Posts Tagged ‘connected parenting’

Over the past week, my youngest son has planted seeds with me.  He has carefully chosen seeds that he likes: watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, basil with the hopes of them growing into big and strong plants.  We have a plot at a community garden as well as a raised bed on our second floor balcony which my husband made.  He asked that his melon could be planted on the balcony because in the past year the animals have always gotten to the melons before we have.  He wants to protect them. He doesn’t want to have to pick them before they are ready, when they are too small and not ripe, simply to avoid having them bitten into.

 

And so with this in mind, knowing that his plants may not make it to full fruition, he planted the seeds anyway.  Knowing that there is only so much he can do to protect these plants, he patted the soil down anyway with hopes that in planting the seed and starting the growth, good things would happen.

 

And so it is with life.  We plant the seeds, knowing not all of them will make it, but hoping they will and doing what we can so that they do anyway.  We don’t give up at the start, not bothering to plant the seed.  We hold fast to our intentions, our hopes and our dreams, nurturing them with our belief in them, and in ourselves, our ability to bring them into fruition.

 

And so it is with parenting; we do what we can to bring our children up with a belief in themselves to reach their dreams, even against the odds.

 

We need to prepare the vessels that contain them.

Nourish.

Give them space.

Protect.

Remember only what is important.

Allow them to grow.

That is how we parent

 

 

Today I’m pleased to have Shel of ElfWench Studio sharing her thoughts on parenting

 

Tell us a little about your family

I live with my husband Shawn and our two kids in Sitka Alaska.  Jason aka The Squirrelman is 9 and Angelina aka The Diva is 3.  Jason is all about building things, computers, and books.  Like a lot of kids with ADHD he is scary smart.  We’re fairly sure he is going to be an engineer someday.  Angie is our creative force of nature.  She loves to dance and draw.  She will probably grow up to be a cross between Fancy Nancy, Angelina Ballerina, and  Zena Warrior Princess.  We also share our home with a spunky black cat named Midnite.

 

 

Describe as best you can what kind of parenting style you use.

If I had to put a label on it, I would say intuitive.  We have no real set style and go with whatever seems to work.  I tend to evolve and adapt how I interact and react with my kids based on who they are at any given moment.  I had to laugh when one day my son’s OT asked me to come and talk to a group of parents whose kids had similar issues.  She said “whatever your secret is, I want you to share it with the other parents”.  She was astonished when I said I didn’t have a secret, I just do what feels like the right thing to do at that time.  Just as a I would with anyone else.  Why should my kids be any different?

 

What do you see your role is as a parent?

I see myself as a guide and I hope, a role model.  I very much believe in letting my children be who they are and not what I or anyone else thinks they should be.  We want them to figure out their hopes, their dreams, their own ambitions.  I see it as my job to encourage them in that while showing them how to honor other people for who they are as well, no matter how different.

 

 

What has been the most difficult part of parenting for you and what helped you through this?

I won’t lie, I am not a patient person.  I can’t tell you the number of times I catch myself getting overly impatient with my kids.  I find that making sure to get some quiet “me” time in every day helps a lot.  Even if I have to put on a movie for the kids and lock myself in the bathroom for 10 minutes.  Sometimes it means writing in a notebook, listening to music, reading the news, or even crying out my frustrations some days.  Stopping what I’m doing, closing my eyes, and counting to 10 is also a trick I use frequently.  Believe it or not, it helps.  A lot.

 

What has been the most rewarding part of parenting?

Hugs.  Definitely the hugs.  That and watching them grow, explore, and become kind, amazing little people.

 

Twenty years from now, looking back at yourself as a younger parent, what helpful message would you share with yourself?  What might you say to other parents?

Chill out and don’t be so hard on yourself.  Don’t worry about the dirt and let them run around naked to their hearts content. Kids aren’t and shouldn’t be “by the book” so don’t sweat what “The Book” says.  The book isn’t doesn’t know your kids and isn’t raising them, YOU are.  Trust YOU. 

 

And give yourself a hug.

 

About Shel

To sum me up nicely: Wife, mommy, gamer, goddess, meat/dairy free, wench, history nut, bibliophile, photographer, artist, maker of shiny the things, tattooed, pierced, small biz owner, crazy for yoga & the sea breeze.

Where to Stalk:

Twitter www.twitter.com/theelfwench

Facebook

www.facebook.com/pages/ElfWench-Studio/125344074235597

ElfWench Studio www.ElfWenchStudio.com

Namaste

Shel

 

 

If you like this post and think other parents would benefit from hearing different parenting voices please use the share buttons below!  Be sure to join  us next Thursday for another inspiring glimpse into parenting on the Listen to the Beat Within Guest Parenting Series!

I am so happy to share with you today a guest post by the lovely and inspiring Karina Ladet of Karina’s Inner Space. Karina shares with us her thoughts on parenting from a multicultural perspective.

 

Tell us a little about your family

My name is Karina and I live with my husband Olivier and our two children, Gabriel (almost 6) and Lou Kalliste (almost 3) in a small village in the South of France. We’re a pretty multicultural family as I am a Cuban born Swede with a Swedish dad and a Romanian mom, and my husband is French. Being from different cultures means that my husband and I regularly “discuss” what is the “right” way to do things, ha, ha! I am pretty sure most couples deal with that but it seems like an extra challenge for us as we have been brought up in very different ways.

