Sunday, September 8, 2013

Everything happens for a reason... right?

Thanks everyone who was following my journey in the peaceful parenting challenge... unfortunately the last month has been a little more than one person can handle and I wasn't able to find some time to participate in the challenges let alone blog about it.  There are many things I learned from the challenge that I will take with me and implement as I move forward in my life as not only a mother to two beautiful boys or partner to one very kind, caring, amazing, handsome man but also a strong Aboriginal woman.

I am a very strong independent Aboriginal woman that has overcome many challenges in my life and I am sure there will be many more to come.  I have been blessed with many positives in the last few years and my journey has been amazing.  Recently, the strength I carry has been put to the test and I am left wondering what lesson I am being taught.

Two weeks ago, my third pregnancy ended suddenly overnight... 

I had just found out I was pregnant two weeks before that, we were so excited but also a bit nervous because Hunter was only 10 months old, which meant he would only be around 18 months old when his sibling arrived.  Over the next two weeks we had talked ourselves into the fact that yes it would be busy and stressful at times but it would be worth it when they are a little older and become friends that do everything together.  We thought it would be so much fun for Hunter to have someone to grow up with because Clayton and I both have siblings that we grew up with and are close to and David always felt that he was missing something when he was growing up not having a brother or sister.  

The first thing people say to you when this is happening to you is how common it is.  Yes, it is common... from what I am told one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, which is fairly common.  However, knowing this does not help ease the sadness, confusion and feelings of inadequacy that you feel when you go through this, at least it didn't for me.  I grieved for my little tiny sweet pea as if it was a full grown baby, thoughts of what may have been take over your mind and you are not able to focus on anything but this for a while.  I had to work through feelings of sadness and tears.  Then guilt thinking that I did something wrong; am I under too much stress, did we try too soon?  Then anger because I let myself get so excited about it and maybe I shouldn't have.  Then confusion wondering if I will ever be able to get pregnant again.  Then defeat not knowing if I will ever be able to go through this again.  Then I felt a little self conscious that I was being silly about something so common.  Finally I started to accept that this happens and it doesn't mean it will happen again and that I can't have another baby.  As you can see there were many emotions that I went through and no matter what I felt or why I felt them, they are my emotions and there is nothing wrong with them.  How I dealt with it is how I deal and everyone deals with things differently.  Don't ever be afraid to feel what you feel and don't be afraid to say how you feel... nobody can judge you for your feelings.  I am thankful for having Clayton in my life everyday but definitely through situations like this, I couldn't ask for a more caring and understanding partner who rearranged his schedule the day of to be with me and took me out to take my mind off of it.  He always seems to know exactly what he needs to do, he's gifted that way.

So what lesson am I being taught here?  My belief is everything happens for a reason, so what is the reason for this?  The reasons are not always clear why something happens to us in the immediate, however in the future days, weeks, months or years... the reason always shows up.  This always helps me when working through a difficult situation.  Perhaps our loss will help someone reading this through a difficult time they are having... I know for sure that it was not for nothing.

Our little angel would have been born around Easter... my thoughts were that it was going to be a girl even though I was scared to death to have a girl because I didn't want her to be like I was growing up but I know one thing for sure, I could have taught her to be a very strong, independent Aboriginal woman... I gave her a name and prayed for her return back to the spirit world, a place that I don't totally understand but someone told me that her spirit will be first in line the next time.  I hope this is true.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Watch your language!

Welcome to the Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival: Week #7-Watch Your Language
This post was written for inclusion in the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival hosted by Prenatal to Parenting. This week our participants have written about using positive language with others. We hope you enjoy this week’s posts and consider joining us next week when we share about a week of unplugging.

It is a well known fact that if you change your language from negative to a positive it has more impact than if you say it negatively.  Negative language can cause defensiveness in the person you are speaking to and this communication can be halted quite quickly because of it.

This week's focus was on positive language, I recognize that my communication with my teenager can be quite difficult because his negative manner of speaking affects me and my responses which causes defensiveness in him and we get into a place where neither of us are listening to each other.  I find our relationship building opportunities are quite limited because he, much like his mother was at his age, spends alot of time with his friends rather than being at home.  When he is at home, he can often be heard saying, "its so boring here" or, "there's nothing to do in this house" and the like.   Usually these comments make me say things like, "Life is what you make it!" or "You wouldn't have liked where I grew up!".  This week I tried really hard to have positive conversations with my teen that did not turn into bickering back and forth.  David is my first child and as you know it was just he and I for alot of years before Clayton and then Hunter came into our lives.  I always say that David and I grew up together, I am only 18 years older than him, some people's siblings are only 18 years older or younger than them and we often get mistaken for brother and sister (it doesn't help he is way taller than me).  We are alike in many ways and I love him more than he will ever know but there are many times that I don't like what he says or how he says things and this causes me to say things that he doesn't like... so who needs to change their language?  Me of course!  I am the parent.

