Mamas Need White Space

One of my favorite non-mom blogs is Zen Habits. This week he posted about making space in your life using the design principle of creating white space.

Creating white space around the important things and getting rid of clutter lets you focus on what’s important.

I loved the post so much that I immediately began moving things out of my home or into better spots. I’m somewhat of a hoarder and I often pile things up in and around my home instead of finding a good spot for it right away. I also live in a tiny little apartment with a 2-year-old. Nuff said.

So this post was so perfect for me. It clarified for me just why creating space is important. Not just so your house will look clean for when you have company over. But so your mind can concentrate in an orderly space. Interior is affected by exterior.

Then I imagined what parenting would be like if I used the white space principle on my parenting. Lose arbitrary rules. Focus on what’s important, a connection with my child. That’s what really needs to pop out at me.

Using white space creates:

* greater legibility
* feeling of luxury
* breathing room & balance
* more emphasis

Wouldn’t it be nice if we felt those things surrounding our relationship with our children?
Continue reading “Mamas Need White Space”

Making Unique Rules for Unique Children

I spent the last nine days worrying and praying for my 19-year-old niece who was hospitalized again for a problem stemming from her kidney disease, despite taking early precaution and being on chanca piedra stone-breaking pills. Her strength and stamina are inspiring, her tears are gut-wrenching and her journey is still an uphill climb. One realization for all of us this week is that she can never live by the same rules enjoyed by her peers. While most collegians survive on pizza and experiment with alcohol, my niece can get sick from too little sleep and too much stress. It doesn’t take much to upset the delicate balance of keeping her body healthy. She must adhere to very different rules and regulations. Continue reading “Making Unique Rules for Unique Children”

Motherhood’s Magic Mirror

It starts off simply enough. I smile, you smile. Then it gets more complicated.

My daughters had a hard time using the word “please.” I noticed this several years ago, when I was constantly correcting their demands, making them insert the word before I would honor their request. They always said, “Thank you,” just not the “p” word. I remember the moment when I discovered why this phenomenon was occurring and needless to say, it was a head-slapping revelation. I asked my child (about age 4) to do something and she looked at me while asking, “please?” She was correcting my rudeness.

So, I listened in on all my conversations that day. Do I ever use the word? I frequently use the words “thanks” and, “I’m sorry.” I say “you’re welcome” and I always say “I love you” at least twice a day per family member. Somehow I had gotten into the habit of issuing orders without the basic nicety of “please.” It didn’t matter that I was telling my children to always use this word, they were simply mirroring my own behavior. It was so basic. So many trite sayings have formed out of this one constant of human development. Monkey see, monkey do. Do as I say, not as I do. But there it was staring me in the face without me really seeing it.

There are many times in raising children when you need to stop, examine your world through your child’s eyes and ears, and really think about what they are learning from you. Are you telling them not to hit, but spanking them as a form of punishment? Do you raise your voice when angry, but reprimand your child for yelling? (This is one of my uglier problems that I’m still working on.) Do you wish they would interact more with other children, but spend all your time with them instead of making strong connections with other adults?

It’s not easy realizing that your children are so much like you, yet so different. You assume they will only pick up your strengths and excel at the areas you have mastered. In addition to picking up your bad habits, magnifying them and mirroring them back to you like a carnival fun house; children also pick up on your energy. They know when you are tense, sad, angry with your spouse or worried about life. They know instantly when you don’t like someone. Unfortunately, children assume that they are the cause of your negative emotions, not an outside influence. My oldest daughter has the eerie habit of plucking thoughts right out of my head. It happens so often now that I’ve come to accept her ability as yet another reason to focus my thoughts and energy into positive messages.

MOM DARE: Spend this week listening in on your conversations, really hearing yourself the way your child does. Are they imitating you? Can you see how one of their troublesome behaviors could be related to something you have inadvertently taught them? Are you stressed about something and your child is picking up on your anxiety? Try spending a little more time this week reassuring your children that they are doing a good job, that you love them, and that life is truly beautiful. Please.

Sharron Wright is the work-at-home mother of three girls, ages 2, 5 and 8. Her mission is to help other new parents feel empowered and to instill in them the confidence to care for their babies in a loving, positive way that respects the uniqueness of all children. She blogs at http://momswithgrace.wordpress.com and helps new moms at www.babylovecarebook.com

If You Can Grow Kids, You Can Grow Anything

"So, this is where garlic bread comes from?"
“So, this is where garlic bread comes from?”

