In Defense of Time-Outs. Sometimes.

By Carla Naumburg • 3 min read

DCF 1.0

I’m in the mud right now with my four year old. She’s been talking back and having tantrums on a daily basis. Between her explosions and this miserable winter and all of the mundane details of life that require my ongoing attention, well, I’m worn a little thin. I suspect we all are.

As a result, my responses to my daughter’s meltdowns have been inconsistent, to say the least. Sometimes I’m funny and sweet with her, but other times I’m just too tired and I snap at her or send her to time-out until we can both calm down.

Time-out. Yikes. That’s a tricky one these days.

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What I Learned From My Daughter’s Drawings

By Carla Naumburg • 3 min read
My daughter drawing a robot for her Daddy.

My daughter drawing a robot for her Daddy.

A unicorn standing in a field of butterflies.

A fairy jumping off a dock into a mountain lake.

Two boys and two girls and a monkey playing football.

If you asked me to draw any of these scenes, my reaction would be something along the lines of, “Of course not. I’m terrible at drawing!”

But if you ask my six-year-old daughter to draw any of them, she’ll grab some markers and paper and get right to work.

While I like to think she’s a rather good artist, the reality is that she’s probably just about as good as you might expect a six-year-old who draws a lot to be. And I believe that her drawing skills have little to do with her willingness to draw just about anything.

So how did we get to this point where I judge myself so harshly and shy away from most drawing challenges while my little girl jumps right in?

I can think of three relevant factors:

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How My Daughters Are Helping Me Keep My Resolutions

By Carla Naumburg • 2 min read
Resolutions charts

Our resolutions charts for the first week of 2015.

 

In my last post, I offered some ideas for how to set effective New Years Resolutions. Although there are many folks out there who question the value of setting resolutions at all, I couldn’t help myself. I love the idea of a fresh start and a new opportunity to do a little bit better for myself and my family.

I did make some resolutions this year, and much to my great surprise, I’m still committed to them a week later. I know, this may not sound like much, but in the past I haven’t lasted much longer than a couple of weeks. (According to unsubstantiated statistics I have read in numerous online articles, only about 8% of Americans keep their resolutions.)

Several things have helped me stay focused on the changes I want to make, including some of the ideas I shared in my previous post. But there is one other thing I’m doing differently this year that helps me stay focused more than anything else: I’m tracking my resolutions with my daughters.

We each created a chart with four practices we want to work on. Each morning we review our charts as a reminder of what we want to try to accomplish during the day, and each night we talk about how the day went and give ourselves stickers and stars as appropriate.

As I think about it, there are several reasons why this seems to be working so well:

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How to Really Keep Your Resolutions This Year

By Carla Naumburg • 3 min read

hny

Less than two weeks. We have less than two weeks until the new year, and we all know what that means.

New Years Resolutions.

I love resolutions. I love a fresh start, a new opportunity to begin again.

And, like the vast majority of Americans, it’s not long before I lapse into old habits again.

The thing is, change is hard. It’s especially hard when we’re tired and busy and overwhelmed by the demands of work and home and children. We tend to put ourselves at the bottom of the list. When that happens, it can be hard, if not impossible, to summon the energy, self-discipline, and willpower to make meaningful changes.

I’d like this year to be different. I’ve done some research and put together a few ideas about how to make my resolutions stick this year:

Start small. REALLY small. For example, if you want to start a meditation practice, make it a point to sit and breathe for two minutes a day. Yes, I mean two minutes. If you can do that for a few weeks, then try five minutes. But start with two.

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My Top Ten Favorite Parenting Resources

By Carla Naumburg • 4 min read

I’m back!book

Sorry I disappeared for a while, folks. I’ve been busy with book talks for Parenting in the Present Moment, working on my next book about teaching mindfulness to children (New Harbinger, 2015), helping my big girl transition to kindergarten, my little girl transition to not being in the same school as her big sister (The tears! Oh, the tears!), and obsessing about Serial.

Anyway, one of the most common questions I get at my book talks is about how to start a mindfulness practice and how to become a more mindful parent. There are many different ways to learn to focus your attention and bring yourself back into the present moment with kindness and curiosity, and the trick is to find the style that works for you. The good news is that there are a lot of people doing this work from very different perspectives, and they’ve been kind enough to share their wisdom with us.

So, just in time for the new year and new resolutions, here is my top ten list of parenting resources that will help you simplify, slow down, and be more present for yourself and your children:

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne and Lisa Ross

I’ve read a lot of parenting books, and this is one of my favorites. It’s all about simplifying your life so you and your kids can get a little headspace to calm down and reconnect. The ideas in this book are logical, pragmatic, effective, and totally do-able.

