An arrow that has the word Motivation on it.

On Friday, July 23, 2021, the Olympic Games begin in Tokyo, Japan. There are 11,091 athletes estimated or expected to compete. My image of an athlete is an individual who is passionate, dedicated, determined, goal orientated, healthy, confident, motivated, and much more. Being prepared for the Olympics doesn’t happen overnight. These athletes had to have such a positive and strong mindset to be motivated to train during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are not Olympic athletes, but may struggle with being motivated at times.

children outside of tent in backyard

As we are now officially in the summer season, it can be very easy to overschedule our children and ourselves. This is especially true this year as COVID restrictions begin to lift and more events are becoming available again. Enjoyable but exhausting family vacations, summer sports leagues, day and overnight camps, 4-H fairs, library and park recreation programs, and the list goes on and on.  It is very possible to overcommit family members to the point where they do not get to relax, recharge and really enjoy spending time with each other before another busy school year begins.

person sitting on mat overlooking a lake

Since we are still acknowledging Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to share a little bit about mindful movement. Mindfulness is defined as an awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can happen in many ways including types of breathing, visualization, using our senses, practicing gratitude and even through movement! Mindful movement is an effective way to reduce stress and its physical consequences.

open laptop computer with a cup of coffee and baby toys

“Decide what your priorities are and how much time you’ll spend on them. If you don’t, someone else will.”  - Harvey Mackay

“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is what are you busy about?” - Henry David Thoreau

Two boys making funny faces

Do you remember your first childhood friend? Do you still have friends that you keep in touch with from school or work? Humans are social creatures and we enjoy and do better being around others. So, knowing how to make and keep friends is an important skill for young children to learn.

Taking Care of One Another

The conversation of taking care of one’s mental health has come up often over the past 11 months. Whether we’re experiencing a pandemic or trying to survive in the world, caring for one another makes a difference. This past month I had the opportunity to attend Mental Health First Aid Training to become a facilitator. This program was developed by Betty Kitchener and Anthony Jorm from Australia, and they gave the National Council for Behavioral Health permission to update the material. As a trainer, I encourage others to attend a Mental Health First Aid training, and I will explain why:

older woman smiling

Resilience:  the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth. The good news is that resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have.

Give Thanks pumpkin decoration hanging on front door

Thanksgiving celebrations may look different in 2020 for many people. I have had many conversations with friends and family about whether to gather.

This year our attitude needs to be centered on giving people grace about their decisions and focus on expressing gratitude and thankfulness in a variety of ways, even if the holiday looks a little different this year. 

SEL social emotional learning tips for parents

Life has not been easy for most parents who have school-aged children. It has been unpredictable for some parents, not knowing from day to day whether their child(ren) will be in a school building or learning remotely from home.

Just recently a friend of mine got word that her daycare had to close for two-weeks because of COVID, which meant both her child attending that daycare and her older school-aged child had to stay home from school and quarantine. Forced quickly into shifting gears, my friend arranged to work from home so she could look after her children.

Two young girls hugging and laughing

Impulse control involves knowing how and when to express emotions like excitement, frustration, joy, disappointment, and anger. It is a process that develops as children mature and is critical for their success in making and keeping friends, which in turn boosts their self-esteem and school success.

The Illinois Early Learning Project has a great tip sheet that includes tips on how to help young children to develop impulse control. For infants to older preschool children they suggest:

flowerpot with plant and heart

In the last article I shared with you many characteristics of people who manage well during difficult times. I would like to highlight several more for you in this article. Again, when faced with adversity, resilient people:

bench with paper bag that has inspirational saying on it

Things have not been easy for any of us during these past few months – or “unprecedented times.” We may feel like we’ve had many losses: loss of security, loss of contact with others, loss of freedom to come and go where we would like, maybe even loss of health and loved ones, among many more. Many of our blog posts over this time have focused on stress reduction, mindfulness, and finding balance in our lives. I would like to focus this week more on gratitude and looking at the positives that are also going on right now.

father with child writing

I just love the Illinois Early Learning Project (IELP) website, which is a valuable source of evidence-based, reliable information on early childcare and education for parents, caregivers, and teachers of young children in Illinois. It is funded by the Illinois State Board of Education and is housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the College of Education.