5 Reasons I’m Looking Back With Gratitude

I have a personal holiday tradition that I began spontaneously a few years ago. On one of the nights between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I sit up late in our living room, basking in the glow of scented candles, shimmering Christmas tree lights, a blaze in the fireplace, and the music of the Chieftains or one of our other Celtic CD’s. I imagine myself in a cozy, wintery cottage in the Irish countryside (a place I’ve never actually visited) in a distant century. I linger for an hour or so, mesmerized by the magical sights, sounds, and smells. Blissful.

My family, no doubt, thinks I’m wacky, but they give me my space.

This year, I held my private ceremony on Christmas night. We had enjoyed a full day of celebration and laughter. My husband and I had successfully accomplished all we’d busily prepared for these last weeks. (Too busily, actually. To my chagrin, I can never seem to achieve “doing less and reducing stress” this time of year, as much as I wholeheartedly endorse the idea.)

The cousins had left, and our three children were peacefully dawdling in their rooms. My husband was relaxing in bed with his crossword puzzle.

I took my moment…rearranged some candles in the living room, put CD’s on shuffle, and seated myself in a comfy chair next to our Christmas tree. I was only a few minutes into my reverie when I felt an unexpected surge of emotion. Giving way to it, I was suddenly sobbing. My heart felt like one of those crepe paper gift balls, but instead of spilling out magic fish, plastic charms, and other cheap trinkets I was unraveling layers of joy, grief, fear, relief, and everything else in between, emotional highs and lows that had over the past year been wrapped up into one.

That was when it hit me… 2014 has been an unusually intense year of growth, both personally and professionally.  Here are a few of the highlights:

I am now a veteran blogger

2014 was my fifth year of blogging. My site was visited more than 4.6 million times in 2014. Compare that with 265,000 visits back in 2011 (which was at least 4 times as many visits as my first year of blogging, 2010, but my records are too faulty back then to know exactly). My articles are being translated into five languages.

Most popular posts of 2014:

3 Reasons Kids Don’t Need Toilet Training

Don’t Leave a Testing Toddler Hanging

5 Reasons We Should Stop Distracting Toddlers (And What to Do Instead)

Share… Wait Your Turn… Don’t Touch… Playdate Rules That Limit Learning

9 Best Ways to Stay (Mostly) Unruffled With Toddlers

Most popular posts since 2010:

No Bad Kids

Ten Best Ways to Encourage Toddlers to Talk

9 Reasons Not to Walk Babies

I Think I Know Why You’re Yelling

The Key to Your Child’s Heart

 (There’s a good possibility I’ll be including the word “reasons” in the titles of all my future posts. For obvious reasons.)

I have books

I published my first book in May, the second in September. Both are comprehensive collections of my articles and have succeeded far beyond my expectations. Neither would have been remotely possible without my editor husband’s enthusiasm, commitment, and diligence, as well as cover designer Sara Prince’s immense talent and generosity. Thanks to Alejandra Hayes, a Spanish translation of Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting will be available in 2015. 

Classes and consultations

This is where I find my bliss. I hold the parents and children I’ve worked with very close to my heart. You have no idea how much I learn from and are inspired by you.

Speaking engagements

Is it possible for an introvert to love public speaking? Probably not. But thanks to the brilliant coach I met a few years ago, Michael Cooke, I’ve been able to rewrite a story I’d been telling myself my whole life: that I’m incapable of speaking in front of more than half a dozen people. Michael’s encouragement has given me the freedom and confidence to speak in front of hundreds, and even to feel like myself when I’m doing it. This is not a sales pitch. I want others know that it is possible to completely change your story.

I’m crazy about my family

This was the year we saw our second child off to college. Our oldest will be graduating this coming spring. I couldn’t imagine a more apt description of “bittersweet” than the feelings we’re left with when our children take these major steps forward. Family time has become increasingly precious, which is why I’ve been taking more breaks from online stuff than usual. It’s also the reason that for the first year since our oldest (now 22) was born, I didn’t send out holiday cards. (Ouch. Really feeling the pain of that one right now, but something had to go.) Which reminds me…


I would love to be the kind of person who has no regrets. I’m not. I regret that. I also regret that I can longer fool myself into believing I can respond to more than a fraction of the emails and messages I receive. And yet, your questions and comments are all very important to me.  I guess what I’m feeling are growing pains.

Looking forward

There’s a book I’ve been wanting to write that I believe will be extremely helpful to parents, and I’m hoping 2015 will be the year I finally make the time to dig in and get going. The idea behind the book reflects my entire focus for the upcoming year: Help. As I see it, my mission is to help make parents’ and children’s lives easier, more interesting and enjoyable, and, ultimately, successful. I feel blessed to have found a role in life that I am completely comfortable with and feel fully equipped for. If you’ve ever read my blog’s “About Me,” you’ll know that wasn’t always the case.

And that reminds me… I forgot to mention what I felt when I got to the center of my unraveling crepe paper ball: deep, rich, high-as-the-heavens, mad-crazy gratitude.

So, thank you all. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Your uplifting messages always seem to appear at the perfect time. A special year-end gratitude shout-out to my courageous friend Lisa Sunbury and all the parents and professionals who have allowed me to share their inspiring stories.

Peace and Joy to you all this New Year!




(HUGE thanks to Ken, Maritza and Penny for the thumbnail photo of me hard at work. Penny, there are no words to describe the magic of your spontaneous hugs.)


Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. you’re an inspiration janet! so beautiful that your work has reached so many! may it be 20 million in 2015!


