I’m not sure how this happened, but our family has planned two big trips involving air travel this month. As I write this we are right between the two journeys. Since I’ve been contemplating travel with my 4 year old. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned (mostly from other parents!). Please leave me your tips in the comment section! My hope, as always, is to increase ease and connection on these trips – and to decrease meltdowns, frustrations, and unhealthy behaviors. Here are my 7 tips:
In November I flew by myself for the first time in 5 years. I read the entire new Brene Brown Book, wrote in my journal and had revelations about my yoga practice while I gazed at the clouds. It was awesome. I don’t have to tell you that traveling with a baby, a preschooler or an older child (or all three!) is not the same scenario. If I manage my expectations about what the flight will be like I’m much less likely to be frustrated, and much more likely to feel great about spending the time in the air doing things together with my little one.
It’s worth the pay off to manage your little one’s expectations as well. You can read books about airplane travel or even better “play” airport and airplane by acting out the travel experience before you go. This gives our smallest children the chance to be prepared for the big travel day. Include, waiting in line, keeping belts bucked when the light is on, waiting for luggage etc.
Because of the great body of evidence that screen time is bad for our kids, we try to travel screen less. If you would like a great even-handed look at screen time and your child’d brain, check out Parenting in the Age of Attention Snatchers by Lucy Jo Palladino. It’s profound. So, what do you do with kids, if they aren’t attached to a movie or game? It is a bit of a lost art, but there is actually a ton of things you can do. You just need to pack for it. Here are some things we always have in our carry-on these days:
New books from the library,
pictures or information about where you are going
Sticker books, these ones are great.
Activity books of any kind
silly putty, or small containers of play dough
snacks that require some processing (clementines, pistachios etc.)
I tend to be on the look out for this kind of a thing year round. I keep a “for travel” bag tucked away out of sight so we always have some good stuff in store when we travel. The sale area in target often has some great things. I also love the Melissa and Doug on the go items. If you live in the Triangle, the Red Hen in University Mall in Chapel Hill has a ton of great stuff.
My advice is to not open any of these until you are on the flight. No need to do any of this in the airport! There is so much to do – including running, spinning and stretching since those little bodies will need to be still for so long in the air! Also, don’t forget to have enough so there will be some new things on the way home! The picture above is what I had in my carry on for one four year old to do during two two hour flights.
If you are flying for a long time, like over 6 hours, maybe a Mr. Rogers in there or two is not a bad idea. But keep in mind that you can do lots of other things together! Screen time does not have to be the default!
You can spend several hours just playing together! Tic tac toe, I spy, and even rock paper scissors are great ways to connect while having this blessing of unplanned time to spend together.
One game that has gotten our family through many car trips is “I’m thinking of an Animal.” To play, one person thinks of an Animal, the other people playing have to ask yes or no questions of that player until someone guesses it right. Then that person has a turn. Alternatively you can take turns being the person thinking of the animal. My daughter never tires of this game. We also play “I’m thinking of a thing.” Any thing! And “I’m thinking of a plant.” The variations are endless!
Another possibility is the memory game. Take four or 5 of any objects and put them on the tray table. Have your child investigate them. Then have them close their eyes or turn around. Take one object away. They have to guess which one has been taken! This is a great memory builder, and a great vocabulary builder!! And it’s fun. If it is too easy, try more objects. For advanced players, instead of taking an object away you can switch the order of the objects and then the player has to put them back in order.
Give your child healthy snacks that give him the sustenance to make it through a long travel day. That means plenty of protein. Nuts, cheeses, beef jerky, edamame are all great choices. Try to avoid empty calories like crackers, and for sure do him the kindness of keeping all sugars our of his body for the trip! You can’t give him fruit juice, flavored yogurt, white chocolate pretzels and then expect him to sit quietly for the flight!
I flew a lot as a child. I remember spending hours just looking at the clouds. Take a moment to explore this world with your child. Talk about what you see in the airplane and also out the window. Get curious together about everything!
I always add an extra 30 minutes or so to what I think I need to get through the airport. IT can be the difference between a delightful ramble to our gate with lots of conversation and curiosity and a meltdown on top of major frustration. Kids are little, they just need more time to get places. And we want them to take the time to investigate and be curious!
In your carry on, pack twice as much food and activities then you think you will need. Now a days, it’s a blessing if you get anywhere without delays!
Springtime is here! This is a time of year for splashing in puddles and getting fresh air in your home. It is also a time that is vital for good clean eating. In Ayrveda, this is the time of year for cleansing. Instead of fasting, a great way to support the body is to eat easily digestible nutrient – dense foods. This is my new favorite meal that fits both those requirements while also being * delicious * and easy to prepare.
I’ll admit, that we actually eat this meal about once a week in our home – year round. It’s taken the place of the mac n cheese night. It is actually just as easy as mac n cheese from a box – but insanely healthier. This is a mash up of two slightly altered recipes from different Ayurveda cookbooks. The Kichadi recipie is an amended version of one in A Life of Balance: The Complete Guide to Ayurvedic Nutrition & Body Types With Recipes by Maya Tiwari. The Pressed Greens and dressing is inspired by The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook by Kate O’Donnell. Both amazing books. The first better if you really want to geek out on Ayurveda as a whole. The second has amazing recipes and great background on why they work.
