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Archive for October, 2016

Success in Parenting Series: Setting The Right Expectations

success in parenting

Success in Parenting Series: Setting the Right Expectations

By contributor, Ann Marie Flanagan


What are the chances that you have ever felt embarrassed about your child(ren’s) behavior in public? We have all been there! A screaming child in the checkout line? A teenager asking if a friend can spend the night…. In front of that friend? Oh, I know. Ever have your child tell an adult something not meant to be shared?

What is the answer to avoiding these awkward situations? Teaching social skills! We shouldn’t expect our child(ren) to automatically know how to act in different social situations, unless we teach them the expectation first. It seems overwhelming, but it is not when you break it down. I am going to give you the steps and an example.

First, choose one behavior you want to focus on. Think about your expectations and what that looks like. Is it realistic? What do you need to teach your child for him/her/them to fulfill that expectation?

Is it something that requires several steps? Write down the steps. Teach those steps.

How are you going to practice? Set up role plays or practice in a small setting.

Here is my example. When my daughter was 3-years-old she was still sleeping in my bed.

Behavior: I want my 3-year-old out of my bedroom at night.

Expectation: My child will be able to sleep in her own bed without an adult in the room.


1.       She will go to her bed and I will sit on the floor next to her bed until she falls asleep.

2.      She will get in her bed and I will sit on the floor in the middle of the room until she falls asleep.

3.      She will get in her bed and I will sit in the door frame of her room until she falls asleep.

4.      She will get in her bed and I will sit in the living room where she can see me.

5.      She will get in her bed and go to sleep.


1.       During the day, we will go into her room to discuss where she will be and where I will be. We can use stuffed animals to show this or we can each get in position. Talk about what a big girl she is for sleeping in her own bed. Talk about how her brother sleeps in his bed and her friends all sleep in their beds.

2.      For each (adult) movement out of the room, discuss what will happen before it is time for bed. You may even want to practice at nap time or role play. You can have the child practice with another adult or a sibling. Find what works for your child.



1.       Set up a realistic time frame. This will not happen overnight.

2.      Spend a few days with step #1 and begin talking about step #2, etc….

3.      Move to the next step. Some steps might be faster or slower than others.

4.      Celebrate the successes each step of the way!

Tip: Be consistent and stick with it

Would you like more information on how to get rid of tantrums? Send me an email for more information. My email is

I have an online workshop available for purchase. It includes 3 modules and one 15-minute consult with me to develop your “plan of attack.” In addition, I invite you to join our Facebook group, at where we discuss our successes and struggles with parenting. In the Facebook group you can also find my “10 Tips to Help Your Child Learn to Read” Series.

You can also catch me live or on the replay on the live streaming app Periscope at @AnnMarieFlanagan where I broadcast weekly on general topics including behavior, academic, and independent functioning skills for children.

Thanks again for allowing me to spend some time with you!

Ann Marie




This Halloween be a Grandma

PA250726It’s Halloween!!!!!

Today is a day were anyone can become anything. You can dress-up like a pirate, a witch or even a taco and no one will think your crazy. You can unleash your creativity, and weirdness and just have fun.

The year my family went as Telli Tubbies.

The year my family went as Telli Tubbies.

I am reminded of my grandmother, Mary Barile. Even at 95, she would still dress-up for Halloween. Not only would she dress up, she would also go to Halloween Horror nights. Yes…at 95! She was so much fun. So today, in the spirit of “Grandma Mary,” tap into your inner child, unleash your creativity, dress-up and have a great Halloween!

5 Weeks of Scary: Week 4 Take on a Problem

tackle a problemWelcome to Week Five

Before we close out this challenge with our final task let’s review last week. Week 4’s task was to Take on a problem. Tackle an issue or feeling you have been avoiding for a while. Face it head on and break through the fear. As I said last week, I thought this would be a tough one and I was right.

Initially when I examined what task I wanted to take on I didn’t readily recognize a cause that required attention. As a matter of fact, it seems I have buried many of these feelings so deep it was hard uncovering them. Deep down there lies several fears that I have let linger and have never fully addressed. When you start to peel back the layers of covering over the hurt, weird things happen.

