Manner Monday®: Practice, Practice, Practice… even with Manners

I receive phone calls on a regular basis from moms with young children wanting to know if we offer programs for younger kids (our programs currently start for 5th graders and go all of the way up to grown adults). The callers are always asking for tips on how to get their little ones to sit through dinner and to use their table manners.  I find myself answering time and time again… practice, practice, practice.  As a parent, we have to start somewhere by setting Expectations, providing an opportunity to Practice, and Repeat.

Start off by asking yourself what are your expectations?  Keeping in mind that the expectations need to be in line with our child’s age and social development; if your kiddo is a toddler, what can you truly and reasonable expect of him? Whatever the desired outcome is, it’s not going to happen overnight – but it will happen over a series of many nights, and many meals. Practice.

Think about it in relation to dance or sports.  You would not send your son to his first t-ball game without going to practice first.  You wouldn’t let your daughter participate in a recital without first attending dance class.  Same with table manners, you can’t expect your child to ‘perform’ at Grandma’s house or out to eat at restaurant if you haven’t given them the tools to be successful.

We still have a LONG road ahead of us with our 9 year old.  But I was tickled pink to see him stepping up to the plate and knocking it out of the park during our recent cruise.  When we went to dinner in the dining room, he looked the waiter in the eye when placing his order.

BV ordering

He stayed seated (what!?!?!?)… at home I keep threatening super glue for his seat to keep him in his chair at dinner time.  He said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to the waiter and other crew members. And, he used his silverware like a little human.

BV cutting food

Was he perfect?  Absolutely not.  Did he meet the age-appropriate expectations, pretty darn close!  I’m not going to lie… super proud mom moments!

Something we find tremendously helpful is having conversations prior to ‘performance’.  During these conversations we talk about our expectations and ask questions; we talk about what’s getting ready to take place. We’re setting him up for success by giving him a preview, kind of like a dress rehearsal, or practice. Do we still have to prompt him? … Yes. But for the most part, it works! Here’s a picture of the process working.  One night we were lucky enough to enjoy dinner with our friend, Tommy, we used to work with on cruise ships years ago.  Before the dinner, we explained to our son that there might be times during the conversation that he may get bored; and if that happened, what could he do to entertain himself. So we put pen and paper in my purse, and he knew he could help himself to it.  And he did!  We also let him head off to the kids club after he finished his meal.  For us, sitting and chatting for an hour and half is fun.  For a kid – that’s painful.

Dinner with Captain Tommy

And just in case we were feeling a bit too ‘proud’… we were brought back to reality when we returned home and he commenced to standing up while eating and randomly walking around the table… it’s a constant learning process; Practice, practice, practice!!!

I’d love to hear – what are your favorite tips to set your kiddo up for success when it comes to table manners?

Click to Tweet:  You can’t expect your child to ‘perform’ good manners if you haven’t armed them with tools for success. bit.ly/TblMnnrs #MannerMonday

And always… thanks for reading!
– Carey Sue


On another note…

Have you seen our end of the season video yet?  Thank you to one of our Student Ambassadors, Presley Rhea, for creating the video this year!

And if you’re curious as to why I was verklempt at the end of the video, you can visit this link to read the story: http://bit.ly/SrSpotCT

The highest compliment you can give us is a referral to your friends and coworkers. Please share our registration and contact information with any families you think might be interested in participating in our program.

Each year we build on the previous year as we add to the curriculum.  We have many students who continue with us each season, from our Level 5 (5th grade) program through our Passport (High School) Program.  Our goal with the continuous exposure, and gentle reminders, of the courtesies we teach over consecutive years – is to assist you in raising well-mannered young adults.

  • Continued Exposure:  Just as continued exposure to athletics and school homework reaps rewards; continued exposure to the social skills taught in our program will provide lifelong lessons that will benefit your child throughout the classroom and into the boardroom.
  • Benefits and Rewards:  One of the biggest rewards of our students returning year after year, is the virtual ‘light bulb’ that seems to turn on and stay on; the students are really starting to get it and they are very proud of themselves.  Their confidence is building.  We’ve highlighted some of our graduating seniors on my blog at www.CareySueVega.com/?s=senior+spotlight

For more information click on the links below:
5-8th Grade Programs
9-12th Grade Programs
General Information
www.ExpeditionsInEtiquette.com

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Cruise Ships, Etiquette, Family, Family Dinner, Manner Monday, Manners

Manner Monday®: Packing for a Cruise with Julie and Gopher

Happy Memorial Day from the M/S Norwegian Getaway!   We are SOOOO excited to be on a ship again!  It’s been 15 years since Ricardo and I worked for NCL, so we thought it was about time to enjoy cruising as a passenger (not as a crew member).

