Seasonal baskets for kids: Spring edition

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the traditions that I want to instill in our family life. My goal is to be mindful about what we introduce to our children (who are still quite young, under two), adding to, and in some cases, scrapping traditions that were handed down to us by our parents altogether. I’m planning a much more extensive post on the topic soon, but for now let’s suffice to say that I’m looking for ways to add more opportunities for reflection and learning and escape from the endless purchasing cycles (Christmas! Valentine’s Day! Easter! and on and on). I’m by no means a minimalist, but even I have my limits.

One fundamental principle that’s inspiring a lot of the traditions on my mind is observing and honoring nature and the changing of the seasons. With that in mind, I plan to begin each new season with themed baskets filled with items to help us further explore and appreciate the changes happening all around us in nature.

Those items could include craft supplies, toys and tools gathered from around the house, new purchases and homemade items. I like the idea of using the baskets to facilitate activities.

Spring activities for small children

Plant something. What better way to celebrate the new life that spring brings than by watching plants grow? You could plant bulbs outside, a container garden, an herb garden, a terrarium. Gardening tools like this set on Amazon or this more complete kit on Etsy are a good start, along with seed packets, gloves, little bags of potting soil and containers.

Go on a scavenger hunt. Create a DIY scavenger hunt to look for new signs of spring life around you. Supplies include a small net, magnifying glass, a jar and a handwritten list of what to look for (this will vary depending on the climate you live in and the age of your child or children but could include flowers blooming, specific insects, moss, rocks, etc.).

Learn about bugs. These garden bug rollers facilitate fun, hands-on creative play. Kids can use them with playdough or in the dirt outside to play pretend, practice their motor skills and make art. Life cycle figurines are also a very tactile way to teach children about bugs like butterflies and ants.

Ideas for older children

A gorgeous wild hare embroidery kit

A bird-house woodworking kit

For your hot tea lover: a sampler pack of spring flavors

Baskets aren’t your thing?

Alternatively, you could fill a jar with slips of paper; on each paper, write a different activity for spring. When you have downtime throughout the season, select a piece of paper and voila! Endless opportunities for fun.

Practical advice for grandparents from a new mom

When I first had a baby, I asked everyone I knew for advice about navigating the relationships between me and my parents and my in-laws. I was surprised by how dramatically those relationships changed, practically overnight, after my husband and I became parents. We were no longer the children…our child was. Expectations changed too. For instance, we were now expected to host family holidays and other visits rather than traveling to our parents as we’d always done. I felt an unspoken shift in the power dynamic as well; we controlled access to the thing they cared most about: their first grandchild.

I won’t sugarcoat it: based on my experience and that of all of my close friends, this transition usually doesn’t go smoothly. Almost every mom I know admits that when grandparents come to visit, they end up bringing unwanted toys, enabling bad behavior, getting kids off schedule and spoiling them with sweets, often making the already strung-out mom’s job even harder. My midwife told me an anecdote about one of her clients whose mother-in-law came to visit after her grandchild was born. The grandmother told the new mom, days after delivery, that she would hold the baby while the healing mother cleaned the bathroom. There are at least two things wrong with this offer, but unfortunately the sentiment is fairly common. Most grandparents are so focused on and excited about their role as grandparents that their role as parents takes a back seat.

Obviously, everyone is entitled to decide where they place their priorities, but hear me out. If you, as a grandparent, decide to focus on your grown children during the first few difficult years that they’re parenting babies and toddlers, you will strengthen that relationship for a lifetime. You will avoid so much of the strain, hurt feelings and resentment that’s unfortunately so common today within families. And you’ll set the tone for a wonderfully healthy, loving relationship with your grandchildren as they get older.

I’ve given a lot of thought to this transition from my perspective as a new mom, and I’m sad to see how prevalent the rifts and resentments are that stem from them. The fact is, some of the stress is inevitable, but I’m convinced that most of the conflict is very avoidable. Below are a few practical suggestions for navigating the new relationship with your child and their partner to minimize conflict and improve communication,

1. Prioritize the support they need, not the support you want to give. It’s only natural that when grandparents come to visit, they want to spend time with their grandchildren, but it would go a long way to also consider what their parents need. Do they want a break from cooking and cleaning to spend some quality time with their children? Do they need a break from kids to run errands or have a date night? Do they need someone to take their older children to the library so they can get quality time with the baby? You could ask what they need, or better yet, make a few offers and see what they take you up on. Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help, after all.