 

Describe as best you can what kind of parenting style you use.

Wow! My parenting style started out very influenced by attachment parenting and I love being physically close to my children. With the arrival of our second child I have become a little more detached and I now allow myself more time for myself and I respect my own space more too… My husband has been brought up in a more traditional way and we have talked for hours about how to balance a traditional style with a more hippie-inspired one ; ). When we became parents for the first time we realised just how opposite our views on education were but I am happy to say that we have now (almost 6 years later!) found a good balance that works for us and our family.

 

What do you see your role is as a parent?

To be fully present with my children as much as possible and to walk my talk. I try to let my children be as free and independent as they need to be and also respect my need for boundaries. I see children as perfect and whole human beings when they arrive in this world and my task is to be there next to them when they need me. I try to communicate with them in a respectful way and let them express any feelings that they need to let out. I also realise more and more that it is so important that I live my own life and do things that make me happy because my children also learn from that. My view of my role as a parent seems to evolve with time. Nothing is rigid, everything can change.

 

What has been the most difficult part of parenting for you and what helped you through this?

Oh! When my son was born he became the centre of our family and I was so in tune with his needs (or what I thought were his needs : ) that I completely forgot about myself. What helped me was to talk to other parents and to my husband. He is so much better at respecting his own boundaries and kept telling me it was ok for me to take care of myself too. I became so much more relaxed after that! Now I take it easy and try not to be too hard on myself

 

What has been the most rewarding part of parenting?

All the Love in my life! And getting to know two amazing young people. They have taught me so much about life and about myself. Going through pregnancies and giving birth has given me access to an incredible internal strength. After my son’s birth I felt like Superwoman! Anything was possible after going through that.

 

Twenty years from now, looking back at yourself as a younger parent, what helpful message would you share with yourself? What might you say to other parents?

 

• Take care of yourself too! You don’t have to do something big but give yourself some me-time every day.

• Ask for help when you need it! You don’t have to do everything on your own.

• Allow yourself to be human with good days and bad days. It’s ok not to be Supermom every day. Children don’t need perfect parents. They need loving and caring parents and then you can work your way from there.

 

 

Karina Ladet

 

 

 

 

is a channel and happy hippie-at-heart. She offers one on one readings, workshops and (soon!) e-courses where you can learn how to communicate with your guides and angels. Visit her on her blog Karina’s Inner Space or connect with her on facebook
 

 

 

 

 

If you like this post and think other parents would benefit from hearing different parenting voices please use the share buttons below!  Be sure to join  us next Thursday for another inspiring glimpse into parenting on the Listen to the Beat Within Guest Parenting Series!

 

Today we have a guest post from the creative Leah Piken Kolidas of  the Blue Tree Art Gallery & Creative Every Day. Leah shares her insights into being a new parent  of  her 9 month old baby.

 

 

Tell us a little about your family:

I live with my husband, Andrew, our 9 month old daughter, Annabelle, and our four cats near Boston, MA. I’m a part-time artist and full-time SAHM. We are over the moon about our little girl!

Describe as best you can what kind of parenting style you use:

We’re just at the beginning, so I imagine some of our style is yet to be determined. I know that we want to have a household with open communication, lots of nurturing, and creativity.  We want her to feel loved, supported, and encouraged. I want to be firm and consistent with certain things and more flexible (room for discussion) on others. Right now, while she’s young, parenting seems to be mostly about creating routines and a safe, loving environment in which she can thrive.

 

What do you see your role is as a parent?

I see my role as being a loving, supportive, encouraging, and consistent person in her life. Someone who will provide a safe, loving home, where she’s able to express herself, ask questions, and grow. I also see myself as being a role model, so that she learns by example, from watching my relationship with my husband and with my relationship with my work.

What has been the most difficult part of parenting for you and what helped you through this?

Thus far, it has pained me most to see her cry. Working through getting her to fall asleep on her own was a real challenge for me, but with some support from my husband and friends who’ve been through it before, we found a way to help her through the transition and we’re all sleeping better now!

What has been the most rewarding part of parenting?

Watching her grow and learn is absolutely fascinating. Also, the look of love in her eyes, when she sees my husband and I, is the most heart-melting experience. I know that she feels loved.

Twenty years from now, looking back at yourself as a younger parent, what helpful message would you share with yourself?  What might you say to other parents?

To myself I’d say, nothing can truly prepare you for becoming a mother. The beginning is hard, but don’t doubt yourself. You’re going to be great parents. To other parents, I don’t feel like I can share any real words of wisdom at this point. I guess I’d just say, welcome to the adventure!

Leah Piken Kolidas

is a mixed-media artist living near Boston with her husband, their daughter, and their four cats. She sells her artwork at www.BlueTreeArtGallery.com and leads creativity challenges at her blog, www.CreativeEveryDay.com. You can also find her on twitter: @leah_art.

