On the Cusp

I am long overdue for an updated post and there’s no better time than the present.  When I created Connecting Families I took a leap I had been ready to take for quite some time.  Little did I know it was only the beginning.

As a lifelong anxious person, I have learned to manage my anxiety with structure and routine.  As an educator, summer always proves to be a difficult time.  While I always appreciate the time off and the freedom that comes with it, the extra time on my hands gives my mind a lot of time to think and make up stories.  A lack of structure + copious amounts of free-time = increased anxiety.  I literally felt my chest tighten as I typed that sentence.  The first few weeks of June can be difficult but I typically find myself settling into a new routine and become ‘summer Neen’ as a friend used to fondly call me….a more laid back version of myself….before the end of the month.

This summer is no different however I find myself in unfamiliar territory.  After 25 years in education, a career I dearly loved, I closed that chapter of my life.  I have an opportunity to make a difference beyond the walls of a school building and it is one I could not turn down.  However, as with anything new, we are experiencing growing pains, which leaves me with a lot of uncertainty, little structure, and no routine.

Typically, I would seek control wherever I could find it, but in the interest of change, I am choosing a different path.  I won’t deny the fact that there has been an excessive amount of cleaning and organizing at my house in an attempt to find control somewhere.  But more importantly, I am choosing to lean in.  Leaning into the uncertainty, embracing the anxiety and allowing this journey to take the path it is meant to take.  There have been a lot of sleepless nights in the last four months but in the end, I know this is the decision I was meant to make and I am excited to see where it takes me.



Procedures and Routines

Early on, in my career as an educator, I often felt we didn’t fully settle into the school year until September was over.  Looking back now, that seems like a long transition period.  I can’t help but wonder if there’s a happy medium.

I think sometimes we rush the ‘creating the routine’ period when we return to school.  I, for one, know I’m guilty of this.  I thrive on having things structured and consistent.  The happy medium comes with patience.  Patience for ourselves and our children to take the time we need to create good habits.

Because of this, I AM going to use the whole month of September for routines….for discussing routines that is.  It’s as important for us to create routines for ourselves as the adults in our children’s lives.  So we are going to be looking at establishing habits for ourselves before we create them for our children.  You know that ‘put on your oxygen mask first’ routine!!

Nighttime Ritual

In my Focus on You Friday post last week I mentioned creating an adult bedtime routine.  We do a really good job of establishing good sleep habits for our children but what about ourselves.  Often we fall into bed, later than we should, exhausted and committed doing better the next time.  All to do it all over again the next night.

I woke up at the nice and early hour of 3:30 a.m. this morning.  I am what’s considered a middle of the night insomniac.  I rarely have a hard time falling asleep when I go to bed.  However, I know if I wake up in the middle of the night, I have a small window to fall back asleep or I am up for the rest of the night.

I worked with clients suffering with depression for a number of years.  We always created a toolbox of strategies they could use to battle insomnia.  Of course I can never access a single thing I shared with them when I am the one awake in the middle of the night.  It’s beyond frustrating.

I have found my greatest tool is creating a good bedtime routine.  It doesn’t happen consistently but I notice a significant difference when I do.  And I can promise you I will be using it tonight!

Creating your nighttime ritual

A quick search of adult sleep routines provides a whole list of suggestions. I’m highlighting a few of the most common and those I find most helpful.

Power down

Power down at least an hour before bed and declare it a digital-free zone.  The night shift on my phone is a good reminder it’s time to start to power down. Not only does the blue light from the screen disrupt your body clock, but one last look at Facebook can easily turn into an hour of mindless scrolling.

Disconnect from work

Ever made that mistake of checking email one last time before bed?  Give yourself a buffer period between the time you read your last email and the time you go to bed. The idea is to get your head out of work before you lie down to go to sleep.  It will help you go to bed feeling less stressed, and allow you to sleep better, with a clearer mind.


Take a few moments to just breath and relax.  Meditation is a great way to relax your body and quiet your mind.  Meditation apps can be especially helpful. Calm and Insight Timer are my go to resources before bed.

Reading is a great way to relax before bed.  I find I have to read books with short chapters or I will read ‘just one more’ and end up reading later than I’d planned.  Yes I was the kid that had to be told numerous times to turn out the light.

Writing in a journal is a great way to reflect on your day.  Use it as an opportunity to think about what went right with your day.  Keeping a gratitude list can also be a wonderful way to reflect on your day.

What works for you

You have to find what works for you.  Spend some time trying new habits and take the time to reflect on how you feel before hitting the ground running in the morning.

Allow me to be a resource for you.  Be sure to share your go to tools.  I am always looking for new ideas to add to my sleep routine..  especially when I find I am starting my day in the middle of the night!  And as always, remember You are enough and are not alone.

Sleep well friends

Now That We Have Started

We are just over a week into the school year and it has been a phenomenal start. How is yours? We have handled a little anxiety here and there but honestly less than most years. However, until we are through the return after Labor Day weekend, I hold my breath just a little each morning.

We put a lot of focus on the start of the school year. We brace ourselves and prepare for the ‘back to school’ anxiety. For some of our children, back to school anxiety means fears of returning to school on a daily basis not just at the beginning of the year.

