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More Special than Bedtime.

Jul 24, 2012   //   by Carrie   //   Uncategorized  //  5 Comments

So, when it looks like bedtime is going to take longer than usual, I start to get anxious and everything starts to unravel quickly. Of course, I try to contain my anxiety but little ones can sense a change in emotion almost immediately.

The other night my husband was working late and wouldn’t be home until after the boys were asleep.

For us, the easiest way to put the boys to sleep is to give them each their own time with books and a few songs before the light goes off and they go to sleep. I finished with C and went to find L to start books and songs with him.

I actually found him outside cleaning up. I am serious and this has actually been a major issue for us the past couple nights. It was a great surprise.

Once we finished his clean up project outside it was time for books and stories. He was on his way to his room and was quickly distracted by some markers left on the floor in the playroom.

Immediately he found some paper, glue and markers and wanted to start an art project. I told him to put everything on the craft table and we would work on it when he woke up.  He put some of the items on the craft table and then carried some markers and paper into his room and said he really wanted to draw while I was reading him a book.

Well, for some reason I said yes. Probably because it was the end of the day and I reason and negotiate with him all day, I was out of creative persuading words to get him to drop the paper and markers and so, they came to bed with us.  I found a book for him to use as a table top on his lap. He was so proud and ready to draw in his bed.  C needed some extra help so I left L in his bed and went to find out what C needed.

I came back minutes later and L was already well on his way with his drawing. He asked me how to draw a heart. I showed him with my finger and then he followed my finger trace on his paper.

When he lifted up his hand I could see his drawing…a family portrait. This was the first family portrait he has ever drawn.

I stayed very quiet and just watched him draw. He asked me to go and get a couple other colors (brown, red, green) so he could finish his drawing.

As I was watching him draw and concentrate on each tree, blueberry bush and place everything right where he wanted it, I just couldn’t help but feel the flood of emotions that were there. I was in the middle of a very special moment and it was MUCH more special than bedtime.

I can’t wait to frame this.

Anyone else have a special circumstance that moved bedtime later than expected? I would love to hear your story.

 

Carrie Browne is a nature inspired at home mom to two curious, mud loving, on the move boys in Fullerton, CA. She loves trees, camping/backpacking, quilts and taking photographs. She is passionate about playing outside everyday and sharing her love of our natural world with her boys. You can read more about her families’ adventures, mama moments and messy days on her blog Curly Bug.

The Magnetic Powers of Mud.

Jul 9, 2012   //   by Carrie   //   Simple Environment, Simplicity Stories, Uncategorized  //  9 Comments

The requests by L started early in the morning. He was asking me if he could build a lake in our backyard. It was just one of those days where my energy level was not high enough to handle the idea and mess of mud play. I convinced him (which is no small feat in itself) to wait until the afternoon when we would have more time to clean up and I was hoping I would get a second wind.

He asked again when his brother took a nap…again I persuaded him into another activity. This is not our usual dance, more often than not I am willing and actually very happy to see my boys knee-deep in mud and enjoying themselves. For some reason I was resisting today.

The house was a disaster, it almost always is at the end of the day. My husband came home extra early so the quick clean up I sometimes attempt to do before he comes home didn’t happen yet…

It was so nice to see my husband so early in the evening. We were talking, cleaning up the house, making dinner together and the boys were playing outside. All was pleasant and just when I was thinking “wow, the boys are really playing well together I don’t hear much”…

I hear them announce ”hello, your pigs are coming to say hello!” at our back slider door.

Oh My Gosh! …It was all that came out. My boys were absolutely covered in mud. They were very happy and oinking like pigs. They were proud of their muddy bodies and wanted to show us how much fun they were having.

I went from shocked to angry to adoring in less than 5 seconds. As they crawled back to their mud pit I followed…

and found out why they were so muddy. They were slamming shovels into the lake mud pit, spraying mud all over our house, themselves and really just everywhere.

We were well beyond the point of no return. It was futile for me to get angry at all the things wrong with this moment…they were so happy.

L was giving me suggestions all day about this moment. The mud was calling him and I finally needed to just listen and enjoy.

I can tell you that the main reason I could have perspective during this moment is because my husband was home.