We are having so much fun showing our son, Billy, what we used to do for years before moving to ‘land’ and starting our family.  For those of you who may be new to Manner Monday and don’t know our story yet, I worked for Norwegian Cruise Line for 10 years.  Starting as a Youth Coordinator and working my way up to Cruise Director (yes, think Julie McCoy).  Ricardo worked for the company starting at the Front Desk (the front line of customer service) and worked his way up to Hotel Director (yep, he was Gopher!)  He had been with the company for over 7 years when we met as crew members on a ship that sailed out of Houston, Texas in the late 90’s (cue the Love Boat theme song).  After dating for a couple of years and working on different ships – it was when he was on a ship in Hawaii, and I was on another ship in Egypt – we decided we needed to move to land and ‘get a life’.  So, we decided to ‘drop anchor’ (pun intended – I can’ t resist) in Oklahoma City during 2000.  That year, not only did we get married, but we bought cars, got ‘jobs’, and started figuring out what the real world was like as far as insurance, utility bills, grocery shopping, and everything that comes with being home owners.  It was overwhelming to say the least.  But we are really glad we decided to land in Oklahoma City, we love it here.

Last week, as we were telling friends that we were heading out on a cruise, everyone asked ‘are you packed yet?’  And as I answered no, ‘I’ll do that the night before’ –  most everyone looked at me with a strange look on their face.  I guess after packing to be away for months at a time for so many years, we kind of have it down to a science.

A few friends asked for some packing and cruise tips, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites.

Packing and Planning Tips for a Cruise:

Fly out the day before if you can:  Of course the majority of the time your flight is not delayed and everything goes as planned.  But for a cruise, if you’re flight is delayed, there’s a good chance you will miss the ship.  And if  that happens, you’ll be stressed trying to figure out how to meet the ship at it’s first port of call.  Not fun.

You really don’t need that much stuff:  A few mix and match pieces for evening.  Maybe a ‘formal’ outfit (check the website of the line you’ll be sailing).  A few mix and match pieces for day.  Two or three pairs (no more) of shoes that will work with everything.  Swimsuits (more than one so you’re not trying to put on a wet swimsuit everyday) and sport sandals for walking to and from the pool/beach. I have a pair of old-school Teva’s I’ve had for years that are perfect! Not only are they good for getting you to the beach, but they’re great in the water if there is rough terrain.  If you like to workout don’t forget a couple of outfits for the gym.  Don’t forget a light jacket or wrap, it can be chilly at night and in the air conditioning. I always keep a pashmina in my carry on ‘just in case’.  A hat is also a great accessory to bring.  Once you have picked out what you would like to take, take a hard look at everything and whittle it down.  The cabins are not that big and you really don’t have a lot of storage space – so lighten your load and you’ll be happy you did.

Ziplock Baggies:  These are the best travel accessories you will ever have!  They’re obviously great to keep liquids corralled, but they’re also great to pack your clothes in and they help to save space.  I suggest buying the extra large 2-gallon size, the 1 gallon size, and the quart size.  The quart size is great for small bottles of liquid, stockings, undies, etc.  I use the larger gallon and 2-gallon bags for clothing.  I can pack two-three mix and match outfits in one of the 2-gallon bags, then squeeze the air out and throw it in a suitcase.  For my son (9), we take his outfits and roll them together; shirt, shorts, undies, socks, and stuff them into a baggie.  It makes it so easy for him to pull out an outfit and go.  The baggies help to keep things organized and they also provide an extra barrier of protection from luggage that may have been caught in the rain, or a bottle of lotion that exploded and made it’s way out of it’s little baggy.  And don’t laugh at this one – but you can put your smartphone inside of a ziplock baggie to protect it from water and sand and still be able to talk and text on it.  You just need to remove it from the baggie before you take pictures!  They’re also really helpful in keeping dirty clothes compartmentalized for the return trip.

