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3 Sanity Savers for the Days you think you Might go Crazy!

Wendy Snyder

Hey Families, I'm back from vacation from a weeklong trip to visit family in Maryland and ready to dive back into supporting all of you! 

A Blue Crab feast is always in order when visiting Maryland! -Kent Island, MD

A Blue Crab feast is always in order when visiting Maryland! -Kent Island, MD

How is everyone's summer going go far with your kiddos? What are the times of day that are easiest and most enjoyable for you? And what are the pain-points where you are seriously worrying might drive you crazy?

I'd love to hear your responses below or over on my Facebook page (#FreshStartFamilySummer) so I can support you guys as best as possible. I'm currently in the midst of creating a ton of new content for the blog, new website (yewwwww, coming Nov. 1st!) new membership program, and possible podcast (yes, I think I need to start this, what do you think?), so I would love to hear from you!

Any of these areas got you in a dead end for ideas on how to handle them? 



-The Dinner Table

-Sibling Rivalry


-Breaking the Rules (or not honoring your limits)

-Talking Back

-Throwing, Biting, Kicking, Hitting? (oh gosh, this used to really rev my engine!!)

-Nap Skipping or Sleep Drama 

-Messes and Not Cleaning Up

You're probably running up against struggles in a lot of these areas, but which areas stand out for you as your biggest challenges during the summer months? 

For my local San Diego clients, I'll be teaching a seminar this Thursday night (7/13) on "What to Do When your Kids Drive You Crazy!" (see details below), where we'll go in depth on lots of concepts that will save your sanity and prevent you from becoming a runaway mom (Do you remember that news story from a few years ago when a Mom of a toddler literally ran away? Ha, not gonna lie, I've considered "taking off" for an extended break before!). 

Here's a sneak peak of the content we'll be covering...I've included My 3 Fave Tips from Thursday night's material that really do work well to keep our brains from exploding. 

#1 - Take Care of Yourself

Oh my goodness families, this is a tough one right? Who has time to take care of themselves when there is laundry to be done, lunches to be packed, diapers to be changed, stories to be read, drawings on the wall to be erased....ugggghhhh, I'm exhausted just writing a tiny bit of the list us parents deal with every single day!

Over the last few months, I've interviewed so many consultants, who I'm bringing on to help with he FSF migration online....and I must say, the ones who didn't have kids kind of made me giggle.

One day, during a meeting, when I was explaining to a consultant that I was a bit overwhelmed with the workload this "online migration" was going to be, he said "Well, what else do you do beside this?" and it kind of took me by surprise so I said "Well, nothing, this is my only job." and he replied "Well, you've got plenty of time, trust me, this will be easy." Later I realized that I should have turned around and looked him square in the eyes and said "My other job is MOTHERHOOD and it's a butt kicker!!! It sucks every second of your time, keeps you up worrying at night and also provides you with countless hours of joy, laughter & play". Seriously, people who don't have kids yet, don't realize how much it changes our lives, right? It's definitely the hardest & most time consuming job I've ever had!

So....back to taking care of ourselves. You see, when it comes to serving others (and parenthood is one giant 18 year+ service from the heart journey), we've GOT to fill our buckets first before we can serve others with joy. This same concept goes when you're flying with kids...when S hits the fan, you NEED to put your oxygen masks on first, then help your children, because you can't help them when you're unconscious!

When it comes to self care, it definitely doesn't just happen. Extra time in the day doesn't just magically "appear" right? So you've got to be proactive about scheduling it and asking your spouse, mom, neighbor, or friends for a hand, so you can get that 10 minute jog in, or 25 minute trip to the grocery store alone (ahhhh, heaven!), or a relaxing 15 minute bath or shower (instead of your usual 3 minute rushed "the colicky babies going to start crying again" routine).

Momma, you DESERVE to honor yourself, your body & your mind with something every day that allows you to take a few deep breaths and feel nurtured. Sometimes this is just buying yourself fresh flowers from the grocery store or picking them from the yard. Tasks like this definitely count too! 


#2 - Use Actions, Not Words

If you're anything like me, you talk A LOT in the span of a day to your kids. This is not only exhausting, but I betcha it's driving you crazy! Verbal expression can become redundant to kids and they eventually end up losing attention...remember the Charlie Brown teacher character "Blah Blah Blah Blah"? They will lose interest when we talk too much and then we end up exhausted, frustrated and angry. So take a break from all the words and start using ACTION. 

Here's an example....

When your kiddos come home from camp, or vacation bible school, or daycare and throw off their shoes in the living room, instead of saying 'Nuh uh, nope, you know better, your shoes don't go there", simply walk over and pick up their shoes, place them in their hands, look in their eyes, smile & point to the shoe box or closet. Minimize your words to something like "Closet Please" or "Thank You". 

Try this and I promise you that you'll feel better and your kids will respond more consistently to you! 

#3 - Detach with Love

Detachment is different than ignoring or not caring. Melody Beattie from "The Language of Letting Go" describes it well....

"Sometimes people we love do things we don't like or approve of. We react, They react. Before long, we're all reacting to each other and the problem escalates.

When do we detach? When we're hooked into a reaction of anger, fear, guilt, or shame. When we get hooked into a power play - an attempt to control or force others to do something they don't want to do. When the way we're reacting is hurting us. Often, it's time to detach, when detachment appears to be the least likely, or possible thing to do. 

The first step toward detachment is understanding that reacting and controlling don't help. The next step is getting peaceful - getting centered and restoring our balance. Take a walk. Leave the room. Go to a meeting. Take a long, hot bath. Call a friend. Call on God. Breathe deeply, find peace. From that peace and centering will emerge an answer, a solution". 

I'm the first to tell you, detachment ain't easy! But it works...and it's good for everyone in the family, especially you Momma. So try it out next time your kids are driving you nuts and see how you feel's pretty magical. 

Encinitas Evening Seminar

July 13th: What to Do When Your Kids Drive You Crazy! 

Explore why children do the things they do and eight actions you can take when you feel crazy and your household feels chaotic. You will learn actions you can take to handle your feelings and actions you can use directly with your kids (and family, friends, coworkers....these concepts are good for all areas of your life!) 

