INHALE-EXHALE is a mini maga-zine that makes a positive difference in the way parents and kids communicate. It was created to to increase peace of mind, affinity, and connection among the members of your family. This is especially important in an increasingly fearful, disjointed and isolated world.

Today, parents have ample reason to stress over the well-being of their children. From common occurences such as online bullying to tragedies such as shool shootings, parents’ anxiety and stress over keeping their children safe is arguably at an all-time high. These stressors are also being felt by our children. According to the the US Department of Health and Human Services, one in five adolescents has had a serious mental health disorder at some point in their life. In fact, problems with mental health often start early in life, with symptoms being exhibited as early as age 14. It is clear that the progress of technology and the evolution of modern families create a landscape that has so foar been unnavigated.

Enter INHALE-EXHALE . This zine is designed to ease tension by sharing tips from certified professionals, family enthusiasts and parents and kids themselves. Our focus is on minfulness, awareness, and community building. Our promise is that parents will feel increased confidence and connectedness, and young people will feel validated, empowered and inspired in their lives. Finally, every reader will take away skills to communicate powerfully, and tackle the stressors in their lives, leaving them with a sense of comfort and support they are not alone.

The zine is a place for families to find connection, relatedness, and possibility for the future!

To find out more about the INHALE-EXHALE movement and request a copy reach out to the INHALE-EXHALE team at 484 558 0311 or email us Find out more about the project at . Click on the link below to get a look at our first issue!


Today’s Family: Listening for greatness

In today’s modern age self-doubt and multiple points of view are major obstacles to effective communication. This is especially true when it comes to parenting and developing children. Parents who are being too strict or authoritarian can prove to be a hurdle for children to express their own self whereas being too lenient or permissive could lead them down the wrong track.

The secret just might be in how you listen to your children rather than how you talk to them. Here are some ways to talk with your children rather than at them. Talking straight with your kids can help parents to overcome perceived difficult issues in a trouble-free manner.

  1. Listening - Put yourself in your child’s shoes and really try to understand what is going on for them. Listen to them as the perfect, whole and complete humans they are rather than trying to fix them which is how it appears to them. Listen to them for the greatness you know they possess.

  2. Focus on their concerns - What is bothering them? Their concerns are valid for their age. Reserve judgment and explaining or focusing on how something appears to be. What you think it may be is not always the case. We need to give our young people the space to be open. Consider their opinion a valuable one. Allow them to contribute how they see it rather than impose how it occurs for you. Find out what their point of view is.

  3. Get in their world - Too many times as parents we are on autopilot operating from our experience, amount of sleep and sense of humor! Remember what it was like when you were their age? Today’s kids seem so sophisticated and far more advanced in knowledge than we were growing up. That does not mean they are more mature. Maturity generally only comes with time and experience. Wisdom comes when we master something. Be where they are and on their level. Don’t try to change or judge their experience. Just offer support and ask them if they want your opinion or advice. Sometimes they just want to vent.

  4. Talk Straight - I don’t mean talk to them like adults. I mean sit down and tell them what’s really going on for you. For example, when you are tired, don’t pretend to listen. If you can’t give them your undivided attention, set up a time that will work for you to be with them. They will learn you are only human and won’t feel so disappointed when they can’t live up to what seems to them as impossible expectations.

  5. Allow your kids to have privacy - This one seems like a right of passage that has to be earned and parents feel they must know what their kids are up to at all times. What if something happens? How will I know if something is going on? I need to be in control of my child at all times we think and worry about how to keep them safe. Your kids need space to be kids alone and with peers. It’s where they learn accountability, self-sufficiency and that you trust them.

  6. Say you’re sorry - Kids are so forgiving and get off of things much faster than we do. Let them see you make mistakes and admit you don’t have all the answers at all times. And that’s OK. You don’t have to be the perfect parent and you don’t have to have perfect children.

  7. Decide what kind of parent do you want to be - the optimum word here is be. Who you are being as a parent will have a direct impact on your parenting style and child. They will model after your behaviors. If you want your kids to learn generosity, it comes from seeing you share. If you want kids to learn honesty, it comes from you being truthful. There’s a beautiful poem by Dorothy Law Nolte “Children Learn What They Live” that encapsulates this perfectly.

