By Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom, Annette T. Durfee
Snuggled up in my arms, my little grandson stares up at me with his big beautiful innocent eyes. Together we rock back and forth in the overstuffed chair singing song after song and I’m convinced that I love him more every second! As I sing, my mind wanders back to yesteryear when my babies were tiny and I sang song after song to them – hoping to relax them and hush their sleepytime fears. Hoping to instill in them the things I knew were true. Hoping to fill their hearts with the love that I had for them.
It’s amazing how magical music can be! Music has a way of touching our hearts and filling our memories with the best things of life.
Music was at the heart of the home I grew up in, so naturally, as an adult, I shared it with my children. We sang lilting lullabies and fun children’s sing-along recordings. We also offered xylophones, harmonicas, recorders, and rhythm instruments for the little ones to explore creating their own sounds.
As a classical musician, I knew the benefits of classical music: an increased learning capacity, creativity, and self-esteem, to name only a few. Knowing that our children weren’t going to grow up on a farm (like my parents did), we still wanted to teach them hard work, patience, and discipline. We decided to instill these values through formal music lessons! Thus, we became the beneficiaries of practice sessions, morning-noon-and-night! We eagerly attended recitals and concerts galore! Music sweetly and simply lent a soothing atmosphere to our home and even our car, as we traveled to and fro.
Music became a parenting friend that would quiet the mayhem of the moment. When life became a little hairy and scary and the decibel level was a little too high, I would nonchalantly pop in a CD of classical music or church hymns (my secret weapons!) and - voila! - an essence of calm and peace would descend! Soon, things would settle down.
With a house full of rambunctious kiddos, we found that with a little creativity, there seemed to be a song for every situation that could gently persuade, teach, or motivate. Songs to make diaper changes more pleasant, songs to make hair washing less scary, songs to help children cooperate when it was time to brush their teeth. Sometimes songs distracted us from the mundane and helped to pass the time while we did the dishes or other chores. At bedtime, songs even helped us march up to bed in a happy way! We became a train connecting arms at the shoulders and chugging up the stairs singing, “Choo choo choo, what’s coming down the track?” The person in the lead would “pull the whistle” and up we went.
Music was an unseen friend that added joy and spontaneity to our lives at just the right time! Sometimes the music was a toe – tapping “Turkey in the Straw” for a Thanksgiving program! Or the girls would make up choreography to a whimsical children’s song, their fancy dresses swirling in a wide circle. Sometimes a child surprised us with an unsolicited solo of a kindergarten-melody as they stood atop a make-shift stage (aka a chair in the dining room). And impromptu Family Talent Shows gave us rousing marches, emphasized by mini flags in the front room!
With littles on the loose, life is more pleasant with a song in your heart. In your home or on the go, music has the power to create a sort of a haven that smooths the creases of chaos and lifts the spirit. So, whether your family chooses to learn an instrument or two, sing at top volume in the shower, or pop in a favorite CD, music is the power to make any moment a happy one!
My twin daughters are in a kickboxing class at the local community college and this video was assigned to them as homework. It struck me as so simple that it is well worth the couple of minutes to review information we likely are already aware of but need continual reminders about. Moms, this is what we do -- we are the reminders, the repeaters, the consistent, kind, and friendly reviewers and encouragers!
From the YouTube Description:
Wellness means overall well-being. It includes the emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual aspects of a person’s life. Incorporating aspects of the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, such as choosing healthy foods, forming strong relationships, and exercising often, into everyday habits can help people live longer and improve quality of life. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness may also help people better manage their condition and experience recovery. This short animated video explores the Eight Dimensions of Wellness and helps people understand the practical strategies and ways they can begin developing healthy habits that can have a positive impact on their physical and mental health. To learn more about SAMHSA’s Wellness Initiative, click here.
Being empathic -- able to feel the emotions of others -- can be a gift, showing compassion and wanting to ease sadness. It might also be stressful, since the other person is the one in charge of whether their complex emotions get resolved in healthy ways or not. Being able to "LET GO" is a skill that empaths must learn and practice! But what does it mean?
In high school, I took a class called Peer Facilitation, and it taught us how to keep ourselves emotionally level while reaching out to those who were off kilter. Here is one of the handouts from that class, which I've kept almost 30 years! It describes both what "LET GO" is AND what it is NOT.
May it help you in your journey as a mother, definitely a position of empathy! Also, a position with the temptation to try to control another person. Gaining this perspective, this ability to LET GO will make motherhood a much more enjoyable journey -- full of love instead of fear.
To "let go" does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can't do it for someone else.
To "let go" is not to cut myself off,
it's the realization that I can't control another.
To "let go" is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To "let go" is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To "let go" is not to try to change or blame another,
it's to make the most of myself.
To "let go" is not to care for,
but to care about.
To "let go" is not to fix,
but to be supportive.
To "let go" is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.
To "let go" is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcome,
but to allow others to effect their own destinies.
To "let go" is not to be protective,
it's to permit another to face reality.
To "let go" is not to deny, but to accept.
To "let go" is not to nag, scold, or argue,
but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To "let go" is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes, and cherish myself in it.
To "let go" is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.
To "let go" is to fear less and love more.
