7 ways of doing self-care +parenting

Maybe parents from previous generations wouldn’t understand this fuss about self-care.  I think generally people got married and had children earlier than parents are doing now. Maybe there was more support in juggling the home and the kids through extended family, which many of us don’t have these days.  I know when I was younger, I certainly didn’t really understand the fuss about self-care as well as I do now, and when I started parenting over seventeen years ago, it wasn’t even really a thing to talk about self-care.

Cue now.  Cue the late 40s.

Years of parenting and homeschooling still await.

Things are shifting.

Self-care is needed.

Now self-care seems absolutely vital to me; absolutely necessary; absolutely important. It is something important for me that benefits the whole family, despite whatever limitations may be in the way.

Maybe you are feeling this as well.  I think younger parents are much more in tune with this than we are.  However, at any stage, it can be easy to neglect in the shuffle and business of life, especially for homeschooling parents whose children and teens are with the family many (all) hours a day.  So, i put together 7 ways for doing self-care that might resonate with you or give you ideas for your own practice.

  1.  Find your attitude about self-care, and your find your discipline to follow through.  First you have to believe that self-care is necessary, and then you have to find a way to follow through on doing self-care no matter what personal obstacles are in your situation.  Maybe your significant other travles nonstop, and you homeschool three tiny children that you can’t just leave to run out and do appointments or even go for a heart-pounding run that doesn’t involve stopping to look every ten feet at some critter on the ground.  Instead of feeling defeated, how will you make this work?  Brainstorm ideas, and believe AND do.
  2. Keep the big health guidelines in mind.  One hundred fifty minutes of moderate areobic exercise  a week and  twice a week strength training is recommended for adults in the United States, there are recommendations for how often to see your doctor and dentist, there are even recommendations for number of hours you should sleep a night, and how many hours a day you should be on a screen.  That might be the bare minimum place you start.
  3. Rest and play.  Rest and play for adults may be one of the most overlooked areas of health. This one can be done with your children, with your significant other, with your friends or by yourself?  How do you rest and play? What does that look like for you?
  4.  Time in nature.  This is extremely important for decreasing stress, for setting healthy patterns in sleep, and for a myriad of health benefits, even down to the cellular level.  There is true research on this, and since many people spend a lot of time indoors, it may be worth it to schedule yourself some forest bathing time or time to be outside.
  5. Time in community.  Community is very important. It is something new mothers or new fathers  naturally often seek in the form of playgroups…and then as the children grow, as teens have more interests and they no longer want to get together with the same chidren they have been since playgroup days due to lack of common interests…it can become more difficult to see other adults that you are really and truly close to.  My recommendation is to go out to dinner or tea or meet at a park – just the adults.  When your children are teenagers, you can leave them and do this!  If you think you don’t need this, I would say you should try.  It reduces anxiety, having community has many health benefits,  it makes you feel connected, and when your children are off living their own lives, you are going to want some friends!
  6. Time alone.  It is important to have some time each day, each week, each month to just be alone without the children.  Many parents get so lost in their children and all the hustle and bustle that they often lose who they were.  Parenting will change you! You will be a different person than you were.  That is normal.  But losing complete connection with yourself, your goals,  your dreams, your functioning as a separate human being outside of being a parent is difficult.  It can take time to get those things back, and time alone to think or think and journal can be invaluable.
  7. Healthy food.  Healthy food, and not using food as a form of stress control or self-medication is really important. Parenting can start a whole cycle of eating while standing up, eating as quickly as possible,  not having time to cook.  Batch cooking healthy things for the week can be a really big help, as can gadgets such as a crock-pot or Instapot.  Finding healthy recipes and making them, not keeping junk  food in the house that really isn’t made up of food but instead chemicals and additives ( I call it “food-like” substances) in the house, is really important self-care, and it sets a great tone for the future generation living in your household.  I was at a continuing education course where the home health physical therapists were estimating over half of the patients they were seeing were obese, and had Type 2 diabetes, and didn’t hardly move during the day.  This isn’t where we want ourselves or the next generation to end up!

Share with me your favorite ways to self-care!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

The Top Way To Be A Great Parent

One of my very favorite sayings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr is this one:

All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.

