Google+ Authentic Parenting: May 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

Depression and Self Image

Welcome to the May 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Self Love This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about their thoughts concerning self-love. We hope you enjoy this month's posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Babywearing. 


As you may have read here, I dealt with a severe depression last year. One of the symptoms I struggled with was self loathing. Now I've never really overflowed with self love, but this was bad! Don't want to look in the mirror, pubescent self hate kinda bad. It didn't really help that I broke two of my front teeth and got some facial depigmentation disease.

Not really the self image you want to portray for your children.

When I started healing from this depression, I knew that this lack of self love was something I had to tackle, for how can one enjoy life if you hate yourself?
I started taking Crab Apple flower essence and doing self acceptance meditations. I also tried to look at myself differently when I saw myself in the mirror, and when I felt that I was just not able to show any love towards my mirrored image, I just wouldn't look.

We are often brought up with so much negative self talk, instilled by our parents, our peers and society at large, that it's very hard to break the self destructive mental chatter. Yet as a parent, one of the most important things to model is self love, because our children learn by our image. If we portray an image of self care and self acceptance, they in turn will have that outlook on the world.

Check out my eBook "Mommy Overwhelm: A Holistic Approach to Parental Stress and Depression".

photo credit: stephcarter via photopin cc

APBC - Authentic Parenting Visit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month's Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, when we discuss babywearing!   Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: (This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 1 with all the carnival links.)


Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Meditation by Amy Phoenix

Get your copy of the Mindful Parenting eBundle Today! 21 carefully selected parenting resources on topics such as creativity, playful parenting, stress relief, mindful mothering and more. Only 24,95 and only available for 12 days! These products will never be available together at this price again. After the sale, they can only be bought individually through each seller's sales page, that's over 235USD worth of content!


I have had the priviledge of doing a meditation session with Amy twice and I really love her approach. Her voice is gentle and accepting and she leads you through emotional and physical blockkages as she talks you through the meditation. I am very pleased to be able to share this meditation with you!

Guest post by Amy Phoenix

Interruptions to the delicate balance of life occur on a regular basis. Positive stress, negative stress, excitement, grief – stress is just part of the human experience. Parents, teachers, and caregivers experience stress unique to their situations. Do we have to experience stress or can we observe it, learn with it, and live from the thread of peace inside of ourselves that connects all of life together? Meditation can help us answer these questions and you can start right now, while you read (really).

Start by noticing your breath and how it feels for it to come in and out of your body.
Now, focus all of your attention on the sensation of breathing. You don’t have to do anything fancy with your breath, just notice. Stop reading for a few moments as you do this and continue to tune into yourself as you read.
As you feel your breath, notice how it expands beyond your lungs into your abdomen and touches all of the cells in your body. If at any point you get distracted by thoughts, sounds, or sensations just bring your attention back to your breath. This isn’t a competition between distractions and breathing, they occur simultaneously. It is about choosing to notice and feel the breath and body along with whatever else is going on in and outside of you.
Notice your body, too. How does it feel?
Allow your breath to penetrate any tension or other sensations. Notice how you feel as you continue to focus on your inner and outer experience. See judgments for what they are – labels for experience. The breath is an anchor. When we focus on our breath we are anchored to life, the earth, ourselves, each other – the breath is one aspect of life we all share. And yet, it is intimately personal, both bringing life into and cleansing us in each moment. We can go deeper into ourselves through noticing and feeling the life energy inside of our bodies.
As you breathe and notice how your body feels, go deeper and feel the energy inside of your finger tips. You may notice tingling or warmth, or some other sensation. There is an aliveness present within each one of us. Continue feeling this energy, this life in your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, biceps, and shoulders.
Gradually move to each part of your body from the fingertips, to the neck, head, and down to your toes. Go slowly. Allow your breath to take you deeper. If your mind is questioning just how this can be beneficial, notice how you feel as you do it and bring your attention back to your breath. Even if you feel distracted or slightly frustrated you will notice a peace and relaxation present inside. This peace is always there, we simply get distracted from it. Meditation doesn’t bring the peace – the focus of our attention simply acknowledges its ever presence. 

Continue this awareness and notice the peace you experience as go about your day, like an undercurrent flowing in a river. It’s always there to tap into. Notice how you feel and the affect it has on your experience of stress.

About the author:
Amy Phoenix, mom of five, trained meditation facilitator and recovering control-freak, shares a simple, practical experience for true relaxation and self-reflection to help you parent on purpose (instead of from reactivity).

Buy Now
Amy's Relaxation Meditation is part of the Mindful Parenting eBundle. Get your copy today and gain access to this amazing stress relief resource, along with 20 other mindful parenting eProducts, including:
  • A unique parenting tool, sleep-talking - audio by Marcy Axness
  • Parenting for Social Change - Teresa Graham Brett
  • Play Grow Learn - eMagazine by Christie Burnett
  • The Playful Family - Shawn Fink
  • Poetry of a Hobo Mama - Lauren Wayne

Be quick! This sale ends on the 10th of June!!


Buying this bundle supports this website


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Listen - by Tara Wagner

Children and Food by Tara Wagner is part of the Mindful Parenting eBundle Sale. Over 20 quality parenting resources for only 24,95USD, only available from May 28th to June 10thClick here to visit Mindful Nurturing to find out more about this bundle.

Guest post by Tara Wagner

Listen to him (but listen deeper than the words he uses). Listen to myself (and work to be aware of where my words and actions and reactions are coming from). Only by quieting what I think I know or think I hear and really listening deeper can I ever hope to meet both our needs in a way that respects each of us and our individual needs. It means slowing down. It means assuming I don't really know anything. It means not formulating my own response while he is talking, but really tuning in with the desire to understand this person.
You don't know jack. ;) And as soon as you think you do, Life will up the ante on you. Cultivate the "beginner's mind" and be willing to always be taught or surprised, because you will be anyway.