Spraying off mud-caked wiggling boys with a garden hose and then loading dripping with mud boys in the bath, washing hair with screaming revved up boys, spraying mud off the house, cleaning the mud-caked hose, sweeping and mopping muddy footprints away and making sure dinner isn’t burning is all a lot easier to do with another working adult present.

Ahhh the mud…I know this scenario will play out again, our mud really does have magnetic powers.

 

Carrie Browne is a nature inspired at home mom to two curious, mud loving, on the move boys in Fullerton, CA. She loves trees, camping/backpacking, quilts and taking photographs. She is passionate about playing outside everyday and sharing her love of our natural world with her boys. You can read more about her families’ adventures, mama moments and messy days on her blog Curly Bug.

Healthy Snack Options for Your Kids

Jun 19, 2012   //   by Kiera Campbell   //   Nourishing Food, Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

A Ring Ding and a box of cookies are convenient snack staples for many kids.  After all, all they have to do is to tear the package and put the sugary treats in their mouths.  But if you are conscientious about the health of your kids and you want to instill healthy eating habits at a young age, then avoid giving a lot of junk foods as snacks.

 

Try these incredible healthy and easy-to-make snack ideas for children:

1. Spread hummus over toasted whole wheat pitas. It is tasty and filling. Your kids will love it.
2. Slice baby carrots, bell peppers, celery sticks, cucumber, and broccoli. You may steam them. Your kids will have fun as they dip the finger foods into low-fat dips.
3. Give your kids ripe cherry tomatoes to munch on. Have a low-fat dip to go with it. The vivid colors will entice them to try the small tomatoes.
4. Crackers or bread can be fashioned into fun mini-sandwiches that many kids will love. You can put cheese, lunch meat, cucumber slices, and tomato wedges as fillings.
5. Black bean and corn salsa can be partnered with baked tortilla chips. Make sure that you do not serve any hot salsa variations to your kids.
6. Dried fruit, although not a substitute for the much more nutritious fresh or frozen fruit, can be easily stored in a food container inside your child’s school bag.
7. Canned fruits make quick snacks when your kid is on the go. But as much as possible, serve fresh whole foods.
8. Fruit smoothies with yogurt make delicious and healthy snacks.
9. Create fruit kabobs. Stick onto toothpicks berries, melon balls, pineapple chunks, pears, apple slices, and cubed peaches. This is the best way to introduce your kids to different fruits. Ask them about their favorite fruits once they’ve tried your fruit kabob party fare.
10. Give frozen bananas instead of ice creams. Peel a banana then freeze it. Skewer the fruit onto a barbecue stick. Once the banana is frozen, roll it over chocolate syrup. Finally, roll the syrup-covered frozen banana over a bed of chopped nuts. Avoid giving nuts to kids under the age of three.

Kiera S. Campbell is the author of “Yummy Healthy Tummy: The Secrets of Raising Healthy Kids Every Parent Needs to Know!” She is passionate about teaching parents how to help your children grow up to love and choose healthy eating for life. You can read more at http://www.yummyhealthytummy.com.

 

Screen Free Week: Confessions of a Waldorf-Inspired Mom

May 17, 2012   //   by Lindsey   //   Filtering Out the Adult World, Simple Environment, Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

It’s 11:30am, you’ve just finished up three hours of work and you have an hour in which to feed your 2 ½ yr old son and ‘attempt’ to get him to take a nap (which he stopped doing about 6 months ago) before your next three hour block of work.  Here’s how it goes down: you plop something down in front of him while you go about cleaning up from the morning’s events; checking and replying to email; preparing and eating your own lunch and constantly reminding him that he better eat his lunch (which he is currently ignoring) so he can go take a nap.  With about 30 minutes to spare, you declare that it’s time for a nap and take your little one upstairs completely wired from the morning activities and then get frustrated when he can’t wind down and fall asleep in the 20 minutes you have left to accomplish the task.  Eventually, you give up and finish preparations for the afternoon which is bound to be extremely difficult with an over-tired, under-fed toddler on your hands.

