Day Number Nine of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

The posts in this series regarding rest and sleep brought up the issues of learning how to set boundaries calmly.  This is actually coming up quite a bit in my personal existence as many of my friends seem to be having their second child and are dealing with how to set limits calmly and patiently for their older child.

I think for many parents setting limits is such a hard thing.  First of all, as an attached parent, we have to learn how to surrender to this wee being.  We have to make the  transition from being perhaps an outside-the-home career woman who has a schedule and deadlines to meet to slowing down to the home environment where we are lucky to get a shower!  We have visions based upon these parenting books we read that the baby will sleep a lot and we will have all this time to clean our house and walk on our treadmills or something and quickly realize that is not reality with an infant.  It can take time to transition into relaxing into our baby’s cues for breastfeeding, for sleep.  Once we do that, and are nursing and sharing proximity in sleep and realizing that the child does not view himself as separate from us, we learn to surrender and have an ebb and flow of connection with our child.

However, then there comes the assertion of will from the child.  We start to realize that the child is pushing against the forms of the day, the rhythm we have so carefully crafted.  Some people see this as defiance, but in the land of Waldorf and even in the land of traditional childhood development that pushing against the forms of the day is not seen because the child is malicious or planning things our or devious!  The child is learning, the child is realizing they are a person onto themselves and starting to think!  If you need further help, here is a post to help you:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/16/a-few-fast-words-regarding-defiance-in-children-under-the-age-of-6/

We start to realize the child is not the same as us, not a psychological extension of us.  We start to realize that the needs of the whole family absolutely do count.  Some parents realize these things earlier than others.  Some parents come to this rather late.

But this can be a frustrating time in parenting a small child because the child does have an idea of what they want, they live in the moment without much thought of what happens before or after an action.  Some parents get truly frustrated because they say, “I tell them what to do and they run the other way!” or other parents say, “I get frustrated because I am so mad and ready to lose it and they SMILE at me or LAUGH!”

They are probably smiling or laughing at you because they do not understand the emotions on your face other than, boy, there is a lot of intensity there and I have no clue what to do.  If you show small children different adults with different non-verbal gestures and postures that we as adults can read well, they cannot.  The small children came out of the womb three years ago!  Seriously!  They laugh and smile because they don’t know how else to react!  Or, they imitate you and react being angry back and then the parent is completely enraged that the child is reacting that way instead of reacting like a calm, rational adult who would say, “Of course I will help you pick up the big mess I made down.  In fact, why don’t you go put your feet up with a cup of tea!”  Children imitate what they see; their entire being is an eye at this point that takes everything in without a filter.

You have to be calm as a parent!  You must be able to detach yourself enough from your emotions to address the behavior you do not want, and to focus on the behavior you want in a creative way- through song, movement, helping the child through your GENTLE physical touch.  That is where they live!  They don’t live in the verbal commands you direct from the kitchen while you are doing something else!  Your ability to take care of yourself, to dialogue with your spouse or partner and family so they can help you, your relationship with your spouse or partner, your physical home, your health and diet and exercise habits all greatly impact this ability to be calm.   You need your inner work!   Look at the inner work series of Melisa Nielsen’s I just highlighted.    If you are burned-out, tapped-out, stressed out – it is much more difficult to remain calm and connected to your child in the moment.

Parenting is saying and doing the same thing over and over with the small child.  This is how they learn, and it takes time.  They do not have the impulse control or logical thought when they are small to do otherwise.

Also, to have realistic expectations is EXTREMELY important.  You may be expecting something completely out of the realm of normalcy for that age.  The minute those “My child SHOULD be able to _____” starts in your head, breathe and take a step back!  I wrote one post regarding realistic expectations regarding the four-year-old and we will take a peek at some other realistic expectations for different ages next post in this series.

Many, many blessings,

Carrie

Nature: Day Number Eight of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

 2009-09-02 at 22-47-28 (2) Getting children outside is a key part of daily rhythm.  In a few of the previous posts, I mentioned that I bank on a extraordinary amount of outside time for small children under the age of 7.  Young children need these sensory experiences of being in their bodies, pushing, pulling, tugging, lugging, digging, moving, rolling in order to establish their lower 12 senses in the proper foundation for later academic experiences.

