Peaceful Solutions to Minimize Family Strife with Specific Solutions

Peaceful solutions to minimize family strife #2 Try to solve a specific problem

This is part two of the series: Peaceful Solutions to minimize family strife.


The first go to solution is to teach and reteach as it’s often only through going through the motions with another that you see where the mix up happened.  Though sometimes there is a specific problem that needs a specific solution and teach and reteach isn’t the right fit.

I’ll share a problem that we’ve had that seems fixed at the moment. If there’s nothing I’ve learnt with my three boys is there is never a THE END solution.

2 Try to solve the specific problem with a specific solution

Problem: The toothpaste isn’t squeezed from the bottom up. It’s squeezed from the sides. The result is a lot( a lot) of waste in the sink. Toothpaste that’s thrown away that has toothpaste still inside they just can’t squeeze by gripping it out.

Lost lids. It gets stepped on- splodge! yes more comes out. With three active boys there is a toothpaste war in the bathroom everyday. Dried toothpaste.

The bonus is the bathroom does smell minty! But this positive really doesn’t outweigh the problem of toothpaste use. So I’ve tried #1 teach and reteach.

Solution:  Find a toothpaste that isn’t squeezy on the sides. We search now for the pump toothpastes. It dispenses a small amount, usually and minimizes the regular clean up of toothpaste everywhere and the lid problem isn’t such a problem.

Instead of just reacting to the massacre in the bathroom  or cleaning it up myself there is an alternative solution that helps. For this specific example it’s just too much fun to over squeeze the toothpaste and it’s hard to control the blob when you squeeze it with your fist.  As young children their impulse control and self control is developing but we want to balance out that practice with our pocket.

There are plenty of other solutions like giving each child the blob ourselves or watching over them as they dispense. There are many. For our family we’re trying this one. I can see already the youngest has to put a lot of pressure down to get the toothpaste out but so far they’ve found a solution themselves for that. I’m pretty happy they enjoy problem solving too.

Peaceful solutions for families #2 Try to solve the specific problem

Finding a specific solution to a problem that pushes your buttons helps support us have a peaceful and calmer family atmosphere. Finding those little hiccups in our family flow and dwelling on them not to brood but to get creative and find one less way for us to roar and lose our cool. It’s good news for all of us.

This week for us it is toothpaste.

This is the second part of the series : Peaceful solutions to minimize family strife.

Find the first part : Peaceful solutions to minimize family strife. #1

What is it for you?

Peaceful solutions to minimize family strife

Peaceful solutions to minimize family strife

Sitting quietly before the kids are awake, the house is completely still. I really should have a cup of my hot brew but I know that the kettle might wake everyone as it’s nearly time to wake up.

It’s peaceful, calm and the day ahead is so full of positive peaceful possibilities.

Fast forward an hour and I’m not so peaceful calm or positive because the red flags have come up. My buttons are pushed. My triggers are right there.

Thoughts like….

…they’ve had breakfast but their empty bowls are there and there’s cereal all over the floor.

… the tap is on and no one there.

….the storyteller shares his story but doesn’t get ready so we’re going to be late.

…PJs on the floor.

…stuff that missed the bin.

… hurtful words said brother to brother.

No matter how many positive thoughts I have , these things triggers are going to be there.

Day after day this happened last year I realised. So this time I’m going to take a more radical solution to ‘my watch it happen again and again then get mad approach’.  Instead of knowing it’s going to happen and seeing it unfolding.

What if…..what if I was proactive and used the knowledge of what’s happened before and try and head off the negative before it happens.

Be proactive

Let’s face it, we all have triggers and while you may laugh at mine. We all have family values, standards and expectations we want our families to share. We have to share and share often so that everyone understands.

You’ll be surprised at how many times you just take care of things because it’s easier than finding the person and getting them to do it . For truly peaceful solutions to minimize family strife you’ll need to get back to that cool calm voice and person and share share share.

In this series I’ll share some peaceful solutions that will minimize family strife so you really can ALL have more peace and calm in the day.

1 Teach and reteach

We enjoy contributions like the next family. Our children participate in daily assigned contributions . They also help when needed to each other and the family. Great. Except how are the contributions done. If every time you want the vegetable peeler, dustpan or the tape you have to go look for it. It becomes pretty frustrating. Especially if all these things have assigned places. The kids have just forgotten and/or just not diligent. It doesn’t matter so much to them. It was the act of putting it away and contributing that was the deal not where it ended up. Since moving house where we put things has changed and the boys putting dishes away skills hasn’t.  This is a perfect example of teach and reteach often. Instead of getting triggered and frustrated that I can’t find the peeler ( because it’s not where it lives) before the activity or take a deep breath and at the time, I teach and often I reteach.