7/13 Encinitas - 111 C St. - 6-8:30pm - Beer, Wine, Kombucha & Snacks provided. Register here

Exercises at monthly seminars help parents increase essential positive parenting skills such as empathy, detachment & modeling. Join me July 13th! 

Exercises at monthly seminars help parents increase essential positive parenting skills such as empathy, detachment & modeling. Join me July 13th! 



Bully Proofing Your Kids (Bonus - Interview with Specialist Maggie Macaulay)

Wendy Snyder

"Bullying"...most of us cringe when we hear that word. "Victim" is equally as scary. None of us want our kids to end up in situations where they are acting as either. So what can we do to proactively prepare them for times when they're bullied or have been the bully? 

The playground is our kids' early learning arena for relationships built on respect. 

The playground is our kids' early learning arena for relationships built on respect. 

The answer is not a one solution, fits all, magic pill. Situations where bullying exist are often developed over time and it's important to see that both sides have a role in the dynamic. It is very easy to side with the victim and come down on the bully, but having this mentality actually works against empowering children who have fallen into a victim role. When we take on someone else's problem, we weaken that person and overburden ourselves. Of course there are times when we as adults need to step in, however our first solid attempts should be in empowering our kids to take care of themselves and have confidence in their inner strength.  

Learning to build up both sides is key. Teaching the bully to see the light in himself and understand that true power comes in ways OTHER than overpowering others is crucial.....while also teaching victims to have empathy for kids "acting out of integrity" while learning to set strong boundaries that often serve as bridges to relationships. Dissolving Bully / Victim situations works best when kids and families come together, which is an incredibly hard task for many who would rather walk the plank on a pirate ship than come face to face with tough conflict resolution. It's important to remember that while definitely challenging, conflict resolution CAN be peaceful and bridge building, if both parties stay open and willing to truly seek the integrity in each other and the situation. 

Most families in the span of 18 years of parenting and childhood, will experience a time or two when their kids fall into one (or often both) of the Bully / Victim roles. Whether they've been a little too rough with kids in their class, or downright mean and aggressive towards another child...or perhaps you have a kiddo who always seems to get picked on, has trouble speaking up for herself, or has truly gotten hurt by another child? When you add that many of us have painful childhood memories that get triggered by these events that our kids experience, dealing with Bully or Victim challenges can leave you drained, hopeless and often angry.

The good news is...Positive Parenting and Healthy Life Coaching tools, mindsets, and strategies can help equip your kids with the ability to resolve these types of conflicts with integrity and success. There are so many great organizations who are working hard to educate the world on these types of strategies and one of them is The Peaceful Project, have you heard of them? They are an amazing non-profit, headquartered in Missouri, doing amazing things to educate the youth on how to avoid Bully / Victim paradigms. 

The Peaceful Project endeavors to reach the under-served population, guiding them to discover, honor, and live their unique life's purpose, peacefully, powerfully and responsibly. The Peaceful Project is extraordinarily effective in eliminating the bully/victim paradigm, replacing it with responsible and harmonious community. We recognize that true power can only occur through cooperation and cannot be forced. By helping all, especially the youth of today to uncover and express feelings and thoughts they may not even know are affecting them, we are often able to assist them in understanding and altering the bully/victim paradigm. This level of personal responsibility puts one's magnificence in action.

The Peaceful Project endeavors to reach the under-served population, guiding them to discover, honor, and live their unique life's purpose, peacefully, powerfully and responsibly.

The Peaceful Project is extraordinarily effective in eliminating the bully/victim paradigm, replacing it with responsible and harmonious community. We recognize that true power can only occur through cooperation and cannot be forced. By helping all, especially the youth of today to uncover and express feelings and thoughts they may not even know are affecting them, we are often able to assist them in understanding and altering the bully/victim paradigm. This level of personal responsibility puts one's magnificence in action.

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview the Executive Director, Maggie Macaulay about what the organization stands for and how it serves the community in the most amazing ways to reduce both Bully and Victim situations, as well as the occurrence of By-Standers (kids who watch, but don't take action or help). She talks a little bit about how they view the Bully / Victim paradigm and also shares an incredibly moving story about the power of the work. Click below to listen. 

The Peaceful Project offers a super helpful "tips" printout about how to keep your kids out of the Bully / Victim realm. Click here to download the guide. 

If you're a local San Diego family, register for the "Bully Proofing Your Kids" seminar on Thursday night (6/22) - 6pm-8:30pm at my Fresh Start Family Office in Encinitas (111 C. St.). Wine, beer, kombucha, snacks and a solid dose of hope, encouragement and new tools are always served up.

With Joy, Wendy Snyder

3 Top Positive Parenting Tips that I’ll definitely be practicing this summer to stay sane & actually enjoy the season!

Wendy Snyder

Snyder fam loves us some beach time! What is your family's go to happy spot? 

Snyder fam loves us some beach time! What is your family's go to happy spot? 

Please tell me I’m not the only one who gets a little nervous heading into summer with my little ones. Don’t get me wrong..there’s so many things that are alluring about this upcoming season...longer days, warm dips in the ocean, a solid break from lunch packing duties, neighborhood block parties, sleep ins (yes, my kids are finally old enough to actually sleep in a bit!) and of course tons of time with my feet in the sand with my kiddos on wide open beaches...the sea is our happy place and during the summer, we get tons of time there!

However, when I think of summer, feelings of anxiety & worry creep up pretty quickly about being together non-stop with my amazing (yet sometimes challenging) little mini humans.

-How will I get any work done?

-Will I go crazy dealing with their bickering? (If you’ve ever heard me teach on sibling rivalry, you know I’m super honest about the sibling rivalry & conflict struggle being VERY real in our house!)

-How will I find time to exercise and take care of myself?

-Will my little guy have massive tears when I go to drop him off at summer camp?

-How will I enforce bedtimes when the sun basically doesn’t set till 9pm!?!

-How in the heck am I going to keep these kids busy?

-Will we have fun?

-Or will I slip into that stressed out, “not appreciating the moment” Momma mode that I dread (but am well versed in).

