I couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you, readers, contributors, and friends. Here’s to another year of changing the world!
I couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you, readers, contributors, and friends. Here’s to another year of changing the world!
Teach kids Gratitude
Is not in my experience an easy and graceful task. At least not for my girlies.
But I know that by training our minds to look for gratitude, to look for the good things in life, we can, in fact, train our mind to keep looking for them, and this, this is something that is important to teach my girls, for me and my husband.
So back in 2014 the girls and I made the above gratitude tree as part of our November celebration and part of getting ready for the holiday season and Thanksgiving. The girls helped me color in the tree and then they each helped write what was on each of the leaves and we added to it as the month went on.
And for the ages of my girls this perfect for their attention span, their need to do everything with their hands, and lots of color and texture.
We didn’t do it this year though, partially because I didn’t think of it, and also because we have a new piece of furniture on that wall. But we do have a daily practice around gratitude.
Every night as we all sit down for our evening meal everyone is says something they are grateful for. Preferably something from that day if it is time specific, so this time of year you can’t simply say that it is one day closer to Christmas, you have to also say something else.
Small or big, it’s all good. Just the other day my youngest actually said she was grateful for one of her sisters, which is a big first for her, and considering how she has been treating them lately, really good to hear.
It is a nice ritual to set the tone of the meal, calm everyone down, take turns listening because we can’t hear if we all go at once, and let everyone have a chance to say something, which in a family of six can be a small miracle in itself at times.
How do you teach gratitude to your kids? How do you practice it yourself, and is it something you model?
Sometimes kids swear. Instead of being appalled, Michelle Thompson, Ph.D., JD. suggests we listen and by doing so we just might get more of an answer to how our teenagers are doing than simply “fine.”
I just spent the week away from my family and all went well.
For Veteran’s Day, my 13-year-old son had some friends over to play games with him and alleviate the loneliness of being an only child. And come over they did, some friends from his school soccer team.
My partner removed herself from the room to give them space to play.
What a great thing!
And she was appalled at the language they used. Yep, his friends are swearing (lest she thinks any foul language is my fault . . .), and they’re not interested in anything else aside from video games and their phones. No discussion of girls, pornography, or drugs.
We’re safe for the next 5 minutes. Then again, most of them are still pre-pubescent.
My partner was a little upset though because she chafes at foul language.
I LOVED using foul language the minute I could when away from home when I was 12.
But that’s not the point. No matter how difficult it seems to have these young people over, it is critical. For a family who has not the patience to homeschool, this is the only way we get a more unvarnished window into their lives. What matters to them? Why does it matter? What are the challenges? What are the joys?
I know that I can’t get answers to these questions asking “how was school,” as the proverbial “fine” gets me NOTHING. He won’t swear like a sailor when checking in!
But hearing how they play with language, what they are focused on, what they love, and what they hate matters.
Right now, they love foul language.
We get to debrief with James about what they’re saying and hear what he’s thinking.
I told my partner to think of this as a big old research project. She’s an academic. We love research. Let’s do it!
The window is closing in terms of us getting to have James and his friends with us. I want to keep it open as long as possible. I want our house to be where the kids hang out. I want to listen in on what they’re doing and saying. This could be the key to heading off any future difficulties.
Michelle Dionne Thompson, Ph.D., JD is the Founder and CEO of Michelle Dionne Thompson Coaching and Consulting, a primarily coaching business that works with women in law and academia to set and meet aligned goals sanely in the midst of insane industries. A recovering lawyer and a historian, she also teaches college and is writing her first book, Jamaica’s Accompong Maroons (1838 – 1905): Retooled Resistance for Continued Existence.
A poem for my eldest daughter.
Leaving my kids to go to a retreat.
Twice a year I leave my girls.
I go to a business retreat that in the beginning lasted two days and now lasts three days, so I am gone for two nights.
And I do this about every six months.
The first time I went to retreat which is usually about an hour and a half from my house I actually drove home for the night between the two days. It was exhausting since I needed to be there at 9 am.
Ever since then I have stayed either with friends or sharing hotel rooms with other people at my retreat.
This week I leave again, and my parents have come to town to stay home with the kids. Instead of my husband having to take time off of work.
And while my youngest is now four and no longer a nursling anymore, it is still bittersweet to walk away from my kids for three days. They always grow up while I am away and vocabularies get bigger (I swear) and they have so very much to say and….
Meanwhile, at my retreat we do a lot of inner and outer work, understanding why we do what we do, making deep and meaningful connections, laughing, crying, sharing hugs and so I am usually emotionally wrung out by the time I get home. And the girls are ready to be all over me, and I am ready for hugs from them.
But there is something special about coming home that first night, after all the hugs and stories, and we have finally gotten the kids sent off to sleep.
When the world feels right, and all I want to do is curl up with my partner
and go to sleep.
I really do worry that my eyes might roll right outta my head when I hear “you can’t pour from an empty cup”.
As if I don’t realise that having a full cup is more fun than being exhausted and exasperated.
