I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” So very true!
Children feed on our consciousness, so our mood state becomes the unspoken (but potent) back-beat for everything that takes place between us and them. The more we can nurture ourselves, the more easeful our day-to-day life with our children becomes — and the more healthy their development! Here are three simple ways to nurture yourself.
Nurture Yourself with Warmth
In our sophisticated world of central heating and air, we can easily forget the nurturing power of warmth. Fire (candles included), teas, soups, yummy natural fibers (throw blankets, clothing, napkins, towels), the tone of voice you use when talking to yourself inside your head (c’mon, we all do that!!), scrumptiously warm colors on your walls — these are all easy ways to warm up the atmosphere in ways that are very nurturing.
Bedtime is especially a time for warmth: a candle burning during the bedtime story can be very soothing for your child, and one by your own bedside can be nurturing for you. Want a really nurturing treat? Try those buckwheat-filled “beanbags” that you warm in the microwave for three minutes and then drape around your shoulders or lay across your belly or under your feet before climbing under the covers. Mmmmmm….
Nurture Yourself with Slack
If you are in my club — Perfectionists Anonymous — there is always the tendency to relapse into this culturally encouraged addiction. Nurture yourself with the mantra, “I’m letting myself off the hook.”
Choose where you’ll let your high bar stand (the quality of presence with your children and partner) and where you’ll let it relax (the color coordination of your bedding). If this means buying salad in a bag or using beans from a can rather than cooking them yourself… redirect the energy you might have spent beating yourself up over it, and instead bless the lettuce and the beans — along with those who prepared it!
Nurture Yourself with Pacing
In today’s must-go-faster world, too many homes echo with the chill of cool, expedient efficiency. We’ve become a hyper-practical, results-focused culture. Too often we’re too busy to slow down to child time, which is inherently more molasses-paced. To kneel down to our child’s level to listen to her story, to put our arms around our son and look at that treasure he just found, doesn’t often jibe with our lockstep schedule.
One of the most nurturing gifts you can give yourself (and your children, especially during their youngest years) is time. One of the handiest, all-purpose forms of nurturing that makes virtually everything easier is to slowwww dowwwwnnnn.
And yes, this may require revising the adult agenda of “what must get done” — which is one of the biggest obstacles to joy and tranquility in the home of young children! Attuning when possible to your child’s unhurried rhythms makes everyone’s life sweeter.
As I like to say — and this pretty much applies to all aspects of life — “slow down, pleasure up.” Allow twice as long as you think it should take to do anything — a trip to the grocery store, a visit to the playground at the park, a stop at the library. Put this formula on your fridge: Perceived Time Requirement x 2 = Sanity, Joy & Peace!
Image by mahalie, used through its Creative Commons license
About Marcy Axness
I’m the author of Parenting for Peace: Raising the
Next Generation of Peacemakers, and also the adoption
expert on Mothering’s expert panel. I write and speak on
prenatal, child and parent development and I have a private
practice coaching parents-in-progress. I raised two humans,
earned a doctorate, and lived to report back. As a gift to
Mothering readers I’m offering a unique 7-step parenting tool, a
“Quick-Start Guide to Shifting Your Child’s Perplexing, Stuck Behaviors.”