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The Practice Community #1: Welcoming Summer

I'm kicking off something new this summer. It's an intentional self-care practice and inviting you to join me because I think you're going to love it!

To parent respectfully, gently, and consciously, I have been inviting practices that help me to parent FOR the moment, not IN the moment.

Join me in trying out tools and techniques from the best teachers and thinkers around the world to help you build your own personal practice that supports you as a parent.

As a community, we'll grow, share, and learn together during this intense and fleeting period of early parenthood in this series called The Practice Community. 

In our first mini-retreat, I'm inviting you to hang out with me (virtually) here at Welcoming Summer to enter summer recharged and ready to connect with our families. 

It's 20 minutes.

Just for you.

We'll set intentions for our summer break, enjoy a gratitude practice, and share a resilience-building practice for the inevitable challenging moments.

That's it - simple, short, and nurturing. A chance to get together and do something nice for ourselves. 


Watch the Replay: 


Welcome to the practice:

All right guys - we are all gathered here to do a little parent retreat to get ourselves ready for summer. Get ourselves in the mindset for it. 

I'm just gonna invite you to make yourselves comfortable for the next 15-20 minutes - that might be finding a quiet spot outdoors with the birds chirping, or a quiet corner of your home, or even workplace. 

In this session we are going to be talking about getting ready for summer with our little ones. We're gonna set some intentions for our summer break. We're going to enjoy a gratitude practice and then we're going to end off with talking about some resilience building practices for when those inevitable challenging times come. 


Setting Intentions for Summer

This year has been a big "setting intentions" year for me as I learn more about the power of setting intentions. The idea that by agreeing to the intention in our internal dialogue, we will then align our actions in ways that will work towards the intentions we had set. When we're thinking about we want what we want for our summer and for our kids, oftentimes we're thinking connection. We're thinking slow. Patience. Time to work on unfinished projects. We're creating that intentional space for us you might to record them in a journal or even just a piece of paper.

Go ahead and take a moment to think about them.

During this session Haley said she's going to follow their leads and establish more routines. So lovely! Following their lead is such a nice thing we can do in the summer time with our more flexible schedules. Setting up that morning routine over the summer time is so nice. Even if it's more relaxed it's going to set you up for success in September if you're returning to school.

Sarah shared that she wants to explore more nature with her little one. Going into nature is incredible so soothing for them, for us. That's really nice really nice intention to say.

I'll also share my intentions for summer: creating more space for connection and skills for cooperation. With three it's going to have to be slow and it's going to have to be very kind of compact, giving each of them a small amount of time where I am dedicated towards helping them with their skills that they're struggling with.

By setting these intentions, we're more likely to see them through our children and through ourselves, making this a really important practice and something that I try to revisit at every major transition, or season change.

Come mid-summer, or later in the summer we can also revisit them and refocus on them. Sometimes we can get caught up in the doing together, and forget about the being together. So while I hope you'll consider setting a reminder or calendar event, I will also make sure to invite you to do that as well through our our mailing list and as part of our parenting courses


Gratitude Practice

The power of a simple gratitude practice can not be understated. 5 years ago, I was overwhelmed with life as a new mother to two young children. One of my good friends who's a psychologist suggested this really simple practice:

Each day, find a small window of time to journal three things that you're grateful for.

At the beginning they might feel too simple or obvious but over time they become more more deep and more more connected to our truer selves.

You're welcome to do a quick little gratitude practice here by taking a moment to sit a little deeper into your sit bones and do a little body scan to see if you're holding tension anywhere. Releasing where you feel you need to, welcoming a gentler presence for gratitude to flow.

During this session, Haley asked the question "Do we do it ourselves, or are we inviting our kiddos to join in? And either way, what does it look like?" And that's a really good question. She reminded me that we could even touch back on intentions for the summer. Up until this point we've been centred on ourselves but let's revisit inviting our children to come forward with their own intentions for the summer. This is something that we always do in the beginning of summer. Kids can't go between two mind states as quickly as we can - from current to future, or past to present. In the first weeks of summer we focus on setting our house up for the break which includes a deep clean, clearing out items, setting up our shelves, and part of that is asking them for their intentions for summer. What do they want out of it? As they get a little bit older, like my Isla's, who's really getting into camp, that conversation starts to happen a little bit earlier where we invite them to talk about what they really want to focus on and then find opportunities that align with those goals.

But when we're talking about connection and softer skills we wait until we're into summer break - the first or second week of summer and then we start having conversations around a meals, tea or sometimes in the car. We invite them by modelling it ourselves - it's the easiest way!

Coming back to gratitude there are many ways you can model it.

