ideas for screen-free week

This week is Screen-Free Week!  This is your chance, from April 29 to May 5, to take a break from screens, re-connect with your children, and maybe even start some new rhythms for your family life that involve increased connection and fun!

I think one of the best ways to do this is to think a little ahead.  What is the rhythm to your family life?  When do you use screens the most and for what purpose?  Do you want to be screen-free or screen-lite and why is this important?  What does this mean to you, and for your children’s development?

Once you have your goals in mind, going back to the basics of rhythm is definitely the first step in improving any aspect of life.  If you have tinies, I suggest this post, Finding Rhythm With Littles, and for families with older children, I suggest this post:  Finding Rhythm With Grades-Aged Children

The next step is to bring your children into the work of your home!  This is a fantastic article from “Wonder of Childhood” about how to bring children into the work of your home.  This step includes making ourselves become agents of doing.  This is what a small child relates to, and what grades-aged children and teens are craving.  When we don’t show our children any meaningful work within a meaningful consistent rhythm, they are rightfully confused.

Learn how to play again as a family.  Families these days are often good at rushing around, but often not as good at playing all together.  This can include things such as board games and card games, but also playing outside together, and excursions.

Come join me on Instagram this week @theparentingpassageway as I post some ideas for different ages during Screen-Free Week!

Blessings,
carrie

the winning family book study: discipline without damage

This book, by author Dr. Louise Hart, was first published in 1987, but has had a profound effect on my parenting, and I am so grateful I get to share it with you!  If you want to catch up, we have been slowly going through the chapters this school year – the last post, about chapter 12 (“Parenting and Empowerment” is here)- but we will be moving through the remaining portions of the book a little more quickly so this summer we can tackle another one of my favorite parenting books.  Our new book will be “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and it comes in audiobook and Kindle editions, along with the traditional paperback and hardcover versions, so grab a copy to be ready for summer!

Today’s chapter in “The Winning Family” is so powerful!  It is called, “For Your Own Good:  Discipline Without Damage” (Chapter 13). The opening is a  look at the traditional saying, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” and how this has been entirely misconstrued.  The author adds:

Children need to be guided. If they are not guided – or are misguided – they will be “spoiled.”  If an adult overindulges a child without giving guidance, this will be detrimental to the child’s character. But children cannot be spoiled by too much love! They are spoiled by a lack of love and guidance.  

Remember, the word discipline has the same root as the word disciple, meaning pupil or learner.  Discipline is about teaching and guiding children, not punishing. We guide children until they can take it over with their own internal system of guiding themselves.  This is the tallest order in parenting and comes little by little over the years, beginning with the small things.  We protect our children from hurting themselves and others, and help them develop resilience and problem-solving skills.

When children misbehave, they are showing an expression of how they feel about themselves (or, I would add, the circumstances and how they deal with circumstances). Children need adults involved in their lives in  order to learn this through adult guidance and natural consequences.  If an action doesn’t have a natural consequence, then we use a logical consequence.  The consequence needs to be respectful, related, reasonable.   The goal is mutual respect, mutual responsibility for all parties, not just the child. 

However, in order to do this we must develop reasonable expectations. In today’s fast-paced world, we often expect far too much of tiny children.  So our expectations and our logical consequences must fit a child’s age.  We also must not rescue our children from situations that are appropriate for their age and the maturity level of the child.

There is a whole section regarding “Creative Family Management,” and I love this section as it has healthier options for working with children.  There are pages of options in this chapter!  My top three favorites in working with my own children or other people’s children are  offering alternatives, planning ahead, and choosing my battles carefully.

Tell me your favorite positive discipline guiding techniques! I would love to hear them!

Blessings,
carrie

ideas for the first week of eastertide

The season of Eastertide lasts from Easter Sunday until Pentecost on June 9th this year, which of course also corresponds with traditional and pre-existing Jewish feasts.  These 50 days, no matter what your spiritual or religious traditions,  seems to be a wonderful time for renewal and new beginnings.