In my book, the top way to be a great parent is to model, show, tell, put our children in circumstances where they learn that we all affect each other and the planet.  We all need to rise up together, and to understand that some in the world are coming from very different cultural and life experiences that our own.  In this way, we raise human beings who are ready to love and serve each other and the world becomes more beautiful.  There will always be evil, there is no doubt.  There will always be selfishness and greed.  But the way we move forward is we train this next generation in love, in kindness, in generosity, in empathy, in humility.  The greatest education is not one of books and learning, although I probably love books and learning more than the average person, but one of character.

You might think, well, that sounds terrific, but how do I do that?  You might consider starting with yourself and the other adults in your home.  What are your wounded areas?  Do you see the world in this way; that we all affect each other?  Do you see the need to raise others up and to serve others?  What is your inner work surrounding these attitudes and these ideals – religious, spiritual, at home, outside the home- what is your practice?

How do you work as a team at home?  This is the first thing that children learn in the home- how to be loved and how to love, how to help, how to be respectful through good manners, how to live with others.  It is  about them learning how to be in the family and to be more than just themselves but instead part of a greater unit.  I have held great conversations around this theme over the years with attachment parents, and you can read some of my thoughts on past blog posts- how we can all be connected and meet the needs of our smallest children and yet also communicating that we as the people in the household all help, all serve, all work together, all have needs.

How do you help your child move into the community and society at large around them in a loving and kind way?  How do you expand that into the areas of your community and society that are underserved in the teen years and how do you also teach the beautiful boundaries of self-replenishment, self-love in order to make helping a sustainable practice for years to come?

Just a few thoughts on this day, 2019.  May we all live and love large and keep moving forward.

Blessings and love,

Carrie

Skills for High School (and life!)

We have one teen getting ready to go look at colleges and apply in the fall, and one child who will be entering high school in the fall.  These are such  interesting and often challenging ages to parent. I don’t think I ever doubted my homeschooling skills as much as I did when my oldest was in eighth and ninth grade.  I think this is because we as parents can see what skills will be needed for success in  the upper grades of high school and what will be needed in college, and we wonder what we will do if things don’t come together  (or as homeschooling parents we wonder if we are doing enough).

This leads me to a question:  what do you think eighth and ninth graders really need to be able to do in order to navigate high school (and life) successfully? I woud love to hear your thoughts!  Here are a few of my ideas for the important skills teens need for high school and beyond:

Communication Skills – this includes written communication, public speaking,  recognizing nonverbal cues in other people, presentation skills, and being able to collaborate on a team.  I think this is where things such as vocabulary and fluency in writing and speaking  counts, and so do things such as knowing how to introduce oneself and others.

**Ways to develop this:  4H and Toastmasters, work and volunteer experience, being on a team in any area- sports or otherwise, communicating effectively at home and pointing out cues and emotions,  increasing vocabulary in the later middle school years.  If you are the homeschooling teacher – assigning papers, research papers, and oral presentations.

Organizational Skills – this includes physical space planning (ie, the teen can find what they are looking for), mental organization, planning and scheduling, time management, prioritizing

**Ways to develop this – using a calendar or planner, using checklists, working with deadlines  for your homeschool, developing accountability outside the home to mentors, other teachers, volunteer work or a part-time job

Leadership and Teamwork – this, to me, involves initiative, making decisions, contributing, responsibility, respect of others and listening to others, humility, problem solving

**Ways to develop this – volunteer and work opportunities, allow decision making for teens and don’t bail them out of the consequences, let your teen figure out the possibilities – don’t do it all for them

Work Ethic -this includes dependability, determination, accountability, professionalism

**Ways to Develop This – assignments with deadlines in homeschooling, don’t skip the hard or boring all the time, work and volunteer experiences, the development of healthy habits at home which requires a regularity in doing things

Emotional Intelligence – self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, social skills

**Ways to Develop This- talking to teens about their feelings and helping them use “I” statements and how to be active listeners, basic anger management and conflict management skills,mindfulness techniques,  nurture motivation when your teen is interested in a subject or has a passion and teach them  how to set goals around their passions, provide and model optimism and encouragement

I would love to hear your ideas!  What do you think is important?

Blessings,

Carrie

PS. If you are looking for more on this subject, you might enjoy this back post on Life Skills for Seventh and Eighth Graders and some of the resources I recommend!