2. Don’t create more work. The parents of children, particularly young children, are exhausted and overwhelmed. And in today’s world of social media, the pressure to make it all look easy and go above-and-beyond is enormous. In most cases, they probably feel like they’re barely getting by, much less getting everything done on their mental to-do lists. The simple act of adding guests to the mix, however helpful and low maintenance they are, automatically creates more work and planning for the parents. One of the best ways to avoid feelings of resentment is to mitigate that impact as much as possible. For instance, offer to bring food with you when you visit and/or coordinate ordering and picking up takeout meals. Help with preparing and cleaning up after meals. If you’re staying overnight, treat your “check out” like you would an Airbnb: strip the sheets off the beds, put your used towels in the washing machine and take out your trash. This might not be behavior that was modeled for you by your elders, but I urge you to try whatever version of this feels authentic and manageable for you. Even small gestures can go a long way.

3. Get informed about their parenting approach. If you plan to take an active (or more active) role in helping with your grandchildren, having a solid understanding of their daily life is critical. This doesn’t mean you need to check parenting books out of the library! But it does mean having a basic foundation for things like how your grandchildren are put to sleep, what they are/aren’t allowed to eat, their daily schedule, their nighttime routine, how much screen time they can have and whether or not they get disciplined. An easy way to begin is simply to ask their parents, without judgement or comparison to how you raised your children.

Be prepared to take notes; parents today are inundated with new and old parenting methods, expert opinions and the latest research results ranging from vaccine interactions to speech development…and that’s just on Instagram. Within two weeks of having my first baby, my husband and I saw a midwife, chiropractor, occupational therapist, lactation consultant and pediatric dentist specializing in tongue ties — all of whom shared different opinions, suggestions and resources to find out more information. And that was for a healthy baby! As a result, it’s easy to accidentally become an expert on any number of topics and trends as a new parent and to become particular about how your children are raised and what they’re exposed to.

It’s a tremendous help when grandparents can help reinforce good habits and maintain a sense of continuity and predictability that help children feel safe. For instance, my mom knows that we’re trying to encourage language development with our toddler, so when we pick her up, we say, “up, up, up!” My mom adopted that phrase and also says “down, down, down” when she’s done holding her. And that’s so important. Grandparents can create so many new traditions and habits and memories with their grandchildren without undermining the foundation set by the parents.

4. Be conscientious about gift giving. Sadly, I think one of the most common points of contention among my friends is the amount and type of gifts given by grandparents to their kids A friend of mine told me recently that her husband has been getting increasingly agitated about the gifts his mom brings to their two sons when she visits. After many warnings, she arrived at their house for a visit with tons of presents in hand. Her husband immediately stormed out of the house with the gifts, took them out to the street and left them on the curb. In this situation, everybody means well but the conflict and tension are completely avoidable.

The first step comes from tip number three: get familiar with their parenting style. Whether or not they’ve shared gift-giving “rules” or preferences with you, knowing what they value as parents will only help you buy gifts that their children will use. For instance, if the family is modeling a Montessori approach, they likely don’t want the children to be inundated with toys; instead, the children have access to a few toys that are rotated in and out of circulation regularly. These parents might prefer that you give the toys directly to them to put into circulation gradually rather than the children receiving a bundle of new toys at once; in this case, it’s less about what you’re giving the children than how you’re giving it. But the what can be important too; some children have learning and/or sensory needs to take into consideration. And there’s always the issue of duplicates; this year, my daughter received four xylophones for her birthday.

Although on the surface the act of gift giving seems straightforward, it’s actually quite complicated and should be given the consideration it deserves. I urge you to have the conversation and ask questions to understand motives. A little compromise might be necessary, but ultimately, the end result will be happy children, parents and grandparents.

