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When it comes to family, every member of your tribe brings something unique to the team. Teaching them early and often how important it is to build teamwork will not only benefit your family; it’ll teach your child the value of working with others to accomplish a goal. 

Talk with any human resource officer and they’ll tell you—being able to effectively function as a team member is a valued skill. They look for it when hiring new team members, along with other essential skills like communication, conflict management and problem-solving.

There are lots of fun ways you can build teamwork into your family’s daily living.

Here are a few examples:

  • Share chores. Since you aren’t running a hotel, it takes everybody contributing something to keep everything going. From feeding the dog, picking up clothes and making beds to clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, vacuuming, packing lunches and folding laundry, even the youngest family member plays an important role. Talk about the difference it makes when everybody works together to get it all done.
  • Cook together. Deciding on a menu, buying all the ingredients, prepping ahead of time and preparing the meal allows for lots of teamwork. Then sit down and eat the meal together to celebrate what you accomplished!
  • Play games as a family that require teamwork. Whether it’s going to an escape room and figuring it out together, playing Minute to Win it or Jenga together, or creating an obstacle course in your yard, these games teach the concept of working together to accomplish a goal and it’s fun in the process.
  • Volunteer. Giving back to others as a family teaches your child many lessons, not the least of which is the value of serving and exposing them to worlds they may not realize exist. Helping to build a hiking trail at a park, pick up trash along the river or in your neighborhood, serve food at a community kitchen, or mow and rake an elderly neighbor’s yard instills self-confidence in your child. It also encourages problem solving, teaches them their presence and voice matters and lets them experience the impact you can have working together as a team.
  • Plan a trip or a staycation. As you prepare for your next trip or even a staycation, add some fun to the mix! Instead of planning it all yourself, divide up the responsibilities such as: when and where will you stop to eat, what sights should you plan to see along the way, what’s the best route to take and how much gas will it take to get there, among family members. Oh, and be sure you have someone in charge of fun—as in elements of surprise that only you and the “fun person” know about! Give the ones working on food a budget to work with. And, share any cool sights that you know of as a jumping off point for the sightseeing planners.

It’s worth it!

Getting the whole crew involved might be a bit more time consuming, but the teamwork opportunities and lessons are endless. Not to mention you’re making family memories, especially when unexpected things happen like a flat tire, a detour or foul weather, requiring the team to make a quick pivot. 

While you’re trying to build teamwork, your kids might not be super appreciative. However, over time it’s pretty likely the benefits of working together will pay off. Things like: realizing that as a family, we can do tough things together and get to the other side. Having different personalities, likes and dislikes actually makes us strong together. We’re depending on each other to help carry the load. We can disagree or not do something right and still love each other. There’s more than one way to get a job done. 

Here’s what’s really awesome: your goal is to get your family to work together as a team. In the process of doing that, you’re teaching your children a life skill that will work for them forever. That’s a good and powerful thing.  

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

Chattanooga is home to a ton of fun events, activities, and experiences for kids of all ages!! Explore the rich history of the city, enjoy all the animals (from penguins to the average house cat), get your creative juices flowing, and more with these unique, Chattanooga local mother-daughter date ideas!

BONUS: Want to download this list of Chattanooga mother-daughter dates? Click HERE!

Local Chattanooga:

  • Polly Claire’s Tea Room This quaint, historic tea room is the perfect place for your next mother-daughter experience! Enjoy a cup of tea and your daughters company for an experience she won’t forget.
  • Pottery Painting (The Pottery Place or River City Pottery) Grab a brush, some paint, a pice of pottery, and create a masterpiece! Your daughter will love this creative experience.
  • ArtsyU Painting Studio Similar to painting pottery, why not take a painting class together? You and your daughter can create a beautiful piece of art while being instructed by a professional.
  • Chattanooga Zoo Experience wild peacocks, exotic animals, fun events, more at the Chattanooga Zoo! You can even book a wild encounter to get a behind-the-scenes look at the animals, how to care for them, and why they’re at the zoo!
  • TN Aquarium Who doesn’t love river otters, penguins, butterflies, lemurs, stingrays… the list just keeps going! Be sure to reserve a full day to get the most of all the aquarium has to offer.
  • High Point Climbing Center Don’t worry, you don’t have to climb the wall with her if you don’t want to! She’ll have a great time feeling strong and capable while getting some of that energy out!
  • Naughty Cat Cafe Any cat lovers in the room? Take a trip to Chattanooga’s first and only Cat Cafe! Enjoy a complimentary drink and snack while cuddling with kitties!
  • Chattanooga Lookouts You don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy a night with The Lookouts! Their season typically ranges from April to September.