When you think of summer with your kiddos, what comes up for you? Whether you work full-time, part-time, side-time, or ALL the time (don’t we ALL work all the time as Mommas?)...heading into summer is a balancing act that deserves some proactivity and planning.

Here are 3 Positive Parenting Tips that I’ll definitely be using in my own home that I’m confident will help me get smoothly through this epic season with joy.

1. Start Hosting Weekly Family Meetings

Family meetings are one of my favorite activities to put into practice on a consistent basis and definitely so helpful before special seasons, holidays, vacations, etc. They are a place where children can practice lots; asserting their feelings, conflict resolution and leadership skills, while learning to listen to other people’s viewpoints and support each other’s needs and dreams.

I recommend that parents set the stage for success on the first few meetings. They should be short, fun and super inviting, meaning 10 minutes is plenty long, or even 5 minutes if you’ve got teeny toddlers. In the beginning, it’s great to start out with an encouragement feast (see below!) or a game, then cover a few important topics about the upcoming week or important rules everyone needs to remember. The object is to encourage everyone to attend so it can be a team building activity, while also a healthy ground to create agreements. Try your best to keep the gatherings light and point out to your kids what you WANT to see from them, or the rules that important for them to follow, vs. what you don’t want. (If you’ve ever heard me teach on “Close your eyes & do NOT picture a giant gray elephant”....this is that concept. It works a lot better to ask for what we want vs. what we DON’T want, make sense?)

Pull in the calendar for the week (or season), write the top 3 rules of the house and how following them is important in order to do fun activities, then try out an encouragement feast. 

Then finish off with some frozen yogurt & fresh fruit and/or a dance party. Most importantly, have fun & relish in the fact that your family crew is awesome and stronger when you do life together as a team!

2.) Create a Calendar

This can be simple and you can do it together to make it a collaborative effort. Here’s a simple template that you can download to post to the fridge for all the weekly activities or here’s another template that has a more detailed daily outline to include tasks like reading, chores & meditation.

Be sure to highlight the fun outings and things the kids will look forward to as these work great to motivate them to get the more “unfun” tasks done in order to move on to the fun ones!

Just remember to teach them about sequences, which look like this:

“First we have to read, do our chores & brush our teeth, then we get to head to the park”


Using bribery or rewards on a constant basis, such as:

“If you clean your room, I’ll take you to the park”.

Teaching sequences helps them learn this is just what happens in life (we all have responsibilities and duties as members of our family) vs. “What will I get if I do what I’m told to?”. Pretty sure all of don’t want teenagers one day who have a constant “What’s in it for me” mentality? Make sense?

Kids love knowing “what to expect”, so whether you create calendars as a team or on your own, be sure to share all the details with them (letting them decorate the calendars is a great way to include them), so they feel like they’ve contributed. Helping empower them in this way will go a long way (especially for those of you who have power kids!).

3.) Keep things Light and remember to Laugh!

Families...I know, I know...sometimes our kids do things that really get under our skin and irritate the heck out of us, especially during seasons when we’re with them 24/7. I get it, I really do, and this section is really written for myself because I often take life WAY too seriously, but one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received (and passed on to others) is to lighten up & laugh more! I have found in my own home that 99% of the time, when I find humor in a situation and laugh about it, the tension dissolves quickly and we’re able to move on, and get back to enjoying life together. Summer is the season of lightness right? Fresh fruit, light clothing, garden fresh salads, putting the top down on the jeep, less makeup, air dried hair, and some splurges here and there (ice cream cones anyone?). So let’s let that carry through to our parenting. If the kids stay up a little too late and are a nightmare the next day, find someone to laugh about it with. Should someone belch at the dinner table, be human, it’s funny & ok to giggle! Or if the kids are fighting again, over something ridiculously stupid, like a broken crayon or slime (yes, slime is a big deal in our house right now….home made slime to make it worse!)...find humor in it and just smile!

The truth is, our kids will not be this little forever, and I promise you, we will all look back at this time when they were “this small” and miss it, no matter if you have a teeny toddler or a budding tween. So let’s try our best to appreciate all the moments and find the lightness in them, even the annoying ones. In reality, most of the things we’re dealing with regarding our kids are pretty light compared to what others in different parts of the world are facing. Here’s a few funny meme’s to get you started on the laughter train and of course a Jim Gaffigan skit on parenthood, gosh I love Jim Gaffigan!


Join me for a free 7 Day Positive Parenting Challenge that starts June 15th. Together, we’ll cover a different topic each day and learn 7 small, yet powerful steps to create peace, joy and connection in our homes this summer.

It’s super below to register & then via email (along with a big community of like minded families), you’ll receive 7 days of short videos, tips & support to get your summer started off with intention and integrity!

So families, choose one of those three tips and take a stab at implementing it into your family life this summer. Starting with one is always a good idea, then move on to the others because if you’re anything like me, doing three things at once always seems like a great idea, but I often end up feeling overwhelmed.

Enjoy those munchkins, take care of yourself daily and remember to indulge yourself a bit (after all, strawberry margaritas on the beach at noon are allowed in the summer right?).

Cheers to joyful parenting families!


Spring has Sprung! 

Wendy Snyder

After a super rainy winter here in San Diego, we're finally experiencing some consistent warm weather and the most beautiful green grasses and wildflower blooms you've ever seen! 

This floral field is one I drive by daily and I've had the pleasure of watching it blossom from a dirt lot last fall, to this incredibly beautiful overflowing yellow & white delight. Of course I got to thinking about how this beautiful abundance of blooms has so much in common with parenthood. 

You see, this little slice of heaven would have never been this abundantly beautiful if it wasn't for the dark clouds and storms this last winter that brought SO much rain. Some probably loved it, but for a super active family like ours, we were beyond challenged with all the indoor time (something we're definitely not used to as a surfing, running, biking, volleyballing, skateboarding, block hanging, dog playing crew!). 