5. If conflict arises, seek professional advice. The transitions of becoming parents or grandparents are challenging — life altering — although as a society we don’t always honor them the way we should. Typically, we receive a few Hallmark cards, maybe read a book as preparation and consider our work done. But these transition can be incredibly triggering for people, particularly those who haven’t adequately dealt with experiences and emotions from the past. For instance, a woman see her new role as grandmother as an opportunity to make up for how she raised her own children; she wants to undo what she perceives as her previous shortcomings and prove her worth as a mother and grandmother. Or in another situation, a young man wants his parents involved in the lives of his children, but he’s resentful and angry towards them about his own upbringing; he subconsciously uses the new power dynamic as a way to punish his parents and make them feel inadequate as grandparents. Or a mom who exerts extreme control over her children — their schedules, diets, toys and their relationship with their grandparents — because her own childhood was chaotic and unpredictable; she wants her children to feel because she never did.

Situations like these are complicated and bound to generate extreme emotional responses from everyone involved, even over seemingly trivial conflicts. Until the underlying feelings — inadequacy, guilt, anger, resentment — are resolved, each interaction will carry a painful memory and an unspoken significance as old wounds are reopened and new ones are formed. If you or other family members are struggling to resolve issues, I strongly encourage you to see a therapist. Healing and forgiveness can end cycles of family conflict and help create healthy environments for children. Do it for yourself and for the generations to come.

The early days of parenthood: All I See is You

The following poem on parenthood is one of the most beautiful, raw literary pieces I’ve come across. It’s an excerpt from the All I See is You poetry book by Jessica Urlichs. I’ve returned to it often over the past couple of years, and it makes me sob every single time. For me, nothing has felt more tender than those early days with a new baby, when you both feel so fragile and your whole heart is blown wide open. Jessica captures it so perfectly.


I can’t see past you right now, I’m so small and everything’s a little blurry.

All I see is you.

When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I’m here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren’t lonely for me.

You are my everything.

When you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re making it look easy to me. Even though we’re still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

I trust you.

When you think some nights you’ll never get sleep again, you will. We both will. But I’m scared right now. I promise I’m not manipulating you. I just need your smell and comfort. Do you feel that tug in your heart when we’re apart? I do too.

I miss you.

When you feel as if you’ve achieved nothing, please know, my cup has never been so full. The days that get away on you will be some of my best memories of us playing together on the ground.

I love you.

When you feel like you don’t know who you are anymore, when you turn away from the mirror. That face will be the one I look to when I achieve something, the one I search for in a crowd. The reason for my first smile.

You’re perfect to me.

When you feel like the weight of it all is heavy in your heart, please know I’ve never felt lighter. Can I lay here with you a little longer? I won’t always need you like this.

But I need you right now.

When you feel as if you have nothing left to give, when I see your hands outstretched at me, pleading. When we’re both crying. I wish I could talk, but I can’t. If I could I would tell you,

There’s a reason I chose you.

I can’t see past you right now mama, because you are my world. It will get bigger, soon enough.

But for now,

All I see is you.”

We had babies 14 months apart. Here’s how I prepared.

My babies are 14 months apart. When I was pregnant with our second daughter, Camille, I struggled a lot with how such a monumental change would affect her older sister Aurelia. After all, Aurelia was herself still a baby. I had faith that my husband and I would eventually figure out how to raise two under two, but I worried that Aurelia would have a hard time adjusting.

So many well-meaning people who I shared my concerns with said, “oh it’s good that Aurelia is so young. She won’t remember life as an only child.” In theory, that sounds logical, but research actually suggests the opposite; young children who are thrust into an older sibling role have a harder time coping because they don’t yet have the skills to manage their emotions or the words to the express them. The younger they are, the less equipped they are and the harder it is for them to adjust.

On more than one occasion in the months leading up to Camille’s birth, I remember sobbing as I tried to hold Aurelia over my growing bump, absolutely heartbroken for her.

Then I read Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings by Dr. Laura Markham, and it changed my life. The book takes a hands-on, research-based approach to facilitating a loving, happy, respectful family culture. It centers on the importance of the parent-child bond and on practicing empathy to help foster a safe environment for children to manage their emotions and ultimately build life-long bonds with siblings. She doesn’t sugarcoat the issues parents and children face, and she doesn’t minimize the very real assumptions a child can make when parents bring home a new baby. (She likens it to a spouse bringing home a new partner who sleeps in their room and gets all the attention. How would you feel?) She offers dozens of real-life conflict-resolution examples (including sample scripts) to help put theories into practice. She explains how parents should evaluate tantrums and how to address them. And throughout her book, she references books by other authors that have turned out to be great resources for me as well.