About Children and Food:
This mini-toolkit helps you recreate the whole family’s experience with food. No more fighting at
dinnertime. No more forcing or bribing. No more worrying about your child’s ability to make good choices. You’ll have the tools necessary to begin to release control, lean into Trust, and make mealtime a joyful and fun experience. But it starts with your own relationship with food. It includes: 
  •  72 min audio: Describes the most important principles in raising healthy children and how to begin practicing them (Value: $200) 
  • 39 page workbook: Packed full of exercises to help you DIG IN and put new traditions and experiences into place (Value: $40) 
  • Covers everything from: how your experience with food affects your children and how to change that, how to meet the varying needs and tastes of the whole family without feeling like a “short order cook”, as well as tips, ideas, strategies, recipes, and more from me and other mindful mamas.


Support this site by buying the Mindful Parenting eBundle. That is 20+ hand selected parenting
resources for only 24,95, offering insights about playful parenting, nurturing creativity, parenting girls, parenting through divorce, positive guidance, meditation, stress relief for parents and much more.

A small selection of the products in this bundle:

  • Children and Food by Tara Wagner (The Organic Sister)
  • Parenting for Social Change - Teresa Graham Brett (Parenting for Social Change)
  • The Playful Family - Shawn Ledington Fink
  • Relaxation Meditation (audio) - Amy Phoenix (Presence Parenting)


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Introducing my First eBook: Mommy Overwhelm, A Holistic Approach to Parental Stress and Depression

Welcome to the Mindful Parenting eBundle Sale! 21 Quality eProducts from esteemed parenting authors, 236USD value for 24,95USD, available for 12 days only! Get your bundle today! Visit Mindful Nurturing for more information.

I am pleased to announce my First eBook as a part of the Mindful Parenting Bundle Sale.

I wrote "Mommy Overwhelm: A Holistic Approach to Parental Stress and Depression" based on
the massive response I got when I wrote the Mommy Overwhelm series on this blog. I was stunned to see how many parents had been going through the same ordeal, and how they too felt lost and disconnected.

This guide will help you get back on track, shake off the stress and feelings of despair and parent your child the way you want to, not the way your feelings (or lack thereof) dictate. It is designed to be a first step on a path to a better connection, a deeper awareness and a positivity in life.

Parents who are well rested and in good health don't perceive every day as a struggle. You can get
there too.

This book draws tips from an entire arsenal of resources such as herbalism, nutrition, meditation and many more. There is a way out of the stress and depression for everyone. You will be able to design your own healing path with the resources presented.

The book will also be available on Amazon, iBooks and all the big readers. I set the price at 2,99USD to make it accessible to everyone.

Buying this book as part of The Mindful Parenting Bundle gives you access to meditation tracks, stress relief tracks and guides to a playful and creative approaches to parenting, which will help you along the path away from your stress and depression.


Three amazing stress relief resources for parents:

  • Lifetime access to relaxation meditation on Presence Parenting, an ever growing collection of meditational tools
  • Audio download of Stress Relief for Parents by Genevieve Simperingham gives you 4 tracks to help you deal with parenting from day to day in a relaxed and composed manner
  • "Mommy Overwhelm" gives you the tools to keep stress at bay and heal from depression, holistically. 

The Mindful Parenting eBundle gives you access to 22 carefully selected parenting resources.This bundle is a one time opportunity, only available from May 28th to June 10th.

Get your bundle today!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Things Nobody Tells You About Pregnancy (rerun)

When I was pregnant with DD, I spent a lot of time online reading about pregnancy and birth related issues, and I distinctly remember reading an article entitled something like this one.
It was a very long list of less known issues concerning pregnancy, and I was shocked at one being: your feet might grow in size.

Image: Muohace_dc on Flickr
Being the shoelover I was, this terrified me. Can you imagine I'd go up a size and have to throw away all the pretty shoes I had? The horror!
At the end of my pregnancy, I did go up a shoesize, but I blamed it on fluid retention. The last weeks of my pregnancy indeed, my feet began to look more like little elephant stomps than something human.
The week after I gave birth, the fluid drained, but my feet, however less swollen, did remain in fact bigger then befor.

I had not gained an entire size, but had gone up about half a size. Now, seeing that Belgian shoestores don't do half sizes, I am now alway stuck between choosing shoes that are either too small or too big.

What about you? Did you have anything strange happen to your body after pregnancy? Something you didn't expect?


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Motherhood is... on The Mahogany Way

Motherhood is…
exciting… stressful… overwhelming… eye-opening… confronting…

Read the rest of my guest post for The Mahogany Way


Friday, May 24, 2013

On Acceptance (rerun)

Welcome to the Fabulous Hybrid Blog Carnival. Our topic this spring is Change! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Blog Carnival hosted by The Fabulous Mama Chronicles and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on change in all of its many forms. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Growing up, I used to love novels about change. The kind where the lead character spends one life altering summer somewhere and comes back anew, or a group of kids trek through the mountains and find not only true friends, but their true self too.
I was all about change: new hair every three months, new clothes, new look... Obviously it was all about escaping, becoming something I am not.

Now, I have changed from when I was in my teens, quite a lot. Especially in the way that I do not pursue change anymore, quite on the contrary. I have learned to embrace myself for who I am. I do not need another hair color or clothes that are the latest fashion, or nail art or colored lenses. I am what I am. I am me. And I am not regretful about it.