It is often the little things that niggle in the family and alter the family atmosphere. To help the family flow to remain smooth we must proactively iron out these kinks or let them go. Learn to let go shines in our voice too.

Teach and reteach is so valuable because as our children get older so now they can do differently and our circumstances change; we’re working outside the home, we homeschool, new baby comes, we move, our hours change, we are out the house more we need to adapt our family flow so that our atmosphere at home is as we wish it to be. Less of the growling monster roaring around each corner and more of the encouraging calm parent with time to notice, restate and tighten up the system.

Observation is a powerful tool in our family atmosphere. You can't change what you don't see. You can't appreciate what you've not noticed.


This is first part of the series : Peaceful solutions to minimize family strife.

What would be one of the first things you would like to reteach?

Part two: Peaceful Solutions to Minimize Family Strife with Specific Solutions 

10 ways to Nurture a Positive Family Atmosphere

Nurturing a positive family atmosphere


This year!

What would you add to the list?


Follow the Family Atmosphere board for more ideas

Follow Mel Avila’s board Family Atmosphere on Pinterest.

How side by side time nurtures our boys

How side by side time nurtures our boys. Here's that time and place for those difficult conversations they want to have and we want to have with themDuring a marriage DVD set with friends sometime ago I remember hearing about side by side time for the first time. I enjoy face to face time the most with my girlfriends and it turns out that most women are like this too. Guys and definitely my husband like side by side time.

During this time for either of us it is where conversations happen- the deeper conversations, difficult conversations come and things come up. It’s when he’s working on something and I’m doing something nearby. It doesn’t have to be completely side by side but definitely nearby.

The main point is we’re not across from each other.

I remember after hearing that section how looking back on what we did together my husband was always inviting me to join him for side by side activities and I craved do nothing but sit face to face activities. He needed to talk and that was his signal. Now he knew mine too.

It was such a light bulb moment for us both to understand how it made us feel when we did the right thing for the other.

Mother of boys applying side by side time to her boys

As the mother of boys I figured that if my husband likes side by side time then perhaps my sons would like this too.

Somehow I needed to figure in ways to have plenty of side by side time. Naturally, I forgot this at the beginning stages of having my family. We did our big conversations face to face for the most part. It’s how I do things so I naturally did what I do. I don’t think I’m alone. As a boy mum I had a lot to learn about finding what works for my boys. Not everything boy related would but I try different things.

While reading Wild things- the art of nurturing boys, I was reminded about how deliberate we need to be with our boys. I only have boys so this is my perspective. That deliberance isn’t always obvious and intuitive for us as mothers. We do what we like and know based on our very different, and sometimes limited experiences.

It’s not easy to just do something different. I love these boys books because we have real examples, situations and I can see how I would deal with it from people who have gone before me.

Side by Side activities work I believe, because there’s a lack of eye contact on both sides. It’s really hard to not react with your whole body when you hear something. Our family knows us too well. Yet there are things we want and need to talk about. For boys, my boys maybe your boys too not facing you while they tell you might mean they tell you more.

Now, how do we get more of this talking and sharing as a habit while they are little so that as they grow this is a part of family life? We want our sons to be able to share and we want to be able to share the important stuff with them.

Examples of side by side activities

Making lunch      making lunch

washing dishes     Drying dishes and putting away / emptying the dishwasher

Wiping down surfaces/Dusting                Sweeping/mopping

board games

Preparing a meal


Gardening          watering/ yard work

Reading              reading

Crafting              music practice/fun time/ model making

walking/ walking the dog/ walk into town

Car journeys      school run/clubs and activities

Folding laundry

Contributions ( Chores) are also a good way of working side by side with boys. As they do their job you do something nearby.

Side by side activities are any activities where we’re not hovering but doing the activity and they are doing an activity close by.

( Can be the same or a different activity) We’re both out of direct eye contact if we look up. Usually we need to turn to see each other’s face.We are near enough that either of us can just start a conversation, say something and we’re both able to hear and respond.

How side by side time worked for us

Side by side conversation worked for us in a big way this week.

“He took it from me.”

This is what my son said to me on Monday, 2 minutes before leaving for the school bus. I was emptying the dishwasher and he was cleaning the table of the breakfast things and stacking them in the sink. My immediate need was to swing around and fire off a lot of questions to clarify what he said. But I heard his quiet voice mumbling behind me, unloaded a few plates and fought back those first thoughts. He had the space now to fill. Totally bad timing but this was too important. He was sharing. I could take him to school.

