I think it’s pretty safe to say that every parent out there has battled with their children at some point to cooperate and do what they’re asked.

It might be that you want them to get their shoes on so you can leave the house.  Or brush their teeth before bed.  Or tidy up the toys that they’ve spread all over the living room.

Whatever the particular task is, when your child isn’t in the mood to do it it can be really hard to get them to cooperate.

There is something you can try though that will help make it more likely that they will cooperate with you.

Get creative to get your children to cooperate

 

If you can make the activity fun, and more like a game, there’s a far better chance your child will cooperate with you on it.

 

Lets say you have a toddler who doesn’t want to brush their teeth.

You could try to explain how important it is that they do it.  That the tooth fairy will be sad if they don’t look after their teeth.  You could promise them a trip to the park if they do it.  You could get frustrated and end up shouting and then feel bad.

Or you could get creative.

You could tell them a story about pirates that have stolen some treasure and the only way to help the princess get it back is by brushing their teeth.  Or you could come up with a silly tooth-brushing song that you sing each time, with special dance moves to go along with it.

 

The same thing goes if you want them to tidy up their toys.

Play them a special ‘tidy up time‘ song to make the whole thing more fun.  Or challenge them to see how quickly they can put all their toys back in the basket.  If you can make a game of it, rather than making it a chore, your child will be much more likely to cooperate with you.

 

You can use this technique for all sorts of things that your children might not always cooperate with you on.

  • Sing a fun song or play upbeat music while they get dressed for school in the morning.
  • Make a game of throwing their dirty clothes into the laundry basket.
  • Play catch as you practice times tables.
  • Tell them a story or act out scenes from their favourite film to keep them walking home from the shops.  We live up a hill and Nerys used to pretend to be Elsa running up the mountain singing ‘let it go’ to make it back to the house without complaining.
  • Challenge them to get their shoes and coat on before a timer runs out.

 

Whatever it is that you want your child to cooperate with, try to get creative and use your imagination to bring your child into a world of make-believe and play.

I’m not saying they’ll always go along with it.  But by making these tasks more fun there’s a much higher chance that they will cooperate.  And while you might not always be in the mood for singing and playing and being silly, going down that route is pretty much always going to be better than nagging and getting frustrated.

The games don’t need to be complicated, and your stories can be completely nonsensical.  It really doesn’t matter.  As long as your child is having fun and distracted from the reality of the boring task you’re asking them to do you’ll be on to a winner.

One of the most exhausting parts of parenting toddlers and young children (other than being up half the night with them) is the constant requests.

Requests for snacks.  In particular bowls.  With a drink in that one special cup.

Requests for videos on YouTube.  Not that video.  The one they watched last Thursday.

Requests to go the park.  And the swimming pool.  And to soft play.

Requests for you to read their favourite book with them.  Again.  And again.

Some days it feels like it doesn’t stop.  And while a lot of the time we can happily say ‘yes’ and give them what they’re asking for, sometimes the answer has to be ‘no.

Try this trick to say no to your child without them getting upset

 

The thing is, children don’t really like hearing the word ‘no’.  It makes them feel upset.  Or angry.  Or both.

Which is valid to be fair.  No one really likes to be told ‘no’.  And if your toddler really wanted a snack in that special red bowl and you said no then they’re bound to be a bit frustrated by that.

There is something you can try though, to say ‘no’ in a way that has a much higher chance of a happy ending for everyone.

 

The trick is to say ‘no’ without actually saying the word ‘no’.

You can even do it by saying ‘yes’ instead.

 

What I mean is, if you child asks you for that snack but it’s 5 minutes from dinner time.

Instead of saying, ‘no, dinner’s nearly ready’ you can say ‘yes, but you need to eat your dinner first’.

 

Or if they are at your feet asking you to read that book to them while you sort the washing out.

You can tell them that yes, you will read the book to them but you need to finish sorting the washing first.  Instead of just giving them a flat ‘no’ or a vague ‘we’ll do it later’.

 

Even little children will understand if you give them a clear answer of what needs to be done first or instead of the thing they are asking to do.

 

For the most part anyway.

Of course there’ll be times when they still get upset and angry that you won’t give them what they want straight away.  But wording your responses like this really will keep the odds in your favour that they’ll accept it with less frustration.