Easter Monday is often a religious holiday in many countries, but it isn’t in the United States. (I was so tired yesterday and wishing it was a holiday!) If you have leeway or such, you might consider using a vacation day for this day and enjoy it being outside with your family.  You could even eat your meals outside after the long period of Lent.  Gather the family on this special day!

Other ideas for the first week of Eastertide:

  • Dye eggs!
  • This is a good time for egg races!  Take your dyed eggs and find a hill and see who can get to the bottom first.
  • This week is a great time to set up a little gratitude jar to keep track of all the wonderful in the ordinary for these 50 days if that is not something you ordinarily do
  • How about setting up a little Easter tree?  There are a number of ways to make egg ornaments just by searching on Pinterest.
  • Spend time outside in nature; consider getting up early for sunrises.
  • Make prayer and meditation a priority; I like religious themes but also the ideas of new beginnings.  What does the idea of new beginnings look like to you?
  • Make Easter bread – it is a perfect time, even if it is past Easter Day.

Blessings and love,

Carrie

celebrating earth day (every day)

Earth Day is tomorrow, the day after Easter Sunday.  This feels very profound to me this year as there was a large push within The Episcopal Church, my church, toward reconciliation in matters of race, social justice and the care of creation.  In fact, our entire Lenten season was dedicated to Creation Care and matters of eco-justice.   So it seems wildly wonderful to me that Earth Day falls on the day after Easter.   That is my own personal intersection with our faith and family, but obviously this work in  celebrating and conservation has been being  done by parents, Waldorf Schools, wildschoolers, and environmentally-conscious homeschoolers for a long time.  Every day is Earth Day!  If you would like to see more about that perspective from the Waldorf School movement, I suggest this brief article about this history of Earth Day in the Waldorf Schools.

I think as parents we are at the forefront of the environmental movement as we train the next generation of leaders through our example.  Here are some of my favorite ways to celebrate Earth Day every day:

  • Storytelling stories of good creation, of the wisdom of the plants and animals
  • Making useful products from herbs and plants – tinctures to natural dyes and more
  • Gardening and composting
  • Planting trees
  • Spending time in nature without agenda
  • Camping, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing
  • Conserving our own resources – reduce, recycle, reuse
  • Buying locally and sustainably
  • Handmaking things as much as possible
  • Living simply
  • Eating organically and using organic household items for laundry and hygiene
  • Looking for companies with sustainable packaging or better yet, stores and companies that are going zero waste
  • Letting children get dirty outside
  • Introducing children to naturalists, biologists, and environmental innovators through biography
  • For homeschooling parents and classroom teachers, making nature studies a vast and wide part of the educational experience

Tell me your favorite ways to celebrate Earth Day every day!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Celebrating Holy Week As A Family

For those of us who celebrate Easter, the entire Lenten season is now boiled down into this Holy Week that began with Palm Sunday and will continue this week until Easter Sunday.

There are many wonderful ways to celebrate Holy Week as a family, in addition to attending your local place of worship. Here are a few of our favorite family traditions:

  1.  Create an Easter Garden with small figurines.  Small children usually love this.
  2. Dye eggs with natural dyes, which is enjoyable for all ages.  Eggs were a symbol of creation, spring, and fertility long before Christianity. The Persians exchanged eggs at the new year; the Romans gave red painted eggs as a gift at new year.  Christianity adopted eggs as a symbol of the resurrection, and there are many wonderful stories about the resurrection and red eggs.  If you know any Orthodox Christians, ask if they have an icon of Mary Magdalene that they would be willing to show you -some icons have her depicted holding a red egg, so you can find out the story behind that!
  3. In the Anglican tradition (of which my family is a part of),  we keep vigil and pray during the time from the Last Supper to the time of the Crucifixion on Good Friday.  If you can find an Episcopalian parish in your area, prayer vigils are  often held all night there after Maundy Thursday Mass and times are rotated amongst members of the parish all night long.
  4. On Good Friday, you can bury a cross in a white shroud and uncover it on Easter. In our religious tradition, we decorate the cross on Easter with a multitude of beautiful fresh flowers.  This flowering cross on Easter Sunday is especially beautiful, and would be doable to do at home as well as in a community of worship.
  5. Spend time in nature and silence on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter.
  6. Create an Easter Candle, and bring home fire from the Paschal Candle at church to light your family Easter Candle.
  7. Bake Easter Bread to be eaten on Easter Sunday.
  8. You can make hot cross buns in order to break the fast on Good Friday (after sundown).  This tradition may have started with a 12th century monk in England who distributed buns to the needy on Good Friday, and it continues to be a tradition to this day.