I don’t know when he would have brought up that situation. We’d had dinner the night before. The incident had happened yesterday. There had been the usual face to face time. He didn’t take it.

It was serious enough for him to have been worried about sharing with me. Because we had the side by side time he didn’t see my big wide eyes or my deep breathing. He had space to share his long story where he gets himself into trouble too. While I unloaded the dishwasher.

Whether I dealt with the situation the youngest mentioned well is another story but I’m glad for these side by side activities. He shared the situation. We could deal with it. I’m convinced because of our side by side time.

Nurture these times and carve them into your everyday activities so they have plenty of opportunities to share what’s on their hearts.

As time goes by and you have an older boy you’ll be happy for the regular snatches of conversations and you’ll have some mighty interesting conversations on both sides without the judgment and your first emotions stealing the show.

Your turn

When your son shared something deep or important to them were you side by side or face to face? I’m curious for just this last time? What were you doing? Share below.



Guide to a Simple Christmas and Holiday season

Finding a way to have a Simple Christmas and Holiday season that you want.

We spent a flour filled few hours making cookies and creating a happy mess this weekend. The crowns weren’t perfect and some of the Gingerbread men had arms and legs missing. We laughed throughout the whole process because when three boys work there’s always laughter, things go wrong.

Once December comes I don’t want to think that all is lost. I have to give in to the rush of Christmas. I have to go to every concert. I have to have a fun advent activity ( And if I miss one, we’ve failed!) Everyone is X and Y this year. Maybe I should too?

It’s all so easy for us to go with the flow of what’s happening around us. Don’t you feel the tug?

You said this year you wanted a slower holiday season full of the reason for the season. You said you wanted to buy less and experience more. You said you wanted to not feel bad because you don’t have a energy to do lots of play activities in the evening. You said you wanted a simple Christmas. But you’re feeling the tug to go with the flow.

There are lots of us about who want more than wanting to simplify Christmas. We want to do it.

Have a look through these links and feel encouraged and energised to continue to simplify your Christmas and holiday season so you experience the joys of the season for your family- simply. Pin articles to read for later and listen as you  shop. Dive deep and long into slow and simple Christmas and holiday season.  You’re amongst friends.

Guide to a Simple Christmas and Holiday season

Surviving the Holidays w/ Mariah Joy :: Little Sprigs

A Simple 4 Step Guide For Cultivating your Desired Holiday Experience.

Keeping Christmas Cozy :: Creative with Kids

Guide you to YOUR best holiday season with more ‘cozy and connected’ and less ‘frazzled and frantic’.

Creating memories to cherish during the holiday season :: Play Activities

When you’re feeling discouraged stop and read.

Letting Go of The Christmas Rush :: Dirt and Boogers

Making a new simple Christmas plan

Slow Holidays :: Erin Goodman

Three-week program that will help you slow down, savor and enjoy the things that matter most this holiday season in this warm online retreat.

The Weight Of Making Christmas Magical :: Lemon Lime Adventures

Finding your voice and confidence to do Christmas your way.

5 words for an abundant holiday season :: Abundant Mama

Follow the simplicity of the season with some intention

25 Ways to Slow Down & Enjoy the Holidays with Your Kids :: Edventures with Kids

Instant slow down activities with little or no planning

7 Simple Ways to Enjoy More & Spend Less This Christmas :: Living Well Spending Less

Take time to prepare for the season

 How to enjoy the holidays (stress free) :: A Mom with a Lesson Plan

Less cramming everything in and more picking just what you want

Holiday Stress and Honoring Your Own Hungers:: Abundant Mama

Inspiration and encouragement for your simple Christmas and holiday season

Letting Go of Perfection This Holiday Season :: Lasso the Moon

Life is too short to waste time comparing ourselves with others.

How to be Intentional About the Holidays :: I’m an Organizing Junkie

Picking what suits and being intentional about what you leave behind

Crafting your Simple Holiday Season:: Raising Playful Tots

One full of lasting memories, interesting stories, opportunities to veg out and just be. As well as time for festive activities we love with the family.

crafting your simple Christmas and holiday season

Pin for later:

Finding a way to have a Simple Christmas and Holiday season that you want.

Creating a Mother’s Evening Routine ( after the children are in bed)

It’s very common at the end of the evening when the children are finally tucked up in bed for us to just flop down exhausted.

We reach for whatever is close to hand. ( Junk food, Chocolate, comfy couch, magazines) I know the day has been busy doing all that you wanted to do for the kids and family and also filled with many of those other things.

Depending on your family bedtimes and whether you’re a night owl or a lark preferring to get up early there’s often  many hours in the evening that’s just ours. Just ours..

