Welcome to Adulting Camp: Which Side Are You On?

“Like a Boss” vs. “Adulting is Hard”: Life in the Modern World

If you believe social media, which you’ll say you don’t but you and I both know that you spend at least three hours a day on there so who are you kidding, how could you not internalize it all?, you likely fall into one of two camps.

The first is Camp Type “A,” where campers frequently shout “Like a boss!!” while fist pumping; live life by bullet journals or tidily organized To Do lists; and probably stay up all night drinking caffeinated gin while sewing their kid’s school play costume with one hand, freelancing with the other and, if they’re really good, having an orgasm at the same time.

The second is Camp Adulting is Hard, and their motto is “Nope.” They’re uncomfortably honest about their failing relationship, the fact that they have literally never gotten their kid to school on time, how early in the day they open the wine bottle, and how disgusting their bathroom is. Continue reading

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Arrested Development*

Is there a type of arrested development that is specific to mothers, or at least stay-at-home parents?

Because I think I have that.

Lately I have been very focused on making life changes and getting my writing career started, or re-started (which it is, is arguable).

I’ve been reading a ton about setting and achieving goals, as well as books about writing — mastering the craft, finding time to write, building a writers platform and so on. And it has struck me that I’m exactly where I was ten years ago.

Incidentally, ten years ago I was pregnant with Neko, and she’s now nine and quite self-reliant.

Does this happen to all of us? Any of us who had dreams or career goals or creative pursuits aside from mothering? Our youngest turns ten or so and we feel the need to really hustle, suddenly, and then we come across a journal from when we were 21 and realize we still have those SAME goals and dreams and we still haven’t gotten any closer to them?

Wait, let me change that a bit.

Does this happen to all of us who started having babies young?

Because maybe this isn’t a thing that happens to people who have their first kid at 28, 30, 35. They’re on this happy career train and they’ve built a name and a resume for themselves and then they have a kid or kids and they know what they need to do to keep that train moving or at least waiting for them at the station until they’re ready to hop back on board.

It’s an odd feeling, isn’t it? Feeling so fired up to get going on your writing, your art, your dream of a university degree, and looking around at others your age and realizing they’re ten years ahead of you. And then looking around at your competition and realizing they’re 20. And god, they have so much energy and they know all the coolest bands you haven’t heard of yet and they’re working on publishing deals and gallery shows and then you sit down to watch Girls and you love it but at the same time HOW OLD ARE THEY?!

But yeah, you have this awesome kid or these awesome kids. And you know that all these young’ns will be so tired chasing a toddler at 39 years old and that brings you some measure of satisfaction.

How is it that I still don’t understand how to pitch an article properly, that I’ve still never been featured in a national magazine, that I don’t have these really amazing connections that it seems like everyone else has?

But hey guys, we’re raising the next generation over here to be rad feminists and make the world a better place and that Costco trip isn’t going to run itself because god damn, do these kids eat a lot.

And yes, I know there are tons of parents who achieve creative greatness with little ones underfoot. Hell, I’m friends with some of them. I’m not saying parenting is an excuse. It’s just that I know I’m not the only one to find myself in this place.

Now what?

*Yes, I love the show as much as you do. Sorry if you feel misled**.

**Once in Gr. 8 I had to read a textbook passage aloud in class and the word “misled” was used repeatedly throughout. I pronounced it “MY-zuld” each time and when I finished the whole class and the teacher snickered for the longest time. Thanks for pointing it out the first time, jerks.

Helping Kids Grieve

If you’ve never navigated your way through grief before, the first time can be very confusing and worrisome. Obviously, even if you’ve done it a thousand times, it can be quite horrible (though it doesn’t seem to be as difficult to navigate for some). I’ve seen friends go through it for the first time and aside from all the terrible parts of grief (you know, the crushing sadness, the exhaustion, the anger, the guilt or regret that sometimes accompany it), the process itself can really catch a person off-guard. It’s not always straight-forward and it certainly doesn’t fit into any convenient mould.

Olive a few days before she died.

Olive a few days before she died.

I have the dubious credit of having been through the deep waters of grief many times in my life. I’m not going to compare mine to anyone else’s as, well, you can’t, but for context:

My sister died when I was eight years old and she was 19. The following years consisted of each of her pets (she was a real animal lover) passing away one by one. Her little dog. Then her horse. Then her hamsters (you’d have thought they’d go first). As a child, it felt as if everything was being ripped away from me and there was nothing I could do about it.

