Coming Up In May!

Now that our time of renewal is over and Ascension is here, I thought I would just post the “sneak preview” of what is coming up the rest of the month of May and into June.   We will be looking at ways to understand our loved ones, mainly through understanding the four temperaments (and for that you really do need to understand the four-fold human being), but also through the attachment lens of “love languages” and nonviolent communication.  I also would like to write a bit about raising boys.    We also need to finish up “Discipline Without Distress” and move into “Hold On To Your Kids” during June. 

This promises to be a busy  month of things to really think about!

And please, do leave your challenges in homemaking and mothering in the comment box below.  I really do try to answer your questions in blog posts; if you have left a challenge before that has not yet been addressed please do leave it again. I get a lot of comments and email and may have inadvertently missed it! I apologize!

Please also leave a comment regarding how often you like to see new posts.  I am trying to figure out if posting daily is way too much, and would love feedback as to what you would like to see!

Also, you may have noticed that now there is an “archive” feature on the sidebar, so if you have time you may want to pick a month and just scroll the headers for posts and see what interests you.  Mothers tell me there is reading in those back months that really does resonate with them.

Many blessings, and looking forward to the rest of May!

Carrie

More About The Spring Cleaning of The Mind

This can be a tough time of year for homeschooling mothers; serious burn-out and lack of motivation seems to prevail.  Our minds sometimes are more on our seed catalogs and what to get for next year’s curriculum than the here and now.

I think this a great time of year to stop and take stock of where you are in your homeschooling, where your children are, and what are the essential things to get done before the end of the school year.  I also think it can be a nice time of year to plan some things for outside once your weather cooperates and to think of the DOING and the experiences one could create with your grades children, and how to bring awe and reverence to the younger children.

I think every year it is also wise to look at each child, to look at their homeschooling adventure this year and to decide with fresh eyes to homeschool again.  To really commit to that with a new heart, a new love.  Do you have a mission statement for your homeschool?  Are you happy overall with the way things have progressed in your homeschool this year?  What needs to be different?

If you are not homeschooling, perhaps this is a wonderful time to re-commit yourself to your family.  Write that family mission statement or update it.  Commit to that date at home with your spouse after your children go to bed.  Commit to that Family Game Night with the kids!  Connect with each other and love each other!

And dig deep within yourself; replenish that well.  Spend time in creativity, and with good friends and build yourself up.  Think about what your dreams are, and whilst this season of child-rearing is busy, perhaps there are ways to work toward your dreams in small increments. I just signed up for an Internet course that I am very excited about, for example.  It is a small, do-able step toward my eventual goals.

What are your dreams?  Journal, draw, write it all down.

Happy Spring Cleaning!

Blessings,

Carrie

Favorite Spring Tales For The Waldorf Kindergarten

Like the Fall Tales List for Waldorf Kindergarten, this is NOT an all-inclusive list, these are just some tales I have enjoyed or I know other mothers have used at these ages…..Happy finding the tales that speak to you and to your family!

 

January (Okay, still Winter!)

Four Year Olds:  Shingebiss (Winter Wynstones)

Five Year Olds:  The Snow Maiden (Plays for Puppets)

Six Year Olds:  The Twelve Months (www.mainlesson.com); 

February

Four Year Olds:  “Pussy Willow Spring” from Suzanne Down’s “Spring Tales” or a story about how the snowdrop got its color

Five Year Olds:  “The Rabbit and the Carrot”  a Chinese Tale found in the Spring Wynstones and also in “An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten”

Six Year Olds:  “The Three Brothers” by the Brothers Grimm

There are also a few Saint Valentine’s Day stories on mainlesson.com

 

March

For  ages three and a  half or so  and up for Saint Patrick’s Day:  “Lucky Patrick” from “Spring Tales” by Suzanne Down

There is also a great “leprechuan” circle adventure/movement journey in the book, “Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures” based upon “Tippery Tim” the leprechaun in “Spring Tales” by Suzanne Down

Four Year Olds:  The Billy Goats Gruff

Five Year Olds:  “Little Brown Bulb” from “Spring Tales” from Suzanne Down or “Little Red Cap” from Brothers Grimm

Six Year Olds: “ Bremen Town Musicians” from the Brothers Grimm;  or “An Easter Story” from “All Year Round” or “The Donkey” by The Brothers Grimm

