Back to School: Safe Place to Land

Back to School: Safe Place to Land

Back-to-school season is upon us. Some children are already back to school and some are preparing for this adventure to begin! This can be a huge adjustment for our precious little ones. Often our little, and not-so-little, ones do not have the words to express their worries, questions, fears or excitement. This is where the safe place to let things out comes in.

How can you help if they do not tell you what they need?

Let’s put this in perspective. You have just started a new job. Imagine all the emotions you go through. It is hard for you to pinpoint what exactly is causing you angst but you can at least state “I am nervous”. Then you start to verbally unload on a friend or family member. After that conversation, you feel so much better.

Children are famous for acting out their feelings as opposed to talking. The first weeks back to school, I would recommend that you are prepared for many different emotional outbursts to happen. Know that these emotional responses are your child’s way of dealing with the changes. They have absolutely nothing to do with you!

Your child may seem absolutely fine when they get home, then all of a sudden they are freaking out because their sibling touched them him or the couch is not comfortable or ……(you get the point). Just know that this is to be expected. Being the safe place for your child to unload emotionally will benefit them in the long run.

Does this mean that you can’t explain that the outbursts are not acceptable??

No. It means that you can help your child learn that they are reacting to things instead of dealing with their emotions from the day. It is the whole concept of being “proactive instead of reactive”.

One of the most helpful things that I have found is to ask the question “I am wondering if…”. I will often state “I am wondering if you are tired or hungry”. Also, labeling what you see is important. “Man I am noticing that when you get home from school you get angry”.

How can you help your child cope with all this emotion?
  1. If your child is one that loves hugs, meet them with open arms!
  2. Have a snack prepared so your child does not get “hangry”.
  3. Plan a low-key evening for the first few weeks.
  4. Put your phone or other electronics away and give your child your attention.
  5. Engage in some fun play or roughhousing. Laughter can be just as therapeutic as crying.
  6. Let your child guide his play with you for about 10 to 15 minutes. Child Directed play rocks!


I encourage you to be your child’s safe place to land at the end of the day! Slowly over time, you will see a major reduction in your child’s emotional reactions. This will be your cue that your child is beginning to adjust to the new grade. If the behaviour does not change then I would recommend reaching out for additional supports.

When “I will be back” is not good enough

When “I will be back” is not good enough


Does this sound familiar…

You are super excited to go out. Your little one starts to scream when you are getting ready. You begin to doubt yourself. You start to think it would be so much easier to just stay home.

Or what about this…

Your child is enrolled in a program or class that it just for them. Your child was pretty excited about it. The day comes when the program happens. Your little one is refusing to get ready, crying as you are going out the door or starts to cry when you get there.


It can be so hard as a parent when your child is struggling with separating from you. I understand this completely!! Our young man has gone through struggles with separating from us, especially me. I honestly have shed many tears over this.

The fact is, it is very normal for children to experience separation anxiety.  

There are a few steps that will help your child with transitions and separation. The steps are as follows:

1. Allow your child to be upset.

We will often try to stop our child from being upset. If they are expressing their emotions we will ask them to stop crying. My belief is that the emotion is better out than in. Once your child is able to express their feelings it gives you an opportunity to figure out what is driving their behaviour.

2. Transitional Object

Giving your child a comfort object to keep with them. If your child already has a lovey this may work. I find that the best object is something of mine that my son really thinks I need. I used to give him my key ring and a business card. The key ring is something I always use. Whenever I came home or picked him up he would give it back to me.

Another really good item to use as a transitional object, especially for bedtime, is a piece of your clothing that has your scent on it. Our little man will go into my closet when I am not home at bedtime and help himself to a shirt of mine he wants to sleep with. He has even ended up with my pyjama bottoms on more than one occasion.

3. Keeping your emotions in check

This can be easier said than done. When your little one is struggling with the separation it can be heart-wrenching. It is not the end of the world if your child sees you cry; however, it is important for your child to see you express your emotion while you move forward with the plan.

4. Practice

This means that you keep going out or you continue to bring your child to the program. Over time the separation anxiety will reduce. If there are still issues than I would look at the program to make sure it is a good fit for your child. I would do this after 8 weeks. All behaviour can take up to 8 weeks to see a complete change.

5. Be Present

When you return to pick your child up or when you see your child after you return from your outing, make sure you pay attention to your child. Spend lots of time connecting and playing with your child.


As with all things parenting there is no one solution that is right for all children; however, these tips should help get you on your way. If you would like to have solutions that are suited for your particular situation, please book a free 15 minute consultation by clicking on this link.

If the separation anxiety is something that has been going on for a long time you may want to inform your child’s doctor and/or speak with a child psychologist. 


Bye for now,




Ideal bedtime for a family of 4??