Or perhaps that the sleep deprivation or parenting overwhelm might have wiped the very idea of self-care from my memory.
And I’m sure as hell it implies that I’m just not using my time well enough to make space for meditation or massage or manicures.
The phrase leaves me silently screaming over the web to the Super Judgey Parenting Expert that while you don’t know me buddy, I can assure you that I actually do like to look after myself.
These neat little servings of guilt in the “fill your cup” advice sneak their way into nearly every parenting resource.
Every time I came across it, I would search for a way to squeeze some more time to do the things that fill my cup.
But so often when I took time out it made things harder.
I would spend time with a girlfriend and then not have the laundry done and someone’s clothes for school or work weren’t clean or dry.
Or I’d take a long bath and fill that needy ol’ cup all the way to overflowing.
Then somewhere between leaving the peaceful bath and being greeted with yoghurt handprints on my beautiful pyjamas my cup was back to empty.
Like some kind of torturous Groundhog Day.
I couldn’t escape this crap-nugget of advice.
Even when I was looking for parenting advice that was completely unrelated, there’d be an article or paragraph about how you just needed to make the time to fill your cup by letting your partner do more, accepting that it’s not going to be done the way you like it, blah blah blah.
But you see, addressing my perfectionism and managing my anxiety through control is a big ass project and I’m not sure if you’re picking up on a theme here but…
I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT RIGHT NOW.
Never wanting to let an expectation go unmet, I focused on making the cup bigger, so I could last longer between refills. In theory.
I took up meditation, read all the advice about how it was so unnecessary to have a short temper with small children because the behaviour is developmentally appropriate, made daily mindset commitments – it’s exhausting just remembering it all.
Everywhere I turned, there was a list that went on and on about how the problem was always me.
That my kids could never be fulfilled if I wasn’t.
It was my inability to stay calm or my inability to make time for massages or my lack of knowledge about normal childhood behaviour, that my mindset was off, that I wasn’t grateful enough.
I realised the truth eventually.
There isn’t a finite amount of water for everyone’s cup.
It isn’t a zero-sum game.
Our cups aren’t filled by someone else’s cup being emptied.
Best of all, the fullness of my cup – or stark emptiness, as the case may be – did not make a single iota of difference to my ability to raise my kids with full cups.
I fill my kids’ cups by meeting their needs.
And empowering them to meet their own needs.
And supporting relationships with their siblings and relations and friends – all fantastic cup-fillers.
I finally learned that the choice isn’t limited to either their cup or my cup.
Sadly, it can also be neither.
And thank fuck it can also be both.
So many parenting experts implied or stated outright that parents simply must learn how to help themselves first.
And yet, I found that sometimes when I was profoundly sad that I had no freaking idea what I needed – just for me – that I STILL had the power to see what they needed, provide it for them and watch their cups fill alllll the way up.
Sometimes my cup is filled from seeing theirs fill. And sometimes it isn’t.
I am keenly aware that the more I learn to deeply know myself that I have more and more ability to help my kids to deeply know themselves.
At the same time, I also see that my kids aren’t as dependent on me modelling self-connection as it might be assumed.
Because I do a fucking good job of protecting their self-connection in the first place.
We’ve grown up in different times, with different attitudes to emotional awareness.
I have better parenting advice at hand than my parents did.
Their self-connection isn’t waiting for mine to be healed because it was never broken in the same way that mine is.
I sure am on my way to knowing who I am, what I need, how to serve myself and how to openly receive support.
My kids aren’t waiting for me to get there.
They’re further up the road, walking their own paths, at their own pace, in their own way.
And we’re cheering each other on.
Jodie Thornton is the Founder of Through It All. Her work is focused on connecting people to their power to change the world by knowing who they are, what they want from life and how to make it happen. Jodie works with parents and young people to provide them with the self-connection, communication skills and support they need to lead potent lives.
Jodie lives in Canberra, Australia with the love of her life and her four children, who are 18, 15, 3 and 1.
Ideas to keep my sanity during the upcoming countdown…..
I know today is Halloween, but really is it too early to plan for Halloween?
My kids have been listening to Christmas music off and on for two months now.
My local community has their Early Bird Saturday shopping event this Saturday. Which means getting up extra early and shopping at 6 AM to discounts at local stores, free coffee, and community and friends. That combined with expected online Black Friday shopping and I expect to have all my shopping done before the 1st of December.
At 11, 9, 5 1/2 and 4 the fervor around the Christmas holidays is going to be fierce. I expect it to start by Thanksgiving at the latest as my girls have been asking our Amazon Alexa how many days it is until Christmas since we were about 70 days away (or was it 90, I really can’t remember).
My 4-year-old is going to be especially hyped up if the countdown to her birthday earlier this month is any indication.
This is not my first rodeo, and she’s not my first four years old. So I have plans. Plans within plans. Perhaps maybe even (ahem) evil plans.
Starting a couple of weeks ago I started making a list in Evernote to keep track of ideas for activities we could do each day from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas. I got the kids involved, asking their ideas as well, and they contributed the science related projects. I did not want a lot of the things to be about sugar, seriously they get enough of that anyway without help. I also have some extra ideas in case anyone changes their minds or we need to sub something at the last minute.