 

Fast forward a week; same scenario; same 2 ½ yr old; same 1 hr before the hustle and bustle begins again.  On this day, however, you give your child two choices for lunch: he can have a sandwich or some hummus.  He chooses the latter and you oblige.  You tell him that after lunch he can either choose to take a nap in his bed, or have quiet time upstairs in his room.  He chooses quiet time and asks if you’ll join him upstairs for a few minutes.  You agree.  He finishes eating, helps put his food away and starts upstairs on his own.  After a story, a few minutes of dress-up and some marbles down the homemade paper towel tube marble track, you tell him that you have some work to do, but he can choose to have more quiet time in his room or take a nap in his bed.  He asks you to stay, but after a gentle reminder that after lunch we have quiet time, he settles into the rocking chair with a book.  When the hour is up, he happily rejoins you in your daily work and remains agreeable for the remainder of the day.

 

What happened here, you ask???  Screen-Free Week, that’s what!

 

Yes, I’ll admit it; that was me up there in that opening paragraph, completely unaware (or perhaps blissfully ignorant) that my personal computer usage was causing my child’s unappealing behaviors.  Let me backtrack a bit.

 

For Christmas 2009, my older brother sent me a copy of Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne.  I devoured it and realized that I was on a path with my newborn son that I didn’t want to be on anymore.  We simplified, getting rid of ‘stuff’ in every aspect of our lives from clothes, toys and knick-knacks all the way down to credit cards and debt.  In addition, I very quickly eliminated television from my life and when we moved into a new home, we chose to leave our ‘living room TV’ behind, keeping only one that would reside quietly in my husband’s office for use after our son was in bed.  After a few months without a TV as the focal point in our home, we realized how little we used it and cancelled our cable.  My son hasn’t seen a moment of television since he was about three months old; and I would never, ever compromise on that fact; because, really, a television is a completely useless, time-consuming and energy-sucking device.

 

Until now, I refused to say similar things about my computer; always making excuses about needing to get ‘work’ done or waiting to hear back from someone about something or some other nonsense which really didn’t matter.  When my old desktop took a nosedive and my husband’s appeared to be doing the same, he opted for a new laptop to serve as a ‘family computer’.  Unfortunately, the best place to house this new screen was in our kitchen.  For a long while, it was easy to ignore.  We were embracing a more Waldorf-inspired, simple lifestyle and I didn’t want that screen distracting my child from his real work: play.  I managed to get all of my work, communicating, etc. finished after he was in bed and the laptop remained closed the rest of the time.  I even remember getting upset with my husband after we first got the new computer for spending hours on end organizing music files and other odds and ends to get things the way he wanted them.  I even took it upon myself to ask if we could move the laptop from the island in the center of our kitchen to the farthest corner of the kitchen table where you literally sit in a tiny nook to use it.  It went on this way for months.  I’m not sure how the change happened, it was probably a slow process, kind of like the ‘frog in a pot of water’ scenario that Kim John Payne describes in Simplicity Parenting….you have no idea what’s going on around you until you finally look up and realize you’re in boiling water and you’d better get yourself out now!

 

That was me – the frog.  Wondering why my sweet little boy who always played on his own and was rarely disagreeable was turning into the very definition of a child in the ‘terrible twos’.  Then one day, it hit me; it was me; I was the cause of his inner frustrations.  I was also the target and decided a change was in order.

 

The Plan: No computer for an entire week and then after Screen-Free Week, no usage until after bedtime, just like the TV.  Reestablish a connection; this means meals together and a predictable daily rhythm.  Reread Simplicity Parenting.

 

Obviously, from the opening paragraphs, you can see it was a successful endeavor.  There are still a few arguments here and there; like when he wants chocolate for breakfast and I have to remind him that it’s oatmeal day or when he declares that he ‘doesn’t like’ the dinner that he helped prepare even before tasting it and I have to remind him that ‘this is what we cooked, so this is what we have to eat tonight.’  Overall, I’d say, we’re sticking with it!

 

Of course, there were a few other lessons for the week; such as, when you decide to go screen-free for a week, be sure not to find a baby bird in your sandbox and attempt to know what to do with it.  My husband made fun of me on that one, and I did, in fact, have to utilize the internet to learn that I could feed the bird a paste made from egg yolks.  Does that seem horribly wrong to anyone else??

