The Music Mom: Eileen Carey

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Somehow, some way, school is once again upon us. Thankfully, I’ve been thinking a lot about what all you moms need right about now: reliable survival tips for the new school year. I hope these tried and true suggestions help you kick off your family’s best school year ever.

1. Get to know your kid’s teacher.

We suggest sending an email if you have a question or concern, or simply if you want to introduce yourself. Ask them what you can do to support classroom learning at home, and find out if you can help the teacher by volunteering in some form within the classroom.

2. Become familiar with your kid’s friends.

Even if it’s for just a couple of hours, organize a weekend get-together with your kid’s buddies. Don’t let them sneak away downstairs or up into your kid’s room. Make them a snack, play a game together, and get to know these friends. Your goal should be to observe how everyone interacts with each other.

3. Eat at least two dinners together each week.

With band lessons, soccer practices, and your insane work schedule, this can be quite difficult. But chowing down as a family is a tried and true way to grow healthier kids, happier families, and stronger family bonds. This is an excellent opportunity to chat about what everyone did during the day. It’s also a chance to enjoy each other’s company before your smaller kids move onto their own families.

4. Create a structured time and place for homework.

For some kids, it’s best for them to work on homework immediately after walking in the door. For others, homework is best when done after dinner. It doesn’t matter when your kids do it – just decide on a time and stick with it. Everyone does better when they have routines, so establish one for homework as soon as possible.

5. Make yourself known at school.

As soon as you can, introduce yourself to your kid’s school administrators. Greet the secretaries and be extra nice to them, as they have a tough job. Don’t expect these busy people to remember your name right away, but use their names when addressing them. If you can, join the PTA. If you can’t, worry not: there are many other ways you can help.

6. Get your kids involved in at least one extracurricular activity.

Even if it’s one thing that gives your kids the chance to interact with other kids and burn off some steam, participating in an extracurricular activity is always worth it. Whether it’s a club, a community sport, or a youth group, participating in something extra will help your kids thrive. After all, all kids need something to call their own.

All too often we assume that kids are either born with a superior level of intelligence or they’re not. This assumption leads many folks to believe that there’s simply not much parents can do to influence how brainy their kids end up.

The truth? Research actually shows that intelligence is pretty much a 50/50 split when it comes to nature vs. nurture. This means that parental influence really can have a huge impact – not just on how smart kids think they are, but also on how intelligent they actually are.

This doesn’t mean you need to overwhelm your young ones with a multitude of math drills and foreign language courses before they’re even walking. Instead, focus on specific behaviors that foster a developing mind and intellect, rather than praising a kid’s natural skills.

Here are some simple everyday things you can do to raise a kid who is intellectually curious:

  • Talk to them before they even know what you’re saying.
  • Let them hear you engage in meaningful discussions with other people.
  • Introduce them to books as soon as you possibly can.
  • Use your surroundings to encourage curiosity and exploration.
  • Encourage them to actively seek out solutions to a wide variety of problems.
  • Consistently praise their efforts, instead of focusing solely on their natural abilities.
  • Actively look for teachable moments in everyday life in which you can build their knowledge and thinking skills.
  • Teach them what it means to have a growth mindset – and then model for them how to consistently display one.

Parenting often features exhausting loads of responsibility and very few accolades. Every day, we as moms make sure that our kids are fed, well-rested, and generally taken care of. But this concern for our kids often comes at our own expense. The result? As the emotional anchor of her family, a mom who ignores her own personal care (physical and mental) reduces her ability to parent with the joy and confidence she needs to succeed.

Beyond the obvious health benefits, exercise offers a tangible psychological boost. The rewards are far-reaching and well worth your time and effort. As proof, here are six benefits of exercise that I’m convinced will make you an even better mom than you are right this second.

  1. You become a healthy role model. It’s one thing to tell your kids to exercise and eat well. It’s a whole other thing if you actually do it yourself. Showing a sense of self-care through exercise sends the clear message that you take your health seriously and that they should, as well. Demonstrate healthy exercise habits today, and watch as your kids mimic them on their own tomorrow.
  2. You’re able to blow off steam. As moms, we sure as heck don’t earn any badges for showing patience, but we are well aware of how awful we feel when we lose our temper. Moments of chaos, confusion, and loss of control should be expected when raising kids. Being able to release that negative energy and shift your focus can help you calm down and gain a much needed sense of perspective. I even recommend investing in a punching bag and gloves, as it’s a great workout and can feel incredibly satisfying.
  3. You gain an increased sense of accomplishment. It’s important to take each day one at a time and as you move through it, pat yourself on the back for small and large accomplishments. For moms, kids are an unreliable source of that sense of accomplishment. It’s pretty much expected that you be a good mom, so rewards are usually few and far between. Sticking to an exercise regime, however, will leave you feeling proud of yourself. Each and every workout has the potential to bring about self-improvement and a genuine sense of accomplishment.
  4. You reduce your anxiety while improving your mood. Consistent exercise reduces our chance of developing stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. It also releases chemicals that reduce anxiety and improve our mood. And as you know, there are oh so many sources of stress that come from being a mom. Exercising can counteract the unavoidable stresses of parenting.
  5. You experience an increase in optimism. Exercise has the ability to change your self-perception, and can provide a positive sense of personal mastery. It also has the ability to lessen negative thinking. An optimistic outlook improves health and well-being – and it’s even known to lengthen life expectancy.
  6. You reduce your chances of experiencing depression. Researchers are discovering that exercise works at least as well against mild-to-moderate depression as other forms of treatment. It may be an alternative to current forms of treatment – even in severe cases. Too many moms face depression due to identity shifts, sleep deprivation, and the typical demands of motherhood. Exercise just might be the thing that staves off depression and fosters joy. That’s definitely a win-win in my book.

While many moms feel lonely in their personal experience of anxiety, it’s so much more common than we tend to admit. More than 30% of adults will experience anxiety at some point during their lifetime – and that’s the ones who actually feel comfortable revealing it. There’s probably a much higher number of folks who struggle with anxiety.

If you’ve experienced anxiety, you know how much it can interfere with your daily life. From your career to your personal relationships, anxiety tends to overshadow everything that’s important to us. That’s why we need to learn how to manage anxiety when it appears.

With that in mind, here are 6 tried and true ways to manage your anxiety so that you can be the mentally healthy woman you want (and need) to be:

1. Completely re-shift your focus.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, I recommend completely switching gears by trying to do something you enjoy. It could be working out, making a healthy meal, watching a favorite film, or spending time outside with Mother Nature (one of my favorites). Anything that helps take your mind off the source of your anxiety is a good thing. You’ll find that this new sense of perspective is actually quite necessary when trying to figure out how to deal with your source of anxiety.

2. Actively work to become more mindful.

Becoming more mindful is not as difficult as it sounds. For example, when you’re feeling anxious, take a deep breath, make a mental note of what’s causing your anxiety, and then gently place it to the side with the intention of coming back to it later.

3. Find ways to become more physically active than you’ve been. 

Physical activity can be an effective way to work off the tension that comes with anxiety. Endorphins released during exercise help you feel more relaxed and clear-headed. I am a big fan of getting in some high-level activities when I start to feel the anxiety coming on. It really does help.

4. Limit your caffeine intake and avoid other not-so-healthy substances. 

Caffeine increases your heart rate and can make anxiety worse. If you love the taste of coffee, try drinking decaf instead. If you use alcohol to unwind, remember that alcohol can increase anxiety within a few hours of consumption. And while a substance like marijuana might bring feelings of relaxation in the short-term, it usually ends up making things worse. In short, don’t mask your anxiety with the type of temporary relief that alcohol and other substances sometimes provide. 

5. Focus more on the things you can change.

Sometimes anxiety stems from worrying about things in the future. Yes, the things that haven’t even happened yet. It’s important to remember that even though unpredictable things will happen, you control how you react to those unexpected challenges. Try taking on a mindset of gratitude as you reflect on the people and things you already have. 

6. Openly discuss your anxiety with folks you trust. 

Whatever is causing your anxiety, it’s important to discuss it with someone. This can be a friend, a family member, or a colleague. The reason is that simply bottling things up will not benefit you in the long run. Plus, you’ll find that sometimes merely talking about the anxiety-producing things in your life will help alleviate your anxiety.

I have found that in order for musicians to maintain an acceptable level of productivity, it is essential that they keep their creativity flowing. The problem is that, as with other artistic fields, it’s oh so easy to suddenly find yourself in a musical rut in which the creative well has run completely dry.

If you find yourself in this most unfortunate situation, fear not: There is hope. And it all stems from these four tips that’ll have you writing, singing, and playing in no time.

Detach by stepping away for a bit.

There will be times when you feel incredibly frustrated, but you stay locked in and intent on still working. Forcing yourself through a songwriting session without taking a legit break can become counter-productive. Breaks are 100% necessary to recharge your creative juices. So whether it’s twenty minutes, a day, or a week, take some time away from the creative process to clear your head and forget about music. Take a breather and then jump back on the horse when you feel ready to work productively.

Actively seek inspiration wherever you can find it.

If you’re feeling stuck with your current project, look for inspiration in other works of art that you admire. Listen to a new album. Check out a previously unheard of playlist. Read a memoir by an artist who inspires you. It may feel like a waste of time, but trust me, this is time well spent. Sitting with your guitar in frustration or staring at an empty page in your lyric book while trying to squeeze out some creativity is a gigantic waste of time. In contrast, exposing yourself to interesting forms of creativity in any form is a great way to foster inspiration and enhance creativity.

Collaborate with someone you trust.

One of the greatest things about writing music is its collaborative nature. When your inspiration is stalling, bring other folks into the mix. Working with someone else can be an effective way to discover brand new ideas. By gaining insight into how other people work, you might rethink your methods enough that it leads to the breaking of the creative dam.

Record every single idea you come up with.

Whether it’s taking notes of ideas for lyrics or humming a tune into your phone recorder, it’s always a good idea to be armed and ready to document those moments when inspiration hits. By doing this, you’ll always have at least a starting point to get things rolling. Recording many of your ideas keeps you organized and helps you be more productive in your work. Once you’re in the habit of documenting your flashes of inspiration, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how often you’re struck with an idea for a lyric or melody as you go about your regular routine.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the many life lessons we hear every day. It seems like there’s a constant influx of well-intentioned advice given by others. Some of it gold, some not so much.

With that in mind, I’m excited to share with you the most impactful life lessons I’ve learned over the past few years. I hope they inspire you and lead to success in all aspects of your life.

  1. Dreams can and often do come true – and if you’re willing to work hard, you’ve significantly upped your chances of it happening.
  2. You can be anything you want, and you can do it anytime and anywhere you want.
  3. You’re amazing, but the world will never revolve around you.
  4. Living fearlessly doesn’t mean you live a life without fear. It means you’re 100% willing to do what you have to in order to conquer your fears.
  5. There is often a funny or lighter side to things, and it’s completely worth the effort to find it.
  6. Doing to others what you want done to you isn’t just a right way to live; it’s also a tried and true formula for inviting success and happiness into your life.
  7. The present is the only thing you can control, so be here now. Always.
  8. It really is the thought that counts. Show thoughtfulness at all times and in all things.
  9. Life’s not fair, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be.
  10. There’s always someone who has it worse than you, but some days you might have it better than anyone in the world.
  11. Your real friends will reveal themselves over time, so don’t stress over that part of life.
  12. Money’s highest value comes from how it can prevent certain stresses and help bring about some of life’s most rewarding experiences. Aside from that, it means nothing.
  13. When you believe in magic, you see it everywhere. And when you don’t believe in it, well, it’s nowhere to be found.
  14. Folks might hear what you say, but they’ll definitely listen to what you do.
  15. Experiences will always be more meaningful than things, so plan your life accordingly.

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned when I was young enough to actually appreciate and apply them. The funny thing about wisdom, though, is that it’s often learned in retrospect, waaay after we need it. 

The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned. You know, people such as our kids. Hence, here are some of the most important lessons that I think are worth sharing with the younger folks in your life:

  1. Love is so much more than a pleasant feeling – it’s a daily choice.
  2. Money is nice to have and will solve some problems, but there are some problems it will never solve.
  3. Pleasing everyone is impossible, so don’t bother.
  4. There are times when you should really dive into things, but pacing yourself is often better for you than going full blast.
  5. Your physical and mental health are two of the most important things you have, so try to take very good care of them.
  6. You kind of already knew this, but this entire life experience is not all about you.
  7. It’s more than okay to not know everything all the time. 
  8. Your comfort zone is your enemy, so learn how to fight it.
  9. The early bird really does catch the worm, so be a step ahead of everyone else. 
  10. There is never a better time than right now. Never was, and never will be.
  11. A healthy work-life balance is the secret ingredient to having healthy relationships with your loved ones. 
  12. Life is seldom truly fair, but worry not: Justice eventually prevails. 
  13. There is perhaps nothing as freeing as the moment you genuinely forgive someone.
  14. Helping people who don’t ask for it is good for your soul, and will often come back to you. 
  15. Unless you have reason to do otherwise, choose action over inaction.

As you’ve likely noticed, way too many kids nowadays are overweight or obese. The good news is that a healthy and more active lifestyle can make a difference by helping maintain weight. Even better, it can also prevent health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Since kids tend to imitate their parents, it’s up to you to set the best possible example.

So what are some things you can do to ensure a healthier and happier lifestyle for you and your favorite folks? Here are just some of the ways by which everyone in your clan will be feeling better before you know it:

– Kick off each day with a healthy breakfast. Doing so refuels the body and gives you energy for the entire day.

– Eat a bunch more vegetables and fresh fruits. Your goal should be a total of 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables every single day.

– Eat more whole grains. Some things to chow down on include oats, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta. Aim for at least 3 ounces of whole grains each day.

– Drink a ton of fluids. Water should always be your first option, but you can also settle for low-fat or nonfat milk, as well as low-calorie beverages.

– Move, move, move! I recommend getting at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day. And that’s just to start.

– Include physical activity in your daily routine. Walk as a family before or after meals. The more routine you make it, the better.

– Make playtime with your family fun. Be active by running around, shooting hoops, or playing tag.

– When you start planning your next fun vacation, be sure to include activities such as hiking or biking in your plans. Get out there and discover nature, and you and your family will enjoy your special time away more than ever before.

Keeping your entire family healthy and happy doesn’t have to be a constant struggle. By using the simple tips described above, you’ll be making some relatively small changes to your diet and lifestyle that’ll inevitably lead to the type of physical and mental health you and your loved ones deserve.

Many parents admit that they yell at their kids. Parents say they do this because they want their kids to listen, but they’re used to getting little to no cooperation. When threats, promises, and pleas don’t work, yelling can feel like the only option.

The reality? Yelling at kids doesn’t help them focus on what you’re saying or what you want them to do. The truth is that it has quite an opposite effect.

Kids seem to be able to naturally tune out yelling. They might grumble, yell back at you, or even laugh in response (yeah, I hate that too), but they aren’t soaking in your message. Even worse, frequent yelling often leads to a cycle of miscommunication and overall negative vibes. This unpleasant pattern sometimes feels impossible to break.

With all that in mind, here are 6 tried and true strategies you should use if you want to yell less and be listened to more:

Listen a bit more. As with pretty much every other behavior, your child will learn how to listen by following the example you set. If you consistently listen to your child when he or she speaks, they’ll be much more inclined to listen to you when you talk to them.

Speak in a whisper. Typically speaking, when our frustration level rises, so does our voice. When you lower your voice to a whisper, it’s exactly the opposite of what your kid expects to hear. This can lead to a pleasant sense of surprise. Not only that, but when you whisper, your kid has no choice but to lean in. They are literally closer to you. This will likely make them feel more obligated to listen.

Stop talking so much. We parents tend to talk too much. Kids can receive as many as 200 instructions each day. If that sounds like a lot, well, it is. And since kids typically retain a mere 25 percent of those directives, perhaps we need to be a bit more thoughtful regarding what we tell them to do.

Find out exactly why they’re not doing what you say. Some questions to consider include: Are you asking them to do something that’s too difficult? Are they struggling to do something because they’re tired? Think on these things before jumping to the conclusion that your kid is being purposely defiant or disrespectful. The answer might be more innocent than you think.

Change the mood by adding some fun to things. Sometimes it can feel as though you and your kid are engaged in a constant battle of wills. That’s why you should change the entire dynamic by lightening things up a bit. For example, if you’re frustrated by your kid taking his time getting ready for school, whip out a timer to see who can win a race to the door. The key is to use your imagination (and your wit) to encourage his cooperation. I’ve found that it works better than merely making demands.

Try to see things eye to eye (literally). Go ahead and get down on your child’s level and ask her to look directly at you while you both are speaking. This is a great way to make sure you have your child’s full attention and to teach them the type of good manners you want them to have.

When it comes to balancing career and motherhood, one of my main focus areas is doing everything while maintaining a healthy mental state. After all, mental health is the foundation to everything in our lives. It’s super important that we feel emotionally healthy for ourselves, our careers, and most important, our kids.

I am extremely blessed to have encountered so many kind, strong, and successful women so far in my adventures. Some of them moms, some not. The cool part is that we keep each other balanced, all the while checking in to make sure we are caring for our physical health and mental health. In short, these wonderful gals and I keep each other strong.

It is the wisdom from these relationships that inspires the tips I’m about to share with you. My hope is that these suggestions will help keep you the strong, mountain-moving mama you are. 

Set aside specific “me” time.