  8. What is your stand for your family - What is your commitment? Come from that every day and you can’t go wrong. When you parent and listen from what matters to you most - love, respect, kindness, togetherness - pick one and stick to it.

You’ve got this. All there is every day is to love your children for exactly who they are and watch them thrive and continue to want to impress you and share with you who they are and who they want to be in the world.

Today’s Family: Tech time limits

Time change and cooler weather are upon us. As the nights grow longer and the temps get lower, we tend to want to snuggle up with ...our technology! So what’s a parent to do?

According to a 2014 article by Nick Bilton in theNew York Times, Apples’ Steve Jobs was a low tech parent and there are a number of other technology chief executives and venture capitalists who strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, allocating time limits on weekends, not allowing screen time in anyone’s bedroom, and some who don’t even allow their children to have their own devices. Oh my!

As passionate as I am about this subject, I must admit I stunk at enforcing screen time limits. Both of my highly intelligent and strong-willed children denied my pleas over and over with excuses like, “We need it for school, our teachers put assignments online and on Facebook, or I have a text study group I need to be on.”

It’s still worth it to keep trying despite the rejection. See if any of these tips inspire you:

Set the Example. How do children learn the things they do? They model their parents when they are younger and their peers as they get older. If they see you reading a book, they are more likely to read. And if they see you watching television, so will they.

Be the Parent. It is your job to encourage healthy behaviors and limit unhealthy ones – sometimes this means making unpopular decisions.

Set Limited Viewing Times. If you are not going to turn off the television completely, choose the appropriate television viewing windows for your kids. It is much easier to limit their viewing habit if they understand that they can only watch one show in the morning and one show after school (as an example).

Encourage Other Activities. And provide the necessary resources. It’s so easy to give in to our children’s demands to use their devices but if you offer an alternative, they have more choices.

Play with Your Kids. Get down on the floor with your kids. I wish I had those moments back when my kids asked me to play Barbie or pet shop. Anytime spent with your child in make-believe play is priceless and stimulates their imagination.

Be Involved in Their Lives. For many of us, let’s face it. It is sometimes just easier to turn on the television. Observe what your children are up to, listen, ask questions and be there...really there.

Cut your Cable/Remove Your Television Completely. It’s much easier to set limits when there is no access. Reduce your cable plan down to a basic viewing package or even be so bold as to remove all tv’s from your home, at minimum your bedrooms. Try a little experiment of no TV for a week and watch what happens.

Observe Your Child’s Behavioral Changes. Technology use has an immediate impact on your child’s behavior. Irritability, aggression, selfishness and impatience are all behavioral changes to note and signs a child has had too much screen time.

Value Family Meals and Car Rides. About two-thirds of young people say the TV is usually on in their household during mealtimes the time when real connection and affinity can take place. The car is another easy place to use TV or screens to occupy our children and keep them quiet during the ride but this is a time when you can be actually engaging in real communication with a captive audience. These times are invaluable.

Limiting your child’s screen time may seem like an impossible chore or it may seem like a battle that is too difficult to fight but it is worth fighting.

Implementing just a few steps right away will help you implement the others. The more you enforce limits the easier it will get and the more compelled you are to continue actually enjoying the freedom and ease that happens as a result

Praise children when they make good decisions on their own about their viewing time. Enlist them to help you create policies that everyone can live with. The bottom line is more about what screen time has replaced and as a result what are our children missing out on and just as important what are we missing out on with our children.


It’s Back to School and for many families, a time of stress, worry, and anxiety. It is a return to

scheduled wake times, multiple activities, minimal free time, and utter chaos. How do I get my

kids back on a routine that works after the carefree days of summer?

Don’t let your anxiety have you this school year! Consider telling your stress and worry, “I’ve got

this,” and take on looking at the the most hectic time of year (next to the holidays) as a new

beginning full of possibility for calm, peace, and yes, ease!

Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” In other words, if you

want order and joy in your morning routine imagine just that. Come from what you would like to

see happen rather than what you don’t want to happen.

Here’s an example of how this works. I am not a morning person. Therefore, the world I am

creating has me NOT be a morning person and my waking hours are miserable. Creating the

possibility of being joyful and calm in the morning has me seeing things from a whole new


Here is my back to school list for creating families that thrive, not just survive by counting down

the days until winter break!