Ideal bedtime for a family of 4??

parenting foundations

Question from a parent in my free Facebook Group (Respectful Parenting):


Searching for tips for tweaking the sleep schedule for 4 kids

Is it as simple as just putting them to bed earlier and waking them up earlier?

Some background: my kids are 2, 4, 6, and 8 years old. Up until they started school, we loved the fact that they weren’t really “early risers,” typically always sleeping in until around 7:30 am. However, this makes getting up for school pretty difficult. They’re often hard to rouse around 7 am.

Bedtime is typically between 8:30 and 9 during the school year (varies by child), but often the two oldest aren’t asleep before 9:30 or 10 some nights. My 6-year old is especially tough to get to sleep. She also has been diagnosed with anxiety disorder and has a lot of anxiety around school, so mornings can be very tough, especially if she hasn’t gotten enough sleep.

School starts at the end of August, but I think it might be time to get the ball rolling on developing a more school-year-compatible sleep schedule for all of them. We’ve gotten very lax over the summer with verrry late bedtimes so we have a lot of work to do!

Any tips? Routine suggestions? Desired wake time is 7 am (maybe a little earlier, like 6:45). What should bedtime be for those ages (8, 6, 4, 2)? 2 year old still naps, he goes down around 1:30 pm due to school schedules and wakes between 3 and 4.


This is the perfect time of year to start creating your family sleep plan to have good sleep each night before school.

Does this mean that the plan is going to work each and every night?? It would work in an ideal world; however, in our real world, there will be some great days and some not-so-great days. Every day is a new day!

So how can this family get started??

The first step is done! 

The first step is to figure out the ideal time to be awake in the morning to get out the door with minimal fuss. 6:45 to 7 am start is best for this family. So I would pick the 7 am start. If 7 am proves to not be enough time once school starts then I would back up morning awake time to 6:45 am.

Step 2 is to figure out how much overnight sleep each child needs.

There are recommendations based on age that does help with giving you a bit of a guide. I will state that not all children fall neatly into the recommendations so you have to find what works best for your child. 

What are the recommendations??

According to a study done by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in 2016, the following are the recommendations for the amount of total sleep needed in a 24 hour period by age.

4 to 12 Months: 12 to 15 hours*

1 to 3 Years: 11 to 14 hours*

3 to 5 Years: 10 to 13 hours

5 to 12 Years: 9 to 12 hours

12 to 18 Years: 8 to 10 hours

*Includes naps so you subtract nap hours from the total sleep to get the amount of overnight sleep needed.


For this family I would be recommending the following:

2 year old: 2 hour nap with 10 to 10.5 overnight.

4 year old: 12 overnight

6 year old: 10.5 to 11 overnight

8 year old: 10 overnight

*Each recommendation may have to change slightly for each child. These are rough guesses based on the information in the information above.

Step 3 is to plan bedtime based on the hours needed and desired wake time.

2-year-old: 9:00pm Bedtime* if the nap is done by 3. Bedtime works best if it is 6 hours after a nap. If you want early bedtime you will need to reduce nap by 30 minutes which will allow bedtime to be 30 minutes earlier.

4-year-old: 7:00 pm Bedtime* if no nap

6-year-old: 8:00 pm Bedtime*

8-year-old: 9:00 pm Bedtime*

*This is when lights are out and the child is sleeping.

 Step 4 is to plan your evening so the bedtime (lights out and sleeping) is happening when needed. The ideal bedtime routine takes about 20 minutes to 60 minutes depending on your child.

As your child ages, their independence with bedtime increases. With increased independence comes the need for a bit more time for tasks to be completed. 

The older children may benefit from some independent reading before lights out. This is a great way for littles to wind down for sleep without using a screen. There should be no screens for at least 1 hour before bed but 2 hours is best. 


The above is a great plan but with all great plans comes the need to make changes for each family. If you are struggling with your nighttime routine feel free to book a free 15-minute call where we can chat about the ideal bedtime for your child.

If you want more help, you can book a mini consultation or join Parenting Foundations Membership where I answer questions as they come up.


Dad: Is he babysitting?

Dad: Is he babysitting?

Is he babysitting???

(insert my scrunched up “are you serious” face)

When our son is not with me, I have been asked if his Dad was at home babysitting?

Excuse me while I rant for a minute or two…  


No, he is not babysitting. He is parenting!

Why does this drive me nuts? I feel it downplays the role of a Dad.

It takes a village to raise a child. When there is a team that is parenting, all players are important. Their roles may be a bit different but just as important.

There have been many times through the years that I have not been home. Guess what?? Our son did great. Does it sting a bit? Yes, it does. I secretly would love to hear that he is struggling with me being gone; however, he did not struggle because he is taken care of by his other loving caring parent that knows him inside out and backward.

Dads have a different relationship with their children than Moms; however, their relationship is important as well. So can we please stop undermining the Dad’s role? No, he is not babysitting, he is parenting!!

