2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Families with Depression & Anxiety

I love Christmas. Yes, presents and gifts are wonderful, but I love the closeness of family, the yearly traditions, and of course, the food!

We have a few traditions that we follow each year. First, we watch all of The Santa Clause movies, usually after Thanksgiving. This year we started on November 1. Second, we always decorate Christmas cookies. This year we’re talking about making small gingerbread houses too with vanilla frosting and graham crackers. I have 2 teenagers and an 8-year-old in the home and we still enjoy these traditions. I’d be doing these things even if my kids weren’t here. 😉

This year I also want to begin a tradition of bringing to you a Holiday Gift Guide, geared towards families who live with the challenges of mental wellness and special needs. If you have any ideas you would add to the list feel free to do so. Leave a comment below or share on my Facebook page or in the group, Choosing JOY.

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Stocking Stuffers for Kids

Many of these items have been helpful for my kiddos with ADHD and Autism. All of my kids enjoy Mad Libs and Therapy Putty. These are both great items to have with you on a long car ride. We also stock these items in my son’s backpack for church or when we go visit family and friends.



Gift Ideas for Kids

Our family loves playing board games and my youngest plays with play-doh, kinetic sand, and has used playfoam in his occupational therapy appointments. The Action Bible is great for kids, as it’s written in comic book form. We purchased our son his own Kindle Fire, along with the Kindle Freetime package. It’s free for the first month and then you pay a subscription price each month after that. Believe me, it’s worth it!




Gift Ideas for Moms & Teen Girls

The gifts featured here are meant to help you and your family relax and de-stress. I highly recommend the 2 books – Jesus is Calling and Battlefield of the Mind. We also use essential oils in our home to help create a peaceful atmosphere. My youngest teen daughter loves her sound machine, which helps her sleep at night. Many of you know that I display positive quotes and Bible verses in my home as a way to combat my own depression. And who doesn’t like to color? My oldest teenage daughter enjoys coloring, just like my son does.








10 Free Tools to Help Calm Your Angry or Anxious Child

10 Free Tools to Help Calm Your Angry or Anxious Child


Last week in my group, Choosing JOY, I held a Facebook LIVE where I talked about how to handle anxiety in your home. (To view this video, click the link here.) I mentioned in that video that I would share the top tools we use in our home to deal with anxiety and anger. When you have a child who can explode at any minute, it’s a huge help to have a list of tools at your disposal.

Pray with Your Child

This is not only helpful for your child but for you as a parent as well. 🙂

Take a Bubble Bath 

This works wonders for our middle child.

Pet a Dog or Hold a Cat

By far this method works the best for our son with ADHD and Autism. It’s a great distraction for him, and our 65-pound black lab is A-MAZING with our kids.

Rip Up Paper

This is another great tool for my son.

Punch a Pillow or a Bed

Our oldest child who is now a teenager uses this method when she’s angry or upset. She’s our neurotypical child who can get easily frustrated with her special needs siblings.

Weighted Blankets & Pillows

Although you can purchase these, and they can be expensive, what we do in our home is use what we have. My husband will take a few heavy blankets and all of the pillows on our couch and pile them up on top of our son. He loves this, especially while he’s playing on the iPad.

Call a Friend

Our middle child does this when she’s anxious. Not necessarily to talk about the issue that’s causing anxiety but just to chat with a friend.

These last three methods we’ve used with success in our home as well. These are probably more for younger children than older ones.

Calm Down Bin

Calm Down Yoga

Belly Breathing

For a comprehensive list of methods and tools to use in your own home, download the free guide, “51 Ways to Calm Down Your Angry or Anxious Child” by clicking on the image below.


51 Ways to Calm an Anxious or Angry Child





10 Free Tools to Help Calm Your Angry or Anxious Child



5 Common Lies Women Tell Themselves – I Am Responsible for Everything

5 Common Lies Women Tell Themselves - I Am Responsible for Everything

As women, this statement right here gets us every time. I’ll use myself as an example.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve said things like “I have to do everything around here!” or “No one helps me. They’re fine with letting me do all the work!”

My middle daughter tells me often, “Mom, I offer to help you and you say no. And then 15 minutes later you’re complaining about how you have to do everything.”

You know what I call this? Martyr syndrome. Yup, I’m acting like a martyr.

