Posts Tagged ‘well-being’

Overwhelmed by the holiday rush?

November 28th, 2015

Where you overwhelmed by the holiday rush? Did you have a ‘to do’ list a mile long and no time to do it? Are you sitting in a pile of dirty dishes, unfolded laundry and unfinished chores? Do you have no idea where to start? Even if you answered ‘yes’ to one of those questions I have a solution for you.

Breathe. Yep, that’s it, just take a deep breath.

Stop everything and just breathe. Give yourself permission to take 10 slow, deep cleansing breaths. You may have to hide in the front closet to get them all in but really shoot for 10 uninterrupted.  Take some deep breaths. Refocus your ‘thinking’ brain by giving it some oxygen.

Who knows? When you revisit the list you may find that the items on it you were trying to balance may not all have to be done exactly ‘right now’. You may just find that acronym HALT like Janet talked about in our last blog is once again interfering.

After deep breathing, it sometimes helps me read ideas from others. Below are several resources that share ideas on how to balance and cope during times you may be overwhelmed.

Managing Stress: in Young Families

Managing Stress Parenting Teens

Managing Stress: Taking Charge – Spanish

Managing Stress: Taking Charge – English

We would love for you to share your ideas as well. Let us know your tricks for balancing everything you have to get done.


Lori Hayungs,  WMT (working mom of three)

balancing work and family, communicating, parenting , ,

Parents: Are you hungry, angry, tired, or lonely?

November 13th, 2015

woman juggling fruit

I survived my early years of motherhood with support and advice from some very knowledgeable, and observant mentors.  I still remember and heed their words.  “Take care of yourself so you can take care of others”.  “Years from now, you will never remember having a dirty sink”.  “Motherhood is a marathon, pace yourself”.  “Get enough sleep.  Everything is worse when you are tired.”  Interestingly their advice focused on me, not my children.  The advice seemed to focus on meeting some basic human needs in order to fulfill my role as a parent.

There advice alone wasn’t enough to meet my needs as a parent.  I signed up for a parenting class and I learned about the HALT acronym.  Like the word implies—HALT requires one to stop, pause and think through one’s behavior.    The acronym stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired.   The philosophy of HALT is that when children are hungry, angry, lonely or tired they will be more likely to misbehave and act out.  But I also knew that as a parent I had also experienced the effects of HALT.  When I felt HALT—hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness—I too, became short fused and not at my best.   The technique suggests that parents also “halt” and think about their personal emotional status and wellbeing.

Let’s think about applying the HALT principle to ourselves as parents.

HUNGRY—When we think about hunger, we usually think about how we feel when we are lacking food.  But we can also be emotionally hungry.   We may be hungry for attention, for understanding, friendship, or comfort.  Just as food satisfies our physical hunger, we need social and emotional supports to satisfy our needs.

ANGER—Many of us are uncomfortable at expressing anger and many times it comes out in very unproductive ways—yelling, slamming doors, criticizing, or resentment.  If we have unresolved anger, our relationships with our children suffer.  Physical activity, mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, breaks, and professional help can all help a parent cope and resolve feelings of anger.

LONELY–  Parents can easily find themselves isolated and alone.  It’s important to reach out and interact with other people, especially other parents.  Isolation and loneliness can lead to depression.  A depressed parent will have difficulty responding positively to their children.

TIRED  Parents must often deal with interrupted sleep and many parents ignore tiredness.   Physical tiredness can impact our wellbeing and can leave one vulnerable for accidents and conflicts.  Naps, when possible and going to bed earlier can all be solutions for the sleep deprived parent.  Parents can also experience exhaustion from taking on too much or being overwhelmed from leading overly busy lives.   Solutions that I have tried include:  prioritizing, paring down my expectations of myself, and taking a break.

So the next time you are feeling stressed or you find yourself not enjoying parenthood, consider the HALT acronym.  I’ve found it a wonderful tool to gain insight into my children’s behavior, but even more insightful into understanding my own.