Live in the moment. Anxiety is always based in the future. When we look at all we have to do

the list seems insurmountable. Stay in the moment at the task at hand and know that you will

get it complete one moment at a time. Thinking about all the things you have to do keeps you in

your head where anxiety lives and this will prevent you from getting into action.

Be creative. There are many solutions to a problem. Hear what all family members have to

contribute to the situation. Consider something newly from the way you use to do things that

didn’t work! Have a family meeting once or twice a month where everyone gets to share their

complaints and suggestions. Be open to listen to your kids as if they are capable and


Enlist help. Have each family member pick a task that they can commit to. When they don’t do

it, accept that they were ineffective rather then they have failed. What can they do to be more

effective next time. Think of your family as a team!

Simplify. Deal with one thing at a time and don’t sweat the small stuff. Kids see you trying to

manage a to do list of multiple items at once and think they need to do the same. Although we

pride ourselves on our versatility, the truth is, it is not effective to multitask. For kids, thinking

they need to do it all at once quickly stresses them out and costs them confidence.

Demonstrate self care. If you follow one point from this list, make it this one. Considering the

busy lives we all lead these days. Self care must be scheduled in. Each person in the family

should have a space for their own personal downtime every day. A persistent complaint here is

that there is not time. Consider this: for every one hour you spend in self care you will double

the amount of energy you have and create a clearing of space in your head to take on whatever

it is you have to tackle each day with ease! To avoid crisis, chedule a weekly family “happy

hour” and check in on everyone’s mental health.

Foster independence. As parents, moms particularly, we tend to have a “I’ll do it myself and it

will get done quicker” mentality. It may take some time to model and teach your child how to do

something but the freedom you gain back and the empowerment you gift your child, is


Create a screen time policy. Be the example of what you want your children to learn. Think

about who your kids are modeling with their screen time use. I noticed on my cell phone bill

recently that I actually do three times more texting than my kids do.

Eat for nutrition. Meal time can be disastrous for busy and working families. Have the whole

family get involved in meal planning, prep, and shopping. I wish I had these tips when my

daughter was young and would only eat foods that were white. Instead of freaking out, I could

have encouraged her to join me! Forgive yourself for grabbing fast food occasionally. It

happens. Avoid packaged foods and sugar as much as possible. Make small changes where

you can. Provide ready to pack snacks like nuts and nut butters, fruit and cut vegetables, sugar

free protein and veggie bars. One night a week, cook or do lunch prep together. Let kids be

responsible for planning or making one meal a week. Have breakfast for dinner. Eat dessert

first as a monthly treat! Have a theme night once a month. I still do these things with my girls

even know they are out of the house.

Do I do all of these things well? Of course not. It’s the commitment you make to your family

everyday that counts the most. Take on one thing from the list this month and work together to

make it happen. Let me know how it goes. I have your back…pack!

Let’s connect on social media: Instagram @ DailyKimE or Facebook @ Today’s Family by Kim

Engstrom for counseling advice, tips for modern families, relatable content, and shareable feel-

good messages! If you’d like additional support this school year, contact me about my Back To

School Program and see if it’s a fit for you and your team!

Today’s Family: Are you destroying trust?


The best way to know where your children are is to ask them, right?

I remember a time when I had to work late, and my kids were home alone. They were of the age when I could trust them to be by themselves but was still concerned that something could go wrong and they wouldn’t know how to take care of it. I asked them to check in with me every hour or so to reassure me they were doing okay and to ease my mind until I could get out of work.

“Sure mom,” they said. “We can do that.”

First hour no message. Second hour no message. My thoughts went from “those darn kids forgot to text me” to outright pure rage and terror that the house was burning down and I wouldn’t know it. Needless to say, by the time I did reach them they knew I was not pleased. But they are kids. And if I had a GPS tracking device, knowing they were at home would probably not have made me feel any less anxious.

I prefer to keep track of my kids the old-fashioned way: with my intuition, faith, trust and conversation. I often use the analogy that our children are like kites. We let out the string and watch them fly and flutter. When they get out of control, we reel the string back in a little. When the kite steadies, we let the string out a little more.

