I am taking the journey and making the effort to practice mindfulness when it comes to what I put in and on my family’s bodies. I am trying to find a balance that I am comfortable with. One where I feel like I am the best version of myself. Because the best version of myself is the version I want to present to my daughter. I want her to see me care about myself. I want her to see me practice fitness and meditation and healthy eating habits.I also want her to see me eat a cone of ice cream with extra sprinkles, and laugh at movies, and stay in cozy slippers and PJs for a day with some hot chocolate with extra marshmallows. I want her to see that you can have balance. You can care for yourself in lots and lots of ways, but that ULTIMATELY it is your responsibility to LOVE YOURSELF. You determine your happiness, and you can practice that habit every single day…but it takes work as all amazing things in life do.
Creative Expression: A Journey to Greater Gratitude with Journaling & Ways to Incorporate Practices with Children
I was recently introduced to Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages exercise, as well as her call to get creative daily. Research shows that exercising creativity has a positive impact on self-care, self-image, and positive mindset. As a mom I look for self-care practices that I can easily incorporate throughout my day (5-10-minute increments or less). Instilling a sense of radical self-care has become a personal goal of mine after realizing that I need to feel good to be a present parent. To quote an amazing interview on The Soul Feed Podcast (one of my favorites!) “There’s so much power and momentum in loving yourself in little moments! It’s not about a spa day every six months. It’s about radical self-care every day. Morning pages have become a really valuable tool for me personally, so I wanted to take the time to share. Since my other passion is also encouraging positive self-talk and flexible mindset in children, I also wanted to share some ways to connect with children to help them practice gratitude and continuous self-care practices as well. I think especially now the next generation can be taught subtly and directly that being kind to yourself and treating yourself like a friend, enables you to be kind to others and causes a ripple effect of a culture of kindness.
How I lay out my Morning Pages:
I complete these pages right when I wake up, but sometimes I need to be flexible and if my daughter wakes up first, I get her situated, and then take the 5 minutes to complete my pages while she plays. Especially in self-care do what works for you. You’re an individual and what works for you may not work for someone else or vice versa.
I free write about dreams, my thoughts right when I woke up, or thoughts I’m having in the moment for about 2-3 minutes or more if I feel like it. I don’t pay attention to if the thoughts are silly, negative, absurd, unrealistic, etc. They’re all worth putting on the page and clearing out of my mind. I leave my pages in my journal, but you can shred them if you want. It’s really up to you!
I then write 10 things I am grateful for from the day before. My husband was funny because he said that ten was A LOT. But these aren’t hard to come up with, because they’re not BIG things. Sometimes I’m thankful for a breeze, or picking up my favorite lunch, or playing a game where my daughter laughed exceptionally hard.
I choose one way I plan on being creative that day. Again, I don’t go BIG. It could be cooking dinner. Cooking is creative! Adding your own spices, maybe making a simple salad dressing. Writing for the blog, thinking of lessons for clients, etc. If you like to color do that! Planting is creative or going out into your garden and making a bouquet. Simple self-care.
That’s it. It takes me on average 5-8 minutes and changes I’ve noticed for myself have included more energy throughout the day, more appreciation in the moment throughout the day, and a greater ability to remain calm and work through problems!
How Can You Encourage Your Children?
A Twist on a Sticker Chart: Instead of using sticker charts to reward behaviors use it as a way to have your child practice gratitude. At night or after dinner have them place stickers in a journal, paper, or poster, and with each sticker name something that made them “happy or grateful” that day. You can write down what they say next to the sticker if you want! It may help you also notice the things that your child is noticing!
If you have older children write down things you are grateful for that include them and place it on their pillow before bed or hang it on the mirror for them to see in the morning. Even point out instances where they were resilient and worked through a problem. Journal in front of them and talk openly throughout the day about things you are grateful for.
Self-Care is personal. Make it your own. Your happiness is the greatest gift you can give to those you love.
