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!