If you like this post and think other parents would benefit from hearing different parenting voices please use the share buttons below!  Be sure to join  us next Thursday for another inspiring glimpse into parenting on the Listen to the Beat Within Guest Parenting Series!

Today I’m pleased to share the wonderful honesty of Michele Fischer from Finding Your Voice and Big Dreaming Entrepreneur.  

Tell us a little about your family

My family consists of me and my husband, our 14 month old daughter and a menagerie of fur kids that include 2 dogs and 4 cats.

Describe as best you can what kind of parenting style you use.

I am intuitive. I don’t follow any style as I found most parenting books annoying (I used to throw them across the room when I was pregnant) because I just felt they made things seem so impossible. EVERYTHING was a big deal (Oh no don’t paint the nursery pink because you will prejudice the child against other colors!!!). I personally look at my daughter and do what feels right. My husband and I both are followers of a loose routine and consider ourselves very adaptable.

What do you see your role is as a parent?

I consider myself to be more of a guide to letting her become the best person she is meant to be-whatever that is for her! I sit back and watch what interests her. For example like she LOVES books! She will sit with them and “read” them out loud to herself-so I buy her more books. Next week if she likes blocks I will foster that. It’s not about pushing something down her throat because a book or society says you should.

What has been the most difficult part of parenting for you and what helped you through this?


Dealing with extended family has been the biggest challenge. Suddenly family members we see 3 times a year wanted into our lives and I struggled with that. I love my time with those closest to me and am very protective of it. What helped me through it was just talking with my husband-A LOT and figuring out what worked for our family and how we could compromise to allow other people to be a part of our daughter’s life. It is an on-going adjustment.

What has been the most rewarding part of parenting?

Watching her learn, smile, explore. Knowing that I get to guide her on this journey is an amazing feeling.

 

Twenty years from now, looking back at yourself as a younger parent, what helpful message would you share with yourself? 

What might you say to other parents?

My message to most parents is to remember that a “good” parent is a happy parent. We don’t have to be martyrs and there is no shame in saying “I can’t do this I need help.” If you are running ragged, exhausted and feeling as if you’re always sacrificing for your family-how are they going to feel? I would hate to think my mother gave up everything to raise me. I want my daughter to remember parents that enjoyed life as much as she does; parents who pursued dreams and hobbies, had meaningful friendship and knew how to not only take care of ourselves but her as well.

I often think of something I heard a long time ago. When you are on an airplane and the flight attendants are doing the safety instructions-they always say, “be sure to put on your oxygen mask before you try and help anyone else including small children.” Bottom line is if you can’t breathe, and you pass out what good are you to anyone? Same thing is true with being a parent. You need to care for your children and YOURSELF. After all kids learn much more by example.

Michele Fischer

In her own words . . .


I am a writer, coach, seeker and entrepreneur with a variety of interests. I dream big and jump tangents and love the whole process of creating!
Website: Finding Your Voice and Big Dreaming Entrepreneur
Facebook page: Finding Your Voice
Twitter

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it,
I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

 

 

 

If you like this post and think other parents would benefit from hearing different parenting voices please use the share buttons below!  Be sure to join  us next Thursday for another inspiring glimpse into parenting on the Listen to the Beat Within Guest Parenting Series!

 

Today I am thrilled to have my dear friend and yogini Carrie Hensley  of Dharma Connections share her parenting wisdom with us today.

 

 

Tell us a little about your family

We are a sweet family of three, my husband Chris, our son Drew, and me. We live in sunny Mesa, Arizona. We own a yoga studio & café, which has provided some fertile soil to stretch our relationships, provide Drew with his first job, and grow closer together as a family. We love anything outdoors from kayaking to four wheeling to camping. Currently, we are in the beginning stages of launching, as Drew is a sophomore in high school.

 

Describe as best you can what kind of parenting style you use

I would describe my style as holistic.  I have always tried to view Drew as a whole being.  Having taught yoga for fourteen years, I have come to understand the power of letting go of my expectations in order to create the space to allow Drew to become who he was meant to be.

 

What do you see your role is as a parent?

My role as a parent continues to evolve through the different ages for Drew. Right now, I would consider myself to be more of a guide than a parent. He is at a stage in his young life where he needs to begin to spread his wings of independence.

 

One of my greatest parenting mentors shared with me that, between the ages of 14-21, you want to treat your child like you would your best friend. Instead of getting irritated at him when he calls saying he forgot his homework, I ask myself what I would do for a friend. This particular instance happened about six months ago. Drew forgot something that was worth a good portion of his grade. I could hear the stress in his voice over the phone. He is an A student, on the track team, and even did a leadership program at Stanford this past summer so I was grateful for an opportunity to show him that I trust and believe in him. About two days later he forgot something else. I did not receive a phone call. When he recounted the story, I asked why he didn’t call me. He said he should have learned his lesson the first time around. This whole experience taught him that not only can he count on me but also that he has to depend on himself.

 

What has been the most difficult part of parenting for you and what helped you through this?

For me, the most difficult aspect of parenting is letting go of control. Often when there is resistance or a certain desired outcome, fear is lurking nearby.  It might be my fear of failing Drew as a parent, fear of what others think of my parenting, or fear of Drew getting hurt (intellectually I recognize he will get hurt… but think mama bear in the wild who will do ANYTHING to protect her cubs), etc. that catapults my need to control and obsess.