 

I’ll never say a computer is a completely useless device, but I will say that when it comes to a choice between my child and anything else; my child will always come first.  He’s going to have a little brother soon and it’s a relief to know that all we have to do is stick with this new rhythm and adjustment should be that much easier.  We’ve simplified our lives so much over the past couple of years and I’m proud to say I feel I have finally taken that last big step toward being able to call myself a wannabe Waldorf Mom.

The Surprise Plot Twist in our Screen Free Week – Why eliminating screens made life easier

May 9, 2012   //   by Traci McGrath   //   Simple Environment, Simplicity Stories, Uncategorized  //  11 Comments

Screen Free Week at our house….didn’t go the way I expected.

I was excited to participate in it.  I love the idea of a digital detox….But, since our kids usually see just one show each day, I didn’t expect it to make a huge difference in our home.  I expected to have calmer, more peaceful kids (which I got), but I also expected to get way behind on all those not-kid-friendly tasks I usually try (quite hurriedly!) to knock out during my 30 minutes of “kid-free” time each day.  I have to admit, I was dreading the week after Screen Free Week, when I’d have to catch up on all those chores, un-made phone calls and un-answered emails!

But something miraculous happened in the middle of all that screenless fun.  The week ended, and you know what?  I’m not behind on my weekly chores or jobs.  Laundry isn’t piled up in some room waiting to be put away.  Mold didn’t take over the kitchen sink and I didn’t get fired for my terrible work ethic.   Somehow, I had more time and got more accomplished than I normally do, and felt much less stress about getting it done.  I still played with the kids, and we had great fun….

But they also began to play without me…peacefully…for hours on end.

Several times during the week, I was astonished to look at a clock and realize I had not heard from either of my children in a couple of hours.  I could see them playing right outside the window, but they were so engrossed in what they were doing, and really getting along – getting along so well they didn’t need a mama hovering nearby to help diffuse arguments.

They also didn’t need anyone to give them ideas about how to play.

I try to make it a habit not to ‘entertain’ the kids all the time.  I believe in giving them lots of opportunities to solve their own boredom with creativity – but during Screen Free Week, I hardly had the opportunity to push this little soap box of mine at all.  They were so tapped into their own creativity, they were no longer coming to me to ask me what they could do, and they completely forgot to ask if they could “watch a show” (a question I’m used to fielding 2 or 3 times a day.)

We still made a point to play together, but it was almost always the case that I was simply invited in to join a game they had invented or go on a scavenger hunt they had created.

There were strings tied to sticks with magnets, a fishing game for metal objects under the bed.  There were index cards set strategically around the house with arrows pointing me to a hidden treasure.  There were mud pies….Oh, there were mud pies!  It’s not that these things aren’t normal at our house, they are.  But this week, that they happened with such ease.  There were none of those moments when I had to explain that we would not be watching a show and it was time to think of something else to do.

I was right about one thing with regards to the week – I knew my kids’ well-being (and therefore their behavior) would improve…

But I was completely surprised that the week also might make life easier for me.

Did anyone else experience this? Did you find the week to be more or less stressful?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Thanks very much to our friends at Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood for sponsoring this great event.

Traci lives in the Austin, TX area with her husband and two little boys.  Traci enjoys teaching a small part-time homeschool group, and working with Simplicity Parenting as coordinator for outreach.  Her family loves time in nature, tent camping and hiking, and making music.

 


 

 

 

Why Screen Free is Scream Free!

Apr 29, 2012   //   by Kathy White   //   Simple Environment, Uncategorized  //  2 Comments

We have a very simple rule in our house about television or computers.       NONE.

Of course, like all rules, this gets broken from time to time. It gets broken on the occasions when I’ve been working all day and my husband has had a busy day full of child care and he is cooking dinner (yes he is a home husband).  I come home and the children are watching the television. What I know when I find them there is my husband needs some time out.  I don’t bemoan him or berate him for breaking our rule, I simply find a good moment with the children to switch the programme off and ask them what they have been watching and then find another activity to do with them.