Many of you may be in a stormy season right now with your kids, family, health or marriage. Sleepless nights where toddlers will NOT stop coming into your bed or your new baby munchkin is still relying on you for multiple feedings and you feel like a zombie. Or maybe you have an older kiddo who keeps getting notes sent home from school that he needs to "work" on self-control and you've tried everything to teach him, with no luck. Some of you may have hitters, or biters, or yellers, or tantrumers. For many of us, those hitters or yellers may be us and we're hopeless and disappointed in ourselves on what we've become as parents...often irritated, annoyed, short-tempered, explosive, lacking compassion. Maybe you and your spouse are on totally different pages when it comes to discipline and on top of you constantly having to discipline your toddler, managing the disagreement on the "right" parenting approach has you exhausted. Some of you may be so confused on how three of your kids can be totally easy going and then one is the most defiant and strong willed human you've ever did that happen and how the heck do you handle this kid? At times you might ask yourself, "How did this storm become so intense and how long am I going to have to endure this nasty weather?". 

Well the good news is....I promise this storm will pass, whatever it may be for you...and wildflowers WILL bloom as long as you're seeking and planting healthy seeds! When I think back to the storm I endured when I found this work (if you don't know my storm story, you can watch my 2 min. brand video here), it was so nasty and literally seemed like it was never going to end. I remember being really scared that there was something wrong with my daughter, wrong with me, wrong with my parenting and wrong with my life. In the end however, this season changed me from within so deeply that the future trajectory of my life (and relationship with my kids) would be forever changed for the better (into the gorgeous wildflower field it now is). Don't get me wrong, there are still weeds in my field, however nowadays, I'm able to pick them out with grace and move on, while admiring the gorgeous blooms, instead of letting them destroy my garden (thank you positive parenting, phew!). 

So what kind of seeds are you planting or should you be seeking? In the world of families, these positive seeds are plenty, you've just got to look for them, acquire them, use them and believe in them!

Here's 10 ideas that will help get you through your stormy season(s)

1. Find a community! Attend groups or online support forums.
2 of my local favorites in San Diego are Scripps San Diego Breastfeeding Groups (if you're nursing a little one & figuring out motherhood) & Dr. Cassidy Freitas Mother's Support Group (if you could use a hug & place to vent/ask questions with other mommas). Google the support group you're looking for in your area, there are so many available these days. 

2. Keep your Redirecting Children's Behavior book & workbook on your nightstand & read a little each night. Staying refreshed in concepts will help you get smoothly through your day. 

3. Reach out to a friend and tell them you just need to talk to someone (or better yet CRY! Crying when someone is there to listen is always so good for our souls). Vulnerability with ones we love creates beautiful connection, so don't be scared to expose your imperfections. I promise you'll learn you're not alone in your thoughts & will grow closer to the person you reach out to. 

3. Attend a Fresh Start Parenting Seminar. There are two to choose from next week! (or better yet, attend them both!) REDUCING POWER STRUGGLES - Tuesday 4/26 (Aspirations School of Learning - Carlsbad) & CONSEQUENCES THAT WORK - Thursday 4/28 (FSP Office - Encinitas). Both are in the evening from 6-8:30pm and you'll leave feeling empowered and ready to try out many new positive tools in your home. Register for a 5 pack of seminars to receive a tuition discount & get consistent guidance with applying positive parenting concepts into your family life. It will change everything for you once you develop a continual practice. 

(helping parents practice empathy at last month's "limits" seminar)

4. Listen to a podcast. Here's one I did with "New Mommy Media/Parent Savers" on Getting your Toddlers to Help with Chores & another great one from Susie Walton on Misbehaving Toddlers - tips & tricks. 

5. Schedule a date night SOON! Yes, I know it's tough to get won't take the bottle, toddler freaks out when you leave, good sitters are hard to find, you'll be tired at work tomorrow, etc. but JUST do it! Whether it's with your spouse or close friend, adult time will do you so good! Click here for a $35 credit for urban sitter, a great site to help you find reliable, local background checked help!

6. Get outdoors for a walk or exercise. Nature is one of my fave prescriptions for parents to use with their kids when they are out of sorts, and the same prescription goes for parents to use on themselves. Go for a hike, jog, ocean swim, or surf, or just grab your yoga mat & squeeze in a lunch session on the grass or beach. Robin Long from the Balanced Life has many free pilates videos that are wonderful and great at reducing stress. If you're really short on time, even a brisk 10 minute walk outside at sunset alone is fabulous.

(mushroom cave hike along cardiff lagoon) 

(mushroom cave hike along cardiff lagoon) 

7. Order a new book from the library or amazon. My latest fave's for tired parents seeking support are Mindful Discipline & Mothering with Courage.

8. Keep a journal of things you're thankful for (If you've got healthy kids & live in America, those should go on the top!). Read it when you're having a moment when you think you might go crazy!

9. Commit to a self growth weekend course that will help you reduce blame, work on better tones when communicating with others and love yourself more deeply, resulting in the ability to love others (your kids!) more deeply, even in times of hardship, stress & relationship strife. My favorite weekends are hosted in Encinitas, CA by the amazing teachers from Your Infinite Life. I'll be assisting at the next course called "Freedom to Be" the weekend of Cinco de Mayo, I'd love to see you all there! 

10. Hug your kids and family more! The benefits of hugging have been shown in so many studies. This great article gives us 7 health reasons why we should up this method of connection.  

Cheers to joyful parenting & seeking the wildflower blooms on the other side of the storm!

Tuesday Tip - Teaching Children Self-Control

Wendy Snyder

Today's Tuesday Tip is about "Teaching Children Self-Control", which is the same topic I'll be covering in this Thursday night's seminar, that I hope you'll join me for. Click here for more info & to register! 

Thursday 1/26 - FSP Office - Union Cowork - 1010 S. Coast Highway Suite 103, 6-8pm. Wine, beer, hope, encouragement, new tools, kombucha, and nibbles will be provided! 


3 Steps to Empower Children Towards Feeling Adequate & Confident Again

Wendy Snyder

Midway Museum, downtown San Diego

Midway Museum, downtown San Diego

Anyone have kiddos who have a tendancy to withdraw when challenged? Or maybe have trouble standing up for themselves sometimes? Like adults, we all have times where we feel like this, but for some children, these are go to behaviors when sadness, hurt & disparity arise. 

For parents, this usually feels both heartbreaking and frustrating. At times, we may pity them, racing our brain for any way to make them feel better or fix their problem. When in other situations, feelings of annoyance and wishing they would "just be more capable" are so very prevalent. 

