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Summer | The Balanced Mom Magazine

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Jennifer GrinerThe season of Summer brings to us thoughts of vacations, warmth or heat waves, pool parties and backyard barbeques.

It is right in the middle of the year, between the first half of working and striving to accomplish what we set out to do and the second half of finishing the year off with a bang!

With that said, Summer gives us an opportunity (only if we’ll take it) to breathe, take time for ourselves to reflect on and celebrate what we’ve accomplished so far and think about what hasn’t been working for us in order to readjust and realign as necessary.

I love Summer. It is my favorite season, because it reminds me to pause, reflect and realign to get myself back on the right path for the rest of the year. And since I love the hot weather in Southern California, it also makes me want to play more causing the creative juices to flow!

My wish is that you use the season of Summer as an opportunity to go inside yourself, pause all that mental chatter so that your mind and heart open up to receive clarity and the messages or whispers that typically tend to get ignored during the busyness of life, but is so instrumental in guiding you to your personal path of purpose.

Take the time to be still and to listen to your whispers. They are your guiding light.

Wishing you safe travels, fun and fulfilling connections with family and friends and peaceful pauses to replenish and renew your soul.

by Shaila Saint

With summer almost upon us, how many of us are figuring out the countless ways to keep our kiddos happy over the next few months? Whether planning happy family vacations, happy camp experiences, or making sure they’ll enjoy every minute of their visit to “The Happiest Place on Earth”, we parents sure go to great lengths to keep our kids happy, don’t we?

A web search I did on “raising happy children” came up with 39,300,000 results, so it must be important. In fact, a favorite exercise in my classes is to have parents visualize their children at age 18 and list the top adjectives they hope will describe them as adults. In the 12 years I’ve been doing this, “happy” has always been one of the top words on the list. And why not? I think most of us want our children to be happy, both now and in the future. But does striving to keep our children happy truly translate into creating happy adults?

Maybe not. I recently read a very thought provoking article entitled, “How to Land your Kid in Therapy. Why the obsession with our kids’ happiness may be dooming them to unhappy adulthoods” ( http://www.theatlantic. com/magazine/ archive/2011/07/howto- land-your-kid-in-therapy/8555/). The article explores the possible consequences of protecting our children from unhappiness, and how it may affect and diminish their happiness as adults. The author, Lori Gottlieb, is a pychotherapist and mother, who reports that she and her colleagues are seeing more and more patients in their 20‘s and 30‘s who seem to come from loving and stable families, yet suffer from depression, anxiety, and a general sense of emptiness.

“Many parents will do anything to avoid having their kids experience even mild discomfort, anxiety, or disappointment…with the result that when, as adults, they experience the normal frustrations of life, they think something must be terribly wrong,” explains Paul Bohn, a psychiatrist at UCLA. The article discusses how these protections are preventing our children from developing, what Dan Kindlon, a child psychologist, calls “psychological immunity.” Just like our body’s immune system needs to be exposed to pathogens to know how to respond to an attack…”kids need exposure to discomfort, failure, and struggle….and yet parents often have this instantaneous reaction to unpleasantness, which is ‘I can fix this.”

I can definitely recount many of my “fix-it” moments as a parent, yet one stands out for the lesson it taught me. When driving Conor, about 8 yearsold, to his soccer game, he began complaining that he didn’t get as much playing time as other boys on the team. Just as I was about to respond in my most empathetic way (and was strategizing the conversation I was going to have with the coach to “fix” things) I heard my husband tell him, “You don’t play that much because you’re not as good.” The silence from the back seat was almost as intense as the sinking feeling in my stomach. “Poor Conor,” I thought. “How is that hurtful comment going to make him feel? Angry? Hurt? Or maybe even (gulp)…UNHAPPY?” But I held my tongue, knowing deep down that my husband was right. It may have been upsetting, but it was a fact. And yes, that was a tough season for him (and me) as I watched him struggle through not playing much, getting frustrated, and often wanting to quit. But he survived. In fact, I think he more than survived. That season gave him a little perspective and humility, and definitely helped us both develop more confidence to face a struggle and come out standing (not to mention motivating him to practice his soccer skills)! As author Wendy Mogel implored, “Please let them be devastated at age 6…many times on the soccer field …and not have their first devastation be in college!”

Yet I think about the countless ways we parents and the institutions we’re associated with, strive to “fix” things for our children and keep them happy. These include the infant contraptions with non-stop stimulation, the contrived and controlled playdates that have replaced spontaneous neighborhood play, the over the top birthday parties starting in preschool, the loss of school P.E. games that seem too violent, and the trophies given to everyone, so no one ever feels hurt or left out. “Nowadays, it’s not enough to be happy—if you can be even happier,” Gottlieb notes as she observes this phenomenon as being truly unique to our generation. “The American Dream and the pursuit of happiness have morphed from a quest for general contentment to the idea that you must be happy at all times and in every way.”