Later, after I graduated, my grandpa, then my uncle, then my cousin (the same age as me) died one after the other, three summers in a row.

Of course, since then I’ve reached my thirties and so I’ve experienced more loss, as many of us do over the years. More grandparents, a couple of friends, and of course more pets. Loss is a part of life. I’ve found some comfort, actually, in being familiar with the feelings of grief and knowing that they’re normal and that it’s okay to just give myself some time. I have also taken comfort in being able to guide friends, somewhat, through this process and reassure them when they feel like it must not be going as it “should.”

Last week, our youngest kitty, a very precocious and almost impossibly loving not-quite-two-year-old grey female named Olive, was run over in front of our house while she was out overnight (she’s not supposed to be out at night, but she does often manage to sneak out and won’t come back when called). It has left some of our kids reeling, and some of us, myself included, have been having a really hard time moving through the grief. This is the first time I’ve helped kids to grieve, and it feels a bit… well, huge.

Thankfully it’s “only” a cat (hey, I grew up on the ranch — animals die and it’s sad but it’s also admittedly not the same as a person). But wow, were we all attached to this cat. It also wasn’t at all expected, since she was so young. A shocking, unexpected death can be a lot harder to get past than one that was expected due to, say, old age.Grey kitty face

I’ve been struggling with not only my own sadness but that of the kids (some of them are having an easier go of it, which is also totally normal and healthy). My heart hurts so badly not just for my loss but for theirs, and knowing that there is nothing I can say or do to salve that pain.

I do know, though, that I’m familiar with grief. And I know what can help and even what to expect, to a point. When a child needs to deal with loss, the one positive is that this is practice for coping with loss later in life — an unfortunate reality that they will inevitably have to face. This is a chance, as a parent, to give them tools to make it through not just this loss but future losses and at least make the experience of grief slightly less frightening.

Here are the things I’ve learned about grief:

Honesty is Crucial

You won’t do your kids any favours by making up some story about where the pet (or person) has gone. Be honest. It’s an important part of moving on.

You have to feel it

Don’t try to downplay your kids’ feelings of sadness or anger, or shush them away. Sure, everything really will be okay, but this sadness or anger or whatever else they’re feeling (and they might not even know what it is) is very real and they need to feel it before it will go away.

Childhood is when people learn to “be strong” or push their feelings down inside — either because they feel it’s not okay to express those feelings (they’re told not to be a baby, to calm down, stop crying, etc) or they are trying to be strong for the sake of others. This is noble but they need an outlet. Try to make sure they have someone they can cry to, even if it’s just one person.

Yes, in time they won’t feel this sad. But they need to feel the sadness or it may resurface later — it has to be dealt with sometime.

You need to be gentle with yourself

As adults, we expect ourselves to return to daily life so quickly. We might think that we can do schoolwork or paid work in the same way and just as fast, or that we should get back to our interests with the same zeal. It’s easy to beat yourself up for being slower, not wanting to get up in the morning, or falling behind on things.

Because we have these expectations of ourselves (and to be clear, we shouldn’t!), it can be easy to transfer them on to our kids. Recognize that kids might not play with friends with the same enthusiasm, they might have a hard time focusing on school work, or their eating or sleeping patterns might be different. Don’t indulge unhealthy habits like isolating themselves or eating unhealthy “comfort” foods that will only make them feel worse in the end, but do take this opportunity to teach your child methods of self-care. Try to guide them away from beating themselves up. Take a day off school and do something relaxing. Do things together as a family that you enjoy and replenish your spirit, whether that’s a hike or a movie or an ice cream cone. Treat them to foods they love that also help them heal — favourite fruits and vegetables or replenishing foods like soup or smoothies, for instance.

You might consider sitting with your children together or one by one and listing things that help them to relax or feel better when they’re down. I have a list like this and it includes the names of my favourite YouTube cat and baby videos, foods I love, activities that help me to feel better like taking a bath, going for a walk in the woods or reading a book. This is a list that they might want to keep and revisit if they have difficulties later.

And let them sleep more, if they need it. Grief can be surprisingly physical.

It’s in your best interest to ask for help or reach out

Encourage your kids to ask for help when they need it. Are they feeling pressure at school that they’re not as able as usual to fulfill? Do they need some company while they do their chores? Maybe just a shoulder to cry on? Many of us aren’t able to ask for help when we need it — learning at a young age that it’s good to do so will serve your child for the rest of their life.

