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Each Child is Different, meet them where they are…

Each Child is Different, meet them where they are

Photo Credit: Victor Cristian Mitroi,

The oldest of my five children, Nick, who is twenty-seven, and my second son, Allen-Michael, twenty-one, could not be more different from one another. Because they were raised by the same mother I just assumed the boys would be more alike. Though it makes no sense to expect this since I now understand each child arrives in the world with his own temperament, sets of challenges, and lessons for us, and a unique destiny to pursue as well.

Over the past few years, having made the shift from thinking and “do-ing” my parenting from a place where I was in charge of the teaching of my children, to the daily practice of the concept of their teaching me has been the wildest, yet most enlightening/rewarding journey of my life.

When I let go of my expectations (even those I would not have verbally acknowledged) and simply met my sons where they were, my world opened up.

For instance, Nick has been challenged with addiction to alcohol. He has battled this disease (some days more so than others) since he was fifteen years old. Almost five years sober at this point, he doesn’t attribute his recovery to faith in God or any other Higher Power. If you ask Nick he will say his fear of going back to jail is what keeps him away from any bottle. Nick does believe in God, but doesn’t actively pursue a relationship through church attendance or in his everyday life. He was raised Catholic (I will admit, inconsistently), but doesn’t care to make time for spirituality or religion today.

Allen-Michael, on the other hand, who was also raised “inconsistently Catholic” has had an increasingly close relationship with God since his teen years. Calm and easy-going from the day he arrived in the world, he avidly pursues daily mass, mission work, feeding the homeless, and even contemplating the priesthood. Allen-Michael feels very strongly about the gospel and looks to the lives of Catholic saints as inspiration for his own.

It appears to be too early to tell what role faith and religion will play the lives of my youngest three children, but they continue to be raised in the same way by a mother who often verbally and through her actions places more value in the intuition of a higher calling and a purpose greater then oneself than on the structure of any denomination or book.

What I love most about the different ways in which my children approach life is their ability to show respect for, and tolerance of one another choices to take a path different from their own. Knowing, above all else, I have helped create an environment for that to happen in is very gratifying.

What do you say and do to foster a sense of individuality in your children?


When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

Photo Credit: Uncalno Tekno,

It’s been said when the student is ready, the teacher will arrive. At forty-six I have enough life experience to comprehend the truth in this statement. I also understand the teacher can come in many different forms and show up in both our most challenging and our most triumphant moments. Upon reflection, I can say with conviction my most valuable lessons have come through twenty-two years of marriage and in parenting five children.

The role of wife and mother have taught me what it means to be part of a committed relationship and, even more important, how little control I have over anyone but myself. While there are myraid ways I have witnessed this throughout marriage and motherhood, the most pivotal lesson came several years ago during a crisis with my eldest son (at the time in his early twenties), and his addiction to alcohol.

It was that particular journey which truly opened my eyes and heart to the essence of what it means to be a parent who loves unconditionally. Prior to this walk I believed I understood the importance of limitless acceptance, in hindsight I know it was (at times) merely lip service and not a thorough understanding or true appreciation for the gifts our children can be in helping us develop into our best selves.

Obviously how we parent our children on a daily basis is very important. But, in the end, we must take care to remember we do not have the authority to direct the outcome of the life they have been given to live. In other words, children come into the world through us, we are chosen to guide them and assist their efforts to work towards their life’s purpose by creating an atmosphere conducive to their growth.

This, in and of itself, is a wonderful gift. We [as parents and grandparents] can choose to take the gift to the next level and remain open to the continuous learning we receive through our children’s journey. For example, once I understood the magnitude of my son’s alcohol abuse I could have spent a lot of time blaming myself or someone else for the challenge. Or, I could have recoiled in shame or guilt for considering myself a horrible mother. Instead, I chose to pray for my own guidance in assisting, supporting, encouraging, loving and learning from my son through the process of his recovery.

There were times when even that was not enough. The epiphany came when I woke up one morning and understood I was not in a position to control the outcome of his battle with alcohol, I was only in control of how I responded to the situation that presented itself to me.