While parents may disagree about whether or not to use GPS tracking with their children, it is undeniable that constantly keeping tabs on our kids is time-consuming and anxiety-inducing. Some may even consider it an invasion of privacy. The effort, however, is sometimes worth it to parents who worry about the safety of their children, or perhaps to parents who suspect their children might not be honest and forthright about where they are when you or they leave the house.

In my opinion, people aren’t meant to be tracked. If it works for you, just be sure to not let it replace the bonding and trust building that needs to occur between families. Let the birds leave the nest and learn how to fly all on their own. You will still be there to catch them if they fall, and let them fall so they can build confidence. I feel if I monitor my kids in all the ways technology allows that I’m not only hindering their growth but mine as well. They need to learn to fly solo and I need to learn to let go.

Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or a work-out-of-the-home mom or dad, space away from each other is a natural and necessary part of growing up. I’m already way too into my kids’ business when they are around me. When they aren’t, I look at it as time we all need to be on our own in the world. It’s out there where we learn to navigate, make smart choices, learn from the bad ones, and enjoy time with our peer group. The freedom our kids get to experience when they are away from us is an integral part of their development.

When you question your children, they hear that you don’t trust them. Tracking devices may provide a false sense of security by making us think we know what our kids are up to at all times. The truth is, knowing your child’s location is only a small part of the picture. They might be where they said they would be, but I haven’t yet seen the app that actually tracks what they are doing while they are there.

Kids need to learn how to keep themselves safe as well. I’ve learned that when your child doesn’t respond to your text it is generally not personal. They are busy too and not always on or near their phones like you think they are. I know in theory parenting is a 24/7 kind of job, but kids need space to be kids and parents need a break from parenting.

As your kids get older you may feel the loss of them not needing you as much and tracking them can help you feel closer to them and their whereabouts. Consider that as they get more freedom, so do you. The time I gained back not having to be the solo taxi driver allows me to embrace loosening my grip a little. My job as a parent is not done. It just gets to shift to friendship, honest communication, fun and sharing.

I’m excited that my kids are learning to navigate the big scary world out there all on their own. They even help me get around town now and encourage me to spread my wings. They give me advice that I really use. They finally know that I do trust them and that my number one concern is their safety and wellbeing.

Consider how you might be keeping your kite from flying. I’d love to hear from you and know what you think about this or any other topic

Getting your kids off the couch

Who has started counting down the days until back to school? Are the kids starting to bounce off the walls yet, complaining about their boredom? I have mixed emotions about the summer months. I love the first week after school gets out and celebrate no alarms or schedules and eat ice cream for dinner. Then it sets in. Lazy, hazy days begin to turn into the crazy, dazey nights and the longing for routine and planned activities starts to creep in.

Don’t get me wrong. I love summer in general and I think overall, it’s my favorite season. Warm weather, easier workload, vacation, longer days, the beach and working from home in my flip-flops. By now I’ve learned to accept that my kids stay up into the wee hours and sleep until noon. I tried that myself for about a week and had to return to my mundane routine rather quickly. Despite acting like I was a teenager, my body said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Here are some suggestions for keeping summer (and your kids) alive.

Take on a volunteer gig. Not only does this look good on college applications, it’s a proven way of increasing empathy. There are many organizations that can use your time, expertise and physical power. Homeless shelters, animal shelters, food banks, and many charities and nonprofits like the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army rely on the work of volunteers to carry out their mission. Call local branches of these organizations to find out if teen volunteers are welcome in your area. Be really ambitious and start your own volunteer organization.

Always wanted to learn to paint or do standup comedy? Take a class at a local community center or community college or night school.

Start a business. What do your neighbors need help with, mowing the lawn, childcare, running errands, pet sitting, painting, cleaning out the basement or garage? The list is endless here. I remember my kids started P & S Child and Pet Care Services and started caring for one family's dog and then each of their three children for many years!

Join or start your own meetup. Have something to teach or share with others? Get a group of people together weekly.

Start a walking or jogging group.

Clean or redecorate your room. Making a transition from elementary to middle school or beginning high school or college is a perfect time to clean out old memories and make space for your new image. This activity alone could take up the whole summer break.

Arts and Crafts aren’t just for summer camp and preschoolers. DIY projects like sewing, embroidery, knitting, making your own CD’s, or greeting cards are fun to do as a family.