Divide and Conquer:  When placing your clothes into the suitcase, divide your outfits and put them into different suitcases. For the three of us, each suitcase will have a few outfits for each person instead of each family member having all of their stuff in one.  Again, you hope everything goes as planned, but when you show up to the ship and a suitcase doesn’t…I’ve seen ‘lost luggage’ situations way too often – not fun.  If you find yourself with lost luggage, head to the front desk, they will be able to help you in some way.  They may not be able to find your suitcase, but they will more than likely be able to help with a small stipend for something in the gift shop and they may even have a few items of clothing to loan you. Hopefully the airline will find your luggage and it will meet you at your first port of call.

Carry On:  Realizing that carry on’s are limited by the airlines, you’re going to have to be very creative.  I suggest packing at least one or two outfits in your carry on.  Remember the part just above about lost luggage… you want to be prepared just in case.  Plus, it usually takes quite awhile to get your luggage to your room.  By having the items you’ll need as soon as you get onboard in your carry on, you will be able to venture out and explore the ship without waiting for your suitcase and a change of clothes.

A few items I leave in my carry on for every trip (land or sea):  a short extension card.  It never fails, the outlets aren’t where you need them.  And I keep my toiletry bag packed and ready to go at all times.  When I return home from a trip, I refill the small bottles of soap, lotion, etc., and repack my toiletry bag so it’s ready to go.  This saves a ton of time every time I pack, even for camping trips or weekend getaways.  Throw in some of those ‘command hooks’ and they give you extra hanging storage wherever you need it and they won’t damage the walls. And last bust not least, duct tape!  Wrap some duct tape around a sharpie, and you can MacGyver just about anything!

Toiletries:  Unless you’re a crew member signing on a ship to work for a four month contract, you really don’t need the Sam’s size bottle of shampoo and lotion!  Take a look at what you need, and transfer it to smaller containers.  Most ships offer shampoo and conditioner if you need it.  If you have to have a particular hair dryer, bring it.  The small hairdryers found in your cabin will work, but they’re definitely not like your favorite.

Leave room for souvenirs:  Don’t stuff you luggage so full that you don’t have room for a few souvenirs.  Even if you are not planning on doing a lot of shopping, trust me, you’ll end up with something extra to bring home. We won’t talk about the rugs, china, crystal, samovar, drum and many other things I bought while traveling 😐 but I always found a way to get them home! :-)

Packing for Shore Excursions:  Make sure you pack a small tote for heading ashore or trips to the pool, you can throw your ziplock baggies in the tote that has your sunscreen, phone and cash and you’re ready to go.  If you’re planning to do a lot of snorkeling, you may want to consider bringing your own gear.

Important Documents:  If you need a hard copy of your boarding documents, don’t forget to pack it in your carry on.  Keep copies of everything on your smartphone.  Take pictures of your passport, drivers license and any other important documents and save them to your device in case something goes missing.  While you’re at it, take a picture of your kiddos so if you get separated you can easily access a picture to show anyone who may be helping you find the little vagabond.

Books:  If you plan on reading while you’re on vacation, don’t forget to pack your book (a ziplock baggie is great for books too!)  If you read books on your smartphone or tablet, make sure you download them before leaving.  You don’t want to eat up expensive onboard data charges because you forgot to download your favorite book.  And while you’re at it, make sure you charge your tablet at home before you leave so you’re ready to go!

Once you’re onboard…

Learning your way around the ship:  It can be overwhelming, some ships are bigger than the small town you may live in!  Look closely and pay attention to the details, often times different decks will have different colors in the carpet.  Sometimes the carpet may have a pattern that points forward.  There will be little things that can help you if you look for them, artwork, sculptures, and other landmarks will be helpful in finding you way around.  Ask crew members to point hidden landmarks out to you – they’ll be happy to help!

Just because there is a line – doesn’t mean you have to stand in it!  This obviously doesn’t have anything to do with packing, but it will make your experience onboard SO much better!  Not sure what it is about lines, people see them, and think they have to get in line or they’ll miss out.  Find out first ‘why’ people are standing in that line.  If you don’t ‘have’ to be there standing and waiting, then don’t.  Go and do something else!