After reading the book, I felt incredibly prepared and empowered. Dr. Markham spoke my language, and her approach to parenting really resonated with me. She challenged popular child-rearing methods that instinctively didn’t feel right for me and gave me other tools to try instead. She specifically covered challenges that arise when siblings are close in age. She even addressed families who were about to add a new baby and offered suggestions on how to prepare siblings, introduce them for the first time and arm visitors/friends/family with tips to avoid making siblings feel overlooked. Honestly, this book is a treasure.

Today, Camille is almost three months old, and we’re all adjusting incredibly well. That’s not to say there aren’t meltdowns or power struggles, but given the magnitude of the changes in Aurelia’s life, she’s responded beautifully. We use the principles in this book every single day. They’ve given me permission to parent the way that feels natural to me, but that I’ve never seen modeled before. And they’ve given me new ideas for bonding with my children that I can’t wait to continue to implement, adapt and build upon.

P.S. If you don’t plan on having multiple children, you might be interested in Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, which as the title suggests, doesn’t have the same emphasis on siblings.

Holiday gifts for toddlers

My husband and I try to be mindful about the types (and amount) of toys that our daughters have access to at home. We’ve been fairly minimalistic in our approach, particularly regarding how many toys are available at any given time. (I have a toy and book rotation in place so that they only have a few things to focus on.) We’ve favored experiential toys like musical instruments and art supplies, and we make time each day to use them. Our approach might feel a little militaristic — especially to the grandparents 🙂 — but we believe in the importance of using toys to help our children learn new skills, use their imaginations and teach an appreciation for their belongings. This already feels like an uphill battle amidst the commercialism of the U.S., and our oldest is barely a toddler.

With those goals in mind, here are a few things from our 18 month old’s Christmas list that I’m really excited about:

Books about emotions. I’m a believer in the gentle parenting approach, and I’ve seen firsthand that young children have big emotions that they need help processing. The Color Monster by Anna Llenas helps kids identify and categorize their emotions (fear, sadness, joy, etc.) so that they’re better able to recognize and talk about them. Little Monkey Calms Down by Michael Dahl begins with a monkey who’s having a bad day and then offers suggestions for how he/she can calm down (breathing, singing, cuddling, etc.). Both books emphasize that emotions are normal and that it’s okay to cry. I can’t wait to introduce these to Aurelia during calming corner time.

Calming corner. In the spirit of helping children regulate and express their emotions, I’m in the process of creating a calming corner in our nursery. A major feature will be the Generation Mindful Time-In Toolkit. The toolkit includes tools that help teach children lifelong skills about emotions and how to regulate them in the safe space of a calming corner.

As the name implies, a time in is the opposite of a time out — sending a child to be alone as punishment for “bad” behavior. My parents never used time outs with me, so I honestly hadn’t given them much thought in my parenting journey. But after reading Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings by Dr. Laura Markham (CHANGED. MY. LIFE), I was sold on the concept of time ins. Dr. Markham makes an incredibly compelling argument for radical empathy and the vital importance of actively helping your child learn to embrace and regulate their emotions. She explains (and demonstrates through case studies) that children act out due to their inability to manage big emotions on their own. Casting them out away from the family during a time out only further reinforces whatever emotion(s) they’re struggling with and sends the message that emotions are bad. If you’re interested in creating your own calming corner, I highly recommend also reading the book; it will provide a really sold foundation and understanding when it comes time to put the calming corner into practice.

The Time-In Toolkit includes posters that share information about emotions and techniques to help children calm their bodies. It also includes an activity mat and a set of positive affirmation cards which Generation Mindful recommends pulling first thing in the morning . You know I love a daily ritual, and these cards totally sold me on the kit. If the toolkit is above your price point or you’d rather start smaller, this poster set is a great alternative.

Side note: I’m also planning to make a glitter jar — a concept I first heard about on Sesame Street — with Aurelia to include in the space as another calming tool to try.

