Saturday, July 24, 2010

Children can teach us so much about freedom

I was watching my daughter today, playing on the front yard with some neighbor friends, all of who had taken their shoes off and were running around the sprinkler, screaming with joy.

When I was a little girl, I never had a chance to run around barefoot or play outside without shoes. Since those days, I had never been able to walk around in the grass, at the park or in my own backyard without wearing shoes. I have to be honest, there’s a part of me that has always been jealous at the sight of my 8 year-old daughter pulling off her shoes and socks whenever she can. When she was about 9 months old, she’d take her shoes off and throw one (and only one!) out the car window if it was open. She has always loved to wriggle and wiggle her toes and she delights in walking barefoot in the sand, on the grass or simply enjoys the feeling of dirt under her feet.

There’s such relaxing pleasure on walking around barefoot, isn’t there? It’s free, portable and easy to do. My daughter insisted the other night that we go out on the deck and paint our toenails. Grass is not the only thing my feet seem to reject: any hard surface is fair game.

I tried to explain to her how I wasn’t used to walking outside without shoes and how it really made me feel weird. I couldn’t help but laugh when she said to me, dead-serious: “Mom feeling weird is your choice, you know?

Well, you’ll be happy to know that I am no longer the “feet-too-tender” mom: I went outside with her and slowly started to enjoy the freedom of walking barefoot. I made the decision to not feel weird and to have a different experience thanks to the example of my own child. I am going to need time to feel totally comfortable: it’s definitely a work in progress!!

Without shoes now as I write this, I have to admit I don’t see the world quite in the same way. I recognize that as silly as it sounds, I am enjoying this new found adventure with my daughter, enjoying the world of sensory freedom she has invited me to explore with her every day!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Want to parent better? Here are 5 mistakes to avoid!

Ok, so it's time to come clean: I've decided to share with you some of the pitfalls and mistakes from my own parenting journey. I have to confessed that at some point or another I have fallen prey to one or all of these mistakes when parenting my very active and strong-willed child. The fact that I coach parents and have been trained and supported by some of the best experts in the field, doesn’t mean I don’t find myself struggling with the very things that bring moms to my practice.

So here there are (in no particular order):

1)    Over read and under done!
So many of us are life-long learners. We enjoy learning new techniques, new ways of doing things. We are always on top of the latest book, seminar, cd or PBS show on how to do a particular thing.  We can quote every edition by a particular expert on a particular subject and feel pretty proud quoting them to our friends and family at the last family gathering. I know all too good about that. I am one of those moms, over read and under done! As I coach moms that find themselves in this very same place, I have learned that at some point the searching, the learning and the reading needs to give way to action. Decide what of all that you have read serves you best and discard the rest. Decide to take one baby step, one single action that will move you forward, closer to the family life you deserve. Don’t wait for the next edition of the greatest parenting book out there!

2)    Going it alone:
Martin Luther King Jr had a posse… Mahatma Gandhi had a posse. Mother Theresa had a posse. President Obama has a posse. We are not meant to walk this wacky world of motherhood alone. I know that early on my parenting journey, before I discovered the power of having my own “tribe” of other moms to support my efforts of being the best mom I could be, I really thought that I was all my child needed. After leaving corporate America and after a very successful Engineering career, I felt that I should be competent and confident enough to plow through motherhood without showing weakness or neediness and asking for help or support. I don’t know about you, but I worried that someone was going to judge me for not knowing everything I needed to know to be a successful mom. I look back at that “me” that felt inadequate and scared and have nothing but compassion for her because I understand now the beauty of reaching out and asking AND accepting support!

3)    Being invested in how things have been:
How many of us know “how things are”?  Just the way things are and have always being? Sometimes we have too much invested on the past and the way things have been before. We never stop and think about that our expectations also play a part in the outcomes that we have. If we believe that things are they way they are and will never change, then, we don’t have the mental and emotional energy to invest in considering the way things could be. Here’s where that very common idea of positive thinking comes into play

4)    Not trusting your natural instincts:
As a species, we have been having babies and raising children mainly as the primary care providers for thousands of years. We hear the stories about our grandmothers, and great-grandmothers having children in the fields and carrying on with the work they had to do. So motherhood should be as natural as breathing right? Well, in many ways it is. The beauty of human beings is that we all carry with us the basics to move the next generation over. But we also have something I consider much more powerful than any genetic drive: we have an inner knowing, an inner compass that has been place in our hearts by a force we can’t even begin to comprehend for the sole purpose of guiding our very unique journeys as moms. The longer we get away from support and our own personal tribes, the scarier it gets to listen to that voice that tells us when something is wrong and when something is really not. We start forgetting that gift we were given the moment we decided to become mothers. I encourage you to tap into that “mother knows best” switch and start trusting that you know your kids best. You are indeed the expert on your kid. And although many people, experts or not, will have opinions about what you should or shouldn’t do, you and only you live with the consequences of the choices that you make. They will impact your life and the life of your kids: make sure to listen to your inner voice, your mom intuition!