So what can we do in these situations that will make a lasting impression and teach our kids self-reliance? 

Three simple steps you can try: 

1.) Detach (with love): The joy of your day does not have to be tied to the joy of your child's day. So when your little one has moments of sadness, frustration, or hopelessness, practice detachment. Detaching is often confused with "not caring", when in actuality, it is simply learning to emotionally separate yourself from the situation and/or other people's emotions. Kathryn Kohls, founder of Redirecting Children's Behavior states, "The first step toward detachment is understanding that reacting and controlling don't help. The next step is getting peaceful - getting centered and restoring our balance. Take a walk, leave the room, take a long, hot bath. Call a friend. Call on God. Breathe deeply, find peace. From that peace and centering will emerge an answer, a solution." 

2.) Stay encouraging, without rescuing: Offer help & support from the sidelines instead of fixing the problem for your child. Encouragement (i.e. "You are strong", "I know you can do this", "Believe in yourself") points your child in the direction you want them to focus on, instead of discussing the pit they're trying to dig out of (i.e. avoid saying "What's wrong", "Calm down, it's not that big of a deal", "You're fine"). Ideas on verbiage include, "What do you need in order to help yourself feel better?", "What are you looking to accomplish?", "Would you like my help to work alongside you"?. 

3.) Help your child accomplish small wins: Sometimes breaking challenging situations into small pieces help big time in improving self-esteem and feelings of capability. If your child is feeling discouraged about someone not treating them kindly at school, the thought of handling the situation with courage and tenacity, all in one instance can seem overwhelming. Instead of remaining stuck in feelings of sadness & hopelessness, help them create small steps for each day of the week. Monday, tell teacher they are working on communicating limits to a classmate who's been unkind to them & ask teacher for support (if needed), Tuesday, when classmate is unkind, walk away & take three deep breaths, Wednesday: Tell classmate by looking them in the eye "No thank you, I'm not ok with you doing that". Thursday: Ask friend to support him by also telling other classmate "He's not ok with you being unkind to him" and Friday: Thank classmate for treating him differently in the future. This same concept can apply to a child who thinks he's horrible at reading and cries every time you try to read. Instead of trying to do the whole book in one night, divide the book into 5 sections & agree that you'll try just a small portion each night till you master that section, then move on to the next. When they accomplish their goal, celebrate & congratulate them! Slow & steady does wonders to build them up & tomorrow they are likely to remember "I can do this!". 

For more ideas, join me for my next full Redirecting Children's Behavior class, starting THIS Saturday 1/14, where you will learn many more ways to work with your kids when they're feeling inadequate, sad or hurt. Click here for more info and/or to register. 


Setting Limits & Sticking to them Successfully

Wendy Snyder

Today's "Tuesday Tip" is all about how to set limits & stick to them successfully. Basically, how can we be firm, yet always kind when we're saying NO in the new year! 4 simple steps you can try with your kids: Agreements, Empathy, Restate Agreement, Choices! Ready....go! Let me know how it goes!

Camping at The Holidays - San Clemente

Wendy Snyder

A few days outdoors, enjoying the cutest campers I ever did see (The Holidays - San Clemente)...was exactly what my heart and soul needed to start the new year fresh. It's amazing how nature really does soothe all of our souls...ESPECIALLY our kiddos! Definitely booking the next trip here as soon as the August calendar is available. 

These 4 vintage trailers are fully equipped with solar power, gas, linens, kitchen utensils, games, towels, basically everything you need to just show up & enjoy quality time outside with your family. The sites are inside of the San Clemente campgrounds, that sit on a bluff above the beautiful beaches of San Clemente ("Cottons" at Trestles is with-in walking distance for beyond epic surf on a good swell). Plus, so much room for the kids to ride bikes. Mine were in heaven and seriously. never. stopped. riding. Best of all, the co-owners are from Encinitas, our little town, so love supporting these two local families. 


The booking is done through, so you have to play that game to reserve one, so yes, kind of a pain because it is so competitive, but definitely worth the effort. The August calendar opens up on Feb. 1st....good luck!!  


Christmas Cards - Snyder Style

Wendy Snyder

Anyone else also on the late train with Christmas cards? The whole "Let's get everything done in October, so we can upload to some super hip printing website & have plenty of time to design, plug in addresses & ship directly to loved ones" has just been a recipe for frustration & feelings of failure for our family. The amount of times we've hit tech glitches or yelled at photo design/printing websites in the past is hillarious!) I finally realized a few years ago that I'm kind of old school when it comes to this tradition, so my method of getting these done with personalization & joy (even as late as Dec. 13th!) I think is pretty awesome. 

We first start by picking out a few boxes of Christmas cards from local boutiques, our church's retail store, online sales, etc. and then choose a couple photos from the last year. If we've had a chance to do a family photoshoot, great, but if not, we aim for pics that truly represent the spirit of our family. Next we simply print a bunch of them to the local CVS (always looking for a discount code at of course first!). I've found these local drugstore websites are pretty reliable & usually the cost is under $15 to print a ton of pictures (2 sets of 50). I have learned that target photo printing is not good, so go elsewhere for printing. 

Then I write up a little update on what our family has been up to over the last year. Stella's still drumming, Terrin loves to surf, Mom's doing this & Dad's loving this. That kind of stuff. We add things about any fun trips we've taken or how our old pup is still charging through life with joy. Then I organize them four on a page in microsoft word (old file that I now just update every year) & push print on plain old paper with plain old black/white ink. Using decorative edged scissors, I cut them each down to size so they fit in the card with the pictures. 


And then for the fun part...we hand sign every card with a gold & silver sharpie. This is really my favorite part because for every card I hand sign, I think about the recipient and how they are doing, maybe what kind of year I know they've had (or heard through the grapevine), if I could maybe pray for them if they are struggling with anything or celebrating new life, how their kids are doing, what they're up to for the holidays...all of it makes me smile as I think of them. 


And then I dig around & try to find those return labels that I got free from the zoo, or the charity organization we give to....that I always put somewhere & can't find later. Usually I end up just hand writing return labels, taking time to thank God for the lovely home we get to enjoy everyday when so many around the world sadly don't have the same reality. 