It sounds cliché, but real “me” time is necessary, and sometimes even a life-saver. Ask some friends or family members to occasionally watch the kids while you go do whatever it is that helps you relax. It sounds crazy, but sometimes a mere 45 minutes of legit “me” time can feel like an entire day at the spa.

Consistently give yourself one very important reminder.

If there’s one thing you need to remember on a daily basis, it’s this: You do NOT have to be everywhere and doing everything at all times. Perhaps some moms can do that, and cheers to them. But the rest of us simply don’t have the time or energy to be all things to all people at all times. Leave yourself a Post-It if need be so you can remind yourself that you really are doing your best – and that that is truly enough.

Use social media to your advantage.

Here’s an important one: Regulate your social media. I personally think it can benefit you to see other moms balancing being a working mother, but if you think it will just result in you comparing yourself to other women who you think are doing “more” than you, ditch the Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for a while. In other words, if a particular social media platform isn’t bringing you joy, you don’t need it.

Give yourself some quiet time.

I know. This sounds nearly impossible. But I promise you this: If you take even one minute in the morning to sit in silence, you will feel so much more relaxed as you kick off your day. Again, I promise it will help.

Make the most of your treasured friendships.

Hey! When was the last time you checked in with your closest friends? If it’s been a while, it’s time to change that. Even five minutes a day with a different friend is a wonderful way inspire you and remind your most cherished friends that they mean the world to you.

Thoroughly analyze your relationships.

I strongly suggest that you try to surround yourself with positive, non-judgmental people. If you need to distance yourself from certain friends or family members while you analyze who fits that criteria, that’s fine. Sadly, it’s sometimes the closest people in our lives who bring the most negativity. It’s more than okay to take a break from folks like that.

Stop comparing yourself with other moms.

Unless you’re doing it to inspire yourself, I recommend not comparing yourself with other moms. Everyone has their own path and everyone has certain struggles that you are unaware of. Be the best you you can possibly be, and everything will fall into place.

You’ve got this, Mom. You have all the tools necessary to maintain the type of mental health you want and need for you and your loved ones.

There are few worse feelings as a parent than watching your child’s self-worth fall like a ton of bricks. It can be downright soul-crushing.

And while you can’t stop your child from harshly judging how their abilities and bodies match up to others, there are a number of things you can do to provide support. Here are 7 proven ways to build up your kid’s self-esteem:

  • Encourage them to focus on the skills they have and then show them how to use those skills.
  • Help them set the type of reasonable emotional, intellectual, and social expectations that they can easily attain.
  • Listen, pay attention, and offer unconditional support that is fueled by your non-judgmental love.
  • Help them find additional sources of support, such as teachers, friends, or mentors.
  • Give them the chance to build their resilience by letting them fail on occasion.
  • Catch them in the act while they’re being (and doing) good – and then offer heartfelt words of appreciation and praise.
  • Be a positive role model by showing them what it means to have a healthy self-esteem.

Whatever your kid is going through affects you. By using the strategies above, you can ensure that they soon start feeling better about themselves and their place in the world.

As music moms, the last thing we need is extra work. We’ve already got our hands full. Sometimes, though, we inadvertently burden ourselves with more to do by refusing to be as efficient as possible. In short, we end up working harder, rather than working smarter.

The good news? Figuring out how to work smarter can be done. It just takes some practice. So if you want to save energy, increase your overall productivity, increase your motivation, and build up your self-esteem (and who doesn’t?), here are 5 tried and true ways to get the most out of your work with even less effort.

1. Work on one task at a time. Multi-tasking is simply overrated. Moving from one task to another actually causes you to waste time, as it takes your brain way too much time to switch tasks and refocus. Resist your overwhelming urge to multi-task.

2. Establish a manageable morning routine. By starting your morning the same way each day, you’ll gain the proper mindset for a positive and productive day. Whether it’s going for a jog to get your blood flowing or diving into a chapter of your favorite book to wake up your brain, there are benefits to kicking off each day the same way.

3. Shorten your to-do list as much as you can. Shorten your to-do list and allow yourself to focus on no more than five big tasks each day. These should be your most important tasks, and they should make you feel productive once you complete them.

4. Block off your calendar when you need to focus solely on work. Doing this will give you the time you need to complete all your work. It will also ensure that your day is free of unexpected distractions.

5. Measure your results – not the amount of time you’re working on them. Track everything you accomplish during each day. Being able to see specific things you’ve done during the day will help you feel a sense of accomplishment.

I’m not sure about you, but we’ve been listening to Christmas music for a few weeks already. That means it’s time we start watching Christmas movies. And since there are a crazy number of them, I have put together a list of my family’s favorites. I hope these classics bring you and your loved ones a ton of holiday cheer.

‘SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN’ (1970)

From the perspective of a mailman, this movie tells the story of how Santa Claus and several Santa-connected Christmas traditions came to be. He tells the tale of a small baby named Kris who was left on the doorstep of a certain Kringle family. The rest is Christmas history.

‘HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS!’ (1966)

The story might be familiar, but there’s nothing quite like this original animated movie. I think everyone, no matter their age or generation, needs to see.

‘HOME ALONE’ (1990)

After 8-year-old Kevin misbehaves the night before a family vacation to Paris, his mother has him sleep in the attic. When he’s accidentally left home alone by his family the following morning, he’s thrilled to have the house to himself. That changes, though, as before too long he must protect his house from a pair of dimwitted burglars.

‘RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER’ (1964)

Sam the Snowman narrates a tale of a charming young red-nosed reindeer who is continually rejected for being different. After teaming up with Hermey (the rare elf who wants to be a dentist), the pair look for a place that will accept them. They soon discover a whole island of misfit toys and ask Santa for help.

‘ELF’ (2003)

As a toddler, Buddy was inadvertently shipped to the North Pole. After being raised by Santa’s elves, the affable human/elf is on a mission to find his real dad, Walter Hobbs, in New York City. The problem? Walter is on the naughty list and isn’t even slightly interested in forming a relationship. Things go expectedly (and hilariously) downhill from there.

‘THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS’ (1993)

Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, has somehow become completely bored with the spookiest of holidays. Once he stumbles into Christmas Town, he becomes so infatuated with the idea of Christmas that he decides to make up his own version.

‘MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET’ (1947)

Kris Kringle steps in to replace a drunken Santa Claus in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and people love him. Until, of course, he starts claiming to be the real deal. Once institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is, in fact, the real deal.

A CHRISTMAS STORY’ (1983)

Ralphie is an awkward young boy who unsuccessfully attempts to convince his parents, his teacher, and even Santa that he should receive a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Charmingly nostalgic and laugh-out-loud funny, this film is the perfect Christmas family flick.

‘THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL’ (1992)

This adaptation of A Christmas Carol features a set of beloved characters: the Muppets. This feature-length film also includes original songs, so be prepared for them to be stuck in your head all day.

‘THE SNOWMAN’ (1982)

No, Frosty is not the only snowman in town. This warm adventure follows a boy who builds a snowman that comes to life right after his family pet passes away. This one has very little dialogue and is only 26 minutes long, so it’s pretty much perfect for younger kids.

‘IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE’ (1946)

After George Bailey wishes that he had never been born, an angel appears to show him exactly how life would be without him. The rest is pure cinematic gold.

‘NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION’ (1989)

In this third edition of the National Lampoon series, the Griswold’s plan for a Christmas vacation quickly descends into a big old mess. This one’s worth watching solely for the big barrel of laughs it brings.

‘A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS’ (1965)

This classic will help teach your kids the true meaning of Christmas. Follow Charlie Brown and his lovable Peanuts gang who are quite bummed by the commercialization of Christmas. Their mission? To figure out a way to get to the holiday’s deeper meaning.

‘FROZEN’ (2013)

Yes, I do consider this a Christmas movie even though folks watch it year round. Anna and her pals try to save their home from the infinite winter caused by the queen, who just so happens to be her sister. It’s most definitely what I’d call a modern classic.

‘KLAUS’ (2019)

When postman Jesper is given an ultimatum to start a post office in the Arctic Circle in order to keep his share of his family’s fortune, he’s about ready to throw in the towel. After he meets Alva, however, the two build an unlikely bond with a mysterious carpenter who lives in a cabin full of handmade toys. Their goal? They must bring the holiday spirit to a cold and dreary town that desperately needs it.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start developing an attitude of gratitude within your kids. If you’ve been looking for ways to do that, good news: There are some specific things you can do to make sure your kids knows exactly what it means to give thanks this coming Turkey Day. Here are four tried and true ways to raise a grateful child:

Become a living, breathing model of contentment. Simply put, lacking contentment will often lead to a lack of gratitude. When you’re content, you appreciate where you are and what you have, instead of continually wanting more. Demonstrate for your kid what it means to be happy with what you have at the moment. The younger your kids are when you start teaching them this vital lesson, the better.

Emphasize just how important relationships are. A number of studies reveal the close connection between meaningful relationships and a heightened sense of gratitude. Social interacting with individuals whom you genuinely care for is inherently good for increasing one’s gratitude. You can teach this to your kids by showing them exactly what healthy, positive relationships look like, both with family members and close friends.

Stop any and all forms of complaining. Believe it or not, but constantly complaining about every day events like lousy weather or brutally congested traffic just might be your worst habit. When we complain about these rather meaningless life events, we’re showing our kids how to complain about and become angry over the silliest things possible. Complaining is a toxic habit that can stunt a grateful approach to life, so do your best to remain mindful of what you say and when you say it.

Teach kids to reframe the negative situations they encounter. One of my favorite sayings is an old Norwegian phrase that goes, “There’s no bad weather, only poor clothing”. This is the perfect quote to give you and your kids an enhanced sense of perspective. Teaching gratitude to your kids will help them grow a more positive attitude towards life. They will also learn to thrive in difficult life situations. Help them learn how to do this by searching for the silver linings in even the worst situations.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Growing a grateful child is not an easy task, but you can do it. The four strategies described above will ensure that this Thanksgiving is a time of genuine gratitude, as well as the start of a truly content and happy future for you and your kids.

Screens, screens, and more screens. They’re everywhere! And while it’s important to show our kids some of their benefits, we also have to make sure we don’t allow screens to grab hold of their behavior.

Here are 5 ways to limit screen time and make sure you and child become significantly happier and healthier:

Consistently model how and when you want your kids to use screens. Kids are so much smarter than some folks give them credit for. Taking a “Do as I say, not as I do!” approach simply won’t cut it. As parents, we should set a good example by limiting our own screen time and using technology at the right times. Sneaking a peek at your phone at the dinner table totally sends the wrong message. Again, kids will do as we do, not as we say.

Get outside, explore, and play as much as possible. Sure, electronic games and certain TV shows can help develop your kids’ brains. But these screen-based activities can also overstimulate your kid’s little noggin. When kids get outside and play and explore Mother Nature, they get the opportunity to calmly engage their brain. The result is usually more relaxed kids who do better at home, at school, and in most other public settings. Sounds good, eh?

Read as many books as possible. I believe there’s something inherently healing about working your way through a good book. Encourage your kids to read more by giving them plenty of options. There are so many benefits to reading, including enhanced speech skills, improved reading comprehension, and superior critical thinking skills. I feel pretty darn safe in saying that we all want those things for our kids. Consistently diving into a book will help make that happen, so you know what to do.

Choose experiences over things. There are sooo many gadgets out there that our kids seem intent on getting. And like good parents, we often want to give them the things we think they want or even need. But the reality is that our kids don’t need more gadgets. They don’t need the latest and greatest phone, tablet, or television. Rather than hooking them up with these types of items, I think we should focus on giving them the gift of experience. Get out there and do stuff. See places. Meet new people. Your kid will be infinitely better off when you commit to giving them experiences instead of things. They’ll also have the type of lifelong memories that pieces of technology simply cannot provide.

Keep screens as far away from the bedroom as you can. Screens should be kept out of the bedroom at all times. Just like you, your kids need consistent, quality sleep to be their best selves. It’s simply impossible for them to get that type of sleep if there are screens in their bedroom. They don’t have the discipline to not use them – especially after you’ve gone to sleep. Remove the temptation by keeping all screens out of the bedroom. And remember: Ditch all electronics at least two hours before your kids turn in for the night.

I know that it seems like a monumental task to get your kid to cut down on their screen time. But by following the above tips, you can make it happen. There’s so much more out there than whatever’s bombarding your kid on a screen, so help them (and yourself) by giving them the tools they need to spend less time passively receiving technology and more time actively enjoying life.

Sometimes when we’re feeling low, we beat ourselves up even more by telling ourselves that we shouldn’t feel this way. I want to remind you that everyone feels negative about themselves at some point in life; the key is to avoid letting it eat you alive.

Instead, face the fact that you’re feeling bad about yourself. Then combat that feeling by focusing on the many successes you’ve had so far in life. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re a mom to at least one amazing kid who you’ve raised. I consider that cause enough for celebration.

However, if you’re still struggling to focus on anything positive about yourself, here are some tried and true strategies for increasing your confidence:

Take on a new hobby or learn a new skill. Nothing is as magical for your confidence as conquering a challenge, so why not dive into a new hobby and learn a new skill? If you can master it, you’ll have that amazing feeling that there’s nothing you can’t do if you really try. There are countless options out there, so find something new that’ll challenge you physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

Set (and stick with) small, attainable goals. Doing this will definitely help increase your confidence. As your confidence grows, you’ll soon find yourself setting (and then achieving) even larger goals. This will have the effect of boosting your confidence even more. It’s a rewarding cycle that starts with meeting those small, attainable goals you’ve set for yourself.

Focus on the thing that makes you unique. Being a mother is truly a privilege, but we all sometimes feel like we’ve lost our identity somewhere along this long and winding parenting journey. I recommend trying to reconnect with what makes you an individual. Celebrate who you are and what you do, and then seek out ways to further enhance your individuality.

Make time to talk with your kids. As you’ve noticed, I’m a huge fan of moms spending quality time with kids. Use this time to ask your kid questions. These conversations with your kid will confirm that you are indeed doing a wonderful job as a mother, and as a person, in general. An added benefit is that these chats will strengthen your mom-kid relationship. That’s a legit win-win in my book.

One of my favorite Beatles, George Harrison, really nailed it when talking about focusing on the present:

“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.” 

As a music mom, this advice is so important to hear – and follow. The thoughtful Beatle’s words are a timely reminder to be mindful and honor the present moment. Not only is it the right thing to do for those around us, but here are 5 ways in which living in the present greatly improves your mental health and general well-being:

You stop living life on autopilot. I hate when I feel as though I’m simply going through the motions in life. The cool part is that folks who embrace the present rarely go through the motions. Their existence is chock full of intentional living. The result is that they often experience days that are meaningful and fulfilling. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

You realize that you are so much more than your thoughts. I know that for me, it’s all too easy for my thoughts to take complete control over my life. Unfortunately, it’s just as easy to let those thoughts shape the way we see ourselves, the people around us, and the world at large.

When you focus on the present, all that self-harming judgment simply fades away. Rather than worrying nonstop about what you’ve said or done, you begin to fully understand and appreciate your thoughts.

You avoid the cycle of procrastination. Procrastination typically happens when we want things to be perfect, or we feel overwhelmed. I know for me, sometimes when the thought of completing a daunting project seems impossible, I avoid it altogether. Not good.

Being mindfully present helps you take things one step at a time. Before you know it, you’ve put a dent in that seemingly insurmountable task and you feel proud because of it.

A mindful approach to living helps create healthy boundaries. Being present lets you set time and energy boundaries. This frees you from wasting valuable time worrying about the past and future. All of us experience troubles at some point in life, but mindful people construct healthy boundaries that keep these negative things from ruining the here and now.

Embracing the present is so incredibly good for your psychological health. Learning how to live in the present does wonders for your psychological health. Psychology Today sums it up perfectly:

“Mindful people are happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, and more secure. They have higher self-esteem and are more accepting of their own weaknesses. Anchoring awareness in the here and now reduces depression, binge eating, and attention problems.”

Living in the present is often a challenge, but the mental and emotional benefits described above make it so worth it.

You know it, and I know it: The need for motherly work-life balance is more important than ever. It seems as though moms like us have more on our plates now than ever before, so it’s truly necessary to make sure we have a good grip on the following: what we do, how we do it, and when we choose to do it.

And since nobody has yet responded to my request to add a few more hours to the day, we need to acknowledge that now is the time to finally make that work-life balance happen. The good news? It’s totally doable.

But before we look at some simple steps for making it happen, let’s take a peek at just some of the benefits of a more balanced life:

BENEFIT #1: Work-life balance inevitably improves your mental health, making you capable of clear thought.

BENEFIT #2: Work-life balance allows you the time to improve your physical health.

BENEFIT #3: A truly balanced lifestyle lets you be fully present wherever you are, be it at home, at work, or with friends and family.

BENEFIT #4: Work-life balance makes your relationships with your family, friends, and co-workers healthier and generally more positive.

BENEFIT #5: Work-life balance helps free up some of that creativity that gets stifled when we’re super stressed.

I’m pretty sure these all sound like amazing benefits of a better work-life balance. If you’re itching to make these things happen in your life, here are 5 steps to take:

STEP #1: Rid yourself of all those time-consuming things that you really can do without. You don’t need them, and you really don’t need to worry about finding the time to do them.

STEP #2: Build strong boundaries that keep all those unimportant items away. In other words, come up with certain criteria that allow you to cross some items off your to-do list.

STEP #3: Put time into properly prioritizing your daily and weekly plans, and be sure to write out a plan for the week. Every successful person has some sort of a plan, so here’s your chance to create yours. Remember: If you don’t schedule certain things to happen, chances are they never will.