I’ve tried the heavy handed “Switch that thing off NOW !” and it can guarantee some screams, clearly doesn’t work – so a more gentle “When will this programme end? okay let’s give it five more minutes..” and then it’s over. And although I don’t want them to watch TV ever, we are lucky in the UK that we have a very simple (by children’s TV standards) channel called CBEEBIES that even an anti TV mom isn’t too offended by…

The computer is another thing altogether…namely because I try to work from home a lot and a lot of my work (like writing blog posts!) is done at a computer…I’m clearly modeling laptop behaviour that my children (they are 5 and 9) are commenting on. “Mummy’s ALWAYS at the computer…” Naturally they want to see what I’m up to. So I’ve let them sit on my lap or next to me on the couch and we’ve looked at pictures or short videos and I’ve let them play a few games. I have broken my own rule many times.

So I’ve modified the rule – no television or computers during term time. Then, in the holidays, they can sit with me (I use Luminosity to play games which apparently improves your brain agility ! Who knows, I can feel as dumb as ever when it comes to raising children !)

Screen free is scream free because we have set rules we all honour and so they generally don’t scream when I switch screens off. They don’t scream and ask for screen time. They really don’t expect it, they are incredibly self-reliant and can make up all sorts of games with a few bits and pieces and tons of imagination. I notice how alive they are to their natural creative playfulness. I sometimes observe other children and how they seem to lack active imaginations, I wonder if there are any studies looking at playfulness and creativity levels in children who have a lot of screen time compared with those who don’t?

We are happy in our generally screen free home and I am glad we make the choices we do to keep the TV and computer off. I would encourage any families out there to give it a try…

 

Kathy White lives in Findhorn, Scotland and is a Simplicity Parenting Group leader. She works with parents and children all over the world both online and in her travels offering parenting events. She is a qualified Art Therapist offering creative parenting solutions and a Certified Facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie, a tool for transforming stressful thinking. More details on www.joyfulparents.co.uk

Finding Our Way – as Parents, Kids

Mar 13, 2012   //   by Kirsten Andrews   //   Simple Parenting, Uncategorized  //  10 Comments

Recently I did something, as a mother, that was incredibly daring. Neighbours may consider it scandalous. Friends who know me well might raise an eyebrow. It even gave me a little lump in my stomach but I pushed on, knowing how much it meant to my eldest who had just turned six.

I let her walk four blocks to her friend’s house for a play date. Without me. Alone.

After years of walking the route again and again, she knows it better than me. I couldn’t tell you how many blue doors are between our house and theirs. How many driveways and dogs, or backyards with trampolines. But she can.

Thinking about that route, I found myself remembering how, when I was five, I was trusted to walk to and from school everyday — twice, because I went home for lunch. Why couldn’t my six-year-old make it four blocks to her friend’s?

We reviewed the essentials: phone numbers, her address, what to do in case she DID find herself lost. When I called to tell the other mom about her little adventure, there was a short period of silence on the phone. I started to think maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. “Get her to call me as soon as she gets there, OK?” I asked, hoping it would make everything sound better. “She’s walked that way 1,000 times. She knows what to do.” Seconds of silence felt like an eternity.

“We did it. Remember? I even walked to school on my own — when I was five.”

Agreement came quickly then, my last comment offering a way back into the conversation for this woman. “Yes, I guess we did.” And then I was reminded of how much we did at that age. We climbed trees so high we could see over houses, we crossed small rivers, dug out icy caves in the winter, ran through the forest and built forts. All without our parents’ knowledge or, at very least, out of their sight.

No, she could do this. And she did. The power went out in our home moments after she shouted a brave, “Bye mom!” and slammed the front door. I waited about 10 minutes before I picked up the phone and tried to call her friend’s house. But it was dead.

Ah, life will always throw you a curveball when you least expect it. I waited another five minutes before piling my youngest in the van and cruised through the neighbourhood. She was there. She was fine. And she had the biggest smile on her face.

“Guess what I did, mom?!”

“Tell me,” I said with a big grin.

“I walked here all on my own!”

It was like she had learned to walk, ride her two-wheeler, and jump off the diving into the deep end all at once. I wouldn’t take that away from her for anything.