Sure, there’s an occasional bout where I miss the girl I was, and I won’t vow that I’ll never dye my hair again (since I promised my daughter we’d try henna together shortly), but I don’t need it anymore. I have settled into my skin.

I think motherhood had a great deal to do with it, as it does show you the bigger picture of things, and one more easily foregoes superficial things. Probably my partner too, since he does love me unconditionally. But most importantly, I have changed. I have realized that I too can love myself unconditionally, even though it’s hard and quite contradictory to what I’ve been thought growing up. I can. I do.

Isn’t that one of the most important things we can model to our children? Unconditional self love. How radical is that!

That I’ve realized that I’m actually quite awesome a person doesn’t take away that I don’t notice my flaws. And I have a great many of them.
Change is still something I aspire to. I wish to change my anger into something more constructive, for one. I will try to work on myself, to become an even better person, an even better parent. But I accept that perfection doesn’t exist and that I am ME.

How about you? Where are you on the road to self love and self acceptance?

 Visit Hybrid Rasta Mama and the Fabulous Mama Chronicles to find out how you can participate in the next Fabulous Hybrid Carnival!
******  Visit Hybrid Rasta Mama and the Fabulous Mama Chronicles to find out how you can participate in the next Fabulous Hybrid Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. It will be updated by 3:00pm PST on Monday. April 30th:


    Thursday, May 23, 2013

    Let Me Tell You a Little Secret...

    My regular one post a day schedule has been a bit disrupted lately, as you might have noticed. But it isn't because I've been slacking, quite on the contrary. I've teamed up with Jennifer from Hybrid Rasta Mama and Lauren from Hobo Mama to assemble a Mindful Parenting eBundle Sale!

    The Mindful Parenting eBundle, that's 21 titles by esteemed parenting authors. A handpicked selection of eBooks, workshops and audio, with themes such as creativity and play, peaceful guidance, mindfulness for mothers, children and food...

    I have read, listened to and loved each and every one of these contributions and I think you will too.

    A total value of 236USD for the humble price of 24,95USD!!!

    Among which the launch sale of my first ebook: "Mommy Overwhelm: A Holistic Approach to Parental Stress and Depression". This book is not yet available anywhere else!

    Are you as excited as I am?

    Let me share the list of contributors:

    1. Parenting for Social Change by Teresa Graham Brett
    2. A Unique 7-Step Parenting Tool: Sleep talking by Marcy Axness
    3. Relaxation Meditation, audio by Amy Phoenix
    4. Newbie's Guide to Positive Parenting by Rebecca Eanes
    5. Issue three of the Play Grow Learn magazine
    6. Getting Back on Track! Why We Explode and What We Can Do About it, audio by genevieve Simperingham
    7. Stress Relief for parents, audio by Genevieve Simperingham
    8. Creative Play Workshop, email course by Gina Kimmel and Katherine Lockett
    9. Mindset for Moms by Jamie Martin
    10. Moods of Motherhood by Lucy Pearce
    11. 42 Rules for Divorcing with Kids by Melinda Roberts
    12. Mommy Overwhelm by Laura Schuerwegen
    13. Nurturing Creativity, Guide for Busy Parents by Renee Tougas
    14. The Playful Family by Shawn Fink
    15. Poetry of a Hobo Mama by Lauren Wayne
    16. Encouraging Words for Kids by Kelly Bartlett
    17. Raising a Creative Kid by Jillian Riley
    18. Children and Food by Tara Wagner
    19. Coming of Age, audio by DeAnna L'Am
    20. The Parenting Primer, A Guide to Positive Parenting in the First Six Years by Michelle Carchae
    Plus A lovely Freebie by Jennifer Saleem: The Mindful Mothering Challenge

    This bundle is only available from MAY 28 to JUNE 10, after that, these products will never be sold together again at this price!

    Find out everything about the sale at Mindful Nurturing

    Affiliate opportunity!
    Are you a blogger and you like how this sounds? We're still looking for affiliates! Affiliates receive a 50% commission, which translates to over 12USD per sale! A full toolkit with imagery, text and much more is available for your convenience. Sign up now!


    Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    Simply Living Blog Hop: Daily Lives

        As part of the Simply Living Blog Carnival, this month we are also hosting a Blog Hop! Feel free to share your posts on how you use simple living in your daily lives. You can even grab the code and help share the blog hop on your own blog! Details below. As the hosts of the Simply Living Blog Carnival are proponents of consensual living and peaceful parenting, we will be screening entries. Any entries which specifically advocate violence against others, by words or actions, will not be posted.


    Want to add the blog hop to your blog and help share the word about the Simply Living Blog Carnival? Go here to find the code to post the blog hop on your own blog.


    Tuesday, May 21, 2013

    Keeping Stress at Bay from Day to Day

    Welcome to the May edition of the Simply Living Blog CarnivalDaily Lives cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month, we write about what we do to keep the little things from overwhelming us. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post.

    Keeping stress out of our daily lives is not something that's on my mind, really. I think it's something I automatically do. When I feel that we're heading in the wrong direction, I will take action, but otherwise, I try to just flow. We do have a lot less stress - living in Africa - then the average Western family anyway. That's probably one of the main reasons why we're still living here after all these years.


    We seem to fall into a routine throughout the week and everyone seems comfortable with that. Each of us has his or her daily business and the kids do reach a routine bedtime. We don't really prompt them or anything, it just follows the rhythm of the day.
    When the routine changes, we prepare ourselves and our kids ahead of time. Say we would be traveling, a week ahead of time, we'll say when we are going and where, the three days prior to travel, we'll tell our daughter every step of the way. That way there are no false expectations and little resistance.

