My Top Ten Favorite Parenting Resources

By Carla Naumburg

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?

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

By Carla Naumburg

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.

Continue reading… »



Staying Present When the Babysitter Calls Out Sick

By Carla Naumburg

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.

Continue reading… »



Deciding Not To Go – Mindful Parenting and Decision Making

By Carla Naumburg

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

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

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.



Acceptance and Mindful Parenting: What Does It Really Look Like?

By Carla Naumburg

CS_GirlHuggingMom_388499_7

One of the core ideas of mindfulness is acceptance. When we adopt a mindful stance towards life, we make a conscious choice to accept whatever is happening in the moment without judging it or wishing it was different.

Thus, one of the core ideas of mindful parenting is about accepting whatever is happening for our children or ourselves, without judging it or wishing it was different.

I don’t know about you, but there are many, many times each day when I wish something about my own parenting (such as my tendency to snap at my girls when they throw tantrums) or my daughters (their bickering, whining, and nagging come to mind) were very, very different. The reality is that I often do want things to be other than they are. I want to be a calmer, kinder parent, and I want them to be better communicators and problem-solvers.

At first glance, this does not seem to be a particularly “mindful” stance.

Continue reading… »



Put Down the Fork: A Mindful Parenting Mantra

By Carla Naumburg

fruits-forks

A few weeks ago, I was on a retreat as part of a year-long course I recently took on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. (For the record, the course meets in person in the Boston area and online for those of you around the world, and it’s fantastic. If you’re a mental health professional interested in integrating mindfulness into your practice, I highly recommend you check it out.) Anyway, we spent about 36 hours of the retreat in silence, during which time our goal was to meditate on whatever we were doing: sitting, walking, washing dishes, and eating.

At each meal, I tried to focus on eating slowly by chewing carefully and paying attention to the flavor, smell, and texture of each bite. This doesn’t come naturally to me; even before I had kids, I tended to shovel my food in as though a baby was crying or a toddler was nagging me to wipe her tushy, and once I became a mother, well, things just went downhill. If I wasn’t careful on the retreat, I quickly reverted back to my habit of speed eating, even though there wasn’t a kid in sight.

And then I remembered a tip I had read somewhere about how to eat more slowly: put down your fork between bites. As I thought about it, I realized that I can’t be fully present for any one bite if I’ve got one hand wrapped around a fork, poised to take the next one. It’s taken me a long time to fully understand this, and I’m still fully figuring it out, but what we’re doing with our bodies at any given moment really does influence how our brains are working (or not). Merely holding a utensil in my hand triggered my mind to think about what was coming next, which meant I wasn’t thinking about the bite I was working on.

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What Compassion Looks Like: The Lesson of the Flowers (A Mindful Parenting Guest Post)

By Carla Naumburg

ParadisePlain_cvr_fnl.indd

I am absolutely honored to host Karen Maezen Miller on the blog today. Her writing never ceases to dazzle and inspire me.

 

They don’t make it past spring, the camellia flowers, but oh, what a beautiful spring. Their blooms appear in one energetic burst, when the winter’s color has dulled to gray. They arrive when it’s dark and cold, and you’ve ceased to believe in the promise of April or May. They pop up when time has frozen and you have turned blue, yes blue, with the sad certainty that nothing ever changes around here. You see a wink of color, and turn to see a lady dressed in red. She tosses off her beauty in the hour of its perfection, and the flowers carpet the ground where you walk.

Flowers are love’s perfect offering. They do not ask to be appreciated. They expect nothing in return. They just let go.

I don’t have to do anything in my garden and yet there are flowers appearing all the time: azalea, jasmine and wisteria in spring; water and day lilies in summer; camellia, bird of paradise, and orange blossoms in winter; floribunda roses and gardenias nearly all year long. Even the dandelions count. By some mysterious and unerring hand they all appear right on time. They seed the fruit. They feed the bees and butterflies. They sweeten the breeze. They are subtle and selfless, here and gone, appearing and disappearing, part and parcel of life’s perennial display. By this definition everything is a flower; by this lesson, all is love. Life is indeed love, continually pouring itself into itself—for my benefit and delight, I might add—but by my egocentric thinking I can be blind to the gift.

Continue reading… »



Mindful Parenting: It’s All About Learning to Pay Attention

By Carla Naumburg
Sometimes I just need to pay attention to my coffee.

Sometimes I just need to pay attention to my coffee.

If I had to pick just one rule of parenting, it wouldn’t be “never wake a sleeping baby” or “just love your children enough and it will all work out.” It wouldn’t even be “there are no rules.” Rather, it would be this:

Learn how to pay attention, and what to pay attention to.

Many of us move through life assuming that we either have the ability to pay attention or we don’t, and if we don’t (or, more likely, if our energetic six year old child doesn’t) then we need to medicate ourselves (or our little one) back into paying attention.

Actually, most of us move through life without ever paying attention to whether or not we pay attention.

The reality is that paying attention is a skill we can cultivate. In fact, it is a skill we need to cultivate, especially once we become parents. Our brains just aren’t designed to pay attention to any one thing—they’re composed of about a billion little neurons, happily firing away, willy-nilly (yes, that’s a scientific term), with blatant disregard to whether or not we actually need to focus on something.

In addition, our minds are constantly scanning the environment for modern-day versions of saber-toothed tigers that might eat our babies, even in relatively safe environments. (Since I became a mother, I can spot a butter knife too close to the edge of a counter from a mile away.) To top it all off, almost everything in our lives, from smartphones that won’t stop beeping and flashing to curious kiddos who insist on peppering us with questions from the other side of the shower curtain, conspires against our ability to keep our attention on just one thing.

Continue reading… »



 
 

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