STEP #4: Put honest effort into being more present in all facets of your life. When you consciously decide to do something like be more present, you tend to increase the likelihood you’ll do it. Oh, and having a buddy who can hold you accountable helps a lot, too.

STEP #5: Creativity is therapeutic. It’s also the kind of thing we sometimes need to make space for. Build into your schedule specific times when you can work on your music, art, poetry, creative writing – whatever. Like the other things in your life, if you don’t deliberately map out this time, it likely won’t happen.

So there you have it. I’m convinced that taking the 5 steps described above will help unlock the 5 benefits detailed above. A happier, healthier, and more productive life is waiting for all of us. All we need to do is determine that we’re going to make it happen.

Enjoy the balance!

This Wednesday, August 11 is National Son and Daughter Day. To celebrate, I thought it’d be nice to share with you specific phrases you can say that’ll show your son or daughter just how much you appreciate them.

The best part? Kids who are appreciated are extremely likely to repeat their behaviors. Not only that, but if they receive these kind words, they’re more likely to show appreciation towards others.

Here are some phrases my friends and I have said to our kids. Feel free to make them your own so they’re relevant to your son or daughter.

1. I love how enthusiastically you greet your Dad when he gets home from work. It makes him feel special.

2. Thanks for giving me a kiss before I leave for work each morning.

3. I appreciate you doing all your chores without me having to ask you.

4. Thanks for listening to me when I’m talking to you.

5. You made your brother’s day by playing with him when your friends were here.

6. Thanks for remembering that I love the color red.

7. I enjoy baking cookies with you. We make a great team.

8. I noticed how careful you were while emptying the dishwasher. Thanks!

9. Thanks for waiting for dinner to eat. Snacks fill you up, so you made a wise decision.

10. Thanks for putting the caps back on all the markers.

11. I love taking walks with you.

12. I enjoy watching movies with you. Thank you for choosing something we both enjoy.

13. You have such a kind heart. Thanks for drawing me that picture for Mother’s Day.

14. Thanks for taking off your muddy boots before you walked on our new rug. It shows that you respect our home.

15. You look great! Thank for choosing your clothes and getting dressed.

16. Thanks for putting all those flowers in a vase. They look beautiful on the kitchen table.

17. Thanks for being quiet and reading to yourself this morning while the rest of us were still sleeping.

18. Thanks for being so gentle when we were working in the garden this morning.

19. I love it when you rub my hair when I have a headache. It’s sooo sweet – and you help make me feel better.

20. I appreciate how carefully you cared for your little brother while I was making dinner.

21. It meant a lot to me to see you teaching your brother how to skateboard. He’s lucky to have you.

22. Thank you for listening to me.

23. I appreciate how much you enjoy writing songs. You are definitely a talented kid.

24. I love how curious you are.

25. Your jokes are so funny. Thanks for sharing them with me.

Everyone is focused on Tokyo as the world’s greatest athletes compete in the 2020 Summer Games. Whether it’s for our parenting, our music career, or our general approach to life, here are 8 important lessons we can learn from these world-class athletes:.

They are coachable individuals who continually learn. Each Olympic athlete excels at their game because they spend time practicing, watching replays of their performance, and strategizing with their coaches. If you truly want to be the best at something, you’ll have to commit yourself to it for life.

They repeatedly overcome obstacles big and small. When most people encounter an obstacle, they try to find a way out. Olympic athletes push forward when this happens, intent on learning all they can from the challenge. They know facing adversity is part of being successful. In other words, they embrace it.

They think big. Really, really big. You might be surprised by how many folks spend their time thinking about just getting by. It’s called selling yourself short, and way too many people do it. If you ask every athlete in Tokyo how they think they’ll do, they all will say they expect to win the gold. They believe 100% in their abilities, and there’s absolutely nothing anyone could say to change their mind.

They are motivated by SMART goals that they’ve set for themselves. Setting goals helps you to navigate the way to your set destination. If you live aimlessly every day without aiming for a particular outcome, you’ll have an unfulfilling life. George T. Doran coined the term SMART goals in 1981. It’s been used by champion athletes ever since. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.

They practice the fine art of visualization. Visualization involves setting goals and then creating a mental image of the steps required in reaching them. Olympic Gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, one of the greatest female skiers in U.S. history, credits visualization for her success in the Winter Olympics. At the start of every race, you can see her closing her eyes and moving her arms and legs as she pictures every intricate movement. In short, visualization works.

They hang out with people who think like they do. Olympic athletes spend so much time together because positive consciousness is contagious. Your level of success in any area of your life is most likely equivalent to that of the people you spend the most time with. If you want to be better at something, get around people who push you towards excellence.

They compartmentalize their emotions. Olympic athletes have the unique ability to put aside anything else going on at that very moment, and focus only on the task in front of them: winning the gold.

They know very good is never good enough. For the average person, being very good is something to be proud of. For Olympians, it’s an insult. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Why just be happy with the bronze or silver when you can go for the gold?

If you’re like most moms right about now, you’re absolutely itching to get those kids outside. And since summer is here and the weather is oh so fine, the beach is probably one of your favorite destinations. I’m right there with you.

If you’re an expert beach broad, however, you know that a fun beach outing can quickly turn bad. Just one runaway wave or angry sea creature can turn your amazing day in the sun into a living hell.

While we’ve all had a bad beach day that ends with our parts feeling a bit too sun-roasted, serious injuries are much more common than we think. On that note, here are 7 tips to help keep you and your fellow beach bums safe:

1. Learn what warning flags mean, and then look out for them. Different beaches have different colored flags with specific assigned meanings. It’s a good idea to ask the lifeguard if you’re not sure what the flags signify. Use caution. And remember: Not all beaches are made for swimming, so know what’s what before you set foot on the sand.

2. Stay updated on the weather forecast. Lightning + large bodies of water = trouble. Check the weather report before heading to the beach. Save the beach for another day if there’s lightning in the forecast. If you’re already there, wait at least 30 minutes after the last thunder boom before heading back out to the sand.

3. Make sure everyone in your crew knows how to swim. Swimming skills do matter: Giving a one-year-old child four formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by as much as 88 percent. Our rule is simple: If you can’t at least do the doggie paddle, stay away from the water. And if you’re at the beach with a child or adult who can’t swim, make sure they wear a life jacket.

4. Pick a swimming spot that’s close to a lifeguard. Lifeguards are there for a reason. They have the ability to see, hear, and sense things that the average beachgoer does not. Take note of where they’re stationed on the beach and stay relatively close to them when swimming. Most drownings occur at unguarded sites, so being close to a lifeguard greatly reduces your chance of that happening.

5. Stay aware of rip currents. When waves don’t break evenly along the shore, there can be a circulation in the water that produces a rip current. These notorious currents are the biggest threat to beachgoers, capable of dragging even the strongest swimmer far from the shore. If you do get pulled out, stay calm. You need to save your energy. You can do this by letting the current carry you for a while. Once you’ve calmed down, start swimming horizontal to the shore until you’ve removed yourself from the current. Then return to the shore by swimming diagonally.

6. Know what it usually looks like when a swimmer is in trouble. Here’s a fact that all beachgoers need to digest: Drowning is the number one cause of unintentional deaths in the world. While we assume that swimmers in distress will be frantically waving their hands and yelling for dear life, this isn’t always the case. In fact, drowning is often eerily quiet. Keep an eye out for people who have their heads low in the water or tilted back with their mouth open, who have their eyes closed, or who are trying to swim with little to no success.

7. Respect the waves before they force you to. Swimmers who dismiss the power of the ocean’s waves do so at their own risk. They are so much more powerful than non-beach bums realize. Injuries resulting from strong waves can include sprains, broken collarbones, and dislocated shoulders. On the more serious side, swimmers can experience blunt organ trauma and paralysis through severe spinal injuries. Oh, and look out for shore breaks. These are those violent waves that break directly on shore, as opposed to gently rolling in from further offshore. These downright frightening waves can cause serious neck and spinal injuries.

We are lucky to have beaches to run to when all other summer activities seem a bit blah. The beach is a treasure trove of fun, relaxation, and adventure, all waiting for you and your favorite folks. And if you follow the 7 tips described above, you’ll be sure to keep you and them safe and sound until sweater weather returns.

Memorial Day is a chance to remember those who lost their lives serving our country. Although you might be enjoying a backyard barbecue or heading out on a road trip with your family, make sure you also take time to remember what Memorial Day weekend is really about. In my humble opinion, the genre of country music has a special knack for memorializing our fallen heroes.

With that in mind, I put together this patriotic playlist of Memorial Day songs about America. I hope you’ll blast these songs for the purpose of remembering the meaning of the holiday, as well as those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“50,000 Names Carved In The Wall” by George Jones

“Color Me America” by Dolly Parton

“God Bless America Again” by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty

“An American Heart” by Faith Hill

“Some Gave All” by Billy Ray Cyrus

“American Soldier” by Toby Keith

“Arlington” by Trace Adkins

“If You’re Reading This” by Tim McGraw

“More Than a Name on a Wall” by The Statler Brothers

“Soldier’s Last Letter” by Merle Haggard

Are there any songs you think should be on my list? If so, leave a comment with a link to it.

Happy Memorial Day!

Mother’s Day often reminds us how many sons and daughters have a tough time expressing their love and appreciation for Mom. Luckily, some of the most talented songwriters in the world have found a way to capture in their songs the way we all feel about our mothers.

These 15 Mother’s Day songs will make for the perfect playlist as you hang out with Mom during her special day. There’s some rock, some country, and more than enough pop, so there’s a little bit of something here for everyone.

Enjoy, and may each of you moms have the best Mother’s Day yet!

1. “Superwoman” by Alicia Keys

2. “Mama’s Kitchen” by CeCe Winans

3. “Mother Like Mine” by The Band Perry

4. “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” by Carrie Underwood

5. “Mom“ by Garth Brooks

6. “Angels” by Randy Travis

7. “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” by Glen Campbell and Steve Wariner

8. “Mother” by Sugarland

9. “The Baby“ by Blake Shelton

10. “Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton

11. “The Best Day” by Taylor Swift

12. “The Wish” by Bruce Springsteen

13. “You Can’t Lose Me” by Faith Hill

14. “The Sweetest Gift” by Linda Ronstadt ft. Emmylou Harris

15. “Where You Lead” by Carole King

The long, cold winter is finally over. And now that the highly anticipated spring sunshine has begun to warm your body, it’s time to also show some love to your mind and spirit.

In other words, now is the perfect time for a brand new soul start.

These four self-care tips are guaranteed to help you accomplish that spring cleaning for the soul you’ve been waiting for.

Spend as much time outdoors as you can.

After enduring the winter and a pandemic-related quarantine, your body is desperate for some exercise and clean, crisp air. Give it what it so desperately wants (and needs) by getting out in the sunshine.

I recommend getting reacquainted with the outdoors by going for walks as often as you can. This will get your blood flowing throughout your body and begin the process of clearing out your mind.

Try walking in areas where you can be fully surrounded by nature. As you witness firsthand the changes you see happening in nature, you’ll be inspired to begin making changes of your own.

Purify your diet by starting fresh food habits.

Winters are known for encouraging us to eat some of the heavier, ummm, comfort foods. That’s why springtime is the perfect time to cleanse your body and mind by developing healthier eating habits.

You can begin this process by literally removing everything from your fridge and ditching the foods that you feel guilty eating. Give yourself the type of shiny clean and organized collection of food that actually sets you up for success. Remember: Food is meant to nourish our bodies, not cater to every craving we have.

I suggest you befriend your local farmer’s market and begin chowing down on your favorite fruits and vegetables. One worthwhile goal should be to eat as many brightly colored foods as you can. If your food repertoire starts looking like a rainbow, you know you’re on the right path.

Drink plenty of water to keep your system purified, and you’ll soon find that you’re feeling as good as you look.

Declutter your home.

A messy and cluttered home often leads to a messy and cluttered life. You may not even realize it, but living in a chaotic mess can leave you feeling anxious, irritable, and unsatisfied. Embrace the new energy of spring by ditching all the items in your house that no longer benefit you.

You can begin this decluttering process by sifting through your cabinets, drawers, closets, and desks. Try to digitize as many important documents as you can, and then organize them properly.

Removing the items you simply don’t need will take time, but you’ll soon feel a gigantic weight removed from your shoulders. That alone will make the entire process worth it.

Rethink and reevaluate your priorities.

It is ridiculously easy nowadays for our priorities to get messed up. Spring is the ideal time to fix this.

One way to get started is by reconnecting with the people who mean the most to you. Never forget that the most important relationships require time and attention. Now is the best time to begin that process.

Spring is also a great time to reevaluate with whom you’ve been spending your time. Allow yourself to be completely honest as you critique your life: Are you involved in any toxic relationships? Are there people in your life that are simply no good for you? Do you improve the lives of everyone in your life?

If your answers to these questions make you start thinking that it’s time for a change, act on that. Trust your instincts.

In addition to the people in your life, spring is the right time to reassess the things that keep you busy. Allow yourself to get rid of the activities that no longer foster your joy and creativity. Decide to embrace those that do. Your time is valuable, so start being intentional with how you use it.

Closing thoughts

We often focus so much on our physical health. And while that is very important, a healthy soul is just as meaningful.

If you’ve been feeling like you need a spring cleaning of your soul, you’re not alone. Winter can get all of us into some pretty unhealthy habits.

But the good news is that the warm, soothing sunshine of spring brings with it the perfect opportunity to get rid of the old, and welcome in the new. The four tips described above are tried and true ways to begin the process of healing, renewing, and reenergizing your soul.

Good luck!

I have encountered numerous people who are currently living out their dream. They’re content and filled with optimism. I’ve also met a bunch of folks who have either given up on that dream or currently lack the energy to pursue it. They’re considerably less satisfied and positive.

Very often these people suffer from being unable to deal with the same debilitating and oftentimes soul-sucking issue: time management. 

As a music mom, it’s oh so easy to become overwhelmed by your many responsibilities. You’re busier than ever and there are seemingly more distractions than you could imagine. But if you’re intent on keeping your music dream alive (and I know you are), you need to figure out how to manage your time in a way that is healthy and productive.

My experience as a musician and a mother has proven to me that the following 4 tips can help you pursue your musical aspirations, despite the craziness of life.

1. Prioritize the things you need to focus on and separate them from the things that can wait.

One thing a successful music mom does is keep in mind that not all tasks are equal. It’s up to you to prevent the unnecessary stress that comes from making all your tasks equally important. Pick and choose the ones that are truly worth your immediate time and attention, and save the rest for another time.

Doing this will leave you feeling refreshed as you set out to conquer the things that tend to consume your energy.

2. Plan out your days, nights, and weeks.

Once you know which items in your life should be added to the top of your priority list, it’s absolutely essential that you plan your days, evenings, and weeks. Mapping out a plan for getting things done isn’t just something to do for fun; it’s the solution to the problem of time management.

Let’s face it: The most successful people in music, parenting, and life in general rarely gain their success accidentally. They’re purposeful in all they do, including their scheduling of life’s events.

3. Carve out specific time to focus on your music.

Hobbies are nice, but they rarely pay the bills. If you’re serious about music being a big part of life, you’re going to need to etch out a time when you can focus solely on it. Be it songwriting, rehearsing, or performing live, it’s a heckuva lot more difficult to make your musical activities happen if you wait to try to squeeze them into a random dull moment.

As you already know, those moments pretty much don’t happen. Instead, book for yourself specific time to do your music. This is an essential step in making music a major part of your life.

4. Commit to your music, just like you’ve committed to all the other things you value.

If the first three tips sound pretty doable, but you’re afraid of actually sticking with the plan, that’s okay. You’re not alone. Plenty of folks start out with the best intentions, only to get distracted by all the other things in life. Or worse yet, they fall victim to those nasty old procrastinating ways.

Simply put, there’s a ton of resistance in our daily lives to making music (or any creative endeavor) actually happen. So that’s why you need to commit to making it happen. Having someone who can hold you accountable is a great way to ensure you do this.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

You’ve read this far because your music is obviously important to you. If you’ve up to this point struggled to make time for it due to the other aspects of motherhood and life, there’s still time to fix things. By following the 4 tips described above, you’ll be well on your way to giving your music the time, energy, and attention it deserves.

You, your music, and everyone around you will be so much better for it.

Remember when we were kids and it seemed like everything around us encouraged our creativity? I miss those days. Especially for our kids.

There now seems to be so many obstacles to our kids developing and then expressing their creativity. From helicopter parenting to non-stop screen time, our kids are most definitely a creatively repressed generation.

The good news is that they don’t have to be. There are specific things we can do to help grow their creative impulses. Here are 5 unique ways you can encourage your child’s creativity.

Stop hovering and let your kids create on their own

50 Years of the Draw-a-Scientist Test | Edutopia

Have you ever left your child in a room and then returned to find that they created something amazing on their own? Well, that’s a good thing, and you should let it happen more often.

The reality is that they don’t necessarily need you right there with them in order to get in touch with their creative side. In fact, letting them discover it on their own will make them more creative and more independent.

That’s a win-win, for sure.

Allow kids to have their messy moments

It's OK Mom, Kids Are Meant to be Messy - Her View From Home

I know. This one feels as though it’s diametrically opposed to our natural instincts to keep our house clean. And our kids. But there is something incredibly freeing that comes from not obsessing over the mess our kids are making. After all, don’t we have enough to stress about already?

So go ahead, let your kids make a mess. You might discover that being free from the restraints of your rigid neatness standards opens a whole new world of creativity within your child. You might even watch with pride and joy as that big ol’ mess transforms into something beautiful. Maybe.