    Inner work

    I am very susceptible to stress, my husband's stress or my own or pressure from all of the million things I'm doing. When I sense that I am getting a bit stressed, I will take care of myself a little bit better. Do some meditation, take some calming herbs, take time for myself. As primary caregiver, my stress gets downloaded into my kids, so it's important that I take care of myself in order to avoid the downward spiral that a stressed out family can be.

    Outside stress remains outside

    I find myself reminding my husband that there's no need for stress from his work to come into our house. There's nothing he can do about that when he's here anyway.
    I'm also careful about what energy I invite into my house and prefer not to invite people if I sense it could create a problem. The same goes for going out. If we feel that going somewhere would needlessly stress us or our children, we just opt out.

    What do you do to keep stress out?

    Is this a topic you relate too? Keep your eyes peeled for the launch of my first eBook "Mommy Overwhelm: A Holistic Approach to Parental Stress and Depression" at the end of this month!


    Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating stress relieving actions into their daily day lives. We hope you will join us next month!

    • Keeping Stress at Bay From Day to Day - Laura at Authentic Parenting sums up some of the things she does to avoid being overwhelmed.
    • How I Stay Sane! - ANonyMous @ Radical Ramblings discusses the coping mechanisms she has to stay sane when her life is chaotic and often stressful.
    • Organising - sustainablemum talks about how spending time planning ahead has given her more time for life!
    • Simple Menu Planning for New Moms - No longer a lady of leisure, new mom Mercedes at Project Procrastinot has had to rethink her cooking style in order to maximize her time in the kitchen.
    • Happy Homes/Peaceful Homes - According to Lisa at Squishable Baby, It's the things that bring us closer together as a family - that keep our home Peaceful. 


    APBC Call for Submissions: Self Love

    APBC - Authentic Parenting Welcome to the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and Laura at Authentic Parenting. We hope that you will join us on the last Friday of each month as we share posts about simple living in our lives. Submission deadline is extended until Monday, May 27.


    This month, we would like to focus on self-love. What do you do to take care of yourself? How has your view of yourself changes since having kids? How do you pass on a feeling of self-love to your children? Submission date: May 27 Carnival date: May 31

    How to join in?

    To submit an article to the blog carnival, please e-mail your submission to mandy{at}livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com and mamapoekie{at}yahoo{dot}com, and fill out the webform by May 27. Please write a new, unpublished piece for the carnival. We will e-mail you with instructions before the carnival date. We ask that you publish your post on May 31. Please do:
    • Use your creativity
    • Write an original, previously unpublished post on the given topic
    • Be respectful
    • Spell check your post
    Do Not Use excessive profanity or promote violence against others As the co-hosts of the carnival are advocates of peaceful living and gentle parenting, we ask that you not post about non-gentle practices or violence toward others. While we will not be editing your articles, we do reserve the right to not add your post to the carnival if it is not on topic, is poorly written, or goes against the guidelines which have been set forth.

    Why Participate?

    Blog carnivals are a great way to generate blog traffic and build a supportive community. Your blog will receive links from many other blogs and you and your readers will have the opportunity to discover other blogs with similar goals in mind. Please join us as we embrace Authentic Parenting! We hope you will consider joining us every month as we discuss ways to live and parent authentically.



    Monday, May 20, 2013

    5 Drawing Tips For You And Your Child


Although drawing is easy to pick up for any child, like anything that requires effort and practice it can also be a source of frustration as your child starts to set standards for him or herself that are difficult to meet. Fortunately, they have you there to help them get past their blocks! Today we have a few suggestions to help you – and ultimately, your child – on your way.

    1. Don’t be afraid to help with the basics. As long as you show a little restraint – don’t start drawing

    Drawing with children (US Navy Imagery)
    for your child, or forcing them to draw a certain way – teaching them a few basic techniques can help make things much easier for them. Teach them to break things down into shapes, for example, or to use different amounts of pressure when they color different areas to get different shades of the color they’re using.

    2. Give your child the chance to experiment. There’s a lot more to drawing and coloring than pencils and crayons. You don’t necessarily need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a fine charcoal set and easel for your little one, but letting them experiment with pens, markers, colored pencils, or even paint can breathe new life into drawing for your child. It can’t hurt to try it yourself, either!

    3. Help them find references. Many children are content to draw from their imagination, but for those that want to draw real, tangible things, this can be a huge help. If your child prefers drawing animals, help find them pictures of lions, or tigers, or bears. If they like to draw people, why not dig out a photo album? If they enjoy drawing trees and flowers, go to the park together and take pictures, or maybe even start a flower garden together. If all else fails, find pictures to use on the internet! References are everywhere.

4. Give them some structure. While it’s good to allow your child the freedom to pursue whatever they want when they draw, sometimes children start to lose focus on or confidence in even the things they really enjoy. Once in a while, try giving your child an assignment – ask them to draw their favorite animal for you and tell you why they like it, or have them make up a story for you to go with their drawing. This can go a long way in helping you understand your child’s feelings, as well as giving them a direction to go in.

    5. Encourage your child. The old saying ‘practice, practice, practice!’ applies to any art at any age – for your child to get better at drawing, they need to keep at it. Perfection won’t come easily, so it’s your job as a parent to cheer them on if your child becomes tired or frustrated at a lack of success. If they feel like they’re failing, encourage them to keep trying. If they do well, tell them what a good job they did. If they think they did badly, show them what they did right, and help them to find out how to fix their mistakes.

Drawing well takes time, and it will likely never become more than a hobby for most children. Still, it has a number of psychological and developmental benefits for any child, and even a little effort from you can go far in helping your child’s self-confidence, and maybe even their future career!