Start a gaming tournament or puzzle marathon.

Eat plenty of ice cream and take a break from scheduled meal times when possible. Let kids be in charge of meal planning and learning to cook. This will come in handy during the school year as well.

When all else fails, use your imagination, something that gets diminished from too much screen and downtime. If parents aren't careful, our children and especially our teens can waste an entire summer without learning or accomplishing a darn thing. Summer lethargy and brain drain will set in before you know it and can be very difficult to reverse.

Happy Summer.

Q & A  What's the difference between a Life Coach and a Counselor?

When people are seeking help they often get confused about who they should be talking to.  Education and certification are forms of credentialing and theory and approach styles vary from person to person.   
For example, I have my Master's Degree in Counseling Education with a certification in Secondary and Higher Ed Counseling.  I'm a Counselor by title - a coach by style which is more directive and cognitive and in collaboration with my clients needs. 

A Life Coach discovers what a client wants and figures out what is getting in the way of them having it . Together a plan is created to get around the obstacles and get into action! 

Rather then make a decision based on title or credentials alone, a more useful approach might be to ask yourself these questions when searching for the right fit in a support person:
Do I want someone to just listen to me ?
Do I need validation?
How much interaction and feedback do I want from the person I'm working with?
Do I want to explore my past? Or do I prefer a more here and now approach?
Do I make decisions with my heart or head? 
Do they offer an opportunity to meet them or talk on the phone first before making a committment? 

Overall, the important thing is that you feel comfortable and that you can trust this person.  That feeling may be instant or may take a little time to develop.  Without it though, you won't be as open to share.  Counselor or Coach, being in a safe space able to direct what is helpful and what isn't should be an important part of the process. 

I check in with my clients on this often.  I value our time together and want you to get the most out of it - whatever that is for you! 

After all, it's about having a life YOU love! 


Today’s Family: It’s not your journey


I recently returned from the family vacation of a lifetime to Europe with my two daughters, ages 19 and 22. One is a recent college grad and the other, completing her freshman year. We had talked about this celebration trip several times — their high school graduation, turning 18 and 21 and various spring breaks but this was the perfect timing as the recent college grad unsure about her next steps needed inspiration and the rising sophomore was ready to show me what she learned being on her own.

I once read, raise your children to be someone you want to hang out with when they are adults. I wasn’t sure the significance of that until after spending two weeks together with only two disagreements, mostly brought on by pure exhaustion and resolved rather quickly. This was the ultimate test of togetherness. This new chapter of their lives and mine gets to be one of fun, joy and celebration for the adventures ahead because they don't need me to parent them any longer. They still need and ask for my support, acceptance and unconditional love but they don't necessarily need my advice.

Meeting so many young people in Europe brought us closer to the awareness of the stress that our children endure almost from birth. Getting them into the best preschool, half day or full day kindergarten, public or private school, and the intense focus on academics because they have to get into a “good” college if they want to get a “good” job someday. When that someday arrives for your college graduate, the pressure only intensifies to land the job they have been preparing and studying for since age 4.

Young people outside of the USA don't experience these pressures as much. The late teens and early 20s are for exploration of who they want to be in the world. The conversations were more about the celebration of their accomplishments, seeing the world while they had a chance, sharing transitions with their peers and broadening their perspective of what options are available to them. It’s a time to identify personal values — sometimes and often separate from those of their parents. Parents are concerned their children will not be able to support themselves. Young adults have that same fear but are looking for the answers via their newfound independence and self-discovery rather than on job search sites and career centers.

Your children are unique and highly qualified individuals who despite all of your best efforts and preaching and teaching, must discover for themselves who they are.

The beauty of this time of life is you get to sit back and watch them flourish into the human beings you worked so hard at raising and nurturing.  You now have to let them try and make it on their own which means lots of trial and error and mistakes and decisions that may not be the exact path you want them to take.  There are many paths and life is about the journey, not the destination.

The memories of our sightseeing will perhaps last a lifetime. The takeaways from the experience and personal growth are only just beginning. The knowing there is so much more out there is priceless.

Make it your honor to be there for your children and to recognize it's their journey.

Today’s Family: The language barrier


Do you ever feel like you and your kids are speaking a different language?

