Say It Out Loud

One of the biggest changes in my parenting (and my life!) came when I started talking through what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and how I feel. As a parenting tool, saying these things out loud gives my kids the chance to know me and what’s going on in my head, to see me problem solving and to learn to name thoughts and feelings. It also encourages them to come up with their own ideas and solutions without me nagging and sometimes, without me even asking! I can see it working when my kids do it too. I love hearing what’s happening with them and that they remember all of my mottos, mantras and messages. Don’t get me wrong, meltdowns still happen, but they are not such a surprise and it’s much easier to work through them when we’re already used to talking about feelings and choices this way. The amazing extra bonus of this practice is that I’m much more mindful; I am now painfully aware of my self-talk, my feelings and my choices. So, if I hear myself saying something that doesn’t make sense, isn’t kind, or doesn’t fit with my ideas about parenting on purpose, I get the chance to change it.

flawed


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Please, Don’t Inherit my Food Issues!

To My Little People,

Please have a healthy relationship with food.

g-v-b1I love treats. Salty, sweet, chocolatey, chewy, crunchy, hot or cold…I’m an equal opportunity snacker. Sadly, I do not have a healthy relationship with food. I sneak food, I hide food and I sometimes I eat too much.

I’m working on it. Every day I work on it. I try convince myself I’ll eat in moderation and the package of whatever it is will last days or weeks even. I have good intentions. I have the best intentions. Then I eat the whole thing in one night and I feel terrible. Blerg!

Over the past few years, my new approach has been to try to not eat anything I wouldn’t be willing to share with my little people. I felt very strongly about keeping them away from sweets and treats for their first two years, hoping this would give them a good head start and an appreciation for a wide range of healthy foods. Their first birthday “cake” was homemade apploatmeal (apple sauce + oatmeal) in a cupcake wrapper. Everyone teased me, but they loved it.

I try very hard to respect their ability to moniter their own hunger cues and listen when they tell they’re hungry or full. None of that you-must-eat-everything-on-the-plate-filled-up-for-you-by-a-hungry-adult nonsense. If I’m not sure if they’re done eating, or just done being away from their books and toys and outside, I have them put their little hands on their belly, take a breath and ask themselves, “How do you feel?”

We talk a lot about good-for-you foods vs. sometimes foods.

Sometimes I miss eating chocolate and cookies for breakfast. Sometimes I miss eating a whole bag of licorice in one sitting.

Sometimes doing the right thing for my little people means doing the right thing for me too. This had better work!


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Be It for Yourself

To My Little People,

Be it for yourself.

insideWhere ever you go and whatever you choose to do in life, please know that you are loved, you are wonderful and you are enough. However, for those times when you feel like you need something else or someone else to be complete, please, please please be IT for yourself.

If you feel lonely or left out, learn to be comfortable spending time alone and be your own best friend. If you feel like you need a partner to fulfill you, fall in love with yourself. If you long for someone to invite you out, celebrate and throw a party for yourself. If you want someone to buy you a gift to show they care, buy yourself something special just because. If you wish you had someone to leave you love notes, write yourself a message on the bathroom mirror. If you want the perfect first date, take yourself out to dinner and a movie.

k15161696Be your own inspiration and motivation. Be your own teacher. Be your own guru.

People and things come and go, the only constant in your life is you. Right now it’s my job to know you really well, know what you like and how you learn best. Soon, that will be your job. Learn to appreciate the person in the mirror and to be grateful for this beautiful life you’ve been given and the life you’ve created for yourself. Approach each day with an open mind and an open heart and you will be the most amazing version of yourself. The rest will follow.