Each day provides opportunities to learn, and people to teach. The question is…are you teachable? If so, look no further than the children in your life to show you exactly where you need to grow.


Unjunk Your Mind and Your Plate

Family Food Experts Radio Show

Food can be such a touchy topic for parents and kids.  How do you get your children to eat healthy meals when all they want is pasta with butter, chicken nuggets and pizza? Well that can be a difficult challenge, but not impossible to solve.  

Join me with Ellen Briggs, founder of Kid Kritics and Stacey Antine, founder of HealthBarnUSA as we talk about the mindsets that prevent us from taking good care of ourselves and our children. This interview is full of ideas, recipes and fun.  Listen in as we solve some of the challenges parents face everyday.

Click Here to listen in NOW! 


2 Simple Questions for Every Mom

One of the major problems I often see when I talk with parents is that they forget that it is okay to have personal boundaries. Just because you are a parent does not mean you need to set aside who you are, all your needs and focus excessively on your children. 

Although the starting point is a desire to show your children the most love you can and be the most attentive and best parent you can be the end result as you can guess is often a child who is whiny, does not take no for an answer and does not respect you and you end up exhausted, frustrated and angry. 

This then makes you lose your confidence and self-esteem as a parent because your initial intention (the desire to be the best parent you can be) is not matching up with who you are in the world. This can be devastating.

Ride the Wave Front CoverThe good news is there are simple corrections that I have seen to work time and time again (which I share in my book). Think of it as a balance. Open communication, compassion and caring are extremely important but if you are feeling frequently frustrated or are not enjoying parenting or your children take a look at one of two areas. 

1) Are you taking good care of yourself? 

2) Are you setting reasonable boundaries for your children that support your needs as well? 

When I say reasonable boundaries, you have to determine what is reasonable for you. For example, I don’t like it when my children pull on my arm to try to drag me somewhere and show me something. So that is a personal boundary. If they do this, I immediately say, “Excuse me. I don’t like when you pull on my arm and I will not come when you do that. You can kindly ask me.”

For others that might not be an issue. But figure out what bothers you personally and then be ok with setting boundaries to protect your own well-being. That is reasonable! 

Do you have any thing you’d like to share?


Self-Care tips for Moms

I shared some info with my friends over at Just Between Friends that I thought you’d like to see.  It comes from experience and a lot of trial and error.  More error than success frankly.  So although I am not always a perfect example, I am learning each day how to make sure I take care of me, so that I can take care of others to a greater degree.

Click here and you’ll see my TOP 3 TIPS for moms on how to take better care of yourself, and find more happiness in the busy-ness of life.

If you enjoy it please sign up to get our FREE 4-lesson Video Course called “Find Time For You And Be Happier Too!” these tips and more are shared along with exercises to help you uncover areas where you are getting stuck and how you can overcome some of these common self-care sabotage mindsets.

Get Your Free Video e-Course Here

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Lots of love!!

 April O’Leary, Life Coach
Founder of the University of Moms
Creator of the Happy Mom Conference

Author of Ride the Wave and Focus on You
Proud mother of 3 girls



2 Free Mother’s Day Gifts For YOU!

Happy Mother’s Day!  I come bearing gifts to show you how much I value you as a member of our community of moms.  I don’t take it lightly that you take the time to read these blog posts.  I think it is wonderful that you make it a priority to be happy and learn whatever you can so that you can be the best mom you can be and this is my small way of saying, “You’re Awesome!”