You’ll have to give yourself a break from being sad, sometime

IMG_0328Yes, you have to feel it. But you can only wallow for so long. There needs to be breaks for laughing, and joy, and beauty, and love. Give yourselves an hour, a day, however long makes sense to just laugh and forget about the pain. As a parent this means facilitating this time for your child. Take them somewhere or plan something to give them a break from sadness. Really silly movies are good for this, or a family board game night with something like Apples to Apples, Twister, or charades. Build a giant blanket fort. Go on a silly scavenger hunt. Sing along with Taylor Swift.

It’s important to honour their memory

There are so many ways to honour the memory of a loved one who has passed. Of course I’m talking about a pet here, and this will be very different for a person. Some ideas in general, though, would be:

  • visiting the grave site or a favourite spot — maybe, if it was a dog, going on a walk to their favourite dog park or pathway
  • framing photos
  • making a donation in their name — this is a no-brainer for pets, as rescue foundations abound
  • holding a memorial ceremony
  • creating art or a small memorial object
  • talking about favourite memories with them
  • watching videos or looking at photos of them together
  • placing a special stepping stone or memorial stone somewhere in the yard or garden

It’s good to talk about it

Encourage your child not to keep their thoughts to themselves. Grief can be scary and foreign and feel very lonely, like the things happening inside your head are weird, or like other people don’t think these things. Our thoughts around death can be morbid, or funny, or seem outlandish — this is all normal. If there is no one in the family who is comfortable talking about these things, it’s better that your child talk to someone who is (maybe a friend, neighbour or more extended family member) than to talk with someone who will confirm the feelings of being strange or their thoughts not being okay.

If there is simply no one to talk to, writing can serve as a substitute.

There can be comfort in art

My second cousin is a music therapist, and I gave her a call when I was writing this to talk about what that means and how it can be helpful for kids who are grieving. She explained to me that art — visual, music, movement — is non-verbal and therefore allows kids to express feelings that they might not understand or be able to words to. Art and music therapy can bring a child some self awareness around their loss and how hard it has hit them, and also help them to gain closure.

If you’re interested in learning more about art or music therapies, you might want to check out the Canadian Association for Music Therapy or the Association for Music and Imagery.

My cousin also described a child who had been showing behavioural issues, and through music therapy uncovered unresolved grief around the loss of a pet.

This is definitely worth checking out if you think your child might benefit from some help coping or working through a loss or other difficulties.

Grief can be sneaky — know it for what it is

Grief is sneaky and surprising, especially for people who haven’t navigated it or witnessed it up close before. Even for those of us who have, the way others grieve often looks different from the ways we grieve and so it can still be confusing. Or our own grief can catch us off guard each time!

Grief is not just sadness. Grief can be complicated and layered and last a long time. Or, it can be short and fairly simple and that’s okay too. However a person grieves is just fine — their brain and heart are doing what they need to do. Telling them that they are “not grieving right” is not helpful.The Other Side of Sadness

I will add that I am not a therapist, counsellor nor psychologist and if you’re worried about your child you should consult a professional.

That said, give space for grieving — for yourself and for your child.

Grief may look like sadness; fatigue/exhaustion; anger; fear; guilt or simply moving on.

It can involve laughter; morbidity; inappropriate jokes; lots of tears; sleeping too much; not sleeping at all; withdrawing from activities for a while; eating more; eating less; lashing out.

I recently read a book called The Other Side of Sadness which pointed out the possibility of some people simply moving on very easily, as well. This is a healthy and normal reaction to loss. Sometimes people are able to move on from a loss, and function very well. It doesn’t mean they’re not grieving, or that they’re in denial, or that they feel any less. This reaction and way of processing needs to be honoured just as much as tears or anger.

You can take solace in your beliefs

Whether your child is religious or spiritual or totally atheistic, encourage them to take the beliefs that bring them comfort, and hold onto those. This might be a belief in heaven, or reincarnation. It might mean holding on to the belief that everything happens for a reason, or it might mean resting in the idea that the loved one will always be with them. Maybe the idea that everyone has a time that they must die brings your child comfort. Maybe they find it comforting to think of life as a cycle and that the loved one has returned to the earth in the very literal, physical sense.

When I was 8 and lost my sister, I found great comfort in certain poems and idioms. One was “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep.” I printed it out and hung it on my bulletin board. I also found it comforting (and still do) to think of my sister as always with me, watching over me.

