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We believe so strongly in setting our kids and family up for a good start to the year that we are offering a phenomenal deal on our Self-Esteem DVD.  Buy a copy for yourself from our website:  www.littlesoulproductions.com, and we’ll give you another copy FREE.  We will even ship the additional copy to the friend of your choice at no additional charge to you*!  Hurry, this offer expires  at 12 noon PT on Saturday, December 19, 2009.  Happy New Year to your family and another!

Here are the steps to get your FREE copy.

1.  Purchase your copy of Self-Esteem for $19.95 plus tax, shipping and handling from our website:  www.littlesoulproductions.com (offer only valid for purchases made through this site). No limit on the number of copies you can order.  We will provide you with one free copy for every 1 DVD that you purchase.

2.  When we get your order we will contact you at the email address you provide during payment. 

3.  You will email us back telling us where to send the additional copy.  If we do not hear from you within 24 hours of sending our email we will ship the additional copy directly to you.

4.  Share the gift of emotional and inner empowerment with all the children in your life.

Remember, time is limited!

*Little Soul Productions will only ship to addresses within the continental United States.  If you wish to ship outside of this area, please indicate that we should send the free DVD to you.

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I love to listen to the children this time of year.  They don’t have the same constraints on creating their heart’s desires that adults do, so kids make their wish lists with reckless abandon anticipating surprises that delight.  This year, the current economy has caused many families to curb or quash children’s anticipations.  Where is the balance?

I am a firm believer in charity work, reaching out and the spirit of community that gets fostered during the holidays, but the creative energy that ignites in children this time of year really makes me excited.  This is one time of year when kids can create what they want and almost instantly see the fruits of their creations. What great validation.  Trouble comes when  well-intentioned parents try to thwart the creative process to avoid disappointment.

Balance in this process comes from teaching our children to dream, create and imagine, while having gratitude for whatever the universe delivers; for it is always perfect and timely.  As your children make their holiday, or even birthday wish lists, try to avoid comments like, “That’s really expensive” or “Only put a couple of things on your list” or “It’s going to be a tight birthday this year.”  All of these statements, while well-meaning, are designed to lower expectations and ward off disappointment.  It doesn’t usually occur to us that we are creating the very disappointed we were trying to avoid.  Kids want to dream and create — let them.  That hydrogen fueled car may be something you cannot imagine being able to afford or have the space to play with, but the unexpected happens everyday.

It is appropriate to help your child be comfortable with the perfection and timing of the Universe.  As they make their list try some of these techniques that will empower them and your whole family to create. Then sit back and watch as things you never thought possible come into your life.

As your child makes their list have them prioritize the items, moving to the top 3-5 things they want most.  It’s easier to create when we know what we most desire.  Let them change the list a few times — children live very present moment and their desires can change quickly.  If we give them opportunity they manifest quickly too.  Ward off entitlement by saying things like, “I’m sure that you will get the gifts that are perfect for you right now.”  Set them up to be grateful.  Sit with your child and imagine being happy on the big day(s).  Talk about how much fun the family will have, how festive the party will be or how it will feel to see your creation(s) come true.

This all may seem out of reach to you, so let me share a quick story.  A friend of mine is struggling financially this year and her son’s handheld electronic device is old and fading.  In her mind she just couldn’t  figure out how she could replace that loved item this year, but still let her son put it on his Christmas list.  She empowered him to prioritize and create and so did she.  She knew that if it was in alignment she would find a way.  She was in a thrift shop a recently and a brand new device was there along with a few new games.  She was able to pick them up for prices that fit her budget.  She didn’t let her awareness of tight finances get in the way of the creation.  She held on to the desire with her son and they anticipated a good holiday no matter what.  Those are the keys to creative success.

Rush here, Rush there….buy a gift, make a dish….dress up nice, please don’t fight!

