Archive for the ‘Life Strategies’ Category

Accepting We’ll Forget

August 22, 2014

PHOTO-Aztec I Will Forget CroppedIt took me years to own the truth that I absolutely, without a doubt, can be completely counted upon to forget most of the things I wish to remember. I tried. Really I did. I wanted SO badly to be one of those women who could hear something and then casually remark, “Oh sure. I’ll do that.” and then. . . you know. . . actually do that. After all, that’s what grownups do, right?. But the day finally arrived when I accepted that, yes–even as a grownup, I. Will. Forget.

And on that day, I began my search for things that would remember for me. I found loads of strategies that worked (more on this later). And life has improved dramatically. The things I previously saw as a crutch for a weakness, I now saw as tools to success.

That’s really the point. They’re just TOOLS. Do we get mad at the plumber for reaching for a wrench instead of trying to twist off the pipe with his own hands? Do we look down on the cashier who uses a machine to add up our bill instead of doing the math herself? Do we think less of the doctor for listening to our heart with a stethoscope instead of using his own ear? (kinda creepy now that I think of it.) No we do not. They are simply using tools that make the desired task easier to accomplish.

How this applies to our Sizzlers
So here’s today’s dilemma. My now 14 year old Sizzler is in the same place I once was. She absolutely will forget, but doesn’t yet want to admit this to herself. My task this year is give her tools, and to teach her the value and empowerment that comes from using them.

As a result, we’ve adopted a new phrase in our house.

QUOTE-Assume Remember Plan Forget III Carol Barnier

And how do we plan to remember?
Pick a tool. Any tool.
For example:

If I know I have to retrieve a folder at church tomorrow morning, I put a reminder note on the one thing I know I’ll take with me–my car. Right on the steering wheel, I’ll stick a note that will glare at me when I pop in to drive.

If I know I’m supposed to call my attorney at 2:15, I enlist the help of a timer. I often even put a little note on the timer reminding me of what I’m supposed to DO when that little buzzer calls to me.

My kids know that if there’s something they want me to remember in morning, they should put a note on my coffee maker. It’s the one place I’m absolutely going to visit first thing in the AM.

PHOTO-Sign Language FI use one of my favorite tools whenever I’m waiting to speak to someone who is presently otherwise engaged. I know that I must politely wait my turn. But I now also know that when my turn actually rolls around, I shall have completely forgotten what it was I wanted to say. So what’s my plan here? I hold a letter of the sign language alphabet in my hand that will remind me of my purpose. What if I need to tell this woman it’s her turn to bring muffins to the next event? I’m holding an “M”. What if I need to ask her the date of the upcoming science fair? I’m holding an “S”.

You get the idea.

Find strategies that will remember things for you.
In fact, there’s a theme to my tools:

QUOTE-Store Information Brain Carol Barnier

Once you own this, life gets better.

Now, when I ask my daughter to box and refrigerate the now cooled pan of macaroni and cheese, and she answers, “Okay, let me finish this computer item first,” my follow-up response is, “Great! What’s your plan?” There’s no malice or condemnation in my tone. I simply want her to start creating a tool box of memory devices that work for her. I won’t be there when she goes off to college or gets married. They need a set of tools that they are skilled at using. Get started today. . . while there’s still time.


Why Can’t She Keep Her ROOM Clean?

August 15, 2014



Sizzle Bop Mom, Cori, has had it with  her daughter’s disorganized bedroom. Her frustration is apparent in her note. So take a look, then keep reading for some solutions we’ve found successful.

Dear Carol,

I have an 8 yr. old daughter who has a difficult time with performing her tasks completely & thoroughly and it makes me crazy. For example, if she goes to change clothes, the first outfit will land on the floor or bed or someplace else other than the drawer or hanging up in the closet. There are times that I will tell her to put a brush or hairclip away and it doesn’t always make it to the proper place. It may land someplace close to where it belongs, but doesn’t always get to the designated spot. 
Another thing, I let her re-arrange her drawers. Upon opening one drawer I found pajamas/jeans/a shirt/skirt…all in the same drawer.  All of these get me very frustrated with her and I don’t want to be.  I want to be understanding of how she processes different things but I just don’t understand it.      