[Read more…]

Create a Family Playlist for Clean Up

Cleaning up is way more fun when you have clean up music.

Create a family playlist and clean up will be so much easier

Ask your preschooler. Clean up music makes all the difference to get things done.

Some of my clearest memories are of my parents singing and getting down when a favourite tune came over the radio. That sounds so old school now but when you didn’t control the music and your jam came on. Phew! Sometimes you had to stop and just rock out. Seeing my usually very straight laced parents cut loose, in their way you must understand; smile big and sing is a memory I cherish.

We sing a lot in our family. We mimic Lyle from Veggetales and sing instructions. Usually when we’re starting to get tense. It’s our way of trying to calm ourselves down as we’re rapidly moving through 7 and 8 on the way to 10!

Used positively we love to sing, dance and rock out while we wash dishes and clean up the kitchen. After the meal explosion of dishes, plates, cutlery, pots, pans there’s the sweeping up and setting things back straight. With a family of three boys we try and do this together so it doesn’t take as long and frankly I want the boys to not just arrive eat and leave. So it’s a family affair…clean up.

I don’t know about you but I’m tired after a full day of work, kids, cooking and life and the kids can be a little niggly, pick on the slightest thing, not want to be here and yes be tired too. All of us in that tight space can add up to snappy turtles after usually a lovely peaceful pleasant meal. Boo!

Music changes the mood and we all can shuffle, smile, laugh at the new lyrics we all are sure the singer says and GET THE JOB done in a smoother simpler way. Creating a family playlist happened because it’s too hard to keep finding the individual songs. We have ipods and an ipod station so we just load up onto our family playlist and keep on going.

What gets on the Clean up Family Playlist?

Some or all of these in no particular order:

  • upbeat anthem
  • Something from the past ( so mummy and daddy tell a story about it!)
  • Something new ( the kids can choose)
  • Family sensitive lyrics ( or lots of explanation)
  • something you nod your head to, jiggle, do a little dance, hold your hands in the air… know the score.:)

Like all good radio stations we have a fun DJ played by one of us. We have all request live where each one in the family can request from the playlist one song. That’s five songs for us already and after that we shuffle songs or let the songs play on.

So here’s your mix tape.  It’s just a selection from our clean up family playlist. Load up your own family playlist of music and play play play.

You know you need this because….

We’re all about creating memories and smiley times. Turning a potential hotspot of cleaning up after dinner and grumble time into laughing, singing tidy fest. You can’t beat good times like this! Connecting with our kids in a positive way after all the other stuff we have to do as parents.

I hope they have those good memories of mum and dad laughing, singing and smiling to balance out those discipline memories when we need to parent.


  1. We Built This City  by  Starship
  2. Paradise  by Coldplay
  3. Everything Is Awesome!!! from LEGO soundtrack
  4. Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) by Chris Tomlin
  5. You gotta be by Des’ree
  6. Something inside so strong by Labi Siffre
  7. Just Give Me a Reason by P!nk feat. Nate Ruess
  8. Dancing in the Moonlight by Toploader
  9. The Bare Necessities from the Jungle Book
  10. Seasons of love from Rent Soundtrack

What would you have on your clean up playlist?

If you enjoyed this post about family atmosphere,  follow my Pinterest board Family Atmosphere and Simple rhythms and schedules in the home

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I’ll earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that I can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

2 Simple Steps That Reduces the Stress of Leaving the House

Just on our way out of the door is the time I notice.

We’ve worked on getting everyone out the door without shouting too much. It used to bother us as parents that rounding up the kids and getting into the car to go anywhere would be so hard. Stressful. Why do they want to play now?

By the time we were all in the car, we all needed a lie down and a time out. We were mad at each other and blamed each other. No one really wanted to do whatever it was we were planning to do with such a cloud over us.

2 Simple Steps That Reduces the Stress of Leaving the House


So we developed the pause.

[Read more…]

72 Ways To Have Better Times With Our Kids

Hands up if you’re feeling a bit tired and stretched this week!

Me too.

Is there’s a cloud hanging over the family and you’re looking for that sunshine to bathe in? That warm light of laughter, smiles and connection to return.

We want to have better relationships with our spouse and our kids but things just happen and we get into a rut or a funk. How do we bridge those places and have better times with our kids?

Fun ways to have better times with our kids

Here’s a go to list that you can grab something off here and run with it. I know it’s hard when we want to have better times with our kids.

[Read more…]

Appreciation Boards for Families

Make an Appreciation board

How long is too long to be cross and moody?

How do you come back after a dramatic exit?….and when?

As families we won’t always agree with each other and it’s in these disagreements that everything seems to go pear shaped.

[Read more…]

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