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here are a few of my children on a Playdate with Nature: (many thanks to my friend Samantha Fogg for taking these pictures!):

2009-09-02 at 23-04-12 (2)

2009-09-02 at 23-12-21 (2) 2009-09-02 at 22-36-46 (2)

Here is a very, very  popular post regarding connecting your child to nature:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/24/connecting-your-children-to-nature/

Check it out if it has been awhile since you read it; it may spark some ideas anew.

We can start in infancy with our babies by letting them nap outside and getting them outside every day.  Nokken in Denmark has a good model for this, see more here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/31/nokken-a-review-of-two-books-and-a-few-thoughts/

Toddlers and preschool-aged children need time outside every day with sand, water, mud, grass and sticks to just play and be in nature.

Here are my two favorite resources for children Kindergarten aged (age 5  through older) regarding nature exercises to heighten the senses:

http://www.amazon.com/Sharing-Children-Anniversary-Revised-Expanded/dp/1883220734/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253879640&sr=8-1

and this resource by Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool:

http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/bookstore-for-waldorf-homeschooling/essential-christopherus-publications/from-nature-stories-to-natural-science.html

These two books will give you lots of fodder for nature.  If this post sparks questions in your head regarding the Waldorf approach to Science, I am a Science person and have written about this topic numerous times on this blog for your reading pleasure.

Many blessings, and get your children outside!

Carrie

Rhythm: Day Number Seven of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

Sometimes I am on the Mothering Community Forums.  What I see in some  of the threads over there is that mothers who want to homeschool recognize that they have  a “restless” toddler (ie, the 18 to 24 month-old)   whom they think needs more stimulation – and then they try to channel that into a curriculum or some sort of head-oriented work.

Possibly another place to start is to consider a rhythm to your day.

The easiest way to start a rhythm is to work around waking up times, rest/nap times, bedtimes and meal times.  After these things are down and consistent, then work towards regular times to be outside daily and what practical work one does on what day of the week.  Then one can work toward festival preparation for whatever festivals speak to you and your family.

A rhythm is not a scheduled noose around your neck but rather an idea of what occurs when and a way to keep a  balance in your day of in-breath and out-breath.

Many wee people under the age of 7, because they are or should be living in their bodies, do not get nearly enough outside time.  I would say four hours a day is not in the least too much for the under 7 child!  This time is out-breath, but there should also be time to have quiet time, listen to a story or other in-breath activities within the day.  There needs to be a balance for the small child who often is prone to excess in either wanting all out-breath or all in-breath activities.  You may need to look at yourself and see what you tend to model as well!  Do you display a good balance of in- and out -breath?

There are two other issues that frequently come up with the subject of rhythm.  One is that the mothers themselves who have irregular rhythms and perhaps have childhoods that were devoid of rhythms have difficulty with the whole concept.  They truly feel it is like the noose around their neck!  Remember, a rhythm is not a schedule with times – it is a flow of the day, of the week and of the month.

So, I would say to those mothers is that a rhythm is adjustable, but also a great opportunity to work on YOURSELF.  Can you get to bed at the same time every night?  Try it for ten days and work on your own self-discipline!  Then work on your morning routine, your meal times and the whole notion of quiet time.  Baby steps!

The second issue that comes up is “How Do I Fit Everything In?”  Well, here is the rub.  You cannot do it all!  I still find mothers of children under the age of 7 are planning too many things within their homeschool, and also too many outside activities.

Can you run your errands for groceries once a week either on a weekend when your husband can keep the children?  Or could you go at night after the children are asleep?  Or could your husband do the grocery shopping?   Can you have dry goods delivered to your door?  Would a friend be willing to do part of your list at one store if you do part of their list at a different store if you feel you must go to two stores?

What about health-related errands?  Many folks have chiropractic or homeopathic appointments or allergy shots or something that has to occur weekly.  How will you fit those in?