You want to push them away again. Like the pile of laundry hidden in the back of your closet. You know it is there you can see it briefly if you open the door a bit. But if you never actually look at it you can pretend its not there or push it of to deal with another day.

The problem I pushed away

The task I have decided to face this week was one I put in the way back of my closet after my father passed away. Every now and then I venture into that pile of memories looking for something but quickly stash it back away before it spills out and I have to deal with it. The task is to forgive my father. There I said it… and it was a lot harder to write then I thought it would be.

I mentioned my issues with my father in this post. Here I addressed my own co-dependency issues that arose from his alcohol abuse. My father wasn’t a bad man. No really he wasn’t, but he was damaged and I see now how he could have benefited from anti depressive medication.

Anyhow, back to the task at hand. I have been carrying around a bag of hurt, self-doubt, low self worth, fear and lack of confidence ever since I was a little girl. Growing up in a house of narcissism and co-dependency these feelings have effected every aspect of my life. Having never felt like enough, never feeling like I mattered, and always feeling less then those around me.

The one question

Over the years I have navigated these feelings or pushed them away enough to function. When I thought about this task I realized all of my hurt is wrapped around one question that I could never fathom.

Why did my Dad pick alcohol over me? Why was I not important enough?

I remember hearing stories of other people’s parents who would move heaven and earth for their children. Having children of my own I know I would do this for them. So why then wouldn’t my Dad give up alcohol for me? Why was having those extra years of life with me not worth it to him? Why could he not stop after seeing all the pain and hurt his addiction caused?

Finding forgiveness

It is because he was an addict. Not being addict I know I can never truly understand the physical, emotional or chemical dependency that comes along with addiction. But what I do know is I must let go of this question. I must know that my Dad loved me but he was not like me. He was weak, depressed and lacked the will to be anymore then what he was.

He loved me the best way he could, but he was flawed and broken. I must forgive him for his weakness. It was not my doing or

Winnie the pooh

Image found on Pinterest

something I could have fixed. More importantly, it was not a reflection on his love for me and does not mean others will love me less.

I know moving forward this will be a struggle but overtime I plan to unravel the layers I have built up. Hopefully, in facing this fear I will be able to released this hurt and heal myself.

There we have it friends. We have made it to the final Week of the Challenge. Week 5…

Week 5: Take your power back

We have done a lot of work over this month. We have faced fears physical, mental and emotional. In the final week we reflect on all that we have learned about ourselves during this challenge. What fears have we overcome? Are any still plaguing you? Has your view of fear changed?

My hope is that you feel empowered and emboldened by this process. Maybe like me, you have gotten to know yourself a little better. Maybe you realize you are so much more than you appear to be. Each and every one of us is capable of amazing things if we believe we can. If we ignore our self-doubt, if we overcome our overwhelm, move past our guilt and run towards our fears.

Thank you so much for taking this journey with me over the past month. I hope it was transformative, insightful and helpful. Please share your stories in the comments about what you have learned from this process.

Month 10: Dining /Living Room, Living in the Now

living in the now

I have spent the year working my way through “One Year to An Organized Life,” by Regina Leeds. It has been a more emotional journey then originally expected.  I have worked our way thought the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, garage, paper organization, travel, memorabilia and kids rooms. (I skipped one month that discussed moving.) There has been a lot of emotions around letting go of things but, it has been enlightening and uplifting to clear our the old and make room for the new.

It’s hard to believe there are only two months left in this journey.  Over the past year I have come to understand the value of living in the moment and appreciating what we are in right now. Not pining away for what was (my children’s infant years, ) or waiting until we have the time, energy or money to create the ideal perfection in home décor.

This month we tackle the areas my family does the most living in. The family  and the dining room. Our house is small so we have to make use of all the space we have. That being said, we spend the majority of our family time in one of these two rooms. We do our homework, bills and crafts at the dining room table.