Just cutting the word ‘no’ from your response can be enough to stop children from pushing and arguing back.

 

Do you find it hard to say no to your children?  Do you find they get really upset and frustrated when you do say no?

Give this trick a try and see if it helps you and your family!

Have you ever got to the office and realised that you left your door card or work ID at home?  Or remembered as you arrive at school with the children that you were meant to return a form for something, that is now sitting on the dining room table.

We’re all so busy, with so many thoughts running through our heads and so many important things to keep track of, that it can be so hard to remember everything.

So next time you need to make sure you don’t forget anything important when you head out of the house in the morning, try this one little trick to help you remember everything.

Never forget things when you leave the house again with this one little trick

 

Write out a list of the things you need to take with you and stick it to the back of your front door.  This way as you head out the door you can scan it quickly and make sure you have everything you need.

 

There are actually a few ways this can work for you, depending on how forgetful you normally are.

If you’re really quite forgetful and often find once you’re out that you’ve left something at home, then you can write out a list of all the things you generally need to have in your bag and then stick that to the back of the door.

This list might be quite short.  If you’re going to work for example, you might just need to remember your wallet, phone, keys, ID, door card and lunch.

It might be a bit longer if you’re a parent and you’re heading out somewhere with your baby.  In this case your list might include your wallet, phone and keys.  Then it would also have things like nappies, wipes, change of clothes, muslins, bottles, dummy etc.

Whatever you normally need to take out and about with you, put it on the list and then stick it somewhere you can quickly scan it before you leave to make sure you have everything.

 

If you’re generally pretty good at remembering the regular bits and pieces, but have days where there are extra things you don’t want to forget, then keep a pile of post-its and a pen near the front door.  Then the night before you can note down what you need to remember in the morning and stick the post-it to the back of the door.

This could be things like a permission slip that needs to be taken to school.  Or the book that you promised to lend to a friend.  Or your gym kit if you’re planning on working out during your lunch break at work.

 

If you’re not a fan of post-its then you could get a little whiteboard or notice board that you can put up in the hallway or by the front door for jotting down reminders.  Or you could even get a magna doodle like the guys had in friends to scribble down one-off things you need to remember.

 

Whichever way you choose to do it, the principle is the same.

Make a written note of the things you absolutely need to remember to take out with you, and put it somewhere you’re guaranteed to see it before you head out the front door.

A very simple trick I know, but sometimes the simple, obvious ones are the most effective!

People, in general, are creatures of habit.

Our brains like to use shortcuts to work as efficiently as possible, and this often means we do the same activities in the same way over and over again.  Because they’re easy and familiar and comfortable.  These habits make our lives easier and let our brains focus on other things.

The thing is, it can be so hard to get a habit established in the first place.

If there’s a new habit you’d like to start then try this little trick to help it stick.

Try this one little trick to help a new habit stick

 

Commit to the new habit for 30 days.

It will take some effort but if you can push yourself to do your new thing every day for about 30 days that should be enough for it to stick and start becoming easier and more automatic.

That first month of conscious effort is all about retraining your brain, forming new neural pathways and conditioning yourself to the new habit.

 

The trick here is the same as the one I wrote about for getting started with a new exercise routine.  You need to make it as easy as possible for yourself to do the new thing every single day for that first month.

So say, for example, you want to start taking multivitamins.  If you’re not in the habit of taking them it can be really easy to forget to do it.  But if you put the bottle next to the kettle you’ll see it each morning when you go to make a cuppa and be reminded to take one.

 

Or if you want to drink more water then, again, make it as easy as possible on yourself.

Set a reminder on your phone to go off at regular intervals throughout the day, prompting you to drink a glass of water.  Get one of these water bottles that helps you track how much you’ve drunk so far that day.  If you have a bullet journal then use that to keep a record of how much you’re drinking.  Put a glass or a bottle next to the kettle so if you go to make a coffee you’ll be prompted to have a glass of water first/instead.

 

It might be a different type of habit that you want to create.

It could be that you want to start painting after years of hiding your creative side.  Again, make a point of drawing or painting something, no matter how small, every day for a month.

