flight of stairs to his writing office. And they read together in the evening – all electronics off. Yes, we all have books on digital devices, but I like his approach. Unplug and use the time to read aloud to each other, or read around the fire pit or in comfy hammocks or chairs. Your children will thank you for this delightful and delicious summer time routine that can be a tradition they practice all lifelong. To ensure there is enough to read during the evening reading time, his family goes to the library once a week—sometimes more.

There are a lot of fun ways to make your summer enjoyable and thriving.  Intentional, easy, fun activities to add to the daily reading ritual will make for a summer that sparkles with interest instead of frustration. With this basic EASY, Low or NO Cost plan in place, your week will go by fast as you share with family and friends wonderful slow connecting activities like taking walk, playing a board game and perhaps a game of tag or corn hole.  

What would it be like if you and your family friends went to the library together? We have long been advocates of the local library here at Fine-Tuned Families (listen to our Wise Parent Wise Kids conversation with our local librarian here:

Share with us over on our Facebook page how you and your family are choosing to thrive this summer by sharing reading time together. What is the book or topic that is hot for your young readers? We are wondering what we should read next… let us know how your summer amusement of reading and connecting plays out!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Great Conversation Starters

There is a great gift for Dads (and all the family) on my website -- Great Conversation Starters…
These powerful conversations start with questions that are positive and encourage a response beyond a ‘one word’ answer. Knowing how to ask a question is important so you can open the door to dialogue and conversation.
AND, when you ask your child a good question for a conversation starter—you should practice your good listening skills to ensure your child learns to value sharing their thoughts and feelings with you. Good listening is an important resiliency skill to model. You have to practice…not just preach.

My free gift ( gives you the conversations starters directions and examples around:
•Asking an open-ended question (to dream, problem solve, or to forecast).
•Asking a specific conversation question (to connect, to get information, or to plan).

Here are two simple guidelines on how to use great conversations starters:
Guideline #1: You have two ears and one mouth.
This is the perfect ratio to help you remember to listen twice as much as you talk.
Ask the question, then be quiet. Sit so you can lean in and share your interest in hearing the answer.
            A. Make sure your phone is off/ put away or in another room.                                                                   
Obvious…and yet time and time again I remind folks to practice electronic free conversations…the old fashion way face-to-face.
            B. Mind your ABC’s of good listening:
                        Attend with genuine attention
                        Be responsive to what is said
                        Care about the other person
                        Don’t interrupt
                        Encourage the person to say more ….
Guideline #2 Active Constructive Response builds, strengthens, & maintains important relationships.
            A. Ask follow up questions that show enthusiasm and the desire to hear more
            B. Choose constructive responses over destructive response.

                 This handy chart explains what active listening is and is not:
Show authentic interest & support
Bring up negative points, or correct their version of the sharing
Distracted or understated support
‘One upping' distracts from the sharing

 Check out  my free gift now at 

Happy Father’s Day…may all your conversations with your kids be great today!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Celebrating Milestones

In our household we have some significant milestones to celebrate: graduation from college, successful job placements, and a wedding! As we start our 100 days of summer we will UNPLUG from electronics to enjoy these moments face to face.

Rest assured, these celebrations are a culmination of many "innings" in the "game of life." And these major, significant life events are occurring because those involved stayed committed to setting goals and working hard to modify and adjust as life and circumstances threw us some "curve balls." Our "team" had to dig deep and lean into the shared values, beliefs and long 7th inning stretches of unconditional love. When a curve ball changed our "at bat," we adjusted the plan, not our values or beliefs. On our "bench" were many friends and family to support and encourage us to stay in the game. 

Not every inning in life is a "home run." Often foul balls and strikeouts occur. Keeping the eye on the big picture (taking a long view) helps to get through the "innings" in life that are a challenge. When life plans are achieved, it is because resilient families plan, adjust and admit that practice comes before good enough and some form of perfect. Most importantly, the ability to "pinch hit" and laugh and love each other through all the phases and stages of the "game of life" makes the "home run" celebration season like the one we are experiencing, a real joy to share with all of the team. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Lady Banksia Rose story and taking the "Long View"

Spring is in the air and I've got another Fine-Tuned Family minute here.  Let me know how you have or will take the "Long View" in parenting your kids:
 If you prefer to read instead of watching a video, here is the transcript:

Hi, Parent Coach Janet Bonnin here of Fine-Tuned Families and The Families of the Way Ministry. This beautiful plant behind me is called a Lady Banksia Rose. It's about 20 years old. It's twice as tall as I am and equally wide around, and it has gorgeous blooms on it every spring.