Cleaning tools. A major tenement of the Montessori approach is to empower kids, respect them, build their confidence and teach life skills by allowing them to become more autonomous. This is reinforced through daily practices like allowing them to set their place at the table, feed themselves, select their outfit for the day and even help with cooking and cleaning from a very young age. At just 15 months, Aurelia started trying to use our hand-held broom and dustpan to clean up after her meals. A couple of months later, she started wiping the table down after she ate. We didn’t teach her to do this; she learned by observation and seems to enjoy being able to contribute to our household.

To help facilitate that interest, we’ve added the Teamson Kids Little Helper Cleaning Set to her wish list. Having access to tools that are her size should really help her learn new skills and curb the frustration that comes with trying to use adult-sized supplies. We’ll keep the set in our kitchen for ease of use. I love this particular product for its pastel colors and the fact that it’s made by a small business.

Cooking tools. My husband recently built a toddler tower to give Aurelia access to our kitchen sink and counters so that she can begin to help with cooking and cleaning up after meals. She’s used it help me make muffins and watch my husband cook on the stove since she’s always intrigued by our meal prep. So far, I’ve only asked her to dump ingredients from measuring cups into a bowl, but I think she’ll be ready to try other skills soon. We’ve added a toddler-sized (and safe) wooden “knife” to her wish list so that we can start to incorporate cutting soft foods into her daily list of activities. Etsy is an incredible resource for wooden cooking utensils for kids like cutting boards, more advanced knives and whisks and scoops, spoons and tongs.

Discovering divine love…in the bathroom

Something profoundly changed within me last night. My husband usually gets our oldest daughter, Aurelia, bathed and to sleep while I make dinner. Last night, he was working, so I did more of the bedtime routine and shared such sweet, tender moments with both babies. One of my favorite things to do is draw one of them up very close on my chest and wrap a blanket over both of us. The feeling satisfies something very primal within me. I realized last night that it’s almost like a womb, with baby and me so close together, tucked away, warm and shielded behind an outward covering.

The more I think about it, the more the past year and the next few years to come feel like the womb, too. We spend nearly all of our time at home, nurturing our babies, protecting them, loving them and watching them grow. Two short years ago, my husband and I went into offices every day. We traveled extensively for work and for pleasure. We commuted and went to happy hours and hosted dinner parties. And now, in our little bubble with our babies, we incubate and relish the simplicity of our days. Our lifestyle was partially shaped by COVID — my husband now works from home indefinitely — and partially by babies born 14 months apart in June 2021 and August 2022. While I was pregnant, I was amazed at how much I was forced to slow down; I wasn’t able to walk very quickly, multi-task or ignore rest. I’ve managed to hold onto those lessons and truly appreciate our routine and the pace of life with two babies…leisurely strolls around the neighborhood, hour-long meals, a complete reframing of what it means to be productive.

In an instant during bedtime last night, I realized what had shifted for me. For the the first, maybe ever, I felt fully present in the moment. It didn’t happen during yoga or meditation. I was untangling and hanging twinkle lights in the bathroom and singing silly songs while Aurelia splashed around in the tub, and it struck me that THIS IS IT. I wasn’t thinking about what I needed to get done after she was asleep. I wasn’t worried about her little sister Camille waking up from her nap. I was fully immersed in the moment. In our beautiful, exhausting, monotonous, multi-sensory, technicolor life of diapers and bottles and first words and first steps and pinching ourselves every day that they’re ours. For months, my husband and I have randomly looked at each and said “We’re married?! We have two kids?!?” because it’s all felt so surreal.

But after that moment in the bathroom, I thought with so much conviction as I held Camille later in the evening, that nothing has ever felt more like real life, like my life. Years from now, I’ll lie in bed at night remembering these beautiful early days of getting to know two precious souls, and I’ll smile. I’ll imagine the cheeky, exuberant expression that crosses Aurelia’s face when she shows us for the first time that she’s learned something new. Or the way that Camille beams and wiggles in excitement every time she catches one of us gazing at her. They are the light of my life, and I’m so blessed.