Compassionate Parenting For Toddlers

Is your adorable toddler exploring and getting into everything? Toddlerhood can be one of the most fun (and exhausting times) to parent, dependent upon the personality of your toddler!  Some toddlers need to be saved from death every hour, and some are content to be near you and involved in what you are doing.  In any case, having a few compassionate and fun responses to typical toddler situations up your sleeve can be really helpful!

One foundation to keep in mind for all toddler situations is that toddlers do well with a rhythm to their day (try this back post on Finding Rhythm With Littles, and meaningful work  (the post I linked here is probably one of THE top guest posts on The Parenting Passageway for ten years! Go check it out!)

The toddler stage does not involve reasoning.  There is no reasoning yet.  Toddlers are just realizing they can’t always get what they want, and this leads to temper tantrums.  Your toddler is “doing” and the best you can do as a parent is to childproof, supervise, redirect, distract, provide substitutions, pick up your toddler and move them around with your GENTLE  hands away from danger or situations that they shouldn’t be into.  You cannot parent a toddler from the couch so get up and correct things gently the first time with your loving presence and ability to distract them.

A toddler is going to express negativity. “ No”  has power, “no”  has meaning.  Toddlers often use their body to express their negativity – hitting, biting, pushing – because their words are not totally there yet.  Even the ones that are “verbally” advanced lose their words when they become upset!  They want to be independent (the “me do it” stage), but still need help.  They don’t play with other children yet, they have fears of things such as thunder or animals or vacuum cleaners.  Their thinking really is “this is here, this is now” without much  memory involved.  They do, however,  IMITATE what YOU do!

Saying no frequently is not helpful in guiding your child – tell them what you would like to see, and better yet, SHOW THEM.   Childproof your environment so you don’t have to say NO fifty times a day.

These are the top common situations with toddlers and some simple solutions:

“Into Everything”:

Options:

  • Child-proof, child-proof
  • Model how to explore fragile things with your help and put away
  • Keep less things out, access to art supplies, toys, etc should truly be limited

Your Ideas:

Picky Eating:

Options:

  • Rule out a physical cause; check food allergies and sensitivities
  • Limit high-fat and high-sugar choices, have many healthy choices
  • Look at your child’s food intake over a week, not just one day
  • Have a schedule/rhythm for mealtime and snack time  and sit down with your child to eat in an unhurried manner
  • Serve smaller portions – your child’s stomach is the size of their fist
  • Serve your child’s favorite foods as a side dish to a main meal
  • Do not feel ambivalent about your child’s ability to eat what you serve
  • Allow an option to have toast or cereal for one night a week
  • Try frozen vegetables, such as peas and corn right from the bag or raw veggies with dip if your child is old enough and this is not a choking hazzard
  • Let the kids have a vegetable garden – children often will eat what they have grown
  • Start calling green veggies “brain food”
  • Sneak veggies and fruits into smoothies, or finely grate or chop and mix into foods the child likes
  • Fill a muffin tray or ice cube tray with different healthy kinds of snackable foods that the child can pick from
  • Model good eating yourself – eat a wide variety of foods!

Your Own Ideas:

Poor Sleeper:

  • Rule out physical problems  – many children had reflux when they were younger and are off of medications by the time they are a year or so, do make sure reflux has not reared its head again.  Also be aware of a condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis – see the comment in the comment thread below.
  • Educate yourself regarding normal sleep behavior – segmented sleep throughout the night was the norm until the Industrial Revolution
  • Expect disruptions in sleep around change, stresses, developmental milestones
  • Try a more consistent routine during the day calming and soothing techniques for naptime and bedtime
  • Try lots of daytime sunlight and dim the lights after sundown; put your house to sleep after dinner
  • Limit afternoon over-stimulation, be home and have a consistent routine where things are structured around getting ready toward sleep
  • Look at the foods your child eats
  • Hug, sleep, hold your child – parent them to sleep
  • Co-sleep
  • Remember that many toddlers and preschoolers are poised for an early nap and an early (6:30 to 7:30 PM) bedtime – sometimes we just miss the window!
  • Watch out for TV and other media exposure
  • Many normal, health co-sleeping children do not sleep a 7 to 9 hour stretch until they are 3 or 4 years old.