Yes! There is a high chance your kids will eat this! My daughter loves the kichadi and asks for it all the time. She doesn’t love the texture of the Pressed Greens, so I usually make her a fresh kale salad. You may want to substitute plain butter for ghee if your kids don’t love the taste of ghee. My little one is four and a half (already!) and we have used this meal in particular to talk about nutrient dense foods. She loved learning the phrase “nutrient dense”. I told her it was a fancy way of saying healthy. We then went on a hunt through the kitchen looking for “nutrient dense” foods. This can be a fun way to teach your kids what foods really feed them and which are empty nutritionally. Make a pile on the kitchen table of all the “nutrient dense” foods you can find! Or make a list together! Greens, berries, beans, eggs, nuts, carrots…. delicious!
1 cup rice – basmati is traditionally used, I use an organic white rice that I can get from Costco
1/2 cup – Organic Mung Dhal
5 cups – water or more as needed
1/2 teaspoon – Turmeric powder
Ghee or butter
Start by rinsing the rice and mung beans till the water runs clear. I put them all in a strainer and run water through while massaging (and being massaged by) the beans and rice. Put these in a pot with the water and turmeric bring to a boil. Bring down to a simmer and wait till rice/beans are tender. You can add the ghee and butter to your serving once it’s in your bowl.
A mixture of greens
Here is what I do. I buy 2-3 kinds of fresh greens: kale, chard, bok choy, dandelion greens or spinach and I take out the stems if appropriate and chop them up. The I take however many carrots I’m in the mood for – lets say 1 cup of chopped carrots. Sometimes I add in Red cabbage. I put about 5 cups of all these veggies in a big pot with 2- 3 Tbs of water over medium heat with a lid on. I stir every few minutes. After 10 minutes they are done!
Olive or Safflower or Sunflower oil.
Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a jar, then add that same amount of oil. Add a little salt, cover and shake.
In a pretty bowl, spoon out some kichedi, top with veggies, pour some dressing on top, add a dollop of butter or ghee and you have a yummy, nutrient dense, easy to digest meal. We like to add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, goat cheese, cultured veggies… whatever we can find!
Let me know if you try this out and how you like it! What are you doing differently?
Welcome to the parenting portion of my blog. For years I’ve been planning to write this for you. I’ve been envisioning a way to connect with other parents, to marvel at this sacred work we are doing, to learn from your experiences and to share what I’ve learned as a Montessori early childhood teacher, yoga teacher, parenting coach and parent.
I think the seeds of my interest in parenting were planted when I was a child. My Mother was fond of telling me that I “didn’t come with an instruction booklet”. And she was only partly right. Yes, this work of parenting comes with the steepest learning curve you will ever encounter. It can be confusing, frustrating, and leave us on our knees – breathless. This “path” of parenting consciously, is one of the most rigorous spiritual paths I know. And that is saying something.
But fear not. There is an instruction booklet. You already own it. It is a living document, and we all need encouragement, support and companions as we work to access it.
The ultimate guide to doing what is right to help your child thrive and your family live in harmony is right in your own heart. This doesn’t mean you naturally have all the skills necessary. It doesn’t mean you have all the information you may want along the way. It doesn’t mean that old ideas and patters won’t need to be updated regularly.
It does mean that you have the knowledge in your own heart to know what is right for your child and family.
This instruction booklet is a living document. You know your child and family better than anyone else. That inner knowing can help you pull the information you need, and find the skills you want to learn, from the vast amount of parenting advice offered today. Imagine this “instructional” as if it were a scrap book and journal combined. You decide what goes into it. Some of it is cut and pasted, some of it is of your own brilliant making. All of it unique to you and your child.
Your own personalized “guide to parenting consciously” is written in the language of intuition. For many of us, we have to learn the language of our own intuition. At the very least we can all improve our “intuition – comprehension” before we can really access this support. In order to hear the subtle whisperings of our hearts, we have to learn the ancient practice of listening deeply. We have to re-learn to honor what we hear there.
Mindfulness practices, like yoga and meditation, can give us huge support to access this work. I have here a kind of two-in-one blog. I have yoga posts and parenting posts. But the secret is that the yoga posts are parenting posts – the yoga gives us support to be at our best with our kids, and to access the intuition we need. Also, the parenting posts are the yoga posts – because parenting is it’s own kind of beautiful yoga.
My greatest hope is to create spaces where people can learn what they need to be to have more love and harmony in their lives. We, as parents, can do so much to help promote our children’s’ well being and to build positive relationships with them. We have the inner guidance that will tell us when that is and isn’t working.
I have benefited from years of learning from children, parents and master teachers about simple ways that can truly help make this path of parenting smoother and more successful. I am excited to share some of what I’ve learned here.