 

April: 

Four Year Olds:  Goldilocks and The Three Bears

Five Year Olds:   “Mama Bird’s Song” from “Spring Tales” by Suzanne Down  or”Rumpelstiltskin” by the Brothers Grimm

Six Year Olds:  “Frog Prince” from the Brothers Grimm

 

May

Four Year Olds:  “Chicken Licken” or “The Pancake”  with Spring details

Five Year Olds:  For Ascensiontide, the story “Forgetful Sammy” from “All Year Round” or “Twiggy” from “Plays for Puppets”

Six Year Olds: “The Magic Lake at the End of the World” (from Ecuador, found in “Your’re Not The Boss of Me!  Understanding the Six/Seven Year Transformation)  or “Queen Bee” from the Brothers Grimm  or “Forgetful Sammy” or “Twiggy”  as listed for the five-year-old.

 

June

Four Year Olds:  “The Pancake” with spring/summer details

Five Year Olds:  “Goldener”  (Plays for Puppets)

Six Year Olds:  “Snow White and Rose Red”  or “A Midsummer Tale” from the book “An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten”, also in “Plays for Puppets”

What are your favorite stories?  Please add them below!

Many blessings,

Carrie

Peaceful March!

Have I got a treat for you this month, and I am so excited to write these series and bring it to you all!  I was thinking about this month, the month of March, the month of Lent and the month of St. Patrick and it really led me to meditate on peace and  what peace means within the context of homemaking, parenting and creating a family culture.

What does it mean to have a peaceful home?  Is it the absence of conflict?  Actually, for me, it is not the absence of conflict.  I do not count it as a good day when there is no temper tantrum, no yelling, no fighting per se (of course that is nice when those days happen!)  But I guess what I am saying is that for me, peace is the ability to maintain my center whilst these things are happening.  Does that resonate with anyone out there? 

I got this cute email from a mother who said something to the effect that I seemed calm and centered and asked how she could attain that.  I chuckled, because I remember when my oldest was two and a half (and also heading into those three’s!) and I didn’t feel calm or centered.  I remember being unsure of how to handle two children.  I remember all those feelings, and  I remember feeling as if I had very little support.  That is why I started to write this blog because now I am at the point where I feel I do have something to give back. I have figured out some things and for the most part, I feel  do feel centered and calm, at least with the parenting part.    This doesn’t mean yelling never happens, anger never happens, or I never feel as if there isn’t enough of me to go around.  It doesn’t mean I don’t worry about my children, or sometimes wonder if the job I am doing is “enough”.  But what it means is that for the most part, I can take that and work with those feelings in a more positive way than I ever could before.  And you will be able to as well!  Come follow along with me this month and let’s talk about these issues!

One thing you may want to have for this month is just a blank Main Lesson book or a sketch pad or just blank paper and some art materials that you like, whether that is colored pencils or other things, just so you can jot down questions and your ideas.

For today, I want you to really think about how you feel about peace.

  • What would a peaceful home look like to you?  What would it sound like?  What would it smell like?  What does a peaceful home mean to your spouse?  Can you talk about this together?
  • Is peace for you the absence of conflict? Is it never having a raised voice? How can you look at peace from different angles or viewpoints?
  • What makes you feel centered and peaceful?  Is it reading, art, painting, knitting, exercising?  I see attached mothers who feel guilty about taking any time “alone”, and sometimes we can feel “alone” with a sleeping baby on our back :), but it is not wrong for you to need an hour to do something that nourishes you!
  • Where is your prayer and meditation time?  Whether your path is Christian, Jewish, Islamic or other spiritual traditions, I urge you to carefully think about creating a path this month that will nourish your soul.  If you are atheist, how do you work with this within your beliefs?  Can you draw or journal about this?  Pull out a calendar and put time in every day to do these spiritual things. Make that date to go check out a place of worship if that speaks to you.  Find the tradition and path that moves you!
  • Living with small children is physically demanding, it is repetitive.  Children are immature, they cry,they are noisy, they do things!  On the other hand, children bring a lot of joy, much laughter, they say and do funny things.  How can you reconcile these things to have peace in the midst of the noise and mess?

In parting for today, in  honor of St. Patrick’s day, let us remember the prayer attributed to him:

May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
– Against the snares of the evil one.
May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!
May Thy Grace, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

Peaceful days and many blessings,

Carrie

Joy For January!