Life is beautiful and this time of year, it is such a precious tradition to stay in contact with those we love. To send love and receive of the greatest gifts of Christmas. 


The Beautiful Work of "Miss Understanding"

Wendy Snyder

How are you teaching your kids to cross cultural, religious & ethnic lines to create friendships, appreciation, empathy & loving tolerance of others? So thankful to Michal Meulenberg & Sondos Kholaki Kahf for creating "MissUnderstanding" to allow me incredible opportunities like last night to love on families who don't share my same religion. We laughed, ate, shared life stories, and became friends with 3 beautiful Muslim families that were some of the coolest people ever! This holiday season, I encourage you to find a way to teach your kids how to put love in action & spread peace in your village! ✌️️✌️️✌️️

Be sure to visit to learn more & see how you can get involved! 

Yaaaaay for peace loving super mommas like these ladies!  




Two Minute Tips - How to handle throwing

Wendy Snyder

My first go at "Two Minute Tips"...a video series I'll be posting weekly here. Next time I promise to actually make it two minutes & not cut off the top of my head! 

Email over your questions and I will answer through this video series! 

Holiday Photos

Wendy Snyder

In LOVE with how Anna Clevenger (Anna Clevenger Photography) captured with images our little wild & wonderful family last weekend! She really got "us" and seemed to understand so easily the type of imagery we wanted. (Think...outside the box, silly, fun, unrestrained!)

We hadn't taken family photos in a few years because honestly, they can sometimes be a daunting task. An hour or two trying to look your best, while getting youngsters to smile (instead of pick their nose) and just be NORMAL is enough to drive anyone straight to the bar! So for the last few years, we skipped the formal session and just did our own photos. Those photos are always great, but I had forgotten how powerful professional photography really is. 

When you capture a few really great beautiful shots of your kids, it's kind of like that same feeling when you tip-toe in after they are asleep (sound asleep!), slow down for a minute and remember just what a miracle you have before you. That perfect image, when they're perfectly still and perfectly illuminated by beautiful light helps you to really see them for exactly who they are....all the goodness that makes up their unique and amazing little personalities. So Anna really nailed it with these two of my munchkins and honestly had me in tears when I saw them....and that is DEFINITELY worth the quick 45 minutes we spent chasing after them and keeping them from rolling in the dirt! Plus she was so patient, fun, and light-hearted, and my kids LOVED her! 

One thing I have learned over the years is that casual is best for our family and if we can find a place where my kids can run, play, climb and just be kids, the shoots go best. Props always helps too and Anna brought the best ones! I've also learned not to make the outfit an argument and just let the kids be themselves. Sure, lay out a few choices and encourage them to choose one, but take a deep breath and be ok if they go a little nuts with print on print on PRINT! or demand to wear the princess dress you were praying they didn't find in the laundry. Having a smooth hour before the shoot is just as important as keeping it light during the shoot. Basically in a nutshell...relax, laugh and just smile....and the images will come out great!  

Excited to get these printed and get going on Christmas cards, which are now one of my favorite parts of the holidays. (Stay tuned for another post about my holiday card method later this week!) For now, check out Anna's website and mini session info (below) and I highly encourage you to book a session with her. You won't regret it! 





Wendy Snyder

Who's yearning for a little FREE family support? Or would just love to learn more about Positive Parenting &/or Infant Sleep Consulting services?

Excited to announce our first collaboration between Fresh Start Parenting & The Sleep Shop! We love helping families so we are bringing you a contest. Enter for a chance to win a one hour in-home consult for infant sleep consulting services with Natalie Fitzgerald from The Sleep Shop, OR a one hour private RCB/Positive Parenting coaching session from Fresh Start Parenting (Encinitas FSP office or via phone/skype).

Follow the steps below!

To Enter:
• Pop over to Instagram & follow: @SleepShopConsulting and @FreshStartParenting

• Like the insta contest image & comment below the picture : Tag a friend(s) (more friends, more chances to win!) on this post & be sure to let us know which service you'd like to win...sleep consulting use hashtag #SleepShop next to your name, RCB coaching session use hashtag #FreshStartParenting next to your name.


• We will pick one winner for the in-home infant sleep consult, and one winner for the RCB private coaching session - winner will be announced 10/19.

Good luck!

Vista Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum

Wendy Snyder

He took me for a ride in this 1958 vintage snowcat we call "Bubba". We went to Mammoth & ski'd, then he gave me his jacket to keep me warm. Also wiped off the 17 layers of dirt & dust so I'd have a nice seat. Gosh, he makes my heart melt. This amazing little boy playground (The Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum in Vista) has a festival this weekend including a tractor parade on both days at 1pm. If you've got little boys (or little girls that love to climb & watch things that go!), see below for more info. It's seriously such a hidden gem this place! 


Antique Engine & Tractor Show

Ingenuity, Industry & Arts in ACTION!

October 15th, 16th, 22nd & 23rd, 2016

Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (Parade at 1pm each weekend day)

Event Admission:

Regular: $10.00 

Seniors: $9.00

Ages 6-12: $7.00

Under 6 - Free 

Parking: $5.00 (helps support the AGSEM's North San Diego Young Marine Program)

"The Mask You Live In" - Film this Thursday 10/13

Wendy Snyder

Terrin Photo.JPG

This little guy is such a gift to our family. So strong & so soft, all at the same time, a dreamboat dude. I hope he keeps this balance forever, never buckling to a society that often says he's not meant to have or show emotions. This Thursday 10/13, there's a great film showing at The Grauer School in Encinitas titled "The Masks you Live In". The movie "follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while navigating America’s narrow definition of masculinity.” Following the film, will be a great discussion with panelists including Tony Hawk, Legend Skater & Joe Sigurdson, Co-Founder of Boys to Men (a really great local boys mentoring group). If you're raising boys of any age, it looks like a must-see film! Hubby & I will for sure be there. (see below for more details & to RSVP). 


The Grauer School hosts a community “Great Conversations” film and discussion series to highlight big issues.   On Thursday October 13th at 6PM The Grauer School will be screening the film, The Mask You Live In.”   The film "follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while navigating America’s narrow definition of masculinity.” This film addresses one of the most critical issues facing American society today.  It is a must see.    We hope you might join us.  

