Archive | December 2014

Conscious Parenting Inspirations – December 2014


Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” – Mother Teresa

For many of us, this is a season of holidays, of remembering and celebrating traditions, both spiritual and personal; a time to spend with family and friends, enjoying the joy of the season. But it can also be a stressful season; a season with too much to do and too little time to do it, with the expectations and pressures of perfection or of replicating holidays of the past, a time when the loss of loved ones is felt more deeply. At this time, it is even more important to remember to take care of yourself, remember to take time to connect and practice present awareness to allow yourself to enjoy each moment.

Taking Care of Yourself – Holiday Self-Care

In this season of high hopes and high expectations, it easy for us to get so wrapped up in everything that has to be done by a certain time – gifts to buy, homes to decorate, meals to cook, trips to plan, obligations to fulfill – that we forget to take care of ourselves. But just as a car needs fuel to run, we need fueling to keep up with everything we have to do, even more so than usual. Without taking time to eat healthy foods, get regular sleep and exercise, and take time for mental breaks, we can easily become run down, exhausted, frazzled and short-tempered. When I am feeling any of these things, I try to take a break and consider what I might need to do to make time for myself in the next few minutes and then, for a little time each day, if possible. If you are regular with your self-care, you probably already know what works best for you, but if you need extra ideas see Dr. Paula Bloom’s Grinch Prevention, How to Stay Mentally Healthy During the Holidays or Owlet Care’s Natural Energy Boosters for Parents.

Take Time to Connect

Another thing that can get lost in the holiday rush are the quiet moments we take to connect with our family and loved ones. One way I’ve tried to make sure I get in some time is to connect the first thing in the morning, before I get swept up in the busyness of the day. While my daughter and I have a morning wake up routine when I get her up for school, and my husband and I take time to connect with a hug and a kiss good morning, my two-year old son often wakes up on his own, wandering out, blanket in hand, asking to be picked up when my hands are busy packing lunches, making breakfast or helping to get my husband and daughter out the door to the bus on time. Instead of brushing him off with a quick, “Good morning!” and a reminder that we’ll play when his sister and daddy are gone, I’ve made a habit of stopping whatever I’m doing and squatting down on the floor, arms open, to greet him. My gift for taking this time to connect is when he walks into my embrace, sinks down between my knees, rests his head on my leg and smiles.

Another fun time we’ve had connecting lately is while we read, Fish Kisses at Bedtime by Marianne Richmond, during his regular bedtime routine. This simple, colorfully illustrated book describes the way different animals say goodnight: fish kiss, puppies nuzzle, gorillas hug, etc. After I read each page, we connect by coping the animals in their different displays of affection. At the end of the book, there is a two-page spread of each of the animals, which allows your child to choose which form of affection they would like. I thought this book would be a great way to playfully connect with small children who might need a little more positive attention, or any children at all. Our favorites are favorites, the ones elicit the most giggles, are the chomping crocodiles and the snorting pigs. (See also Farm Kisses).

Practice Present Moment Awareness

A few weeks ago my daughter and I read, The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth, based on the a story by Leo Tolstoy. While the book was above the current comprehension of my four-year-old, the message was a great reminder to me about the importance of focusing on what is in front of me. The narrator, a little boy, is looking for the answers to three questions: When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? (or, as they made more sense to me: What is the most important time? Who is the most important person? What is the most important thing I should do?) Throughout the story, the little boy asks various friends and animals for the answers, but finds none that satisfy him. Finally he visits a wise turtle who shows him the answers he seeks: Now is the most important time. The person you are with is the most important person. The most important thing to do is what you are doing right now.

During this busy holiday, remember: the moment you are in is the most important moment, the person you are with is the most important person and what you are doing / or not doing at that moment is the most important thing you could be doing. Hopefully, this mindset will help us all to remember to stay present and enjoy what can be a very joyful time of the year. For more on mindfulness during the holidays, see Zen Habits How to be Mindful During the Holidays or Mindful Magazine’s Article “Be” Home for the Holidays

Conscious Living / Parenting Resources

And if that isn’t enough…. Here are a few winter / holiday survival guides: Aha! Parenting Winter Holiday Survival Guide or 15 Ways to Stay Sane During the Holiday Season.

These parenting websites were recommended to me recently and I was really impressed. Hand-in-Hand Parenting and Janet Landsbury’s Blog

And, finally, if you haven’t had a chance to check out The Conscious Parenting Notebook, you can click HERE to use the discount code “HappyHolidays” for $5.00 off your own Conscious Parenting Notebook for just $4.99.

Thanks for reading! (and I hope you have (or had) a wonderful holiday!)

What about you? Do you have any ideas for staying conscious and joyful during the holiday season?