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Please, Be on Time

the-time-is-now-clock-e1312981776511Yes, I realize this one falls entirely in the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do advice category, as I’m chronically late. Make no mistake, I’m not talking about the my-kid-had-pooptastrophy-on-the-way-out-the-door or my-toddler-needed-to-stop-to-smell-every-single-flower-on-the-way-here kind of late. I’ve been that kind of late plenty of times and I’m okay with it. I’m talking about the days when I’ve made my to-do list, I’ve planned ahead, I’ve packed the night before, I’ve had all the best intentions…but, then I did a hundred little things before I left the house and now I’m late. Again. These are the things could and probably should wait. These things make me late. Correction: I make me late because I choose to do these things.

I think, “Won’t it be nice to come home and have this already done?” or, “I can’t leave without that!” or, “It just makes sense to do this on my way out the door.”

I’ve heard this is common among perfectionists, always trying to get one thing done perfectly before moving on to the next. I think that’s a big part of it, but I’ve also come to realize another ugly truth. I’d rather focus on the feeling of anxiety I get from rushing around + the relief of just barely making it, than on the anxiety I feel about the event, thing or person I’m about to go to. This gets even worse if I think I might have to wait! I do see the irony of being late and making others wait so I don’t have to. I’m not proud of it. I cringe with embarrassment and shame every time I walk in late somewhere. It’s disruptive and disrespectful of the time and effort of the other people in the room. So please learn from my mistakes, dear little people, please be on time.


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Losing it and Finding Myself Again

There’s all kinds of research and articles about the benefits of yoga and meditation. There are stacks of studies that show how they improve sleep, mental health, injuries and illnesses. I’m a total research geek and I think that’s really exciting, but for me the most convincing proof of the importance having a regular practice is that we’re all born knowing how to do them.

For me, becoming a mum came in a shrink-wrapped package with a few breakdowns and even more breakthroughs. You know, like when you buy face wash and get a free under eye gel roller sample taped to it? It’s kind of like that, only a little more…existential. The free bonus gift might not be something you even wanted, but you got it anyway and if you let it be, it might just be exactly what you need. I remember being struck very early on in motherhood by how complete and confident my kids were right from the start. They’re these whole little people, with personalities and preferences. They’re not afraid to ask for what they need, they have no problem saying no and they basically meditate and do yoga all day long (in between all the eating, sleeping and pooping, of course!)mom-baby-yoga

Babies breathe deeply from their bellies without having to consciously focus on it like grown up people do. Kids let out long, juicy sighs all the time and not out of frustration, but just because that little extra release feels so good. It’s amazing to see toddlers do a perfect yoga squat to play with blocks or puzzles, pre-schoolers watching TV in hero pose or inverted over the back of the couch and kids doing wheel pose on the front lawn because it’s fun. Come to think of it, both of my little people slept in child’s pose for months and months when they were babies (yes, they slept on their stomachs, no judgey eyes please!)

Spending so many hours staring anxiously lovingly at my little people made me realize that somewhere along the way I had lost all of that. That sense of wholeness, the wisdom to listen to my body, to trust my intuition and the ability to do yoga just because and without even realizing that it’s yoga at all. Over the years, life sort of stripped that away from me: the rules, homework, routines, expectations, perfectionism and gossip chipped away at it, piece by piece. And now, I’m trying to re-learn how to do what I was already born doing and somehow unlearned. Yikes!

I find it both ironic anThe-journeyd confusing that as a grown up, I have to schedule in time to relax and to make sure I’m taking care of myself. I have to remind myself to be mindful every day (sometimes every hour depending on the day!) I have to pay lovely people to teach me yoga and go to meditation classes.

The truth is, I’ll likely never know exactly when or how I lost it, but now that I’ve realized it was gone and I’ve felt that emptiness, it’s my job to work toward finding it again. The great thing about choosing (on purpose) to parent with joy, is that all that joy seeps into the other areas of my life too. So, yoga and meditation feel less like work and more like fun again. I know that they are important in my life because I feel so much better when I’m practicing and everyone notices that mummy is calmer and more patient. Maybe the how, when and why are not so important after all. Maybe this is all a lesson in itself, that I will always be learning, re-learning and growing.

 


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