Posts for mindful parenting

10 Reasons Why Every Mom Needs a Nap Every Day…and How to Get It

Foster/Adoption, Parenting, Self-care, Tales from the Maxi Pad - Allison Kenny - May 2, 2016

Daily naps? Oh, please. Who has time for that? Well, I will tell you that my stress levels got so high that I didn’t have time NOT to take them.

We ALL deserve daily naps because…

  1. We’re f%@king tired. We don’t sleep well enough at night.
  2. Depth of processing. We are taking in information at the speed of light. We are thinking 2 steps ahead of our kids. This is exhausting.
  3. Our houses are cluttered. And that’s okay. It’s part of the deal. But it creates visual overwhelm. And we’d rather play with our kids than clean it up.
  4. We make so many decisions. And decision fatigue is a real thing. Choosing how to respond to the 35 questions a minute wears us out.
  5. We are constantly learning new skills. Each phase of parenting brings new issues to wrap our brains around. Perpetual learning curves take a ton of brain power.
  6. We’re tracking other people’s needs as well as our own. Tuning in to the needs of those depending on us is draining. And it’s what makes us amazing.
  7. Empathy. We feel what our kids are feeling. We model emotional language and coach them through the roller coaster of their hearts. It’s depleting.
  8. We solve problems. In our homes, in our families, in our own lives…all day long.
  9. We forget to feed ourselves. I’m talking food and non-food hungers. We forget to play enough, laugh enough, have enough sex, or take enough adventures. If we’re starving for the things we need, we don’t have enough energy.
  10. We are overstimulated. By the sounds of cartoons and crying, kid songs and light up toys. Our phones are buzzing and our Facebook feed is blowing up. Our brains are fried.

So what do we do about it? For me, finding answers had a sense of urgency. When I’m exhausted, I’m irritated. When I’m tired, I’m yelling. When I’m overstimulated, I truly believe that mothering is too hard for me to do and I better find some way to quit. Not possible. But napping is.

Every day, for somewhere between 10 minutes and an hour, I put on sweatpants (if I’m not wearing them already), turn off all the lights and climb into bed. I turn off my phone. I ignore any mess or anything I have to do. I just close my eyes in the dark and breathe. I don’t usually fall asleep but I lie there and just let my brain relax. I enjoy the silence and the solitude. I truly, deeply rest. Even on days that feel too hard to do. And it’s changing my relationship to stress.

If my kid was too little to go to school, I’d nap during her naps. If she didn’t nap, I’d let the TV babysit her so I could. If I worked out of the house everyday, I’d curl up in my car in a sunshine patch and nap on a lunch break. On the weekends, I ask my wife and daughter to excuse me while I go nap and explain how I am not be interrupted.

Can you see where I’m going with this? Nap at any cost! That’s my fierce belief. Maybe you are not an introvert or as highly sensitive as I am. Maybe you are invigorated by all the stimulation, adrenaline, and multi-tasking. If that’s the case, please offer to take the kids of friend for an hour so they can nap.

Honestly, I value this time above all else because it makes me a saner, happier, more flexible, more playful, and more peaceful version of myself.  Everyone in my family likes this version of me the best. They know Mama’s gotta have her naps. Go get yours!


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8 Parenting Books You Will Love (or Hate)…it’s up to you…

Foster/Adoption, Learning, Parenting - Allison Kenny - March 25, 2015

parenting books collageI have a love/hate relationship with parenting books.  When I feel at a loss as a new parent, I pick up a book that has been highly recommended to me or even sent to my doorstep as a loving gift from a friend. I start at the beginning. I read a few chapters. I try to do every single thing it says to do. I read a few more chapters. I get to a section that says some version of “If you don’t do it this way, your child will turn into a drug addict/axe murderer/ suicidal teenager.”  I get so triggered, that I put the book down feeling worse than when I started.

Is it possible that the information age pulls us so far into our heads that we mistrust our own intuition? Maybe so.

Never-the-less, here are the books on my night stand:

Books I read before “The Squirrel” came into our home:

The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children
I love the framing of how kids are just mirroring our own spiritual journey back to us and how learning to accept who our kids actually are is key. So hard! So huge! There is a pretty big emphasis here on raising kids from birth, so I’d love to know her thoughts on counsciously parenting kids who have experienced trauma before coming to you.

Parenting With Love And Logic (Updated and Expanded Edition)
We’ve used more limit-setting strategies from this book than any other. I love how they stress empathy but feel like they do not speak to attachment or children with special needs.

Books I’ve been read while parenting “The Squirrel”:

The Post-Adoption Blues: Overcoming the Unforeseen Challenges of Adoption
Until I was a new adoptive parent, I did not know such a thing existed. It does. I haven’t read the whole book but just knowing the topic exists was helpful when I felt unexpectedly depressed those first few months.

The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting
This woman goes there. She is not afraid to claim how adopting a child through foster care is not the same as birthing a child. She breaks down the details of her daily life. I was so triggered by this book, I could only read it a few pages at a time. But I did get through the whole thing.

Orphan Train
This is a fictional story of an adopted child that has a relatively happy ending. I can’t read enough of these. Plus, it shines a light on a time in history that I never knew about…the legacy of adoption in our country.

Books on my shelf that I haven’t read yet:

Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids: 7 Keys to Turn Family Conflict into Cooperation
Recommended to me by a good friend and mindful parenting coach, Michelle Gale. She loves it and from what I can tell, it’s full of Dan Siegel inspired approaches to working with trauma and putting non-violent communication to work in your home.

Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic AND
Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing CLEAR, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries
These 2 were gifts from my women’s group who listen tirelessly about my intense and wonderful little squirrel.

I freely admit that I am in over my head as a new parent. That’s what makes it so tempting to read these books as “how to’s.” Wouldn’t it be fabulous if following the simple steps outlined in each of these would guarantee my child would never grow up to be a drug addict/axe murderer/ suicidal teenager?

I’m starting to catch my impulse to follow other people’s advice over listening to my own heart. Luckily,  it feels uncomfortable. I get triggered because I know deep down that something I’m reading doesn’t feel true for me or my family. That’s when I know it’s time to close the book, take a deep breath and trust myself.

I may be brand new at parenting, but I’ve been a human being for a long time.


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