I still find comfort in my beliefs of things being predestined, and of souls staying with us. However, we can’t assume that others find these thoughts helpful. If your child seems open to discussing some of these ideas, you might try telling them about some of your own beliefs or what others believe about death. What sounds true to them might be very different than what you believe to be true. Try to help them find the resources they need to foster their own beliefs and find comfort in these.

However, if your child has no interest in discussing such things, that is fine too!

If your child is grieving, you have my love. Try to go easy on yourself, too. It’s incredibly hard to watch your child deal with sadness and to feel like there is nothing you can do to help them. Know that you’re doing your best and that what they need most is your love.

Rest well, little love. You brought us so much joy in your short time here.

Rest well, little love. You brought us so much joy in your short time here.

Sometimes I Worry… But Then I Remember…

Sometimes I worry about unschooling (I know… all us unschoolers do!). I worry that because we don’t do any (or at least not much) formal instruction, and no worksheets, and no sit-down time where I walk Neko through equations and participles and such things, that she might fall behind her peers. When she shows an interest in learning to read or write, or figuring out math, we follow that interest. We have a Reading Eggs subscription that she uses a couple of times a week, and there are tons of workbooks and math games and reading primers available within the house. We read together every day, and even loosely follow the Jolly Phonics program. The opportunities are there.

Of course, I know that at six and a half, I have no reason to worry. I have plenty of unschooling friends with older kids, who describe to me on a regular basis how things have gone in their house – one kid picked up reading easily at age four, the other didn’t find that it really “clicked” until about eight. No matter the age they’re describing, it’s always the same story – they didn’t push any of the academics, they let it happen on their child(ren)’s own timeline, and provided materials to meet the child’s interest as well as a stimulating environment, then one day the child took interest and BOOM!, in about two weeks they were reading proficiently.

I’ve also seen plenty of evidence that basic math is better off learned naturally rather than through rote learning.

So, the logical part of my brain knows we’re fine. I have complete faith in what we’re doing.

And yet, I have more friends that are sending their kids to school. Friends from the States whose children learned to read in preschool at age four. Whose five year olds can recite the 5o states (I can’t even do that! Not all of them!). Who post on Facebook wondering if anyone else’s child is having trouble with their grade one homework of reading one chapter per night. Neko’s not even reading Hop on Pop yet!

I think about our impending homeschool facilitator visit, and what I’m going to tell her. Our board is very unschooling-friendly. It’s why I chose them (for those of you in Calgary, we are with Home Learning Connections). Our facilitator is hands-off, unless I need her – then she is available. We’re left to do our own thing, which is what I want. The last time she came, I told her about our regular activities, and our philosophy on Neko learning reading and math when she’s ready, and our facilitator was very supportive. So it’s not that there is any worry of her actually saying, “But you’re finished Grade One and your child can’t read! FAIL!” Still, I have nagging doubts in my mind that question our path.

Then I remember… I look back at all the things we’ve done this year.

Sledding.

Countless playdates.

Cat yodeling.

Tickle fights.

Blanket forts.

Days spent at my parents’ ranch.

Meetings to plan our little off-grid house.

Runs for fun (complete with setting up Neko’s own Daily Mile page).

Lots of neat crafts.

The girls working on their Sharpie tie dye shirts.

Sleep-in days.

Sliding, fully clothed, down a handmade mudslide along the river bank. And on and on. And I realize that given our schedule, we wouldn’t have been able to do half of these things if we had been sitting at home doing worksheets.

I understand that some homeschoolers (lots of them, probably) have time to do both. I’m not saying that just because you’re doing worksheets, you’re not having fun. (I also understand that there are plenty of kids out there who enjoy worksheets and the like and do them by choice.)

But for us, given my work schedule (one full day and two half days each week, plus stints of working from home worked into each day), and us having two extra kids in the house another day and a half each week (when I would prefer to not attempt to make Neko sit down and focus on worksheets, though I suppose I could if I needed to), I really prefer to use our time, while she’s six years old, to slide down mudslides, tromp through the woods, watch old Lindsay Lohan Disney movies while eating pizza, watch silly YouTube videos, go on playdates, do cool crafts and play at the playground.

Don’t let my face scare you. That’s just the gears going, trying to reconcile “Parent Trap” Lindsay Lohan with the current train wreck we see in the tabloids. The pizza (Coco Brooks) is delicious.