Sharon, Author, The Conscious Parenting Notebook

A More Conscious Year in 2015


I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship. – Louisa May Alcott

In her book, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin, recorded her incredibly though-out, well-researched strategies to boost her own happiness and, by doing so, the happiness of those around her. I enjoyed the book. I admired her diligence, persistence and creativity; and I learned a lot about happiness. I was also inspired to create my own project based on a similar design; not focusing on happiness, but focusing on conscious living.

A year ago, I was inspired to begin a blog to hold myself accountable to my desire for a more conscious life, both for myself and my children (my partner loves me either way, for which I will always be grateful). Through my research and writing for A More Conscious Life, I have been able to connect with others on a similar path, access and share numerous resources, and be continually reminded and motivated to live more consciously. And yet, I wouldn’t say that I am always living a more conscious life. I often I still find myself on auto pilot, reacting when I should be responding and repeating the same mistakes.

But it hasn’t all been for nothing. Over the past year, I have gained more conscious living strategies. I have:

  • started a more or less regular evening meditation practice;
  • become more aware of my moods and my ability to respond to them before they overwhelm me;
  • created a family routine that works to meet everyone’s needs for connection and space;
  • practiced mindful mantras so that they come more easily to mind in stressful situations;
  • utilized more conscious parenting tools which allow me to appreciate my children for who they are in the moment and be less reactive (sometimes), and
  • most importantly, heard from readers who have found comfort, solace or inspiration in my words or useful information in links I’ve shared.

But I still have so far to go.

I’m not striving for perfection, which I know is not possible. I’m just striving for better than now. And, to be cliché, I’m going to start my conscious living project on New Year’s Day – a day that represents for me, and many others across the world, a new beginning.

I’ve decided to call it, “A More Conscious Year.”

Gretchen Rubin bases many of her goals on solid scientific research and on the knowledge that habits take time – old habits to die and new habits to form. I hope to do the same. I’ve designed my project in a similar manner, selecting a theme for each month and a practice for each week in that month (months with five weeks will allow for a little extra time on the four selected practices). At this point in my life, I know that I need accountability and structure to follow-through with my plans, and this is my way to do that. I know that the themes and practices that I select will not be the same themes that others would select and much of my reflections will be personal, but it is my hope that this year-long project will inspire others to follow along or consider their own conscious living goals.

The themes I have selected are attributes that I would like to manifest more in my life. The practices are meant to foster growth in each respective area. I will elaborate more on the science behind each theme and practice throughout the year, but here is an outline:

1. January – Be More Mindful/Present

2. February – Be More Patient

3. March – Be More Empathetic/Understanding

4. April – Be More Flexible

5. May – Be More Intentional

6. June – Be More Joyful

7. July – Be More Connected

8. August – Be More Grateful

9. September – Be More Thoughtful

10. October – Be More Creative

11. November – Be More Generous

12. December – Be More Reflective

I look forward to sharing this journey with you. I will try to make it informative, useful and inspiring.

Thanks for Reading!

What about you? Do you have any conscious living or conscious parenting practices that have worked especially well for you that you would recommend as part of A More Conscious Year? Would you be interested in your own conscious living project?

Sharon, Author, The Conscious Parenting Notebook

Conscious Parenting Inspirations – November 2014


A person’s a person no matter how small.” – Dr. Seuss

As my four-and-a-half year old daughter grows, I have begun to hear myself in her play and in her interactions with her brother. And it isn’t always pretty. Despite my intention to be more conscious, loving and positive with my children, I still have moments where I revert to thoughtless reactions like saying, “STOP!,” when a calmer response would do; using knee jerk if/then threats (if you can’t calm down, then we can just go home right now!); and using power instead of patience to elicit cooperation.

Not only are these not conscious parenting practices, but in my home, they come back to me in the form of my children yelling, “STOP!” at each other constantly; my four-year-old telling her little brother, “If you don’t play with me then you’ll be dead. Do you want to be dead? (A four-year-old twist on an unfortunate parenting strategy of an unattractive alternative paired with the desired option), and lots of shouting and power struggles. And ultimately, they do not respect my children as people.

Before I had my own family, I used to wonder why some people treated perfect strangers with more kindness and courtesy than they treated their own family members. Yet, now with a family of my own, I sometimes find myself falling into this same bad habit.

But why, for those of us who do, do we do it?

Is it because we’re tired?

Because we’re reacting on auto-pilot?

Because we think that there will always be time for forgiveness later?

Whatever the reason, I would like to keep this from becoming the norm in my family. I would like to infuse my interactions with my children with Respect, Love and Joy, so that their interactions reflect these same qualities.


