“Wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure” (Paulo Coelho, “The Alchemist”)
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘there’s no manual for raising children.’ I know I heard this so many times that I believed it and was left feeling doubtful that I could ever be an effective parent. Then I had my daughter and realized they were wrong and I was wrong for believing them. I wish we would stop telling the ‘no manual’ story and instead, empower folks to know they most certainly can be great parents, no matter where they are in the parenting stage by tapping into innate or ancient wisdom available to all of us, all the time.
The very first piece of meaningful advice I received while pregnant was ‘all you have to do is love them.’ I thought, well I can do that! Love became my foundation and everything I needed to learn, understand and every skill I needed to develop was built on the unshakable foundation of love.
I discovered that there is a manual on parenting, it’s written in our hearts but we don’t think to look there because we’ve ‘outsourced’ this job to the experts, for a variety of reason. Outsourcing is helpful for some things, but not for the core elements of parenting. Experts are important but inappropriate use of expertise can override the heart and gut instructions we are constantly receiving about what our children and our particular circumstance requires.
I found that when I start with my inner guiding system the experts aligned with what I already know to be true show up. I am then able to back up what I epistemologically know with the appropriate research, science and PhD’s. The same guidance system will alert me when something is off with expert advice from family, friends and doctors. That’s when I dive into research until I find the answers that my gut can say ‘yes, that’s it!’
Following my inner guidance has allowed me to create an environment for my daughter to thrive and blossom as a whole person. As conscious parents we have the opportunity to create the best environment for our children to develop great habits, positive beliefs and express the best in themselves. Here is a short list of the core principles necessary to create the ideal environment.
Surrender ~ Be committed and in service to your child, let go and let the divine be your co-parent. There is nothing as powerful, liberating and rewarding as allowing yourself to fully receive the awesomeness of the gift of a child. To surrender enables you to give your best and to fully embrace all the elements of parenting. Resistance creates feelings of overwhelm, surrender allows joy. A release process is helpful remove any blocks that may be in the way.
Clearing ~ In order for us to operate at optimal levels, toxins and clutter must be cleared away on both the physical and metaphysical levels. On the physical level, toxins and chemicals found in food, cleaning supplies and body care products should be replaced with natural and organic products as much as possible. This is also means the materials in our homes and offices where possible should be natural and environmentally conscious products. Declutter your home, purse, office space as regularly as possible.
On a metaphysical level, take stock of any toxic people in your life and avoid them where you can. These are the folks that live in the negative and their toxic comments and beliefs fill the air like second hand smoke. Even if you don’t smoke, you’ll be sure to breathe some in. Take regular inventory of any toxic emotions you may have and go through a process of forgiveness and letting go. There are several journaling and visualization techniques you can use.
Clearing on all these levels will add vibrancy to your life, make you feel lighter and leave space for what’s important. These are habits your children will carry with them as they grow into their own life and have a better chance at success. From the womb, they can feel what’s going on and patterns are set in so the sooner you are able to apply the clearing principle, the greater experiences you will all have.
Engagement ~ Children don’t need things they need our engagement, our time and presence. Children need rich experiences, time in nature, stimulating their senses and rich experiences. They teach us to be in the moment, if we let them. Toys can either be used to enrich the engagement with your child or they can be used as a baby sister, having everything come to life can be done without any toys at all. ‘Less is more’ can be a de-stressor worrying less about having the money to spend on your children and create more space for what’s most important in your lives.
We all know that children will have hours of fun with a cardboard box, our hands, feet, voices and bodies and can be used as instruments, we can learn to count and learn the alphabet using everything around us (chairs, houses, signs, etc). Going inward, using creativity and a love for life will give you constant access on how to provide rich experiences for your children. Don’t get me wrong, toys and such are useful and necessary but only if we have the principle of engagement in place.
Self Care ~ I love the analogy of the oxygen mask on airplanes, emergency instructions advise that the oxygen mask be placed on the parent before the child. Women are most often accustomed to taking care of everyone else before taking care of themselves. It’s in everyone’s best interest if women can incorporate the principle of self-care into their daily lives. In this context, active self care can prevent emergencies, reduce stress, enable emotional management, mindfulness and create the internal environment to be a calm, centered and effective parent. Modeling self care is the greatest gift we can give to our children.
The order of the principles can be shuffled depending on what you feel you can work on first or which area needs more attention. I come back to the principles regularly and deepen my experience as I’m able and ready to do so. Be kind to yourself along the way.
Anne Marie is an eco-prenuer and single parent to a delicious toddler combing all her passions, education and experience to create a thriving environment inside the home and to the planet.