Attached is a poster (see below) with all relevant information on the event for you to pass on to friends, group contacts, and social media.  This film is relevant for parents, youth (15+ years: and organizations that work with boys and young men (e.g. coaches, educators, non-profits, psychologists, boys scouts, church youth leaders and high school groups, Boys & Girls Club/YMCA counselors, law enforcement, community leaders etc.)       Thank you for your help and support of this event!  

To RSVP for the event:

Movie Trailer: 


Can't we all just get along?!?

Wendy Snyder


A few weeks ago, I presented a Sibling Rivalry & Conflict Seminar to a great group of women in Point Loma that were part of MOPS (a great organization to get tapped into if you're in the "raising tiny humans phase of life"). So many wonderful mommas showed up to learn how they can stay sane when children bicker & go to battle with their siblings. 

Here's some of the main ideas we went over....hopefully they bring some light to the situation (if you have any of this going on in your house) & give you some new ideas on how to help your kids argue less & solve their conflicts peacefully, resulting in less stress for you! 

~Sibling Rivalry~ 

As parents of multiple children, this is one of those facts of life that we just need to accept. When we have one child, then welcome another into this world, the first child is what we call "dethroned". He's searching for his place in the family & questioning everything. His thoughts might be "Do we love him less now that baby is here?" or "How can he win back Mom & Dad's attention?" (he misses you when you're nursing or changing diapers). "Do you still love him?" or "Do you like new baby sister better?" These thoughts that he processes are normal, human emotions & it is our place to help him get through them, rather than eliminate the feelings. As baby gets older, there's often a natural element of competition between kids...some siblings are SUPER competitive (like mine), and others are less. What we don't want to do is add fuel to this fire with any comparisons. Even the most mellow of kids naturally compare themselves to their siblings, so when we add to these thoughts by saying things like "Why can't you eat your vegetables, your sister always eats hers?" or "You spilled your milk again?? Even your baby brother doesn't spill his & he is only 1!"....and the tricky ones we THINK are positive "Wow, you can ride your bike like a big boy with out training wheels....your sister's been trying for years & she still can't do it!" more harm than good. Eliminating comparisons and addressing each child's unique traits, skill sets, etc. is the way to go. Statements like "Wow, look at you riding your bike with out training wheels" still acknowledges our kids with encouragement with out bringing siblings into the picture. Or saying something like "Looks like you spilled your milk, what do you need to clean it up?", help your children move towards action without putting a bad taste in their mouth that they're not as good as their sibling who never spills their milk. Make sense? 

~Sibling Conflict~

So what happens when you've done your best to reduce the sibling rivalry and your kids STILL fight? First of all, relax. This is normal & some kids unfortunately just fight with each other more than others do. Your first step is to find ways to take care of yourself when the arguing agitates you to your core. A lot of early teaching efforts with super young kids involves educating them how to express themselves with out physically harming others, so often these lessons have to be taught over and over and over again, with grace & persistence! Once your kids get to a place where they aren't in jeopardy of hurting each other, find ways to take care of yourself & remove yourself from the conflict. When they're fighting over who gets to use the red marker first, it really isn't your problem, so take that opportunity to let them try to work it out. Walk outside, take a breath of fresh air, mediate or pray for 2 minutes and decide on your intention as a parent when it comes to dealing with Sibling Conflict. Some of my favorite "go to intentions" in those moments (when I just want to yell....."Stop it! You guys are driving me crazy!") are TO TEACH, TO MODEL SELF CONTROL, TO MENTOR ON LEADING WITH INTEGRITY, TO GUIDE WITH GRACE INSTEAD OF FORCE, etc. Finding a great intention while you're taking a moment to keep calm helps you with your delivery, tone, action plan, etc. 

Ha! A much less deadly version of this has definitely happened in our house...many times! Thank goodness, they are finally well versed in self-control now (5 & 8) so this doesn't happen much anymore, but it definitely made me laugh! 

Ha! A much less deadly version of this has definitely happened in our house...many times! Thank goodness, they are finally well versed in self-control now (5 & 8) so this doesn't happen much anymore, but it definitely made me laugh! 

Some other things you can do?

~Try silence over yelling. We talk SO much to our kids that often they become parent deaf, so try silence, or one word like "Kindness" while looking right into their eyes with a smile, or "Outside" while pointing to the back yard (often nature can soothe their souls and help them move towards resolution). 

~Join the fight in a playful manor. One of the biggest lessons I've learned from parenthood & RCB (and my amazing husband) is that comedy is the most amazing tool that WORKS with kids (and all humans really!). Jump in and with a silly duck voice say "No! Duck wants the toy!" and then pretend to eat it and get a belly ache. Sounds bizarre, but it works & before you know it everyone is laughing instead of melting down. 

~Teach Win/Wins to kids (peaceful conflict resolution). This simple process has them state how they feel & what they want and then work towards resolution.

Sibling 1: "I feel ________, I want _________"

Sibling 2: "I feel ________, I want _________"

Together, you coach them to look at each other and say "How are we going to make this work so we both win"? As they get older, this becomes more conversational and casual. 

This is best implemented when you model it first....with your husband or sister, or mom, or whoever. Make a up a fight over coffee or tea in the morning and go through the steps while the kids are watching. Then try it with your oldest child (perhaps at bed or bath time, as those are often power struggle moments), then eventually, have siblings do it together. A lot of clients ask when kids can really start doing this exercise. Remember, even before they can speak, they are watching everything we say & do as a family, so the little ones WILL learn if you model it, but my son started doing win/win's with his sister at 3.5 and is now fluent with this exercise at 5.5. 

YES, this exercise takes a lot of coaching, patience and perseverance, but once you experience some wins using this tool, it is incredible! The outcome always involves the two parties coming together, instead of traditional approaches (where Mom & Dad solve the argument) where one of the siblings usually feels like they got the short end of the stick. It also removes you from being the bad guy. The argument is between your two kids, so if you succeed at keeping your tone neutral & coaching them through it (instead of reverting to overpowering the situation to end it)...they keep the argument between them and then they also get to feel the good feelings that come from succeeding on their own. I've seen my kids do this exercise over and over again where they're high five-ing and hugging at the end and using verbiage like "best sister ever" or "let me help you clean your room". Seriously astonishing, incredible stuff. Imagine if all of our kids mastered working out problems like this in the home....then took these tactics out into their school yards, playdates, workplaces one day....oh how the world would change. 

