A picnic with the Reeves family
There was a lot of love in my household growing up; however, I was not brought up in a “traditional” home. My parents divorced when I was 11. My sister and I lived with my Dad for most of my life, and while he was working, we were usually at my Aunt Doris’s house doing craft projects, playing outside or playing board games. We usually spent the weekends getting in some quality Mom time.
While my upbringing was very rewarding and filled with love, I have always wondered how I would foster love, creativity, trust, structure and happiness into my future family’s environment, whether or not it is a “traditional” set up (of course, who is to say what traditional is anymore?)
What Creative Parenting Looks Like
My first stay in Arizona was with Carla Reeves, creator of Sanity Journals and a wearer of many hats. I had not known Carla for that long (we had met on Twitter), but knew all along that she was my soul sister. When I arrived at Carla’s, I was greeted with hugs, warm welcomes and my own room complete with Spiderman sheets and a lovely hand-written note left on the chalkboard in “my” room. I could tell from our phone conversations, tweets and e-mails that Carla was a tender, kindhearted person, but what I was soon to learn about her and her family was far more beautiful than I’d expected.
As the days went on, I watched how Carla and her husband Quinton interacted with their family. They have two boys, Shane and Tom, both of whom are tiny angels upon this earth. It was very clear to me that this family lives in a bubble of love & acceptance- constantly. What I was awakened to is that being a parent doesn’t mean you are constantly saying “no,” giving time-outs, and pulling out your hair (phew!). Parenting is about giving these little people you brought into the world a chance to learn for themselves who they are and what it is they like to do. It is about showing them how to be creative, and providing them with guidelines in which they experiment and grow. Doing this creates a strong foundation and structure for the entire household.
Here are a few mental notes I made:
1. Have spirituality present in the home. This doesn’t mean that a religion has to be enforced, just that our little ones know they are physical manifestations of the divine and they too have magical powers.
Carla has a prayer jar at her home. At dinnertime everyone writes who/what they want to pray for and places it in the jar. Then, each person draws one out randomly and reads it. Finally, one person says a prayer for all of the prayers drawn. It was a neat thing to watch these little boys get so excited about praying (I was pretty excited too!).
2. Say “I love you” often. Every time you think it in your head- say it out loud.
3. Encourage creative play once a day – or at least once a week. Let the kiddos splash some paint on paper, drag out the random craft supplies and let their imaginations go to work, or give them their own journals to decorate and write in. This allows them the space, freedom and trust to just be.
4. Have outdoor playtime. The fresh air is so important for our well being – and it’s not just the kids. Get out and play catch, soccer, go for a hike or bring the crafts outside!
5. Create consequences. If your kiddo is misbehaving, give them a choice. Let them know that whichever path they choose, there are consequences to their actions.
6. No Yelling. I can hear some of you say, “What?! No yelling? That is my only power!” However, when you are talking to your child as though you are speaking to another adult, it gives your kiddo the space to act like an adult versus throwing a fit, pouting or bursting into tears. Granted, this isn’t fool-proof. But if nothing else, not having to get worked up over the little things will reduce your stress.
7. Read. There are so many important lessons that come out of children’s books. Reading to your kids provides imaginative growth, quality time, greater knowledge and the love of books- all GREAT things.
8. Have a schedule & stick to it! A regulated schedule makes for fewer arguments around bedtime, and also allows their bodies to become adjusted to a rhythm where sleepy time happens naturally.
These are just a few of the parenting tips I will be taking with me from Carla’s home. It was a true blessing to absorb all of her knowledge.
What about you? What are some of your favorite parenting methods that have made a difference in your home? How can some of these tips help the atmosphere of your family? Are you willing to take any of these on?
Loving, Learning, Growing,