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Posts Tagged ‘conscious parenting’

As you wrap yourself in the spirit of giving this season don’t forget to include yourself as a recipient of your own generosity.  While you’re at it, include your kids and teach them the art of prioritizing oneself.  Too often we unwittingly give our children the message that everyone else should come first.  We over-commit, over-dedicate and generally over-do.  Our children see this and follow our lead of rushing and putting other first even if at the expense of our own mental or emotional well-being.

This holiday season help your kids learn to make time for themselves.  Try one of our suggestions for giving back to yourself or let us know what you do with your children to teach them this important skill.

1.  Have a mandatory quiet time.  Turn off the house phones, the cell phones, the computers and have everyone pick their favorite place to hang out in the house.  Every person does something they enjoy for at least 30 minutes; read, color, journal, listen to music on an mp3 player, bird watch or anything else that feels self-serving.

2.  Have a “Pamper Me Party” with the kids.  Help the kids pick out lotions, nail polish, bubble bath ect.  Turn on some soothing music and join the kids in a little at home spa indulgence..  Help younger children learn the art of self-care by helping them with the pampering or just let them soak in a bath while you sit close by relaxing to the scent of a lavender scented candle.

3.  Do some yoga with your child.  It strengthens and relaxes.  There is an excellent child friendly version of yoga on Self-Esteem the DVD by Little Soul Productions. (www.littlesoulproductions.com)

4.  Make a cut out of your child and provide glue and embellishments.  Encourage them to make the doll in a way that expresses what their own beauty and love looks like.

5.  Snuggle with your child and watch their favorite TV show or movie. Turn off all distractions and hold off on any chores until the show during this “down-time.”

6.  Sit for 10 minutes and just practice breathing.  Deep breaths with closed eyes.  Inhale and exhale evenly.  You can play soothing music or light incense if you wish.  This time can eventually turn into a family meditation time.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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….

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One challenge that Conscious Parents face is finding good quality reading material that expresses the emotional and spiritual levels of our existence.  There are many great authors out there who have beautifully expressed these elements in easy to understand terms with gorgeous artwork.  I’ve even been known to refer my adult clients to children’s books as they frequently “tell it like it is” without the excess musings of the author.

This list is not at all comprehensive,  and there are many more great authors and books out there than what I’ve listed. These are some of my family favorites; use this as a guide to get started or to research authors.  Some of these books are available at chain retailers, most can be found at or ordered through smaller privately held bookstores, or there is always online.  Remember to follow your heart as you choose, and share with us your favorite.

Preschool and Early Elementary

  • Emma & Mommy Talk to God by Marianne Williamson
  • The Angel with the Golden Glow by Elissa Al-Chokhachy and Ulrike Graf
  • The Loveables in The Kingdom of Self-Esteem by Diane Loomans
  • All I See is Part of Me by Chara M. Curtis
  • Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
  • The Little Soul in the Sun by Neale Donald Walsch
  • Unstoppable Me! by Dr. Wayne W. Dye with Kristina Tracy
  • Who Moved My Cheese? for Kids by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
  • I’m Gonna Like Me by Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell

Middle School and High School

  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
  • A Treasury of Wise Action by Dharma Publishing
  • Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth by Douglas Wood
  • Illusions by Richard Bach
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D.

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Have you ever noticed that children state something they want/desire/need and within a very short period of time it seems to be in their experience?  It’s because children haven’t forgotten that they are powerful creators!  Children stay so present moment and heart-based that they believe anything is possible.  When my daughter was four she really wanted to go camping.  I could not think of anything less appealing since my idea of “roughing it” is having to stay in a 2 star hotel.  My inclination was to tell her, “No, honey, we don’t camp and I don’t want to.”  Instead, I thought I would cleverly encourage her to create what she wanted — I was underestimating her ability to manifest.  I told her, “If you really want to go camping then you have to create it.”  Two days later my nanny said, “Maggie told me she wants to go camping and you know, my boyfriend has a tent you guys can borrow.  Just pitch it in the backyard and do a camp out.”

I was in the unique situation of wanting to ring my nanny’s neck, torch the canvas tent and congratulate my daughter on her manifesting abilities.  That little four year old just knew what she wanted and brought it into her experience.

It’s only as we become hardened to our environment that we slow down this process of manifesting our heart’s desires.  Having children in our life  helps us remember that anything IS possible!

Sometimes we think the best thing we can do as parents is to prepare our children for disappointment, let downs and rejection.  Have you ever found yourself saying some version of , “Life isn’t fair,” or “You don’t always get what you want”?  Because this is what we have experienced we convince ourselves that we would rather be the bearer of that bad news than some uncaring stranger (like a future boss, teacher or bully).  As Conscious Parents we want to help our children hold on to that beautiful sense of hope and the ability to manifest.  What if you lead your child through a process of staying so in touch with his or her heart that life was filled with the experience of truly creating the life they imagined?  And, on your way through that parenting journey, you will find that you are manifesting more and more of what your heart desires too!

Now for the How To:

1) Set aside time every few months to do Vision Boards.  Using magazines, words, pictures, markers, crayons and your imagination, let every person in the house create a poster (of any size) that includes the things they would like to experience.  Hang the posters in bedrooms or on a common wall and look at the boards everyday letting your heart and mind join in the fantasy of imagining how you will feel to experience what is on the board.  Once you feel complete because you have either manifested most of the experiences or because you have other ones that are more important to your heart, it’s time to do it again.  Doing this exercise as a family helps you support each other’s aspirations.

2)  Talk regularly with your children about what they would like to experience.  Just because it seems out of touch with reality to you doesn’t mean it’s truly unattainable.  It’s important that instead of telling your child, “That’s a nice aspiration but I don’t know that it will ever happen,” say things like, “How do think it will feel to do that?”  “How do you imagine it will be to experience that?” 

3)  Support one another’s dreams.  Talk as a family about what each member wants to experience and dream the dream with them, no matter how silly it seems.  This is one of our favorite things to do on long car trips or while we are waiting for food at a restaurant. 

Manifesting your heart’s desires does not have to take a lot of time or energy and it should always feel light and fun.  The key to manifestation is remembering that the only limitations we have are what our mind can conceive.  So take your mind out of the equation and dream with your heart. 

Oh, and my daughter’s camping experience…we did pitch that tent, but my manifestation was to sleep in a warm, cozy bed with the A/C running and access to indoor plumbing without having to dodge midnight spider-webs.  My husband slept in the tent with her!

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