 

Yoga and mindfulness are two tools that have “saved” Drew and me on numerous occasions.  Both have helped me step back and observe, rather than react to, the source of my fear. As I come to understand the root cause of my need to control, I can let it go and trust the process to unfold as it needs to.

 

What has been the most rewarding part of parenting?

The most beautiful aspect of parenting has been to watch Drew evolve into all that he was meant to be… to see his soul dance behind his eyes… to know that he is content… to know that he is confident in who he is at his core and the path he is meant to follow. Can we ask for anything more as parents?

 

Twenty years from now, looking back at yourself as a younger parent, what helpful message would you share with yourself?  What might you say to other parents?

Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do. You can read countless books and gather many different perspectives, but ultimately when you parent from your heart with the intention of guiding your child into who they were meant to be in this lifetime, the words will flow from your lips, the necessary resources will appear, and the support that both you and your child need will surface in ways you never dreamed possible.

 

Carrie is a wife to her best friend and mother to a beautiful son.  She began teaching yoga in 1998. In 2005, Carrie co-opened Inside The Bungalow, yoga studio and cafe, with the intention of providing a Sacred space where students can come home to their own True Nature and uncover their journey of intention, authenticity, and reconnect to their life’s purpose.

Website: http://www.carriehensley.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dharmaconnections

Twitter: @carriehensley

Google+: https://plus.google.com/106130985171034933254/posts

 

If you like this post and think other parents would benefit from hearing different parenting voices please use the share buttons below!  Be sure to join  us next Thursday for another inspiring glimpse into parenting on the Listen to the Beat Within Guest Parenting Series!


 

Today I welcome Jo Macdonald of The Red Box Company to share her parenting insights.  You can read more about Jo and the amazing work she is doing with women and girls at the end of this post!

Tell us a little about your family:

I’m married to a gorgeous Kiwi who I first met when I was 17 and we were both living in Hong Kong. We have 1 lovely son who is about to turn 13 and 2 beautiful girls aged 10 & 6. The final members of our family are a crazy Springer Spaniel called Milo and a fish called Douglas!

 

Describe as best you can what kind of parenting style you use:

I like to think I keep the balance between telling my kids what to do and letting them figure things out on their own as I think it’s important to let them learn from their mistakes as much as possible. However, my son has just read that over my shoulder and said ‘mum, seriously, you’re way bossier than that!’ so maybe the balance is not quite right yet!!! All 3 kids agree that I use a lot of humour, laugh a lot and am very in touch with my inner child which I think is a good thing!

 

What do you see your role is as a parent?

To enable them to fulfill their dreams and potential, become independent capable people who can bring more beauty into the world, and to help them become a caring, supportive husband/wife/parent in the future.

 

What has been the most difficult part of parenting for you and what helped you through this?

Probably the most difficult thing was when my eldest daughter was 18 months old and was rushed to hospital with epiglotitus & croup whilst we were in Australia. When the doctor told us to prepare ourselves for the fact that she may die the feeling of helplessness was unbearable, realising that even as a parent you can’t solve or fix everything is very frightening. Luckily the doctors were amazing and thanks to my mother-in-law who flew in from NZ to help care for my son, and the support of friends, family and each other, we made it through a horrible time. What we learnt though was to make the most of everyday, to never take anyone or anything for granted and to tell your children you love them every single day.

 

What has been the most rewarding part of parenting?

So many things! Learning how to love unconditionally, seeing them grow into beautiful young people who care for others, seeing the world through their eyes and wanting to be the best person I can be so that they are as proud of me as I am of them are just some of the rewards.

 

Twenty years from now, looking back at yourself as a younger parent, what helpful message would you share with yourself?

What might you say to other parents?

Don’t try to be perfect just do your best, parenting is not a competition. Be as willing to forgive yourself as you are to forgive others – children forgive an awful lot if they know you really love them. Never forget that a hug and a mug of hot chocolate can cure everything from a bumped knee to a broken heart!

 

Jo Macdonald

In her own words…

I’m a mother, creator, writer, blogger, women’s circle leader and menstruation coach with a huge weakness for books, peppermint tea and chocolate (preferably enjoying all three together whilst curled up in front of a log fire). I don’t believe in perfectionism, making life complicated or meditating for hours in a cave by myself (although there are days when this does sound appealing!). I am not a saint or a guru but have a very real life with a husband, 3 kids, and a crazy dog and I absolutely love it – 99% of the time! I think women are amazing, I think you are amazing, and I think we can all learn to live our best lives by embracing our menstrual cycle and remembering to slow down, breathe and                                         simplify.

 

As well as working with women I am the creative director and founder of The Red Box Company which aims to make periods, and puberty, something for girls to celebrate through education, workshops and my first Period celebration Red Boxes.