I ADORE January!  There is something about the new year, fresh starts, blank calendar pages, the whole lure of cleaning and organizing,  that I just love!  And the gardening catalogs and seed catalogs start to show up!  Did I mention that?!  Another reason to linger extra long over a cup of hot tea!

I invite you to take a look at some focus areas for the month that may help your life run a bit smoother in the New Year.

How about this wonderful home cleaning plan from the Organized Home website?  I plan on following this and thought some of you may be interested as well:  http://organizedhome.com/clean-house/2010-new-year-grand-plan-cleaning-challenge

From the Waldorf end of life, I know January can be a very cold month for many of you and harder to get the children outside for long periods of time.  So, in that spirit, I propose to spruce up the play spaces.  Can you rotate some toys in or out?  Can you set up some play scenes with silks and other natural objects?  Here are some back posts to get you  started if this is new to you:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/05/fostering-creative-play/

and here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/29/more-about-fostering-creative-play/

If it is really cold where you are, how can your children get their energy out and their sensory needs met?  Do you have a little trampoline, a small plastic box for tabletop sand play, a swing to hang in a corner, pillows to jump on, creative and active singing games? Will they be kneading bread, rolling out cookie  dough with a rolling pin, crawling under tables like a puppy, jumping like a toad, playing with salt dough?

For my Down Under readers who are in the height of summer, how about this back post?      http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/01/celebrating-summer-with-small-children-a-waldorf-perspective/   

As far as your own work, what new practical skill are you going to learn or work on this January through May time frame?  Knitting, hand sewing, cooking, baking, weaving?  I have some plans for sewing some dolls’ clothes for Valentine’s Day.   Our Waldorf homeschooling group will be making Rose Windows in honor of Valentine’s Day, which I am excited about as I have never done that.  I also am in the mood to knit so I will continue making hats for everyone in the family.  What are doing with your hands this season to show your children work?  Even showing a child ten or fifteen minutes of work is of value!  Start with small time frames when you have wee ones about!

What artistic work are you doing?  Have you tried your hand at wet-on-wet watercolor painting, modeling or drawing?

Where are you with parenting?  This month I will be writing about children and chores, the realities of life with the one and two-year old, more about quiet time, and more, more, more!  What do you need to hear this month?  Leave me a comment and I will be happy to see if I can work it in!

Meditate over your children at night and any challenges you may be facing. Talk about these challenges with your spouse.  Grow in your intimacy as you share your parenting journey together. 

As far as inner work, “Joy for January” is a great title and a great start to the New Year!  What brings you and your family joy?  What can all of you do together, as a family, that will bring you all good memories and lots of joy?  Take that blank calendar and pencil in some dates for fun!  Ice skating, sledding, skiing, hiking, going to the seashore for my Down Under readers – all wonderful!

I think it is a myth that  in Waldorf that “we never play with our children” (um, at least it is a myth in my home!).  I sure do!  I love to play:  board games, card games, make believe with the children’s fairies and fairy house and dollhouse.  If you have a child that is under the age of 7 and they are your oldest, they will need some help with playing as they are at the height of their imitative phase.  They may not spontaneously generate ideas to  play without you to imitate, at least to start!  So brush off your creativity and see what comes up!

This month, in the light of the candlelight and firelight of your warm and snug home, tell your children some stories.  Make up some, tell them stories of when you were little and when your parents and grandparents were little.  Sing and make music.  Play some games.  Snuggle up together and read some books.  Delight in being together, and find the joy in this journey as we go through the cold winter.

Joy for January’s Journey,

Carrie

Cultivating How To Hold The Space : The Inner Work Of Advent

I talk a lot on this blog about the need for parents to hold the space for their children, and many families wonder what that would look like or how that would happen.

When I talk about this notion of  holding the space I mean it in a kind way, in a loving way, in an authentic way, but in a way where you are the wall a child can bounce off of.  If you were the Queen, you would not be running around like a chicken with your head cut off (my great-grandmother’s saying!), trying to accommodate three or four children’s wishes and desires of any given moment.   Instead, you would be calm and collected.  You would have a kind way but a Queenly Way.  You would probably think before you decreed something, and you probably would not explain the heck out of yourself.