Teenage brains are weird, as I have talked about in an earlier post; adolescent brains are immature in the decision making and logic department which cause many decisions to be made based on impulse and emotions.  I continuously have to remind myself this when interacting with him and not freak out when he is telling me about something he has done that is less than appropriate.  Let's not forget he is also a boy... boys tend to not think about consequences at all before they act.  So, I try my hardest not to get angry with him, instead appreciating the fact that he is honest, open and shares everything with me when either he wants to because he thinks its funny or I ask him what he's been up to.  One area of contension is when he fails to check in with me when he is out.  Usually if it has been a while, I immediately get upset and send him a "where the heck are you?" or "if your not going to check in, get your ass home now!" message to which he always responds with "Sorry, I am with so and so".  I feel sorry is tossed around too much, you aren't really sorry if you do it over and over again, so I will carry on to say "Don't tell me you are sorry, show me you are sorry by not doing it again!"  This week, I tried something different... when he failed to check in, I sent him a text and said, "How are you doing?" and when he answered I told him it was great to hear from him and I get scared and upset when he hasn't checked in for a while because I worry that he is hurt or lost.  I tried to have him understand why I get angry, instead of just getting angry.  Guess what, he has been checking in more regularly these days.  Just one easy positive step can make changes for the better!  When Mama bear is not angry, David bear is not angry and everyone gets along. 

I feel that I could definitely benefit from watching my language, especially around my teen, but also with my entire family.  I will continue to work on changing the way to communicate with my family.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
Tips for making the Positive Comments outweigh the negative in your child’s day -Sarah from Prenatal to Parentingshares a startling stat and asks for your help in changing the numbers.
How to talk to your kids – Amy from The Connection We Sharediscovers the power of using positive language with your kids.
Watch Your Words- Amber from Strocel.comfeels better about her parenting when she’s using more positive language.
The Power of Words - Peaceful Parenting Challenge Week 7 - Katrina from Kalem Photography is trying to figure out positive phrasing for some things she’d like her 2 year old to stop doing.
Week 7 - Watch Your Language!– Amanda from Sticky Handssuggests we start saying out loud things you love and things you want to happen.
Language and Distractions- Peaceful Parenting Challenge: Week 7 -Kathryn from Curiosity and the Kat is a bit distracted.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Positive Transitions

Welcome to the Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival: Week #6 – Developing Positive Self-Talk
This post was written for inclusion in the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival hosted by Prenatal to Parenting. This week our participants have written about Developing Positive Self-Talk. We hope you enjoy this week’s posts and consider joining us next week when we share about a week of Watching Our Language.

Well this week I returned to work and since I am a child protection social worker who has been off on maternity leave for 14 months, I definitely needed more positive self talk, which is what this week's challenge was about.  You know that little annoying voice in your head that runs a commentary for everything you do in your life?  The one that is not always positive and can sometimes be negative, bringing you down.  The more you change this commentary to positive, the better things will get.  Try it!  It can be something as simple as looking in the mirror in the morning and instead of thinking about what you hate about yourself, tell yourself how beautiful you are.  Every morning I have woken up early enough to have 15 minutes to sit and listen to some positive affirmations and meditate.  This has definitely supported my transition back to work in a healthy way.

The transition so far has not been as difficult as I had anticipated.  Leaving Hunter at home with Daddy sure makes things easier on me, knowing Hunter is with one of his favorite peeps who has the same parenting style as me makes me worry less about him for sure.  The drive to work has been good, it is still summer traffic so it seems to be better than when September hits and kids go back to school.  I am back to enjoying my morning show on the radio and giggling at the conversations.  I had a couple of boxes of stuff that I had stored over the last 14 months so I was able to get an office, unpack my stuff and make it my own space again; organized and comfortable with soft lighting.  It is important to make your space comfortable, especially since you spend so much time there.  My computer and phone was set up, got a new work cell phone.  Everything has been falling into place, I am taking over another social worker's caseload and she is easing me into it with a couple transfer meetings per day to introduce me to her families.  Things have been going good, I still feel like my knowledge that I accumulated prior to going on a leave is all jumbled up in my head somewhere and has to come out in order for me to do my job to the standard that I hold for myself.  It is not easy work and it requires organization, patience, time management, self care, compassion, empathy, assertiveness and knowledge.  I feel like the first seven skills required are a given and I have them at the ready when needed... it's the knowledge that I know I have but like I said, I am having a hard time bringing it back.  