Vernacular:

  • It’s a ‘ship’ not a ‘boat’  :-)
  • Port – is the left side of the ship when facing forward (four letters in left, four letters in port).
  • Starboard – is the right side of the ship when facing forward.
  • Forward and Aft – Front and Back.
  • Poop Deck – it’s a funny phrase for the kids (and grownup kids) to get a chuckle out of.  Historically, the poop deck is the deck that forms the roof of a cabin built in the rear or aft part of the ship.
  • Fullfart – another great one for the kids.  It’s Norwegian for ‘Full Speed’.  And yes, I’m apologizing now to the many families when back in the day as a Youth Coordinator I taught that phrase to their kids :-/

And if something does go wrong, don’t demand to speak with the Captain!:  You’ll get much farther going to the front desk and being nice to the crew member waiting on you.  Trust us!  We’ve seen it all, and we can promise you, the nicer you are, the better off you’ll be, and the farther you’ll get!!!

I hope you found these tips helpful, if you enjoyed them – please share with your friends!

BillySailaway2

Click to Tweet: Just because there is a line: doesn’t mean you have to stand in it! #MannerMonday has more cruise tips for you! http://bit.ly/Packing4Cruise

And always… thanks for reading!
– Carey Sue


On another note…

Have you seen our end of the season video yet?  Thank you to one of our Student Ambassadors, Presley Rhea, for creating the video this year!

And if you’re curious as to why I was verklempt at the end of the video, you can visit this link to read the story: http://bit.ly/SrSpotCT

The highest compliment you can give us is a referral to your friends and coworkers. Please share our registration and contact information with any families you think might be interested in participating in our program.

Each year we build on the previous year as we add to the curriculum.  We have many students who continue with us each season, from our Level 5 (5th grade) program through our Passport (High School) Program.  Our goal with the continuous exposure, and gentle reminders, of the courtesies we teach over consecutive years – is to assist you in raising well-mannered young adults.

  • Continued Exposure:  Just as continued exposure to athletics and school homework reaps rewards; continued exposure to the social skills taught in our program will provide lifelong lessons that will benefit your child throughout the classroom and into the boardroom.
  • Benefits and Rewards:  One of the biggest rewards of our students returning year after year, is the virtual ‘light bulb’ that seems to turn on and stay on; the students are really starting to get it and they are very proud of themselves.  Their confidence is building.  We’ve highlighted some of our graduating seniors on my blog at www.CareySueVega.com/?s=senior+spotlight

For more information click on the links below:
5-8th Grade Programs
9-12th Grade Programs
General Information
www.ExpeditionsInEtiquette.com

 

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Cruise Ships, Manner Monday

Manner Monday: Does the ship generate its own electricity?

During the 10 years I worked on cruise ships, I heard many “interesting” questions such as:

“Do these stairs go up or down?”

“Which elevator takes me to the front of the ship?”

“Does the ship generate its own electricity?”

Yes, I really did…. And yes, they always made me chuckle a bit internally.

I was reminded of these questions the other day when I was speaking to a group of students who are participating in a dropout prevention program.  We were talking about first impressions, handshakes, posture, and how important manners and etiquette are in our every day lives.

The students had so many questions about everything.  They were so eager and hungry to learn and they were taking in every bit of information possible.  They had questions about my recreation degree and how in the world a girl from Oklahoma ended up working on a cruise ship.  It was so much fun sharing information with them and talking about all of the possibilities available to them.

We talked about all of the different people who work on a ship; the fact that the ship is a floating city had never really been on their radar.  The ship needs electricians, engineers, wait staff, chefs, hair stylists, massage therapists, room stewards, nurses, doctors, entertainers, and the list went on.  We were talking about the accountants, the IT department, computers and cash registers when one of the students said “hey, wait a minute, how does the ship get electricity?”

That single question -which I used to always think of as comical- immediately brought the big picture into focus for me.  Remember your audience; remember who you are speaking to and remember to keep it relevant and in terms your audience will understand.  So often we live in our “world” and become accustomed to what we are used to and forget how big of a world it really is.