    About the author
    I'm Kathy, and I'm all over the place, but right now I'm at We Draw Animals - if you and your little one(s) are into drawing animals for all the odd reasons - come and check the tutorials I (strive to) add each week!


    Saturday, May 18, 2013

    Seven Parenting Mistakes Transformed (rerun)

    Parenting is an amazing, joyful, yet, long and at times frustrating journey. No matter how dedicated or informed we are, along the way we are all bound to make mistakes. These mistakes don’t have to be a source of judgment and guilt, they can be an opportunity to reflect, learn, change and move forward. A chance for a second take.

    Here are seven common parenting mistakes and ideas for reflection and transformation:

    Facebook vs. Face Time
    Parents and children alike are spending more and more time connecting on their various devices than with each other. Too much device connection, not enough human interaction. Have you caught yourself saying “yeah, uhm..uhm..” while looking at a screen and missing a really awesome moment or a question from your child?
    Make spending meaningful, joy filled, connected time together and building relationship a priority. Setting yourself office hours, avoid devices during meals, morning and evening routines and keeping special time 100% device free are great ways to get back to the important kind of connecting.

     Reactive vs. Pro-active
    Tempers flare, children do the most unthinkable things, we get tired, frustrated and angry. Knee jerk reactions, yelling and berating is often the auto-pilot of anger speaking and it is just not a productive way for families to solve problems or manage unwanted situations.
    Learning to recognize stress triggers, taking a parental cool-down time, counting to one hundred, making routines are just some of the ways we can regulate ourselves and start to be pro-active instead of reactive when things are going less than stellar.

    Scaring vs Caring 
    Ever get so frustrated and utter the words “you are gonna be in big trouble” or “Just stop it or else!” to get some compliance? Sometimes interactions can be so frustrating; maybe the words trickle out faster than we think but it really is scary to hear such treats.
    If a child is resisting something, it is likely that there is an unmet need. Discover and meet that need first, then continue with the original task. Aiming for cooperation and taking my child’s point of view really helps me focus on being caring and not using any scare tactics.

    Shame vs. Respect 
    Pants get soiled, juice gets spilled, homework is forgotten, all of sudden a child hears “how could you”, “what is the matter with you”, “can’t you think?” Such statements can really make a child feel ashamed, ridiculed and can have a lasting effect on their self-esteem.
     Allowing children to fix their own mistake (mop up the floor, carry the clothes to the laundry room) or to simply live with the natural consequences of their actions gives a child a chance to learn through experience, which is respectful and valuable in the long run.

    Comparing vs. Appreciating 
    Sometimes parents compare notes on milestones and accomplishments just to share and connect. Other times it can become a bit of a competition that can leave everyone feeling a bit on edge, stressed, worried or upset. Parents also sometimes compare their children against one another creating a whole lot of tension between siblings.
    Appreciating the uniqueness of each child is a really amazing experience. Children excel at all sorts of different things, hit milestones at difference paces and have different interests, likes, dislikes and quirks. Aim for getting to know each child for who they are and what they are doing and not what the charts say they should be doing.

    Control vs. Creativity
    How often do you say “not like that”, “let me make that for you so it’s not wrong”, “that is not the way to do that” in an effort to control the outcome of some project, craft or activity? Sure we may mean well, but what message are we really sending to our child?
    Children have an incredible sense of creativity and wonder. From what they wear to how they create, respecting their inner artist is so important. Instead of taking over, try to observe, take a back seat and trust the process. Reminding myself that an art project belongs to my child or that the only one afraid of what “people” may think of a certain outfit is me really helps me stay out of it and just watch the creativity unfold.

    Wavering vs. Consistency
    Do you ever go back and forth between decisions and inadvertently confuse your child? For example, jumping on the couch is totally okay one day but then suddenly it’s not ok anymore and you get mad and your child gets confused?
    Choosing a path and sticking to it can be tough at times, yet, being consistent with certain limits and guidelines really is important for children. Brainstorming and knowing what your non-negotiable are and being consistent with them helps you and your child gain self-discipline.

    Have you made any of these mistakes?

    I know I have been reactive at times and definitely tried to meddle in creative processes…that’s why I say I “practice” parenting, because there will always be mistakes.

    Much like engineers need to review the best laid out plans, computer codes get updated and revised and actors get second and third takes, as parents we can also stop, check and create new starts. So forget the guilt, or since it tends so show up no matter what, try to let it hang out only for as long as it takes to help you see you are ready for a change.

    Peace & Be Well,
    Please come join me at Positive Parenting Connection on Facebook for daily inspirations, ideas and resources. See you there!

    Image: FrameAngel /


    Friday, May 17, 2013

    Parenting – 5 Songs That Get It Right (rerun)

    Written by Alayna Frankenberry

    Being a parent is a bit like skydiving – not just because of that sensation of free-fall that all parents feel from time to time, but because it's just one of those life experiences you can't fully explain. You can't truly understand what being a parent means until you're one yourself, and even then it's hard to put into words. Then one day the radio serves up a song that gets it so right that you wonder if the singer's been peeking through your kitchen window or listening in on your long-distance phone calls. Sometimes these songs make you laugh and sometimes they make you cry, but they always remind you that you're not alone in this delightfully messy thing called parenthood. The next time you're feeling emotions you can't quite explain, just turn on one of these songs and sing along.

    1. “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash – At first listen, “A Boy Named Sue” seems an unlikely candidate for Parenting Song of the Year, but if you stop and think about it, it's a song that hits pretty close to home. Growing up, we all have things we blame our parents for, from giving us unique names that act as bully magnets to dressing us up in hand-me-down overalls or conducting lengthy interviews with our terrified teenage boyfriends. When we become parents ourselves, we start to understand the method behind their madness. Sometimes we even adopt the same parenting strategies for our own children. Or, as with Johnny Cash's tormented protagonist, we swear not to let history repeat itself.