So, I have been gentle with myself and allowing myself the time needed for it to come back, I cannot expect it to be back the first week I go to work.  Thus, positive self talk has been coming quite in handy this week.  I have done this before, I have done it well and I can do it well again.  I WILL do it well.  I know what I am doing, I have to give it time and it will all come back.

Emotions can cause you think negatively about your parenting skills; I remember when David was young, I was also young and people around me inadvertantly (or at times advertantly) made me feel like I was a bad mom, so I remember constantly feeling guilty because I was a bad mom. My age and maturity level did not allow me to process criticism as a positive thing or the people that criticized me didn't know how to do it positively, either way it was a challenge. Truth is, I was the best mom I knew how to be given the circumstances I was in and other people's judgements are their own.  It took me a long time to learn this important lesson. Some people felt that I should know what to do I guess and I really didn't. I had to learn how to be a mother and for alot of people, this does not come naturally to them so I had to learn that this is ok. Learning positive self talk back then would have helped me take the criticisms better, fight away the guilt and would have supported me in a much better way while I learned how to care for my boy as we grew up together.

Being a full time working mom can be daunting but for me working all day has made me appreciate the shorter amount of time I have with my kids in the evening and want to make sure the time spent with them is quality time. A positive short time with them is better than a long negative time any day.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Affirmations– Sarah from Prenatal to Parenting turns anger into Peaceful Parenting Affirmations for herself.
Week #6- developing Positive Self Talk– Jennifer from Children’s Directory says yes every day for a year.
Positive Self Talk – Peaceful Parenting Challenge – Week 6 - Katrina from Kalem Photography has been developing positive self-talk for about 30 years.
Positive Self-Talk – Ricky from Daddy Blogger is feeling more comfortable with this week’s challenge.
Week 6 - Positive Self Talk– Amanda from Sticky Hands practices positive self-talk out loud for the benefit of her most important audience.
Peaceful Parenting: Week 6 - I am NOT an Independent Woman ... and that is okay.-Kathryn from Curiosity and the Kat reminds herself it’s ok to ask for help.
I am a good mother – Michelle from My Peaceful Parenting praises herself when she doesn’t lose it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Being present can bring great gifts.

Welcome to the Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival: Week #5 – Practicing Presence
This post was written for inclusion in the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival hosted by Prenatal to Parenting. This week our participants have written about Practicing Presence.. We hope you enjoy this week’s posts and consider joining us next week when we share about a week of Developing Positive Self-Talk.

This week was definitely a challenge, being present in the moment was hard for me as this is my last week at home.  As difficult as it was, I can say on several occasions, I successfully stopped thinking about things that I have to get done and faced my partner or children when they were talking to me or wanting my attention but I still have tons of work to do to be present.

I can remember a few months back when Hunter started to become more aware of his surroundings before he could sit up or roll over, I vowed to put the cell phone away while he was awake.  I had gotten into the habit of browsing the internet or Facebook while breastfeeding when he was super little, this habit has been hard to break.  I also played a lot of scrabble on Facebook every chance I could get to play a word or two.  Then, I read an article about children being fascinated in what we are fascinated in, if our faces are always in our phones or computers, then of course the kids are going to want to see and touch them as well.  I didn't want to be that Mom that was so busy watching her phone or computer that she wasn't seeing the greatness in her kids.  So most of the time, I do leave my phone away from me so I am not constantly looking at it but I still have trouble putting it down if someone has texted me or sent me an email and if I open Facebook, well that is 5 to 10 minutes I will never get back.  All of those can wait, especially when the baby is sitting right here in front of me, talking to me, crawling around, pointing at things, making endless facial expressions, standing on his own, etc.  So many things happen so quickly when they are babies, they learn something new everyday and if I am busy in my own little world, I will miss it.  I missed a lot of things with David when he was little because I was so busy trying to make a life for us as well as maintain a social life, I have great memories of when he was a young boy and things we did together but memories from when he was a baby and a toddler are few and far between.  David is a teenager now and chooses when he wants to talk to me.  Often times is when I am busy with his brother but I will stop what I am doing and make time for him because even though he doesn't care to interact with us as often as he used to, what he has to say is important, and its important I pay attention.