How many things are you personally involved in?  And how many things are your children involved in?  Because let’s face it, whatever your children are involved in are also your activities (on top of the activities you feel are really your own!)  Do you have anything for yourself at all?  I think this is important as well; something to call your own!

What age do your children get to start activities in your family?  Many mothers seem to sign their smaller children up for something because the older children are doing something.  This is not a good reason to sign a four-year-old up for something! It may be better to say, “Yes Jimmy, and you will do something like that too when you are seven like your big brother!”

I have also written on this blog before about how a four-year-old, a five-year-old, etc can be very content with simple things as opposed to lots of outside “field trips”.  They will get so much more out of excursions to places when they are over 7.  When they are four, a whale shark at the aquarium may hold their interest for ten minutes and then the kid down the aisle who has a piece of gum, the woman’s red sweater and the whale shark all register about the same on the Awe Scale.  Think about it carefully and watch and observe your child.

The caveat to all this is that children who are 7 and 8 years of age and older, while still needing protection from fatigue, DO need to start getting out and seeing some things.  Every family will handle this need differently as they balance the needs of the younger children to be home, but it is worth thinking about!

There are many, many posts on this blog about rhythm and creating rhythm.  Have a look under the rhythm tag in the tags box.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Day Number Six of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

Sleep and rest are extremely important cornerstones of Waldorf parenting and education, and one area that it seems many attachment parents struggle with.  Let’s take a closer look at sleep today and see if we can improve things for all members of the household!

First of all, a Waldorf perspective is that a small child may be born without much rhythm to their sleep and wake cycles.  I think that  those of us with what the Attachment Parenting’s movement terms “higher needs” infants, toddlers and children can attest to that many times the lack of rhythm seems to almost carry on through past the point where it is biologically protective.  For example, we don’t want a small baby, or even a baby up until 10 months or so sleeping through the night.  You say, wow, 10 months, really?  Why 10 months?  Because studies have shown that breastfeeding babies at 10 months are receiving ONE-QUARTER of their calories at night!  Many people say their babies “self-weaned” under a year and I think this is due to a highly distractible baby in many cases who is completely wrapped up in gross motor movement during the day and not as interested in nursing – and if they are sleeping through the night, that really cuts down on their calories!  Remember, human milk is the number one source of calories throughout the entire first year if not LONGER!   So I don’t want to shortchange that.  I also don’t want to have a 2 to 5 month old baby who sleeps through the whole night when the risk of SIDS is highest.  However, do remember that many in the medical community do regard “sleeping through the night” as a five-hour stretch, not the seven to nine hour stretch many of  us regard as a full night’s sleep!

However, there is something to be said regarding gently helping your child to establish sleep and wake cycles.   A child who is very irregular and has no rhythm may really need your help in this area!   For those of us attachment parenting with multiple older children along with babies,  many of us have found it easier to have a napping child in a sling while we do things with older children as opposed to “getting the baby” to bed multiple times a day and then work toward that as the number of naps decreases.  Even after a nap is “gone” (and I daresay in the olden days children did nap for longer than they seem to today!), we replace it with quiet time for the children and ourselves.  Especially with homeschooling, one needs this break!  And children need to learn the value of being quiet without someone or something electronic entertaining them!

Here are some posts regarding sleep from an attachment parenting perspective:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/03/16/co-sleeping-and-nighttime-parenting/   including parameters for safe co-sleeping and includes an interesting dialogue about what happens if co-sleeping doesn’t work for you!

And here are some posts from a Waldorf perspective:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/12/bringing-rhythm-to-your-baby/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/14/part-two-of-a-waldorf-inspired-view-of-sleep/

and here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/13/a-waldorf-inspired-view-of-sleep/

I would love to see a lot of dialogue on this topic; sleep becomes a crucial part of teaching with the Waldorf educational process with the three-day rhythm, so these are important issues to think about early on!

Blessings,

Carrie

Day Number Five of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

Here we are already at Day Number Five!  I can’t believe it!

Our focus today is to TAKE TIME FOR OURSELVES. Make yourself the priority you deserve to be! 