Janet Smith

Human Sciences Specialist

Family Life


balancing work and family, mother, parenting , ,

More than half of us have had ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’

October 20th, 2015

This week we welcome our guest blogger Kristi Cooper, Human Sciences Family Life Specialist.

Sunday Dinner at Grandma’s

I love this quote from the program “Lemonade for Life” – “You can’t rewrite the beginning of your story but you can change how it ends.”

Adverse childhood experiences (ACES) affect a child’s neurological, social-emotional and cognitive development. ACES may eventually manifest in chronic health conditions in adulthood.

I’m part of the 55% of Iowans who have more than one ACE. When I think of the chaotic times in my childhood, I’m grateful for the touch points that kept me ‘on track’. The research on Adverse Childhood Experiences tells us these touch points are called resiliency factors. These resiliency factors include individual capabilities, attachment and belonging with caring competent people and a protective community, faith or cultural process. Let me share a few of these touchpoints from my own life and maybe you can see how resilience can be woven through the fabric of our lives.

I am grateful for the elementary school nurse who never questioned my stomach aches and always had clean dry clothes for me to wear when I had an ‘accident’. I’m grateful for my 3rd grade teacher’s calm, caring approach and the interesting hands-on projects she had us do. She introduced me to creative writing which became an outlet for me whenever I felt life was overwhelming. I’m grateful for my grandmothers who loved me unconditionally and were always interested in me. I’m grateful for the routine of Sunday church followed by dinner at Grandma’s house with its comfort food, safety, hugs and laughter. All of these helped me feel normal and sane when life felt scary.

Spending time outdoors with cousins was an important touchpoint for me. Our many adventures catching tadpoles and crawdads, jumping the bogs in the pasture, riding bikes for miles, building snow forts and climbing in the empty corncrib took my mind away from the hurtful times. Music was another touchpoint for me. I saved my 4-H and birthday money and bought a guitar. With the creative writing gift from Miss Ihnen and my new instrument, I made it through a few more turbulent years.

All of these touchpoints helped to reset my stress response – all it takes is a 20 minute activity to reduce heart rate, regulate breathing again and re-focus the mind. As an adult I use meditation, yoga, journaling and sewing projects to reduce anxiety, keep depression away and help my mind think clearly. I have a therapist I consult when I need to sort things out. I’ve used my early experiences to change how I parented my children, hopefully, changing the course of my grandchildren’s lives. These individual resiliency practices combined with positive social relationships and trauma informed community resources help heal the impact of adverse childhood experiences and to reduce the impact of traumatic events.

What are the touchpoints that help(ed) you survive and thrive?

Kristi Cooper

Adverse Childhood Experiences, communicating, corporal punishment, education, family time, parental relationships, parenting, Resiliency, social-emotional , , , , , , ,

My favorite temperament type

April 11th, 2015

ThinkstockPhotos-465790704Oh oh…. I said it out loud (well sort of). The feisty child one of my favorite temperament types! I just can’t help it! I love interacting with a feisty temperament. I know that sounds silly but even as a preschool teacher I was always at my best when I was engaged with the feisty kiddo. Maybe ‘favorite’ isn’t the right word to use. I guess it was just that ‘I get them’. I understand the feisty traits. I ‘get’ where they are coming from.

Now just to clarify, I’m pretty sure my parents would not have labeled me as feisty. My feisty traits were sprinkled with a whole lot of adaptability. Which, for me, held the negative parts of feisty in check. So when it comes to feisty temperaments I understand that sense of  being determined. Of wanting what I want. Of being persistent. In the moment of feistiness, I know how your ‘gut’ feels. What your stomach is doing. How fast your brain synapses are firing. I understand that, I get it.