PHOTO-Carol Off-Center LEFT

Dear Cori,

It’s certainly difficult when a very ordered mom is parenting a very distractible child. Two people could not be less alike. So, BOTH parties need to bring much grace to the game just to survive. But along with that, I think you have to attack this from two different angles.


Angle One: Equip Your Child
There’s no doubt that your child needs to learn skills that keep chaos at bay. But the strategies that will work effectively for this kid may be very different from those that will work for others. Consider some of these.

  • Ditch hangers and drawers–Many distractible folks are happier in a room with lots of shelves in the closets instead of drawers. And loads of pegs or hooks instead of hangers. All their pants are folded, on a single shelf, and they can see them all at a glance. Have them create their own organization plan, and then LABEL everything. Because sadly, even THEY will forget their own system. (Trust me on this. I actually have a drawer labeled “underwear.” Sad but true.)
  • Tie it down–I grew so weary of the inability to find a hairbrush, since I knew darn well we owned about 3,000 of them. So once my kids passed the toddler stage where I had to worry about cords, I began tying down anything I could. If I ever found myself looking for the same thing over and over again, I considered tethering it to something. Here are a few.

PHOTO-Tethered Scissors

PHOTO-Tethered White Board Eraser

PHOTO-Tethered Hair brush


And you should know, just in case my girls pop into the van as we head out for church on Sunday and they tell me they didn’t have time to brush their hair. . . I have a brush tethered in the van. Cha ching!

  • Melinda Borings Hair Dryer Wars Solution— Two daughters, one tidy, the other one a bit, well, less so, shared a bathroom. One loved it when all things were in their place. The other, well, less so. The big item to create the war between them was the hairdryer. Read a post  HERE from our good friend Melinda. of and learn how a simple solution ended the war.
  • Pinterest ideas–We have bunches of creative ideas on the CHORES BOARD on our Pinterest page. Cori–I think you’ll especially like the Uh-Oh-Chores Pocket idea.
  •  MORE options can be found on our blog. Here we address the very real problem of simply forgetting to do things. Take a look at this idea packed post called “I-Forgot-My-Chores Strategies.”

Angle Two: Shift Your ThinkingPHOTO-Absent minded Professor Word photo

  • Pick your battles. Ask yourself “Is this really a crisis? Or just an annoyance.” Will this child truly be unable to go through adulthood with this behavior. And sometimes the answer is, “Well, yes. But I won’t like it.” This is a good time to remember the beloved caricature of the absent minded professor. We’ve all met one (or seven) whose filing systems involve stacks of papers and towers books on the floors, files in an order that only “a beautiful mind” could follow, and a daily disheveled appearance that denotes a particular disregard for fashion. He isn’t going to win any prizes for most Zen working space. But is he functioning? Yes. It may be worth releasing this child to be more like this professor. And, of course, step away from the area of chaos singing “Let it Go!” at the top of your lungs. 🙂


  • Test It: This idea comes from Cynthia Tobias, author of “You Can’t Make Me!”. She claims that we need to constantly ask ourselves “What’s the point?” Do we want them to be organized OUR way simply because it’s OUR way? Or do we want them to be able to find things they need. Tell your child that you don’t care what their room or other spaces look like, as long as they can function. In other words, if you ask them to find object X, and they can find it within 2 minutes, then we’re good. The point is NOT was the item retrieved from a neatly stacked group of similar items on the third shelf. Rather, the point is, given their own system, can they find it. Not everything should be dismissed as “not important.” That’s not where I’m going. But it is worth putting some time and energy into deciding just what IS important, and choosing carefully where you make your stand.