Here’s where you can find Jo:

Website: www.theredboxcompany.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/redboxcompany
Twitter: www.twitter.com/redboxcompany

 

Editors note: Check out Jo’s parent pages where she  has a wonderful  FREE e-book ‘7 tips for Talking to your Daughter about Periods and Puberty’

 

 

If you like this post and think other parents would benefit from hearing different parenting voices please use the share buttons below!  Be sure to join  us next Thursday for another inspiring glimpse into parenting on the Listen to the Beat Within Guest Parenting Series!


 

The other day I was taking my eldest son to a doctor’s appointment and we took Public Transit as we usually do, since the office is right on the subway line.  It was rush hour so somewhat on the crowded side, and there were several groups of youth canvasing asking passersby for change or tokens to help Toronto’s youth.  We passed them on the way as we rushed to our appointment again on the way back to drop my son at school.  This second group was younger children, a school group that were volunteering their time to fund raise.

 

As we passed them by headed towards the stairs to catch our train, I stopped mid stair.  Sometimes we can get so caught up in the everyday rush of getting places or getting things done that we pass by opportunities.  This is why I stopped.  I reached into my purse and pulled out some money, giving it to my son to donate.  He took it then hesitated, because it meant him going up the stairs and approaching someone he didn’t know, as well he said he was eager to get to school (nothing like a dentist appointment for doing that) I let him know that it was ok since we had missed the train anyway, and he then went and made the donation.

 

Of course I could have just done it myself.  I really wanted my son to do it for several reasons:

1. I felt is was important for him to feel like he was taking action, helping others helping a cause.  I had noticed him looking at the youth who were calling out their campaign with their T-shirts on “Help Toronto’s youth, your change can make changes happen”.  I believe it is important for him to recognize and be grateful for what he has, that he is not in a position where  he need this kind of help.

2. I wanted to push him a bit outside his comfort level by having him approach the volunteers himself with the hopes that he will feel confident to initiate this himself one day

3. I wanted to model the idea of taking time to notice what is happening around us and rather than be passive bystanders watching and not doing, I wanted him to remember to engage and participate fully in life, take opportunities to help when you notice them, however small.

4.  I wanted the youth to feel heard, to encourage their efforts by listening to them and show them that we appreciate what they are doing by taking action and donating.  I think that it is important important that youth who volunteer their time and effort feel that they are actually making a difference.  Giving them a positive response helps ensure that they will continue to be active participants in change rather than discouraged bystanders who feel there is no hope.

5. When others see you donate for a cause I think it has a ripple effect.  It makes it all the more easier for them to justify stopping and taking a few minutes to reach into their wallet, walk over and help out.

 

Giving a little bit of money may have been a “drop in the bucket”, but we can’t forget that each drop creates its own ripple.  This was not just about helping through giving money.  It was so much more than that:  giving attention to our surroundings and what messages to pay attention to; giving our attention an appreciation to the youth who are taking their time to raise awareness; taking the time as little as it might be, yet still breaking the habit of just walking through crowds with blinders on; and finally by responding we potentially set off a ripple effect to the crowds who  may be in “I can’t stop -have to get somewhere important” or “I am not going to pay attention to what is being asked of me because it doesn’t concern me” mode but then notice someone else taking action and stop and do something themselves.

 

Our actions are more powerful than we think.  Hopefully it is the kind of power that brings other great things to life.  Your children are watching.  Everyday there are opportunities for change, lessons to be learned.  When we take the time to take our blinders off and be open to seeing the opportunities and lessons life presents to us, our children will see them too.

 

 

 

When my kids were preschoolers I would stay with them for a few minutes at bed-time, lying on their bed to help them settle. Many of those times I was so tired myself I would start to fall asleep. Most of the time they fell asleep pretty easily and I looked forward to when I would have my evening free to myself. Sounds selfish to me now as I write this, but it’s true. And selfish is not such a bad thing if it means taking care of yourself.

 

Selfish or selfless which is better? Well it all depends on how you define the two words I guess. Typically the word selfish, has negative connotations. The image of a greedy self absorbed could-care-less-for-anyone-else-but-themselves-ogre comes to mind. On the other hand, when I think of selfless the image of a Mother Teresa figure comes to mind, always doing for others and putting others first.

 

But as I begin to think about the two words more, some different thoughts come to mind:

 

  • Is making sure that you take time for yourself, serve you alone or does it allow you to rejuvenate your energy and peace of mind so that you can be more present with your children?
  • In thinking about your own needs you set an example for your children that they need to listen to their needs first. This doesn’t mean that they don’t think of others. Rather, before helping others, they make sure that they are in a position to do so otherwise, they will deplete themselves and be of no help. This way they don’t feel resentment towards others because they sacrificed their self dignity.
  • In taking care of yourself in balance with taking care of your children you let them know that they are important but everyone has needs. You teach them to value themselves and make choices that feel right to them.

 

We can meet our own needs in harmony with our children’s needs. When I start to notice that I am resenting having to give something up for my children that is a sign that I am not coming from an authentic place of wanting to be there for them. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be there for them, but rather signifies that I am not taking care of myself.

 

Self sacrifice has it’s price. You may think that you are doing your children a favour when you sacrifice your own needs, however, if you are feeling resentment chances are your children are feeling that too, and nobody wins if that is the case.

