Sunday, February 14, 2010

Parenting at 36,000 Feet

I’m traveling with my boys today by myself, flying to the Midwest from chilly Florida in search of snow and to spend time with the grandparents. Amazing how it gets so much easier as they grow older and I grow wiser, more conscious about what I’m doing and the assumptions I make as a parent. I’m so much more mindful than I used to be as a parent and as a person, which really makes everything flow much more smoothly. For instance, it used to be that when someone (anyone!) woke up in a bad mood, I felt like the day was just over and it was going to be awful all day long. And I was right! Now that I have some perspective and some positive experiences with changing the energy in my family, I know that it isn’t necessarily a death sentence for the day. It’s really amazing how much just knowing that it can be different changes things for the better.

As we travel, I’m delighting in the joyous exclamations of my six year-old as he takes in the awe and wonder of what the world looks like from way up high. “Look at those little mountains! They look so small!” And there is real wisdom in those words. So many times, all we see is our perspective, looking up at the mountain of parenting we’re trying to climb. We can’t see the top and the journey can really wear on us. We can’t tell what is most important to focus on and what we can let go of. And even when we make a decision to let something go, we may struggle to change the patterns of interaction that seem hardwired, like it or not. We have our tools from our own childhoods to carry us through, but many of us are searching for a different set of tools than our parents had available to them. We need perspective.

When we can find a way to get some perspective by immersing ourselves in the latest and greatest parenting information, learning from all of the amazing people out there in the world who can teach us more about ourselves and different ways of interacting with our children, suddenly we don’t feel as alone anymore. And the journey doesn’t seem so overwhelming. Take the time and plot out where you’re going and what you want things to look like along the way, as well as when you arrive. In my new class, Consciously Repairing Relationships, we’re each creating our own parenting covenant. It is like getting out a map and compass before you set out on your journey. Then, we’re immersing ourselves in the research and adding new tools and understanding to guide our footsteps.

Every once in a while, it is helpful to stand back and get a new perspective on our lives and our parenting from 36,000 feet. Try it and let me know what you see! Then when we return to the day-to-day decisions, we have some perspective to carry us through!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Consciously Meal Planning?

When I became a parent, I didn't know how to cook.  OK, maybe that's not entirely true.  I could cook bacon, scrambled eggs, toast, and I could make a grilled cheese sandwich.  Oh, and hamburger helper.  I could do that.  My husband, on the other hand, was quite the cook and happily assumed that role for our family.  However, after my first child was born and started showing an interest in solid foods, I became more interested in what I was feeding him.  When we discovered that he had severe food allergies (oh, so that's why he never really slept well?), it became a necessity for me to learn how to cook.

My adventure began when I read the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron.  As a non-cook, I found this book very helpful because it walked me through my first scary trip into the health food store produce aisle and told me what I needed to do once there.  I could read all about the different vegetables ahead of time and not look like I was completely and totally lost.  It was a good thing and I began branching out and learning what to do with asparagus (I didn't realize you could get it without the can) and even some leafy greens (spinach didn't just come in the freezer section?). 

My "baby" is now 11 and I have at least 10 good years of learning about healthy eating, learning how to cook, and even planning my meals.  This year, I'm branching out into the world of gardening and have already started a few things in my winter garden (some lettuce and sunflowers so far).  But the nightly surprise of dinner is wearing on me and I am once again in pursuit of healthy, interesting food choices that my family will eat.  And did I mention it needs to be budget-friendly?  And easy to prepare?  And healthy?  And gluten-free? I don't think I'm asking for a lot, but this seems to be a tall order.  After spending the afternoon looking at different meal planners, recipes, and other suggestions, I am feeling less inspired than I was earlier- except now I'm also hungry.  But do I have anything to show for my hours of work?  Uh, no.

Well, I did find this free organizer from Families With Purpose (cool website!) and I've printed them out to see if this can help me get my ducks in a row.  There are blank menus for the different seasons and shopping list templates to help streamline your shopping.  The cool thing is that you just work on one week at a time and save your work in a 3 ring binder.  Once you have 4 weeks planned in a given season (I'm going to start with winter), then I'll have the whole season planned.  So, I'm going to give this one a try!

What else have you found helpful?  Any great places you've found family-friendly, budget-friendly, healthy, easy to prepare meals?  Please share them so we can all benefit!