I picture myself when she is 10, or 12, or 20. This usually happens when I’m thinking back on Neko at age two or three and reminiscing about how cute and funny she was. She was also a total pain in the you-know-what and I am enjoying six so much more, but she was admittedly hilarious, and we had a lot of fun. I think a lot about how glad I am that we spent as much time together as we did, because we’ll never get to live that age together again. I’m thankful that I nursed her as long as I did; I’m thankful I didn’t need to go back to work full-time (well, really, I worked a TON of hours each week developing the store, but at least it was flexible and I still got to spend lots of time with her); I’m thankful that we went on dates and did silly things together.

I reflect on my favourite memories…

Taking a week to go camping on Summer Solstice when the rest of the kids were still in kindergarten

Having pancakes for supper in fancy dresses at a local pancake house when Justan was away for weeks and we just needed a break

Visiting a photo booth together; going for tons of playdates at our friends’ farm right outside the city; checking out new playgrounds with friends. And I realize that these will be some of Neko’s favourite memories, too.

That’s when I tell myself: It doesn’t matter that she can’t write a sentence yet, or count by twos. Like learning to walk, or talk, these are skills that will come. In the next year or two, most likely. If they don’t, then we’ll look at focusing a little more. But for the rest of our lives, we’ll have these memories to look back on. And then I feel really good about what we’re doing.

Saturday: You Are Here for a Reason

This post is the eighth in a series of eight concerning Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents. For the original post and summary, click here.

Saturday is a day of Dharma. The message today is, “You are here for a reason.”

This day is really neat. It’s the day we look at our own unique talents and find ways that we can use them to make the world a better place. Neko and I had a conversation about her talents and why she might be here – we agree that one of her gifts is a love for animals.

In the future, there are so many fun things we could do on Saturdays. One thing that I would really like to do is to volunteer on that day.

Here are my ideas:

a) list your unique talents – it’s fun to sit down with your child and talk about your unique talents. They might point out a talent of yours that you wouldn’t have identified, and vice versa. How could these talents or gifts benefit others?

b) volunteer your time or efforts – this is especially great if you’re using your talents, but if one of your talents is being personable, or attention to detail, or something else that is applicable in a variety of situations, that leaves you with tons of options for volunteering opportunities!

c) think of ways you changed the world today – this is a nice “lying in bed at the end of the day conversation. Can you think of someone to whom you made a difference today?

d) learn about a famous person who had a purpose in life – read a short biography of someone who had real purpose in their life – Louis Pasteur? Martin Luther King? Mother Teresa?

e) spend time doing something you feel you have a talent for – by practicing what we love, we can enter a state of flow. This is similar to meditation, and is good for the body and soul.

f) tell your child ways they have improved your life today

g) tell your child the story of when they were conceived/born/adopted/came into your life – a big part of your child’s life story and purpose is where they came from and how. Reminisce about these memories with your child.

Movie ideas: Surf’s Up, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Happy Feet, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, The Muppets

Book ideas: Oliver Button is a Sissy (Tomie dePaola), Augustine (Melanie Watt), Class Clown (Robert Munsch), The Happiness Tree (Andrea Alban Gosline), One (Katheryn Otoshi)

Friday: Enjoy the Journey

This post is the seventh in a series of eight concerning Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents. For the original post and summary, click here.

Friday is a day of Detachment. The message for today is, “Enjoy the journey.”

The idea for today is to stop worrying about controlling the outcome of everything. Ideally we will teach our kids to throw themselves into things with enthusiasm despite the fact that we never know what the outcome will be. While I feel like this will take a long time for Neko to understand, I also think this is extremely important for children to learn. Right away, I can see the situations where this would be a valuable lesson – board games, for instance.

We had a nice day on Friday, and I felt like it was fitting for the “Detachment” idea. Mairead and Finn were supposed to come over in the afternoon, but the whole family was sick, so they stayed home. Justan had to work nearby, which meant Neko and I were left alone, but with the car. This hasn’t happened in a long time! Mairead and Finn don’t fit in our car (well… they do. But there is not enough room for three carseats.), and usually when Justan is working, he has the car. I thought it was funny that we had an unexpected turn of events today!

I turned to my Pinterest boards for fun ideas, and Neko and I chose a few. We then made a list of the supplies we needed, and visited the thrift shop, the dollar store and the craft store.

We chose….

I can’t find the original poster of this one, but it’s made the social network rounds and has been anecdotally proven to be a hit!