I see so many mothers who are feeling burned out at best and miserable at worst.  They are wearing so many hats (see this post here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/22/how-do-i-take-off-one-of-these-hats/  )  and feel isolated, alone, and many times unsupported by their spouse or significant other.  I wrote a post with some suggestions about this some time ago:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/06/making-yourself-a-priority-in-the-parenting-equation/  It has many suggestions for overcoming burnout and dealing with depression.  Please do read it if you have not read it before.

And now  please pat yourselves on the back for being a mindful mother.  Some mothers have a hard time hearing they are “good”  mothers; but please be open to hearing it!  If you are not open to hearing this, what are you feeling so badly about?   What has shaken your confidence so?  Could anyone else be more possibly invested in your children than you and your spouse or partner? 

If you are reading this blog, I feel you are at least open to fostering or investigating possible positive changes in your mothering.  Congratulate yourself for that!  Congratulate yourself for searching for ways that may suit your family better for the long run from all the places you are seeking.  Congratulate yourself for being mindful!  Perfection is not a realistic goal, but being more mindful is.  Learning how to forgive one-self, learning how to better hold the space in your own home as an Authentic Leader is possible!

The one thing I can suggest in addition to the suggestions made in the above posts is to find a mother who can mentor you.  It doesn’t have to be an in-person relationship, although that can be wonderful. Maybe there is a mother from a Yahoo!Group or a forum you could contact off -list and see if she would be willing to provide her perspective on the things you are struggling with.

Perhaps there is someone in your local La Leche League group, your local Attachment Parenting Group or in your place of worship or other community place whose parenting you admire.  Maybe you could ask them to meet with you, email with you or talk with you by phone.  Some mothers use their mentoring relationship on a weekly or monthly basis.

And most of all, when your children are older and you are the wiser for the challenges you have faced and conquered, pass this wisdom on by becoming a mentor to a new mother. You have the ability to impact lives in ways you may never have dreamed possible!

I have several mothers who mentor me, and I am  so very grateful for them. I wrote about a group of them here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/02/the-brain-trust/    and urge you to find and connect with mothers who can also help you. 

I recently had the great fortune of having a shower thrown for me for my third pregnancy  and it was attended by the women whose parenting I admire the most in the world.  They all have different and wonderful personalities and I enjoy hearing  their perspectives on things.  They always make me think!    I urge you to form these kinds of relationships that will carry you through the challenging times of parenting. 

Much love and many blessings,

Carrie

Day Number Four of 20 Days Toward Being a More Mindful Mother

(This post is directed toward day-to-day marital issues, not marital issues where physical or emotional abuse is taking place.)

Yes, we are back to one of my favorite soapbox issues:  your relationship with your spouse, partner or significant other (and to my single mommies, I am sorry that this post today probably won’t have a lot of challenging information for you!  :)  )

Here are some old posts I have written  regarding challenges in marriage and working toward better relationships in the home:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/27/more-on-marriage-how-do-you-work-with-the-differences/

The Stages of Marriage here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/03/19/inspirations-from-tapestries-the-stages-of-marriage/

Here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/17/using-your-first-year-of-parenting-to-fall-deeper-in-love-with-your-spouse/

And here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/08/parenting-as-partners/

Please, please think about what your home will look like in twenty years when your children are gone and you and your husband are left alone.  What will your relationship look like?  I have a friend who has asked me in addition to that question, “And how can you prepare for that day now?”

Many of you know I am a proponent of an early bedtime for children past infancy and nap stages so Mom and Dad can have time for their  relationship at night.  I know that does not resonate with everyone out there, but I am throwing it out there again because I have seen it work personally with quite a few parents in my area.  Just being able to have some time to finish sentences together and be, well, adults, often seems to put a spark back into the relationship.

Some parents do arrange dates for lunch, coffee, or dinner and take along a sling-able baby or a toddler who would be distressed by the separation but leave the older children at home with a trusted relative or friend.  For some families this works well.

Other families choose to have dates “in” and have books, games, movies, take -out food or a romantic dinner ready to go after the kids fall asleep.  This is another very viable alternative.