    2. Cat's in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin – Known for its ability to turn a grown man into a weeping child in under four minutes, “Cat's in the Cradle” is not for the faint of heart. Unfortunately, no parent-child relationship is perfect, and sometimes we don't realize how quickly the time is passing until it's too late. This is a truly heartbreaking song, but there's a silver-lining. When heard at just the right time, this song can serve as a wake-up call for neglectful parents. It can help them repair a distant relationship before it's too late.

    3. I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack – If you've been to a wedding in the last decade, there's a pretty good chance you've heard “I Hope You Dance.” A favorite of father-daughter dances, this country classic details all the hopes a parent holds for their child's future, from finding love to keeping faith. Sure, some of life's curveballs are unavoidable, but this song isn't so much about wishing for a perfect future for your child. It's more about hoping they have the strength to weather the storm and to live the full breadth of life, not just the length. Or, as Womack puts it, “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance – I hope you dance.”

    4. Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle – There are few relationships as special, or as hard to put into words, as the one between a father and his daughter. Bob Carlisle paints a perfect picture of the father-daughter bond in his 2005 hit. The song examines the relationship between a father and his daughter from the time she's a little girl to the day he walks her down the aisle, and Carlisle perfectly captures that feeling of dumbstruck wonder that comes along with being a parent, with watching your child grow and change. “For all that I've done wrong, I must have done something right.” For such a simple sentiment, it says so much about what being a father really means.

    5. “She's Eighteen” by Etta Britt – Being a parent isn't always easy, especially when your child hits their teens. But while you're sure to experience your fair share of arguments and even a full-fledged fight or two, sometimes the chaos is a blessing in disguise, an opportunity to see your son or daughter for who they really are and who they want to become. Those growing pains can be tough to handle, and Etta Britt from Wrinkled Records does them justice in her new blues rock hit “She's Eighteen.” The mother in the song stands at a crossroads as her daughter leaves home for the first time. Etta's plaintive voice echoes what so many parents feel as they watch their children mature: “I wish I could lock that door and throw away the key, but she needs to be free.”

    How can you explain what it's like to be a parent? You can't – not really. Like sky-diving or that first special kiss, being a parent is something you have to experience yourself to truly understand. In short, it's complicated, and words are clumsy tools. But when you set those words to evocative chords and a delicious melody, something magical happens. Great songwriting has the power to unlock one's own emotions about being a parent or to conjure them in the heart of a bachelor. So the next time your life as a parent triggers emotions you can't quite describe, just play one of these songs and let the singer do it for you. And unless you're chaperoning a van full of teenagers to the mall or need vocal lessons from TakeLessons beforehand, feel free to sing along.

    About the author: 
    Alayna Frankenberry is a freelance writer who lives in Pittsburgh. She still cries every time she listens to 'Cat's in the Cradle."


    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    Parenting from the Inside Out

    written by Paige Lucas Stannard

    I don’t remember the exact moment I realized that gentle parenting was for me. The idea that “children are our future” touted in public didn’t seem to be practiced in reality.

    In reality, putting children on the “naughty step” and letting them cry out for comfort without any emotional response from their parent seemed to be the best advice for living with children.

    I just knew that felt wrong to me. Finding a community of other parents that believed the radical idea that children are people was so comforting. Here were other parents who were letting go of power and control and parenting from a place of love.

    I’ve been very blessed to be part of this movement through Parenting Gently and the annual Carnival of Gentle Discipline. Getting the word out that there is another way to parent and that it works has been very rewarding.

    I’ve also been humbled by the parents who come to me for advice on how to handle situations with their children in a gentle manner. I know how much these parents love their kids so to be trusted with helping them is really an honor.

    Do you remember the first time you tried a gentle discipline technique and it worked? Did you have that aha moment?

    Gentle parenting is kind of like a drug. That first hit is like “wow! I had no idea parenting could be this fun!” and then you’re hooked.

    But, do you sometimes feel like you are still speaking a foreign language? That your initial reaction is always punitive and you have to translate or shift gears into “gentle” mode to react like you want?

    Maybe in moments of stress you revert back to your old parenting paradigm and later you feel upset about they way you handled a situation?

    Plus you might be getting naysayers from all sides telling you “you’re doing it wrong!”

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have the gentle response be the first response that pops into your mind? So that without even thinking about it you can handle any issue in a peaceful manner? So that regardless of the opinion of others you feel confident in your choices?

    The thing I realized about gentle parenting is that it isn’t just about gentle alternatives to punishment like spanking and time out. Instead, it is a fundamental shift in how you relate to your kids. A fundamental shift in how you relate to everyone. And a shift like that doesn’t come from constantly having to translate every situation into a gentle alternative. Sometimes, that can be even more stressful!

    When you can find your own authentic voice and drive your parenting from the inside out, suddenly you’re not struggling to translate each situation into a gentle framework.

    You find yourself connecting with your kids more and connecting with yourself more. You smile more and feel stressed out less.

    Parenting is fun. Life is fun.

    It is just pure awesomeness! I want everyone to experience this personal transformation!

    What if I could help you look inside and find your own authentic parenting voice and use that to make your parenting choices?

    I mean most of us aren’t parenting from deep inside of us. We are parenting on the fly as situations arise. Struggling with subconscious assumptions built on our own upbringing, our own personality and fears, and the silent societal messages about what parenting should be.

    You can use alternatives to time out, spanking, or other punishment everyday and never find that comfortable, joyful parenting groove.