So what did I learn about interacting with a feisty temperament? Most importantly, that a calm, cool and collected demeanor is the best way to approach the feisty child. You see, amidst their feistiness they won’t be able to hear your ‘reasoning or logic’. Their feistiness is in the way. It’s too loud in their head, they literally can’t hear you. But, they can still see your reactions.

That’s about all that you can do sometimes. SHOW them. Model for them how you want them to respond or behave. There’s little time or room for long drawn out liturgies and lessons on appropriate language or the use of gentle touches. Feisty kids need that ‘extra‘ moment to see calm cool and collected from you. They are looking for you to ‘show‘ them how to tame that feisty feeling that has overtaken their body.

So very hard sometimes yet so very vital to teaching them self-control.

What are some techniques you have ‘shown’?

Lori Hayungs




communicating, conflict, discipline, energy, parenting, positive parenting, relationships, spanking, temperament , , , , , ,

A treasure hunt vacation? SIGN ME UP!

June 20th, 2014

SandraGeocachingGuest Blogger, Sandra McKinnon

Geocaching: A Great Family Activity

Geocaching is a world-wide treasure hunt where you electronically use longitude and latitude to locate the “loot.” It is a great low-cost family activity. It is easy to catch on to and you can do it anywhere you are.

My adult son introduced me to the game. We used his handheld GPS unit and went searching in a nearby park. What we found was a camouflaged box full of trinkets. He explained we could take a trinket, but if we did we were to leave another of at least equal value. We signed the log that was inside the box and carefully put it back where we found it. Then we went along our merry way as if nothing had happened.

How did he know that the box was there? He went online to and searched near his home for a cache. He plugged the coordinates into his GPS and we left the house. When we were back to the house, he went online to log the find.

Now, the electronic treasure hunt is as easy as getting an app on your smartphone. You simply search near where you are, choose the level of difficulty and terrain you feel appropriate, and then off you go geocaching.

Since the time with my son, I have logged caches in several states. I have also introduced geocaching to several friends, relatives and colleagues. My 4 year old grandson and I have gone hunting together. We searched for one that was easy enough to get to and to find. He delighted to find the treasure! And no one saw us – which is a trick sometimes! You see, the caches are secret so you don’t want anyone to know what you are doing.

I’ve enjoyed traipsing stealthily all over the U.S. It is a quick activity to stretch your legs or get children out to run a bit when the family stops for a break on a trip. Or plan a picnic and day out exploring wherever you are. Hint: many geocaches can be found at safe places like rest areas, parks and cemeteries.

Maybe you’ll find a cache that I have hidden. What will be inside it?

To learn more about the rules and courtesies of the game, and to search near you, visit

education, family time, miscellaneous, play, positive parenting, relationships , , , , , ,

Remember when…

May 8th, 2014

I remember every summer camp experience I had. I only had a few but I REMEMBER! There were pivotal things that happened at each one. They shaped me. They were so important to me that as an adult I have attended a camp with my children for the last 5 years in a row. Not so much to create an experience for them, but to create experiences for all of the children attending. I LOVE CAMP! Can you hear me practically dancing on the keyboard as I type? You should have seen/heard me trying to speak slower for the podcast! My excitement over the possibilities that children have during camp experiences knows no boundaries. I’m even rambling now. So many organizations understand the importance of camp that they have scholarships, grants and monetary support systems to ensure children have opportunities.

Share your camp experiences with us. And if you really want to make a difference – find a camp near you and help a child enjoy it!

Lori Hayungs

family time, nature, positive parenting, social-emotional , , , ,

Spiritual Development

April 11th, 2014

Spiritual development in children… yep it’s part of their natural development. It’s part of their moral and cultural development. We didn’t just pick this topic randomly. We selected it purposely because just like physical development and social development, it is a part of your child that will continue to grow and develop over time. It’s the part of your child that plays into how they begin to make sense of their world and the people in it.  It’s the part of their development that shapes their values and beliefs about their families, friends, communities and nations.