 

So how can you balance both needs? What it comes down to is a shift in perspective. If you are choosing to do something with your children and it means putting your needs on hold this is fine, as long as your needs don’t get lost in the mix. Team tag with your partner or other support to make sure your needs have time to be met. That way it’s scheduled in and when you are with your children, you are with your children, and your mind is not wandering off to thoughts about how you never have time for yourself.

 

Now that my children are older, their need for me to be present is still there. It hasn’t magically gone away, and I am glad. I am an imortant part of their life as they are an important part of mine. At 8 years of age (just 2 more weeks) and 11 1/2 years old they still want me to read story to them at night, and I am happy to to so. I look forward to it.

 

My 8 yearold still wants me to stay with him at bedtime after story for a few minutes. There was a point where I was fighting it, trying to change it, and he pushed for more time. Then I let go, and allowed myself to enjoy sitting in silence with him, being present with him. I realized that it was one of his ways of connecting with me at the end of a long day, and rather than feel resentment because I was eager to have my evening time, I began to feel appreciated as a parent.

 

That’s the shift. It doesn’t mean that I use up all my “adult time” staying with him at night, it’s limited to about 5 minutes after lights out. What it does mean is that I am respecting his needs, and not getting into the mind set that he should be able to settle on his own. It means that I am choosing to take a more caring persepctive, seeing his need as appreciating time with me as a parent rather than a need to take from me. And it means that I continue to take time for myself to keep the balance in our relationship.

 

 

Are you finding it hard to do the balancing act of self-care while meeting your children’s needs? Do you find it hard to take time for yourself? Do you secretly resent the amount of your time that your children seem to “take” from you? The Parent Inspiration Toolkit has many tools to help you with the balancing act of parenting. And now you can purchase the kit as a whole bundle or pick and choose from the Parent Inspiration Workbook , The Little Book of Self-Care and 4 different relaxing and rejuevinating meditations each with its own original music.  NEW: We now have samples of the meditations available for you to listen to. 

 

 

Sometimes when we talk to our children they don’t listen. It may seem like a lot of the time in fact.

 

As a child therapist I am used to slipping into the language of children to engage them in conversation and pull from them their strength. They are engaged easily through their active imagination with play and story. They learn from watching and doing.

 

However admittedly I sometimes forget as a parent to use this child speak. This often happens when I am trying to do so many things and when I am so task focused and in my adult head. I forget that my children are not in that same head space and are driven by other motivators like play, having fun, enjoying life. The usual kid stuff.

 

What would happen if more adults were focused on having fun?

 

Luckily because my kids are so play driven, I can’t help but be reminded of their need to have this outlet. They are constantly trying to engage me in play so I am reminded of a different way of being in my head, namely through my creative imagination. When I am in this space it’s as if we are doing a wonderfully intricate dance where everyone is in rhythm with each other. Cooperation is not a struggle but a fun game where both players are winners.

 

I cherish those moments knowing that I have access to them any time I choose. It’s these moments that make the hard work of parenting worth it. It’s these moments that give me the clarity to communicate in my child’s mother tongue: play.

 

Sorting through and tidying up my computer files I came across a letter I had written for my youngest son from the voice of a small (bean bag) bear cub which I gave him. To put it in context, I will tell you that my son was having some difficulty doing his daily routines and was needing much encouragement and reminders. Also at the time he would rather stay home than go play at a friend’s place.  I knew that he was feeling like he couldn’t do things as well as his brother.  Anyway, though these were things that we talked with him about, there is something about stories that sparks the interest of a child to “listen” on a deeper level.  With this in mind I share with you the letter below.

 

 

Dear Alexi

I just want to let you know that I am a black bear cub, and I am mostly vegetarian. I am still little but big enough to do things like swim across the lake (like that bear cub your mom told me you guys saw last year while camping). I heard we have a lot in common like your mom said that you like to forage for wild edibles and I love foraging for berries. I have been to Crab lake too just for the blue berries- I heard you like them too. One thing you should know about black bear cubs is that we stick with our moms a lot but we also venture out to explore new things. We are good swimmers, climbers, foragers (and your mom wanted me to mention that we almost always listen to our mamma bears- because they keep us safe). I have come to live with you so that I can learn some things about camping (my mom said I can visit her when you take me wilderness camping). I heard that you are a great portager- that is something I have never done before. Will you teach me? Your mom also told me that you like to help out at camp and you have a great smile. I am so excited that I will be living with you!

Lots of love,

Your bear cub friend

(Bears don’t have names like humans do- but my mom said it was okay if you gave me a human name)

 

 

What does your child speak look like?

 

 

A while back my kids agreed to try making some sock monkeys.  Originally the idea was to make them as gifts for others.  Eventually we did get around to making sock monkey gifts (like the ones pictured above who traveled to Greece to be with my sons’ cousins), but first my boys made their own sock monkey to love and to hold.  While this wasn’t the first time that they have sat down and sewed with me, this was the biggest project they have done in terms of sewing time.  There’s something to be said for getting a smiling monkey at the end as a motivator!

 

Just so you know, these monkeys were completed over several days with lots of breaks in between.  But as you will see the first part of making the monkey is quite easy and can be completed fairly quickly, which is great for keeping your kids interested and motivated.