Not everything is easy, of course. There are tantrums and sleepless nights and teething pains and shortened tempers. I’ve struggled with missing meaningful self care time to ground myself and recharge spiritually. As a couple, we try to remember that each challenge shows us something new about ourselves and ultimately helps us grow; sometimes it works and sometimes it’s only aspirational. But every day, we feel the love of our girls, we appreciate the abundance in our life and we’re deeply humbled that they chose us. And nothing brings me closer to spirit — to divine love — than that.

Parenting for highly sensitive people

Last week, I wrote about a new commitment to reimagine my every day rituals to better meet my needs. One of the three pillars of this goal is my spiritual practice.

I want to say at the outset that I’m going to be very honest here, and my intention is not to complain but to normalize talking about the hard parts of parenting. My friend Hana Raftery’s amazing vulnerability in sharing her experience with mothering as an HSP opened my eyes, and my hope is that by sharing my experience, I can help empower others. If we don’t take care of ourselves and our mental health, we can’t take care of anyone else.

Becoming a mom has been the single most soul-expanding, heart-filling, incredible experience of my life. But as a highly sensitive person, the sensory overload I’ve started to feel over the past month or so has been a struggle.

I’ve found that many of the aspects of motherhood are triggers for highly sensitive people (HSP); according to the Highly Sensitive Person Test, qualities of HSPs include:

  • Becoming easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input like loud noises or bright lights
  • Being affected by other people’s moods
  • Needing to withdraw for privacy and to avoid stimulation
  • Finding it unpleasant to have a lot going on at once
  • Feeling your nervous system become so rattled that you need time alone

Motherhood hasn’t been the only life phase that’s been a challenge for my sensitive nature. When I worked in an office, we had an open floor plan with literally dozens of people working at cubicles within earshot of my desk. The sounds of people on the phone, the frenetic energy, stressful deadlines and bright florescent lights made it difficult for me to concentrate and impossible to not feel overwhelmed and drained. At least once a day, I booked an empty conference room and sat alone with the lights off to just breathe, feel my feet and try to ground myself.

But the difference between my office job and motherhood is that now there are very few breaks. I can’t step away, put on headphones and turn off the lights whenever I feel overwhelmed. It’s harder to detach myself from feeling my daughter’s energy and moods as I did with coworkers, because I’m responsible for her wellbeing…and she’s literally part of me. The sound of her playing and laughing is so joyful, but the sound of her unhappy, tired, frustrated or in pain from teething hurts me in a way that’s experiential and deeply upsetting. The combination of these new stimuli plus less sleep plus giving so much of my physical and emotional energy to look after and entertain her has resulted in an emptiness in me.

Like so many things we struggle with in life, just naming it can bring healing. I’ve known I was an HSP for a decade, but I didn’t put it through the lens of motherhood until Hana started sharing her experience. Having that understanding helps me know where my feelings are coming from and explain them to my husband. So many of my friends have confided that they regularly feel a sensory overload as parents, so I know I’m not alone. Neither are you.

I’m still testing out healing spiritual practices that bring grounding, connection and insight and that work with my new lifestyle. Life my office job, I know I’ll find new ways to adapt and grow.

Parenting choices and repeating patterns

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we show up as parents based on what was modeled for us as children. As I look around at the people closest to me, I see example after example of either parents trying to replicate their own childhood or parents desperately trying to create the exact opposite of their own childhood. A selfless, guilt-ridden mom, like her own mom was. Another mom trying to create structure and order for her kids because her own childhood home was unstable. A dad who started therapy when his wife was pregnant to address and undo the trauma he experienced as a child.

We have an enormous opportunity as parents to learn from our experiences and put an end to these cycles. But it takes a great deal of strength, persistence and courage to do this work. It demands that we get really honest with ourselves about our childhood experience, a process that can be incredibly painful, especially when abuse, addiction, loss or absent parents are involved.

Usually, looking back a few generations can help you to notice patterns of behavior and better understand the present. An acquaintance of mine mentioned offhandedly that three generations of women in her family (herself included) had gotten pregnant without being married and had become single moms. I don’t believe that’s a coincidence.

In my own family, I’ve noticed a lineage of women who married unhappy, abusive men. I’ve asked myself questions like: How did those women attract that negative force into their lives? What was their father figure like? What was their lesson? How did that experience affect their children? Did their children recreate that pattern for themselves, or take a different path? Notice that these are neutral questions, not emotional ones. This is not about judgement or anger; it’s about compassion and understanding.