One way that we have always managed to do in my family is to sit down together at dinner time and chat about the day we had, what was good about it and what wasn't so good.  Hunter learned to chew early, way before he had teeth, he would sit in his high chair and watch us talk and eat our dinner.  Babies learn a lot from watching us so its important to role model good behaviors.  Sitting down and connecting with one another in our busy lives is super important to me and Clayton, we both come from families where sitting down to eat a meal together is a necessity and definitely an opportunity to be present with your family.  Another way we connect is taking short walks together, without the cell phone, around the neighborhood, enjoying the sights and saying hello to neighbors.  We have no choice but to be present with each other while we walk.

This challenge has taught me that while we do have regular, daily opportunities to be present... I still have some work to do to be present, stay present and enjoy the little things in life especially now that I am going back to work and my time with my family will be cut quite a bit shorter now.  I promise to work hard, especially in the coming weeks during my transition to work; to meditate, to breathe, to be mindful, to be present, to enjoy the little things and not get caught up on the to do list.  A happy home is not judged by the cleanliness of the inside, the mounds of laundry, the dishes in the kitchen or the mess of the endless yard work outside.  It is judged by the happiness of the people who live there.  So why are we worrying about these things that are never ever finished? Get to it when you get to it.  "If only the people who worry about their liabilities would think about the riches they do possess, they would stop worrying."-Dale Carnegie

If we are present, we can enjoy the gifts presence brings us.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
Sweet Sleepy Time– Sarah from Prenatal to Parenting realizes that by focusing on all the things that she 'could' be doing she was missing out on what she 'was' doing.
Week 5 Practicing Presence – Jennifer from Children’s Directory finds it’s easier to practice presence when there is no Wi-Fi available.
Being Present – Peaceful Parenting Challenge – Week 5  - Katrina from Kalem Photography learns to listen not only with her ears but also with her heart.
Practicing Presence – Ricky from Daddy Blogger has a wonderful time waiting for the ferry.
Week 5 - Remain present – Amanda from Sticky Hands has got this presence thing nailed.
KICK THE PANTS! - WEEK 5-- LISTEN UP WILL YOU? - Kathryn from Curiosity and the Kat finds it ironic that she’s learned all this before.
Doing One Thing At A Time – Amber from is looking for tips on how to stop multi-tasking.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mama says good bye to staying at home and checks back into full time social work...

Well as some of you may know, I am going back to work a month early after being off for 14 months, 10 of those months spent with my beautiful baby boy.  So I return to work in a week.  Yikes.  I am sure that many moms go through several emotions about returning to work after spending a year at home with a new baby some of the emotions I have felt have been fear, sadness, anxiety, panic, envy, guilt, excitement and happiness to name a few... I have been rotating through all of these emotions over the last month and then it's been a little more intense when I verbally agreed to go back with my manager.

I am a child protection social worker, and was still very green in my job when I left to have a baby.  I had only been doing it for 16 months and I still felt like I was learning something new everyday.  Someone told me once that it takes about 3 years to feel like you really have it under your belt and yet another person told me that the average "lifespan" of a child protection social worker is 18 months... so while I was nearing the end of the average lifespan when I left, I didn't feel like I was ready to pack it in.  Now, after being off for 14 months I am afraid I won't know how to do my job, I am hoping it comes back to me quickly.  Many things have changed while I was away, people have come and gone, new team leaders, new managers, it will almost be like starting a new job.  

I worry about my little man and how he will adjust but kids always fare better than their parents don't they?  They are so resilient and strong, we could learn a thing or two from children... who just roll with whatever is happening.  I don't think we do our children any favors by protecting them from changes, afterall change is the only for sure thing in life, right?  It's best they get to know change early because if they don't, they won't have the skills needed to deal with it when it does happen.  I feel sad that I will miss things, he changes so quickly and everyday he does something new and I don't want to miss anything... and selfishly, I want to be the first person to witness the new things being his mom and all.  I know this is unrealistic... but it's how I feel.

Once I work through these emotions, which I keep having to do over and over and probably will take some time to get used to being back at work and the transition from being a stay at home mom to full time working mom.  The part that makes me feel good about going back early is that Daddy will be home with him during the days during the most crucial time of transition, the first couple weeks to a month.  Then he will transition to Granny and a friend who will sit for us two days a week.  I think in the long run, he will learn how to adjust quickly and be well rounded because of it.  That's always a good skill to have.