You can quite often find challenges on Instagram that will help push you with this one.  And doing it every day will remind you how much you love it, how great it feels to be in the flow of creating.

 

Chances are once you’ve made it through that tricky first month of establishing a new habit it should start to become easier, and almost second nature.  If it’s a habit you’ve started for the right reasons then you’ll probably find you miss it if you do stop for some reason after a month of doing it every day.

 

What new habit would you like to introduce to your life? 

Have you tried committing to it every day for at least a month to give it time to stick and really become part of your routine?

 

My children are 7 and very nearly 5 now, so it’s safe to say we are well and truly out of the toddler stage.

I do remember that stage well though.  And one of the things I remember is how hard and frustrating it can be at times to communicate with your toddler.  It can feel like they’re not listening to a word you’re saying, and it can be really difficult to work out what they’re trying to tell you at times.

This little trick though is brilliant for improving communication during the toddler years.

Try this one little trick to communicate better with your toddler

 

The best place to start with building better communication with your toddler is with mirroring.

This is basically just a way of letting them know that you’re listening to them, and that you understand how they’re feeling.  This then makes it far more likely that they’ll listen to you.

 

So let’s say it’s a cold day and you’re trying to get your toddler to put their coat on so you can walk to the shops.

And they’re having none of it.  They’re getting upset and angry and refusing to even entertain the idea of putting their coat on.

What you need to do is, firstly, take a few deep breaths.  Then get down on your child’s level and talk to them about why they don’t want to put the coat on.

Listen to what they have to say, and then basically repeat what they’ve said back to them.

If they tell you they’re too hot in their coat, you would reply with “I know, it feels hot when you put your coat on doesn’t it.  And that makes you feel a bit hot and bothered and uncomfortable”.

This both shows you’re listening to your child, and that you understand how they feel about the situation.

Once you’ve done this, they’ll hopefully calm down a bit knowing that you’re with them, rather than against them.  Then you can explain why they need to put the coat on.  Tell that while it’s hot in the house it’s really cold outside and so they’ll need their coat.

 

Now, this won’t necessarily work every single time.

But if you always make the time to really listen, and empathise with your toddler then there is a better chance they’ll listen to you in return.

There’s also the other benefit that listening to them and seeing things from their point of view might make you stop for a minute and question how important your request really is.

Does it actually matter if they put their coat on before you leave the house?!

Maybe you can just take it with you and they can put it on after a few minutes outside when they realise how chilly it actually is.

 

It can feel like a real battle at times when you have a toddler. 

But just keep in mind that it really is you and them together, with each, not against each other.

If you can work on seeing the world through their eyes and understanding their feelings and frustrations through this kind of active listening then you should be able to find a positive way to resolve most of these battles.

I am a creature of habit.

I feel very comfortable in my daily and weekly routines, knowing where I’m going and what I’m doing.  The thing is, I’m not sure if this is really a good thing.

The problem with getting too comfortable in our routines and habits is that it becomes quite scary to think about stepping outside of them.

This is something I think I need to tackle though because there is some magic in getting out there and doing things differently.

The magic of doing things differently

 

The thing is, our brains are quite lazy.  By which I mean that our neural pathways work on the path of least resistance.  We use shortcuts and habits to go about our daily lives without using too much brain power.

The things we do everyday end up being done on autopilot.

How many times have you driven home from work and realised when you got home that you can’t actually remember the whole drive?

Think about all the things you do everyday without consciously thinking about it.

Our brains have formed pathways for these activities that are so well used that we can do them without any real effort at all.  This is why they’re safe and comfortable and familiar.

A lot of the time this is good, these autopilot thoughts and activities let us conserve our mental energy for things that need it more.

The problem is when we get so stuck in these familiar thought patterns and routines that we don’t experience anything new.

 

When we’re young we’re constantly learning new things and having new experiences that form new pathways in our brains.  As we get older though we stop learning as much.  We repeat activities and thoughts and beliefs so much that they just become part of who we are.

So what we need to do is keep experiencing new things.

Do things differently.

Stop relying on our familiar routines and push ourselves to mix things up a bit.

That’s where the magic happens.

That’s where the world comes alive for us again, as we see things in a new way and experience that child-like wonder again.