 

Scary Mommy: A Parenting Website for Imperfect Parents (Jill Smokler)

This might not seem like an obvious choice for a mindful parenting website, but bear with me. One of the most important ways we can take care of ourselves in the work of parenting is to remind ourselves, on a regular basis, that we aren’t alone in the craziness of life with little ones. Jill Smokler (aka Scary Mommy) has created an online community where parents tell it like it is. It’s honest and hilarious and it reminds me that I’m not the only one who hides in the bathroom with a chocolate bar from time to time. Be forewarned, though—if you can’t laugh at this parenting stuff, this might not be the right place for you.

 

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

If you’re struggling to communicate with your child, this is the book for you. It’s clear, readable, and gets right to the point with excellent advice.

 

Operating Instructions: A Journals of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott

Anyone who has read Anne Lamott’s writing is familiar with her insightful, compassionate, and humorous take on life.  Her experience as a single mother is the subject of this book, and it’s the kind of book you’ll want to curl up with once the kids are in bed.

 

Parenting From the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive by Daniela Siegel & Mary Hartzell

The reality is that our childhood impacts our parenting. For a number of reasons, and in a variety of ways, our relationship with our children can trigger memories, emotions, and reaction from our earliest years. Sometimes we realize what’s going on, but more often than not, we don’t. Understanding this dynamic is a powerful first step towards changing some of the unskillful behaviors that may be impacting our experience of parenting and our relationship with our children. This book is a great place to start.

 

Hunter Yoga

Hunter Clarke-Fields is a yoga teacher, mama of two young children, and the force behind Hunter Yoga. Her blog posts, yoga videos, and virtual retreats offer a variety of ideas for busy parents who want to bring more mindfulness and self-care into their parenting.

 

Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28 Day Program by Sharon Salzberg

This isn’t a parenting book, but it is my favorite book on how to start a mindfulness meditation practice. Sharon Salzberg’s writing is clear and accessible, and this book will teach you the basics of a number of different styles of meditation so you can find a match that’s right for you.

 

Honest Parenthood with Dr. Jessica Michaelson

Jessica Michaelson is a clinical psychologist, parenthood coach, and the founder of Honest Parenthood, which includes a thriving Facebook community where parents can, and do, bring their struggles and questions and get insightful, effective, research-based responses from Jessica. I’m constantly re-tweeting and sharing her posts on Facebook because they are so real, and spot on. Now, if you’re looking for a list of the ten most effective ways to get your daughter to eat her peas, this isn’t the place for you. But if you’re looking for new ways to take care of yourself, reconnect with your partner, and enjoy parenting more, check out Honest Parenthood.

 

Yell Less, Love More: How the Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids – and How You Can Too! By Sheila McCraith

Sheila McCraith started her journey to yelling less after her handyman overheard her yelling at her four (!) young boys, and the result was a Facebook community with over 50,000 fans and Sheila’s new book, which is filled with stories, pictures, worksheets, and fabulous tips and suggestions for how to stay calm when your kids are really pushing your buttons. The amazing thing about Sheila is that she has a found a way to talk about mindfulness without ever talking about mindfulness. It’s awesome.

 

Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters by Carla Naumburg

You can read excerpts of my book here and here, but for now, I think I’ll share Jill Smokler’s review:

I’m not normally a fan of parenting books—I always seem to end up more defeated than inspired by the end. Parenting in the Present Moment, however, spoke to me—Dr. Naumburg has a ‘been there, done that’ way of communicating her message which didn’t make me feel like a failure and, instead left me wanting to make some positive changes in my life. Imagine that!”—Jill Smokler, Confessions of a Scary Mommy

 

Those are my recommendations. I’d love to hear yours! What books have inspired you to make a real and positive change in your life?

Want more Mindful Parenting? Follow me on Facebook and Twitter.



Actually, We Have Lots of Chances to Raise Our Kids Right

By Carla Naumburg • 3 min read

Children_marbles

I recently came across a Facebook meme that said, “You only get one chance to raise your kids right.”

My gut reaction to this post was, “Ugh. Well, I’ve already screwed that one up. Forget the college fund. I need to start a therapy fund.” The truth is that I get frustrated with my daughters, I snap at them, and yes, I have even been known to hide from them. (Only in the bathroom, and not for long, but yes, I was hiding.) I’m assuming that most of this does not count as raising my kids right.

Fortunately, I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing that crazy monkey who likes to bounce around inside my head, flinging his crap at every opportunity. I took a moment to shut him up, and then I thought about this idea that we only get one shot at this whole parenting thing.

And I decided it’s not true.

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Staying Present When the Babysitter Calls Out Sick

By Carla Naumburg • 3 min read

cypress-creek-lakes-splashpad-4c52f

The babysitter called in sick yesterday.

Actually, she texted in sick.