Trade screens for instruments and art supplies

Quirky Musical Instruments for Kids | Vidlers 5 & 10

“Time keeps on slipping, slipping, into the future…”

You know that one all too well. So if it’s true that the time we have with our kids as young ones is limited, we should try to make the most out of it. And as far as I can tell, sitting in front of a screen is not the way to do that.

Instead of letting our kids’ creativity turn to mush by allowing them too much screen time, let’s give them the tools that’ll encourage their creative tendencies. Shower them with musical instruments, paintbrushes, and notepads. You’ll immediately see their creative juices begin to flow.

Give your kids a camera and let them go crazy with it

How to Introduce Children to Photography | Tots 100

Curious how your child sees the world? So am I.

There’s no better way to find out than by giving them a camera and letting them shoot away. I guarantee you that they’ll provide a fresh perspective on a world that we as adults often take for granted.

Ask open-ended questions, and do it often

What are your Kids Thinking? - FreshTake Family

We often think of creativity as being expressed with a paintbrush or a musical instrument. Sometimes, though, our kids thrive creatively through their thought process. If this sounds like your kid, it’s time to unleash his or her creativity to the same extent you would if they were an aspiring painter or pianist. One surefire way to do this is by asking them open-ended questions.

Open-ended questions are perfect for getting the wheels spinning. Some effective conversation starters for kids include:

“What would you invent to make the world a better place?”, “Would you rather do this or that?”, and “What if…?”

Closing thoughts

What are some unique ways by which you encourage creativity within your kids? Share your suggestions in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

Rearranged schedules. Forbidden favorite activities. Bored and restless kids. Yep, there’s quite a bit for moms to be stressed about nowadays.

Fortunately, you don’t have to give in to that stress. In fact, you don’t even have to deal with it in the first place.

That’s right.

By following the 5 tips described below, you can avoid the exhausting, soul-crushing, and debilitating stress of motherhood.

Ready for less stress and better mental and physical health?

1. Know when you’re getting stressed – and understand why it’s happening.

This might sound like a big “duh,” but it’s not. Too often moms ignore the warning signs our bodies are giving us, the red flags that should alert us to increasing stress.

It might be that headache that won’t go away.

Or maybe it’s those sore shoulders that you can’t seem to relax.

Perhaps it’s those dark and dreary thoughts that linger like a dense fog.

Whatever it is, your body is quite good at telling you when you’re getting stressed. And if you want to live a less stressful life, you’d be very wise to listen to it.

2. Focus on fewer tasks each day.

I know we all think we our mom trophy will be bigger and more beautiful if we can accomplish as much as we can in one day. But that’s a generally unhealthy approach to life.

Sure, there are a certain number of must-do tasks that we must cross off the list. But sometimes it’s easy to think that the more we do each day, the better we are as mothers. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The ideal way to view it is to give fewer things more of our attention. This is in sharp contrast to the modern trend of spreading one’s self too thin.

The result is more focus, more relaxation, and more energy for the tasks we take on.

Turns out less really is more.

3. Take a break when you need one.

I know that taking time for ourselves is considered taboo for us moms. But I don’t care. We need to do it. The more, the better.

Any time I start to feel guilty about looking after myself instead of everyone else, I stop myself and remember this important truth: by taking better care of myself, I am by extension taking better care of everyone else.

Your family and friends need you to be energized and fully present whenever you’re around. The only way you can do that is by taking a break when you need one.

So go for it. When you start to feel the stress coming on, that is the time to hunt down some good old-fashioned relaxation. You will be so glad you did – and so will everyone else.

4. Exercise as often as you can.

Kickboxing is my go-to form of exercise, and honestly, I can’t imagine life without it. I’m able to kickstart (pun intended) all those wonderful endorphins that keep me looking on the brighter side of life.

I highly recommend finding your preferred form of exercise, and then sticking with a routine schedule for doing it. It’s an incredibly effective way to prevent stress, and if the stress has already begun, it can help keep it from getting worse.

Exercise really does do wonders for your physical and mental state. If you want less stress in your life, add more exercise. I promise you won’t regret it.

5. Find your personal support group.

None of us are meant to do this whole mother thing on our own. Yet we keep trying to juggle everything life throws at us on our own. As if we will get some sort of extra reward for putting our head down and fighting through life without involving other people.

If this sounds like you, please hear this: refusing to seek your own personal support group will inevitably do much more harm than good.

That’s right. You are actively hurting yourself (and the folks you care about) when you don’t pursue the comfort of like-minded souls. You might pull it off for now, but you will eventually be worse off because you don’t have someone to support you.

I urge you to find your community. Build relationships with the people who know what you’re going through. Find comfort in their company. Be the helping hand in their time of need, and don’t be afraid to ask for their support when you’re struggling.

Again, we are meant to get through this long and winding road with other people. If you don’t have them yet, today’s the day to make it happen.

Closing thoughts

Stress is often considered just another part of life, but I disagree.

While there will always be things in life that have the potential to cause stress, that doesn’t mean you have to accept all those nasty, negative physical, mental, and emotional effects of stress.

You can overcome stress. Heck, I’m 100% convinced that following the 5 tips I described above will enable you to actually avoid stress all together.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

I’ve always found it quite fitting that we honor Martin Luther King Jr. just a few weeks after we kick off a new year. The reason I say that is that Dr. King gave us one of those inspiring quotes that serves as the perfect motivator to make the positive changes we know we need to make:

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

Amen.

While it might be tempting to apply Dr. King’s concept of the “fierce urgency of now” to relatively less important items like making those lifestyle changes we know we need to make (healthier eating, fixing relationships), I’m convinced that the quote can and should be used to push us towards bigger and better things.

Things like demanding fair and equal treatment for all people.

And calling out institutions and individuals that keep people and groups from moving forward.

And doing everything in our power to spread the peace, love, and understanding we want to see in the world.

There are so many ways by which we can use Dr. King’s quote (as well as his lifelong example) to positively change the world in which we live. Even more important than the number of ways we can do it, though, is the desperation we should feel as we try to make these things happen.

After all, it’s so incredibly easy to become distracted by the unimportant things in life, the petty and irrelevant things that cause us to lose sight of the big picture.

But for those of us who want to live in the type of world Dr. King dreamed of, that simply cannot be an option. We must stay focused on the task at hand. Day in and day out. That type of laser-beam focus is one of the things I admire most about Dr. King. He was absolutely tenacious in his pursuit of justice.

I hope his focus, his words, and his life inspire you to also commit to making this world a better place. Starting today, of course.

Happy MLK Day!

Christmas 2020 is here. And with it comes the realization that things are quite different this year. As I’m sure each of you already know.

But you know what? I’m going to ditch the temptation to make this yet another post about how much this Christmas is sure to fail to measure up to previous celebrations.

In fact, I’m going in the exact opposite direction.

And here’s why.

I’m convinced that every situation is exactly what we make of it. Even a holiday season during a pandemic.

We can let this be the worst Christmas ever, or we can turn it into a uniquely positive experience that causes us to reflect on the people and things that matter most.

As for me, I’m choosing the latter.

With that approach to Christmas 2020 in mind, I want to share 3 reasons why this Christmas can be so incredibly special – if we let it.

1. We all have the brand new gift of perspective.

Sure, none of us would’ve chosen a Christmas that includes masks, social distancing, and absent family members. But if there’s one thing 2020 has taught me, it’s that even during the darkest of times, I still have so much to be grateful for.

So many of my friends and family members are healthy and anxiously awaiting our next get-together. 

I’m so incredibly thankful for the folks I love.

I’m also thankful for the gift of life that we get to enjoy.

And yes, I’m thankful for music. Music has been an absolute lifesaver the past few months.
 
All these things give me a sense of perspective that I honestly can’t say I’ve had in the past.
 
2. This Christmas is an opportunity to discover new ways to celebrate with loved ones.

I know, I know, I know. We’d all love to gather the entire family around the table and eat a massive Christmas Eve dinner with wrapped gifts waiting in the wings.

But we can’t.

And so yes, this Christmas has presented us with the challenge of figuring out how to celebrate with our loved ones.

How to maintain contact with the ones we adore.

How to share the joy that’s deep inside each of us – even if we can’t all be in the same room to do it.

I know my family has become significantly more technologically advanced, and I’m thrilled with the results. Some of the improvements in communication we’ve made to adapt to the pandemic will remain with us forever, and for that I’m oh so glad.

After all, while a pandemic won’t always be with us, obstacles to meeting in person might be. And when things don’t go as planned in the future, we’ll be able to use the methods of communication we’ve gained in 2020 to further enhance our most important relationships.

That’s a very good thing.

3. We made it to Christmas 2020.

Seriously.

Think about how bleak things looked back in March. How so many of us were overcome with fear and doubt. And now here we are, about to celebrate Christmas and the end of a very trying year.

We made it, folks. We really did.

I’m so proud of my favorite people who refused to give into that aforementioned fear and doubt.

I’m so happy that we now get to celebrate this holiday season with the knowledge that a vaccine is making the rounds and next year is sure to be more normal than this year.

Surviving times like these is nothing to take lightly. As a society, we’ve done that – and more.

Remember: the best is yet to come, even if we have to endure more bleak days, weeks, and months ahead. Not only can we do it, but I’m absolutely positive that if we choose love and positivity, we will do it.

Closing thoughts

I want to wish each of you a peaceful and joyful Christmas. And if you’ve lost anyone this year, I wish you comfort and closure. I hope reading this post brightens your day just as much as writing it did mine.

Remember the importance of maintaining a positive mindset at all times, and I promise you will get through whatever situation you’re going through.

Merry Christmas!

If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly looking to music to save you. No matter what brings me down or knocks me out, my favorite songs can lift me up like nothing else can. Especially nowadays. 

But even if 2020 is done with all its evil tricks, it’s comforting to know that I always have a tried and true cure for whatever ails me: music.

And not only are there countless genres, there are also seemingly unlimited ways to listen to whatever healing hymns you adore. So many, in fact, that it can be quite overwhelming. The fine folks at Consumers Advocate perfectly sum up what I’m talking about:

“Jump forward to today, when we have reached a point of music streaming “oversaturation,” where the main problem seems to be how to sort through so much music and data. When you have millions of songs at your fingertips, what do you listen to?”

So true.

That’s why I was absolutely thrilled to stumble upon Consumers Advocate’s very helpful article on the topic. It’s entitled “Best Music Streaming Services Based on In-Depth Reviews,” and it’s an absolute godsend for anyone needing a bit more guidance as they peruse their many musical options.

Seriously.

They spent more than 200 hours researching online music services like Tidal, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Pandora, among others. The result is an extremely thorough analysis of all things streaming music, a comprehensive guide that covers different aspects of each platform, including 1) its audio quality, 2) the diversity of its music catalog, and 3) its freedom to personalize your listening style.

I highly recommend you check it out before searching for your favorite songs of rescue.

As for songs that save my day over and over again, here are 5 tunes that have the uncanny ability to lift me up whenever I’m feeling down.

“Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners

It’s my name, for goodness sake!

“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves

The beat, the lyrics, the positivity – what’s not to love about this tune?

“Adventure of a Lifetime” by Coldplay

Wonderfully groovy, undeniably feel-good!

“I Am” by Club Yoko

“Everything is magical, anything is possible” Now those are words to live by!

“You Get What You Give” by New Radicals

This is a mantra that I try to keep in mind at all times.

So there you have it. What songs have been getting you through these crazy days? Mention them in the comments.

I was recently interviewed for an upcoming article. The article started like this:

As the late twenty-something wife and mother of two daughters drove home from yet another exhausting 15-hour shift, something snapped within Eileen Carey. After spending years booking entertainment for a Los Angeles hotel, Carey realized that it was now her turn to write, sing, and perform the songs she loved.

Yes, she had been the consummate family woman, fully devoted to her kids and her husband. And yes, she knew that most professional artists launch their careers when they’re young. Or at least younger.

But the California-based Carey has a habit of trusting her heart. And her heart was quite emphatic in insisting that now was the time to pursue her lifelong dream of a career in music.

That now was the time to prove to her daughters that any woman – no matter her age or her social status – can achieve whatever it is she wants.

Besides, Carey thought, if not now, when?

And with this realization, Carey’s most unlikely and inspiring music career began.

The author of this piece totally nailed it. It’s difficult to put into words how much one single night can alter a person’s life, but the night described above proved to be truly life-changing.

Thanks to my late-night epiphany oh so many years ago, I have a music career that has blessed me greatly.

I’m able to perform and collaborate with some of the coolest musicians around. I also get to meet tons of really good people who just so happen to be fans of my music. I can’t imagine not being able to express myself through my music. 

Another reason why I’m so grateful for that night is that it allowed me to make a powerful statement to my daughters.

These gals that I love so much discovered what happens when a woman follows her heart and pursues her dreams. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to teach them that it’s never too late for a woman to stop what she’s doing and change her path. I can’t express how much it means to me that I was able to show them these things. I can only hope and pray that it means nearly as much to them.

It’s hard to say whether I would’ve eventually pursued this music path if I hadn’t had that late night magical moment decades ago. It might’ve happened some other way. Probably would have, I have to think.

But all I know now is that I’m extremely grateful for everything I have as a music mom. And the really cool part of it all is that I can pinpoint the exact moment when it became a living, breathing concept.

I wish everyone could have a moment of such clarity. A moment that gets them started down the path they need to go. A moment when they know, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt, what their purpose in life is.

What a moment that is!

It is not easy to raise kind kids nowadays. Compassion and selflessness are less in vogue than ever before. In their place, selfishness and narcissism seem to be everywhere. From our social media to our pop culture to our politics, it seems as though everyone everywhere cares only about themselves.

The good news is that we can defeat all the toxic egocentrism that’s out there. It takes a whole lotta effort, but we can instill in our kids a long-lasting sense of compassion. To do it, we must nurture in them a willingness to genuinely care about other people.

By doing the 4 things mentioned in this post, you can help make compassion cool again.  

1. Live a life of compassion.

You’ve probably grown tired of hearing it, but you are the best example your kids will ever see. In fact, you’re kind of like a walking billboard for how to treat others. To further that analogy, your little ones are stuck in traffic, sitting in their (plastic) car and staring up at you.

ALL THE TIME! 

Because of this, try to develop a keen sense of awareness regarding your actions. And remember that you can show compassion in big and little ways.

For example, your younger kids notice when you volunteer your time at a local charity. 

On the other hand, your older kids see how you respond with sympathy when their sibling falls and gets hurt.

One act is obvious, while the other is more subtle. 

In the end, though, they both point to you being a compassionate person who genuinely cares for others. 

2. Surround your family with compassionate people. 

As your kids get older, their social world expands. This is good in that it can introduce them to new and interesting people from all over the world. It’s also bad in that it can allow less than savory individuals or groups to influence them. 

The good news is that you can actively combat these negative influencers by surrounding your children with people you trust and admire. 

You can select a core group of people and institutions that reinforce your message of kindness and compassion.

Be it the neighborhood in which you live, the families who you befriend, or the schools you send your kids to, you can directly influence your child’s circle of influence. 

Surrounding your kids with people and groups who share your kindhearted values has a two-fold positive effect: it ensures your kids receive the right message from someone other than you, and it creates a sort of protective force field around them that prevents messages of narcissism from getting through to them. 

Now that’s worth finding the right company!

3. Openly discuss with your kids what it means to be compassionate.

As your kids get older, you should create an open dialogue pertaining to compassion, what it means to show it, and how you can foster it in others. This will enable your children to gain a deeper understanding of the concept and how it can play a part in their lives. 

The best way to adequately discuss compassion is to point out examples of it as often as you can. Show your kids that being patient and kind to their siblings is one way to show compassion. Tell them that every time they take their clothes that no longer fit and donate them to the local charity, they are demonstrating compassion. 

It’s important for kids to realize that showing kindness and compassion is not just for adults. That it’s something people of all ages can do. 

The more you explicitly discuss the ins and outs of living a compassionate life, the more comfortable your kids will be with the concept. 

4. Give your kids plenty of opportunities to show compassion.

The most powerful way to prepare your kids for a life of compassion is to have them actively engage in one today. Yes, it’s important to discuss the concept, but nothing beats getting out and doing it. 

The best part is that you can start with little things and work your way up to bigger, more complicated actions.

For example, the next time one of your children is knocked out with the flu, have his or her sibling take care of them. Show them how to care for someone who is sick, and then allow them to take over. Let them take ownership of their sibling’s healing.

You can eventually move on to more elaborate ways of showing compassion. One thing we like to do is foster an abandoned pet. This teaches your kid that all living creatures have value, and that it’s our job to look after them when they’re hurting – even if we didn’t initially cause their pain. 

During and after you complete an activity like that, make sure you’re constantly reflecting upon what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Your reasons should go beyond rescuing a puppy because he’s “sooooo cute!” 

There are numerous benefits to your kids having this type of direct experience while showing compassion. 

In the case of a sick sibling, it allows them to see the gratitude in their brother or sister’s eyes. They can put a face to their act of kindness, thus making it that much more impactful. 

Same thing with the puppy. Being the recipient of all those wet puppy kisses will implant on your child’s brain the positive emotions associated with their act of thoughtfulness. 

Closing thoughts

Contrary to what modern society seems to think, compassion is cool. Teaching your kids how to do it will ensure that the fine art of living a compassionate life survives at least one more generation.

What are some additional ways you like to teach your kids compassion? Mention your ideas in the comments.

And as always, stay kind!

