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Posts Tagged ‘kids’

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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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.

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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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It’s not always equal, but it is always fair!  This is the phrase that I just know my kids are swearing to themselves that they will never EVER repeat to their own kids. . . but most adults I know hear it and adopt it quickly.  OK, so there are lots of kids out there who are cursing me under their breath.

This has been an oft repeated motto in our home since my children were little.  If you have even one child you are bound to hear the words, “but that’s not fair” at some point in their young life as they  plead their case for the childhood version of equality.

Even if you are not the kind of parent who indulges you child’s every whim, you have likely grappled internally with the concept of how to make things fair — especially if you have multiple children.  We never want to seem injudicious in our parenting, but trying to even the childhood playing fields does a dis-service to our children and wreaks havoc on our parental psyche.  I have had clients who sit in my office twisting themselves inside out because they are trying to figure out how to arrange play-dates so that each child has one at the same time or are spending outside of the budget to even out awards and gifts.  The story that wretched my heart the most was from a  mom who was trying to create a vacation for her oldest child that equaled the character cruise vacation that the youngest went on with another family — the other family footed the entire bill and this mom didn’t have the financial means to do the same.

As parents, we can make ourselves crazy chasing equality, and in that, we miss an opportunity to help our children determine their own personal needs and desires independent of the collective consciousness.  When we are willing to offer what each child needs, and yes, even within the same family each child is an individual with unique needs, “it’s not always equal, but it is always fair” becomes a point of reference for resetting our values.  If we are seeking out and receiving what we want/need from a heart place, then we are always getting exactly what we need.

Here’s how to employ your own version of this at home.  Say, for example, your child wants two pieces of candy just like Sally consumed moments earlier.   You are reluctant to point out the comparison to lemmings jumping off of a cliff that your own parents used (let’s face it, that was just silly–sort of).  To say,”It’s not always equal, but it’s always fair” to your child is not enough.  Help them understand what you are implying.

“I know that Sally just had two pieces of candy, but you had a piece that was the perfect size for you.  I know what you had for lunch and your body needs some more nutrients in it.”

Your child may not comprehend all of what you are saying, but like all good parenting, which lies in the depths of repetition, they will eventually adopt this process of searching for what ‘s best for them on their own.  One day they will revel in making their own choices in spite of what friends are doing without your prodding.  My children dislike this phrase, but they can now see for themselves that life is an experience unique to each individual and what works for one person may not work for another.  They are more willing to seek their own hearts for guidance when they move away from the idea that everything has to be fair.

As parents, it is helpful if we adopt a similar line of thinking.  In other words, if we feel like the Universe is unfair because we don’t have everything our neighbors, co-workers or siblings do then we will promote this concept of unfairness subconsciously to our children.  Check your motivation when you feel that life is being unfair.  Chances are, you will actually glean the perfection of the circumstance(s).

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To all of you dad’s and women who fill that roll to a child, Little Soul Productions wishes you a very Happy Father’s Day!

Sometimes when these days of acknowledgement come around we spend a great deal of time fretting about the perfect gift, the best way to spend the day, how to acknowledge dad, etc.   I believe that the spirit of the day is meant to be one of appreciation and acknowledgement — by both the child and the parent.  And in truth, we don’t need gifts or fancy dinners to get that point across.

So while you are eating breakfast in bed, preparing for a hike or  sitting by the pool with the BBQ heating up, take a moment:

Dad’s appreciate the kids that you are inspiring.  Acknowledge all that they add to your life.

Kids (both young and adult) appreciate all that dad has done to help you get to where you are.  Acknowledge the space he holds in his heart for you.

This is really all it takes to have a great day.  The tie, the cake, the burned hot dogs. . . that’s just bonus!  Enjoy!!

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