When You Shouldn’t Reason with Your Child

April 22, 2014

PHOTO-Boy Crying CROPPED Dreamstime PurchaseThis was one of those parenting epiphanies.

One of those life changing “Ah ha” moments.

One of those moments when a light bulb is switched on in my head providing me with illumination, of understanding, that previously had been totally invisible to me. And it all started with a simple request from my three year old son.

“Mommy, please, turn back time.”

His reasoning was quite simple. He wanted to replay an event and change the outcome.

I will admit that I have since rethought the possible error in such early and intense exposure to Star Trek.  But nonetheless . . . there it was.  A request for Mom, all powerful, all knowing Mom, to please turn back time.

I assumed I could simply explain that time cannot be turned back, by me or anyone. And with this new and reasonable information, and all would be well with my child.

Feel the power of logic.

Are you guessing at what came next?  It would be a gross understatement to say that he did not believe me. I tried again to explain the impossibility of complying with such a request. And with each additional statement I made, he grew more and more agitated. Frankly, it’s a gross understatement to use the word “agitated”. Washing machines agitate. This was more like a food processor…on steroids. (more…)

Thoughts About Silly Putty

April 10, 2013

This is a GUEST POST by Leslie Crane, aka Classical Mom, our resident representative of linear minded, non-Sizzling moms who share a life with those of us who are Sizzlers.

* * * * * * * *

PHOTO-Silly PuttySilly Putty. Just what is so silly about it?

Silly Putty is a big deal in our house. It is a Very Important Thing. Like many of your children, my oldest son has a serious case of “fiddle fingers” and he loves – no, needs – to have something in his hands much of the time. For him, a wad of Silly Putty does the job pretty well.

Allow me to pause for a moment and tell you…

Five Random Facts About Silly Putty:

1) It takes exactly 3 hours and one bamboo skewer to remove Silly Putty from the keys of a TV remote control.

2) No amount of bamboo skewers will remove it from a fuzzy white bathrobe.

3) Silly Putty also sticks to hair. Shampoo and a fine-toothed comb will remove Silly Putty from hair.

4) Silly Putty can be removed easily from shiny sweat pants.

5) It is the most addictive thing in the world.

So what have I learned about Silly Putty? (more…)

Great Use for Old Cell Phones

March 4, 2013

PHOTO-Cell phone borderI have long admired those wrist-watch looking devices that are actually reminder alarms. They buzz at any preset time, and even tell you what it is you’re supposed to remember.

Bzzzzz! — Start dinner

Bzzzzz! — Pick children up from soccer (on time for a change.)

Bzzzzz! — Do physical therapy exercises (It might be a good idea for these reminders to include a tazer if response is delayed.)

While I love the concept of these wrist-wonders, the price (often around $70) holds me back. (more…)

THIS Mom Exhausted by Sizzlers

September 8, 2012

Letter Week is almost over here at Sizzle Bop. We have one more letter we want to share, this time from a Mom who is NOT a Sizzler herself, but runs a house full of them. She’s so busy meeting their oh-so-labor-intensive needs, that she finds she runs dry by the end of the day. Anybody feeling her pain? Take a look.



Do you or your readers have any wisdom for a mom who ISN’T a sizzler?  That mom who has an actual, real need to finish what she starts, to get from point A to point B without visiting point Z, 37-1/2, Mars and all points in between?

I have two boys.  I have your books, and your ideas have literally saved our family and our homeschool.  I love your wonderful messages and your blog. I’m totally on board.

BUT.  (You knew there was a “but…”)

At the end of each day, after I’ve done my Vaudeville show, my spinning and running, and ridden the roller coaster ride that is teaching in our house, I am literally exhausted and completely unhappy.  I have not had many of my OWN needs met. 

My needs are simple: to finish what I start, at least some of the time, to get to the place I started to go, to have some small amount of order and peace.  You can guess how many of those needs get met in a houseful of sizzlers.