Tips for Traveling with Babies & Kids: Using What You Already Know & Have
This post is for every parent that wants to or for the first time HAS to fly with their little ones. I see a lot of posts that involve buying new toys to make traveling easier, and which toys are the best. I even bought one said toy with the thought of “travel entertainment for a one year old SOLVED!” I was oh so wrong and quickly realized that if my husband hadn’t brought his old and broken iPad keyboard she probably would have just alternated her attention between empty drink cups and the airplane safety menu…
I have now traveled via plane with my one year old four times since she was born. With flights varying from 2 hours to 6 hours. Some things here have worked for me, and some other Moms were kind enough to provide some seasoned tips as well! I’ve also included a section as a Speech Therapist of ways to help your child if they are anxious or hyper sensitive to new situations or environments.
- Get in a comfortable with being uncomfortable mindset and expectation range that some things are or may be hectic or challenging. @thejqueenteam is a Mom to twin boys and her advice is so on point! “Don’t set expectations for there to be less needs, meltdowns, or lack of sickness, etc. They still happen, but the memories and new experiences will ALWAYS outshine those things.” She is SO right! If you are a more nervous traveler: before the trip try a mental purge activity: write down the things you are worried about going wrong, read them, and figure out which ones you can prevent by being organized and which ones are not in anyone’s control, and then rip up the paper! Release those “what if” thoughts and move on to the “what is”….Pack what you can to be prepared, allow yourself enough time to not be rushed at the airport, and breathe! You’ve got this! Remember, children pick up on the adult energy around them. If you’re calm, and react to things calmly, it will help them to mirror the same reactions.
- Come up with a travel routine from the beginning. @thehonestmnmommy “Kids are so resilient! Start them young and get a good game plan together for plane rides, the rest is downhill!” This for me has personally been SO true. No matter when we fly I try to keep her “routine” as a part of it. I pack pouches and snacks for the airport and flight so she can continue to eat at her normal times. My daughter has a blanket she loves, so I bought an extra, and if we fly during nap time I wear her and take the blanket out. It’s a comfort item she is used to sleeping with, which seems to help. I’ve also packed extra random items in my purse or diaper bag, and favorite books she usually reads before bed. The familiar items seem to be helpful when she is getting upset or overtired.
- Avoid Overpacking & Apologizing. This was amazing advice from @makeupartistmama! Make yourself and your baby comfortable with knowing that sometimes being upset happens. It’s normal for babies and toddlers to cry. It’s how they communicate, and she is right! 95% of people when I have flown have either told me “Great job mom!” or “You did great! We have been there and it’s hard!” I even had one man give me a round of applause during an overnight flight and said that being a mom is the hardest job (kudos to his mother whoever you are). Amy also recommended packing detergent that you can use in the sink, which is brilliant!
- Baby Wearing & Infinity Scarves: Whoever invented the infinity scarf is brilliant for more than one reason. But traveling with a baby is one of them! Some airlines will tell you to remove your baby from the carrier for takeoff and landing, and the infinity scarf is a LIFESAVER! They can still snuggle inside it (but it’s not a carrier!) and for when my daughter has been older it has been AMAZING for keeping her asleep without overheating her or when we are walking through the airport after landing. I just lay it/loop it over her head so it’s not so bright or loud! Also, Chinese medicine believes that illnesses enter through the back of your neck, and planes are germy, so that’s covered too!
- Lots of Snacks: Pack as many as you can! It avoids hanger for you and for your little one!
- Everything is temporary: I feel like this is important to know because travel in itself is unpredictable. Like the two-hour delay that pops up out of nowhere. Keep telling yourself “this too shall pass” if you are in a stressful travel situation. Nothing is permanent. It can be tough, but it’s not permanent. Do what you have to do! You got this!
- Front Loading: If you have a toddler or child who is anxious or nervous about new situations (like flying) you can help them by giving them plenty of information beforehand. Read books about flying, act out going through security, google airplane boarding/safety videos, have them pack their own suitcase (with your help of course!), have them pick out a “special” plane video, explain to them how the plane might sound, have lollipops for takeoff and landing, etc. Weighted blankets can also be really helpful for settling kids down.
- Anything can be entertaining in a new environment. I packed a small purse with random things in it from home, and my daughter unpacked it and repacked it. Post it notes were a huge hit….who knew?! Play I spy in the airport, get a window seat if you can and talk about how they think planes fly.