Refuses bath:

Options:

  • Use bubble bath, toys
  • If she fears soap in her eyes, use swimming goggles or sun visor
  • Try bath in the morning instead of at night
  • Try a shower
  • Get in tub with child
  • If child fearful of drain, can drain tub after child out of tub or after child  leaves room

Bites adult:

Options:

  • Do not take it personally, do not over-react
  • Most common between 18 months and 2 and a half years
  • Re-direct behavior
  • It is not okay for your child to hurt you!
  • Do not bite for biting!

Your Own Ideas:

Bites other child:

Options:

  • Watch child closely during playtime but realize children of this age do not need many playdates if any at all – limit the exposure and situations you are putting your child in!
  • Give attention to the victim
  • Usually biting stops by age 4

Your Own Ideas:

Slaps faces:

Options:

  • Re-direct behavior
  • Do not hit for hitting
  • Model non-aggression

Your Own Ideas:

“Demanding, exacting, easily frustrated”

Options:

  • Review normal developmental milestones and behavior
  • Check how many choices you are giving and how many words you are using and use LESS
  • Try to get in a lot of outside time
  • Go back to the basics of rhythm, sleep, warm foods, nourishing simple stories and singing

Will not get dressed or put on shoes:

Options:

  • Plan ahead and use easy to put on clothing, check for tags, seams
  • Sing a song, look for body parts, dress by a window
  • Dress together
  • Put clothes on when you arrive at destination

Your Own Ideas:

Running Away in Public Places :

Options:

  • Limit the number of public places you take child
  • Bring along a second adult to help if possible

Your Own Ideas:

Temper Tantrums:

  • It is OK to feel angry or frustrated; accept the feeling – All feelings are okay; all actions are not.
  • Look for the triggers – hungry, tired, thirsty, hot/cold, over-stimulated
  • Try to avoid situations that set your child up to fail
  • Give YOURSELF a moment to get centered and calm
  • Remove yourself and child from scene if possible (if in  a public place)
  • Can get down with child and rub back or head if child will allow,  can just be there
  • Once child has calmed down, can nurse, give him a hug, get a snack or drink
  • If child is mainly upset and gets wants you near but you cannot touch child, consider doing something with your hands to keep that peaceful, centered energy in the room!  Hold the space for your child!
  • Do NOT talk – for most children this just escalates things!
  • If child is okay with being picked up, can go outside for a distraction
  • Try back post More About Time-In For Tinies

Your Own Ideas:

Refuses Car Seat

Options:

  • Let child have a bag of “car toys” that can be played with as soon as seat belt is buckled
  • Have a contest who can get in the fastest
  • Be a policman, fireman, truck driver

Your Own Ideas:

There are many back posts on this blog about toddler development and behavior.  I can’t wait to hear from you and your experiences with your toddler!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

Worthy

So many of us are bogged down with life right now.  Whether it is small children who aren’t sleeping through the night, dealing with elderly parents, tough and challenging issues with older teenagers – we all have something going on.

But, what I want you to remember today and heading into this New Year is that you are WORTHY.  You are important and amazing.

You are worthy of sleep and rest.

You are worthy of preparing and eating healthy meals.

You are worthy of daily exercise.

You are worthy of clothes that fit.

You are worthy of a partner that cherishes you and loves you and puts you above all else.

You are worthy of being treated with respect.

You are worthy of being the King or  Queen of your own home and your own life.

You are worthy of setting boundaries and saying no.

You are worthy of friends who love you and want to spend time with you.

You are worthy to find times to laugh every day.

You are worthy of healing.

You are worthy to let go of the anger and saddness that is consuming you.

You are worthy of the sunrises and sunsets painted in the sky  just for you.

You are worthy of having a wonderful, healthy, amazing 2019.

I am so excited about this year, and I hope you are too.

Blessings and love,

Carrie

5 Steps To A Terrific Year

The goal of The Parenting Passageway is to support parents in creating vibrant and compassionate developmental parenting and educational practices.  I have spent a lot of time this winter break recently dreaming and planning some ways to get this message out in a larger and bigger way, not only through the Internet, but through public speaking and conferences, and yes, the ebooks I keep promising myself I will write!