How then can we foster a healthy spiritual development? How can we help to answer their questions about their world in a positive way? How can we nurture values and beliefs and children’s spiritual development? Spiritual and moral development can be a daunting and abstract concept but as I was looking through various resources I came across this poem and thought I would share.

What is Spirituality?

delighting in all things

being absorbed in the present moment

not to attached to ‘self’ and

eager to explore boundaries of ‘beyond’ and ‘other’

searching for meaning

discovering purpose

open to more?

Spirituality is like a bird; if you hold it to tightly, it chokes; if you hold it too loosely, it flies away. Fundamental to spirituality is the absence of force.

Rabbi Hugo Gryn

What are ways that you nurture spiritual development in your child?

Lori Hayungs

education, family time, moral, parental relationships, parenting, positive parenting, spiritual , , , , , ,

Let’s Fight Fair

January 16th, 2014

Conflict between human beings happens. It happens between adults, between children and even between adults and children. So how do we learn to fight fair?

An article I found from the University of Texas at Austin gives some great ideas on how to have conflict in a ‘fair’ way.

Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Deal with only one issue at a time: Stay focused on only one topic. Focus on that one issue until you have resolved it agree to disagree. Then move to the next issue.
  • Avoid accusations: Like Donna talked about last week, use the ‘I messages’ and talk about how it makes you feel. Refrain from using the word ‘you’ as much as possible.
  • Avoid clamming up: Get the issue out. When you stop communicating about what the issue is it can’t possibly be resolved.  Shutting down or becoming silent doesn’t make the issue go away. Keep talking.  If you need to take a break, do so but commit to coming back and finishing the conversation.

For more suggestions read the whole article from the University of Texas at Austin.

Share your ‘fighting fair’ techniques with us here!

Lori Hayungs

parenting, positive parenting, temperament , , , , ,

At what age should they start chores?

August 15th, 2013

GREAT QUESTION!  How about right now?!

If you look up Children and Chores at  you will find several different articles on children helping with household chores. And guess what? They can start right now helping with all kinds of things. Even toddlers LOVE helping to put socks in the basket or towels in the drawer.

Allowing children to help around the house gives them hands on experiences for learning as well as a feeling of independence and responsibility.

It is important to share with the child how you want the task done, let the child do it and then DON’T re-do when they are done.  Did you catch that? It’s OK that there is a wrinkle in the blanket or the fork is upside down. Let them know how proud you are of the work they did and keep modeling the way you would like it done eventually. Remember, you probably had a wrinkle in your bed at that age as well.

What are some chores that you have your children helping with? Share with us!

Lori Hayungs

brothers, chores, discipline, family time, fathers, mother, overindulgence, parenting, positive parenting, siblings, sisters , , , , , , , ,

Fathers are more fun…

June 21st, 2013

Got your attention didn’t I?  Now moms, don’t be mad at me because we can be WAY fun, and trust me I am a really fun mom, it’s just that sometimes I feel like fathers are more fun!

So I was curious. Was I just ‘feeling’ less fun? Or is there was a difference in how mothers and fathers have ‘fun’. Here is what I found.

A summary of Fathers Involvement in Their Children’s Schools shared the following (

  • Researchers are in agreement that mothers and fathers interact differently with their children (Parke, 1995).
  • Fathers spend proportionately more time playing with their children, while mothers spend a greater proportion of their total time with their children in caretaking activities (Lamb, 1986).
  • Because mothers spend a greater amount of time overall with their children, they may actually spend more time playing with them than do fathers, yet caretaking is still what best characterizes their time, while play best characterizes the fathers’ overall time with their children.  Fathers and mothers also play differently with their children, with fathers much more likely to be rough and tumble (Parke, 1995; Hetherington and Parke, 1993).

Whew!!  I’m not less fun!  I just play different than fathers do!  I would love to hear how you play and have fun. Whether you are a mother or a father, spending time having fun and playing is so important. Share ideas here!


divorce, education, family time, fathers, grandparenting, mother, play, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Information Overload?