As the calendar prepares to turn to August and school becomes a more common topic, I’m struck by the sad realization that summer won’t last forever.

Fortunately, though, there’s still plenty of time to do some of those amazing activities that summer is known for.

If you’re like me and you’ll miss the sunshine and warm temps once fall arrives, make sure you do each of the items on this list.

It’s obviously not a comprehensive list, but I think I hit most of the major activities that make summer so fun and relaxing.

Some of these are mysterious (stargazing and catching fireflies), while others are just pure fun (swimming in a lake and watching a movie at a drive-in). 

Without further adieu, here are 10 things you absolutely must do before summer ends.

I hope you enjoy each and every one of them!

1. Watch a movie at a drive-in

5 Georgia Drive-In Theaters You Can't Miss | Official Georgia ...

Summer and nostalgia are a perfect pair. And nothing shouts nostalgia like a drive-in movie theater.

Drive-ins are obviously not as common as they used to be, but they’re out there. You’l likely have to venture to a small town or rural setting to find one, but that would make the whole thing even more enjoyable.

So get your popcorn, your candy, and your soda, and let the stars be your overhead lighting as you enjoy a flick in the great outdoors.

2. Read a book outside

Winterpock Summer Reading - Lessons - Tes Teach

Summer is the perfect time to catch up on all those books you’ve been waiting to read. And since it’s so nice outdoors nowadays, why not take that favorite book of yours outside and read it there? 

I find that the best reading environments are the ones that are calm, quiet, and peaceful (I’ve never been much of a train reader!). What setting could be more tranquil than underneath a large oak tree on a warm, sunny day?

So go ahead. Ditch your phone for a few hours and dive into that book you’ve been meaning to finish – all in the comforts of the great outdoors! 

3. Sleep outdoors (preferably in a hammock)

The 6 Best Hammocks of 2020

Sleep is a wonderful thing. Sleeping outdoors is even better. 

Some of the deepest, most relaxing sleep I’ve ever experienced has been outside. There’s something about resting in the warm embrace of Mother Nature that feels so natural. I’m definitely grateful for the roof over my head, but sleeping outside feels like something we’re supposed to do. It just feels right. 

Some of the benefits of frequently sleeping outside include increased peace, improved mental health, and an improved immune system. 

By the way, if you can get your hands on one, I highly recommend sleeping in a hammock. It is one of the most relaxing ways to experience an outdoor slumber. 

4. Swim in a lake

The best places to go wild swimming near London | London Evening ...

I know that beaches and summer go hand in hand, but I’ve always loved a lake setting just as much as the sand and surf of a beach. If you’re looking for a change of scenery for your outdoor water fun, I suggest you round up the crew and head for the nearest lake. 

A visit to a lake can be an adventurous family or friend activity. Even better, a trip to the lake is usually much more affordable than a vacation near the beach. 

Also, if you ask any adult whose family took them to the lake as a child, they’ll confirm that lakes are perfect for creating lifelong memories. 

That’s good enough for me! 

5. Go stargazing – far, far away from the city

Stargazing Around Austin | Texas Kids & Family Blog

The stars are waiting for you. All you have to do it leave the city and go find them. 

I’ve never stared up at the stars and not been stirred. It’s an incredibly moving experience, and one that’s easy to do if you can escape the bright lights of the city or suburbs. 

Summer is the best time to plan an evening outdoors spent stargazing. Make sure you and yours do it at least once this summer. 

6. Have a picnic in the park

Header-Family-Picnic - Pat Casper Insurance

There’s nothing more summery than a picnic in the park. While it’s not the most innovative activity, it’s a tried and true way to have fun and enjoy summer’s finest weather. 

Definitely make it happen before summer ends. 

7. Go camping

What to Wear Camping in the Summer: Tips and Cute Outfits | Jetsetter

Summertime is all about escape. And nothing lets you get away from the craziness of the world like camping.

Summer weather is perfect for camping.

The nightly temperature drop will provide you with perfect sleeping weather.

The setting of many campgrounds offers tons of opportunities for sports, hiking, and other summer activities. 

Oh, and who can forget about the joy that comes from making – and then eating – s’mores? 

Bring your family and friends to a campground near you, and watch how many memories you make. 

8. Watch (and listen to) a thunderstorm

Thunderstorm over the river at night

I love things that are mysterious.

That are awe-inspiring.

That make you gasp.

I love summer thunderstorms.

This one is obviously more difficult to schedule, but if you can find a safe spot to watch and listen to the thunder and lightning of a summer storm, do it.

The sounds, sights, and even the smells of a powerful thunderstorm will blow your mind. And if you have kids with you, multiply that by a thousand! 

9. Catch fireflies in a jar

Speaking of mysterious, perhaps nothing is more awe-inspiring than those little givers of summer light, fireflies. 

Fireflies represent all that’s right about summer: they’re mysterious, fun, and thought-provoking. 

Even if it’s just for a few minutes, gather up the kids, grab a few mason jars, and go find some fireflies. Of course, the humane thing to do after you catch them is to let them go. 

But the few seconds they’re in your grasp will make for an exciting time that your kids will remember forever. 

10. Visit a farmer’s market

The Ultimate Guide to Farmers Markets - South Sound Magazine

I know that summer is often synonymous with junk food.

There’s the ice cream.

And the hot dogs.

And of course, the previously mentioned s’mores.

Yes, these are all staples of the summer diet. 

But the truth is that summer provides an excellent opportunity to eat healthy.

And one of the best ways to do that is to head to a farmer’s market.

There you’ll find the very best collection of summer fruits and veggies. Not only that, but the atmosphere at a farmer’s market is often vibrant and more fun than kids think it’ll be. 

If you’re determined to eat better this summer, plan a trip to your local farmer’s market.

A final note

So there you have the 10 activities I think you have to partake of before summer ends.

Which summer activities would you include? Go ahead and mention in the comments your can’t-miss things to do during the summer.

Thanks for reading! 

 

 

As we get ready to kick off what should be a most unusual summer, I’ve been thinking a lot about positivity. I’m a big believer in the benefits of maintaining a positive outlook on life, so I try to encourage my family and friends to do it.

The problem is that many folks struggle to keep a positive mindset. They genuinely want to, but negativity keeps creeping in at the absolute worst times. Like nowadays.

On that note, here are 5 tips for developing the positive mindset you’ve always wanted.

1. Start your day by reading, watching, or listening to something positive. 

I strongly believe that how you start your day has a huge impact on how the rest of it goes.

There’s so much negativity out there, so I try to avoid soaking it in right when I wake up. I try to avoid the news as much as possible, as so much of it is downright depressing in nature.

Instead, I listen to music that makes me happy.

Or I read inspirational quotes.

Anything that lifts me up will do.

The goal is to fill your mind with the type of positivity you want to put out into the world. I’m certainly not the first to confirm that whatever you put in your mind will influence what comes out.

Fill your head and your heart with love.

Fill them with joy.

Fill them with hope.

Fill them with humor.

Doing so will ensure these things come out of you throughout the day.

2. Focus on the here and now.

So much of our negativity is the result of a failure to live in the present. When we get stuck trying to change the past or worrying about the future, we set ourselves up for a world of negativity.

The good news is that we don’t have to settle for that. We can take control of our thoughts and shift what and when we focus on.

One way to force ourselves to be in the moment is to meditate. It doesn’t have to be a formal activity, and you don’t have to assume any of those fancy yoga positions.

All you have to do is sit in silence for a few minutes each day. Sit there and listen to yourself breathe. Try to hear your heartbeat. Concentrate on the fact that you really, truly are alive right this second.

3. Create a list of 3 achievable tasks at the start of each day. Then complete them.

Perhaps you’re wondering why I added this one to the list. Well, I’ve discovered that I’m often at my most positive after I’ve accomplished something. Even if it’s something relatively minor (organizing all my books, albums, and movies, for example), I always have an extra bounce in my step after I get something meaningful done.

With that in mind, I suggest you spend a minute each morning jotting down 3 achievable tasks for the day.

Make them attainable.

Make them meaningful.

If possible, make them fun.

Having tasks to complete also gives you a sense of purpose. This can further enhance your overall positivity.

4. Each day jot down one person or thing you’re thankful for, and then summarize why.

Negativity is often the result of a lack of perspective. With so many modern distractions and accessible material things, it’s incredibly easy to lose sight of all we have.

One way to overcome this negativity-producing shortsightedness is to consciously reflect upon the people and things that matter most to us.

I spend a few minutes each day writing about a person or thing I’m thankful for. I’ll typically write a few sentences in which I explain why this person or thing matters so much to me (sometimes it’s even a place). It really helps me focus on the important things in life.

I have found that reflecting upon the people and things that matter most to me is an excellent way to instill positivity within myself. I highly recommend it for you, too.

5. Surround yourself with positive people. 

This is probably the most important thing you can do to develop the positive outlook you want. Don’t take for granted the extent to which the people around you can influence your entire perspective.

If you’re constantly surrounded by Debbie downers, eventually that’s who you’ll be, too.

On the other hand, watch how your view of pretty much everything and everyone changes for the better when you hang out with positive folks. They have a knack for bringing out your best self.

Sometimes you simply can’t choose who you spend time with. But most times you can. Spend as much time as you can with people who are positive, optimistic, and easygoing. You’ll notice that their positive attributes will soon become yours.

I hope these tips help you develop a positive mindset. They’ve been VERY effective for me. Please leave a comment describing any methods you use for building a positive outlook. I’d love to hear your suggestions. Stay well! 

 

 

 

 

George Harrison had no idea how right he was when he sang of a “long cold lonely winter” in “Here Comes the Sun.” It’s been that and so much more.

Now, after several months of a seemingly constant gray isolation, summer has arrived. Finally.

To celebrate the highly anticipated arrival of summer, I thought it’d be fun to share 10 of my absolute favorite summer songs. I hope they bring you as much joy as they do me.

“Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful (1966)

“Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful tells of sweltering days in an urban setting. It features urgent rhythms, fun lyrics, and even real street sounds such as car horns and jackhammers. A truly timeless summer classic.

“Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts (1972)

Nothing says summer like feel-good harmony-driven folk-pop, and “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts embodies that genre more than any other tune. This 1972 hit somehow actually captures the feeling of a welcome warm and gentle breeze. Summer instantly happens every time “Summer Breeze” comes on.

“The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley (1984)

This is easily the most melancholic of all the summer songs on my list. In it, Don Henley mourns both a summer love that slipped through his fingers and the ditched ideals of the Baby Boomer generation. The line about seeing “a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac” says it all.

“Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone (1969)

Released in August 1969, “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by funk trailblazers Sly and the Family Stone climbed to No. 2 spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 on the Billboard soul charts in the autumn of 1969. Honestly, how did this one not reach No. 1? Mixing a happy-go-lucky melody with lead singer Sly Stone’s soulful vocal stylings, “Hot Fun in the Summertime” needs only 2 minutes and 39 seconds to completely capture the many joys of summer.

“Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas (1964)

Joy, joy, joy! Martha and the Vandellas’ 1964 hit “Dancing in the Street” contains all the booty-shaking joy you could want in a summer song. And with lyrics like “across the nation” and “around the world,” it’s clear that the gals wanted everyone to unite in feeling the joy.

“Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams (1985)

In his 1985 hit “Summer of ’69,” Bryan Adams sings of two things I love most about summer: rock and romance. This bouncy gem of a tune remains the ultimate ode to the endless optimism adolescents feel as school ends and a carefree summer begins.

“Saturday in the Park” by Chicago (1972)

New York City’s Central Park was the inspiration for Chicago’s 1972 hit “Saturday in the Park.” The feel-good tune is still one of the band’s signature songs. Just try not singing it if you happen to be in the park on a warm summer afternoon.

“Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys (1966)

Wow. Where to start with this one? “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys is a classic in so many ways. With its groundbreaking instrumentation (it features a cello and an electro-theremin), its innovative harmonies, and its sunshiney good vibes, “Good Vibrations” is the ultimate soundtrack to summer.

“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves (1985)

I dare you to try to listen to “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves and not bop your head, tap your foot, or even break out in dance. It’s impossible. This 1985 radio hit isn’t actually about summer at all, but it doesn’t really matter. The song’s frantic drums, big brass notes, and sing-along chorus make us feel as though we’ve stepped into an eternal summer sunshine.

“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles (1969)

George Harrison wrote “Here Comes the Sun” at the tail end of a particularly dark and dreary period in his life. Half a century later, we are all still better for it. This classic remains the absolute best song to kick off summer and, in certain years, end a pandemic.

The past few years have taught me so much about the music industry, but even more about myself. So much of what I thought I’d experience while in a music career was wrong. Dead wrong. 

And yes, it’s been incredibly challenging at times to travel this long and winding road I’ve chosen. As music moms, we face the least traditional path to music industry success.

But taking this path has also been wildly rewarding and life-affirming. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I have always felt inclined to guide and support other women who are trying to build a stable music career. As a result, I’m now sharing five songs that capture the essence of all I’ve learned as I’ve gone from part-time back-up singer to full-time, chart-topping mama.

It’s been a whirlwind of a few years, and these tunes perfectly capture the wisdom, wonder, and wounds of it all.

“Love Can Build A Bridge” by The Judds

In 1990, legendary mother-daughter country duo The Judds released “Love Can Build a Bridge.” The song was a timely reminder that love opens way more doors than it closes.

A life spent in the rough and tumble music industry could easily justify all the bitterness, animosity, and negativity you could muster. But that will get you nowhere fast. My personal experience has proven to me time and time again that treating even the worst folks with love leads to a wonderful cycle of positivity and goodwill. 

As a willing participant in the music biz, you’re going to face your share of people who allow hatred and negativity to define, guide, and inspire them. My answer to that? Let love define you. Let love guide you. Let love inspire you. 

In the end, what you put out into the world will most certainly come back to you. What would you like that to be?

“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 anthem “I Will Survive” is perhaps the single greatest masterplan for anyone crazy enough to pursue a full-time music career.

In it, Gaynor celebrates her legendary survival skills and lust for life amidst a world intent on kicking her down and knocking her out.

Don’t believe me? Check out these lyrics:

Do you think I’d crumble
Did you think I’d lay down and die?
No, not I, I will survive
Long as I know how to love
I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
And all my love to give and I’ll survive.
I, I, I will survive.

Now that is how you handle all the misogynists, egomaniacs, naysayers, backstabbers, bad reviews, empty rooms, and endless nights on a crowded bus that come with a life spent in the music industry. It can be heartbreakingly brutal, my friends. 

So thank you, Gloria, for singing the song that gets us through it all. 

“Dream On” by Aerosmith

I’ve met all types of people over the past few years. Some of them have been happy. Some of them have been sad. Most of them have been somewhere in the middle. There’s an entire spectrum of happiness upon which the people I’ve met fall.

But over and over again, I’ve noticed that the happiest people in the world are those who refuse to give up on their dreams. This is so much more than mere coincidence.

This world is a hostile place for dreamers. Trust me: I’m a female musician who happens to have kids. If I, or any of the hundreds of dreamers I’ve met, let the naysayers have their way, we’d all be stuck in dead end jobs doing things that leave us feeling frustrated and dead inside. Never!

Aerosmith’s 1973 classic “Dream On” urges all of us to “dream until your dreams come true.” The fellows from Boston not only succeeded in writing a feel-good rock n’ roll anthem, they also created a blueprint for how to live the type of life that leaves you happy, content, and inspired. Especially if you’ve chosen to follow in their musical footsteps.

“Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw

Life on the road and in the music industry has revealed to me this unfortunate fact: too many people refuse to live for today because they’re obsessed with yesterday or tomorrow.

Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” is a 2004 country song that provides the perfect solution for all those who aren’t fully engaged in their life or relationships. 

McGraw’s message is clear, and one that we all need to hear every now and then: live your life like there is no tomorrow, because eventually there won’t be.

Love with all your might.

Laugh with all your might.

Work with all your might.

Play with all your might.

Help others with all your might.

Forgive those who need it with all your might. 

Live with all your might.

There’s really no other way to do this thing called life. Especially if music is in your blood. 

“Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.

So many people. So much pain. My time on the road has given me the opportunity to meet a diverse group of individuals, and no matter how much folks differ from each other, this much remains true: we are all complex humans with a wide variety of pains, conflicts, and troubles. All of us. 

That’s why R.E.M.’s 1993 hit song “Everybody Hurts” is on this list. The profound truth in Michael Stipe’s rather simple statement causes me to view each person I encounter, no matter how unlike me they are, as someone who is much more like me than they are different. 

This realization has motivated me to empathize with people in ways I could never have imagined. Getting to know them and discovering the reasons why they hurt has been a fulfilling experience, one that makes me even more grateful for a music career that takes me to the people and places I’d otherwise never encounter.

I urge you to do the same. Find the common ground you have with others. Search for the things that cause your family, friends, and yes, even strangers, all the pain and suffering they’ve endured. Be there for them. Help them heal.

Doing so will make the world a better place, the kind you’ll want to visit time and time again. Maybe even on a tour bus in support of your brand new single. You know, the one you wrote about all the people you’ve met and all the things you’ve learned while in the music industry. 

If you’ve yet to get going on that healthier lifestyle you swore you’d start for you and your family this year, worry not: you can start right now and still see improvements before the calendar flips to the next month.

The incredibly good news is that improving your physical and mental health does NOT require completely changing your lifestyle. In fact, you and your loved ones can bring about improved health and increased happiness simply by embracing three simple formulas.

Food + screens = health trouble

Whatever you do, do not let anyone in your household snack while watching TV or using the computer. Here’s why: eating while in front of the TV or computer almost always results in mindless overeating.