In the family room we watch our favorite TV shows together as it is the only TV in our house. When my children were born I made the choice to have only one TV.  Growing up in a house where everyone retreated into different rooms to watch different shows, I decided I did not want that for my family.

Not only did I want to monitor the amount of time and exposure my children had to TV, I also wanted it to be something that brought us together not separated us. Along with the sole television this area also houses my husband and kid’s gaming systems.

This has also been a surprising source of joy, fun and family togetherness. I know what you are thinking, too much time inside playing video games is bad news. Too much television and video games are unhealthy and rot the brain.

If these items are overused, like anything else, they would be bad. However, f the shows and games are carefully chosen and the time is monitored then it can be a source of enjoyment and togetherness. As a matter of fact, our game system has been a life saver on a hot summer day.  We have even played it with expended family on the holidays and had a blast!

So when I read this chapter I will admit to a little disappointment. I was expecting more advice on how to update electronics and store game system. And while the book makes mention of this, it talks about CD’s, music storage and even mentions cassette tapes. Maybe my copy was a little outdates, but who has CD’s anymore much less cassette tapes?

However, there were some good ideas in this chapter about corralling kid’s toys and making sure your children put away what they take out. This has worked for me.  I having already instituted a system of bins and baskets in this room for easy clean up and storage. The author also makes a good point about not going overboard with your baby pictures after they have grown out of that stage. This is something I need to remember. It also is important to change out photos to keep focus on life in the now.

Moving into the dining room area. The author discusses the need to eliminate piles. I am guilty of using the dining room table to house piles of stuff. Piles of mail, homework, coupons, paperwork. She suggestions 15 steps to help get these piles under control.Organized Life

One of these steps is selecting at least one day to actually dine at the dining room table. She says “What is the point of having a room that gets used once a year and is otherwise a dump site.”  I think this habit will go a long way towards limiting piles and bring the family closer together.

She also suggests doing a 15-minute elimination round of the piles to get rid of old newspapers and outdates items. Then box up the rest and transport it to the appropriate room. By putting it in a box, it keeps the table clear.

My big problem lies in a choice I have been putting off for quite sometime. The scrapbooking buffet. I have mention this on other posts but have been reluctant to make a decision as to what to do about it. This buffet has housed my scrapbooking supplies for well over five years. However, I have not scrapbooked a thing in at least a year.

So why am I holding on to this stuff?

I really don’t know. I really keep thinking that someday I will have the time and energy to get back into it. Someday, I will find the joy in the  hobby I once loved. But if I am truly honest with myself, I know I can’t fit it in anymore. I no longer have the desire to drag all of the supplies out only to have to put them away again.

Finally, I have to recognize that in the end it does not provide me enough joy anymore to make it a priority. Working out, blogging, spending time with my kids, those are higher on the list of things that fill me up and bring me joy then scrapbooking is at the moment. (It kind of just came to this conclusion as I wrote this.)

So I know to move forward I need to accept my feelings, embrace this stage in my life and let go of my scrapbooking supplies. Besides scrapbooking supplies can always be repurchased if I decide to return to the craft. But for now I must move forward in the area that bring me joy now. To let go of the items that no longer fulfill this in me. Holding on to stuff in that hopes the we will recapture a past feeling only holds us back from embracing the joys of today.

Mama’s, You are not

Dear Beautiful Mama

I was inspired to write this after reading a similar list from the blog Cresting the Hill. There I encountered a post titled “You are not.” It was a list of all the negative things women in their 50’s might say about themselves. Her words really hit home to me. I recognized that all us women’s do this. For us mama’s we pine for the person (and body) we had before kids, focus on flaws instead of seeing the beauty of motherhood and fixate on perfection instead of being in the moment.  More recently, I have come to appreciate the idea of changing our negative self-talk so I created a version for Mom’s.