How can you be the Queen of your home?

If you have children under the age of 9, you are going to know that children under the age of 9 are prone to “emotional excess”, one of my favorite expressions that Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool points out. Children of this stage are beings of will and movement, and you would expect things such as hunger, sleep,  and over-stimulation to play a role in behavior.  And being Queen, you would come up with ways to make life flow smoothly.

Perhaps you would lay out clothes the night before and expect that many children want to be dressed by their mommies even when they are 5.  And you would decide, ahead of time, if this was okay by you or something that would Shove Her Highness Off Into The Moat.  This way you could be proactive about such issues within your home, and not reactive.  You might consider having a rotating menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner so there is no treating The Queen as a short- order cook.  There are many other areas where the thought of thinking and planning ahead could come together for the benefit of your family. 

You would not be swept away by the torrents of wee ones’ tantrums and emotion because you would know your number one job would be to hold the balance when your child cannot hold it for themselves.  This does not mean to be an unemotional  rock, but it does mean you can understand how words can be just words, feelings can change on a dime and if you can just hold on, your child will eventually calm down.  You will understand that you are being a rock for your child to hold onto so the torrent of emotion doesn’t escalate for the child.

Again, this does not mean being unfeeling!  You can hold your child, pat your child, move your child, but you may  not fall apart with your child as they fall apart.  You may not unleash your own torrent of emotion on a small child and expect them to not crumple in front of you.  Behavior that is not fabulous in an under-9 child generally needs to be treated in the same ho-hum tone you would use to ask a child to pick up a book off the floor.  Then you can move into having the child FIX his poor action, because the child is a WILLING and DOING being at this point.  He needs to DO to fix it!  But he cannot fix it if he is falling apart and you are falling apart with him!  He is learning; help him!

For children over the age of 9, as Queen you would realize feelings are predominant.  Feelings were also important before, but feelings were more in an undifferentiated kind of state. Now feelings are so specific!  Being Queen, you would be able to hear feelings expressed immaturely ( meaning not always in a way pleasing to the Queen’s ears!) and still be able to be a calm rock with a ho-hum attitude to help the child learn to fix this challenge!   Feelings can be acknowledged without judgment because most of all,  The Queen is a problem-solver, and if she can model being calm, solving the problem, being respectful, then the child will as well! 

For children over the age of 14, they are interested in your thoughts, in the nature of constructing an argument, in your thoughts and why you think that and how you got there in your thinking.  It is hard!  Don’t you remember being a teenager?

Barbara Coloroso, in her book, “Kids Are Worth It!  Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline” :  “If you are raising adolescents, you are in a high-risk category for a coronary.  You’re up against someone dealing with a major hormone attack:  feet are too big, hands are too big, bodies are too big or too small, voices are up, voices are down, zits are coming out all over their faces.  They come to the front door, all smiles; two minutes later they are in the bathroom crying.  You ask what happened.  “She used my comb.”  “He wore my shirt.”  “She didn’t call like she said she would.”  Are we going to make it through this?  Yes, but we can’t keep hooking in to our kids’ adrenaline.”

A Queen is the Ultimate Helper, problem-solver, balancer, peacemaker.

Can you be that Queen for a day?

Carrie

Cultivating A Rhythm for Your Personal Care: The Inner Work Of Advent

Hi to all of you wonderful mothers out there!  Today I have some very special thoughts for you!

I am sure you have all heard the saying, “When mama ain’t happy, no one is happy.”  YOU set the tone for YOUR home.  Your home, your words, your gesture, your mood are all the reality that your children know.  They have no idea until they are older all the myriad of choices and reflection of values that go into your style of parenting!

So this flows from you! You are special and wonderful and chosen to be this child’s mother!

And the only way to set the tone in your home is to be able to take care of yourself.  If you are physically not well, emotionally not well, spiritually not well, then how can you run your home well?

So, as part of your inner work for Advent and into the Holy Nights (the 12 Days of Christmas extending from Boxing Day until Epiphany) is to think about these areas and plan:

PHYSICAL HEALTH/OUTER APPEARANCE:  Okay, mamas, when was the last time you had a comprehensive physical check-up?  Dental work?  Do you use any alternative care such as chiropractic, homeopathic, body work?

Are you suffering from depression or chronic pain?  Have you spoken with a health care provider about this at all?