The image I get, when I think about this blog, is that of a well. It will be here for you to come to when you need a fresh drink. And the power of a well, of course, is not just in the water. It is in the connections that happen around the water. So as you come with your questions, your insights, and your unique situations – you add to the thirst quenching power of this place.
Here it is! This little recording is my gift to you. It is a Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is an ancient, deep relaxation technique that means Divine Sleep. The good news is you don’t even need a yoga mat, or a change of clothes. You just need a cozy place to lay on your back with no interruptions, for 30 minutes. Yes, that means silencing your phone. In fact, I invite you to put your phone in another room. Let your family members know you are unavailable. If you have pre-teens or teens you can invite them to practice with you.
This practice is the uncontested FAVORITE activity in my middle and high school classes. This recording was made during one of my high school classes. Thanks guys!
If you want to get extra luxurious about it (which I hope you do) grab a blanket, some cozy socks and/or an eye pillow. The practice is designed to help you feel rested, whole, present and more aware of your interconnections. If you have the time, and your body needs to move a bit, do a few sun salutations or a full practice first.
Ready to go? Skip to the bottom and enjoy! Want to geek out a bit? Keep reading.
In yoga we see that all things have a rhythm, a pulsation. Everything that is alive, has a cycle of activity and rest. As modern day humans we are doing everything we can to step out of that rhythm. Our world is organized in opposition to our ability to follow our bodies natural need to rest. It is increasingly hard in today’s world to actually tune in and line up to the slower rhythm of nature. And our body, as part of the earth, craves that slower rhythm. So as a society, we are in a huge deficit of sleep and restful activities. And our need for rest – because of the sheer pace and stress of our lives is at an all time high.
We value sleep, play and restfulness so little, that these things seem like the perfect sctivities to cut out of our busy lives. And we are suffering for it. Brené Brown in “The Gifts of Imperfection” states that “According to the Centers for Disease Control, insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, heat disease, obesity and depression.” I don’t know about you, but I’d rather make time for some delicious rest, than make time for doctors appointments and the suffering created by these illnesses! While I encourage you to actually sleep sleep. This practice of Divine Sleep can also be a huge support in finding deep rest.
It’s been a rough week, and a rough few years in the news. Especially when we are grieving, angry, scared or frustrated, it’s vital to take a break. This practice, with it’s guided imagery, is intended to give you a “thought vacation” so you can come back to your life with freshness, support, and new found creativity and clarity.
This quote has been rolling around in my mind and heart this month. No one knows exactly who said it first, maybe Plato. I’m willing to bet that if it was Plato, he was probably quoting someone else – maybe his mother. It seems that, as long as there have been sensitive people and pain, this idea has been guiding us to be kinder to each other. (If you want to geek out on the mysterious origins of the quote, check out this blog post here.
The quote has been in my mind, because it has been a season of hard battles in my family’s life. We say in tantric yoga that everything can be used to help us awaken. If you’ve been through some major heartbreak you’ll know that in the midst of that pain, there is an opening to understand that everyone is carrying their own pains. Everyone is indeed fighting their own battles. Though I don’t wish that pain on anyone, including myself, in the depth of struggle is a perfect, potent place to grow our ability to love.
Ahimsa, often translated to non-harming, is one of the fundamental practices outlined in the yoga sutras. I appreciate the more modern translation of Ahimsa – practicing loving kindness. We can go beyond just being neutral and not harming! Let’s add some TLC to the planet! On the mat we work to line up physically, so we don’t harm ourselves. Coming to the mat, and doing so in a mindful and refined way, is also an act of profound kindness for ourselves. In the inner practices, we grow our hearts and our capacity to be kind.
Practicing ahimsa in family life is of utmost importance. We have to support our ability to be kind with the ones who love us most – our children. They are so tender, and our ability to treat them with kindness is fertilizer for their optimal growth. Being kind to them, of course is important. But also, being kind to ourselves in front of them is vital. The way you talk about yourself and to yourself directly impacts your child’s ability to be kind to themselves. So the work is watching our inner monologue, and shifting it to be a kinder kind of self-talk. Then, and this will seem strange at first, but especially if you have younger kids, actually saying that positive self-talk out loud when they are around. Saying things like, “Oh man, I wish I hadn’t dropped that. But we all make mistakes!” Or, “I carried this all the way up stairs, I am a strong mama!” I expect you’ll hear your kids talking to themselves in the same tone you are using to speak to yourself. Powerful work!
All this practice takes some very serious self care. So be kind to yourself, take the time you need to fuel up in order to be at your best and able to be kind to others!
My valentine’s month invitation to you is to do something kind for yourself, and something kind for someone else each week. Make time for your “kindness practice”. Seriously, put it on the to-do list. For yourself: go for a long walk, make your favorite food, take a long bath – whatever you love. For others, maybe donate to an awesome organization like book harvest, or Porch. Anonymously put treats on your co-worker’s desks when they aren’t looking. Offer to take care of a friend’s kiddos so she can go to a yoga class. So many options! Please have fun with this, and please comment here or send me an email to let me know what you did!!!