I work with teens and young adults who are either entering or exiting college, and their parents. I often find that both parent and child want the same thing — connection. They are just speaking a different language to get it. As a parent myself, I’ve learned that all the wisdom, love and patience in the world doesn’t necessarily mean our children are hearing what we are saying.

Chances are, we are parenting from what our parents did or the total opposite. Neither strategy may be the best. What worked for us growing up may not be appropriate for our children now. And the opposite sometimes suggests that you are not setting boundaries in the areas where you thought your parents were wrong.

The ultimate goal every parent strives for every one of their children is to see them thrive, be independent and safe. You want your children to be happy and successful. What we perceive to be the keys to happiness and success may not necessarily be the best choices and only path to our children’s contribution to the world.

Here is a list of five positive parent strategies that will encourage and inspire the young people in your life to live up to the natural born potential.

  1. Let your child experience risk and make mistakes.

In today’s society, our number one concern has probably become the safety of our children. The older they get, the more time they spend away from us. This is necessary for them to learn to think on their own, to make mistakes they fix on their own and gain the confidence to try new things. If we didn’t fail, we wouldn’t know success.

Kids need to learn from not winning that giving their best effort is what is just as important.

  1. Wait to jump in and rescue

Our natural born tendency as parents is to help — with homework, learning the rules, being their best and eating healthy. And what they learn from that is if I have a problem, an adult will fix it for me. We don’t want to see our children suffer, but it is in that suffering that they learned to navigate the world of hardship. It is in that world, that they learn how to problem solve, think for themselves and gain the satisfaction of success and the feeling of "I can do this." The real world isn’t made up of people who will jump in and rescue them. Rescuing sets up our kids to be victims, not leaders. It’s important to offer praise for a job well done, and it’s also important to take a step back and let them solve their own problems.

  1. Give recognition where recognition is due.

The self esteem movement that started in the 1980s was designed to make people feel special, appreciated and valued. Low self esteem contributed to poor behavior so it would only make sense that high self esteem would lead to rewardable and acceptable conduct. The movement in some ways backfired and the repercussions of over-rewarding and the "the everyone gets a trophy" mentality is not necessarily setting up our children up for success but only to get a reward. Definitely, catch your children doing good rather than pointing out their faults but also acknowledge them for whom they are being and their efforts and not just what they are doing.

  1. It’s okay to say no or not now.

We can find all kinds of reasons to give into our children. It’s easier than arguing sometimes. We get tired of repeating ourselves and think our kids just don’t listen. Meaning what you say and saying what you mean teaches your child accountability If they know you will give in, and they will keep trying until you do, they lose respect for you. Children won’t tell you they need structure and discipline, but they do. They need to learn there are consequences for poor behavior. Practice what you preach — be consistent.

You are a parent and your job is to parent. Raise your kids to be someone you would want to hang out with when they are adults. That’s the time you can then be friends.

  1. Share stories of your life and mistakes with your kids.

Kids don’t mind hearing how it was for you growing up. It lets them know you get it and that you were actually a kid once, too. We tend to want to communicate with our kids from the lessons we learned and how we think they should do things a certain because that’s how we learned to do it. Tell them how you handled things and let them think for themselves how they could handle it. You can share with them the relevant mistakes you made when you were their age in a way that helps them learn to make good choices. Say to them, "This is how I did it. What would you do?" Recognize what they are dealing with by empathizing with them and telling them, "I’m here to help if you need me."

You do not need to be the perfect parent or have the perfect child. The best way to instill values in our youth is to be the example you want them to learn. Allow your child to become the people they want to be. In "Children Learn What They Live: Parenting to Inspire Values," Dorothy Law Nolte said, "If we encourage them to become the people they want to be, we will have the great privilege of glimpsing the world through their eyes. When we allow them to give the gift of themselves, they grow rich in confidence and our world is made richer and fuller."

Real Moms, Real Life : Feats of Real Eats

Thank you to Beth and Andrea of Real Moms, Real Life for having me as a guest on their podcast! What an honor to be a resource for them ! Mental health care and nutrition go hand in hand ! Take care of your mental health and the rest should fall into place!  Learn what to look for in the diagnosis of anxiety and depression and how to be your own advocate when it comes to your well being. Click below to listen to their Podcast.