Then, think about how dangerous it is to combine that overeating with a lack of activity. It’s a recipe (pun intended) for disaster.

Instead, make sure everyone stays active by limiting screen time to specific times of the day. And when everyone is in front of a screen? Keep snacks a thousand miles away from you and anyone you care about!

More time outside + less time inside = improved health and more fun

Listen. I already strongly believe that the outdoors should be a more frequent destination for families. But when you add to the mix our modern eating habits, well, it’s easy to see why the great outdoors ought to be everyone’s favorite hot spot.

Whether it’s playing, camping, biking, or hiking, we all stand to gain improved health and tons more fun when we spend time outside. There’s so much open space for us and our kids to explore, so let’s get out there and do it. 

Of course, some activities are meant for indoors. And sometimes exceptionally lousy weather leaves us with no choice. But it’s important to remember that nothing, and I really do mean nothing, beats soaking up the sun, rain, snow, or wind while spending time with your favorite people.

0 + 5 + 10 + 30 + 150 = the best health you’ve ever had

I must admit that I didn’t come up with this fabulous formula. I’m borrowing it from Colin Kopes-Kerr, MD from the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency in Santa Rosa, California. But it’s so important that I’m okay with admitting a bit of thievery. 

In this inspiring editorial entitled Preventive Health: Time for Change, Kopes-Kerr suggests this formula to “help patients achieve healthy lifestyle goals” that’ll last a lifetime:

  • 0 = no cigarettes or tobacco products
  • 5 = five servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • 10 = ten minutes of silence, relaxation, prayer, or meditation per day
  • 30 = keep your BMI (body mass index) below 30
  • 150 = number of minutes of exercise per week (e.g., brisk walking or equivalent)

There’s so much wisdom in this formula that I genuinely regret not knowing about it sooner. The really awesome part of Dr. Kopes-Kerr’s equation is that each of the items in it are easy to achieve – and even easier to maintain once you’ve started them.

Take, for example, the 150 minutes of exercise each week. That comes out to only a little more than 20 minutes each day. That is a mere percentage of the time we typically spend texting random thoughts to each other, Googling things we don’t necessarily care about, and watching YouTube clips that mean absolutely nothing to us.

In other words, we all have 20 minutes a day to spend walking, jogging, playing, exercising, or lifting weights. Let’s use that time in a way that will have long-lasting benefits for our bodies and minds. 

Final thoughts

One of the biggest misconceptions parents have is that it takes a massive overhaul of their family’s schedule and priorities to bring about the healthy living they want for their loved ones.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you otherwise. It simply is not true that you need to drastically change your lifestyle in order to develop the type of habits you’ve aspired to all these years.

The three formulas described above will leave you and your family healthier and happier than ever. The best part? You can start right here, right now.

Good luck!

A brand new year is once again upon us. For many people, this is the time for fine-tuning their list of resolutions and goals for the coming year. You know, all the resolutions and goals most of us end up bailing on before March.

Instead of making up a list of all the things you think you should achieve this year, things like losing ten pounds, finding a new job, or ditching your bad habits, instead of putting those types of things on paper, I want to encourage you to take a different approach this year.

An approach that is guaranteed to put you in a better frame of mind throughout the year.

An approach that will enable you to actually achieve the typical New Year’s Eve promises you’ve made – and broken – in the past.

I want to encourage you to commit to being present, positive, and purposeful this coming year. The 3 P’s are what I consider a perfect blueprint for living the best life possible – and you don’t have to worry about scales, bank accounts, and the other ways by which you’ve measured your success in meeting previous New Years goals. 

My life has been so much more rewarding since I began focusing on the here and now, maintaining a positive attitude towards everyone and everything, and living each day with a specific purpose in mind. Gone is all the anxiety, bitterness, and disappointment I experienced in the past.

And when you think about what it means to constantly live life in opposition to the 3 P’s, it totally makes sense. Would you rather live a life in which you are always wishing you were somewhere else? Would you rather live a life in which you are always consumed by negativity? How about a life in which you are always wandering aimlessly, not quite sure what you are doing or why exactly you are doing it?

Thanks, but no thanks!

Be present.

Have you ever thought something like this:

“If I could just turn off all the thoughts running around inside my head, it would feel incredible. If I could just look at all that’s right in front of me, instead of staring at the past, the future, or some other place I’d rather be, I’d be so much happier.” 

Well, you can take on that mindset. Everything you think, and every attitude you embrace, is a choice. All of it.

So choose to be right here, right now. Notice who and what is around you. Pay attention to what you’re feeling. Dive deep into the thoughts you’re thinking. 

And when you do, guess what’ll happen.

You’ll experience reduced anxiety.

You’ll experience increased proficiency and effectiveness in everything you do.

Most important, you’ll experience improved and healthier relationships with the people you care about most as they finally believe you appreciate them.

That alone is worth being present. 

Be positive.

Negativity is a contagious disease that can destroy relationships, ruin careers, and cause permanent damage to a person’s physical and mental health. Like any contagious disease capable of such damage, you need to avoid negativity by any means possible.

You can do this by transforming yourself into a more positive person. Here are three ways to do that:

  • Limit your negative thoughts by consciously combating them with positive thoughts.
  • Allow humor to alter your mindset. I’ve always believed that heartfelt laughter is the best medicine.
  • Tap into your creative side. It’s proven that creativity and self-expression can have all sorts of positive effects on your mindset.

Once you’ve begun pursuing a positive approach to life, you’ll soon notice many benefits.

Your physical health will improve, as you bring less and less stress upon yourself.

A positive attitude will also help you more successfully tackle the more challenging aspects of life. Anything negative or unexpected can be overcome with a positive mindset. 

Finally, much like when you’ve chosen to be present, you’ll notice obvious improvements in your relationships with your family, friends, and colleagues.

Again, that in itself is reason enough to embrace a positive approach in everything you do. 

Be purposeful. 

It is so easy nowadays to lead lives that are chaotic, distracted, and purposeless. The weird part is that we often wander aimlessly through life, but we do so while being busier than ever.

Living that way can easily lead to burnout and the intense frustration that comes from feeling like we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing. That feeling can weigh down even the most optimistic person. 

In contrast, being fully focused and connected to what you intend to do is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. Being purposeful brings with it so many benefits, including

  • better mental and physical health,
  • more free time because you’re using your time wisely,
  • more energy to do the things you enjoy, and a
  • greater sense of accomplishment because, well, you’re actually accomplishing more. 

So how can you become more purposeful so that you can enjoy these benefits? Well, for starters, it helps to identify some sort of mission that is bigger than yourself. Attach yourself to a cause, or something more meaningful than the mundane items of everyday life.

I also recommend focusing on one thing at a time. It’s nothing more than a myth that we can actually thrive while multitasking. Trying to do too many things at one time will only lead to confusion of purpose and, in the end, it’ll prevent you from mastering what you’re truly capable of mastering.

The most effective way to be purposeful is to live in the moment. Actively look for situations during each day in which you can take a step towards achieving your purpose for that particular moment. That can’t happen if you’re hung up on the past or stressing about the future. 

Closing thoughts for the new year

Of course I believe in setting certain attainable and measurable goals. They can be helpful as you try to become the best you possible.

But the reality is that traditional New Year resolutions don’t typically do that. They tend to cause anxiety and guilt more than anything else.

The new year should bring you feelings of joy, newness, and freedom. I hope it does. And if you spend this year living a life based on the 3 P’s, I’m pretty sure you’ll still have those feelings a year from now.

Happy New Year!

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
Mom was still stirring, as she snuck like a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
Then again, how else does Mom do these things, every day of the year?

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
Never really knowing, how much they fill Mom’s head.

While Mom set out all the gifts, she still had many doubts,
Had she done enough, or would her kids be without?

Gifts were bought, some more thoughtfully than others,
But Mom would buy more, if she had her druthers.

And Mom would do more, if only she could,
She’d buy more, and give more, and love more – of course Mom would.

Feeling tired, inadequate, and oh so worn,
Mom became the object of her own newfound scorn;

Not even St. Nick, with all his toys and cheer,
Could rescue dearest Mom, from all this Christmas drear.

But then suddenly, the strangest thing occurred,
Mom found near the glowing tree, a paper filled with words;

It was sloppily written, rushed and without pause,
This letter from Mom’s youngest, to Mr. Santa Claus; 

“Dear Santa” it went, as Mom began to read,
“Here’s a list of all the things, I could ever want or need.

This list is short, though, so I hope it’s worth your time,
But the gift I’m asking for, is always on my mind.

So Santa, please give it to me, each and every year,
And wherever I go, please keep this gift so near.”

By now, Mom was curious, filled with much intrigue:
“What is this gift of a lifetime – what could it ever be?”

She continued reading, hoping to learn more,
Which soon she did, and left her fully floored;

Floored by the words that somehow made her whole,
This symphony of sweetness, this music to her soul:

“The only gift I’ll ever want, is the only one I’d ever miss,
So if I can have just one thing, Santa, Mom alone is on my list.”

It wears you down. It wears you out. But you stick with it, fully aware that not doing it is not an option. It’s part of who you are, and you need to do it.

What exactly is this labor of love? Well, if you’re a music mom, it’s your motherhood and your musicianship. That’s right: you are the rare bird that is 100% committed to two seemingly opposite – yet at times equally trying – roles. 

Before you say something like “Yikes! I’ve never thought of it that way!” and begin freaking out about all that’s on your plate, let me make clear my intentions: I want to encourage you to 1) notice the similarities between being a mother and being a musician and 2) fully embrace the two roles with the knowledge that being a music mom is the best way to succeed at either role.

In short, I strongly believe there are many ways your motherhood and your musicianship can compliment each other, and doing one makes you better at the other

The reality is that being both a mother and a musician is not as different as you might think. Sure, bedtime and showtime are quite different in terms of volume and energy – or at least they should be.

But there are several aspects of a music mom’s two favorite activities that mirror each other. The cool part is that recognizing these similarities and then embracing your roles will make you an absolute rockstar at both.

Ready to be inspired? Me too. Here are the ways that being a musician and being a mom are similar: 

Moms and musicians both need LOTS AND LOTS OF CREATIVITY.   

As you know, parenting does not come with a “how-to” manual. Despite your best efforts to learn from all the moms and dads who have come before you, once you have your own child, you’re pretty much on your own.

And because there is no foolproof plan for raising kids, you often find yourself figuring things out on your own. This requires a certain amount of spontaneity and creative thinking. It’s amazing how moms can sometimes turn an unexpected, negative, and potentially disastrous situation into a fun, positive, and memorable experience. 

Likewise, being a musician exercises the same parts of your brain that produce the abstract thinking necessary to handle those stomach-turning, stress-inducing parenting endeavors. There is no blueprint for how to handle many of the moments you’ll encounter as a musician.

Composing a brand new tune for a songwriting contest? No blueprint.

Promoting a new song or album on an internet that is completely filled to the brim with more new albums, artists, and songs than you could ever count? No blueprint.

Collaborating for the first time with a group of unfamiliar musicians who are a bit more, umm, “eccentric” than you expected? Definitely no blueprint. 

But you survive, and sometimes even thrive in, these situations.

Why? Because your creative instincts allow you to. They’re among the greatest gifts you could ever have as a musician. And as a mom.

Wear them like a badge of honor. 

Moms and musicians both FOCUS ON THE BIG PICTURE

Whether you’re trying to move on from that disaster of a gig in which your guitar strings broke and your voice gave out, or you’re trying to forget the exhausting and overly spirited argument you just had with your teen, you’re going to need lots and lots of perspective to maintain a positive attitude as a musician and as a mother.

This perspective will get you through the countless moments you feel like a failure. As a parent, you really don’t have a choice. There’s another human being depending on you to move on from your bad moments.

So you do, knowing full well that your performance as a mom is not graded by one, two, or even a thousand uh-ohs and oopses. Nope. Your final grade as a mom will be determined by the kind, caring, and empathetic adult you help build. And deep in your heart of hearts, despite your many mess-ups, you know you’re doing a helluva job.

Similarly, one bad note, one lousy rehearsal, or one very forgettable gig does not define you as a musician. You’ve poured too much time and energy into your music to be destroyed by one or two failures – or even by twenty.

You care too much to be deterred by a critic’s negative review, or by a less-than-stellar crowd for a gig you’ve spent months promoting. Does it hurt? Of course.

But deep down, you know this: those negative moments are a part of this here music thing. If the biggest names in music history, the iconic singers, musicians, and bands who inspired you to first pick up an instrument or belt out a tune, if they had those bad moments, so can you.

You know this, and that’s why you continue pursuing your music, in whatever way and to whatever extent you do.

The big picture is your best friend, both as a musician and as a mom. Thank God for the big picture. Thank God for perspective.

Moms and musicians both shed their share of BLOOD, SWEAT, and TEARS.

The best things in life are worth fighting for. And sweating for. And crying for. If you’re a music mom, you’re gonna do all three, both for your kids and for your music. Plan on it. 

Parenting is, by its very nature, an attempt to survive the consequences of making yourself completely vulnerable in oh so many ways.

As a parent, you must endure the physical exhaustion that comes from making sure a completely helpless being survives multiple stages of life.

You must endure the emotional agony that results from selflessly loving and caring for a person who means more to you than any other person or thing on this planet. 

And in the end, there is no guarantee that all your love, caring, and concern will be given back to you. But you give it anyway. Day after day, year after year. 

Likewise, as a musician, you spend countless hours practicing your craft, collaborating with other musicians, and promoting yourself and your music.

You pour your heart into it, and sometimes even your soul.

You ride a never-ending pendulum of emotion, going from extreme confidence in you and your craft one day to downright disbelief in what you’re doing the next. 

Final notes

Let’s recap what we’ve covered so far. Your motherhood and your musicianship are similar in that they both require a crazy amount of creativity, an ability to focus on the big picture, and the shedding of blood, sweat, and tears. Recognizing this common ground between the two roles is the first step in becoming the best music mom you can be.

The next step? Make sure that you fully dive into each role as you take it on. Remember: we’re not aiming for being all things at all times. That’s a surefire way to spread yourself too thin and do a less than stellar job at both roles.

Instead, being a music mom is all about time management and giving both roles all you’ve got, as I described earlier this year in this post

Being a music mom is definitely challenging, but I can’t think of anything that is more exciting and fulfilling than raising kind and thoughtful humans while also exploring and expressing my creative instincts through my music.

When I think of it that way, I have to ask: why would anyone not want all the magic, mystery, and madness that comes from being a music mom?

Parenting is the best job you could ever have. It’s also the toughest. By far. Not that this is breaking news to you, but I know I find it reassuring to hear it from someone else.

Yet, if you’re like me, hearing about how difficult this parenting thing is is not enough. You want it to be easier. You want to get better at it. You want to screw up as little as possible.

The problem? By its very nature, parenting is the ultimate breeding ground for mistakes. Raising, protecting, teaching, and caring for another human being – and doing these things well – is incredibly difficult. You’re gonna screw up. Lots and lots of times. Here are just some of the mistakes you can expect to make as a parent:

  • failing to discipline your child
  • losing your temper
  • not listening to your child
  • avoiding conflict with your child for the sake of temporary peace
  • letting your actions contrast with your words
  • micromanaging your child
  • inconsistency in how you respond to your child

How you handle these mess-ups is often more important than the mess-ups themselves.  Based on everything I’ve seen, heard, read, and experienced, I have found that successful parents make lemonade out of lemons by doing two things with their mistakes:

  1. They learn from their mistakes.
  2. They let go of their mistakes.

These two are obviously not the be-all and end-all of parenting tips, but doing them has made a world of difference in my life, as well as in the lives of my kids.

1. Parenthood is the ultimate classroom in which you can learn from the good and the bad. Learn from your mistakes. 

Next time you make one of the mistakes mentioned above, remember this: Making mistakes is natural, but fixing them and then learning from them is not. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Admit your mistake to your kids.
  2. Reflect upon your actions, carefully analyzing what you did and why.
  3. Actively pursue better parenting methods.
  4. After reflecting on your actions and the new info you’ve gained post-mistake, do everything in your power to do better next time.

The benefits of using your mistakes as learning tools

Not only will following these steps allow you to learn from your mistakes and fix any damage that’s been done to your relationship with your child, it will also make you a superb role model for how to deal with mistakes.

By preaching within your home that mistakes are opportunities to learn, your kids can learn important lessons that include:

  • messing up is a part of life,
  • it’s possible to survive mistakes, rather than be defeated by them, and
  • they can pick themselves up off the floor after they’ve messed up.

Your kids will begin to resemble you in that they admit their mistakes, make amends with anyone who’s been hurt by their mistake, reflect on how and why they made their mistake, and try hard to do better next time.

If you look at it that way, you can see why some parents view mistakes as golden learning opportunities.

2. They will only bring you pain, anxiety, and guilt, so let go of the mistakes you’ve made.  

Every mom and dad regrets something they have said or done. Or something they didn’t say. Or didn’t do. So if there’s something that has been eating away at you, now is the time to forgive yourself and move on.

Forgiving yourself for parenting mistakes will help relieve you of the stress, guilt, and anxiety you may be feeling, and will allow you to focus on the present more than the past.

Why we are so hard on ourselves as parents

Making some of the mistakes described above – especially in the heat of the moment – is natural. It is part of what makes us human.

But when we make mistakes, and then view those mistakes in light of the unrealistic expectations put on us by ourselves and society, is it any wonder we feel guilty?