- Comma Meditations: If you find yourself really amped up try this exercise! 2 minutes of thinking about and noticing your breath rising and falling. That’s it just 2 minutes! If other thoughts arise gently recognize them and envision them passing through your head and out your ear.
- Ask for Help, and if Offered Take It! If you’re flying with a partner teamwork makes the dreamwork. Figure out each other’s strengths in those situations and divide and conquer! If you’re flying alone look for ways airport staff offer to help. I had one woman who bumped me straight to the front of the shuttle line and took my bags to load on even as I said I was OK. She was so wonderful. She told me never to turn down some extra help. Which is always great advice!
You’ve Got This! Preparation is Key, and so is being KIND to yourself!
20 Minute Playground Workout!
My husband travels a lot, which means that working out either takes place in my living room during naps OR (now that winter is taking a much needed hike) the playground! I get my much needed movement in early in the morning, my daughter gets much needed vitamin D and movement, we get quality time, and lastly my girl sees her mom having FUN exercising! Here are the exercises I incorporate, but you can always make it your own! I set a timer for accountability as well!
Optional: We live in the city, so I chose to start the workout with a 1 mile stroller run to the park if you have a similar walkability factor mix it in!
2 minutes of alternating lunges and/or squats between/at playground equipment: following your toddler to and from equipment is a great opportunity to get those lunges in! If they stop in one area switch to squats! Keeping moving is the key!
3 sets of 5 squat-lifts with toddler! My daughter thinks this is just hilarious while facing me! I squat down, then upon standing press her up using my core and arms! Cutest 20 pound weight ever!
3 sets of 20 incline pushups using slide or playground stairs!
3 sets of 5 pull-ups! I use the bar that is over our playground slide!
3 sets of 30 seconds fast feet in place: This is also great for your little one to imitate! Helps with balance and coordination!
3 sets of 20 Mountain Climbers on slide: My daughter loves to try to climb up the slide (I only let her do this when other children aren’t using it! And today the park was empty) Climbing is AMAZING for core strength and coordination in little ones! So while she tries to climb i spot her and do the same!
1 Minute of Chase Sprints! Basically me chasing my toddler with tickles mixed in! It’s a final push for both of us before heading home!
That’s IT! Like I said make it your own!
The Soul Stroll
Who loves Soul Cycle or any other form of Kick Butt Inspirational Class, but sometimes you just don’t have the extra time OR extra cash to cash in? ME! Since becoming a Mom a lot of my workouts are in home…or consist of brisk walks with the stroller. I LOVED having teachers yell inspirational words of wisdom at me while I sweated away, and MISSED it. Then, I found Erin Strutland’s FREE 22 minute Soul Stroll Playlist! I have been using it for workouts for a week, and I love it! Her playlist is throwback and high energy, and all while listening to music to pump you up she is telling you mantras to repeat out loud or in your head during the workout. It is the most energizing form of movement meditation ever! Her site is also full of great resources and inspiration, which is an added bonus! Here is the link! I hope you enjoy! SOUL STROLL
The Bedtime Body Butter
This “Bedtime Body Butter” is LOVED by my daughter. It’s the perfect after bath wellness ritual (regular gentle baby massages are shown to boost immunity and help with self soothing and regulation!) It’s only 5 ingredients and all natural! This winter has been brutal on my and my daughter’s skin. Everything is so dry! This Body Butter addressed a few problems I was having!
- I LOVE Honest Company, but it gets pricey ordering SO many natural products, so when I can DIY I try to! If you read their labels it’s also helpful in getting some inspiration on what they use!
- I wanted to incorporate relaxing smells, as well as skin healing benefits into my daughter’s lotion! I wasn’t finding a lotion that was easy to apply, smelled great, and had minimal ingredients.
- I wanted something EASY and gentle, that I could make again and again, and the whole family could use. Rather than buying separate lotions for everyone.