(For the record, I have come to dread any texts that come in before 8 AM.)

I had spent my shower planning out the work I was going to get done once she showed up (so much for mindful awareness, which, as it turns out, I really could have used that day); the list included revising two book chapters, outlining two more, writing a blog post, preparing two presentations, and getting ready for a class I’m teaching next week.

Needless to say, I freaked out just a little bit when I found out the babysitter wasn’t coming.

The work just wasn’t going to happen. I came to that conclusion fairly quickly, and I regrouped fairly quickly and set up a play date at the local spray park. We had a good time, but all the while my unfinished (and, to be honest, unstarted) work was rumbling in the back of my mind. By the time we left the park to head to the grocery store before lunch, it was more than rumbling. It was almost exploding.

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Deciding Not To Go – Mindful Parenting and Decision Making

By Carla Naumburg • 3 min read

retreat

Oh man.

I really wanted to go.

I’ve wanted to go to this retreat for three years. It happens in late August every year in Northern California, and it’s led by two experienced and amazing mindfulness teachers.

It’s six days long. When you add in a day on each end for cross-country travel and a day to visit my family and editors nearby, that’s nine days.

I’ve never been away from my girls for nine straight days.

My husband is incredibly supportive; every year he tells me I should go. He tells me he’ll be fine with the girls, and I know he’s right. He’ll be more than fine. He’ll be great. The girls will mostly be great. Except for when the toll of Mama being away so long starts to wear on them, as it does on me.

My girls are 4 and 5.5 this year. I decided they were old enough, so I checked the refund policy and signed up for the retreat.

I was excited. Thrilled. And completely ambivalent. I just couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that it wasn’t a good idea, that I would be away for too long.

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Planting the Seeds of Mindfulness

By Carla Naumburg • 3 min read

sadgirl

My five-year-old daughter flipped out this morning when she learned that she needed to get a blood test. While I’m not a big fan of tearful wailing at 8:00 AM, I have to admit that flipping out is a perfectly reasonable response to the thought of having a complete stranger stick a needle in your arm. Especially when you’re just five years old.

We’ve been through our fair share of flip-outs, and they usually end with some variation of either snuggles or shouts (from both of us), but this time I tried something new. Perhaps it’s because I actually got eight hours of sleep last night, or perhaps it’s because I’m working on a new book about teaching mindfulness to children, but I actually had an idea.

Earlier this morning, my daughter has asked me if I had meditated after I woke up, and it just so happens that I had, so I knew meditation was on her mind. As she sat at the dining room table, sobbing into her cereal, I told her that one reason I meditate is so I can practice choosing my thoughts, so I can get better at keeping the ones I want and getting ride of the ones I don’t.

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More Book News – Mindfulness for Parents and Children!

By Carla Naumburg • 1 min read

bookOnce again, a few weeks have gone by since I’ve updated the blog. And once again, it’s because I’ve been happily buried in book projects. In addition to Parenting in the Present Moment. It’s currently available for pre-order, and I’m setting up my book tour for next fall and winter now. If you’re interested in having me come speak about mindfulness, parenting, and how to stay focused on what really matters, please be in touch!

In addition, I’ve just begun work on my next book, which will explore how to teach mindfulness to children, with a focus on concrete activities, practices, and tools that parents can use with their kids at home.

The book, tentatively titled, “Stop, Drop, and Breathe: How to Help your Child Focus, Slow Down, and Calm Down Before You Both Have a Total Meltdown,” will differ from other books on the topic in two important ways: First, not only is it intended for parents who want to teach mindfulness to their kids, but it’s going to be based on the experiences and expertise of parents who are already doing it! Many of the current books about mindfulness for children draw from activities and practices used in classrooms and clinics, and while that work is incredibly important, it’s also quite different from the experiences of parents trying to do this stuff at home with their own children.

In addition, the book will not only provide parents with specific ideas to use at home, but it will also encourage parents to learn to identify and build on moments and sources of mindfulness that already exist in their lives. While I certainly believe there are many wonderful ways to teach children to pay attention with acceptance, I also believe the most effective ways are the ones that arise naturally in the course of our children’s daily lives.

The book will be published by New Harbinger Publications in the fall of 2015.

I have already completed a number of interviews with parents, but I am looking for more parents to learn from! If you would like to participate in an email interview about your experience teaching mindfulness practices to your children, please send me a message on Facebook. You don’t need to be an expert; this is an ongoing journey for all of us. You just need to be willing to share your successes and challenges. I am particularly interested in interviewing fathers and parents of older children (pre-teens and teens), but I am looking forward to learning from anyone who is interested in sharing!

For more updates on the upcoming book tour for Parenting in the Present Moment and the progress of Stop, Drop, and Breathe, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter.



 
 

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