Under $20 or Free:

  • Coolidge Park The next sunny day, be sure to stop by Coolidge Park for a great time with your daughter! From riding the carousel (only $1!) to having a picnic by the water.
  • Creative Discovery Museum (Second Thursday of Every Month) Family Night at The Creative Discovery Museum is fun for kids of all ages! Plus, it’s free!
  • International Towing & Recovery Museum Okay, this one might not sound as exciting, but it’s still a ton of fun! Explore a piece of Chattanooga history with your daughter while learning something new!
  • Chattanooga Market You don’t even have to buy anything (although popcorn is a plus!) to enjoy The Chattanooga Market. Typical season is from April through December.
  • Visit an animal shelter (McKamey or Humane Society) If you can have enough will-power to keep from adopting all the adorable dogs and cats, the animal shelter is a fun place for both you and your daughter!

Near Chattanooga:

  • Wilderness Outdoor Movie Theater Although this movie theater only runs during the warm months of the year, she’ll never forget the experience she had! Plus, it’s only 20 minutes from downtown! Bring cash though, they don’t accept cards!
  • Lake Winepesaukah Also best during the summer months, this local amusement point is a great choice for a full day of fun! From roller coasters to water slides, Lake Winnie is one of Chattanooga’s best attractions!
  • See Rock City If you’ve ever driven on I-24, you’ve seen the signs, the barns, and the billboards. But have you seen Rock City? Your daughter will love a full day exploring the beauty of Lookout Mountain and beyond!
  • Raccoon Mountain Caverns Take an adventure like never before and explore the caverns of Raccoon Mountain together! This guided tour will teach your daughter all about caves, the creatures that live in them, and how she can help protect their beauty!
  • White Water Rafting on The Ocoee River This activity is not for the faint of heart! If your daughter loves daring adventures, she’ll love the experience of racing through the rapids!
  • Hidden Hills Farm & Saddle Club Take a trail ride on a horse together or enjoy one of the many events on the farm at one of Chattanooga’s hidden gems! Be sure to schedule your ride in advance (and wear your best cowgirl outfit!)

Outdoor Adventures:

  • Chester Frost Park Want a trip to the beach but don’t have time to hop over to Florida? This man-made beach on Dallas Bay has great playgrounds, picnic areas, and so much more!
  • Enterprise South Nature Park Not your average park! Follow these walking trails for an up-close look at part of Chattanooga history: the location of ammunition bunkers for World War II. Although they’re empty now, it’s still a neat sight to see!
  • Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center Book a guided canoe trip, do some birdwatching, or enjoy a peaceful walk on one of their many trails! You’ll both feel reenergized and reconnected with nature by the end of your trip!
  • TN Riverpark From the Chickamauga Dam, through Downtown, and on to Historic Saint Elmo, this 10-mile paved trail has plenty of opportunity for a bike ride, a picnic, or a fun time by the Tennessee River!
  • Sculpture Fields at Montague Park One of Chattanooga’s most recent additions, Sculpture Fields features 33 acres full of sculptures from around the world!
  • Warner Park Pool and Spray and Play For $2-$3 (depending on age), you and your daughter can enjoy a full day by the poolside! This public pool is close to downtown and open to the public for some summer fun!
  • Chickamauga Dam Recreation Area Featuring one of Chattanooga’s best playgrounds, this beautiful recreation area has enough for a full day of fun! Enjoy a splash in the water, grill some lunch, and explore the walking trails!

Want more parenting resources? Click here!

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I had this idea. A fun, whimsical baking sesh with my uber-helpful daughter, Jackie, baking a beautiful, homemade, delicious, vegan Frozen-themed cake for her 4th birthday party. I was determined to make it happen. I was going for “super mom” status as I prepared for a small family get together that became an elaborate Frozen-themed birthday extravaganza. I’d already sent out the FB event invite. This was Jackie’s “un-FOUR-gettable” birthday. It was too late. I had to make it unforgettable. 

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It’s here – that season when you throw sanity out the window and with wild abandon throw yourself full throttle into the holidays. I mean, there are things to do, people to see, places to go and only a certain amount of time to make things happen. Right?

For the most part, we’ve gotten really good at our to-do lists. We get the coveted gifts for our family, hopefully at the prices we want to pay. We plan holiday gatherings and assign tasks to our guests. We ferociously clean and shop and wrap and eat and, if we are honest, we often complain either inwardly or outwardly about how we try to make the season merry and bright for the ones we love. When that is the case, we look a lot less like Santa and a lot more like the Grinch.