I spent this morning digging up garlic bulbs with my delighted 5-year-old daughter. She shouted every time she brought one out of the earth and into the scorching July sun thanks who Olathe pest control who saved the crops earlier. We stopped at 50 bulbs; both of us hot, dirty and reeking of garlic. It was fun for both of us, but also profound. She loves garlic bread, but never would have imagined this delicious treat could come from under the dirt!

Growing vegetables is more than a hobby for me. Oh sure, I’m geeky enough to take pictures of my garden and post them on Facebook. But farming is part of my past, present and future. I’m the granddaughter of farmers on both sides of my family and have always known where food comes from – both animal and vegetable. For me, growing food is an essential life skill for my children – and if my dreams come true someday – for all children. Just as I teach my girls the alphabet, I also show them how to plant seeds, water and mulch them, and most importantly, how to harvest and prepare the food. What they get from the process is part science lesson, part cooking lesson and part spiritual awakening. Children begin to see the cycle of life in gardening, but issues of life and death are a lot less scary when dealing with plants. Farming also raises the consciousness of children about their food supply. At the age of four, our daughter refused to eat pork when she found out it came from pigs, her favorite animal. This lasted for an entire year with our full support.
Continue reading “If You Can Grow Kids, You Can Grow Anything”

Baby Top Ten List: What your baby is really trying to tell you

Ah, if only all our mothering moments could look like this. Perhaps it's best if we choose to remember these images of babyhood and not the less happy ones?
Ah, if only all of our parenting moments could look like this. Perhaps it's best if we choose to remember these images of babyhood and not the less happy ones?

Falling in love with your baby is easy, taking care of a fussy baby… not so easy. All that crying really is your baby’s way of communicating. Now, what on earth is he or she trying to say? And why didn’t anyone warn you about this before you had children? Don’t be tempted to call it colic just yet. You can discover what is wrong.

As a first-time mom, I wrote these instructions for my husband so I could take a break. He was always able to figure out our babies’ cries by using this as a checklist. Once your baby is on a consistent routine, you will eliminate a lot of crying and fussiness by meeting needs before they become urgent. In the meantime – if you’re at your wits end – take a deep breath and try each of these until you find the right one.

Ten things your baby is trying to tell you:

  1. Change my position. Or change your position; stand, bounce or sway. (While back sleeping may be considered safest, many babies are uncomfortable sleeping on their backs. Research other safe sleeping positions for fussy babies.)
  2. Burp me. Try different positions, not just on your shoulder.
  3. Feed me. If I’m really hungry, I may resist a bottle at first. And if I’m usually breastfed, I may not take kindly to a bottle. Be gentle but persistent. It also helps to use a wide-mouth bottle with a medium or fast flow. (Fussy babies are often fussy because we are unable to digest cow’s milk in any form; whether in mom’s diet passed through the breast milk or in dairy-based formula… please try eliminating cow’s milk.)
  4. Talk to me and sing to me. Let me know you love me.
  5. Help me sleep. If I won’t look you in the eye, I may be really tired. Take me to a dark, quiet room and rock me to sleep.
  6. Hold me in the “pooping position.” When I’m semi-reclined in your lap, gently push my knees to my chest or rub my belly. Gas drops or Gripe Water may help relieve gas pains.
  7. Check my diaper. Cloth diapers may need to be changed more often than disposables, but disposables are more likely to irritate the skin. If diaper rash is severe and not related to a food allergy; try switching to cloth.
  8. See if I’m too hot or too cold. I probably don’t need a hat, jacket, booties and mittens inside the house.
  9. Swaddle me. I feel more secure when I’m wrapped snug in a blanket.
  10. Hold me. It’s what I love most, and I even produce growth hormones when held. Carry me in a sling or other carrier to make both of us happy.

You will know when you’ve been stricken with baby love. Your heart melts at the sight of one tiny grin and the weight of the world seems to lift at the sound of a contented baby sigh. Caring for a baby is exhausting, sometimes frustrating work, but baby love is fierce … and can inspire you to accomplish anything you can imagine. Keep up the great work, you really can do this, and all these challenging stages will pass long before you are ready to give them up.

Do you have a consistent routine yet? At the very least, get up at the same time every morning and go to bed at the same time every night. You can ease a fussy baby simply by giving them a consistent, loving environment. Crying generally boils down to three basic needs: FOOD, SLEEP and  COMFORT. The top ten list addresses all these needs.

Mom Dare: Your challenge this week is to make sure you are meeting your own three basic needs. Are you eating healthy meals at regular intervals, sleeping whenever possible and depending upon someone close to you for moral, spiritual and physical support? Taking care of yourself is the best defense against the frustrations of parenting. So take three things off of your To-Do List and pencil in a nap, a healthy meal and time with someone you love instead.

