family life, Festivals, parenting

Lent as a teaching opportunity to grow

As carnival approaches, I start preparing for Lent at home.

Lent, gives us tons of opportunities to teach our children even when not christian (you might want to use Lent to teach about different religions instead).
Starting with the Resurrection itself, we are teaching waiting for the good things in life, rather than the current way of having everything there and then. The giving alms aspect of Lent, can be used to teach kindness and love to others whether we know them or not. Giving up something we care about during this season teaches  self control.

I love this season and over the years a lot has changed in the way I present it to the children.

For a while we did something for the 40 days of Lent. For the past 3 years I have opted for a simpler approach where we have something happening weekly rather than daily.

This calendar, is something we look forward to. Our count down to Easter (similar to an Advent calendar). Each day, a child moves a tiny caterpillar on the day, till on Easter Sunday they will find a big butterfly instead. You can find this calendar here

6 Simple ways to start celebrating Lent and add it in your parental teachings

  • Do a Lenten Calendar. There are many variations available online if this one is not suitable for you. A calendar I used when they were younger was simply to have the outline of a lamb cut out of cardboard and split in 40 days and every day we glued a piece of cotton wool so by Easter, the whole lamb was full of wool.
  • Make a prayer chain. Together with your children, think of whom or what you wish to pray for and add them into a chain, every day, take one out to pray accordingly. We’ve had prayers for rain, animals, old, sick and also specific people.
  • Make a crown of thorns and every time you do an act of kindness, you take off a thorn. By Easter, you should have all thorns taken off and the children can get surprised with the crown turned full of flowers on Easter morning.
  • Temptation Cookies: While baking cookies, tell your children about the temptation of Jesus in the desert. When the cookies are done, leave them on the table, but they cannot eat them until the next day. Talk about how tempting this might be and what we can do to resist temptation.
  • Do resurrection cookies. It is a great way to teach the Easter story!
  • Make a sacrifice bin. Everyone in the family, decides to let go of something they are really fond of throughout Lent. This can be changed weekly. It can also be anything from toys to screen time to sweets etc.

How do you celebrate Lent? Any other ideas you care to share?

family life, Festivals, parenting

Valentine's Day

It is the feast of love this Friday!

For the past 3 years I have rekindled my love for this feast ….. in a different way!

There was once (which I would like to do again next year), where we did felted hearts and a small note saying “you are loved” and posted it them randomly in homes around our village.
Last year and this year, it was more specific to my family as a way to remind all not just that they are loved, but that they are special in different ways and loved specifically because they are all different. This I did by cutting card stock paper in heart shapes and listing on them attributes specific to each child (and husband actually). It also helps as a boost in confidence. these hearts I distribute from 1st February with one last big one that I love them no matter what on the actual day.
Last year, I attached them to their wardrobe in the evening so that every morning they saw them when they were going to get dressed. This year I randomly leave them in shoes, lunch boxes etc so it is kind of more fun and exciting not sure where they will end up in.
On Friday than, we will have a love filled breakfast together as a special way to start this day.

What are your thoughts on Valentine’s? How do you celebrate it?

family life, Festivals, parenting, seasons

Christmas time…..what kind of celebration are you bringing to your child?

It’s that time of the year again.

Christmas is literally round the corner and I am sure all parents are now starting to work on Christmas for their families!

What is Christmas for you? What do you want to bring to your children from this festival? Is the way you have been celebrating it reflecting this?

There are also many families who have different spiritual leanings and Christmas as a christian festival does not really work for them but the holidays are still celebrated worldwide with a lot of fanfare. So how do you bring this festival to your children when you are not christian?

I think looking at Christmas as a festival of light can help many a parent whether christian or not to embrace more and find what this season truly means for them. Essentually, Christmas is the birth of Jesus the bring of light to humanity. Throughout this season there are also other celebrations that have similar meaning like Diwali, Hannukah and Solstice. These festivals of different faiths all bring us the celebration that means from the darkness of winter we are now moving towards the light of spring.

So through this wonderful time, I invite you to draw inward and to really penetrate what you want these festivals to be for your family and how do you propose to celebrate them as a special time of family closeness and togetherness.

I look forward to hear more of your own plans. I will definitely be updating you on my celebrations in this space.

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

10 habits that strengthens attachment

Attachment is what makes parenting possible.