For so many of us, this beautiful time of year is filled with chaos, errands, parties, gifts, family, friends and an array of festivities.  While we often complain about how thinly we are stretched, most parents will also tell you that this is one of their favorite times of year.  This is also the time of year that I typically hear clients say things like, “The kids are ruining my holiday,” or “I love this time of year but my kids fight and bicker more in December than any other month.”

We all like to feel safe, and kids are the best reminders that a lack of feeling safe ushers in unsavory results.  Here are a few tips for keeping your household sane this holiday season.

1.  Remember that kids thrive on routine.  Keep as much routine in the schedule as possible. 

2.  Kids are sensitive to energy.  The chaos of malls, the negativity of the shoppers who are spending money they don’t have for people they barely see effects kids greatly.  Try to shop at less crowded times if you have to take the kids with you, or consider hiring a babysitter while you shop.

3.  Play upbeat music at home – it will help keep everyone in a good mood.

4.  Grumpy or demanding relatives, no matter how much you love them, are a drain on a child’s energy.  Take the kids outside to play whenever possible if your kids seem irritable when particular relatives or friends stay.  They will burn off energy and nature provides an automatic re-set button.

5.  Children do not yet have the on/off switches or wisdom that come with growth and experience.  They are going to get excited about EVERYTHING.  Set boundaries, but as much as possible, see the magic through their eyes instead of always trying to keep it under control.

6.  Enjoy yourself.  Your children react to your mood.  If you are stressed and cranky they will be irritable and disagreeable.  If you are happy and full of joy they will be also.

We don’t need a lecture on the value or meaning of Thanksgiving, but many parents have said that they struggle with helping their children understand what it means to be thankful.  In the conscious parenting world, being thankful starts with being thankful for who you are, then thankful for your family, then your community, then your world.   The holiday of Thanksgiving is a great way to remind our children how to express gratitude.  Below are some of our favorite ways to do this.  Maybe you’ll try one of our suggestions; we’d love to know how it affected your family.  Or maybe you have a favorite way to express gratitude either on Thanksgiving or any day – we’d love for you to share it with us here.

1)       When my kids were little we passed a man playing his clarinet (badly) on the way to preschool every morning.  The kids would comment and we would talk about how nice it was to see him there offering what he could.  I knew he was indigent, but he was on a corner of a busy intersection and the only way people were going to give him money was if they threw it at him from their cars as they entered the freeway on-ramp.  That Thanksgiving my two children and my nephew went with me to thank him.  I parked the car at a nearby shopping center and we walked to where he was playing.  We gave him a home baked loaf of pumpkin bread.  The kids were so happy to help him.

2)      Many civil servants (like police officers and firemen) have to work on the holidays, giving up their time with family so that they can keep us safe or keep our utilities working.  Again, when my kids were fairly young we took homemade pastries to our local fire department.  The men were very grateful and the kids have never forgotten how that felt.

3)      As your family gathers and talks on Thanksgiving, have a jar or decorated box out in the common area with some slips of paper and pens or markers nearby.  Encourage everyone to write down things they are grateful for and put the slips in the box.  Once everyone is gathered for the meal open the box and take turns reading the slips of paper.  It will be an incredibly uplifting time.

4)      Help your kids list a few people that have touched their lives over the last year.  Depending on the age of the child, pick an appropriate number of people and have the child(ren) draw pictures or write notes to these people telling them why they are thankful for them.

5)      At dinner, or at another equally focused time, tell your kids why you are grateful for them.  We tend to assume our children know how grateful we are that they are in our lives,  but in the daily hustle and bustle of life our kids tend to remember most the things we’ve scolded them for more than they remember the things we appreciate in them.

6)      Start a new recycling program at home as a way of being thankful for the earth.  If you already recycle paper or plastics, add conserving water (many municipal water companies will provide you with shower aerators or low flow faucet caps), start a home composting bin, plant some herbs or add some potted plants to your home, pick up trash with a local scouting group or even start making your own non-toxic cleaning products.