Maybe you gave up aiming for the “perfect” holiday, but still find yourself stressed about all that you want to pack into the month. Even if you’ve opted for simpler moments of peace and quiet, you may find yourself wrestling with everybody else’s expectations.

In reality, the holiday season is full of opportunities for us to really be there for our friends, family and even strangers. Though it may be tempting to rush through it all and complete our to-do list with as little financial and emotional damage as possible, this season has the unique potential to create a mindshift, not only for this month, but on into the new year.

A couple of years ago, a holiday to-do list went viral, probably for a lot of reasons, but perhaps the most important is that in spite of how “connected” we say we are, people are longing for the presence of people in their lives. The list is a great reminder of ways we can be present in the lives of those we know and those we have the opportunity to get to know.

Keeping this list in mind can set the tone for how you give what you give during the holidays and beyond. It’s kind of amazing that the gift we can give to people that means the most doesn’t actually require us to spend money, but in our minds it may be the most costly present because we can’t be completely present with someone while focusing on something else at the same time. Perhaps the best present is to be present. Time is the one thing that once it’s spent, you can’t get it back.

Dr. Suess said, “Sometimes you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” There will always be things to buy, but the moments when we give our best selves to people are what make lasting memories.

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on December 7, 2019.

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A CBS piece shared the story of Dale Schroeder, a humble man from Iowa who worked as a carpenter at the same company for 67 years. He never married and had no children.

Since he had no living relatives, he approached his lawyer about a plan for his money after he passed away. When his lawyer asked him how much he was talking about, Schroeder told him, “A little shy of $3 million.” The lawyer said he almost fell out of his chair when he heard the amount.

Schroeder never had the opportunity to attend college, but he wanted to help kids from Iowa who otherwise would not have the opportunity to receive a college education. Schroeder passed away in 2005, but his legacy lives on.

In all, Schroeder provided college tuition for 33 people who call themselves “Dale’s Kids.” They are now teachers, therapists and doctors, among other professions, all without any college debt thanks to Schroeder. While none of them can thank Schroeder personally, they can pass on his generosity to others.

Certainly, giving financially to a worthy cause is one way to be generous, but that’s not the only way. You can also be generous with giving your time or lending a listening ear.

For example, a 90-year-old woman sent a note to her next door neighbor saying she was lonely, scared and had no friends. She asked the neighbor if she would consider spending some time with her. Sometimes just your presence is an incredibly generous gift.

However you choose to be generous, here’s the really cool thing: not only does it benefit the person you are helping, it also benefits you.

“Helping is love made visible in acts of generosity small and large,” says best-selling author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People, speaker and Stony Brook professor, Stephen G. Post.

Post says that generosity is good for our self-esteem and well-being. In a study of people over the age of 65, those who volunteered in the past scored higher in life satisfaction and had fewer symptoms of sickness. Those who did not volunteer proved to be sicker and unable to give to others. Post believes that feeling happy and connected to others are fundamental components to overall health, and that being generous with others forms bonds that are meaningful which then increases our happiness. Being a generous giver actually makes us want to be more giving in the future.

Post also finds that generosity is empowering. It inspires others to be compassionate and pay it forward.

“When the happiness and security of others is as meaningful to you as your own, you are a person of love and you will flourish,” Post says.

Being generous is contagious. When someone else is generous to you, it encourages you to be generous to others, too. Giving of your time and resources can really feel good, and it has the potential to create a ripple effect of kindness in your home and community. Giving to others is powerful and makes for happier, healthier people.

Think about the many ways you have experienced blessings from others and the chance you have to bless people you know, as well as perfect strangers. The good news is, you don’t have to have saved $3 million dollars in order to be generous.

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on November 23, 2019.

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Maybe you just aren’t feeling thankful this year. Maybe you haven’t felt thankful for a long, long time. Let’s face it, in a lot of ways, we live in some dark times. I’m with you. There is a reason that suicides go up during the holidays. There is a reason that this is the season for infidelity and divorce. So, what do you do if, honestly, you just don’t feel very thankful on Thanksgiving?

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I’m currently writing this while sitting at a coffee shop on a rainy afternoon, and there is a table of three very chatty, obnoxious, silly, giggly 12-year-old girls directly hovering over cinnamon rolls and muffins directly in my line of sight. 

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Buying a house is one of the most stressful things that you can go through as human beings, especially if you’re newlyweds. Yes, it’s even more stressful than planning a wedding.