Finally, and I know this can be a sensitive subject, but how are you eating these days?  Do you exercise?  Do you drink water?

One thing my husband said to me the other day was how happy he was that I take care of myself because he had known so many women who let themselves go after marriage and children.  I will be honest with you all, I want to look attractive for myself because I feel better when I feel healthy and beautiful, but I also want to be attractive for him. I think part of being married is that we want to be attractive for each other.

Do you get up and get dressed and feel beautiful every day?  Have you bought any clothes for yourself this entire year? Shoes?  Do you wear skirts at all?  Sometimes just little things make a big difference in how you feel!

It seems as if being a mother often means we take care of everyone else often to our own neglect.  I am asking you to think about these areas and devise a way to put yourself first here and there.  Talk to your spouse or partner about how they can help you make this happen.  This is especially important in homeschooling families where we are always with our children; you need to carve out a little slice for those appointments and exercise.  Get out your 2010 day planner and see if you can make it happen this coming year!

EMOTIONAL  HEALTH:  How are feeling these days?  Do you need a mental health tune-up these days?  Can you do this yourself by getting more sleep, carving out some time for yourself, exercising – or do you need an annual mental health check-up just the same way we need an annual physical check-up?

I am a big believer in support for the journey – support through family, through friends, and yes, through mental health professionals if need be.

One interesting project for you to consider for the New Year is the notion of biography.  The book “Tapestries” by Betty Staley is a really interesting perspective on Steiner’s seven-year cycles for adulthood and I wrote notes to all the chapters of that book on this blog.  This book is well-worth your time; find out where you are, think about where you have been.  Then think about where you will go!

Another thing to consider for your own development is the artistic piece.  Just setting aside one hour twice a week to wet-on-wet watercolor paint yourself can be such a meditative and healing experience!  Think about what artistic work you would like to try and schedule a time!

SPIRITUAL HEALTH:  How do you bring joy into your parenting and your homemaking?  This journey should be one of joy!

For inner work, I recommend exploring any spiritual or religious path you feel drawn to.  I think it is actually important to have something higher to believe in and draw upon, to connect to, as you do this most important work.

We do devotions in the morning and at night, and I also do a Bible study during my Quiet Time  each day.  I also pencil in nights to read Steiner and to study these works.  Every family’s plan will look different, but what is most important is that you have a plan! 

When will your daily time to pray or meditate be?  Children perceive our thoughts and our soul in the very gesture of what we do.  Inner work and striving is such an important piece of all of this!

Make some time for you,

Carrie

Cultivating The Energy: The Inner Work of Advent

A mom wrote in and asked what to do with a household that i s very calm and soothing, a household that is very conducive to rest but really needs a kick of energy!  What to do?

I think one thing to think about is this issue of balance. There  is an anthroposophic meditative exercise called The Preview where you essentially run through your day in your head before you really get up.  So, I would encourage you to make this part of your meditative practice.  When you run through your day in your head, where are the points of energy?  Where is the music, the singing, the movement. the running around outside, the scrubbing of the floor, the work? 

Many children need help in being quiet, but I also have run across quite a few who are only quiet and are very content to sit and look at book after book or draw for hours and hours on end and would prefer to be inside rather than outside expending energy.  Sometimes this is necessary, for example, if you live in an area where the weather is truly frigid and you cannot get outside, but I would also encourage you to look at balance.  Can you promote movement inside with very active circle times or singing games?  Can you set up an obstacle course inside?  Most of all, if your children are under 9, can you structure the environment so they have active things to do and put up the books and crayons and such that they come down only at certain times?  Balance, balance, balance.

Getting everyone together several times a day to sing and play singing games is an excellent way to promote some energy!  If you have forgotten all the singing games from your childhood, “Lavender’s Blue Dilly Dilly” by Mary Thienes Schunemann has 28 singing games in it: http://www.naturallyyoucansing.com/books/lavender.htm

Other mothers I know in this situation have had success in looking at themselves.  Think about your own energy and where you are.  Are you stuck?  We want things to be calm at home, but I also think when we model to a child that during “down time” we are always sitting down knitting or reading as opposed to singing a song while we scrub something or grabbing a shovel and heading out to the garden, we send a message as to what kinds of activities are important.  Our children are the great imitators!  What kind of energy are you showing your children?