    That groove that comes from parenting that is rooted in your own values and goals. After all the best parenting is your own authentic parenting.

    This is why I’m so excited to be partnering with Everyday Feminism to offer the first ever Transformative Parenting: Finding Your Authentic Parenting Voice online course.

    Everyday Feminism is all about transforming your life through feminism and that fits just perfectly with this idea that through self-transformation we can become the best parents we can be.

    This online course won’t be hitting you on the head with feminist theory or with gentle parenting doctrine. You don’t need more external lists of do’s and don'ts.

    Instead I will walk you through a process of self-exploration that will help you align your parenting choices with your deepest core values.

    We’ll look at:

    • The cultural messages we receive and internalize about parenthood
    • How our upbringing and personality shape our parenting
    • How to break out of the cycle of parenting from a place of fear
    • Finding your own core values and goals for your children and translate them into daily action
    • How to communicate with compassion even in times of conflict
    • How to work with your feelings and needs and help your children do the same
    • And more!

    All in a supportive community of fellow parents who want to break the old habits of parenting we see in our society and forge new, connected bonds with our kids.

    I know that parenting is a busy task. I’ll use several different methods of delivery so you can find what works best for you. Each lesson should only take 1-2 hours a week and not all at once!

    So you can break it up to fit your schedule.

    I hope you’ll join me! You won’t regret the time spent on your own self-improvement and you will notice a profound change in your daily life with your kids.

    Transformative parenting e-coursel


    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    Emergency Preparedness in Sub-Saharan Africa

    Welcome to the May 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Emergency Preparedness
    This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their plans to keep their families safe. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
    Emergency preparedness is not just a fictional concept for a family living in Africa. Having already been evacuated out of Ivory Coast after the troubles following their latest elections (where Ouatara took over the power from reigning president Laurent Gbagbo), and living through a forced period of self sufficiency out of sheer lack of food, being prepared for just about anything is second nature.

    So what do we do differently?

    We always have a large supply of food. We only shop once a month, so we make sure that we have a full freezer and pantry and that we have nice and nutritious food available, even in the event that we aren't able to go for our monthly shopping trip. We try to find local grown greens to have fresh food available, but also freeze vegetables whenever possible.
    I used to have extensive gardens, but since it was absolutely necessary in the Congo, since we couldn't get vegetables anywhere else, it's been overkill for me and I now content myself with just the odd crop and some sprouted seeds.

    We also have all of our travel documents and some money in one place and generally have a ready packed evacuation bag.

    We have two big dogs. They're our alarm system and they also keep unwanted visitors off our turf.

    When we were living in Ivory Coast, my husband received a security training, and eventually ended up having to use it to organize our evacuation. As a result, we always have some 'flight plans' in our heads.

    This may all sound pretty stressful and scary, but on a day to day basis, we're leading very relaxed and normal lives. I would even argue that living here is safer than say, in Europe. We just have to remain vigilant, be careful when the turmoil presents (fe around elections and strikes) and use our common sense.

    Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
    Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
    (This list will be updated by afternoon May 14 with all the carnival links.)


    Monday, May 13, 2013

    'No Artificial Light After Dark' Challenge

    At the start of December, my family and I started a No Artificial Light After Dark challenge. I know December is far gone now, but I still wanted to write about this, who knows I might inspire one of you.

    I felt we were watching too much television at night and that we started lacking connection, specifically with my husband, since he's only home on the evenings, and typically, we'd make dinner and have it in front of the tv. And what better time then around christmas to seize an opportunity to connect as a family.

    The rules were pretty clear: no lights, no screens, no games. The exception was candles and the

    No artificial lights after dark challenge, image: colorfoxes
    christmas lights (we didn't have a tree last year).
    It was also clear that our daughter could opt out when she wanted, given that it was us who undertook the challenge.

    The first night, my daughter wasn't won over by the idea AT ALL! She demanded to watch something and we let her watch a movie on the Ipad. She did like that we had lots of candles.
    The next night, she must have been won over by our joyfulness and togetherness, because she never asked for tv at night again for the whole rest of the challenge.

    I must admit that my husband and I cheated one night to look at tile for our house after our kids had gone to sleep. And there was one time we had to turn on the lights to clean a poopie diaper, but all in all, we didn't feel the need to cheat very often. Even though it does get dark here at seven in the evening.

    We spend lots of time talking to each other, playing board games (we hadn't done that in a while!), taking baths… No artificial lights never was a problem and we did reconnect. We also slept better and earlier.

    I could certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to reconnect to their inner clock and each other, and I think I might make it a yearly challenge.

    Has this inspired you to do a challenge of your own? Check back to tell me how it goes!
    Have you ever done this? What were the results?


    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Unschooling: An Introduction (rerun)

    Originally published at Child of the Nature Isle

    I’ve written lots of articles throughout my blogging ‘career’ about unschooling, but I’ve never tackled the basic questions, like “What is Unschooling” or “Why Unschool”, or “How Do You Do It?”. I probably hinted at these topics, but I’ve never sat down to write an introductory article about unschooling, for people who are infamiliar with the topic. Basically, because I’ve always assumed that the readers of my blog are familiar with the topis.

    What is Unschooling?