Recently, Rebecca Thompson, creator of the Consciously Parenting Project posted a quote, entitled, “I am your parent.” In it she says,

I am your parent… I am here to guide you, help you learn to regulate your emotions and behavior, to model good boundaries and expectations with the same love and respect I want from you, to set an example of what healthy, connected relationships look and feel like, so that when you grown up, you’ll know how to peacefully and lovingly raise your own family. Because I love you.

I love this quote because it is infused with the importance of seeing and respecting our children as people, not somehow less deserving of our respect because they are children. Parenting Coach, Carrie Contey, has a similar belief that she often talks about, that children are not “ours” to “mold into adults,” but rather little people that we are sharing this journey with. I love the sentiment and value in this.

And yet, I’ll admit, it isn’t an easy shift without an effort to stay conscious.

When my children act or say things that I feel strongly about, my thoughts, if I listen to them, are not often respectful or understanding. They are more often than not thoughts about myself, how I am feeling annoyed, exhausted or overwhelmed; or thoughts that judge, blame or deny reality. Or the reactions come so fast, the thoughts behind them pass unnoticed.

Without a pause to think, the empathetic thoughts don’t always have time to take shape.

When I think this way, it often follows that I disregard their feelings, brush off their upsets, or ignore their needs because I am busy, distracted or overwhelmed. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens enough for me to want to make a change.

And on this journey to more conscious living, this is an important goal. I can work on being more respectful, more aware of their needs, feelings and desires wanting to be met, acknowledged and heard, just I try to be respectful of others.

I can do this, by stopping to pause before I speak, before I step in, before I react.

I can do this by asking myself, “How would I respond to a cherished friend in this same situation?”

I can do this, by putting a copy of Rebecca Thompson’s quote in my kitchen and reading it every day, to remind myself that my children are deserving of the same love and respect that I want from them.

If you would like more ideas on how to foster respectful interactions with your children, read these posts on Positive Parenting Solutions and Aha! Parenting.


I recently read Saydi Shumway’s essay Put Your Heart On in the book Deliberate Motherhood, published by Power of Moms. In her essay, Shumway talks about how we, as mothers (or fathers), are always doing things for our children and our families – cooking, cleaning, washing, packing, organizing, helping, driving, etc. – sometimes in moments of stress, the enormity of all that has to be done can be overwhelming and lead to frustration, annoyance or resentment. She suggests that, because there is no escaping all that needs to be done, a shift in perspective to the reason behind our actions, can make an incredible difference. For most of us, we do all of these things because we love our children. Yet “loving” them is rarely on our list of things to do.” “But by recognizing love as the motivator behind what we do, everyday mundane tasks suddenly become meaningful.”

As many parents, I can get lost in the busyness of the morning rush or the urgency of dinner prep and forget that what I am doing, I am doing out of love for my children. And in this space, I can find myself frustrated, rushing and wanting to focus on the task at hand rather than attending to those very children as they demand their needs be met at that very moment (as children are wont to do). In turning to them with respect, I also want to turn to them with love, rather than frustration or exasperation, and to embrace the time I have with them before they rush off to school or drift off to sleep. I want them to feel loved, through every interaction.

I can do this by responding to my children, at their level, looking into their eyes, with focused attention.

I can do this by being conscious of how each of my children feels most loved, or their “love language,” and remembering to spend time speaking this language each day.

I can do this by remembering the love motivating my work throughout the day, to keep frustrations and false senses of urgency at bay, so when I am interrupted by soft little voices and tugging hands, I can respond with love.

For more ideas of how to demonstrate your love throughout the day, read Creative with Kids post on 100 Ways to be Kind to Your Child.


Joy, as highly as I regard it, does not come natural to me. I have never had what anyone would call a “bubbly personality.” Yet I want to be joyful. I want to feel that natural, carefree, high of emotion; lost in the moment. And even more, I want my children to be joyful. And with children there are so many opportunities for joy (as there are so many opportunities for frustration). When I begin to feel overwhelmed or see the dark clouds rolling in, I’ve begun trying to infuse the moment with joy to keep the storm at bay and turn the moment around.

I do this by singing Elizabeth Mitchell’s So Glad I’m Here (which shifts my perspective to one of gratitude).

I do this by putting on some happy music and dancing around kitchen with one or both of my little ones (my current favorite is Ingrid Michelson’s Be Okay).

I do this by overcoming my natural disinclination towards silliness and make a funny face, sing a funny song or make up a funny game, which starts my children giggling – always a sure way to bring myself a little joy.

For more on getting more joy in your parenting, read Left Brain Buddha’s, Five Ways to Make Parenting More Joyful.

Hopefully, if I can remember to do all of these things, or pause before reacting long enough to remember, interacting with my children with respect, love and joy will become my first, thoughtful, response.

Thank you for reading!

What about you? Do you have any practices that help you to be respectful, loving and joyful with your children? If so, I’d love to hear them!

Sharon, Author, The Conscious Parenting Notebook