Mama’s You are not…                                              mama's you are not

Your  extra pounds of baby weight

Your messy house

Your overflowing laundry

Your dirty diapers

You are not…

Your sleep deprivation

Your inability to stick to a diet

Your lack of time to get things done

Your yoga pants and stained shirts

No…You are more

You are a caregiver and friend

You are a wiper of tears and kisser of boo-boo’s

You are a teacher

You are a creator of home

You are nourishment and home cooking

You are the comforting arms

You are the immovable force protecting your children

You are what it mean to be a family

You are love




Crazy 8 Sale On Now!

5 Weeks of Scary: Week 3 Test Your Physical Limits

 5 weeks of scary

Welcome back to the 5 weeks of Scary.

Last weeks challenge was to test your physical limits. This was a lot harder to accomplish then I expected. What made it so hard was finding the time to actually do some physical activity. My day job is very sedentary. During this n of my life I have my children’s sports every weeknight…more sitting. So the only time I have is in the morning.

In order to get this accomplished I would have to do it while the rest of the house is asleep. So even going out on a run means I run the risk of waking up the whole house when my dog starts crying and the door closes. So the task I finally decided on doesn’t take a lot of time, equipment or mobility but in the end requires maximum effort.

My physical challenge

I started a 30 day plank challenge. Planks in general are a full body exercise and require a bit of mental stamina to not collapse at the first signs of fatigue. You can refer to the video below for proper plank form. I personally have struggled doing planks for longer than a minute. Because, quite frankly, I gave up. Yes, there I said it. It gets uncomfortable I get tired and I give up.

The 30 day plank challenge starts of slow having you hold plank for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then each day you gradually increase the amount of time until you are holding plank for 5 minutes. Five…whole…minutes. Yes, it is a challenge and will stretch my limits physically and mentally. But it only takes a short period of time each day and can be done anywhere so it totally fits with my life right now.

If you would like to join me on this challenge here is the chart I am using to accomplish this task. This task helps you build mental stamina and fosters a “don’t quit” attitude. Many times we quit tasks, jobs and exercises before we have really tested how far we can go. Sometimes we self-sabotage for fear of failure. Move past that fear of failure and test your limits.


Now on to Week 4: Take on a Problem5 weeks of scary

Sometimes it is scary to address a nagging problem. Dealing with problems might force you to confront feelings and situations that you have been trying to avoid. This week we will run towards that fear and face the problem head on. Tackle that question that vexes you. It could be you are annoyed with useless process at work? You might want to take on a societal issue most people are ignoring? Or maybe you need to let go of the hurt someone has caused you?

It could be big and worldly or just big in your world. The point is to stop pushing your feelings to right a wrong aside. Yes, it is scary to confront a problem. This may mean asking for help. It might make others angry with you for addressing it. Or it could entail asking for forgiveness from someone you have wronged.

To me this is the hardest challenge because it is a challenge of confronting a true fear, its most likely one you have buried for deep personal reasons and have been avoiding. Be brave. Do what you are afraid to do.

A Matter of Mindset

success in parenting

A Matter of Mindset

by Ann Marie Flanagan, contributor

As a mom, have you ever had a legitimate sick day?

I am talking about being alone in your home, cell phone in the off position, no email or social media groups that need immediate or constant attention. No, you haven’t had that? Really? Yea, me either.

What happens to us when we get unexpected news about our health and we have little to no time to process the information? Or this unexpected news is delivered in the presence of our children because we did not have the ability to leave them in the waiting room? Yes, this does happen and it happened to me the other day with my eight year old in tow.

Let me give you a little background before I share what occurred. I am a mom of three children. Their ages are 25, 16, and 8 years old. The 8 and 16 year old are under my room. My middle child is my clone and my youngest son is extremely sensitive to changes that concern me. He is a little feeling detective.

I tell you these things because I am sure your children are sensitive to your needs, even if they don’t express that verbally. Children have a keen sense when something is about to go down. So, here is my recent health journey.

Last September, I was given a diagnosis that took me off guard. It is not life-threatening, just life changing. It knocked me down for about a month because I could not wrap my head around the fact that I am “sick.”

I don’t feel physically sick and I didn’t know that most people don’t feel this way on a daily basis. Having always prided myself on my, mostly healthy lifestyle, I allowed myself to feel defeated. Until this behavior began to affecting my relationships.