    If you ask unschoolers for a definition, you’ll probably get as many definitions as you find people to
    Unschool yourself, orion pozo
    ask this question too. If I’d take a sling at a definition it would be something like this:
    Interest led, lifelong, self driven learning.
    The idea behind unschooling is that learning is a natural phenomenon, that children want to learn and that they learn the things they need when they need them. There is no need to impose the required knowledge or force them in any direction. Thus, unschooling happens without any form of curriculum or teaching, unschooling does not take the classroom home, but banishes the classroom idea altogether. Instead, it offers children the opportunity to learn from life itself in the same way as all children learn to walk and talk on their own.
    The term itself indicates that unschooling takes a stance against schooling as the formal, institutionalized system we know. Generally, unschoolers belief that children can acquire all the knowledge they need at home (in the large sense of the word, because unschoolers are far from being hermits), with the guidance of their parents or other people close to home.
    There are lots of reasons why unschooling opposes schooling, but they are too diverse and elaborate to get into for the sake of an introductory article.
    Unschooling is known under lots of other terms too, like life learning, interest based learning or holistic learning, only to name a few.
    Unschooling is not just about learning, it’s a way of life. This holistic take on life and parenting is often called radical unschooling, and includes all interaction and action of the household.

    Why Unschool
    The answer to why one should unschool could fill a book in itself, but for the sake of this article I will try to keep it short.
Unschooling allows the child to develop his or her passions, without crushing his/her thirst for knowledge. It does not strive to conform or break children by imposing arbitrary rules and factory like patterns. There are no boundaries or requirements and there is no judgement. Children are incited to be themselves and develop their interests. It is by far the superior learning system for personal development.

    How Do You Do It
    Even though it may seem chaotic and undisciplined when you first hear about this manner of learning, there are some requirements for unschooling to ‘work’ or even be possible at all.
    Unschooling requires at least one involved parent or guardian to guide and stimulate the child.

    • The physical and mental safety of the child should be ensured.
    • The basic needs (food, clothes, shelter) of the child should be fulfilled.
    • The child should frequent stimulating and rich environments
    • The parent’s job in unschooling is to be present, follow their interests and help them seek the information they require. The creation of a rich and stimulating learning environment is also something a parent should ensure, especially as long as they are underage.

    Unschooling is not a hands-off method of learning for the parent or caregiver, he is to be there to answer questions, get the right material and even anticipate educational needs.

    Where do you go from here?
    If this unschooling gig has caught your interest and you want to find out more, there are lots of ways to get informed.
    You click the unschooling tag to read lots of articles
    Another great source of information is The Natural Child Project
    Sandra Dod’s site is often quoted as a great ressource
    You could join one of the unschooling groups on Yahoo!, like Always Unschooled
    Facebook has lots of unschooling pages, “Unschooling” is just one of them
    Join the Radical Unschooling Network to connect and learn about unschooling


    Monday, May 6, 2013

    3 Tips for becoming a “Green” Parent

    content provided by Alex S.

    In my early 30s, I left my lucrative job as an attorney in favor of "greener" pastures. That's "green" in a
    literal sense in case you didn't catch the pun. More and more, parents across America are looking for ways to go green around the home and I thought it was time to combine my environmental interests with my parental interests in exchange for the not-so-lucrative career field of being an environmental consultant.

    My love for all things green began when a worried mom called me one fateful day looking for a school bus accident attorney after a bus accident left her feeling the driver was negligent. I took the case, and we hit it off right away. We shared coffee, and I instantly started to admire her for doing what she wanted to do.

    She was an energy consultant, and she specialized in saving families money by making a more efficient home. I had always dreamt of a career in environmentalism, and she gave me just the spark I needed to drop the day job and chase what I was passionate about, environmentalism.

    Long story short, now I've dropped the 70 hour weeks in favor of something I feel makes a real difference. I want to share some easy tips with you on how to "green" your lifestyle while reducing expenses. Below are 3 great tips for incorporating a greener lifestyle into your parenting approach, at no charge.

    Have a clothing swap.
    Most children grow quickly, especially when they are young. If you’ve got siblings that are the same gender as you, you might remember your mother passing your older sibling’s clothes down to you or your clothes being passed to your younger sibling. Clothing swaps and hand-me-downs are a bit of a lost art.  More recently, a trend among mothers with multiple children has been to trade clothes for their children. Say you’ve got a ten year old son and have just had a baby girl and you’ve got a friend who’s got a son who’s a little younger than yours and a daughter who’s a little older than yours.

    This is the perfect opportunity to swap some of your son’s older, still-good clothes for some of your friend’s baby girl clothes. Because kids grow so fast, their clothes use usually in great shape when they’ve outgrown them—don’t let these perfectly fine clothes go to waste! Swap them!

    Go second-hand.

    buy second hand, net effect
    Just like clothes, many of your children’s items will be in great shape by the time your son or daughter is through with them. Take a look around your child’s playroom or play area for toys that she or he no longer uses. There’s a great chance that these items are still in relatively good shape. When your child outgrown a height chair, crib, or any of the various other large (and sometimes expensive) items, see if you can find someone who needs these items.

    Or, if the tables are turned and you are the one looking for items for your baby, see if you know anyone who is getting rid of a baby rocker, car seat, or whatever it is you need. By recycling these items, you can make a small dent in how much of our natural resources are used to make these items.

    Encourage outdoor play. 
    This tip has a three-fold positive effect. First, it gets your children out of the house and into nature. One of the sad trends among today’s youth is limited interaction with the outside world and other children.

    Second, it gets your children out of the house and away from TV, video games, and the computer. When you child sits in front of these electronics for hours on end your energy bill grows larger and larger.  And third, it gets your children out of the house so that you can have a little peace and quiet for a bit. Your kids are great, there’s no denying that, but everyone needs a break once in a while. When your kids are outside enjoying nature, take a minute to catch your breath—you deserve it!

    There you go—implement one or all of these tips in your life and you’ll be that much closer to living a greener life! Green parenting is a way to make sure that your kids’ needs are met and that we have a more sustainable planet!