Scripts to ease sadness

If you find your child is still experiencing sadness about the school day, the following may be helpful. It is best to have these conversations outside of the stressful moment.

  • “I was thinking about how you were crying before school today. Tell me, what’s going on?” LISTEN (see if there’s anything you can do to improve it other than letting your child skip)
  • “I will do everything I can to make it better – I’ll work with your teacher. Do you have an idea of what would help school feel better?” LISTEN
  • “School is your job. Just like daddy and I go to jobs. I know it’s hard after such a fun summer AND we still have to go. It sounds like we need something special to get through this tough time. Let’s think about what would help…”
  • Gear the solution towards something that connects your child to you – back rub in morning, special song, eating together not rushing, peaceful snuggle time before bed (which helps kids drift to sleep more easily when it’s lights out and they’ve had a fun day).

Signs of separation anxiety

It is still early in the year but if you are 4-6 weeks into the school year and your child is still having a difficult time separating from you, it may be time to seek advice from a professional. An article from WebMD, lists the most common symptoms of separation anxiety disorder:

  • An unrealistic and lasting worry that something bad will happen to the parent or caregiver if the child leaves
  • An unrealistic and lasting worry that something bad will happen to the child if he or she leaves the caregiver
  • Refusal to go to school in order to stay with the caregiver
  • Refusal to go to sleep without the caregiver being nearby or to sleep away from home
  • Fear of being alone
  • Nightmares about being separated
  • Bed wetting
  • Complaints of physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomachaches, on school days
  • Repeated temper tantrums or pleading

If you believe your child is experiencing separation anxiety or you aren’t connecting as a family in general, allow me to be a resource for you. And as always, remember, You are enough and are not alone.

Be well friends


Back to School Anxiety

In last week’s post I mentioned a future post about anxiety. In all honestly it will likely come up in a lot of my posts…yet another future post!

As much as I have lived with anxiety I don’t ever really remember about being anxious about going to school. But for a lot of our kiddos it is very real.  And it breaks my heart for our children but even more so for their parents. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to go through this with your child. So for the next few weeks we are going to talk about going back to school and anxiety. And we’ll keep talking about it because for a lot of our kids it doesn’t end once school has started.

Ease into the year

If you suspect this will be a difficult transition for your child, start easing into it now. Start by walking  or driving by school. Then stop by school. When your child seems ready, walk up to the door. I even encourage parents at my school to practice walking in the door. Then walking to the classroom. For my really anxious students, we arrange an opportunity to meet the teacher and see the classroom prior to the first day of school. One day at a time, one step closer to that day of leaving them at the classroom. As hard as it is to walk away, I encourage parents to do just that. As soon as possible. Once we are able to make that separation, we are closer to getting them started in their day.

Model Enthusiasm

I know you are worried about the transition back to school and I know you are trying not to share it with your child. Our kids are smart and feel our anxiety. So modeling confidence and enthusiasm is a great way to help your child make the transition.

Share your excitement about school. My nieces and nephew love to hear stories about ‘when we were kids’. What special memories do you have about the first day of school? Share how excited you are for your child to begin the best year ever. Above all, relax. Your child will pick up on that.

Use books to ease anxiety

I am a huge fan of reading books with children that address their current concerns. It allows them to see how someone else has dealt with it and they see they are not alone.  Some of my favorites are listed below.

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneburg

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

Is a Worry Worrying You by Ferida Wolff

And if it doesn’t go as planned

Never fear friends there’s always tomorrow. I promise it will get better. Often times when you least expect it.

I will close with a promise to you…..we will love your child as best we can and do everything in our power to get him/her through the day. It won’t be the same as having you there but we will do our best to make it a great start to the best year yet.

If you find you aren’t connecting as a family, allow me to be a resource for you. And remember, you are enough and are not alone.

Be well friends





The Journey Continues

It’s been about a month since I created my website so it’s time ‘the journey’ finally continues.  I have loved school for as long as I can remember.  Especially the ‘back to school’ time of year.  My 42nd first day of school is right around the corner and I am so looking forward to it!

I have always loved to learn.  A degree has never meant the end of an education for me.  Which I guess is true to some extent for all of us.  But as I continued to seek additional certifications I began to ask myself the true intention behind each one.  I don’t regret a single certification but I wanted to make sure I was truly putting my education and talents to use.

Last spring I had finished my most recent certification and I was taking a course to build my business, a business I had not yet started mind you.  In the middle of a session, I said to my mentor, Sometimes I wonder if my anxiety gets in the way of me starting something new. (This is a whole different blog post altogether!)  Is my need to seek more learning a way of avoiding a leap?  Knowing me better than I know myself sometimes, she gently urged me to sit with those questions.  I did and in time knew I had my answer.

Connecting Families is my leap and I couldn’t be more excited to take it!  I realized this is an opportunity to bring everything I have learned together to help others.  Serving others, especially children and their families, is what I was created to do.  I also realized I wasn’t seeking more training out of fear or avoidance but as a way to better myself and create a business that can truly meet the needs of others.

I have no doubt I will continue to learn. Not only from the books I read and the training I complete but especially from the people I am blessed to serve. THANK YOU for joining me on this journey and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.