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Challenge: Keeping Your Cool

Connecting With Your Child When You've Had The Mother Of All Bad Days

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You know those days when everything that can go wrong does, the kids have absolutely not listened all day and by the time you sit down for dinner as a family you are at the end of your rope?
Yeah, you're with me.
On days like those, the last thing I want to do is sit around that dinner table and have a chat with the family as if nothing had happened and all was bliss.
In fact, if I'm fessin' up the real deep truth here, on nights like those I want to skip dinner, send everyone to their rooms with a sandwich and hope and pray for a new day to start over in the morning, because frankly, this one has gone to h-e-double hockey sticks and has no fix!
Parenting is hard. If you're going for easy, get a plant.
So a couple of years ago I came up with an idea to get us all back into a calm, coherent, centered sanity as we sit down for dinner after that type of day.
It has been the best way of re-connecting with our kids instead of the alternative fight or flight response mode.
Enlisting my husband's help, we came up with a list Conversation Starters that we could use with the kids at dinner time. This would refocus and reconnect us as a family, regardless of the day's circumstances.


We made it fun and typed up several of these conversation starters in the form of questions, thoughts and ideas. We printed and cut them into strips.
They sit in a glass square vase in the middle of our kitchen table. (I also have a second one to hold the strips we've already gone through).
Each child gets to pick a strip and take turns getting the conversation started.
The kids are thrilled to be able to pull out these unknown questions out of the glass and the element of surprise seems to keep the excitement going.
I must say, it's the highlight of every night's dinner. Yes, especially on a mother of all bad days dinner!
Thought-provoking and hot topics come up, sometimes related to what we've been dealing with in our house. Themes include Shakespeare and Marvel Superhero quotes!


This is truly a way to reconnect after a difficult day and make it a pivotal time to be deliberate and intentional as we have each other's undivided focus and attention (and bonus: no one is yelling!).
Get ready for deep discoveries, surprising insight and many teachable moments through meaningful topics as well as silly lighter ones.
I have made changes to the original list of strips we used as more topics came to mind and appeared interesting to bring to the dinner table. They are quick and easy to put together, just print, cut and fold them in half! I would love to share these printables with you to use at your dinner table!
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so you can start sing them right away!

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How do you recoup from a mother of all bad days in your family?
On a side note, I did notice that the What Plants Talk About PBS Video has really high ratings on Amazon...this is a phenomenal documentary that reveals how parent plants have no need for Conversation Starter Strips at the dinner table! Why? because they never have any mother of all bad days!
Just sayin'.

- Carlen

*** Read MORE posts from our 10 Days of Connecting With Your Child Series {HERE}

10 days of Connecting With Your Child


About Carlen:

Mom to two wonderfully unique boys. She's still trying to figure the whole thing out, but is grateful and blessed to raise them, homeschool them and keep the house from burning down. Her husband of almost 25 years would love to have her job when she retires - yes, the mom gig, she can't remember the one prior to this, but it was somewhere in Sillicon Valley. She loves her faith, her family and her friends. Come along for shennanigans in HOME | FAMILY | LEARNING | FOOD | HEALTH | OH LA LA at

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