Kirsten Andrews offers Simplicity Parenting courses throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor. For more information visit www.SeaToSkySimplicityParenting.com or email her at kirsten@seatoskysimplicityparenting.com

Simplicity Parenting Movement in the News

Feb 6, 2012   //   by Traci McGrath   //   Uncategorized  //  No Comments

The Simplicity Parenting movement is seeing a definite strengthening across the nation and has enjoyed some good, extra attention in several recent news features!   These are two great ones you will enjoy if you missed them when they came out.

Last week, Bamboo Magazine featured an interview with Kim John Payne in their “Conscious Close Up”:

 

Also recently, NBC featured Simplicity Parenting in their series, “Back to Basics”:

 

What Too Many Toys Can Do

Dec 12, 2011   //   by Traci McGrath   //   Simple Environment, Simple Seasons, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Are you feeling the temptation yet? This time of year it really does seem that the best way we can honor our children is to shower them with toys! The push to do this may come from commercials or family or from our own desire as a parent to show our kids some love.

This week the Mother Company featured Simplicity Parenting in a wonderful article;  “What Too Many Toys Can Do.” I think you’ll enjoy it, and hope it will give some encouragement to all of us to keep our shopping lists kid-sized, small, simple – remembering the contentment that comes with having enough.

The Season is Upon Us

Dec 5, 2011   //   by Gwendolen Elliott   //   Simple Rituals, Simple Seasons, Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

Winter 1This is the time of year, isn’t it, when all of our intentions to stay slow and mindful are put to the test?  I admit to playing my Christmas music from time to time for a couple of weeks now…okay, 3 weeks, but how can I not fill the house with wintry and festive fiddle music?  I do get, though, that for many people hearing carols the day after Halloween is just too much and despite my love of Celtic carols, I agree.  There are lots of reasons that the seasons are pushed, mainly to encourage people to buy, buy, buy, and through that we lose the sacredness of what we’re actually celebrating.  It’s too bad, but totally understandable, that the holidays are stressful for so many people.  Simplicity gets so lost under the weight of it all- decorating, gifting, cooking, buying, preparing, rushing.

Christmas is my favourite time of year.  I love it for its beauty in the bringing together and celebrating of those we love in our lives.  And the celebrating of something greater than all of us, whatever that may be for each person.  That’s the magic, right?  What makes it special is the very part we can’t quite put into words and explain.

Though I have a lot of Christmas decorations that have been handed down to me and acquired over the years, I’ve decided that this year I’ll be very choosy about what comes out in an effort to help capture that magic.  Our house is already full enough, and I don’t want the decorations to make it feel overwhelming.  Some garland, a nativity set, the tree, of course.  It will be enough.  And through that we can focus on the true meaning of the holidays.  For us, we’ll turn toward the ritual and tradition that fills this season- Advent, St. Nicholas’ Day, Christmas.  In many ways, the it’s the addition of these added celebrations that help in slowing down to take in the moment.  Knowing, too, that how we choose to celebrate is also choosing what kind of experience Coco will have.  Will it be lots of in and out of the car, gifts upon gifts to tear open Christmas morning, and other busyness?  Or will it be reverence, stepping slowly through the festivities, taking it all in like a deep breath; enjoying and creating the space for her to fall in love with the season.

I had this chance as a child.  The magic of all of it lives deep in my heart.  We always had a tree, the special Christmas books were brought out each year, and the same friends visited us every Christmas Eve for a moonlit walk through the woods in search of a yule log to burn.  It was the same every year, and looking back I’m grateful to my parents for nurturing the magic in these very simple ways.  As we approach a very big season, celebrated in very different ways across the globe, I look for inspiration in how best to create magic for Coco, and for myself and Sean, and I turn toward our values and family intention in bringing that magic to life.

Yesterday was the first day of Advent, and it feels to me like a lovely quiet hush that falls over us and transforms the days and weeks before Christmas into a time of inner warmth and ritual; days spent telling stories, lighting candles, and inviting the peace of the holidays to settle in.  Wishing you much of the same as you bring the magic of the holidays to life!

Gwen Elliott is inspired by family feasts, celebrations and rituals, and the magic of everyday, simple living.  She lives in North Vancouver with her husband, daughter and faithful black dog, Scout.  Her inspiration to build family foundations and traditions is chronicled on her blog, barn raising.

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