 

I wanted to make sock monkeys with my kids after being introduced to them again through a sock monkey therapy tutorial that I had signed up for as part of 6 Degrees of Creativity, an Art Therapy Alliance e-course.  They were really fun to make, and although my guys were tired of sewing after making theirs, they helped me stuff the monkeys that were sent to their cousins in Greece (pictured above).

 

Working on the sock monkeys brought up plenty of opportunities for problem solving . . .

 

I was amazed as I watched my sons carefully focus on making and sewing their monkeys with minimal help from me.  While my youngest who is almost 8 did get more help than his big brother, he sewed the majority of his monkey himself, only needing help with attaching the body parts.  I had the camera rolling as they worked in hopes that it would inspire other young children to give it a try.  Aside from the boost in self esteem that comes with taking on such a project at this age, if you watch the video you will see the sense of community created as we all sewed together.  At times it looked like a production line as one of my sons threaded a needle for me while I started sewing something for him, and other son was stuffing a new monkey.

 

That being said, it wasn’t always roses. Working on the sock monkeys brought up plenty of opportunities for problem solving when my youngest was frustrated with sewing or worse began to get discouraged because he compared his progress to his big brother who was moving along quicker.

 

The project also took on a silliness of its own as the sock monkeys came alive dancing around though 3/4 finished.

 

Below I have included a picture tutorial as well as a 15 minute video which you may wish to watch with your kids as you make you monkeys.  If you do end up making sock monkeys, we would love to see pictures feel free to post them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/offbeatfamily or e-mail them to us at petrea AT offbeatfamily DOT com

 

 

  • Start by turning your sock inside out

 

  • Flatten the sock (as if putting it on) and cut up to just below the heal to make the legs
  • sew using the whip stitch from the bottom up to the crotch on each side, leaving a hole for stuffing
  • Turn the sock right side out and stuff

 

 

 

 

 

  • Sew up the crotch

 

  •  Divide up the second sock as shown here

 

 

  • cut the heel for the mouth
  • cut a thin tail from top of sock: heel to toe

  • cut semi circles for ears from remaining sock
  • Cut the arms as shown in above sock diagram
  • sew all inside out using the “whip stitch” leaving a space to turn right side out before stuffing
  • pin to body and sew in place
  • choose button or beads for eyes and sew on
  • use coloured thread to sew a on smile
  • add a heart if you like
Get ready for some sock monkey LOVE!

The other week I stumbled upon a writing prompt I had written in my journal with the intention of responding to it later.  It was a series of prompts to write a letter to your self that I had found while blog hopping (sorry to say I could not find the original reference- but when I Googled it there were many renditions of the letter to Self).  One of them was to write to yourself 10 years ago.  I thought I would give it a try.

 

After just writing a few sentences I was struck  by how powerful this exercise was for me.   My intuitive parent stepped right in and began to respond with such empathy I was brought to tears.  Parenting is tough, we all know that.  But sometimes we can be our own worst critic, ruminating over how we should have done things differently or comparing ourselves to other parents who don’t seem to be having such a hard time.

 

For me 10 years ago was a very significant point in time as a parent  because it was really so near  the beginning of parenthood for me (my eldest son would have been 1 1/2 years old).   Allowing myself to speak to my “new” parent self now, after 10 years, also brought to light how very important it is to continue to show the same empathy for one’s self even later on in one’s parenting career.

 

Perhaps this is something each and every  parent can give themselves as a gift for the new year.  We often talk about empathy for our children when they are going through tough times, but how about extending that empathic understanding to ourselves?

 

Here are some excerpts from my letter to my younger parent self.  The advice I give myself is relevant at any point in my parenting, even to this day when my children are (almost) 8 and 11 1/2 years old.

 

Dear Petrea,

You are a great mommy who loves your little baby boy deeply.  I know it is hard to be away from him and you feel stressed because you wish that you could give him more of your time.

You worry. Don’t let your worry take over who you are and get in the way . . .   You will have another child.  You will learn more . You will make mistakes that you regret, but you must let go of that regret, you must pay it no mind for it will eat away at you and fuel your worry, your self doubt.

Know that you are a wonderful parent, a fantastic parent.  You are human , yes, you make mistakes, yes, but you can and will learn from  them.

You are the best mom your son has, he needs you, he needs you to believe in yourself.  For when you believe in yourself as a mother, as a parent, your son will learn to believe in himself.

Don’t worry that one year has passed.  There is still time, there is always time.  You are a great parent, know that, feel that, believe that, and you will see how much easier things will be,  your life will be easier, your parenting will  be easier.

 

Let go of the past.

Walk boldly, with confidence, into the future!

Love your Wise Parent Self.

 

No matter what stage of parenting you are at, whether it is 2 months in, or 2 years, 12 years or twenty years into parenting, it’s never too late to show your self some gentle understanding and acknowledgment for all of your hard work as a parent.  Sometimes all it takes is a little perspective of time to realize the beauty of what we have done as parents.  I invite you to write a letter to your younger parent self.  For showing compassion to yourself is the first step in letting go of past “mistakes” and moving towards the intuitive parenting that we all have inside.