I recently asked my dad, a very positive and happy person who has definitely seen his share of struggles, how he viewed happiness in terms of raising his children. He and my mom’s goals as parents, he said simply, were to raise responsible and successful individuals. He talked about the importance of not giving us everything we wanted all the time, and never giving us the feeling of being entitled. Happiness was never the goal he said, but hopefully a nice outcome from building up our own inner satisfaction. He actually likened it to sleep. If we set the foundations to get rest, internally and externally, than sleep will hopefully be the outcome. The same could be said for happiness. His viewpoint was reinforced in the article. “Happiness as a byproduct of living your life is a great thing,” said Barry Schwartz, a professor of social theory. “But happiness as a goal is a recipe for disaster.”

So as summer settles upon us, let’s take some of this to heart, when listening to the less than “happy” feelings from our dear offsprings– be it their struggle with boredom from ALL that free time on their hands, the summer camp they hate to attend, or losing out to their siblings for prime car seat territory during the long family road trip. Maybe by allowing them to experience these small struggles now, we are building up their psychological immunity to face and conquer the bigger and inevitable challenges that lay down the road. And feel the happier for it!

Shaila Saint

Mindful & Empowered Parenting

Shaila is the co-founder of Canopy, an organization whose mission is to be a comprehensive resource umbrella under which families can access a variety of supportive and meaningful opportunities to connect, reflect and refuel.

This includes mindful parent education and yoga classes, consultations, as well as live and virtual workshops, and local retreats and mixers, that focus on creating safe and non-judgmental environments for parents to connect with others, reflect upon interesting and relevant topics, and refuel with yummy treats and a little pampering and relaxation.

Read more about Shaila and her mission here.

by Emma Santizo and Tara Farajian

While female leaders such as Huffington and Sandberg help shape the national conversation about “worklife balance,” a growing number of working mothers want to work full-time, according to a Pew Social Trends survey released last week. The report found that 37 percent of working mothers think working fulltime is ideal, up from 21 percent in 2007. Half of working moms would like to work part-time, and just 11 percent say they’d rather not work at all. (Women Juggle Work, Sleep, Parenting Differently Than Men Do (INFOGRAPHIC), Huff Post, Less Stress Lifestyle, March 21, 2013).

We find it fairly significant that 37% of moms, feel it is ideal to work full-time. So if it is working for these moms, what are their tricks to finding balance, especially when it comes to summer when the kids are out of school?

Summer time is fast approaching and many questions come to mind, such as what are we going to do for a vacation, what projects would we like to complete, and what are the kids going to do? Sometimes, just the thought of all the possibilities of summer can be overwhelming.

Transitions in Motherhood would like to share with you techniques that have helped many moms balance all the “biz”. One of these techniques is creating a mindful “to-do” list. This could be done at the end of the day, when the kids are asleep and you are lying in bed. Having a pad of paper on your nightstand where you can give yourself a moment to digest the day and look at what would help you tomorrow. After a busy day, many moms say it is hard to settle down and fall asleep. This is when the list runs through their minds of what needs to get done and didn’t get done. So instead of having the list continually running through your thoughts, release them on paper. Some moms choose to journal at this time too, but you have to see what works for you.

Once you have identified your “to-do” list, you can itemize them by importance by assigning a number. With the number 1 signifying most important and 5 least important. This helps prioritize and also can remind you that completing everything may not be realistic, especially if you start to create a list that goes over 5 items. This is not the time to list personal goals and hopes for lifetime achievements. This is the list of what you need at the store, clothes that may need washing… If it isn’t rated a 1 or 2 give yourself latitude to do it tomorrow. There is always tomorrow.

Another trick of the trade that moms share is knowing your limits. If signing up to volunteer at different events, kid’s activities, clubs, or organizations doesn’t fit into your life or feels overwhelming, DON’T DO IT. We were talking with some moms recently and they spoke about hiding from PTA meetings and feeling guilty for not volunteering in their child’s classroom.

At the end of the conversation one mom said, “What is most important to me is that my child feels loved.” That’s it! At the end of the day, when you are creating your list and deciding what needs to get done, check in with your core… your core values and see if it all aligns. Of course, paying bills, submitting your taxes, and washing dishes might not be a part of your core values necessarily, but know what can go on the back burner. And check in with yourself to see what’s working.

Finding balance is truly a daily activity. Depending on the season, weather, time of the month, what feels like balance one day may not the next. The same is for our children. Finding down time for everyone may need to be scheduled. I really like the way the Huffington Post identified the need for “Serendipity Space”.

When you’re caught up in the routine of everyday life, it’s easy to forget that you’re modeling for your kids’ how to structure their time. The time is planned, but what happens within the time is serendipitous. (Stress Less Parenting, Huffington Post, March 24, 2013).

“Serendipity Space” may occur at home or in the car in between activities. Taking time to sing your kids favorite songs in the car, have a snack, chat, or play tic-tac-toe. It’s planned, but only the time is…what happens within the time is serendipitous.