But with the New Year upon us, I was thinking about  how we can begin with ourselves. The reason for this is simple:  if we set the tone in our family, if we are the authors of our family life, the guides for our children, then there must be a way to set a foundation of being vibrant for our children.

These are the five steps I have been dreaming of this week, and I wanted to share them with you:

  1. Forgiveness – of others and of ourselves.  I wrote about this process  in this post
  2. If you need to, do the inner work around feeling worthy and deserving of all the good things to come.  I find some  of us struggle with these areas and secretly feel we aren’t very worthy and are just happy when things go well by sheer luck. I think this is where prayer or another spiritual practice really can help.
  3. Design your year with your intentions in mind – what are your hopes, dreams, goals? Make a vision board, use a word to encompass your year, draw a picture/circle in the round to represent the months, write a mission statement.  Putting our sometimes secret hopes and wishes out there can be scary or intimidating, and yet, I think when we do, they are more likely to happen simply because we focus on them and we are more likely to consider how to make this come true.  If you schedule the time and your focus, then good things will happen.
  4. Think about the why’s and how’s behind your intentions.  How will the things you want really come to fruition?  Also, is there a bigger why behind the intentions for the year – how will it help you serve your purpose in your family and the world?  
  5. Set aside time for a self care/daily routine to focus on your intentions and create your own vibrant self-care  for your physical body every day as this is the foundation for family life and the things you want to create in your life.  I like many of the methods mentioned in this book and it is free on KindleUnlimited

It is going to be a terrific year!  I would love to hear the things you want to come true this year!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

The Number One Thing You Must Do To Have A Successful Year

Today is the Feast of St. Stephen in the Christian year (tomorrow is the Feast for my Orthodox Christian readers), and I think it holds great significance for those of us looking ahead to 2019.  Even if you are not Christian, stop and hear me out for a minute.

St. Stephen was one of the first of seven deacons the original apostles ordained to take care of the poor in Jerusalem. His life was one of service to others. He was the first one to be martyred for his work, and we know his face was “like the face of an angel” as he stood before his accusers and the people.

So, you might be asking, what does this have to do with me and 2019?

Well, because the simple truth is YOU are an influencer.  This term is thrown around a lot, you see it on You Tube Videos and Instragram account descrpitions – “I am an influencer!”  And rightfully so, as  far as social media goes.  But as a human being, and especially as a parent, we are all influencers!

St. Stephen was an influencer above all as the first archdeacon to help the poor.  However, we can all be influencers.  We all can work to influence, support, nourish, and help the people we come into contact with. If we listen hard enough,  we  can discern what work we need to accomplish for the service of humanity.

I have some BIGGER dreams for this year, now that I am feeling healthier finally.  I want to influence 50,000 people in supporting vibrant, compassionate, developmental parenting and education.  I want to think about refreshing my skills in medicine and healing now that my children are 17,14,and 9, which will definitely require a lot of work on my part since I have been out of the game.  I want to be the healthiest I have ever been. We are going to have an epic year with family and friends making connections and having fun and adventures.  It is going to be a great year in parenting and homeschooling our children toward also being influencers that help others. And in order to do this all of this, one thing has to happen first.

We have to believe that we are more than our past mistakes, or the past we think was foisted upon us that was debilitating and wrong. We have to FORGIVE. Forgive ourselves, forgive our parents and whatever they did or didn’t do, forgive the people that we think wronged us, and move forward.  Forgiving doesn’t mean we condone what that person did or even what we did, but we move forward knowing that now is the time to do better, to let go of bitterness, to overcome layers of shame and anger, and to become what we are called to be and called to be doing. Time by itself doesn’t fix things; as I get older I see people holding on to things that happened in their teens and early 20s and are now in their 50s. This has to be an active process!

There is a confession we make in the Episcopal Church that makes me think of this process:

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

On this second day of Christmas, I  know I have the BEST readers ever!  I really  want to hear from you and how you forgave!   How did you free yourself from “what you have done and what you have left undone?”  Tell me how you threw off layers of despair, depression, anxiety, anger, and rage.  Tell me how you are an influencer in your family or outside your family!

This is going to be a fantastic year!

Many blessings,

Carrie