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I can’t believe that it is less than 90 days from Christmas! It seems like yesterday I was actually looking forward to school starting because it brought some structure back into my carefree summer lifestyle. Today, I am headlong into sports, extracurricular activities, and community service events. It’s far from carefree- it’s stressful. But that’s okay.

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I was irritated. More than irritated, I was ready to pounce at the next person who asked me a question, about anything. I was mentally and physically exhausted from putting in hour after hour at work, only to turn around and put in hour after hour at home, and I was over it. I was over my boss, over my hard work going unrecognized, over bearing the weight of the invisible mental load of motherhood and oh-so-over being told I was being too emotional about it all. In other words, I was suffering from BURNOUT.

ICYMI, “Burnout” is now an official medical diagnosis, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). No, we’re not talking about just being stressed out. WHO classifies burnout as a condition caused by “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Symptoms include:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

Yup, I had it all. Check, check aaaaand check.

Thankfully I stumbled upon Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D. and Amelia Nagoski, DMA. It opened my eyes to the science and reality of burnout and how to take care of myself by managing stress.

According to the Nagoski sisters, burnout is caused by chronic stress, not stressors. But what’s the difference? Stressors are external: to-do lists, bosses, all the challenges life throws our way. Stress is the neurological and physiological response your body has when you feel like you’re in danger (from a stressor).

For instance: Your boss called you out on missing a deadline at work. The stressor is your boss calling you out. The stress is the guilt, shame or embarrassment you felt from being called out.

The stress cycle begins when a stressor triggers our “flight or fight” response. It is literally our SURVIVAL mode. Think about it:

FLIGHT: If you were being chased by a lion, you would run to a safe place. Once you are safe, your body would relax. 

FIGHT: If you were being attacked by a bear, but you were pretty sure you could fight it off and win, your body would gear up to attack. Once you had won and the danger was gone, your body would relax.

When you’ve finally reached safety and your body relaxes, the stress cycle is complete.

But what happens when the perceived threat is insurmountable? You’ll never outrun it and you’re not strong enough to fight it… so, you FREEZE. 

And this, my friends, is where burnout happens. When we are stuck in a constant, never-ending state of stress, our bodies literally shut down and play dead in order to survive.

So is it possible to prevent burnout?

In order to fix or prevent burnout, we have to complete the stress cycle. That means, dealing with not only the stressor but the actual stress itself. If we hold our feelings in, power through the hard days, but never deal with the stress of the situation, then we keep the stress cycle open and ongoing, instead of closing it and allowing our bodies to relax.

Here are 7 ways to complete the stress cycle and prevent burnout:

  1. Physical Activity – In any and every form, physical activity is your BEST strategy to complete the stress cycle. You know the drill, 30 minutes a day. It can be anything that gets your body moving: running, swimming, dancing, kickboxing, etc.
  2. Controlled Breathing – Deep, slow breaths help regulate your body’s stress response. Try slowly breathing in for a count of 5, holding that breath for 5, then exhaling for a count of 10.
  3. Socialize – Casual, friendly interactions help signal to your body that you’re safe and that not everyone is crazy and that everything will be okay. Sigh.
  4. Laugh – Laughter is quite literally the best medicine! When’s the last time you laughed so hard your abs and cheeks hurt? Laughter like that can help shift your mood and increase relationship satisfaction.
  5. Affection – Finding a deeper connection with someone you love and trust is paramount. A hug or kiss is known to release a mix of the “feel good” chemicals: serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. Yes, please!
  6. Cry – Have you noticed how you seem to feel better after a good cry, even if nothing about the situation has changed? That’s because crying is actually dealing with the stress you are feeling.
  7. Be Creative – Allowing yourself to channel stress into art is a great way to complete the cycle. Any kind of creative activity will encourage you to freely express yourself and work through some of those big emotions.

You’ll be surprised at how implementing just one of these methods every day will change the way you manage your daily stress and prevent burnout from happening!

It didn’t happen overnight, but over time I was able to deal with the overwhelming amount of stress I was under. After a lot of introspection (coupled with a cry-sesh here and there), I realized that I had stopped taking care of my well being under the weight of the responsibility of taking care of all the other people in my life. So not only did I start making time for yoga, an exercise that I truly enjoyed, I also started a book club with my close friends to give me an excuse and motivation to read more and get together with good company on a monthly basis. Honestly, it took a lot of effort to change how I managed my stress,  but changing my stress changed my entire life.

For more resources, see our Self-Care page here.

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