I was looking at it the other day and realized this is a great metaphor for taking the long view in the raising of our kids. This plan required a lot of TLC when it was little, and has required regular care over the years. Likewise, when we're raising our children, we need to not only take care of what's right in front of us, the issues at hand, but we also need to take a long view in identifying the skills and talents that our kids need to acquire in order to be as happy and well-adjusted and successful as possible as adults.

My husband and I often get complimented on how well our kids turned out. And I can tell you it wasn't by chance. We had to take the long view. So join me, connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn as Janet Bonnin or Fine-Tuned Families or Families of the Way, and let me know what you are already doing to take the long view, and what you will do to take the long view. And please do me a favor and share this video with other parents that you know, who might like to be part of the conversation. Take care!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Setting S-M-A-A-R-T Goals for Your Family

By Angela K Woodrow,  
Updated by Janet Bonnin

Want to know the secret to achieving your goals/dreams/ wishes/ desires?

It is all about being intentional. When you are aware of what it takes to get something done, know the steps, know the cost (time, talent and resources) - then getting it done is focused and intentional and the results are always good!

Think of it this way...did any athlete or successful business person get up out of bed one day and say ‘ta-da’ goal accomplished? No. Truth be told, there are always setbacks. When you have a plan that is clear and descriptive, even the setbacks can be leveraged to help you accomplish your goals.  Lets look at the steps to help you and your family get ready to flourish with goal setting:

When you are making a goal, it needs to be a S-M-A-A-R-T goal.  In the Fine-Tuned Families community, this stands for:
  Accountability (the "Secret Sauce" that helps us attain our goals)
  Time Table

A goal can simple, such as “Eat a meal together”.  Is that too easy? Actually, it is not specific enough.  The goal is announced, but the people participating in making it a reality don’t have a concept of how to accomplish it.

So first it must be Specific:
“Eat breakfast together”.  The meal is defined. The goal of eating a meal together is defined as the first meal of the day.

To make the goal have some strength, it must be Measurable:
“Eat breakfast together two times a week.”  Now, the specifics can be measured.  It may be Saturday and Sunday...or it may be a quick breakfast stop mid- week at the local coffee shop-- what a way to motivate those young teens out of bed! When a plan needs to be adjusted you have 5 other days to choose from to help you meet the desired goal. 

Actions: What actions do you need to take?
  Set the alarm
  Go to bed a bit earlier the night before
  Set up a budget to help you manage the cost of eating breakfast out once a week

Accountability: This is the "Secret Sauce" in taking goal setting to realization.  There are a number of ways you may create some accountability in your plans.  The first is to ask someone to be your accountability partner.  Who are you going to report to regarding your success or the need to adjust the goal setting strategy?  Another way to hold yourself accountable may be by creating your own checklist.  Still another could be journaling about your progress, what you discover and your successes.

Resources: This category may seem to overlap with Actions as set out above. But, like painting a room, the more prep the better the result! Naming and claiming who will do what is just as important as naming the action.  Who actually will do the cooking or set up and then the clean up or shopping? 
Looking at the ‘big picture’, allows you to hash out a successful goal reaching strategy.  Double checking your thinking may make the difference between getting a jump on the reaching your goal versus falling into the rut of "flash starts and weak finishes". (Also known as the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result.)

Time table: This is an important and often ignored part of successful goal reaching, the awareness of time - when do you want to start the goal? What is the best time - now or the week kids have off school so that accomplishing the goal is enjoyable and gives the kids motivation not to linger in ‘non-routine’ moments.

Taking the time as a family to set S-M-A-A-R-T Goals; to really organize, plan and implement the goal allows your family to celebrate success and know how to move forward in planning the next goal, such as: “Eating 2 meals a day together 3 days a week!”

Enjoy creating and achieving S-M-A-A-R-T Goals this year with your flourishing family!