Sharron Wright is the work-at-home mother of three girls, ages 2, 5 and 7. Her mission is to help other new parents feel empowered and to instill in them the confidence to care for their babies in a loving, positive way that respects the uniqueness of all children. Visit her at www.babylovecarebook.com.

Outdoor Families, Part 1: Hiking with Children

Summer is upon us, folks! Summer in our house is… well, not really spent in the house. We are outside as much as possible and have already gone on several hikes and camping trips. We love reading the posts on campingfunzone.com and try to use what we read on almost every summer trip that we take. This is the first installment in a series of informative posts to help you and your families enjoy the great outdoors safely and stress-free.

Hiking is a great way to get your family outside and enjoying nature (and each other’s company). There isn’t a lot of special equipment involved, and a hike can really be tailored to suit your family’s needs. If you are a novice hiker, plan a short half-mile or mile hike. A shorter hike means you don’t need to carry much with you, and can also help everyone get accustomed to the outdoors. In no time, you’ll be looking for longer hikes and feeling more and more confident in your outdoor abilities.

Something about the fresh air, the lack of distractions, and the exercise just makes hiking a perfect family activity. By taking our kids hiking we are modeling the importance of a healthy body to them. We are telling them that we would rather be in the middle of nowhere with them than at home working on our to-do lists. Kids love hikes, and the memories made on hikes can last a lifetime. There is no reason to sit on a rock or hard wood while you are supposed to be enjoying your life in the outdoors. Camping chairs are now a mainstay in the list of camping equipment you ought to be bringing. Though not a compulsory equipment, camping chairs are a great addition in the name of comfort. Camping chairs should always be found in the campsite as they make things more comfortable, especially when you know that camping should be all about relaxing and forgetting all the stress in the world. You will get know everything about day hiking with camp chair here, do visit. While in night to site around on camping chairs, camp fire adds an extra excitement of the camping. While burning camp fire it is suggested to use the 6mm træpiller, easily available at https://www.xn--dkbrnde-pxa.dk/traepiller/traepiller-6-mm for camping, which is highly recommended for the biofuel as well.

Sol and I on a recent Rocky Mountain hike.
Sol and I on a recent Rocky Mountain hike.

Something so simple can bring siblings closer together, and give parents a much-needed break from the day-to-day. Hiking is very conducive to conversation. Whether you are hiking with a baby and enjoying the time to connect with your partner, or hiking with kids and enjoying the extra opportunity to focus on them, a good hike will foster love and communication. Really take the time on your hike to try to see the world through your child’s eyes.

General tips:

  • At least in the beginning, hike popular trails. There are definite perks to hiking more solitary places, but until you and your family are comfortable hiking, popular trails are the way to go. Trails that see a lot of traffic are generally nicer. The paths are wider and very easy to follow. If you run into a situation that you are not prepared for you can just stop and wait for another hiker to catch up with you. Popular trails often have dedicated parking, and some even have restrooms nearby.
  • Take a cell phone. We hike all over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and have been in very few situations where we did not have cell phone service or could not find service by hiking a little further or backtracking. Just having a phone will give you some peace of mind and let you enjoy your outing.
  • Take food. Even if you’re only expecting to be gone for an hour, throw a couple protein bars or some nuts in your backpack. Nothing ruins a hike like a hungry kid, and we have never been in a situation where we though “Man, I really wish we hadn’t packed that power bar!”
  • Hydration is key. Take a little more water than you think you’ll need. Depending on the difficulty of the terrain, the temperature, and the exposure to sunlight adults need to drink around a liter of water an hour or more. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Layers. Unless you are hiking at low elevation and have a lot of faith in the forecast, dress in layers. We’ve been on hikes where we start out in 80-degree sunny weather and then a mountain storm kicks up and we get higher up in elevation and end up hiking in 40-degree rain. You can always take clothes off, but you can’t always add clothes.

Kids:

  • Whether your kids are walking the whole way or you’re bringing a stroller, go at your child’s pace. If you have to turn around a mile in, don’t worry about it. The point is to enjoy being outside and being together. Be flexible. Make the only definite goal coming home happy and healthy.
  • Sunscreen: wear it. Make your kids wear it. Reapply halfway. You won’t regret putting on sunscreen, but you may regret not wearing it. Hats and sunglasses are also a good idea.
  • Snacks: Make sure you pack high protein, high carb snacks for your little ones, and take a break before they start complaining of hunger. Hiking is hard work!
  • Notice nature: This is a great opportunity for your kids to explore nature. See how many kinds of flowers you can find. Stop to examine any tracks you see. Encourage rock collecting. Answer their questions.
  • Throw some toilet paper in your backpack along with a plastic bag to keep used toilet paper in. Trust me.
  • Have a destination. Kids love to hike TO something. So find a good hike to a waterfall, or a cool cave, or a lake.