Some things that also help me is to think about; the 20-45 minute drive to and from work by myself to listen to my music as loud as I want, being able to talk to adults for long periods of time without interruptions, taking breaks when I need them, being able to eat... slowly and enjoy it, running errands on my breaks without worrying about packing a diaper bag... haha... seriously?  Who I am kidding, I'm a social worker!  LOL!  Being a social worker can be tough to do any of those things above but taking care of yourself if an important aspect of the job so I do try hard to slow down, take breaks, enjoy the company of my coworkers and get out of the building when needed.  Other important positives that I remind myself of are being able to learn and practice culture and traditions again, supporting others be the best parents they can be, visiting families and all the cute little kiddies and working with community to ensure children are happy and safe :)  I do love my job and I am excited to go back.  The best part will be coming home and seeing my own family and appreciating them for who they are.

I am sure many moms go through all of these emotions when returning to work and work through them in their own way.  I know I will miss being home and life will get a whole lot busier but it will all be worth it I am sure.  Wish me luck!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Slow and Steady wins...

Welcome to the Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival: Week #4 – Slow Down
This post was written for inclusion in the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival hosted by Prenatal to Parenting. This week our participants have written about Slowing Down. We hope you enjoy this week’s posts and consider joining us next week when we share about a week of Practicing Presence.

Have you ever tried slowing down?  It is difficult to slow down because we have been conditioned by society to hurry up.  Technology has us wanting instant gratification like no other generation has ever wanted it.  It used to be great to have to wait for something, that is where the excitement in life came from... but nowadays you hardly ever have to wait for anything and if you do... it gets frustrating every minute you have to wait!  Imagine... waiting... waiting.... waiting.... waiting... waiting... for this page to load, you would probably close it and open it again trying to get it to load quicker and if that didn't work you would likely just walk away and go do something else while you wait or just not even read it at all... even when you go to the coffee shop or the grocery store you have an expectation that the baristas or check out person is going to be quick... because don't they know you are in a rush to get home and rush some more?  I have found visiting small towns over the years that have a significantly slower rate of production be it the grocery store or coffee shop or Walmart even!  It wasn't until I visited these places that I realized we were all in a rush... and what for?  Why are we rushing through life?  What are we in such a rush for?  To die?  Seriously doesn't that just scare the shit out of you when you really think about it?  I am in a hurry all the time... for nothing.  Time has us locked into some kind of tornado of minutes and hours where we are bound by the tick tock of the clock.

Time to slow down, this week I consciously tried slowing down my day... I would get down on the floor with my baby and enjoy the world minute by painstaking minute, playing with him and seeing the world from his perspective.  It was ridiculously difficult for me to sit and enjoy these small moments in time with him when there is so much to do around the house... but seriously... none of that matters, when he wants my attention, he is what matters.  Twice this week I took my boys out for a car ride, we would just pack up and go for a ride to see what adventures would find us.  On several occasions my boys, 15 years apart but very close in their hearts, were caught enjoying each other's company in David's room.  All of these moments I will never ever get back, what if I had been rushing to do stuff that didn't matter and missed these moments?   Life goes by so fast but maybe we can just slow it down a touch, as difficult as it may be, and just enjoy the little things.  Guess what time did slow down in these moments... the days got a little bit longer.  Maybe life will actually last longer if we can remember to sloooooow down... slow and steady does win afterall ;)

So, let's try to let go of the clock, let go of the hurrying, let go of the rush and see what happens!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
Small Things Often– Sarah from Prenatal to Parenting realizes the small moments are the ones that matter the most.
Stop, Amy Stop. Amy from The Connection We Share accepts her family’s invitation to slow down and finds that life will not be "better" when items get crossed off to-do lists. Life is perfect, right now.
Slow Down- Peaceful Parenting Challenge - Week 4 - Katrina from Kalem Photography calls her week a complete failure.
Slowing Down – Ricky from Daddy Blogger says slowing down doesn’t come naturally.
A Work in Progress  Verena from Memory Maker Events builds in some time for herself.
What really matters- Kathryn from Curiosity and the Kat realizes it is the little things that matter and help to put our life into perspective.
Time to Play- Michelle from My Peaceful Parenting feels like a bit of a cheater.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Have a full mind? Try being mindful!

Welcome to the Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival: Week #3- Practicing Mindfulness

This post was written for inclusion in the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival hosted by Prenatal to Parenting. This week our participants have written about Practicing Mindfulness. We hope you enjoy this week’s posts and consider joining us next week when we share about a week of Slowing Down.

This week's challenge had us focusing on each moment of each day and embracing what it has to offer us.  Being mindful is not difficult but remembering to be mindful and enjoy the moment can be.  I have always been one to look forward to the excitement to come and can often be heard saying, "I can't wait for..."  I can't help but be excited for something that is coming up but I really have to learn to be excited about my day to day activities as well.  The reason this is so important is because if you spend your time waiting in excitement for something to come, then you miss out on the excitement of today!  You will look back on it and wish that you had enjoyed those days a little more.  Thus, being mindful comes in handy...