3/4 cup of organic shea butter
2 tablespoons filtered water
3 tablespoons coconut oil
8-10 drops lavender oil
5 drops german camomile oil
*Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer until fluffy. Transfer from bowl to container! That’s it! Enjoy!
Metronome Meditative Breath Work
Meditation is not any easy skill to learn! Especially for children, or, if you are like me, busy minded adults. When I used to see adult patients for voice therapy one of my favorite go to tools for working on diaphragmatic breathing (deep breathing/belly breathing) and breath control was a metronome on my phone. If you pay attention to your breath you will notice that it is easy to get into the habit of clavicular breathing (shallow breathing). This type of breathing is especially common when we are stressed, and actually adds to the sensation of panic or anxiety. It also affects how we speak. In order to generate enough force to talk we place more pressure on our vocal folds, creating more force, but also causing damage or strain in the process. If you’re someone who loses their voice a lot….this could be a contributor! If you find yourself having to raise your voice a lot (parenting), correct speech breathing is imperative for keeping your vocal folds healthy. In short using short breathing can contribute to both physical and emotional stress. Here is a tool to help support you vocal health, as well as your mental and emotional health!
Metronome Meditative Breath Work: below I am going to tell you how you can adapt this for yourself as well as children over the age of 3 years!
Adults: Metronome and a Tissue Box
- Set the Metronome to the lowest setting. Each click will signal an inhale and an exhale. This will be SLOW (but still similar to resting breath rate).
- Lie down and take the tissue box and place it on your stomach. If you wanted to incorporate something else instead of a tissue box, you could! If you are into crystals or chakras you could implement that as well! Just place on your belly button.
- Look down at the tissue box. With each exhale the tissue box should rise, and with each inhale it should fall. This is how you know you are truly breathing from your diaphragm.
- SO many ways to remain present during this exercise: Focus on the clicking of the metronome, count your breaths, whatever you have time for! Watch the rise and fall of your stomach. If you want to add a mantra!
The benefits to the exercise are physical, mental, and emotional. Plus, you have visual and auditory supports to help you along the way!
Children: Metronome and Stuffed Animal
- Schedule a “time in” maybe after they get home from school or incorporate as part of bedtime.Deep breathing is RELAXING, the perfect thing right before bed.
- Set the Metronome to the lowest setting (or let your child set it!). Each click will signal an inhale and an exhale. This will be SLOW. Do the breathing with your child.
- Lay down and place stuffed animals on your bellies. Talk about how we should watch the stuffed animal go “up” and “down” when we breathe deep breaths. Another analogy is “When we blow out the candles the balloon in our bellies fills with air, and when we smell the flowers the balloon in our bellies flattens.”
- Set a number of breaths/clicks whether it be 10 or 20 or 30. Whatever works for your child.
That’s it! It can be a wonderful way to help teach our children to use breath to self-regulate, as well as a wonderful reminder for us to do the same!
The “Calming Corner”
This can literally be ANYTHING you want it to be! If you have an extra room, it can be a calming room! It is a place that should feel cozy and comforting, with a calm and positive energy! I wanted to do this in my own home after I began a more committed journey with meditation, BUT I also wanted to do it so my daughter could learn to seek a calming place when she needs it. I had read an article about helping children learn self-regulation through having “time ins” rather than “time outs”. The “calming corners” should contain things that encourage calm. Cozy blankets, pillows, light music, art supplies, whatever it is that that child leans towards. But, we live in 900 square feet and I thought I want to have a calm space too! So ours is a combo!
- Clear out the energy of the space: You can do this with sage or palo santo OR a combination of water, vinegar, lemon oil, and cedar wood oil. When you are clearing out the old energy repeat a mantra of your choice to put the energy you want into the space “Thank you for this space of calm and positivity.”
- Put things in the space that make you feel GOOD! You can remove energy from these items in the same way as the space! We have lots of pillows, quilts made by my grandmother, llamas (because I love them), a diffuser, a salt lamp, and an intention box. My daughter LOVES crashing into the pillows.
- Sit in the space and ENJOY! Your child watching you seek calm will be the BEST model for them to do the same. Even say aloud “I am feeling overwhelmed/frustrated I am going to use the calming space to help calm down.