Changing your mindset for yourself and your children

When I saw the reflection of myself through my children’s eyes I received my wake up call. My behaviors (short-tempered, depressed, and angry) were not examples I wanted my children to follow. Seeking out the counsel of another mom who had the same diagnosis, as well as two friends of mine that are nurses, I made additional healthy choices. This included going on a gluten-free diet to decrease my inflammation and using essential oils, to heal my body. That was the easy part.

But my biggest obstacle is my mindset. My journey of being mindful is my biggest challenge. Why do I want to be mindful? Illness will not freely reside in me and be fueled by unhealthy thoughts and feelings. I want to be everything I can be for myself, my children, my husband, family, and friends.

In order to work on my mindset, I chose to surround myself with people who are examples of this very concept. To continue to remove negative influences that are causing my self-doubt to sneak in. These negative influences are negative people, past experiences, social media, and the list goes on. How am I doing this?

Well, I am a list maker. I am making a list and methodically removing these items from it. It is not an easy or quick process, but it has begun. I need to also continue to remind myself why I am doing this. It is for ME!

When I have a healthy mindset, all of those around me will begin to reap the benefits. Why is this a difficult process? Because ever since I was a child, I have never lived my life this way. The idea of having a healthy mindset ignites my fire to do right by my children. So I may be their positive role model again. When I say “my children,” this includes not only my biological children, but also the ones I have in my class, my “Girls on the Run” team, and others  I come in contact with daily basis.

Another way I am changing my mindset is by using researched-based information and practicing what speaks to me.  Not all of the research-based suggestions work for me, so I pick and choose the ones that fit. Likewise, I have also found “influencers” that have me striving to be the best that I can be.

Getting up after a set back

Now I will share my most recent health set-back. I have had an enlarged lymph node in my neck for as long as I can remember. Always thinking it was just a swollen gland, I monitored it but paid it little attention.

That was until recently when I discovered two more nodes in my groin area. This concerned my physician and she sent me to an oncologist. This resulted in an immediate setback to all of my self-care.  Just by hearing the word oncologist and the fact that I know have one, was enough to create a feeling of foreboding.

They ordered ultrasounds and a CT scan. The first doctor wanted to cut the lymph node in my neck out and then test it.

HECK-to-the-NO! I asked for other options, choose to wait three months and rescan those areas. Except I was scared and allowed those three months to come and go. I told myself, since there is no pain involved in these areas, I must be fine.

Well, last month the doctor’s office called to say they set up my next appointment since I didn’t follow up. I had the ultrasounds last week and received the news that the groin area nodes are the same. However, the node in my neck has increased in size. The surgeon said he was not convinced that it needs to be removed but is concerned and is sending me for another CT scan to get a better look.

I asked “why” even though I knew in my heart what he is looking for. Unfortunately, all of this news was delivered in front of my 8-year-old. Thank goodness when I asked him, he said, “The C-word,” for the benefit of my child.

After the appointment, I went into a tail-spin. It was ugly. I informed my “tribe” about my results and then turned inward. It took that entire evening and part of the next day to pull myself back up. Deciding to not allow this situation to define me, even if the “c word” is what it is.

Because what if it’s not??!! Why am I wasting my time worrying? I made the choice I was not going to give in to the fear and worry.  My CT scan is next week and the results will be given the following week. I WILL survive and throughout this process I will teach my children how to stand up to what life throws us in a dignified and positive way.

We all struggle with our health at one time or another. Your struggles may be much more than mine. If you would like to chat you can reach me privately at

If you have children, please join for a place to share your successes, ask for help, and form long-lasting friendships with other parents. I cannot wait to see you there.

In addition, I live stream on Periscope at @AnnMarieFlanagan where I discuss techniques and strategies for helping our children excel.

Beginning October 17th I am involved in a new Periscope channel called @SelfCareSociety. We will be sharing great tips for self-care in all parts of life. Thank you for allowing me to spend this time with you!

Ann Marie

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