While practicing being mindful this week, I definitely discovered that my mind is FULL!  I walk with my baby every morning after his breakfast while I enjoy my morning smoothie.  It's a nice quiet time of my morning because he is happy to sit quietly and take in the sights from his stroller.  This is my opportunity to practice being mindful; I focus my attention on all of my senses... the smell of the flowers and fresh air, the feel of the heat from the sun and the cool breeze, the sounds of the birds chirping, the winds blowing through the leaves of the trees and the cars that drive by once in a while, the beautiful colors that I see as I pass every home with beautiful gardens in their front yards, and the taste of my fresh smoothie made from fresh fruit and vegetables that nourishes my body.  I enjoy this quiet moment of being mindful and allowing myself to be in the moment makes me very happy.  My mind does wander and thinks about what I have to do later or what needs to be done in the future but I bring myself back to the moment.  Walking with my baby, enjoying the quiet time, moments I will forever cherish when I look back.  I feel as though I have mastered being mindful in those moments.

The challenges that I had during this week are twofold; the first is being mindful in moments that don't necessarily have nice feelings, tastes, smells, sounds and sights, so I try to look at the positive aspects as there are positive aspects in every situation.  For example, when baby is crawling, climbing, touching and getting into everything in sight, you can chalk this up to him developing his brain through his curiosity.  Eleanor Roosevelt said, "I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity."  They say that a curious mind will be successful in school and in life.  Well I think that is a pretty positive spin on a baby that is into everything, I could easily get stressed out and try to contain it to a small area, but I would only be inhibiting something amazing and I don't want to do that.

A baby is actually alot like a teenager... in the fact that their brains are developing at warp speed.  Some areas of teenage brains are more mature than others which can result in making choices that may not be good decisions because they are based on motivational or emotional regions of the brain rather than good judgement or logic.  Being mindful of this helps me interact with my teenager in a way that is productive for both of us; meeting him where he is at, rather than trying to get him to meet me where I am (let go of the expectation that your teenager is going to make sound decisions when necessary because they mentally cannot make rational decisions).  I make it sound easy but it isn't.  Being mindful when interacting with a teenager is probably the most difficult because they talk back and make you want to punch them in the face sometimes but you are the adult, you have to restrain yourself and your emotions because you are the role model for their future behaviour!  AHH!!  That fact alone (the fact of being a role model and not the fact that I can't punch him in the face... haha) brings me great stress because I know I have not always been the best role model for him, we have grown up together and I have spent alot of his life maturing myself!  However, I can't dwell on the past and can only focus on the future.  I still have many formative years with him that I can help him develop into a good, happy and successful person.  He is a nice young man, but still a teenager that makes silly decisions sometimes.  He will learn from these decisions and that is all I can really hope for.  I focus on the things he is good at and try not to spend too much time dwelling on the things he isn't so good at but I do try to gently help him improve where needed.  We can all use the skill of wanting to improve in areas of our lives that are weak... heck that is why I am in this Peaceful Parenting Challenge!

The other challenging part of being mindful is not thinking about the giant to do list that you have all the time. I found that the more mindful I tried to be (ie. living in the moment and not thinking about what needs to happen next or what needs to be done or something in the future), when I did take a moment to think about the things that I had to do, I had forgotten some things that needed to be done and/or I got overwhelmed because I hadn't been thinking about it.  Thus, I discovered that while being mindful can be a great way to enjoy most of the day, there needs to be a balance and time set aside to work on the tasks on the to do list.  I know getting tasks done and crossed off the list brings me a sense of accomplishment and being mindful in these moments can bring you happiness as well.

Overall, I would say that his challenge was great for me, it has help me recognize the goodness in every part of my day and also see that I need to balance this with my to do list.  I have to make sure that I am not constantly looking forward to tomorrow and consciously try to live in today.  When you live in tomorrow with a baby and a teenager, you can miss out on so many things that can bring you delight in your day.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
No Need To Schedule Mindfulness– Sarah from Prenatal to Parenting discovers mindfulness isn’t something she needs to make time for.
Living in the Present Moment – Amber from shares how she has been practicing presence.  
Practicing Mindfulness Ricky at Daddy Blogger takes his wife on a date to The Dark Table restaurant in Kitsilano to practice mindfulness.   
Being Mindful - Peaceful Parenting Challenge - Week 3 - Katrina from Kalem Photography finds her way back to a good old habit.
Week #3- Practicing Mindfulness – Jennifer from The Children’s Directory discovers how sometimes we get so caught up in all the garbage that life dumps on us that we forget
the little things that makes it all worth it.
Week 3 - Mindfullness-Amanda from Family and Baby Sign Language harnesses her power to attract more positive.
Lesson Already Learned – Verena from Memory Maker Events realizes she’s already learned mindfulness.  
Mindfulness of Self - Week 3: Peaceful Parenting - Kathryn from Curiosity and the Kat finds mindfulness exhausting.