I would love to hear your Holy Week traditions!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

Taming Your Chaotic Household

Most children need a calm and secure home life in order to thrive.  Children who have extra challenges such as being highly sensitive, higher needs, AD/HD, etc really need this.  The main question parents ask me in relation to this idea is:

How do I get this?  I want it but I don’t seem to be able to get it!

There are easy steps you can take toward taming chaos in the family.

  1. Find the triggers for everyone in the family. Sometimes we can readily identify what our children’s triggers are, from clothes to routine changes to foods to light and sound, but we also need to think about the triggers of the adults in the house.  If we understand what all of the triggers in the family are, we can more easily all live in peace together.
  2. If the child is out of control, we don’t add fuel to the fire and ramp it up – we provide a calm response.  Be the calm.  Inner work of any form – prayer, meditation, yoga, physical exercise/walking meditation, being in nature – all helps us be the calm.
  3. We don’t blame the other adults in the house.  We enlist each other’s strengths, we give each other outs if things are getting intense, and we work as a team.  Some families need counseling to really grasp this as a technique.
  4. We provide a home environment that is calming and secure:  we take care of addictions and baggage, we provide balance, we provide a clean environment that is reasonably orderly, we provide routine and boundaries.  We provide love and connection and listening.
  5. We take care of the basic levels of calm by providing adequate hours for sleep, healthy meals, and really monitoring the effects of sleep and different kinds of foods on our children.
  6. Lastly, if our child is school-aged, we do our best to find educational settings that match what our children need.
  7. If we are drowning, we get help.  It can be a trusted family member or friend to help you organize, it can be that you ask for help with meals, it can be that you take time off of homeschooling and deal with the physical space in your home.   Ask for help and be open to receiving it.

I would love to hear how you tamed your own chaos!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

the 3 stages of adolescence: takeaways for parenting

There are three distinctive stages of adolescence, and our best parenting should grow in response to these stages:

Ages 13-15/16 Early Adolescence

This is the stage of distance between “self” and “other”.  It involves the adolescent measuring him or herself against others. It is a time of uncertainty, emotional extremes, confrontation to clarify oneself against confrontation, and a time of building one’s own worldview apart from one’s parents.

best parenting:  walking the line between boundaries that provide safety and the slow opening up of the external world outside the family

Ages 15/16 to 18:  Middle Adolescence

This is a stage of more personal responsibility; typically a time of not wanting to be identified with childhood and a great enthusiasm for new challenges, wider contexts, and experiencing the push and pull of intimacy where oneself is expressed but there is still room for the other person; sensitive adolescents can struggle during this time

best parenting:  be on guard for escapism in response to that pull of vulnerability versus self-set boundaries; help the middle adolescent take responsibility and not lose oneself within the wider world; artistic work is important during this time period

Ages 18 t0 21:  Last phase of Adolescence

This is a time of figuring out not only who am i? but what do I want? meshed with the understanding of what am I capable of?  This must come from the will; mature adolescents will see where their path of development helps their fellow man.  This is a time of choosing their place in life, their work, perhaps a significant other or significant community.

best parenting:  since action comes from being capable, providing support and encouragement for capacities and capabilities is important; support for the ideas of the late adolescent; the encouraging of community

Share some of your best parenting practices for adolescents!

Blessings and much love,

Carrie