Ah, spring. A time of rebirth and renewal. A beautiful time to lighten your load and refresh your spirit. A perfect time to clean up and clean out the excess trappings of life.
Ah, spring cleaning.
I have a confession to make. My first spring cleaning exercise this year involved taking down my Christmas tree. Yes, it came down before Easter... but not much before. It was definitely spring.
My second spring cleaning task? Peeling the purple and orange lights out of the shrubbery in front of my house. Those would be the ones that I put out for last Halloween, only we got an early snow and I never actually replaced them with the sparkly white lights reserved for Christmas.
For me, spring cleaning often feels like a game of catch up. I come out of hibernation sometime in March and finally get motivated to do all the jobs that I've been contemplating throughout the cold, low-energy months of winter. I guess the good news here is that I do (eventually) get motivated.
Self-care will always be an important part of your conscious parenting toolkit. Here are some of the ways that I keep myself healthy, so that I have what I need to raise healthy kids.
I love my children, really I do. Being a parent is the absolute, most wondrous thing that I have ever experienced. Still... every now and then... my little darlings can be a real pain in the neck.
And I'm not speaking figuratively. Adolescence has blown right past the "terrible two's" when it comes to cringe-inducing, brain-frying, jaw-clenching behavior. Some days I can actually feel the muscles in my neck tightening up. Then my right eye starts to twitch. Soon, my head is pounding.
Just another day of parenting pre-teens.
Of course, I can't blame it all on my kids. There is also my laptop, which I spend too many hours hunched over, typing away my life stories (or compulsively playing Freecell.) And then there are those forty-pound bags of salt, which I need to purchase and carry regularly to feed the voracious appetite of the water softening system in our basement.
There is much in life to strain, tighten and generally abuse our poor neck muscles. Fortunately, with a little extra attention, we can give them the care they need to stay strong and healthy. Here are three great ways to be nice to your neck:
Conscious parenting means bringing our very best to the job of raising our children. We cannot do this when we are chronically sleep-deprived. And our children aren't faring much better...
Is anyone getting enough quality sleep these days? The kids stay up too late doing homework, watching TV or texting with friends. Parents are wiped out from work and family duties, but too wired to sleep peacefully. Even the cats are chasing each other around the house at midnight.
What's an overtired, cranky and bleary-eyed mom to do?
1. Do a bedroom check for each member of the family. Are your sleep spaces conducive to a good night's snooze? Make sure none of the rooms are too hot or too cold; too dry or too humid; too noisy or too quiet. Does one room get too much light or noise from the street outside? Is the room farthest from the thermostat always freezing? Does someone need a humidifier to sleep comfortably?
What a glorious day. Spring is in the air and I am loving every minute of it.
As the snow melts, all sorts of treasures are showing up in our yard: The snow shovel that had been missing since December; two or three basketballs; a croquet mallet; a bunch of old newspapers, left moldering in a pile under the mailbox.
Yesterday, I found an unopened Fedex package on the side of the driveway. It turned out to be a DVD that I had ordered for my godson's birthday back in January. It was quite a relief to finally locate it; I had been working under the assumption that it had been delivered back around Christmas and that I had misplaced it somewhere in the house.
Of course, I had no memory of actually receiving it. That's the problem. In addition to other peri-menopausal / hormonal lapses, I have totally lost my mind. Or maybe just my memory.
Conscious parenting is about caring for the whole child: body, mind and spirit. Some days, the body needs to come first. Do you know what your child is eating for lunch today?
Okay, I know I'm way behind in my posts and I have lots of things I intend to write about, but here it is: School lunches are scary.
If, indeed, you are what you eat, my kids are pepperoni pizza. Or possibly tater tots.
I've been waffling for about two years now, not sure how I wanted to approach our local school district; reluctant to get drafted for another committee, but consistently horrified by what I see on the lunch menu -- when I am brave enough to look.
For example, the menu for next week includes cheese pizza on Monday, nachos with cheese and "cheesy refried beans" on Tuesday, grilled cheese sandwiches on Wednesday and a cheeseburger on Thursday.
What's up with all the cheese? When did nachos become a meal?
One of the best things about family travel is the way you can venture off your normally beaten path, joyfully stumbling into something new and different. It is a great opportunity to expand your family horizons.
We've been doing a bit of exploration during our trip to Florida. We've discovered a couple spots we'd never been to before, tried some new foods and pushed the boundaries of our comfort zone just a bit.
It's been fun, sometimes a wee bit scary and mostly delicious.
For example, the cat fish was yummy... the frog legs, not so much.