Are you convinced that screens are hurting our children's brains?
I am. Not just in theory but based on personal experience! Maybe not the way you think -- my case is a counter-example.
When I was 12 or so, my mom cut the cord off the TV because we weren't keeping the rules -- and so I enjoyed a very *rich* teen time frame despite being raised by a single mom, well within poverty level.
I was *rich* in my zeal for living a real life! I wasn't weighed down by expectations put into my brain by watching TV shows or seeing commercials about everything I couldn't afford and being convinced that I needed those things. I had free time to find out what was important to me and then do it!
I rarely felt "left out" when conversations about TV shows seemed irrelevant to my life. In contrast, my friends often felt left out when I described how I spent my time discovering and developing various hobbies, enjoying real-life social fun like impromptu pizza parties, long drives to interesting destinations, and long talks with my on-again-off-again boyfriend (our relationship was not defined by TV's examples). Yes, I still watched TV at friends' houses sometimes -- I wasn't against it altogether -- but those exposures solidified my philosophy that TV's pressurized influence would have greatly clouded my vision, and likely was blinding my peers from seeing their potential.
Nowadays, it's no longer TV alone trying to program our children's behavior and thought processes. It comes through so many screens that cutting one cord wouldn't make much of a difference! How can we help our children navigate this territory that's also new territory to us as parents? Is it really possible and plausible to keep them away from such a pervasive influence -- or is keeping them away the goal anymore? Despite my past that I'm proud of, I'm parenting in extremely different circumstances, and I've determined that the goal is not to avoid screens altogether, but to build the ability to manage screen time effectively, and ultimately flourish with screens.
Our family has a Family Technology Plan that is consistently being reviewed and sometimes revised as we encounter new situations that may not have been covered by previous drafts. As parents, we are straightforward with our children about how screen time (even educational screen time!) can be detrimental to our brains. Yes, we restrict the amount of time, redirecting repeatedly, and with the responsibility placed incrementally more on the child according to their age. Our goal is to help our children develop their own healthy habits, with a strong desire to be actively architecting their own lives rather than just watching someone else's scripted life through a screen.
If you haven't gained a conviction yet of the necessity for parents to be pro-active in their children's journey to safe screen use, please watch this documentary! Yes, the struggle is real, and so worth every effort!
The following is copied and pasted from the YouTube page:
For the first time in history, mental illness and suicide have become one of the greatest threats to school-aged children. Many parents still view dangers as primarily physical and external, but they’re missing the real danger: kids spending more time online and less time engaging in real life, free play, and autonomy.
What are the effects on the next generation's mental, physical, and spiritual health?
Childhood was more or less unchanged for millennia, but this is CHILDHOOD 2.0. For more resources and to download a community discussion guide and share with your community, please visit: https://bit.ly/32voKpY.
NOTE: Bark is proud to sponsor the free release of this film because we believe every family should have access to such a crucial, powerful resource.
Run Time: 88 Minutes
A Film by: Jamin Winans, Robert Muratore, and Kiowa Winans
Music by: Jamin Winans
Discovered by Regan Barnes, ChairMom of the MotherBoard. Beyond discovering it on YouTube, I take no credit! Here are some questions to ponder as you watch:
1) The methods she suggests seem to be rather time consuming. Are you willing (and able?) to commit this kind of time to your child's emotional well-being? This kind of time commitment is one of the reasons Momivate promotes full-time motherhood, with career as a "side dish" or even put off until the children seem grounded.
2) What are some ways you can "parent yourself" and build your own emotional intelligence? Or provide this kind of compassionate parenting to your spouse?
3) Isn't it fun to listen to the Australian accent? Makes me wonder if Australians enjoy listening to American accents?
How did your parents respond to you as a child when you were upset? Can you see the impact of their imprints in your life as an adult? What is the magic ingredient when raising an emotionally intelligent child?
This talk explores all these questions along with how the lack of emotional literacy in our culture has significant power when it comes to the way we parent. It explores how compassion, empathy and mindfulness have a place in raising children – as well as in our education system. If connection, listening, and heart were at the center of every relationship, how different could our world be?
Working with thousands of families for over 16 years as an educator and counselor, Lael has seen the impact that trauma and disconnection have on a family. As an Aware Parenting Instructor, she facilitates workshops and support groups that empower parents to create connections and stronger relationships with their children. She is also the co-creator and Director of Woodline Primary School which is due to open in 2021 – a school based on emotional wellbeing and connection, set on a magnificent 20-acre farm in the Geelong hinterland in Victoria, Australia.
Lael co-hosts The Aware Parenting Podcast, is a regular contributor to several online publications and is a sought-after public speaker who talks candidly about her experiences and her great passion; helping to create wellness in families through connection and communication.
You can find Lael at laelstone.com.au and her school at woodlineprimary.com.au Lael is a birth, parenting and sexuality educator who has worked with thousands of families over 15 years witnessing what lack of connection and attachment can do to relationships and sense of worth. She works one on one with families, runs workshops on birth, parenting and talking to kids about sex and also run pleasure-based sex ed in secondary schools for teens.
Lael is currently putting all her knowledge and learning into practice as she builds an innovative new primary school in Geelong. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
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