    1. You are so kind, Jennifer! Thank you for your online camaraderie and all the positive messages you share. I wish you and your family the very best for 2015!
      x Janet

  2. Jennifer Lillas says:

    Happy New year Janet
    Loved your tradition and just want to say thanks so much for your wonderful blog and advice. I am a Kindergarten teacher and use your articles and website as a great resource for parents and fellow teachers to check in on.
    From all your followers I thank you so much for your wise words and discussions.
    Regards Jennifer

    1. Happy New Year and thank you, Jennifer! I’m thrilled to know that your Kindergarten staff and parents find my posts useful. Your support means a lot. Blessings to you!

  3. Thank you Janet! Visiting your classes at RIE was one of the highlights of my year.

    I’m also grateful for the insights I’ve gained through your writings on parenting. My son exudes confidence, happiness, curiosity and kindness. These concepts work! I’d noticed the effectiveness in other children and now I know for myself as a mom. Yes…grateful!

    1. That’s fantastic to hear, Lisa! Your visit was an honor. I loved meeting you. And yes, these concepts definitely work, which is why my commitment to this work feels so clear and simple.

  4. Janet, thank you for everything you give all of us. I am a better parent and person from what I have learned from you. My wish for 2015 is that I can get to the center of my crepe pape ball so I can better help my son find his centeR. Happy New Year Janet!

    1. You’re so welcome, Lauren! I want to hear more about your son needing to find his center… I think I can help with that!

      x Janet

  5. Lisa Mazzetti says:

    Hi Janet- Jack and I miss you and our class so much! I learned so much from you and am forever grateful for the time we spent with you. Thank you for sharing this beautiful moment- I loved reading this.
    Wishing you an even better 2015! (if that’s possible)

  6. Thank you Janet for explaining RIE in such a simple and beautiful way. 2014 was the year I started practicing RIE. Your articles are the go to guide for me whenever I feel overwhelmed by parenting. Thank you and may you reach many more millions of parents and babies.

  7. Dear Janet, what a beautiful reflection. Thank you for sharing that! I feel blessed to have been your childhood friend and double-blessed to have reconnected as adults! I remember when you started your BLOG! You are a huge inspiration to me and the work I do! It is amazing how things have come around in this circle of life! Love you and I love what you do! You are a blessing to all that read your blogs and books! Love, Lynn

  8. Janet,

    You are one wonderful, exceptional and remarkable human being. There is a reason you are widely followed, read and loved … it is simply because you are you and you share from your incredible heart. Once again I thank you for ALL that you are, all that you do and how beautifully you share!

  9. goodness! such a beautiful post…
    i’m honored to have been a little part of your 2014!!

    here’s to a great 2015!!


  10. Janet,
    Happy New Year! Thank you so much for your blog! I am so lucky I found it when my now three year-old was one. You have really helped us through challenging times and wow, just my son express his emotions and sportscasting things he cannot yet say has been so powerful. Neither my husband nor myself were raised this way. We are really chartering new territory and we are so lucky that my mom has been really supportive of the way we are respecting our son. This is completely foreign to her as it is to much of our extended family which tends to be very authoritarian and use corporal punishment. We are hoping to show that there are other alternatives to that method. You’ve helped us become better parents. Thank you, thank you, thank you. P.S. I just got your new book in the mail and I can’t wait to dive right in!

  11. Mary-Beth Manning says:

    Janet, I was so touched by your beautiful letter to all those moms and dads who read your blog and letters. I am grateful for YOU, for helping me through a challenging year when my dad passed away and for helping me to savor the beautiful moments with my two year old son despite the grief and despair. My husband and I wished and prayed for Ray ( named after my Dad) after years of struggling to adopt. At fifty one I am a proud ( although tired ) momma and I feel blessed to know there is a place to go ( beyond my RIE class) to learn on a daily basis about the gift of parenting. I no longer feel as guilty ( still working on this though 🙂 when I take time for myself and I know too, as a result of your writings that 51 or 21, all moms struggle with fatigue and patience. I look forward to your new book ( I’ve got the last two and gifted a few more ) and I wish you and your family a New Year filled with much love,contentment and joy.

  12. Alison Ellis says:

    Your words and most importantly your clear plans of action have been so helpful to me as a first-time parent. I know that I am calmer and without a doubt a more effective communicator with my toddler due to your advice and wisdom. Thanks for all you do for us!

  13. Erika Cedillo says:

    Happy New Year!! And I hope you receive much more inspiration, health and strength to keep doing your fantastic job. I am also one mom that has found great answers and ideas for raising two little girls that are my whole world and for whom I want to be a better mom. One of them has a developmental disorder and your articles have helped us a lot to go through situations that are challenging, to say the least. Your articles are fantastic and usually they arrive right in the perfect moment.
    Thank YOU and my best wishes!
    from Vancouver, Ca.

  14. Janet, What a great read to start the day this morning! Full of inspiration and gratitude! Thank you for your ministry! You certainly have ministered to me and ultimately my husband and kids-Thank you! Sincerely, Sherra

  15. Elanne Kresser says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful reflection. It brought tears to my eyes. I am so deeply grateful, beyond words really, for the way your work has supported my family. I feel blessed to have the strong, intimate, authentic and loving relationship I have with my daughter. I’m the best mom I can be and I owe much of that to what I’ve learned from you, RIE and Magda Gerber. You might know that I’m a fierce social critic and political activist (sometimes too fierce and fiery — Sylvie comes by those qualities honestly) and there are times when I feel profoundly despondent about the world today’s children will inherit. One of the things that gives me hope is knowing that there is a critical mass of children who are being raised with emotional intelligence and who will grow into self-reflective, strong, empathic, thoughtful human beings. I really believe this is one of the only ways social change will happen. Your work, and the work of everyone who is transforming child care, is of boundless value and will live on through the generations.

  16. Libby Meehan says:

    Janet, what a lovely post! All the best to you and yours in 2015.

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