Give some thought to your own family and any patterns you see. Remember, the patterns you’ll find aren’t necessarily bad; consider them all as information for you…clues into your family history and yourself.

What experiences are you bringing in as a parent?

What unresolved hurt or trauma are you holding on to?

What can you let go of?

What do you need to do as a parent to end unhealthy cycles for your children?

This can be an incredibly healing meditation or journaling exercise, but I also recommend seeing a counselor, therapist or life coach if that’s an option for you. There’s a lot to be said for professional guidance and not going through the process alone. Although the process can be long and sometimes painful, you, and future generations, will be so much happier for it.

Reinventing my rituals

I read an interesting article recently on the impact of COVID-19 on our rituals, from weddings and birthdays to coffee breaks with co-workers and morning commutes. Humans and societies thrive on rituals to mark the passage of time and celebrate milestones. In losing that aspect of our lives, we’re missing out on monumental occasions but also the day-to-day routines that govern, and in many ways, give meaning to our lives. For me, the past two years have been a blur.

My husband and I have been particularly careful during the pandemic since I’ve been pregnant for quite literally most of it and we had a newborn at home.

It’s been relatively easy for us to live like hermits because we were both able to work from home and both had very generous parental leave policies where we worked, so we didn’t have to worry about exposure at daycare. We have been blessed beyond measure to have the luxury to stay home and have done so very happily. My husband and I have a mantra that “every day is a birthday party,” and we work hard to invite joy and gratitude into our day to day, regardless of the circumstances. We’ve had so much more to celebrate with a new baby around.

Our sacrifices have been minor compared to so many people, but they haven’t always been easy. After two years, we still haven’t had our wedding celebration. I had a virtual mother blessing. We had a virtual funeral to mark my grandmother’s passing. When I had a miscarriage, I had to go to the doctor’s office alone.

Now that our daughter is almost eight months old, and we’re settling into a routine (again), I’m really feeling the absence of my rituals, and I want to find a way to incorporate them, or some version of them, back into my life. I think it’ll provide a big boost to my mental health.

I’ve been thinking about the rituals I miss, boiling them down to their essence and then finding ways to recreate them. And the more I work to understand what I’m missing, the more I realize this has little to do with the pandemic and more to do with my new role as a mother.

The journey into parenthood is such a sacred, monumental transition; my goal is to honor my needs, redefine myself and what serves me, and give myself a little grace along the way.

The three rituals I’m going to focus on over the next few months are:

  1. Learning new things and having new experiences. Instead of travel, I’m committing to learning new crafts, reading more books and listening to more podcasts.
  2. Getting ready first thing in the morning. I spoke to a friend recently, and she pointed out that I’m doing a great job of taking care of my baby, but at the expense of taking care of myself. Putting on an outfit and some lip gloss can go a long way in feeling ready for the day.
  3. Enhancing my spiritual practice. I’m always so much more fulfilled during times in my life when my spiritual practice is a top priority. Lately, I’ve had the time, but not the mental space for meditation, deep journaling, rituals to observe the passing seasons and other ways to help me feel grounded and connected. I plan to carve out a specific time every day, starting small (10 minutes) and experiment with practices that work for this new version of me.

What are you doing to bring rituals back into your life? What’s been meaningful to you?

Gift for mom to honor a rainbow baby

I’m not a huge fan of the term “push present,” a gift given by a loved one marking the occasion of “pushing” a baby into the world. But I love the sentiment of honoring the birth of a baby and mom’s transition into motherhood.

My husband and I agreed that I would look for something I liked to commemorate our daughter’s birth, but after eight months of looking on and off, I’ve really struggled to find something that captures her essence.

Today, I came across a really unique rainbow necklace by Bryan Anthonys that might work perfectly. Our daughter is a rainbow baby, a baby that was born after a pregnancy loss. But she’s more than that definition. She’s our miracle. Like a rainbow, she brings so much light and joy. Her birth brought heaven down to earth. Like childbirth, rainbows can be explained by science but they’re still downright awe inspiring. They’re both a reminder of the sacredness and beauty of life.

How are you commemorating the birth of a baby?