Intimacy can be a difficult subject to discuss, but I personally believe that physical intimacy is very important to the spousal relationship.  Many men will open up to emotional intimacy after the physical intimacy has been fulfilled.  Physical intimacy can be emotionally fulfilling for them.   Women tend to want the emotional intimacy first.  Work together in these areas to make things fulfilling for both of you!

Other important areas toward improving marital intimacy includes having respect for your husband.  Do you talk about him negatively in front of your children?  Karol Ladd in her book, “The Power of a Positive Mother” writes on page 193 (and I LOVE this!):  “Our kids pick up on the kindness and respect we show to other people, beginning in our own homes.  When we speak with respect to our husbands, our kids learn how to speak with respect to one another.”  Don’t you all love that, or is it just me?!

Often as an attached parent, it is easy to put your children ahead of your marriage (and indeed many times this HAS  to be the case for infants, older infants and even toddlers who need help at bedtime and such – these early years won’t last forever!).  However, once you have multiple children, one can only put the marriage on the back burner  for so long before  I think one has to come back to a balance that includes the adults’ relationship in the house.

The Gesell Institute book “Your Eight-Year-Old” talks about how the eight-year-old is acutely interested and aware  of the quality of the relationships of the adults in the house and is watching intensely.  I would say this starts well before the age of eight!  You are modeling for your children what a healthy relationship looks like, the roles of  not only a mother and a father but of a husband and a wife.  What are you modeling for your children?

This topic of focusing on your spouse is important, so very important!

Perhaps today you can meditate on ways to communicate better, consider the needs of the whole family (not only the children!) and your role not only as a mother and as a homeschooling mother/teacher, but your role as a wife as well.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Day Number Three of 20 Days Toward Being a More Mindful Mother

Today’s focus is on being POSITIVE!  This is a very important trait to pass on to your children – did you know that negativity can be “inherited” by your children?  They really do model your outlook on life!

There can be PHYSICAL reasons and PSYCHOLOGICAL reasons for not being positive – I urge you to talk to your medical provider, and a mental health care professional if you are depressed!  This post is more about just the day-by day ways we look at our lives!  Not to be confused with situations that need medical help!

So, you may be reading this and thinking, yes, I have been rather negative lately…So I ask you, what kind of negative person are you?  I think there are different kinds of negative people, and   I have listed a few types here I thought of off the top of my head:

THE WOE-IS-ME type:  Nothing ever goes right, no matter how hard I try!  Life has dealt me so many bad things and I can’t overcome it!  In parenting, I think this often manifests itself as talking about oneself, how “horrible” one’s child and spouse are even when things are not that bad (and I am not talking here about spousal abuse and other dire situations of emotional and physical abuse!)  This is more a type of magnifying the day-to-day things that happen. 

THE DRAMA QUEEN:  Every small thing that happens is fodder to be talked about, discussed, dissected for days and days.  The Drama Queen has a vortex-like pull and pulls everyone down around her.

THE GRUMP:  Chronically angry, chronically sad and may not even realize that this is how they view things. They may even  say things like, “I am just realistic, that’s all!”  Personally, I don’t want to live in your reality!  I think people who just complain but then don’t do anything to change their situation would also fit here in this category.

What other types can you think of?  I am sure we could come up with some great “category names” for types of negative people!  But how sad when our children have to live with this negativity and lack of confidence and joy day after day!

If you have been in a “negative slump” what can you do to change it?

What would you need in your life to be “happy” and if you got this, would you truly be happy or not?  Think about this one carefully!