What do you take for granted as understood in “your world”?  Please share, I would love to know…

On another note:  Are you low on personalized stationery?  We’ve made it easy for you to order more.  Please visit:  www.MannerMonday.PaperConcierge.com we have hundreds of styles and designs from which to choose.  We also have darling place mats that help the little ones in your life get a jump start on their table manners and make dining more fun.

Please visit my post ‘What is Manner Monday?’ to learn more about how to make the most of Manner Monday. Do you have a ‘manner’ you would like to see covered on Manner Monday?  Feel free to send me your thoughts.

And, of course, please share ‘Manner Monday’ with your friends and colleagues. If you would like to subscribe to my newsletter and receive ‘Manner Monday’ in your inbox, please enter your email address in the ‘Subscribe to Newsletter’ box on the right.

Thank you for reading Manner Monday!

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Manner Monday

Manner Monday: Thank you

Thank you.
Learn to say ‘Thank you’ in a new language to someone you interact with this week.

While working on Cruise Ships, I have to admit that I was not completely fluent in any language other than ‘Oklahoman’. But I did make it a point to learn a few key phrases, such as ‘Thank you’ in many other languages. Trust me, it goes a long way if you make the effort.
Here are a few:

  • Tusen Takk: Norwegian
  • Spasiba: Russian
  • Mauliate: Philippino
  • Sagol: Turkish/Cyprus
  • Grazzi: Maltese
  • Dank schön: German
  • Merci beaucoup: French
  • Cheers: England
  • No Problem: Jamaican… ok, so it’s really ‘Thank you’… but it seems as though in Jamaica, ‘No Problem’ is what you hear most :-)

Have fun…and remember, trying is half the battle!

Do you have a ‘manner’ you would like to see covered on Manner Monday?  Feel free to send me your thoughts.  And, of course, please share ‘Manner Monday’ with your friends and colleagues.

‘Thank you’!

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Manner Monday

The Beginning

How did it begin?

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, ‘how did you become an etiquette expert?’  Well, that’s a great question, but not such an easy answer.  I guess it started with all of the women in my family, my Mother, Granny, Grandmother, Great Aunts, Aunts, etc.  I have fond memories of using the ‘real stuff’.  We always used ‘real’ plates, ‘real’ napkins, and ‘real’ silverware.  They always had an effortless way of making you feel special when you were in their homes.  Nothing was ‘put away’ in closets.  Things were always out and ready to be admired, loved and put to use.

It even goes back to the men in my family, my Dad, Grandad, Grandpa, and many Uncles.  My Dad always takes off, or at least tips, his cowboy hat when meeting a lady.  He takes his hat off when we walk into a restaurant.  He always expected the boys to come all of the way up to the door and get us, no honking from the driveway was even contemplated by our suitors.

The many lessons my parents and extended family taught me during my adolescent years actually paid off!  I remember the first opportunity I had to ‘teach etiquette’.  It was during my Recreation Internship at South Seas Plantation on Captiva Island, Florida.  Part of the internship program was designing and implementing programs for the Recreation department.  One of my programs was “Manners Madness”.  We had a fun evening of food and games for the kiddos.  They came dressed in their vacation ‘finest’ and we served chicken fingers and other yummy goodies while addressing the very basics of appropriate behavior.  The parents loved it, the kids loved it, and I loved it because it because my supervisor was happy with the results!

The next phase in my ‘training’ came while working on cruise ships.  One of the most fun individuals I had the opportunity to work with was Ray Williams, an English Butler turned ship concierge.  As a Cruise Director, I was in charge of all of the onboard activities.  So, Ray and I tag teamed for an afternoon activity titled “Table Manners and Party How-to’s with your Cruise Director and Ray the Butler”.  We had SO much fun.  Over the course of numerous weeks of presenting with Ray, he taught me many of his butler tricks-of-the-trade.  (I know Ray will be the topic of future blogs…too much information to share in any single setting!)

The official ‘Etiquette Expert’ training came once I made the transition to ‘land’.  We moved to Oklahoma City and met Suzanne Pointer.  She had started the local chapter of The National League of Junior Cotillions.  Upon meeting Suzanne, she invited us to become partners with her, as she knew our background would be a perfect fit.  Soooo, off we headed to Charlotte, North Carolina.  We went through the official training course to become certified directors for NLJC and here we are.

I guess I have to say though….It all began at home.

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