 

You don’t have to do anything dramatic like emigrate to Australia or take up sky-diving.  Although you can if you want to.  Book a football tournaments holiday instead of your usual beach holiday.  Get your colours read and KonMari your wardrobe so you’re just left with things you love that suit you perfectly.

I think the best way to start though is to just make little changes on a regular basis. 

Bust out of your everyday routine.  Here are some things you could try:

  • Walk a different route to work.
  • Take pasta salads and soup for lunch instead of the same old sandwiches.
  • Rearrange the furniture in your living room (remember how amazing it used to feel when you rearranged your bedroom as a teenager?).
  • Workout in the morning instead of in the evening.
  • Take a yoga class instead of a spin class.
  • Try getting up at 5.30 if you normally sleep in
  • Stay up late one night if you normally head to bed early

 

Try anything and everything you can think of to mix things up a bit.

Challenge your thought patterns and beliefs.  Push out of your comfort zone.

It can be really scary to start with.  Especially if you have any kind of anxiety, it can be hard to leave the safety of our reassuring routines.

It’s worth it though.

To feel excited about new things.  To find joy and happiness in new experiences.  To challenge our beliefs about the world and ourselves that we’ve held on to for so long.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

I used to exercise quite a lot before I had the children.

I would go to the gym several times a week; for classes and to use the equipment.  I would go for jogs along the seafront.  And I would do exercise DVDs at home.

Then I had Rhys and it all stopped.  I just lost my motivation to do any formal exercise, and was happy with pushing the buggy everywhere as a way of keeping fit.

In the last few years though I’ve got back into the habit of doing exercise DVDs at home.  I think they’re the best option for me at the moment, it’s so much easier than trying to get myself out to the gym.  The thing is though, it can be really hard to get into the habit of exercising when you’ve taken a break from it.  Or when you’ve never really done it before.

So here’s a little trick I’ve used that you can try to make it more likely that you’ll get started with a new exercise habit.

Try this one little trick to start an exercise habit

 

Do whatever you can to make it almost impossible to not do it.

Make it so easy to do whatever kind of exercise you’re going to do that you simply can’t not do it.  How’s that for a fun double negative!

 

If you want to start fitting exercise into your life, but find that you can quite easily talk yourself out of actually doing it then you need to make the whole thing as easy as possible for yourself.

So if you’re planning on doing an exercise DVD at home once you’ve dropped the children off at school then put your exercise clothes out ready to change into as soon as you walk back through the door.  Better yet, wear them on the school run so you don’t even need to change once you’re home.

Put the DVD in and ready to go so all you have to do is hit play.  Or if you’re doing a workout from YouTube then get it all lined up ready to go as soon as you get in.

 

The trick here is to not give yourself time to overthink it and talk yourself out of exercising.

Make everything so simple that before you know it you’ve already started.

 

This isn’t just something  that works for stay at home parents of school age children.  

It can be applied to pretty much any situation.

If you plan to get up a bit earlier and exercise before heading to work, then the same thing applies.  Put your workout gear out so you can pull it on as soon as you get out of bed.  Have the video lined up ready to simply press play.

On the other hand, if the best solution for you is to hit the gym after work then the principle is still the same.

Pack your gym kit the night before and have it ready to go by the front door.  Pick a gym that is either close to work or close to home if you can, so you don’t have to go too far out of your way to get there.

 

Make exercising a no-brainer, the easiest thing you’ll do that day.

If you still find that you’re coming up with excuses not to start, then take a look at them one by one and do whatever you can to bust them.  If you feel you don’t have time to fit an hour-long exercise session in to your day, then look at the alternatives.

There are some great 20 minute workouts that deliver the same results.  Or you can change up your routine a bit to squeeze in tiny bits of exercise, if your schedule really is jam-packed.

 

The main thing is to make it so easy to start exercising that you don’t have a chance to decide not to do it.

I also know that coming home from the school run and seeing my exercise clothes out ready makes me feel like I’d rather just get on and do it, rather than feeling bad about packing it all away again having not worked out.

 

Have you been wanting to start a new habit of exercising regularly? 

Hopefully this trick will help you get going with it, and if you have any other bits of advice or ways to make it easy as possible please do leave me a comment and let me know!

 

This post has been linked up with KCACOLS