That is for you to answer, because you and you alone hold the power to this, but here are a few things that have helped other mothers that I have heard:

  • -Positive self-talk – in other words, learning how to use our words to NOT magnify a situation.  Focusing on solving the problem rather than just the complaint of it all.  Keep track and see how many times I day you say, “I can’t” or “I shouldn’t have done that”.
  • -Inner work – Many positive mothers do have a strong spiritual life.
  • -Encouragement!  When our children are learning to crawl and their little arms collapse and they bonk themselves in the head, we don’t say, “Well, you did great but  next time keep your arms straight!” which is what we tend to say to older children trying something for the first time.  How many words of encouragement  are you giving your children each day?  How many times do you encourage your spouse or do you just nag and tell him all the negative things when he walks in the door?
  • -Taking care of oneself – Are you overweight?  Do you exercise? How do  you eat?  And most importantly, are you getting enough rest at night and are you taking a daily quiet time? 
  • -A Support System – this is so important; many mothers are very isolated!  Sometimes this isn’t bad and the mom functions just fine within her nuclear family, but if you are an outgoing person like me, you may need some outside contact….which leads me to:
  • -Do you have any community at  all?  A religious community, a spiritual community, a neighborhood community, a homeschooling community?
  • Lastly, this is one of my favorite Christian resources for positive mothering, dealing with anger and other issues:  http://www.positivemom.com/  It may not speak to everyone, but for some of you it may provide encouragement!

Leave your thoughts and inspiration for other mothers in the comment section!

Peace,

Carrie

Day Number Two of 20 Days Toward Being a More Mindful Mother

So, how did everyone do with Day Number One?  Did anyone write a Personal Mission Statement?  I actually did, and it was not as hard as I thought it would be!  Did anyone start any kind of inner work practice?  I would love to hear about it in the comment section!

Today we are going to focus on forgiveness.  I have written some posts on guilt and  forgiveness in the past  here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/27/forgiving-ourselves/  and here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/22/waldorf-guilt/   and here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/14/is-it-too-late/.

I had the good fortune of attending a continuing education course on Monday entitled, “Anger, Forgiveness and the Healing Process” given by presenter Robert Grant, PhD who focuses on trauma victims and the areas of trauma, spirituality, and cross-cultural issues.

One interesting thing that he (Dr. Grant)  pointed out was that not every culture employs the concept of “forgiveness.”  In many cultures it is kind of “endure and get on.”  He has worked in many countries around the world and currently is living in Japan.  According to Dr. Grant, forgiveness is a very Judeo-Christian and Islamic notion.  A reader commented below on the Hindu tradition of forgiveness as well, see comment section.  :)

In the world of parenting and homeschooling in our culture,  however, I think self-forgiveness is often a necessary part of the journey.  Self-forgiveness is often a process where one has to accept and forgive themselves for being HUMAN and not perfect.  In Dr. Grant’s view, being human means we are “flawed and limited.”

What are your wounds that require self-forgiveness?

How do you acknowledge disappointment, loss?

How can your inner work help you in the journey of self-forgiveness?

Parenting is not perfection, it is a journey. Your child is not a psychological extension of you.  I hear parents worry all the time that their child will grow up and resent the choices they have made; that Waldorf homeschooling will not be “enough” and that the child will blame them when they are in college and realize not every single thing was covered for them in their homeschooling education, etc.

Huh.

I don’t know about you, but I attended one of the best public school systems in New York.  I have gone on to college  to earn two degrees, and there were things that were not covered in my public school career.  If I knew everything coming out of high school, why would I need or want to go on to college?  And then there were some things I learned in high school that made so much more sense in college –precalculus and physics come to mind! 

There is always going to be some website or person who espouses the horrors of some parenting decision you have made –whether that is extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, homeschooling, Waldorf homeschooling.  We are all different people, and I think it is okay that people have different views.  Our views also change over time.

I have a friend who jokingly says, “Seriously, I have money set aside for my children’s  therapy!  If they come back when they are grown up and complain about this and that, I am just going to say, “I loved you and raised you the best I knew how back then, and here’s some money to go talk to a counselor about it!”   And she laughs.   But  I also know she will refuse to feel guilty or “less” because she was not perfect,  or because her child is a much different person than she was and is and will see things in a different light.  She knows she is doing the very best she can Right Now In This Moment.  That is powerful confidence!

Work today with the concept of forgiveness and how to be at peace with yourself.  Recognize that we are still growing and changing as we are still going through the seven-year cycles ourselves.  There are many posts regarding each seven-year cycle through adulthood as part of the book reviews of “Tapestries” by Betty Staley; you can search for these on this blog.  Perhaps that will be helpful to you!