A martyr is “someone who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs”. Now I am not making fun of martyrs, not one bit. But when I say things like “I have to do everything!” I am acting like I’m sacrificing myself for the cause. The cause of what? A clean house? Clean laundry? Running errands? Running my kids to and from drama practice/cheer practice/games/parties?

No thank you. I’m willing to sacrifice myself for my family but not in the name of winning the “Best Mom” award.

I’d love to be able to answer the question of WHY we do this to ourselves. Why do we as women sacrifice ourselves for stupid things? (Yes, I said stupid.) Why do we feel like being the best mother, best employee, best wife, best business owner, best neighbor or best volunteer means we have to be and do all things for everyone? That is INSANE! And that is a recipe for a mental or nervous breakdown. (Trust me – I know this all too well.)

While I cannot answer the question of WHY, I can answer the question of HOW. How do we stop ourselves from accepting and believing this lie? How do we take a step back and gain perspective on what is truly important in our own lives? And remember, what is important in your life, may not be important in someone else’s life. Therefore, NO JUDGING! I’m totally talking to myself here too.

What can you do and how can you stop taking responsibility for “everything”?

It’s actually quite simple. Most of us need to get our of our own way before we can follow these steps.


This step right here is one of the first things I teach my clients in my “Control the Chaos: Home Management” coaching program. 

Ask for help. Get your family involved. Every single person in your home can pitch in and help out. Create a chore chart for you, your spouse, and your children. If you’re not married or have no children, ask for help from friends or co-workers. We were never meant to live this life alone.


Stop doing what is not necessary. Does the living room have to be vacuumed every day? Will your child suffer tremendous torture if you don’t take her to her friend’s house for the weekend? (She may think so – lol!) Will your husband go to work naked if you don’t do that huge pile of laundry on the bathroom floor? Stop taking responsibility for something that is NOT your responsibility.

Here’s the tough question: Which of these options, “ASK” or “STOP” do you have trouble practicing the most? A reminder for you as well – This is not something that will change overnight. It will take consistency, determination and letting go of your pride (that’s me!!) in order to change the habits you’ve been practicing for years.

If you know you need help in this area, or you’re not sure where to begin, click on the link below to schedule a free phone chat with me. We can chat about what needs to happen in your life and your home so you (and your family) can live a less stressful, more closely connected life together.


Free Strategy Call


Join us over at Choosing JOY, where you’ll find daily encouragement and support because we were never meant to “do life” alone.

Facebook Group - Choosing JOY


5 Common Lies Women Tell Themselves - I Am Responsible for Everything

3 Strategies to Strengthen Your Relationships Through Depression

I am honored to be guest blogging for Katie Trudeau over at Cor Domum: Navigating Life & Parenting with Joy, where she writes about all things gentle parenting, real food, and natural living.

It was 2:00 am. I had just nursed my daughter for what seemed like the 10th time that night, and she would not go back to sleep. So naturally, I reacted with anger. I left her in the bedroom with my husband while I went downstairs to have a temper tantrum. Slamming cupboard doors, yanking dishes out of the sink, and throwing pillows across the living room.
This was my life for the first 8 months of my newborn daughter’s first year. I had waited 5 years to have my first child. We were ready and we were both excited. So when we brought her home I was expecting sweet baby cuddles, joy-filled moments, and a heart that was overwhelmed with love for my child.

Needless to say that did not happen.

The first year of her life was a cycle of anger, guilt, and self-condemnation. This continued for days, weeks and then months, until my husband finally suggested I go see the doctor. Once I did, changed everything. She totally understood what I was going through and placed me on a plan towards healing.

During this time, I realized I had been experiencing depression all my life. It was especially difficult after the birth of my first and third child. Through medication, counseling, and help from my family, I’ve been able to win the daily battle with depression and anxiety.

Now that others know more about our story, my husband and I have been asked often, “How do you support someone who is going through this life experience?”

My family has had A LOT of experience helping me through these times. There are many ways my family and friends have helped me, but there are 3 key strategies that my family has implemented that help me every single day.

You can read the rest of the article here >>> 3 Strategies to Strengthen Your Relationships Through Depression, over at Katie Trudeau’s blog, Cor Domum: Navigating Life & Parenting with Joy.




Join me for my newest course, 5 Keys to Winning the Daily Battle with Depression & Anxiety. This course is designed to help you create your own unique strategy for living a life of true peace and real joy.

Course launches April 1, 2017.