Babies:

  • Babies’ needs on a hike are very similar to kids, except that they can’t talk to you. Stop often to check on baby. Check to see if he’s hot or cold and adjust his clothing as necessary.
  • Breastfeed him or offer him a drink more often than you would at home.
  • Find a comfortable carrier. While an older infant might walk around and explore a bit, you are going to carry her most of the way. There are many hikes with wide paved trails where you can just bring along the stroller, but for more remote hikes we have found a backpack-type carrier to be indispensable!

Get out there and try a hike with the best hiking boots from Live Your Aloha. Just commit a Saturday morning, do a little research, and go! Happy trails!

Take Ten: How 10 minutes can make you a better parent.

As a mother who is tuned in to her baby’s or child’s needs, and seeks to meet those needs in a prompt and loving manner, it is easy to put yourself last.  Raising a child is an act of devotion, and it is so common to forget that taking care of yourself is an important step in nurturing your children. Stress, tension, and lack of focus can make mothering to your best potential a difficult task.  It is essential to take time to relax and refresh.  After pouring our hearts, souls, time, and patience into little ones we all deserve a nice hour-long massage and an uninterrupted four-hour nap.  For most of us, there just isn’t time or resources to enjoy these kinds of relaxation.  But these ten mini-refreshers can help you stay grounded, focused, and refreshed so that you can parent at your best.  I know how important downtime is to a parent, so you’ll pleased to know that these refreshers are broken down into manageable 10 minute sessions (leaving plenty of time to attend to laundry, cleaning, and your to-do list).  Every mom or dad can find 10 minutes in his or her day.  Especially when my son was a newborn, my husband was hungry for opportunities to help out.  So the next time your kids are at school, or napping, or your partner is available for 10 minutes, try one of these stress-busters. Continue reading “Take Ten: How 10 minutes can make you a better parent.”

Taking Care of Ourselves

park benchMany parents (myself included) are under the impression that the moment we are born into the world of parenting, our own needs and desires become secondary. That is true to an extent: parents do not make up the bulk of the nightlife scene, we often have to yield the bathroom to littler bodies, and we have less time to leisurely read the newspaper or go backpacking when children are around.

But sharing our time and space with children does not mean that we have been forced into a life of martyrdom. We have our own needs, and we need to take care of ourselves in order to parent effectively. I recently wrote a guest post on dealing with mama guilt; the first suggestion in that article was to take care of yourself.

Mothers who are stretched too thin – who run from work to their kids’ activities, who volunteer and organize, who cook and clean – without also doing something to make themselves happy, are apt to burn out. There are several reasons this is not ideal, not the least of which is that a burnt out mama is not functioning at her best.

Nor is a completely selfless mother the best role model. She is passively teaching her children that her needs are not important. Consequently, her children will not consider her thoughts and feelings either. She is also influencing her children’s future relationships. Her child may learn to always bow to the will of others, or he may never stop to think about the feelings and needs of his friends and family. Neither is a desirable outcome. If you are looking  hair cut for women in Franklin , visit us now. In case you’re searching for the cut you need when you need it, simply stroll in, call ahead, or registration online anytime. You can demand your preferred beautician or see any of our skilled staff!

Take Care of Number One

Here are a few things I have tried to do lately to take care of myself:

  • Leaving the house for an hour or two: This gives my husband and son the chance to play uninterrupted. I can run an errand or surf the Internet alone, and my son learns that papa takes care of him just as well as mama does.
  • Stashing a special treat away: Not only does sneaking a treat give me a little chocolate “ahhhh” moment, but it has the added benefit of detracting from any potential mama guilt for letting my son eat too much sugar.
  • Indulging my vanity: I used to care what I looked like when I left the house; not so much anymore. I’m lucky if my clothes match, and I rarely do anything beyond washing my hair. But once or twice a year I have someone cut my hair. And once in awhile I color my hair from a box (I used to pay someone to do that, but I’ve discovered that’s not necessary at this point in my life). And I insist on my favorite shampoo (one big reason I’ve been hesitant to go no ‘poo).

What do you do to take care of yourself, and how often do you consciously do so?

What effects can you feel if you neglect your own needs?

Photo credit: costi

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