Yesterday, we took a boat ride up the Loxahatchee River. We saw an alligator sunning on the bank, a manatee hiding in the warm, shallow waters and lots of birds. Osprey, Cormorants and Great Blue Herons.
We visited the camp of "Trapper Nelson", also known as "Wild Man of the Loxahatchee", who lived in the jungle along the banks of the river for over thirty years. A trapper cum entrepreneur, Nelson built a wilderness compound that included a zoo, picnic grounds and boat house. Wealthy tourists from Palm Beach used to boat up the river for an afternoon of authentic rustication. And alligator wrestling.
I am happy to report that the camp site, while preserved for historic purposes, no longer hosts bobcats, rattlesnakes and alligators. At least, none that we saw while hiking around.
There was apparently a Mrs. Trapper Nelson, but she didn't last long. I guess it was all a bit too far out of her comfort zone.
As we prepare to wind up our time here, I am grateful for our adventures. The time we've spent together -- as a family and with friends -- has been wonderful.
I will miss the sunshine, the warmth and the relaxed interactions with my children.
On the benefits of getting away from it all... and keeping in touch in the process.
Greetings from the tropics... or at least, Florida. We’re still here, now spending a few days on the east coast, visiting friends of the family. We drove over with my mother yesterday. My parents’ house is about a hundred and fifty miles from here, but she hasn’t made the trip in over ten years.
Which is a lesson for us all. Time passes quickly. Fortunately, these are the best type of friends: The kind where you feel like you just saw them yesterday, no matter how long it’s been. (And we’ve seen them in other places, so it’s not as bad as it sounds.)
My sons think we have discovered the coolest place ever. There is a freshwater pond in the back yard, complete with fishing dock. They haven’t caught anything yet, but that’s probably not really important. They are loving the process.
Conscious parenting is all about living in the moment... but sometimes, we parents need a reminder.
I am sitting in the lanai (Florida-speak for screened-in porch), listening to the rustle of palm trees. There is bamboo growing at the edge of the deck. It is about fifteen feet tall. We don’t have bamboo in New England, except for the little pot of “lucky bamboo” on my kitchen windowsill, which is sadly not thriving.
“Valentine: a written or other artistic work, message, token, etc., expressing affection for something or someone.”
Greetings from Florida. We are here visiting Grandma and Grandpa, who celebrated their fifty-first wedding anniversary on Super Bowl Sunday. I guess they qualify as sweethearts. Over the years, they’ve gotten understandably good at the whole Valentine’s Day thing. They went out to dinner on Friday (to avoid the crowds and craziness) and loaded up on their favorite chocolates.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom and Dad!
While the origins of Valentine’s Day are rather murky – and not at all about romance – it has become something of a big deal in a handful of countries, including the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The most popular expression of love and affection? The valentine card, of course! Be they romantic or humorous; addressed to a sweetheart, family member, friend or school teacher; the Greeting Card Association estimates that one billion valentine cards will be exchanged in the US this year.
My eleven-year-old son was recently tasked with writing a “How-to” essay for his fifth grade language arts class. The topic he chose? “How to Live an Organic Lifestyle.” He asked me a few questions, wrote a draft or two, then typed it all up and stapled it into a beautiful cardboard cover. His teacher was happy, although she did make a couple structural suggestions, which we’ve incorporated here. I asked for permission to share it with my readers and he said, “Uh, sure.” In case you wanted to know:
How to Live an Organic Lifestyle by my fifth-grade blogging partner
“To live a successful organic life, you need to know what organic means and where to find organic foods. Being organic is a lifestyle choice. It also means eating healthier and not eating processed foods.
First, you need to know why you are eating organic. My reason is my mom. She was having stomach pains so she went to a doctor, a nutritionist and a naturopath. Finally she found out she was allergic to bananas, wheat and sugar cane.
Would you like to look younger, feel younger, live younger? Midlife parenting means you have access to your very own fountain of youth: Your children!
My mother was forty-five years old when she gave birth to my sister Elizabeth – her tenth child. While I was polishing off my first year of college, my mother was dusting off the baby carriage. I will not be revealing a huge family secret to say, this baby was not exactly planned.
She was certainly welcomed, however, rather like a delightful little chocolate at the end of a long but satisfying meal. Surprising, and cute as a bonbon.
It was all very entertaining for our friends and neighbors. Even my college roommates were eager to make the trip home with me on weekends, to observe this wonder of nature. (The baby, I mean. Although, my mother was rather impressive in her own right.)
Meg Brown is a Certified Professional Coach, former corporate executive and mother to two adolescent sons. Meg specializes in coaching passionate individuals who seek to make the most of their midlife journey.