If your own personal energy is lower than you think it should be, please try this post to assist you:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/06/making-yourself-a-priority-in-the-parenting-equation/

I think energy is also seasonal though as well. In the Northern Hemisphere, this just seems to be the time to hunker down and enjoy the warmth of inside right now, with increased energy and vitality to come as the days warm.  Bringing in the light with the Winter Festivals is an important shift of energy for our yearly rhythm.  

Look toward the balance of your day and your activities,

Carrie

Cultivating the Quiet: The Inner Work of Advent

Donna Simmons stayed at my house a bit back, and one of the things she commented on was how quiet our house is after seven at night.  The house is dim, you can hear the wind or rain outside and the house is quiet with small snoring sounds coming from the dog :) and/or children.

This comment led me to think of the tone of our home, the energy of our home.  What is the energy like in your home?  Does the energy in your home change over the course of the day? What changes the energy in your home?  Is your home quiet during the day t any point?  Are your children ever quiet or just going, going, going? 

I think there are three main stumbling blocks to achieving quiet in the home.  The first one is visual clutter, and I think with the holidays right around the corner this is an important one to consider.

I wrote this post last year at this time (click here for the full post: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/23/holiday-gifts-for-children-how-much-is-too-much/ ).  Here is part of that post, referring to gift-giving surrounding the holidays:

Unfortunately, in our society, the person(s) many families are most likely to spend the most money on are their children.  Whew.  I invite you to make yourself a cup of tea, and have your husband take your kids to the park for a few hours.  Now go into their rooms and the playroom and look at the amount of stuff that is there.  Seriously.  Count the number of puzzles they have, the number of pairs of shoes, how many bags and boxes of craft supplies there are. How many board games do they have?  How many dress up clothes?

The first step is always the hardest.  I invite you to think about purging at least a third or more of your toys this holiday season.  If you cannot purge them all, or you do purge all the junky made in China plastic toys and have some nice open ended toys to keep, here is a thought for you.  Some families pack up toys and  put them away somewhere.  Then they rotate the toys so only a few things are down at a time.  The toys can be changed out either monthly or seasonally.”

Where are you going to put the new holiday things? Think about that a bit this week! I would like to challenge you to use some of this time to de-clutter your physical space.  It seems every good Waldorf Early Years teacher worth their salt  knows that when a child is starting to get wound up, just straightening the space around the child helps shift the energy and is calming.  Think about your child’s room, and how you could make that a calming space to relax.

The second challenge to achieving quiet is VERBAL clutter.  Stop sharing so many details of your adult life with your child!  Even a seven, eight or nine-year old does not need to know many of the things we” overshare”.  It is only in this day and age we have the expression “TMI”!     Can you share your adult conversations with adults, and your children conversations  with your children?  Keep asking yourself, does my child really need the ten minute adult thinking process of how many outside activities they can do and why, about the child down the street and why their family does X and we don’t, about this and that.  Really?

Think about how much space and quiet you are cultivating between your words.  Model for your child your thinking in silence, drawing a conclusion after thought, and then saying your thoughtfully worded conclusion (not the thought process).  This a wonderful skill for a child to see!

The other place to reduce your verbal clutter is to stop asking them how they feel.  Children under the age of 9 change emotions on a dime, and to put too much weight on how they feel at any given moment is an awful lot of pressure.  Kim John Payne talks about this in his book “Simplicity Parenting

On page 199, Kim John Payne writes this wonderful food for thought:  “Children under nine certainly have feelings, but much of the time those feelings are unconscious, undifferentiated.  In any kind of conflict or upset, if asked how they feel, most kids will say, very honestly, “Bad.”  They feel bad.  To dissect and parse that, to push and push, imagining that they are hiding a much more subtle and nuanced feeling or reply, is invasive.  It is also usually unproductive, expect in perhaps making a child nervous.  While young children have feelings, they only slowly become aware of them.  Until the age of ten or so, their emotional consciousness and vocabulary are too premature to stand up to what we ask of them in our emotional monitoring and hovering.”

There is much more in this section about emotional intelligence and how this develops, is fascinating.  “(Emotional intelligence) can’t be bought or rushed.  It develops with the slow emergence of identity, and the gradual accumulation of life experiences.  When we push a young child toward an awareness they don’t yet have, we transpose our own emotions, and our own voice, on theirs.  We overwhelm them  For the first nine or ten years children learn mainly through imitation.  Your emotions and they way that you manage them, is the model they “imprint”, more than what you say or instruct about emotions.”