One of my favourites is creating space for myself to do it in front of the kids but not necessarily to them. It's important for them to see that we have our own internal practices and that it's important for us to have the space to practice. If you have a partner, a visiting friend or grandparent you can try taking a moment to say "hey I'm just actually gonna go do my gratitude practice for two minutes" and then go find a quiet spot. If your little one comes to you, you can gently direct them back to the other adult or other activity they're doing and then resume.

The other way is also to invite them into it by narrating it at a time like before bed. A practice I learned from This Permaculture Family was to ask:

"How did it feel to be (you) today?"

Some days they feel more like sharing than others, but by modelling our own private practice and inviting them to practice with us in more or less structured ways we're building a connection to our children that honours self-care. 

A variation on above is to share your gratitude for them right before bed. "I'm so grateful Ezra, that today we got to have a play. To be kings and queens at the castle. I really felt special when you shared your willow branches with me."

By crafting moments like these we invite them into their own gratitude practice.

Recently I've been sharing with the kids how grateful I am for them being themselves. When when you have siblings (which is a lot of what we're navigating at our house right now),  that sense of individual-ness can get lost and so these days there is a lot of acknowledging their individual traits. Their contributions. And more simply, their way of being at home with the rest of us.

I want to make note that it's been really important for us to be sharing gratitude for the other adults in our lives these days. If you have a partner or a support person or team, share how important those systems and model those healthy relationships. I've been making a point of bringing Nate into my gratitude practice and modelling that for our kids, not only in a more formal practice, like during meal times, but also just in the in between moments.

And before we close this off, I want to take a moment to consider modelling gratitude for our body and what it does for us. At our home it's often an end-of-night-thing where I invite the kids to do a little body scan. We run from head to toe and talk about the different parts of our bodies, thanking them for what they did for us that day. It can be as simple as general as thinking your ears for listening, your your tummy for digesting food and your feet for taking you all the places you needed to go. But maybe at times you'll want to get really specific for that day saying things like "thank you to my thumbs for helping me get all the cherry pits out while we made pie and thank you to my tongue for tasting that new food that I hadn't tried before."

Remember to build your practice first, protecting it, and allowing it to settle into your routines, and then invite others to join you. 


Resilience in Parenting with Mirror Work

I think some of the most important work we do as parents is to bring ourselves to our parenting moments prepared. One of my biggest parenting shifts that made all the difference as moved from a family with babies into toddlerhood and beyond toddlerhood was parenting FOR the moment, not IN the moment. That is,

Resilience work is something that I really make use of often because, truthfully, there's a lot that I really want to work on! There are so many improvements I want to make so tending to those pains outside of my interactions with my kids is important to me. One of the most important practices that supercharged my ability to bring my best self to my most challenging parenting moments came from the incredible human and speaking coach Lisa Nichols.(If you don't know Lisa, she helps folks find and unleash their inner voice and confidence through public speaking programs.)

The daily practice she teaches is a type of Mirror Work:

"__________, I am PROUD of you for..."

"__________, I FORGIVE you for..."

"__________, I COMMIT to..."

And while I do not get to it every single day, I do face myself a couple of times a week (and sometimes it's when I'm in bed with my phone).

Just know that it may come with floods of tears, smiles and a calling to hug yourself, and welcoming all of that in as you go through it is truly nurturing.

When I first started this practice I was feeling completely overwhelmed with being a parent of three children and with the the idea that I'd put myself in this position before nurtured all the parts of myself that really needed support, My first mirror work looked something like this:

"Erika, I am PROUD of you for never letting go of the vision you had of yourself in motherhood."

"Erika, I FORGIVE you for being hard on yourself along the way. For not recognizing the journey. For expecting more before it was time to."

"Erika, I COMMIT to honouring the journey. For being patient with your progress."

This really is deeply personal and it I think that that one is one of the most powerful ways that you can process things that you really want to work on and move past. 


Community Reflection

Before I share notes from our post-retreat "cool-down" chat, take any additional time you need to reflect on or continue working through the practices above.

When you're ready, here are some points of reflection from the community:

1. We can find accessible resources to support our gratitude practices at home. One parent found gratitude journals at her local Dollar Store.

2. Visual cues are fuelling our practices.
They can be as simple as line art drawings of our favourite daily connection-building activities we put up on a wall (ex. dancing together, a 1 minute long hug).

3. Bed-time routine is a great place for us to start.
If you're looking for a way to start adding small gratitude practices, using your established bedtime routine an be a great anchor for your practice.

I'm so grateful we get to journey together as we build our parenting mindfulness and self-care practices.

If you'd like to get notified about more sessions like this, hop over to the sign-up page for the Bueno Market Newsletter and add yourself and I'll see you in the next session!

always learning alongside you, erika

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