***For the wee little ones, as you're teaching them how to do win/win's, try cutting out a heart from red felt & letting each one hold the heart while they talk (and the other listens), and then switch. The younger the kids, the more coaching you will need to do, just remember to ask for permission & try your best to let them do what they can. (i.e. "could I offer you guys some ideas?" or "ok, turn to your sister & ask her if that works for her?"). 

Those are just a few ideas! The full seminar includes a lot more, so if this is a topic that you'd like to hear more about, grab some girlfriends, your playgroup, a handful of preschool families, or your neighborhood block & organize an evening to host the full seminar at your house. We cover this topic in the full 3 week RCB course also (click here for more info)...which starts Tues. 10/25 in Carlsbad. 

Cheers to investing heavy in our kids' relationship with each other. They are learning everyday, through their day to day interactions, how be great friends, students, community members...and one day....employees, spouses, moms and dads. What a gift we can give them....healthy tools to solve disagreements, express their hearts desire and stand for what they believe in...while keeping their integrity & always being respectful to others! 





Kids' Free Museum Entrance Month!

Wendy Snyder

October in San Diego is "Kids Free Museum Entrance" month, so we checked out the Maritime Museum downtown in the harbor yesterday. Submarines (with torpedos!), pirate ships, and air craft carrier models little guy was in heaven!

Click here for directions on how to get your kids their free pass & go explore!


Kids Free in October, presented by ScholarShare, California's 529 College Savings Plan, will offer San Diegans and tourists the opportunity to visit more museum destinations than ever before. This annual program created by the San Diego Museum Council, provides free admission for kids 12 and under at 40 arts, cultural, and science museums in San Diego County. Remember, you need one coupon per museum visit, so download additional copies. One coupon is good for up to two free child admissions with one full-price paid adult admission*. Some restrictions apply. See details below.

Explore the hidden treasures of the ocean or the far reaches of outer space. Delve into local history, visual arts, botanic gardens, scientific wonders - and more!

Participating Museums:

Barona Cultural Center & Museum
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Cabrillo National Monument
California Center for the Arts Museum
California Surf Museum
Coronado Museum of History & Art
Fleet Science Center (excludes films and The Art of the Rock)
Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
Heritage of the Americas Museum
Japanese Friendship Garden
La Jolla Historical Society
Living Coast Discovery Center
Lux Art Institute
Maritime Museum of San Diego
Marston House Museum & Gardens
Mingei International Museum
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Museum of Making Music
Museum of Photographic Arts
Oceanside Museum of Art
San Diego Air & Space Museum
San Diego Archaeological Center
San Diego Automotive Museum
San Diego Botanic Garden
San Diego Children's Discovery Museum
San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
San Diego History Center
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT)
Serra Museum
The New Children's Museum
The San Diego Museum of Art
The Water Conservation Garden
Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center
Timken Museum of Art
USS Midway Museum
Veterans Museum at Balboa Park
Visions Art Museum
Warner-Carrillo Ranch House
Women's Museum of California

Instead of driving, the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) invites families to take public transit. On Saturday and Sunday two children (12 and under) ride free with a paid adult and children five and under ride free with adults all the time. To plan your trip, Click Here.

Kids Free in October is presented by ScholarShare, California's 529 College Savings Plan, with additional support provided by the San Diego Commission for Arts & Culture, County of San Diego and MTS.

* The coupon allows up to two children 12 and under to get in FREE with one full-price paid adult. Children must be accompanied by the adult during the visit. This coupon cannot be used for specially ticketed events, Maker Faire San Diego, special exhibitions/exhibits, field trips or group visits. Coupon cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. No cash value. Coupon is valid October 1-31, 2016.

Don't miss these other great events happening in conjunction with Kids Free in October.


Sent from my iPhone


Wendy Snyder

We found the sweetest family operation this last weekend in a little mountain town called Wynola, just short of Julian. You HAVE to go check it out if you're looking for a family fall adventure & don't mind a short drive up the windy mountain roads to Julian. 

This mini-fall festival is at "Fort Cross" Old Timey Adventures, 4425 Hwy 78
Santa Ysabel, CA 92070 and open on weekends in October Saturdays 10am-5pm & Sundays 12-5pm. Doreen & Jesee Cross live on the property that has 700 year old Oak Trees and land for days. Their fall festival consists of a hay wagon ride (with sing-along), tomahawk throwing (my 5 year old son was in heaven), a petting zoo (with the cutest baby chicks you've ever seen!), candle making, a hoedown dance, and plenty of space for the kids to run wild. They also had pumpkins for sale as well as other rad, little country, home made knick-nacks. The cost was $15/adult & $12/child & we were there for a good two hours just enjoying all the activities, beautiful space & company. We also just happened to hit it at the golden hour making for some really pretty photos. 


We felt so lucky to stumble upon this cool little "off the beaten path" festival after years of doing the traditional "pumpkin patch" in Ramona. These popular patches are great too, just usually super crowded and HOT! Before we found Fort Cross, we picked apples at Sentenac Ranch, another amazing spot, that unfortunately is closed now for apple picking. But next year, check them out. Be sure to call ahead of time to find out when the apple season will be as they close with out notice (once the apples run thin) and don't really keep their website updated. Isn't that the beauty of Julian? Websites & communication with big city folk is not their top priority and that makes them really cool! (I've heard there are still some great apple picking spots still open, just be sure to try and call and get confirmation first before you visit). 

So definitely head out for an adventure if you're up for it one of these pretty October weekends. Time the drive just right with nap hour & you have a wonderful "date drive" on your hands! I swear some of my best conversations with my hubby have been over long drives. And of course, alot time to have apple pie afterwards. Mom's Pie is right across the street from Fort Cross. 

Happy Fall & adventure hunting!  

Stella Apples.jpg