So what about the summer, right? Everything above can be applied all year round, but the summer is special or at least you want it to be. Another brilliant mom shared how she has a meeting with her family and discusses what everyone wants to do for the summer. This does not mean it will all happen, but it gets “buy in” and helps in planning. If you have certain options you would like to present, have those prepped for the meeting. If you know of certain summer camps/ classes that are within budget that your kids can choose from, you can present them. Have a calendar to reference during the meeting, so you can remind everyone of the time frame and perhaps certain commitments that may be non-negotiable. We hope this gives some more tricks to the trade of balancing.

Transitions in Motherhood recognizes that life is full of transitions and sometimes we may lose sight of what is really important in life and that is when depression or anxiety might set in. We provide a very nurturing environment where you can talk freely and openly. Feel free to check out our website at for more resources.

Emma and Tara are co-founders of Transitions in Motherhood, an organization dedicated in helping families, especially mothers, and their mental health.

Emma Santizo, LCSW

Transitions in Motherhood
Motherhood Balance
Read more about Emma here

Tara Farajian, LCSW

Transitions in Motherhood
Motherhood Balance
Read more about Tara here

by Jamie Leff

It’s summertime!

Which means warmer weather and outside activities. Kids love to run around, play sports, and stay active in the summer time. It’s important to keep your family hydrated this summer. One common complaint I get from my clients is that they can’t seem to get their kids to stay hydrated. They do not like the taste of water, so they just won’t drink enough of it. Here are some fun and easy tips to make sure you and your family are getting the liquid they need:

Instead of soda, try sparkling water.

You can add lemon, lime or even a splash of juice to give it flavor. Some brands also come in different flavors. Just be cautious about the sweetened ones, as most of them contain some sort of artificial sweetener.

Eat juicy fruits.

The more water in the fruit, the more hydration it will provide. Great options are watermelon, oranges, and grapes. (Here’s a tip: Freeze little baggies of grapes for a cold, refreshing treat!)

Have soup for dinner!

If something hot does not sound appealing, try this recipe for a yummy chilled carrot soup from Martha Stewart:

Ingredients :

• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup diced onion
• 2 pounds carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
• 5 1/2 cups water
• 1 tablespoon honey
• Salt and pepper
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 cup fresh unseasoned coarse breadcrumbs
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• Thinly sliced baby carrots, for garnish


1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add carrots, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until carrots are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Filling a blender halfway and covering with a kitchen towel, puree soup in batches. Stir in honey, and season with salt and pepper. Chill soup for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

3. Before serving, prepare breadcrumbs:
Heat olive oil in a medium-size saute pan over medium-high heat. Add fresh unseasoned coarse breadcrumbs.

Stir constantly until toasted and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool. Stir in finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon breadcrumb mixture, and thinly sliced baby carrots if desired.

Make homemade smoothies with water or coconut water and fresh fruit.

Just pick your favorite fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen), add about 8 ounces of liquid per serving, blend and enjoy.

Save the leftover smoothie and pour it into popsicle trays and freeze for homemade popsicles.

Your kids will love these because it is a yummy treat, while moms will love them because they are made from fruit, without any added sugar.

Let your children pick out a special water bottle just for them to encourage them to drink more water.

If it is something fun that they enjoy, they will be more likely to want to take it with them to places.

Make a game with your kids, including a rewards chart for however many glasses of water they drink in a day.

While it is important to make sure that everyone is getting adequate fluid, not all beverages are created equal.

Avoid giving your family the following beverages, as they contain a lot more sugar and very little nutritional benefit:

Avoid giving your kids too much juice. Limit it to one glass a day, and if possible, dilute it with water.

Avoid sodas. Not only are they high in sugar, the phosphoric acid is terrible for their teeth!

Gatorade is for gators! Did you know Gatorade was originally invented for the college football team, the Florida Gators. It was designed as a way to replace electrolytes lost after hours of excessive sweating. If you or child is involved in a strenuous activity that lasts longer than an hour, then an electrolyte beverage such as Gatorade would be appropriate. Otherwise, drinking it as a recreational beverage provides too much sugar and the extra electrolytes are not necessary.

A common question I get asked is, how much water should I drink in a day? How much should my kids be drinking? The general guidelines are to take your body weight and divide it in half. That is how many ounces of fluid you should be drinking on a daily basis. Not to get too graphic, but a good rule of thumb is to check out your urine. If it’s relatively clear, then you are in good shape!

Lastly, beware of dehydration! Symptoms can include dry mouth, sleepiness or tiredness (children tend to be less active than usual), dry skin, headache, decreased urine output, constipation, and lightheadedness or dizziness.

A common comment I get is, “I only drink when I’m thirsty.” Believe it or not, thirst is also a symptom of dehydration. Do not wait until you are thirsty to rehydrate. Hopefully, these tips will help to keep you and your family healthy and happy this summer season. Got any additional tips you want to share? Head over to and shoot me a comment! I’d love to hear from you.

Jamie Leff

Health & Nutrition
Jamie is a registered dietician who hopes to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle.
Read more about Jamie here