Most of all, we can still be confident even if we are not perfect.  We still have more years of living than our children, we can still strive to be listeners, to be patient, to communicate without sarcasm or blame.  We can exude a quiet confidence and strength in parenting even without perfection.

Forgive yourself, be easy with yourself, and most of all love yourself.  I believe in a Creator, and in the Creator’s eyes, you are His Beloved, perfect or not!

Peace and love,

Carrie

20 Days To Being A More Mindful Mother

Hoo-boy, don’t  you hate it when you see titles like this in a magazine and you read it and think, “Yeah, right!  Some pithy little piece that will never change my life!”

I think those things as well when I see titles like these, so I cannot believe I am embarking on a series like this as well!   Interestingly enough,  this blog has MANY new readers (hi there, new readers!)  In fact, this blog is getting anywhere from 650-800 hits a day  now, which is really amazing to me.  I feel very humble about the whole thing, how this has grown from a tiny little thing just about a year ago to now!  Thank you to all  of you!  I so enjoy hearing from all of you and your thoughts, and walking with you.  You all know my theory that as mothers we should not have to re-invent the wheel and walk this path alone!

So, in that spirit, I would like to offer you the next 20 days to round-up some of the fundamental things I believe about childhood development, realistic expectations, inner work, spiritual homemaking and Waldorf.  I hope it will be fun for all of us!

So, without further ado, let’s dive into Day Number One:  Inner Work.  (I hear the groans; you all just KNEW I was going to say that, didn’t you??)

So, for the next 20 days, I want you to commit with me that you will start some form of inner work for  yourself for ten minutes a day.

In the past we have looked at Family Mission Statements here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/08/creating-a-family-mission-statement/

but what I was thinking about in this part is that perhaps some of you would be interested in creating Your Very Own Personal Mission Statement as part of this daily time.  Grab some paper and a pencil and jot down some answers to these questions:

What do you feel called to do and to be?

What are you passionate about?

What were you passionate about before you had kids?

What are two strengths that you have?

How could you use these two strengths?

How does your homemaking and raising a beautiful family fit into doing something for the rest of the world?

What are the things you model for your children that you are most proud of?

If you had to name three things that are your top values, what would they be?  Here is a pretty long list of different values to choose from:  http://www.timethoughts.com/goalsetting/ListOfSampleValues.htm

Stephen Covey is well-known for his approach to personal, family and business management through mission statements.  Here is a link to his website:  https://www.stephencovey.com/mission-statements.php

Of course, inner work can also be seen from a different view than just  mission statements.  Many people consider inner work to be the work that increases their sense of calmness, centeredness, peacefulness.  For some people this means living in the moment without judgment as to their own feelings, for some people this includes meditation practices, yoga, tai chi, walking or developing their inner life through art.  Many families find increased personal development through a specific religious path and prayer.

There are several other things often mentioned with inner work.  One of these is the concept of self-forgiveness and forgiveness in general and the other is meditating on the child.  I think these are important as well, and will include these in later blog posts for a complete focus.

The other piece of inner work to mention is the work one does with one’s own spirituality.  Many people these days do not seem to have strong religious or spiritual beliefs.  I heard some statistics somewhere, I cannot remember where at this point, that stated approximately 15 percent of the US population now has no religious affiliation at all, and almost 2 percent of the US population is now atheist.  I am sure if one looked at people who said they believed in something higher than themselves but had no structured religious or spiritual practice, the number would be high.

I encourage you  as part of your inner work during the next 20 days to explore where spirituality, religion and your beliefs in these areas come into play in your life and in what you model for your children.  Many children come into wanting answers regarding something higher than themselves around the age of  nine or ten year, and demonstrate wanting to be a different religion than what they are or wanting to experience something religious or spiritual if that has not been a part of their upbringing.  These are questions to think about now so you can provide the best guidance for your child during these times.

That completes some thoughts for Day Number One! 

Happy pondering, and most of all, happy DOING!  Make your commitment, pick a time of the day and stick to it!  I will be waiting to hear your progress!

Carrie