May 24th, 2013

Do you have any idea on how much information there is on the internet telling you ‘how to be a mom’?

I realized that I was going round and round and deeper and deeper into the realms of the internet while I was thinking about what to write. I began to be overloaded and confused. What seemed to be such a simple task became overwhelming with so much information.

Isn’t that what being a mom ends up being? A seemingly simple parenting task can become overwhelming because of information from so many places and sources.

So what do we do? Here’s what I did. Pushed my chair back from the computer. Picked up the picture of my girls on my desk. Smiled. Took a deep breath. Deleted my search engines. And went back to the place I knew research was solid and strong.   And then I started again.

Sometimes as parents we have to remember that we need a strong foundation of one or two credible resources instead of a whole ‘favorites’ list of lots of opinions. I hope you enjoy searching the eXtension website as much as I did!


education, mother, parenting , , , , , , , ,

Mothers in May

May 3rd, 2013

hugMom, mommy, mother, mum — a mother by any other name is still a mother. During May, join us to talk about what mothers mean to their children. 

We’re looking beyond the Mother’s Day cards and flowers, presents and breakfast in bed. There is more to consider than just the ritualized and commercialized recognition of children’s appreciation and love for their mothers. 

We’re taking a look at what science tells us about the importance of mothers. We’ll talk about the types of mothers, the roles they play and the benefits to children. We might even include some of the lessons we’ve learned from our mothers.


family time, parenting, podcast , , , , , , , ,

Can I get a P! Gimme an L! How about an A! But ‘Y’??????

March 29th, 2013

I woke up this morning feeling like cheering!!! I think it was the sun! Yesterday I was thinking about what to write for the blog and spent some time trying to ‘watch’ play. However, I didn’t just watch children play. I watched adults play. I watched infants to the aging play. As I reflected on the play I noticed a common theme. Are you ready?

We really do like to play.

How did I know? We let our bodies show it. We smile. We raise our eyebrows. We open our mouth and laugh. We relax our shoulders. We BREATHE. Yes we like to play and our bodies show the pure un-inhibited enjoyment of it!

I wonder if that’s why sometimes as adults we are tired after playing? Because we finally just let our bodies and brain enjoy the moment we are in. Hmm, so play might really be important in more ways than one.

I would LOVE to know how you play! I want you to recognize the times that you freely let go and allow yourselves to really enjoy the moment! Take time to really pay attention and allow yourself those moments. Tell me abut your play!

education, family time, friendship, grandparenting, play, positive parenting , , , , , ,

The RIGHT Kind of Play

March 14th, 2013

I admit to feeling like I had a play deficit when my children were little. So much so that I used to make myself feel pretty guilty because as an early childhood educator I felt like I should be better at ‘PLAY’. What I discovered is that I just play differently. And guess what. So do you!

We all play differently. I found that I like play that is active or has action. Others like to play board and/or card games that are more quiet. While still others enjoy the make believe and dress up adventures. There is no right or wrong way to play. There is just play. Pure and simple. Play. Play is face to face with the children in your life. Engaging their mind and body while creating strong relationships. Back and forth communication.  I guess my message really is don’t over analyze how you play or if you play is good enough or right enough.

Just play.

Pat yourself on the back, give yourself credit and tell me how you like to play with the children in your life.


education, family time, friendship, grandparenting, language development, play, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional, temperament , , , , , , , , , , ,

Come Play with Us!

March 7th, 2013

“Play is a way in which we can learn about ourselves and others. It is at the heart of creativity and makes us more productive”.

Parents often greet a new baby with stuffed animals, dolls and other toys, all given in anticipation of the play that is to come. Join us in March as we talk about the power of play for children of all ages.

Click on the podcast below to hear fascinating research on play.

education, family time, language development, play, podcast, positive parenting, social-emotional , , , , , , , ,