This charming idea from the Color Me Katie blog really captured our attention. We both love rocks! How simple and cute!

I will do a separate post with the results of these. We had a lot of fun. I have quite a few ideas for things to do on future Fridays. I think this will be one of the days we have the most fun! Here are my ideas:

a) do unpredictable experiments – I don’t have any specific ideas yet. This is a little tricky, because usually experiments suggested for kids have a set outcome. But maybe something weather dependent, or maybe testing out different styles of paper airplanes? Lots of wiggle room here, though, as many experiments are unpredictable to kids. I’ll be keeping this in mind and I’ll see what I come up with. As always, I would love suggestions!

b) talk about our own lives, and what might happen – I personally find comfort in thinking of all the most likely outcomes and being okay with any of them. I’d love to pass this on to Neko.

c) play a board game – win or lose, it’s about having fun. Hey… kind of like life!

d) enter a contest – Neko is always seeing contests (usually drawing contests) on kids’ morning TV. I’m sure there are better contests for learning this lesson – like entering for a door prize at an event we attend – as it has more of an impact if you can see the contest results.

e) burn or release the intentions from yesterday – if you wrote intentions on paper yesterday, how about cooking over the fire (or lighting a fire in the fireplace) tonight and burning those intentions to release them. Don’t be attached to the outcome!

f) play with a tone matrix – yes, it’s true, you could figure out what each combination will sound like. But the fun is on choosing random spots and checking out the result. Try this tone matrix  or this one that “pulsates” and looks and sounds a bit like raindrops.

Neko really enjoyed trying both. They kept her amused for quite some time!

Embarrassingly, I have not been able to come with any story ideas yet. Not for lack of trying! I’m sure Helen Lester must have one about not being a sore loser.

Movie ideas: Homeward Bound, Up!

Thursday: Every Time You Wish or Want, You Plant a Seed

This post is the sixth in a series of eight concerning Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents. For the original post and summary, click here.

Thursday is the day of Intention of Desire. The message for today is, “Every time you wish or want, you plant a seed.”

I like this idea, because it’s one that I believe in strongly. I believe that the Universe (context: I’m a pantheist) wants to give each of us what we want, and we help it to do so by creating intentions. I also believe that our intentions send out certain vibrations and thus attract like vibrations, in turn bringing us just what we put out. At least, that’s an overly simplified explanation. Neko and I talked about this today, including how you should be careful what you wish for, as sometimes you might wish for something that isn’t actually in your best interest, but then you might get it. Her first thought when I asked what she would really like her life to be like? She said she either wants to go to Narnia, or have the Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan come here. I wasn’t sure what to say to that, especially since Sunday’s lesson is that “anything is possible” (really struggling with that one from a child’s perspective). Is it really possible for the characters from our favourite books to come visit us? Help me out here, Deepak.

I have tons of neat ideas for upcoming Thursdays, as this theme lends itself easily to all sorts of crafts, activities and conversations, but for today, we did a little visualization exercise before bed. I visualized sitting inside our strawbale house and feeling very peaceful, while Neko visualized seeing the boy she has a crush on, and also attending another Jellybean Dance. She loves visualizing so this went over well.

A part of my strawbale house visualization – the view from our homesite at Solstice.

Onto those neat ideas. Some things I’d like to do on Thursdays:

a) make a vision board – using pictures cut out from magazines, printed off the computer, or drawn, create a collage of just how you would like your life to be. This can encompass your whole life, or a certain area, such as fitness, work, home, or family. Don’t limit yourself by attempting to be reasonable – dream big. You never know what might manifest in your life!

b) write a story in which the thing you want to happen, is happening – this is something I often do for myself. When I do it on my own, I write what my life would like if my wish came true, only I write about it in the present tense. “I am so happy right now in our strawbale house. It’s so peaceful here…” I think this same idea would adapt well to kids!

c) practice visualization – have your child choose something they really want. Are they missing someone? Is there an activity they would like to try? A trip they’d like to take? Talk them through a visualization in which they experience what they’re wishing for, in their head. Visualization is a powerful tool, and one that will help them later in life. Among other things, using visualization before an athletic event to picture yourself doing well has been proven to improve performance!

d) set goals with lists of how to achieve them – setting actual goals, and listing ideas of just what needs to be done to reach those goals, is a practical way of making your dreams coming true. Goal setting is another valuable habit for kids to learn.

e) blow bubbles – put an intention into each bubble, then watch it float away. Another part of today’s message is that once we release our intention, we must have faith that if it’s in our best interest, it will happen. We can’t continue to obsess over whether it will happen, or we could get in the way. Practice setting intentions, releasing them, then watching the bubbles pop and release those intentions themselves!

f) write your wishes on paper – we’ll do something further with these papers tomorrow.

g) make prayer flags – we did this for Winter Solstice this year. As the flags blow in the wind, they release the wishes. Once the flags are worn out, you can burn them to fully release the intentions they contain. For more information, see my post on Winter Solstice 2011.