However you choose to express your gratitude this Thanksgiving, we at Little Soul Productions want you to know that we are grateful for you and your family. We wish you many blessings this Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season!

One of the most emotionally challenging things I ever had to do was resign from a position within a charity group that I belonged to. Never in my 39 years had I failed to fulfill the obligations that I committed to or was assigned– no matter what the cost to my emotional or physical well-being. It was difficult to do, but two things happened that day;  1) I really felt free once it was done. I spoke from my heart and I stated realistically what I could do and what I could not. My two month headache disappeared almost immediately. 2) I earned the respect of the very women I was afraid would judge me. After all, I knew (or at least I suspected) that they were as busy as I was, so who was I to actually claim more time for myself when everyone else was carrying equally heavy loads? They were incredibly supportive of my self-honoring.  And in truth, I wasn’t really fulfilling my obligations anyway, so I freed them up to find someone who could help them more. Not only do our children act out when we are overcommitted, but they learn from what we do. If our children see us volunteering at every opportunity, helping every friend in need and operating from an unhealthy place to meet the needs of others then they will very likely grow up to be the same kind of person. So before you say, “Yes,” to that next charity drive, bake sale or PTA position, think about the message you are sending to your children. Saying, “Yes” to You and “No” to others takes some practice. Here are a few tips to ease you into the process. The goal is to only agree to those things that fuel your heart, your passion and your soul.

1) List all your commitments (no matter how big or small). Have a friend or your spouse read them back to you. If any give you a sinking feeling in your stomach or make your heart hurt or you feel like you are being squeezed in a vice…those are commitments that will only drain you. Find a way to get out of them or fulfill the commitment and resign from that job.

2) List 10 things that you can do for you that make you happy. Maybe read a good book, have coffee with a friend, take a day off, stay in your pj’s all day, take the phone off the hook, take a walk, exercise, meditate, get a massage….Whatever those things are, do one everyday before you fulfill any commitments outside of your family.

3) Remember that every time you continue to do a job that makes you complain or feel exhausted you are draining yourself, sending the group negative energy and most important, you are keeping that job from someone who would be very happy doing it.

4) Learn to say, “I deserve to live a balanced life.” Post it anywhere you need a reminder.

5) Surround yourself with friends who also say, “No.” If all of your friends are overcommitters, then it will be even harder to keep balance in your own life. In contrast, if you have friends who have a good idea of how much they can do and still live in balance, then not only will you feel more validated in declining but you will all serve as reminders to one another about what is important.

6) Make family time a priority. We often accidentally fall into the trap of overcommitting ourselves and then it becomes a habit. When we reconnect with the joy of family meals, playing games with our kids or having a date night, we are more reluctant to give those joyful moments up.

7) Ask for help. We assume everyone else is busy and has their own burdens so we don’t ask for help often enough. It is not our place to evaluate what throws someone else out of balance or what fulfills them. Let your friends and family members make that decision for themselves and take any, “Sorry I cannot” replies with gratitude and move on to the next person. Someone will feel very fulfilled in helping you.

Blurry eyes, hair in a pony tail, coffee in hand and pj bottoms on as you drive the kids to school– Sound familiar?  These are not signs of a lazy parent, these are indicators of a parent who is so busy that self-care has fallen behind (way behind) caring for the family, relatives, work, school, friends…have I missed anyone?  Oh yeah, the family pets too.

When 24 hours just doesn’t seem like enough time to accomplish everything on the daily to-do list, most parents sacrifice self-care in order to meet the needs of everyone around them.  We know we are not SuperMom or SuperDad, but we look at those around us and if we have a little more time, energy, health or assets, we tend to feel obligated to lend a helping hand.  And we have trained one another to work until we drop.  How many times have you found yourself saying to a friend, “I really don’t have time to bake cookies for the preschool bake sale, but they really need the funds and I would feel guilty if I didn’t do my part.”  Where’s the sign that reads, IF YOU’VE TAKEN CARE OF YOU TODAY THEN WE’D LOVE TO HAVE 2 DOZEN CUPCAKES.  IF NOT, GO AHEAD AND EAT A CUPCAKE, WE’LL CATCH YOU NEXT TIME. ?