 

 

As I sit here stressing, yes stressing over what to write for today’s Metaphor Monday, feeling behind (no video today, sorry) and at a loss of what to write, there it is. Life lessons everywhere indeed. Once again humbled by my struggles.

 

While I don’t exactly like to be stressed about things, I am reminded of how motivating stress can be. Let me clarify, when I was a grade school student , even in high school, I was one of those do your writing assignment at the last minute and get an “A” kind of gal. Yep, I was almost always doing my assignments at the last minute, procrastinating, avoiding until I could not put it off anymore. And it always turned out, for me anyway.

 

Though leaving things until the last minute certainly isn’t for everyone, it speaks to the importance of a little bit of stress to motivate one to move forward. Too much stress of course can be imobilizing. This is not an inviation to push stress upon your self and others, only a call to take notice of it when it is already there.

 

The old addage “No pain, no gain” comes to mind in another way. There has to be just the right amount of discomfort inorder for one to move forward and recieve the gains of doing so. If you just stay put, and don’t stretch beyond your comfort zone then you will of course just stay put, nothing new tried out, no new insights.

 

Applied to parenting it looks something like this: when we see our children struggle with something new or even something they have tried before, sometimes standing back and letting the frustration unfold is the best thing we can do for them. If we do it for them, or jump in too quickly and tell them it doesn’t matter, we do our children a disservice. We rob them of that motivating stress which can push them beyond their presumed limits and show them just what they are capable of.

Taken a step further we can see stress’ role in creating change in our lives as parents too. When we are feeling stressed because of how things are going with our children, whether that be arguements, sibling fights or chaotic routines, it is a good time to step back and figure out what is the gain here? What message is this pain trying to convey? Just as our body gives off physical pain signals when it is injured and needs tending, stress is usually a good indicator and hopefully a motivator to shift some things around with a little tender loving care. We can get sucked into that drama of “woe is me, other families don’t have to go through this“, or we can take a closer look and see what is the underlying message here. What needs to change?

 

It is a balancing act for sure. Knowing when to step in, and when to sit back. Knowing your own levels of tolerance for stress and when you may need some help. I would be lying if I said that there should be no pain. We are human, with emotions that somtimes are like being on rollar coasters. We are human, carrying around that baggage of times past. We are parents, we are learning, we are gaining more life expereince every minute, each day.

 

Be ready for some pain and tears. Be ready to let these go. Be ready to move forward again and gain some peace of mind knowing that every parent every child is human.

 

The Parent Inspiration Toolkit can help you parent through the stress. With guided meditations and expressive arts exercises to ground you and strengthen your connection with your intuitive parent.

 

6 Ways to Avoid Being Bugged

Welcome to the continuation of last weeks Metaphor Monday about being bugged by your children’s behaviour.  This week I share some ideas on how to protect yourself from being so “bugged”.

 

 

 

On Not Being Sheep …

The other day we dropped our kids off at camp, reluctantly. That is to say they went reluctantly. There was a trip planned for the day that meant they has to go on a school bus for 2 1/2 hrs. Not that long for them considering they have gone on car trips that take 6 plus hours on our way to canoe in Temagami. So why were they reluctant? I have a confession: we are one of those families that don’t have a game boy Nintendo (or whatever mechanical hand held device that is popular) for one to stare madly at while playing games. Have they played? Yes on their friend’s. Do they play any games? Yes just not daily or even weekly.

 

So when the director of the camp gave the ok for kids to bring their electronics for the bus ride since it was such a long ride, guess what my 11yr old wanted to do? Bring the iPod of course since it has games on it. Geeze you’d think the trip was about the school bus ride and not the actual destination. My husband and I felt torn. As we so often do given our different life choices of minimal tv, electronic games, and veganism. Of course it wasn’t as simple as allowing him to take the iPod.

 

  1. His brother wanted to bring something and there wasn’t anything appropriate
  2. like most 11 yr olds our son has a tendency to loose things.

 

We don’t want to buy into the “give them electronic games and they will behave/shut up/ sit still mentality” which is what we felt the camp was doing. Afterall (I told my son ) when your dad and I were kids we didn’t have these kinds of electronics we would just sing on the school bus or play other interactive games with our peers.And come to think of it kid’s aren’t allowed to bring electronics with them on school trips either. Geeze what will they do? Oh no does this mean they have to talk or even interact with their peers?!! ok I know I am sounding somewhat snarky.

 

The point is, well, it’s two fold. Firstly the camp giving the go ahead is a set up for kids who don’t normally carry around these games in their pocket. Whines of “But everyone else will have one” are ineveitable. To me it is sad if that is the case.

 

So while my son’s point should not be the basis for our decision or any of his for that matter (flash to the future: everyone else smokes … everyone else drinks, everyone else ….) it puts a parent in a tough position. Do we compromise our values because every other parent allows their children to “fill in the blank”. We certainly don’t! Are we sheep or do we choose what is right for our family?

 

 

In the end we chose what we felt fit for our family, which was no electronics. We were’nt very popular that morning but you know what? At the end of the day it was forgotten and we felt good about our decision to stay with our values and not flock like sheep to someone elses’ values that are not a match.

 

 

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