It feels that I am catering to their quirks all day long, and because of their… “sizzliness,” they are not ABLE to do the same for me. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s simply that it’s just not possible for me to expect it in return.  So the cycle continues.  I do all it takes to meet their needs, and my own very real needs go unmet.  

As a result it becomes very, VERY hard to keep looking for the positive, to keep making it fun, to keep chasing rabbits with them, to keep them motivated, to stay enthusiastic about all of this.  I don’t always rejoice in intensity of emotion, in dawdling, daydreaming, ignoring my first 15 requests to do something, or in the constant neglect of my own very real needs.  And boy, do I get cranky.  I’m not naturally a cranky person but WOW can I become one.  

What’s a mother to do?  It’s all on me.  And I’m tired of being a Vaudeville act all day long.  I like classical music. 


Dear Classical Mom in a Vaudeville House–

I am honored by your letter. I have heard that women such as you exist who long to finish what they start, who find a rabbit trail excursion distressing, who seek this odd sounding thing they call “order”?

Remember, you’re talking to a woman. . .


Finding a Social Group for Sizzlers

April 10, 2012

The kids were all playing nicely on the grassy area of the State Park. <cue carefree happy summertime music. Release romping puppy. > But oh, wait. Who’s that eager young man leading a small pack of wild-eyed young children across the rocks that traverse the rapidly moving stream?

Ah. . .that would be my son, the Sizzler.

Elsewhere, children were happily engaged in a friendly game of tag at the group family camp out <cue soundtrack of squealing, playful-but-still-safe children making laughing sounds>. But oh, wait. Whose feet are those dangling from the bottom of the chimney indicating that someone had left the playful group and was now stuck in that giant unused (we hope) outdoor Barbeque?

Ah. . .that would be another Sizzler. (It took about an hour to get him out. No kidding. We were minutes away from calling the fire department.)

And what did all the other parents have to say. . . (more…)

The I-Forgot Chores Strategies

February 29, 2012

There are some wonderful organization/chores systems out there and I suspect that almost any one of them, if followed through on with consistency by mom, would produce pretty decent results. But, did you catch the suspect phrase here?

Right–followed through on with consistency by mom.

Yeah, that’s the problem, isn’t it? There’s a good chance that your Sizzler got that distractibility somewhere, meaning, there’s a 1 out of 2 chance he got it from you.

My kids were doubly doomed; both parents are highly distractible. So what’s amazing for us isn’t that we had a Sizzler, it’s that we were ever able to produce even ONE child that was not a Sizzler. (She does exist, but asks that you hold her up in daily prayer. :-))

Here’s the problem with those organizational systems. . . (more…)

Sizzlers, TV and Hoarding

January 14, 2012

television Pictures, Images and PhotosMy Sizzler watched the TV show about hoarders with studied focus. She stared frozen as the show shared the lives of people who collect things to such an extent that they can no longer move through their homes. Stacks of newspapers, unopened packages, garage sales finds, dirty dishes, and mountains of clothes are piled often to the ceiling, creating tunnel-like paths through their homes.

My daughter watched, unblinking at the screen, while the camera painstakingly worked its way through a woman’s home. Apparently, years ago this mom had suffered the loss of two children, only six months apart, and her inability to cope had sent her into a hoarding downward spiral. Suddenly, my eleven year old turned to me in utter seriousness, put her hand on mine and said, “Don’t ever do that. Just don’t. If, heaven forbid, I were to die. . .<insert big pause> . . .take up knitting.”

I laughed out loud. Her concern was so heartfelt. Her face so serious. Yet, the idea of me as a hoarder. . . (more…)

My Christmas Dream

December 19, 2011

Holiday Hoosle Pictures, Images and PhotosI have a wonderful dream about how Christmas Day is going to happen.
Come along and enjoy.

I’ll wake early, before anyone else, and be amazed at the immensely satisfying night’s sleep from which I just emerged.
Feel the rest.

My feet won’t even become cold because. . . (more…)