Whereas our parents only had to deal with the probing eyes of their neighbors and closest friends, we are seemingly under constant scrutiny as modern parents. Social media has allowed everyone with an opinion to make that opinion known, and they have the ability to judge everything we do and say. And yes, many of these folks do judge everything!  

You might feel as though you are doing a fantastic job as a parent, only to read a random article on Facebook that criticizes the very thing you thought you were doing right. Or perhaps someone felt the need to enlighten you regarding the flaws of a certain parenting technique of yours, and now you feel like absolute garbage. We’ve all been there. 

Next, you fall into a pattern of questioning every single thing you do and say as a parent. Modern parenting is more difficult than ever, and the type of unsolicited critiquing I described above is one reason why. 

The effects of holding onto your mistakes

Yes, we parents are the ones who carry the bulk of the weight of guilt from past mistakes. It has multiple negative effects, which I’ll discuss in a minute. But we are definitely not the only ones whom it affects: our kids are negatively impacted when we hold onto our mistakes.  

As parents, we often feel bad for our mistakes, and beat ourselves up because we know we could have done better. This is completely normal. 

But on occasion, we can feel so guilty that we end up feeling anxious about each and every thing we do and say. We can even fall into a state of depression. This is not good for us, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. And it’s definitely not good for our kids. 

They don’t get our best when we are in a negative frame of mind. We are less patient than usual with them. We are overly sensitive to their words and behaviors. We are more prone to engage in poor parenting when we allow the guilt from past mistakes to haunt us. 

So how do we let it all go?

How you can let go of your mistake – and all the guilt that comes with it

Letting go of a past mistake and all the guilt that comes with it doesn’t have to be a long and drawn out process. You can take steps that help you to immediately begin moving on.

You have to make amends with whoever was hurt by your mistake. Have that talk in which you own up to what you said or did. Tell them you are sorry, and that you want to make things better. That you will make things better. 

And don’t be afraid to ask for forgiveness. The forgiveness of others is often what fuels the fires of closure and healing, so ask for it. Receiving someone else’s forgiveness often allows you to forgive yourself.

Turning your mistake into something positive is another way to move on from all the negativity of that mistake and its connected guilt.

Decide that your mistake is going to be a source of learning, self-awareness, and self-improvement. Decide that you are now a better person because you made the mistake.

Taking this positive approach is another surefire way to leave behind the mistake, as well as all the bad vibes associated with the mistake. 

Moving towards a parenthood filled with more learning and less guilt from the mistakes you most definitely are going to make

Once you’ve forgiven yourself, sought forgiveness from whoever your mistake hurt, and turned the bad of your mistake into something good, take a proactive approach to avoid future guilt. You can accomplish this by doing the following:

  • Never forget that parenting mistakes and the guilt that comes with them are normal. 
  • Stop chasing the impossible dream of parenting perfection. None of us are going to achieve that, so bless yourself with the gift of realistic parenting expectations for yourself. 
  • Be proactive in communicating your feelings. Express your thoughts and feelings so that you can more easily transform them into positive actions.
  • Find yourself some form of a support system. It might be a friend or relative who is a parent. Or maybe it is an online community of parents. They’re out there. We’re out there. For example, here’s a Facebook group I created. We are moms who share a love for our music and have decided to pursue it full-time. We’ve got each other’s backs, and it’s a wonderful thing. 

Closing thoughts

If you’re a parent, you’re going to mess up. Sure as the sun will rise, you’re going to make mistakes.

The good news is that you can – and you will – overcome those mistakes and turn them into something positive by learning from them and taking the steps necessary to let them go.

Best wishes on your journey towards parental learning, healing, and closure!

 

 

 

 

I’ve had lots of working moms ask me how they can get better at balancing their family and career. My response to them? Don’t.

After they pick their jaw off the floor, they ask what I mean. I tell them what I have learned over and over again as a full-time mom who is smack dab in the middle of a full-time music career: family-work balance is an impossible to achieve fallacy that leaves many working moms tired, frustrated, and resentful of both their career and their kids.

WHY BALANCE IS IMPOSSIBLE

As a musician, the idea of perfectly balancing my career and my responsibilities as a mother sure sounds nice. But it is impossible. Here’s why.

The concept of family-career balance often has to do with time, as in with my situation, giving equal amounts of time to my kids and my music. So, in theory, if I spend two hours a day recording in the studio, I should spend two hours a day playing with my kids.

Sounds fair, right?

The problem is that life doesn’t work like that. Time doesn’t work like that. Most days have an uneven distribution of free and busy time, planned and unplanned events, and work and leisure. Sometimes giving an equal amount of time to different activities simply isn’t an option. Pretending that it can be accomplished can only lead to immense frustration and anxiety.

HOW TO BE THE BEST WORKING MOM YOU CAN BE

Instead of trying to achieve a balance of time spent on career and kids, I have found that the best way to succeed as a music mom is to

  1. plan things out so that you have specific times set aside for both roles and
  2. pour all your energy and attention into each role while you are doing it.

The goal is to have specific times when you are taking on each role. This can only happen with much planning and organization. Then, once you have things mapped out, jump into each role with both feet. Do everything you do with as much gusto as you can, and you’ll soon find that the two parts of your life that sometimes seem at odds actually complement each other quite well.

As an example, let’s look at the life of a musician. Makes sense, right? When it’s time for you to focus on your music, you need to be completely there in that world of songwriting, studios, and stages. You are still mom, of course, but you need to be able to tune out everything else while you are working.

Your career deserves you giving your full attention to your music. As do your fellow collaborators and colleagues. Your fans, too.

You love your music and you want it to succeed, so it must be treated just like any other career in which one wants to excel. Work hard. Network. Believe in yourself. Devote yourself fully to the task at hand, whatever it might be. And then kick its butt.

Likewise, your kids deserve to have all of you when you are with them. Commit to being fully with them in body and mind. 100%.

And yes, sometimes the mind part is tough. There are lots of details involved in a music career that can distract you from whatever you are doing. Not only that, but inspiration for musicians can strike at any moment. Trust me. I’ve had plenty of lyrics and melodies randomly pop into my head. Some of them at inopportune times. 

Still, you need to fight the urge to give heed to each and every little thing that comes to mind. If you have committed to watching a movie with your little ones, snuggle with them on the couch and watch the movie. Intently. Don’t check your email on your phone to see if your manager has an update on your upcoming tour.

You probably already know this, but your kids totally know when you are not fully there with them. The only thing that could happen from getting that message from your manager now instead of an hour later when the kids are in bed is your kids feeling as though they are not enough. As though they are not worth your full attention. They might even begin to resent your music. That would be a shame, wouldn’t it?

So give your kids exactly what they want and need when you are with them: you.

THE BENEFITS OF ORGANIZING YOUR ROLES AND GIVING THEM ALL YOU’VE GOT

There are several benefits to giving your kids and your career the time, attention, and effort they both deserve:

  • You’ll have reduced anxiety by not trying to be multiple places at one time.
  • You’ll find yourself more focused on everything you do.
  • You’ll get better at your chosen profession.
  • You’ll get better at being a mom.

Sounds pretty worth it, eh?

CLOSING THOUGHTS ON BEING A MUSIC MOM

Being a music mom is a wonderful thing, and I wouldn’t trade either part of it for the world. My family and my music both bring me incredible amounts of joy. Sure, it can sometimes be exhausting to take on both roles, but it is always worth it. I’m sure you feel the same about your kids and whatever career you’ve chosen.

To really excel in both roles, though, remember that there are times when you must separate them. This separation requires planning and organization. Then, once it’s time to take on a specific role, give it all your attention and energy. Make sure that you give whatever you’re doing, and whoever you’re doing it with, your undivided attention.

And remember: whatever you do, do it with all your heart. That is, after all, the only way to do anything.

Good luck to you in all areas of your life! And if you are working towards becoming a music mom, I hope you excel as both a mom and a musician.

 

 

I have heard from so many music moms who struggle to justify pursuing their music once they have kids. They know they must continue being mom, but, sadly, are much less sure about the music part.

Most of the negativity surrounding these mothers’ musical aspirations comes from the Debbie Downers and naysayers of society who hold women to unfair and unrealistic expectations. They demand that us moms conform to the rigid creative restraints and boundaries designed by society way before we existed. 

If you’re a frustrated music mom who has dealt with this way of thinking, you are not alone. And if you have completely ditched your music or just put it off to the side, or you are considering doing either, please continue reading this post. I wrote it for you. 

Before I dive into the three reasons why you should keep doing your music, let me restate what I’ve said a thousand times before: your responsibilities as a mother should always come first.

Your family should always be at the top of your list of priorities. Always. Everything is secondary to them, and yes, that includes your music. No matter what form your music currently takes, and regardless of how you define musical success, your music simply cannot be something that detracts from your role as mom. 

My goal with this post is not to devalue motherhood. Nor is it to take away from the significance of family.  

Instead, I want to remind women that while a mother truly is the most amazing thing you could ever be, it is not the only amazing thing you can be. 

On that note, I feel like I need to remind you of something important, something you might already know, but is so easy to ignore:

Your music is a part of you.   

It is not something you put on and take off, like that killer pair of jeans you love putting on but hate taking off (and sometimes vice versa). Your music is deeply embedded in you. It’s in your heart. It’s in your soul.

Think about it: throughout your childhood, adolescence, and whatever amount of adulthood you have under your belt, you’ve known you had the music in you.

Whether it was writing songs, playing instruments, jotting down lyrics, making beats, or recording other people’s music, you knew all along that music was a part of you. A big part. It was, and still is, in your DNA.

Having kids and adapting to your role as a mother changes you in many ways, but it does not make your natural talents, dreams, and passions suddenly go away. 

With music being such an essential part of your being, it is imperative that you continue to embrace and develop it. Here are three reasons why you should never, ever ditch your music – despite what the cynics say.

REASON #1. CREATIVE WOMEN IN TODAY’S SOCIETY (ESPECIALLY MOTHERS!) ARE CONSTANTLY TOLD WE CAN’T, SO WE NEED GALS LIKE YOU TO PROVE WE CAN. 

I bring up reason #1 with the assumption that you care about improving our situation as women because, well, I know you do.

We all know that nowadays women have more difficulty expressing our creativity than our male counterparts. It takes so much effort just for us to be taken seriously and viewed as equals – and that’s just the women who don’t have kids. As for those of us who do have children? Ugh.

Women need to see folks like you succeed.

We need to see what can happen when a mother tells society that its unfair expectations will not keep her from doing what she loves.

We need to see the joy and satisfaction that come from a woman living a life in which she gets to enjoy both who she loves and what she loves.

After all, why can’t we have both? Why should men be the only ones who spend time each week doing the things they cherish and then come home to the people they cherish? They shouldn’t.

Music moms like us have a golden opportunity to change society’s perception of what we are capable of. 

When we prove that the love shared between us and our families is as strong as a family with more traditional roles, we win.

When we prove that a different family routine is not a negative family routine, we win.

When we prove that a mother who takes her music seriously doesn’t have to compromise her role as the loving, nurturing bedrock of her family, we win.

We all win. 

But it all starts with us not giving up on our music (or any other creative endeavors we value) simply because it doesn’t fit the mold of traditional motherhood.

REASON #2. EMBRACING YOUR CREATIVE SIDE MAKES YOU A MORE FULFILLED PERSON, WHICH MAKES YOU A BETTER MOTHER.

Fully embracing your creative instincts helps you feel more fulfilled. Instead of wallowing in frustration (or anxiety, or depression) because you’re suppressing your natural talents and interests, you’ll feel more relaxed, more accomplished, and more fulfilled. This will make all parts of your life easier and more enjoyable, including motherhood.

I’ve known some gals who immediately ditched their musical aspirations once their kids arrived. No more songwriting. No more recording. No more live shows.

I can’t help but think that most of these women made these changes solely because they felt obligated to. They felt pressure to make sacrifices for their kids, and, well, this must include removing things like music, art, and literature. You know, all the unimportant parts of life we can obviously live without.  

Keep in mind that many of these women were not striving for rock n’ roll stardom. They never dreamt of spending countless hours away from their family promoting their newest album. They never had visions of flying across the globe on fancy jets while FaceTiming their sad, lonely kids who missed them like crazy – just so they could perform for thirty minutes at all the major music festivals in the world. 

No, the only thing many of these women wanted was to write songs of their own. Maybe even a full album’s worth. Perhaps they simply wanted to get better at their chosen instrument by practicing on their own for a few hours each week. Or maybe they looked forward to playing the occasional open mic at the local coffeehouse. But, unfortunately, they didn’t do any of those things. 

Sadly, these moms ended up resenting their kids because they subconsciously blamed them for stealing the joy that comes from doing what they love. Keeping your creativity alive and well will eliminate any chance of this happening to you.

In short, if you are at heart a musician and you want to feel fulfilled, you need to make room in your life for your music. Doing so will benefit everyone around you, including your biggest fans of all: your kids.

REASON #3. PURSUING YOUR PASSIONS AND FIGHTING UNFAIR GENDER EXPECTATIONS MAKES YOU A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL FOR YOUR KIDS. 

As parents, one of the main things we try to teach our kids is how to live right. A big part of that involves showing them how to live the right kind of life physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Simply walking away from your music in a way that leaves you miserable and resentful is not the right way for you to live. You don’t want to be that type of example for your kids. They deserve better. And so do you. 

We love to tell our kids that they should pursue their passions. We feel like parenting rock stars when we encourage them to make good use of their talents. We teach them the value of working hard at something in order to improve at it. Discover what you love to do in life, we tell them, and then find a way to do it over and over again.

Yet creative moms often neglect their own passions and talents out of a sense of duty to their family. Even if their intentions are good, they’ll still end up teaching their kids the wrong lesson. Just imagine having to have this conversation:

Kid: “Mom, why don’t you write songs and play open mics like you used to?”

Mother: “Well, honey, I just can’t right now.”

Kid: “Why not? Julian’s dad does, and I know you’re a better singer than he is! If he can do it, why can’t you?”

Mother: “Julian’s dad is, umm, well, he’s a dad. He’s a dad, and I’m a mom, so it’s different. I need to be here for you.”

That’s quite a heavy weight to put on a child’s shoulders, eh? Even if you worded it as delicately as possible, your child would still end up feeling as though he or she is keeping you from something you enjoy. That type of guilt could produce negative consequences that last well beyond childhood. 

Now I know that conversation seems a bit farfetched, right? None of you would actually give an answer like “he’s a dad and I’m a mom” to explain why you can’t do your music. But honestly, when you think of the forces that keep moms like us from pursuing music and other forms of creativity, doesn’t it pretty much boil down to that?

Even if we live in a world that treats us that way, don’t we want to show our kids that we are 100% willing to fight against it? Don’t we want to prove to them that it’s better to rock the boat than to give in to those who try to force us to be someone other than who we really are?  

One of the best qualities we can find in a person is genuineness. Being who you really are. Being who you’ve always been. It’s called being real, and at a time when filters and fake usernames rule the day, being real is more valued than ever before.

So be real. Be yourself. Embrace your creative side. Make time in your life for your music. With the proper balance, planning, and resources, you really can have all the things that are important to you.   

If you’ve wanted to be a music mom, now is the time.

You’ve already proven that you have the mom part down. 

Now show everyone the music.  

“The Living Years” by Mike and The Mechanics

“Song for Dad” by Keith Urban

Despite the sun, fun, and good times that are on their way, the start of summer can also be a time of stress and uncertainty for kids and parents.

Yep, even as our favorite season rapidly approaches, there are some legit challenges that come from shifting gears from the routines of the school year to the unknowns of summer.

To help ease the transition, here are 4 tried and true tips for ensuring a smooth, stress-free shift from school to summer.

Add routines to your summer schedule.

Kids thrive on routines. During the school year, it’s much easier to maintain a routine. Summer schedules tend to be more open and flexible, so routines are less common. But this doesn’t mean you should ditch them.

You and your children will benefit by doing things like waking up at set times, reading together at the same time each day, and packing bags for summer camp at the same time each morning.

These routines will give your kids the same sense of structure and security they enjoy during the school year, and that is a very good thing.

Include your child in summer planning and preparation.

Kids always like to feel as though their opinion matters.

Give your kids a say in what they do and where they do it by asking for their input in the early days and weeks of summer. They will appreciate the opportunity to have their voice heard.

Some other ways in which you can include your child is by having them map out driving routes (using an actual map is much more fun than pulling up directions on your iPhone), writing up a list of clothing and items needed for your activities, and searching online for more detailed information pertaining to your destinations.

Remember: a fully invested young traveler is a happy young traveler – and a happy young traveler is a very good thing on a long road trip!

Have your kids stay in touch with their school friends.

The bonds your child developed during the school year with their friends were an essential part of their comfort and security at school.

Just because they won’t see those friends in a school setting for a few months doesn’t mean they should lose contact with them. Quite the contrary, actually.

Strengthen your child’s attachment to their closest friends by arranging summer play dates. Or keep them connected by writing letters and sending messages via email.

However you do it, make sure your child stays in touch with their school friends. This will help lessen the negative effects of summer’s great unknowns.

Embrace and encourage summertime learning.

We all agree that learning doesn’t have to happen only in schools. It can take place anywhere and at any time – especially during the summer.

The summer provides an excellent opportunity to learn about so many things, including geography, history, and nature.

Family field trips can introduce your child to new places, new people, and new ideas.

Or, if you’re mostly staying home this summer, something as simple as an outdoor scavenger hunt can reveal to your child so much more than a textbook.

Teachable moments happen everywhere, so be on the lookout for them.