Have a full mind?  Try being mindful! – Lolly from My Journey Home challenges herself to live in the moment and stop looking forward.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Just Breathe

 Welcome to the Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival: Week #2 Breathe.
This post was written for inclusion in the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival hosted by Prenatal to Parenting. This week our participants have written about creating awareness. We hope you enjoy this week’s posts and consider joining us next week when we share about a week of Mindful Breathing.

This week's Peaceful Parenting challenge was pretty easy... to practice mindful breathing.  Ha!  Easier said than done, especially when you are travelling from one end of the country to the other.  I feel like this week was more of a week one where I was still recognizing times where I was being triggered and getting angry or frustrated.  Travelling with a very busy 9 month old can do that to a person!  My first baby was not nearly as busy as my second; my first was happy to just sit and chill out, taking in the sights from a distance where my second wants to see, taste and touch everything he can reach.  This has obviously threw me for a bit of a loop having had many years between babies to conveniently forget what babies are like but then add about 20X more energy to this baby.  It's exhausting!  As I spoke about in my last post, I had some expectations that he would be like my first baby and clearly all babies are different.  This expectation had to be re-evaluated in order for me to enjoy my time with my littlest man.

My week long trip with my boys was anything but relaxing when you take a baby out of his comfort zone and put him into places that aren't necessarily baby proofed.  I felt that I was constantly saying "No!", "Don't touch!" and "Danger!" the whole week.  This stressed me out because you want their curious little minds to develop from their curiosity by touching, feeling, exploring and sometimes tasting their environments.  If this can happen safely, then I just usually let him do it so I felt like I was hindering him from expanding his mind through exploration and discovery.  He was also not as happy as he usually is, most likely because he wasn't allowed to explore as much and because he probably missed his Daddy who didn't come with us.  After travelling back home on a 2-hour then 5-hour flight.  I had time to reflect and resolved to embrace his busy and curious little mind by allowing him to explore his surroundings, as long as it's safe and take him out as much as possible for walks, baby groups and anywhere he can play without interruptions.

So while I still work on recognizing triggers, I also added the mindful breathing technique.  We all breathe because we have to, its an unconscious necessity our body has to do to live.  But have you ever sat and actually breathed and paid attention to your breath?  Try it!  Our challenge this week was to sit comfortably at least three times a day for 2-3 minutes and breathe in and out, paying attention to the breath. saying "in" and "out" as you breathe.  The practice of mindful breathing can reduce stress and increase positive energy in your life.  I have to say, only having done it for a few days... I already feel like I am less stressed and more positive.  I am sure being home has helped too but the act of mindful breathing is definitely something I will add to my daily life to be able to enjoy my busy little baby and my day to day in a more positive light.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
Teaching My Spirited Son About Deep Breathing – Sarah from Prenatal to Parenting shares some ways to teach kids about deep breathing.
Deep Breathing Challenge Ricky at Daddy Blogger has been practicing and will be putting his deep breathing to the test on his family trip.  
Just Breathe - Peaceful Parenting Challenge - Week 2 - Katrina from Kalem Photography goes up against her incessant need to be busy.
Remember to Breathe – Jennifer from The Children’s Directory discovers how breathing can work with parents-in-laws, friends, partners, co-workers and annoying neighbours as well as children.
Week 2 & Epic Fail -Amanda from Family and Baby Sign Language discovers how challenging it is to find a few minutes to herself.
Breathing On  – Verena from Memory Maker Events talks the difference mindful breathing made in her busy days.

Week #2 Peaceful Parenting Challenge - Michelle from My Peaceful Parenting models deep breathing for her sons.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The two faced Mom in search of Peace

 Welcome to the Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival: Week #1 Creating Awareness.
This post was written for inclusion in the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival hosted by Prenatal to Parenting. This week our participants have written about creating awareness. We hope you enjoy this week’s posts and consider joining us next week when we share about a week of Mindful Breathing.