Here is a worksheet to review your level of “information simplicity” with your child from Kim John Payne’s website:  http://www.thechildtoday.com/files/SimplicityReviewForm

His book is just excellent, please see the link for it on Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/Simplicity-Parenting-Extraordinary-Calmer-Happier/dp/0345507975/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260846766&sr=8-1

So many of the things we talk about on this blog are here in this book;  I am sure you will enjoy Kim John Payne’s writing.  His stories of working with parents and helping parents with their challenges are amazing!  Read this book and enjoy!

If you need more help, please see this post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/14/stop-talking/

and this:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/19/using-our-words-like-pearls/

Remember Carrie’s Golden Rule:  The less you say, the more weight your words will hold.  Smile and be warm, give hugs, but try less speaking and more listening!

The third challenge to achieving quiet is too much PHYSICAL ENERGY.  Mot children under the age of 9 need hours outside running off steam.  Without getting that physical energy out, you are setting yourself up for children who are bouncing off the walls and who cannot be involved in something focused; it also sets one up to listen to a lot of chatter!

Calm, quiet times,

Carrie

Cultivating the Early Bedtime for Yourself: The Inner Work of Advent

I have to confess, I am not a morning person.  In college, I was pretty rhythmical and got up at 6 AM almost every day in order to go workout, but I also didn’t have to talk!  I am working hard to go to bed and get up and be pleasant, LOL.  (Again, I don’t mind being up, it is more the being up and talking :))  Are you a morning person?  Are you up before your children?

In order to have any sort of a chance to be a morning person, you have to actually go to bed at a decent time.  And to go to bed at a decent time, you have to get off your computer, stop your reading or knitting, and go to bed!  Many mothers I know seem to have no problems setting limits on the TV, but have difficulty turning off the computer or putting down their crafting.  What are your own limits for your computer time??

One thing that helps many mothers is to have a nighttime routine.  This may include making sure the kitchen is cleaned up, having  things ready for homeschool the next day, having clothes laid out for family members, taking a bath or shower if need be.  The morning sure goes so much easier when you prepare the night before!

Many mothers ask how they can get up early and ahead of their family if they are co-sleeping; in other words, the minute they put their feet on the floor their child wakes up.  That is frustrating and a challenge!  One thing I think about it is what if you used this early time to sit on a chair in your room with a small booklight and use this early time, even if it is only ten minutes, to read something that is uplifting to you?  This season of your children being small and co-sleeping will not last forever!  Your child is a precious gift, and I think when we can just approach this with a “ho-hum” attitude that “Mommy is awake and doing her special work” rather than “I can’t believe this child is up again!  I never get any time to myself!” things go so, so  much better.  Think positively on the fact that your child may sleep or rest and give you ten minutes to start this special work on preparing yourself to be a good Mommy for the day!  I think too, if you can be persistent over time, your child will see you are not up doing anything “fun” and may at least learn to rest through this time.  Too often we give up after only a few days of trying!

Some mothers say they cannot get up early because their children are already up so early.  This too, is a season that will not last forever.  How about trying to get up even 15 minutes ahead of your children?  How about using a special night light that tells children when they can be “up” and that they must rest in their beds until that light is on……Here is an example of one my husband’s friend created: http://www.goodnitelite.com/index.php?page=product   He gave us one to try yesterday and we tried it last night.  Our girls really liked it, because they knew when it was time to get up even though it was dark outside and my oldest, who is an early riser, didn’t seem to feel so preoccupied with checking the time every few minutes to see if it was time to get up.

Some mothers say they don’t want to go to bed because this is their time with their husband.  I understand that; I love my time with my husband as well!  However, one trend I notice is that husbands and wives are on their separate computers at night for several hours and then come together for talking and intimacy.  How about trying to shorten your computer, reading, crafting, or TV time so you can be together or plan to spend time together first?  Isn’t your relationship with your spouse much more important than your reading time?

Some couples also have designated nights to work on things on the computer or in reading material, and designated “nights off” where they just come together!  How wonderful!

Going to bed and being refreshed benefits you and your whole family!

Happy meditating on this important subject,

Carrie