Without attachment parenting is practically impossible.
Yet, it is difficult sometimes to keep our attachment strong. There are days were we are not as emotionally available!

Research has shown that for every negativity we produce, we need 5 positive ones to cancel them! That can seem like a lot of work especially when there are so many other things to do. So instead, try maintain your attachment by a few easy habits that are easy to incorporate in your daily lives.

  1. Give 5 mins attention to your child(ren) upon waking through hugs and snuggles
  2. Sit with them during breakfast, give them a run through of the day and ask what they are looking most forward to.
  3. Write a note and put it in their lunchbox to find at school
  4. When your child expresses unhappiness over something acknowledge their feelings a simple I hear you goes a long way!
  5. Before they leave for school hug them and tell them to have a good day or have fun
  6. 5-10 minutes before your children get home from school take a few breaths and centre yourself. Make sure you are ready to greet them!
  7. Once you are all together again, make eye contact, smile and hug your children, ask them about their day and have a moment to slow down after a hectic morning.
  8. When your child talks, stop and listen. Give feedback so they know you are listening
  9. 15 mins of special time each day go a long way in feeling loved. Just listen to their stories, play a game or have a short walk
  10. Lie with them in bed for a few minutes -even when they are older.

It might seem like a tall order, but this doesn’t add much to your day and cultivating these habits will simply help smoothen your days with less fighting and more cooperation. What’s more it strengthens the attachment keeping your relationship intact throughout their childhood and beyond.

family life, parenting

And just like that….he’s gone!

He clung to me in front of the school like a leech.

He held his beloved breast that never left him – even though he doesn’t breastfeed now it still gives him comfort.

He asked SOOOO many questions this morning…. is it only today I go to school? is it only (showing me 10 hands) this long I will stay? what will I do? will we do crafts? and just before he entered if I will wait for him outside the school. He asked them over and over seeing if there will be a different reply. Feeling anxious that now suddenly the day arrived.

I answered him as truthfully as I could….no you go to school every day like your siblings now. You will stay more than 10 mins but once you start enjoying yourself it will seem like 10 mins only there. It will be probably similar to my school…story, circle time, crafts, baking. yes you will do crafts. No I will not wait outside the school but I will always come back for you. Everything seemed to satisfy him except what will I do…so than it occurred to me. It will be a surprise. Everything you do today is a surprise. That he liked – the unknown is a surprise.

Then the door opened.

I put on his bag and gave him a hug and said good bye and he just walked in….no looking back!

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting, raw reality

Sleeping the night

One of the most common question posted by parents on Breastfeeding Matters is : “When will my child sleep the night? How can I get my child to sleep the night or My child is x weeks/months old and still doesn’t sleep the night why?”

Well children are not meant to sleep the whole night and when they do….they are unwilling to do so alone for a while!

However, all children will eventually sleep the night when they are ready! Or rather, they will be good to go back to sleep alone at some point.

My youngest, B, is on his 3rd week of sleeping the night – yay! He is now 4.5 years old. If I look back on my oldest two, they slept the night a bit earlier than him. He, himself had asked to be moved into his bed and room at 2.5 years but to sleep the whole night there – it took him another 2 years! For over a year though, he’d just come to our bed at some point at night without waking us- just squeezing between us….

So there you go… now you have a perspective of when your child is mostly likely to really sleep the night!

Please don’t forget all children are different and night sleeping will vary per child and per family.

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

A Hero’s Heart

This search for something to help boys transition from boyhood into adulthood has been at the back of my mind since my first born made his appearance in the world. However, the urgency and need of it started culminating about 5 years ago when I saw that girls naturally transition this phase through the start of their bleeding and the possibility of organising a menarche ceremony for them if so inclined. However, the more I searched the less I was able to find something specific for boys. Most books tell us that boys need to transition with the help of men, however of course this is not always possible for various reasons .

I admit for a while I felt defeated and than this book came out: The Hero’s Heart by Melia Keeton-Digby and thought why not let’s try it. I was lucky enough to be alone at home when the book arrived and you can imagine I sat straight down and dug into it. I was reading and crying tears of joy as this is what I wanted for so long to teach my sons but felt stuck on how to bring it about. While this journey can be done on a one to one basis, I know that the biggest impact will be when other boys and their mothers are together in a circle and so I decided to do A hero’s heart journey here.

If you have a son aged 10-12 years and feel inclined toward this, please visit here to read more about it and join the circle being cast.