Helping and giving are HIGHLY encouraged, but as with all things we have to find balance.  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Adrenal Fatigue and Hormone Imbalances are on the rise, and all of these illnesses are heavily influence by stress, nutrition and sleep.  For many parents I know, a balanced meal is eating the leftovers off each child’s plate, adequate sleep is a an uninterrupted nap while peeing and stress management includes enough chocolate consumption to fuel a neighborhood Halloween party for decades.  I will never forget the moment I realized I was not getting enough sleep:  the 20 minutes I was under anesthesia for a routine test were so sound and peaceful that I yelled “YOU’RE SO LOUD,” at the anesthesiologist as he was trying to wake me!

We all know when we are burning the candle at both ends, but what we don’t always realize is that sibling squabbles, cranky children, poor behaviors and obstinate actions in our children are often caused by the over-committing we do as parents.  When we are tired or cranky or always rushing to get to the next thing, our children serve as early warning systems trying to alert us to the damage our actions are causing.  The trouble is, just like the warning to change smoke alarm batteries every month, we usually ignore them.  Oftentimes, if we make subtle shifts towards our own self-care, our children will respond and the family balance returns to a peaceful roar?

What could you give up today?  What actions could you leave to another person?  What could you do for yourself each day that would bring you comfort, joy or satisfaction?

Next week we will offer some tips on how to make easy shifts towards self-care.  Stay tuned….

Ever notice that a trip to the beach, a hike or a picnic all tend elevate your mood?  Or perhaps you’re familiar with feeling “like a new person” just from taking a shower?

Nature (and yes, for all intents and purposes, shower water is still nature) seeks balance. All of nature, the trees, grass, water and animals have a natural vibration of peace.  So when we are in a natural setting our mood tends to settle in a place of contentment or happiness — especially for children.  The only times a trip outside will not make a child feel better are when the temperature is extreme, making them physically uncomfortable, or when other non-natural factors are involved: like the commotion of a party, the antics of other children on an outdoor playground or when physical fatigue sets in.

But in general, taking kids outside is a great way to help them recharge or elevate the mood of squabbling siblings or a cranky child.  Autumn is a great time to enjoy the uplifting spirit of nature as the temperature is usually kinder to our senses and the colors and smells are particularly vibrant.

Here are a few ways your whole family can get the most mood elevating benefits of a day outdoors.  Best of all, these suggestions are free or at a nominal fee.

1) Pack a picnic and head off to a local park.  Spread a blanket out in a quiet corner and enjoy healthy foods while you tell jokes, read stories or play tag.

2) Look for botanic gardens in your area.  Many are run by Universities or non-profit organizations so they are free or open to the public at a nominal charge.  Wander through the gardens with your children letting them set the pace.  Don’t forget your camera — you’re sure to create memories you won’t want to forget.

3) Check with your local rec center for organized hikes.  Some places will even do small night hikes with campfires and s’mores for the families.  There’s nothing like star-gazing on a crisp Autumn evening and eating a s’more to bring you right to your heart.

4) Get a map of local trails from your local park and rec center or check out the lists of national parks online — one may be closer than you think.  Take a family hike and enjoy the natural beauty of your community. Let the kids gather things they find to be beautiful to bring home and make a collage or picture.

5) Go camping.  Even if it’s in your backyard.  Spend a night outside with your children telling stories.  It’s amazing how much kids open up emotionally when they are outside — you will learn a lot on a family camping adventure.

6) If the weather outside is frightful and the kids are young enough, draw a warm bath for them, put on a nature CD, put a couple of “child safe” potted plants around the tub and sip cocoa with your child while reading their favorite book — the water and plants will provide enough nature to calm a cranky child or wash away a bad day.