Our Solstice prayer flags, hanging from the chicken coop.

h) plant a seed – that’s right. Plant an actual seed, and watch it grow. There are endless ways you could do this (maybe Thursday is a good day to plant the garden!) – here is one.

Book ideas: Charlotte’s Web

Movie ideas: Charlotte’s Web, Freaky Friday

Wednesday: Don’t Say No, Go With the Flow

This post is the fifth in a series of eight concerning Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents. For the original post and summary, click here.

Wednesday is the day of Least Effort. The message for today is, “Don’t say no—go with the flow.”

Neko and I going with the flow… sort of.

This was another day that, for this week, we didn’t do much for. That said, I don’t expect we’ll always have a big activity or lesson, but I hope more that we will keep each thought in mind as we go through the corresponding days. Some weeks, we will incorporate lessons or activities. I explained this idea to Neko in the morning before I went to work, and asked her to please try to go with the flow and think of creative solutions as she went about her day. I’m not sure whether she did as she spent the day with her dad, and then Nicole’s family!

On our drive home at the end of the day, Neko mentioned that she had spotted an eagle gliding over our neighbourhood that morning. Perfect! Eagles were one creature I immediately thought of when brainstorming themes for Wednesdays, because they go with the flow – instead of working hard to stay aloft, they glide and ride the air currents to get to where they need to go. I explained this to Neko and told her that when you see a large raptor in the sky, you can tell it’s an eagle if it is riding the wind instead of flapping its wings much. When we got home, we watched some videos on YouTube of eagles riding the wind. Neko asked a really good question: “But what if they want to go somewhere that the wind isn’t going?” I wasn’t entirely sure of the answer, and I told her as much, but also told her that I thought an eagle might try to find a higher or lower current going in the direction it wants to go.

While supper was cooking, we read The Gruffalo, because I think that the mouse in the story goes with the flow and thinks up really neat ways to solve problems and keep himself alive. Plus, we love The Gruffalo. We talked about these things and about how, if the mouse had freaked out or reacted in a different way, instead of keeping calm and thinking creatively, he might have been lunch for any of the threatening creatures along the way.

On future Wednesdays, I would like to…

a) find the game in work or a chore – we need to get Neko doing more chores around the house anyway, and I’d love to have regular chore time during the day (often things just feel too crazy and it slips by us – plus I tend to put cleaning and such things pretty low on the priority list). I’m all for finding the fun in chores! That’s a lifelong skill that won’t let you down.

b) float a boat down a stream – a toy boat, a paper boat, a boat we’ve made as a craft. This is always a fun activity anyway! We have lots of streams and rivers around us, so this is an easy one for us to access. And is there anything more fun in the spring when the snow melts? We can take the opportunity to talk about how the boat follows the current, what happens when it gets stuck, and whether different types of boats are better at “going with the flow.”

c) take responsibility for our actions – as you go about your day, try not to blame others for things that happen. Take responsibility for the things you say and do, and how those things affect others. Placing the blame on others wastes time and detracts from the opportunity to find a solution.

d) create something that feels fun to create, or do something active that doesn’t feel like work to you – when you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work!

e) in the pool or lake, let the current move us around as we float, and see where it takes us – similar to the boat idea, only in this case, we’re the boat! You could be on an inflatable toy, or just floating on your back. Play safely, of course! Lifejackets are great.

f) have a wandering day – leave the house and just go where feels right. You could be walking or driving. See where you end up! I love the instructions in the following image (from tumblr) so I’ll leave it at that.

g) learn about how eagles float on air currents – we didn’t have a ton of luck on YouTube, but I’m sure with a bit more searching we could have found other websites with much more information. Books or DVDs from the library, or a visit to your local bird sanctuary would also be helpful!

Book ideas: The Gruffalo (Julia Donaldson), But No Elephants (Jerry Smath)

Movie ideas: Winnie the Pooh, Shrek