Like most people, I wear many hats and have many faces.  I have to change my outward emotions and expressions for each situation even if the inward emotions and expressions don't match.  I often do this at work, with friends and acquaintances but how often do we change ourselves for our family, the people closest to us often take the brunt of our real emotions.  How come we are able to mask what we are really feeling in certain situations and able to handle things much better than we can with the people we love the most??  Mostly because we are comfortable with them and we need to have someone in our lives that we can be real with and not have to worry about holding things in, right?  Well, if you are going to care about controlling your emotions better with anyone... it should be the ones that you love and hold close to your heart... like my partner and children.  The ones who will be near and dear to me for the rest of my life, I would like to think that the rest of my life is going to be happy and peaceful and I am going to teach my children to be happy and peaceful in the process.

Parenting two children that are 15 years apart can be a challenge!  I have decided that I need to alter my expectations of parenting, I have parented my teenager for 15 years and the parenting style I have with him is quite different than the one needed for the baby.  The movement of my curious little mind has decreased many things I have come to love in life.  My independence is no longer, relaxation and reflection, what's that?  Even the time I took to chat with people has been minimized.  I don't want to see these as losses, but they are going to be different now and I have to learn to embrace the difference.  I often have to switch back and forth from parenting a teenager to parenting a baby, this is where I often have difficulty because sometimes my frustration with my teenager can overshadow parenting my baby and vice versa... I need to find a balance.  I need to learn how to be more mindful and aware of my own emotions before I can create an environment that everyone can be happy to be in.  I strive to be happy and whole, to be a good role model for my kids but there are times that I catch myself in an intense emotional state in certain situations which I would like to change not only for myself, but for my children and the rest of the people within my environment. 

Thus, I joined a "Peaceful Parenting Challenge" on facebook that I am hoping will help me to become... well... a more peaceful parent for both my children.  This week was the first week, and the first challenge is Creating Awareness where we identify our triggers by writing down situations where we had an intense emotional reaction to something.  I have to say, this was not easy for me this week as I was home for a couple days in the beginning and then flew to the East Coast for the remainder of the week.  I didn't have any intense emotional reactions to anything other than the printer not working the way it should when I was trying to print off my boarding passes at home, this created great frustration for me as I have the expectation that when I want my technology to work, it will.  I tried thinking of situations in the last couple weeks where I had intense emotional reactions and though there hasn't been many because I truly try to live a peaceful life already... the common trigger is my EXPECTATIONS.  If I allow myself to have expectations, when they do not get fulfilled, it creates an emotional reaction within my brain and this transfers into my behavior.  I already knew this, and know that having expectations of any day, any situation, any thing can end in disappointment creating sad, angry, resentment or frustrated emotions.  The solution then is to not have any expectations!  Easy!  Right?  Not as easy as you think, because having expectations can also induce happiness, excitedness and fulfillment, and who doesn't want those emotions!?  Though if I can remember that we can also get these emotions when we don't have expectations, resulting in being delightfully amused by day to day surprises that we don't expect.  It just seems to easy when you say it but I know it is not and I still have alot of work to do to. 

So my goal for the next week is to be more aware of my emotions, hold back the reactions that the emotions create (especially for the ones I love) and to try not to carry too much expectations into my days.  Thanks for joining me on this journey of becoming a more peaceful person, thus a more peaceful parent which will create peaceful children.  Below you can find links to other blogs from parents who are also challenging themselves to become more peaceful.  Enjoy!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
Balancing being a stay-at-home-mom & working from home – Sarah from Prenatal to Parenting realizes her home base business and mommy duties don’t mix well.
My Top Card - Amber from shares her experience attending the Peaceful Parenting Mini Retreat.
Peaceful Parenting Challenge Week 1 - Katrina from Kalem Photography explores her expectations on herself and asking for help.
Peaceful Parenting Challenge Week 1: Awareness – Jennifer from The Children’s Directory talks about her frustrations over getting out the door and dinner time.
Emotional Highs and Lows of Parenting  – Verena from Memory Maker Events talks about the emotional highs and lows of parenting.
Peaceful Parenting Challenge Week 1 - Kathryn from Curiosity and the Kat is reminded about checking her “stuff” at the door before dealing with her twins.
The Two Faced Mom in search of peace - Loly from My Journey Home chats about expectations.
Week #1 Suddenly aware of all this anger… - Michelle from My Peaceful Parenting becomes aware of her anger.
Week 1 Triggers and Emotions -Amanda from Family and Baby Sign Language describes her physical response to intense emotions.
Ricky at Daddy Blogger reflects on how peaceful the first year of his daughter’s life was and wonders where all that peace has gone.