The University of Moms Sticker can be yours free!1)  The first gift is a University of Moms auto sticker and a personal hand-written note of encouragement.  Look how cute it is!  I have one on my car (you can see my hand taking that picture) and many other moms do too.  Join the revolution!  To claim yours please email me at april at apriloleary dot com with your mailing address and I will stick one in the mail to you on Monday with a personal note of encouragement.  How often does that happen?  REAL MAIL!  Yes, real handwritten mail…just for you…and feel free to share something about you, your family, your successes your struggles.  I would be happy to respond!
Get your digital copy of Ride the Wave today.  Expires at midnight.2) The second gift is a digital copy of my book Ride the Wave: Journey to Peaceful Living.  In it I describe my challenges as a mother of 3 girls under the age of 5, how I fell into frustration, anger and resentment and how I was able to turn a marriage on the brink of divorce around.  Yes, we are still happily married today.  You can do it too, if you follow my simple system which I have outlined for you in the book.  To get your copy of Ride the Wave: Journey to Peaceful Living (value $8.99 on Kindle) CLICK HERE. Offer expires at midnight tonight.

“What can you do for me?” you asked.  That’s so sweet of you to think of me…I really appreciate it.  If you could share this post with 3 mommy friends with a personal note about the University of Moms and invite them to join us at that would be a wonderful gift..not just for me, but for them too!

You are also invited to download the University of Moms App!  
If you don’t already have it on your phone I hate to say it, but you are missing out!  We have moms in our community from the US, Canada, New Zealand, Europe and as far as Pakistan!  It’s a free download and you can get it in the iTunes and Google Play stores.  On it you’ll have access to our courses, books, daily motivational messages, other free material and more.  We’re here to support you every step of the way!
Finishing School
And if you haven’t checked it out yet, I have put up a ton of free audio classes, interviews, downloadable workbooks and more.  No registration required.  Click the “Finishing School” image to see them.  No email registration required.  I am lowering all barriers to entry just so you can be the best mom you can be.  🙂  Why? Because that’s my way.
I wanted to make sure you saw this one-minute video if you missed it.  Christian did an excellent job catching the feeling of the top ten reasons you HAVE TO come to the Happy Mom Conference.  For more details and EARLY BIRD registration visit  

If you have been detailed enough to read all the way to the end you’ve just found one more way I’d love to support you.  Schedule a free 30-minute coaching consultation.  I’d be happy to hear from you.  Much love to you today and always!  Have a wonderful Mother’s Day.  Treat yourself kindly and embrace the woman you are!  Remember when you are with the University of Moms….being a happy mom just got easier!  Love you all!  April


A Milestone Reached: Reflections from a Happy Mom

Yesterday I heard the dentist say, “Your daughter has no more baby teeth to lose.”  The tears hid inside my eyes and my heart, while happy, sank a bit too.  “Where has the time gone?” I thought quietly to myself.  I’ve been a mom for 11+ years now and although the time has flown there are times that I think back to and wish I could somehow get a ‘re-do’.  Although my degree in Elementary Education and my years of experience with kids before that prepared me for the developmental stages of childhood (and gave me a solid repertoire of activities to keep kids entertained), nothing prepared me for the emotional stages I would go through.  I went from a blissful new mom to just a few short years (and a few kids) later a mom who was overwhelmed, stressed-out and angry.  The moments of frustration that I took out on my girls linger as a sour memory.

For all that we gain with being a mom, hugs and smiles, hands to hold and artwork to cherish, oftentimes we lose something too.  We lose a good night’s sleep.  We lose our privacy.  We lose our autonomy to go where we want and do what we want, even if only for a season.  But sometimes we lose something even more valuable…OURSELVES.  Yes, it is a common trap moms fall into.  Under the umbrella of ‘doing what is best for everyone else,’ we sacrifice ourselves to such a degree, that we turn around and wonder where our carefree days went.  We wonder why we feel clouded over with negativity.  We feel desperate to be a better mom, we WANT to be better, but we don’t know what we can do differently.

So as I walked out of the dentist’s office, my three girls hopping into the minivan, listening to the laughter on the way home, I smiled.  Why?  Because things can change!  I am no longer angry or frustrated or overwhelmed anymore.  I don’t feel guilty taking a break, saying ‘no’, stepping back and slowing down to do what I need to to do take care of myself first.  But this didn’t happen overnight.  In fact, I had to learn the hard way what NOT TO DO in order to come out on the other side smiling.  So if you want to know what you can do to be a happier mom, if you want to enjoy your kids more, if you want to find yourself again and not look back years from now with that regret, “I wish I’d yelled less.  I wish I had smiled more.  I wish I wasn’t so stressed out.” then sign up now for our free 4 lesson Video e-Course where you will learn how to “Find more time for you and be happier too.”