Let’s take the time to celebrate the awesome Dads out there!

I will start this celebration by celebrating the awesome Dads in my life. My Dad was the cutest man with the greatest sense of humor. I have many great memories of him taking me to many different sporting events and dropping many one-liners that had me busting a gut! He never complained when he had to take me to the hospital for yet another injury! When I was down, all I had to do was call my dad. My mom knew by the tone of my voice so she would just pass the phone to him. He would say “keep your chin up”. There is something about his voice that just calmed me!

My Husband is a great example of a Dad that would do what it takes for his kids. When he hit his rock bottom he dug himself out and worked hard to show his boys that no matter what hurdle is in place, when you set your mind to it you can achieve it. He is a great example of a caring, intentional and supportive father!

My Father in Law was an awesome man that helped shape my husband into the kind and caring human that he is! You can see many of Mike’s traits in Steve.

Feel free to comment below this post about the positive qualities of the Dads in your life!



3 Magic Little Words

3 Magic Little Words

Do you ever feel like there is so much going on that you do not know where to start or that you will never get things accomplished? This can be the start of major overwhelm! And guess what???….


Many people go through this and it can be extremely stressful. As parents, this feeling can happen often. This is true for stay-at-home moms/dads, work-from-home moms/dads, working moms/dads, foster parents, step-parents, etc.

It even happens to me!! Yes, you heard that correctly. I am normal (at least I believe I am 😛 ).

Now that the cat is out of the bag, what can we do about it??

Perspective is important! Rethink the way you think. …huh????

When I find myself saying “I have to……”. The list becomes so long that no one will be able to accomplish it. Then replace “I have to” with…


Yes, that is correct. I will say “I get to prepare lunch”, or “I get to play with the little man”. You get the point. This word change helps immensely. Even at 3 am when our little man needs to be tucked back into bed.

So if you are in the midst of sleep-teaching your child, trying to figure out your child’s behavior, overwhelmed at work, and have a to-do list that is getting bigger by the moment please remember to breathe and say “I get to”.

This simple word shift can cause you to have a different perspective about the task at hand. When we are able to look at things in a more positive light the overwhelm reduces and we often feel better able to cope. I hope you are able to have a wonderful day and change your perspective if needed.

All the best!


It’s Okay to be a Little Playful

It’s Okay to be a Little Playful

parenting foundationsWhat does it mean to be playful? Why is it important? Why does it matter? 

Well, here’s the thing. You don’t have to be playful. If you don’t want to be playful, you don’t need to be playful. But when you add a little bit of being playful into your life, and especially into your parenting world, you will find that your children are a little bit more compliant and the overall mood is happier.


Yes, you read that correctly, being playful can add more compliance to your child’s reactions. 

Why does being playful have such an impact??  They’re having fun!

Now, does this mean that you need to sit down and play with your child all day long? No, it doesn’t. 

There’s a difference between being playful and playing. 

Playing is when you’re physically getting down and playing with toys, playing a game, and/or doing crafts. 

Playful is when you are being a little silly, being a little goofy, you make something you want your child to do into a game, and/or something fun for your child to do. 

Children between the ages of two and about eight often respond really well to playfulness.  

Older children may roll their eyes but they like it too. I am still playful at times with our 10-year-old. There is a time and a place for it. Heck, there is even a place for it with our 27-year-old.

Okay. So how are you playful? What do you do? 

There are so many things you can do! Here is a list of some simple things I do:

Use a silly voice

Run and hide from your child, then pop out


Make silly faces

Making silly noises

Hop like a bunny or walk like a bear

Drop a little joke


Here is a great example of being playful in action:


When our youngest comes out of the school and he is super serious looking or has that look of defeat on his face, I will turn and run away. 🙂


He then starts running after me. He will ask what I am doing and I will tell him “I am running away from you”!  By this time, he’s laughing a little bit, he’s able to take life less seriously. And then we can actually talk about what’s going on. 


Another example is when our youngest was little (now I would not be able to move) I would ask him if he wants to use his feet or my feet to get to the bathroom. He usually choose my feet and then he would put his feet on mine. Then I would hold his hands and walk to the bathroom with his feet on top of mine.

Let’s face it there are many adults that can benefit from being a little playful. Sometimes it can be a lot of work for us, though. So take it with a grain of salt and do what you can. 


There’s a time and a place to be playful. There will be times when you need to be serious. 


Embrace being playful and bring a few extra laughs into your day!


Be the Parent You Want to Be,



**Did you know that Parenting Support from Brenda McSween at Parenting Foundations is just a few clicks away? Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, I answer questions from parents via my membership website. Click here to learn more. Not interested in the membership, you can book a Mini Consult (1-hour call and 2 follow-up emails). Looking forward to speaking with you soon.