I wanted as many of the activities to be experience based, and that, by and large, can fit in a two hour or smaller block. I will be setting up my calendar soon, with each activity written on a posted note, that way if we need to move an activity around for whatever reason we can do that. For instance, I know we will be going Christmas Carolling with Girl Scouts, but I don’t know for sure which meeting that will be yet.
And this works no matter what holiday you celebrate, being pagan you’re not going to see anything overly religious on this list. I may continue this idea into the new year with different themes, we will see how well this goes first!
Here is the list in case you need ideas for your own family:
I would love to hear what you do to keep your kids busy during the countdown to the holidays!
Originally published here on 10/24/2017 and republished with permission from the author.
My daughter turned eleven last week and with that celebration, she announced to me that she was officially a tween. I cringed a bit because I find that word so ambiguous, a word that in my mind means in between without a center and the hollowness of the word made me uneasy. Yet, it is this time in an adolescent’s life where everything is changing, feels unfamiliar and they are stepping from their childlike understanding into a new space which seems foreign.
Yes, their body is starting to change as well as their chemistry for which there are a myriad of resources to find that explain the why and what is next. However, what I have found challenging is finding the resources to help support her through the emotional space that is the undercurrent and foundation for what is to come and what is already here.
Over the last two years I have had to navigate the anxiety she is feeling which has come from entering this foreign space where she has started to discover that the world is bigger than just her, that there is suffering in the world, and the smallness that comes with this knowledge has led to fear, to sadness and also new passions and sense of wonder.
As we delved into the thick of her emotions over the last two years, and they keep changing and are becoming bigger, I have started to reflect back on my own youth and where certain fears I still carry came from. My pre-teen years are a time where I often felt alone, disconnected and the need to blend in for fear my voice was too big. I don’t remember my parents being open to discussing the deep emotions that I was feeling because, in reality, they themselves did not have that support when they were ten, eleven, twelve and beyond. This was the time I stopped playing for fear of being seen as a “baby”, this is when I struggled to understand what I feeling and that lead to constantly feeling embarrassed and or ashamed of my emotions.
I know I don’t want to pass this void on to my daughter so over the last two years I have started to find tools and rituals to help her connect with herself, her heart, and express her ideas, her feelings, and her frustrations openly.
These tools I want to share with you so that we can help this generation learn to love their emotions and connect with them deeply so that they can safely connect with friends and family and feel fully supported.Energy Connection is where we started.
Yoga Nidra is a type of deep relaxing meditation where you do a body scan while lying down. Here is the one we used to the most.
We would do this at night for it helps to calm and connect the mind and to the body so that it can process, relax and release information from the day.
I also got certified in Reiki which is not something everyone desires to do but for us, it turned out to be a powerful tool that really helped my daughter clear energy from her body that wasn’t serving her and dissipated some deep fears that were interrupting her sleep. For those unfamiliar with Reiki, it is a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel and move energy into and through the patient by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional well-being.
Mindful Connection is another tool that we use daily. For us, this is another nightly ritual. My daughter needs touch, she craves it but she also craves and needs mindful connection.
So every night we share one thing that was great about our day, one struggle from our day and one thing we are grateful for. Often times, after this is when we have our deepest conversations. This simple ritual sets the stage for discussions in an intimate setting where she can unload all that is bottling up. I can be fully aware and focused on her and allow her to voice her questions, insecurities, and sadness. This has allowed her to connect to her emotions and get clarity that she seeks. Sometimes all I do is listen and that is all she needs and other times a conversation happens where we both learn and understand something new.
The third ritual we have started to incorporate is that of Play Time. This is different, yet similar to when she was a toddler and young child and I would sit down and play with her. Now, the play comes in the form of board games, dance parties or singing karaoke. I know life is busy and often times she comes home and goes straight to her room to chill which is needed too. But, as these children are navigating their emotions and their desire to be more independent they need a container in which they can still play and be young, where they can feel seen and heard and where they can connect. We have time every night after dinner for this and often times this is where we laugh the hardest.
Laughter is such good medicine and we all need more of it!
I am Andrea Parker, founder of The Rejuvenation Grange. I am a mom, an innovator, a connector and a teacher who thrives in nature and wants to guide girls and women to lead from the heart.
My mission in life is to help people young and old create their equilibrium, become the best they can be and rediscover their passion through innovation and play.
I see myself as that boat that guides them across the turbulent waters or self-determination to that magical place where they can be uplifted and unchain themselves from their fears so they may thrive.
Am I the only one who feels like this? That if you don’t get up while everyone else is still sleeping you might never find the quiet again?
Amanda Lopes-Bregoli of Refocus on Being is the women who taught me how to be a virtual assistant and the tool she is sharing with us today – Work Blocks, has literally changed my and my families life and has allowed me to stay at home while homeschooling my four amazing daughters.
Check out her video below and see if Work Blocks could open up new doors of productivity, even if all you are trying to do is get anything done around your kids!