Remember when mom is happy…everyone is happy too!  Now is the time to put yourself back on the priority list and I will show you how.  Sign up below.


A Mom is NOT…a Cup Holder?

This made me laugh!  I couldn’t help but share it with you.  I am sure you can relate with the wisdom the Rhiana shares in her article that was featured last week in the huffington post.  Click here for the original article.

12 Things a Mom Is Not

To my dearly mistaken children:

Over the past five and a half years, you have developed a skewed vision of my job description. When I signed up for a lifetime career as “mommy,” I wasn’t prepared to add numerous new skills to my resume, skills such as expert nose-wiper and dependable garbage-disposal.

That said, I totally understand your confusion. At times, I have openly volunteered myself for each and every one of these tasks. However, you need to understand that I did not sign an ironclad contract to be available at all times for each and every one of these menial jobs.

While I do love you with every ounce of blood flowing through my overly-exhausted body, your bodily fluids and tiresome demands for “right now!” are not as endearing. So, for the time being, please view this as a letter of resignation from the following duties:

1. Wipe rag. My shirt may be white, but it was not made by Kleenex. Next time you are in need of a tissue, I will be happy to point you in the direction of the nearest box.

2. Cup holder. (Thank you, Lisa Belkin)- Just because my hands may be empty at this particular moment does not mean that they are open for service. I would like to introduce you to a new concept: the table.

3. Teething toy. (Thank you Farah Miller)- When you were just a wee babe, I nursed you through the teething pain of your first few teeth. However, you no longer suckle at my breast, and my inner thigh is not a nipple.

4. Chauffeur. Although I may drive you around town from school to swimming to gymnastics, while you lounge in the back seat sipping water from a bottle and thumbing through paperback books, no one has ever offered to pay me for this service. Therefore, there will be no, “Mom, I need to go to my friend’s house right now!” until you tender me a healthy stipend.

5. Personal butler. Notice that only the highest of aristocrats on Downton Abbey retain their own personal butler. You, my dears, are not the Earl and Countess of Grantham, and I am no scullery maid. You can pick up your own socks.

6. Bean Bag Chair. When I am lying on the couch, relaxing after a long day of playing Super Kitties and Uno, this is not an open invitation to leap off the back of the sofa onto my unprotected stomach. Please no not mistake my squishy post-baby belly as any form of jumpable cushion.

7. Olympic Judge. I sincerely do not care who ran faster from the coffee table to the kitchen, and I am definitely not going to adjudicate which of your preformed the better underwater handstand. If you must make every sibling interaction into a competition, I will be in the other room.

8. Royal Food Taster. No one is trying to poison you with steamed spinach. It tastes fine. Just eat it.

9. Canvas for painting. My Scottish heritage may have bequeathed me with a pasty, white complexion, similar to that of a drawing canvas, but it is my pale skin, which I prefer to leave free of Crayola markers and water-color paint. You may use a piece of paper.

10. Short order cook. Not a fan of the dinner I just made? Well, I wasn’t really a fan of the present you left me in your diaper, but I soldiered on and so will you.

11. Make-up model. Yes, there was that one time I allowed you to apply blush and mascara to my face, but in my mind, it was really just a one-time deal.

12. Trash can. I understand that when you finish your kid-size Clif Bar, you truly think, “You know who wants this wrapper? Mom wants it!” Unfortunately, my lovely, little spawn, contrary to the food stains on my blouse, I am not a waste bin.

Now, that we have cleared up the confusion, please excuse me while I go fold your father’s underwear. He will be receiving his own letter soon.

Yours truly,


Rhiana Maidenberg

Writer, wife, and mother of toddlers