Encourage your kids to read new books, take photos of things that interest them, and document their discoveries in a journal.

I hope these simple tips will help ease the transition from school to summer. I also hope you and your family have a fun and safe summer, filled with lots of love, laughter, and learning. 

Why healthy habits matter

One of the more common stereotypes associated with musicians is the reckless, drug-addicted party animal. Unfortunately, much of this image is enforced by the way some music makers choose to spend their free time.

The truth is, though, that you don’t have to play into that cliche. Debauchery, destruction, and unhealthy habits are bad for you in the long run – both as a musician and as a person.

If you want to be more professional, organized, and, in the end, successful, you should try to develop repeated behaviors that facilitate those positive traits. In other words, you should try to develop healthy habits.

4 healthy habits every musician should develop right now

To help push you and your music career in the right direction, I’m sharing these 4 healthy habits that all musicians should develop. They’re simple and easy to repeat, so they won’t take long to evolve from new behaviors to helpful healthy habits. If you’re tired of spinning your wheels and you’ve been looking for something positive to replace your old bad habits, get started on these healthy habits ASAP.  

1. Spend lots and lots of time outside being active. 

I view nature as a wonderful facilitator of the arts. Here’s why:

  • Being active in nature inspires some of your best and most creative ideas.
  • Being active in nature can help increase your focus.
  • Being active in nature can also produce increased energy and enthusiasm in all parts of your life, including your musicianship.
  • Finally, and most important, being active in nature can inspire new songwriting ideas.

The best part? You don’t even have to spend a lot of time outside. It’s now proven that walking in a green space for a mere 25 minutes will boost your creativity

2. Ditch any creative dependencies.

If you are dependent on certain substances or conditions just to write music or “be” a musician, now is the time to stop.

Your musicianship should happen naturally. Make sure you can create at any time, without depending on anything else to make it happen.

Your creativity comes from within you. While the presence of certain people, places, or things might inspire increased output, the absence of those people, places, or things shouldn’t cause decreased output. 

3. Embrace early mornings as the best time to do your thing. 

I know it sounds like a ridiculous idea, but mornings are actually an excellent time to unleash your creativity. In fact, recent research shows that the best time to write and create is early in the morning. 

If you can get up and moving early enough, you’ll find lots of energy and a clear mind waiting for you. Some folks believe they can only do the creative thing late at night, and for certain night owls, that might be true.

But I urge you to try mornings instead. The clarity and freshness of a new day will work wonders for your body, mind, and creativity.  

4. Spend time each day meditating, praying – or just relaxing and thinking. 

Sometimes the mental clutter we accumulate during the day clogs our creativity. All the doubts, fears, and worries we gather can leave us flat out exhausted, with little to no energy left for creating. As musicians, this is a very negative place to be.

To counter this, spend a few minutes a day in calm isolation. It might be meditation. It might be prayer. Or it might be you simply sitting there and focusing on something positive for ten minutes.

However you do it, and whatever you call it, you can expect the following benefits of sitting in silence: a greater sense of clarity and control, less anxiety about your musical ambitions, and an increased awareness of  yourself as a songwriter, musician, and creator. Sounds good to me. 

Need more convincing? Check out this superb video by David Eby, a.k.a. “The Inspired Musician.” In it, he perfectly sums up the benefits of meditation for musicians. 

So, what healthy habits do you suggest? 

I’m always looking for more ways to fine-tune my craft while also improving myself as a person. The habits described above work for me, but what works for you? Feel free to share in the comments any healthy habits that have worked for you.

There are so many ways to say “Happy Mother’s Day,” but if you’re a music mom, you know the best way is in a song. 

Songwriters from pretty much all genres of music have recorded their very own special odes to their moms. But for me, there’s something real special about a country singer belting out a sweet, soulful song for his or her favorite lady.

On that note, check out these 6 country gems that will remind you and your mom just how much y’all are loved, needed, and appreciated.

“You Can’t Lose Me” – Faith Hill

Released in 1996, Faith Hill’s “You Can’t Lose Me” tells the story of a mother who supports her daughter after she finishes last in a race. Moms and daughters everywhere can relate to the undying support shown from the mother, from the end of that childhood race to the day she is forced to let her daughter head out on her own. 

“In My Daughter’s Eyes” – Martina McBride

This 2003 classic from Martina McBride instantly embroidered itself onto the hearts of moms everywhere. “In My Daughter’s Eyes” is from the perspective of a music mom who hopes and prays to instill within her daughter important traits like honesty, respect, and compassion that she’ll need later in life. McBride also gives thanks for all that she has learned by looking at things through her young gal’s eyes. 

“The Best Day” – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is best known for writing songs about having fun and enduring the ups and downs of male/female relationships. In “The Best Day,” however, she addresses a more poignant topic: her mother’s steadfast love. Swift looks back fondly as she recalls how her mom was there for her during the tough times of childhood. Now that she’s grown, she wants her favorite lady to know that the best times she had were spent with her. Such a sweet message, and one that all moms need to hear. 

“Mama’s Song” – Carrie Underwood

All mothers want their little girls to find true love and be treated like a princess once they grow up. “Mama’s Song” is Carrie Underwood’s message to her mom that Underwood did, indeed, find a man that “treats her little girl like a real man should.” Every mother should be so fortunate to receive such a sweet and soulful confirmation that her not-so-little girl is now in the right hands. 

“Angels” – Randy Travis

“Angels” by Randy Travis gets me every single time. In the beginning, Travis sings about a friend who doubts the existence of angels. Travis soon responds with a set of lyrics that should make every mother tear up:

Well, you missed the most obvious thing                                                                                   Man, are you blind?                                                                                                                         Just look in your mother’s eyes

Yes, sir. Anyone who has had a mother knows that angels are, without a doubt, real. 

“Mom” – Garth Brooks

“Mom” by Garth Brooks wins the prize for most original concept. In it, God has a chat with an unborn child who is moments away from discovering Earth. The child likes it where he is, so he asks God if he can skip the whole being born thing. God’s response is why “Mom” is one of Brooks’ favorite songs to sing – and why we love it so much. 

“Why can’t I just stay here with you
Did I make you mad, don’t you want me to?”
God said, “Oh, child, of course I do
But there’s somebody special waiting for you”
So, hush now baby don’t you cry
‘Cause there’s someone down there waiting
Whose only goal in life
Is makin’ sure you’re always gonna be alright
A loving angel, tender, tough and strong
It’s almost time to go and meet your mom

Now if that doesn’t hit you like a ton of bricks, nothing will. 

So, what are some of your favorite country songs about moms? Feel free to post links to songs in the comments.

I hope you have an amazing Mother’s Day – one so good that it belongs in a song! 

Hoping that your child is as creative as you are is normal. After all, you’re a music mom who has experienced the joy, growth, and sense of accomplishment that come from unleashing your creativity, and now you want those things for your favorite little person.

The best part? We generally don’t have to teach kids to be creative. They seem to have a natural instinct for it. If we give them the proper tools and get out of their way, kids will create more than we could ever imagine.

Eventually, though, some obstacles might get in the way, including fear, time restraints, and passive entertainment, among others. This is where we, as parents, step in.

If you find yourself wondering how to overcome these obstacles, check out these 4 ways to help unlock your kid’s creativity – including the wild and crazy stuff!  

Provide your kids the resources they need for creative expression.

The most important resource you can give kids is time. They need tons of it so they can engage in self-guided and unstructured play in which they’re completely free to use their imagination.

Another resource necessary for creative expression is space. Make a space that is solely theirs to play in, create in, and make a mess in. Perhaps a room in your basement or attic could work. Make it their own personal area where they feel comfortable, somewhere they can paint, dress up, play Legos, or bang on the drums.

For their next birthday or Christmas gift, give your child items that will contribute to their creative growth. Blocks, costumes, art supplies, old instruments, dispensable cameras – all these are items that your kids can use whenever they want.

By making sure your child has these valuable resources, you’ll be ensuring their growth as creative individuals.

Allow your kids the freedom to explore their ideas – no matter how wild and crazy they seem. 

Generally speaking, kids have active imaginations that can lead to some pretty wild and crazy ideas. Remember that three-headed lion swimming in a bathtub that your son randomly drew? Or that extremely silly song about how her pet could “faaaaaaaart with all her heaaaaaaaaart!” that your daughter composed and then sang for an entire day?

Well, that drawing and that song were products of your child’s imagination. They were very early expressions of their creativity. Instead of focusing on the silliness factor, focus on how unique and imaginative they were. It’s much too easy to dismiss them, but don’t.

Embrace your child’s wild and crazy ideas and encourage them to continue drawing, writing, painting – whatever! Make sure they know that their ideas – no matter how silly or way out there – have value.

And then, to prove that not all creative output needs to look or sound a certain way, introduce them to stuff like The Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus,” Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London,” and The Police’s “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.”

Or, to really make the point, you could just browse the paintings of Picasso.

Ask lots of (good) questions about your kid’s creations.

One of the best ways to inspire kids to be creative is to show them you are interested in their creative endeavors. There’s no better way to do this than to ask questions about their creations.

Instead of giving a generic and half-hearted compliment like “Wow, I like that!” (something they’ve likely heard a thousand times), ask sincere questions like “What were you thinking when you drew this?” or “What was your inspiration when you wrote this?”

These types of questions will convince your kids that your interest is genuine, and they will give them an opportunity to analyze their thought process as they create.

Set a positive example by showing your kids how to be creative.

I’m sure you know this, but your kids are always watching you. They see and hear everything you do. More important, they also copy what you do and say. To put it simply, they do everything they can to become little versions of you.

This gives you an excellent opportunity to model the type of creativity you want them to eventually display. Let them see you hashing out the chords to that brand new song you’re writing. Show them the lyrics you’re struggling to complete. Invite them to the studio to watch you record your new album. Make them a part of the process. 

Most important? Don’t obsess over the final product that you’re creating. Show your child that the process itself is the most important part of the creative journey. This will encourage them to have a positive relationship with their creative side, no matter what struggles they encounter along the way.

Show them that being creative can be a messy, imperfect, and sometimes frustrating process, but it can also offer growth, learning, excitement, and all types of rewards.

Closing thoughts

As a parent, you are most responsible for your child’s creative development. This is both a blessing and a challenge.

But if you follow the steps above, rely upon your own innate sense of creativity, and continue being the supportive parent you’ve always been, there’s no doubt that you’ll soon unleash your child’s creativity like never before. 

Good luck!

Did you ever notice how carefree and happy young children are while they’re painting? There’s no fear of failing to paint the perfect picture. There’s no anxiety over how others will respond to their painting. It’s just them, their paint, their paintbrush, and a big bunch of smiles. It’s an incredibly joyful thing to watch, from start to finish.

As adults, we sometimes lose the joy that comes from such creative activities. We occasionally allow self-inflicted killers of creativity to keep us from being the innovative and inspired creators we know we are.

And just what are those creativity killers? There are several, including guilt, comparison, and distractions. In this post, however, I want to focus on the one that seems to be the most common among musicians, artists, authors, and other creative types: fear.

I hope that by identifying overwhelming fear as an obstacle to creative freedom and discussing 5 ways to rise above it, you’ll soon begin enjoying prolonged periods of creative bliss, success, and satisfaction. 

The different fears creative people encounter & how they negatively impact us

Although it is completely natural and can sometimes be used for good, fear is one of the most common roadblocks to our success as artists. Want proof? Just check out this list of all the different fears that creative folks like us encounter:

  • fear that you are not really a creative person
  • fear of disappointing yourself
  • fear of taking the first step
  • fear of failure
  • fear of the unknown
  • fear of being judged by others
  • fear of revealing yourself
  • fear of rejection

Each of the above fears can stop us from learning more about ourselves. They can prevent us from discovering the beauty and joy of artistic expression. They can keep us from realizing our true purpose in life. 

The worst part? These fears can negatively impact us to such an extent that we ditch the entire creative process just so we can avoid the fear.

Think about that: fear is so powerful that it can actually keep you from doing what you love.

If you think that’s a complete shame, you’re absolutely right.  

5 ways we can rise above fear & the benefits of doing so

Instead of trying to create in the frustrating frenzy of fear, there are specific things we can do to defeat fear.

  1. Embrace the fact that the entire creative process is a dynamic journey, a mystery worth investigating. Within this creative journey, we will often succeed. We will also sometimes fail. But if we welcome the process as something that can make us better artists, and more important, better people, we win no matter how things turn out.
  2. Think of your creativity as a way to discover new things about you and your craft. Cherish the uncertainty of it all. Don’t obsess over the final product. Start by calling each new creative idea an “experiment” rather than an attempt at perfection. You are trying something new, and learning from it. Perfection is never possible, while improvement is always possible. 
  3. Tell yourself that your creative identity is not defined by whatever song, painting, sculpture, or book you end up making. The final product is only part of the entire journey, and again, that journey is an absolute treasure that we as creative people get to experience. 
  4. Be kind and gentle in how you critique yourself. When it’s time to evaluate your final most recently improved work, avoid saying things like “this song is trash” or “I stink at this.” Instead, take note of specific things that can be improved.
  5. Take baby steps as you reveal yourself as a creative person. Begin your creative endeavors by creating in private. Once you’ve created something you’re excited about, choose a group of people you trust to show it to. This will give you the confidence you’ll need to gradually expand your audience. Before you know it, you’ll be sharing your creation online and then in front of complete strangers.

Right now is the best time to rise above your fear

It’s time, friends. It’s time to let go of everything that’s been holding you back. It’s time to embrace and unleash the creativity you’ve always had within you.

Why now? Because you’ve already waited long enough, and, most important, you already have everything you need in order to do this. 

Follow the methods described above, and get ready for the fun, excitement, and sense of accomplishment that come from discovering and nurturing your creative self.  

It’s time for the daring and innovative creative you to rise up, and fear to step down. 

 

 

With so much technology filling our everyday lives, one of the biggest challenges of modern parenting is making sure our kids create more content than they consume.

Screens are everywhere, so if we’re not careful, our children can easily be blasted with all sorts of content from all sorts of sources. Another way to put it: it’s way too easy for our kids to become constant consumers.

There’s plenty of evidence that our kids are consuming insane amounts of technology, and that it’s starting at an early age. For example, this study in 2014 released the following results:

Most households had television (97%), tablets (83%), and smartphones (77%). At age 4, half the children had their own television and three-fourths their own mobile device. Almost all children (96.6%) used mobile devices, and most started using before age 1. Parents gave children devices when doing house chores (70%), to keep them calm (65%), and at bedtime (29%). At age 2, most children used a device daily and spent comparable screen time on television and mobile devices. Most 3 and 4-year-olds used devices without help, and one-third engaged in media multitasking. 

The good news? The same tools that lead to all that consumption also let kids of all ages create content. There are tons of apps, games, and toys available that encourage imagination and creativity.

It is with the proper use of these tools that we can help our children develop a positive relationship with technology by becoming active creators.

Here are 5 fun and simple ways to encourage your child to be a creator.

Is your child a musician? 

This one is obvious to us music moms, eh? Most kids love music right out of the womb, so transferring that love into creation isn’t hard when they’re little. You can record sounds using everyday items such as spoons, pots, salt shakers – whatever!

When it’s time to progress a bit and your child is ready for actual instruments, you can take the sweet sounds they make (or that they will eventually make) and let them experiment with sound. Older kids can use all sorts of tech tools to help write their own tunes and master their craft.

When they’re ready to start laying down some tracks, your kids can easily record, edit, and share their output with friends and family.

Is your child a storyteller?

Storytelling seems to be a natural activity. As soon as kids start talking, many are eager to tell tales. Use this innate inclination to encourage them to narrate their activities.

While they play, build, or wander, ask them questions that allow them to create a narrative. Questions such as “What are you building?” and “Where are you going when you climb that tree?” are invitations to open their imaginations.

Tech-wise, there are lots of apps that let kids record their stories and create digital books. If this all sounds too good to be true, rest assured that I am not telling any tall tales! 

Is your child a director?

Pretty much all children love to watch television and movies. Most of them don’t know that they can actually be a part of the fun.

If you’ve seen your child use his toys as characters in a story, they are already acting as a director. Encourage that skill by having them play around with animated storytelling apps that let them record a mini-movie with movable characters, props, and settings.

If your kids are older, introduce them to more advanced stop-motion animation apps. It’s then up to you whether or not they try to go viral by posting their content online. 

Is your child an artist?

If your kid is naturally artistic, it doesn’t take much prompting to get her to draw or paint. Eventually, though, she will want to take things to the next level. Try giving her even more inspiration with apps that feature famous painters, sculptors, and designers.

For kids who love comics or manga, there are programs that enable them to create their own cartoon characters, panels, and dialogue balloons.

There’s a little bit of everything out there, so every young artist-in-the-making should have plenty of opportunities for creative exploration. 

Is your child an author?

The days of pencil and paper will never be totally gone, but the first steps to becoming an author sure have changed. Apps like Book Creator are extremely kid-friendly, so kids can easily create while writing a story.

As for what type of story that might be, it might be something as simple as the recent weekend outing you went on as a family. Thanks to modern technology, your child can then make his or her book interactive by adding images, audio, and video to it. 

The last step is to publish and share your kid’s book with family and friends – and maybe even with a publishing company or two, if you think it’s good enough!

So, now that you know all this…

Technology is so incredibly powerful – almost as powerful as your child’s creativity. When you put the two together and give your child the tools and freedom to find inspiration and direct his or her own learning, you will be amazed at what they are able to do. 

Creating with technology is an adventure, one that’s even more exciting and beneficial than consuming it.