5)    Having clarity about your dreams for your family:
I can’t stress this one enough. We find ourselves in the middle of situations when it comes to our family life and we would swear we don’t know how we got there. The truth is that even when we don’t set an intention or a goal for the way we want our parenting experience to be, we are setting the intention to not have an intention. I know many of us subscribe to the theory that for our own sanity, many times it is best to go with the flow. I invite to consider that sometimes going with the flow is not the best way to go. I always remember what my grandma used to say: “Honey, only dead fish go with the flow”. And we don’t want to be the dead, smelly fish, right? If you are feeling stuck on this crazy journey of motherhood and you are ready to move forward, I would like to suggest that you examine your dreams and desires you have set up for your family. Make sure to look closely: I am always amazed how my true intentions are often hidden in the shadows. Ask yourself and take some time to answer: How have my dreams and previous actions produced the experiences I am having now with my kids, with my significant other? How would my life be different if I decided to shift my focus and my actions?

This is a good place where a life coach or a parenting coach like me can help. The role of a coach is to guide you and support you, empower you through the process of making your dreams come through. We don’t walk the path for you. We can’t. But the difference between a book and your very own cheerleading squad is that there’s not such a thing as a one size fits all. Your kids, your family, your life are as individual as your fingerprints. There’s great information out there on how to support a mom on the greatest job of her life: motherhood. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for using the resources available. But unless you decide that we are committed to having a different experience, you’ll tend to argue for the way things are. As an outsider, a coach like me has no investment on keeping your story going because we can see past the story and the details, to the brilliance that is you. It becomes important to set up a strategy that works for you and your family.

I invite you to make choices that honor who you are and begin living in the fullness of who you were meant to be and while you come from that place of integrity, you’ll start unfolding the plan Life has for you: the chance to be the mom you were always meant to be!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

5 suggestions for creating a fun Summer

Summer is here which means the kids will be out of school and, unless you have your kids in full-time summer care, they will suddenly be home more. And I mean a lot more. The thought of summer conjures up all sorts of images for most of us: iced tea, good books, the beach, swimming pools, lazy dinners and picnics. But, if you have young children, the reality can look more like this: whiny voices proclaiming boredom, wet and dirty footprints on the kitchen floor and thoughts of all of the things you need and want to get done but can’t seem to find time for.

With this in mind, here are my top 5 suggestions for creating a summer that will allow you to enjoy yourself and your kids:
  1. Create some structure.
    Kids crave structure and even though they might groan, creating a schedule sets expectations and helps you avoid the constant questioning about when certain things are going to happen (like when the video games can be turned on). For the past several summers, I’ve included reading time, one-on-one mommy time, chore time and yes, even screen time, into our days. It’s all very flexible, of course, but having a loose schedule ensures that we never accidentally end up with a full day of nothing to do.
  2. Plan some fun.
    It’s summer, after all, and if you remember back to when you were a kid, summer is full of fun possibilities. Talk to your kids about what will make the summer a success. Arrange time to go to an amusement park or the beach or take a picnic to your local park. Plan a day where you pretend you are visiting your own town and do all of the touristy things you never take the time to do. Put those activities on your calendar now so you know they will happen. Plus, having them scheduled will give you all something to look forward to.
  3. Get some help.
    The help I’m talking about includes day camps, babysitters, play dates and child swaps. Especially if you work from home, you need to have some time you can count on to be productive. You and your kids also need breaks from each other so make sure you have some (or all) of these items in place before that first day of summer vacation and you’ll ensure a smooth transition.
  4. Relax!
    Summer is a time to enjoy yourselves. Find time to read under the shade of a tree. Enjoy the fresh berries that are available this time of year. Run under a sprinkler. Camp in your backyard. And roast marshmallows, even if it’s just on your grill. Unless you live somewhere that is warm and sunny year round, this is your only opportunity of the year to do some of these things. Do them and have a blast while you are at it.
Before you know it, summer will be over, the kids will be back in school and you’ll have the joy of knowing you created a wonderful summer vacation for all of you.

Erin Baebler is passionate about working with women to help them explore, grow and share their gifts with the world. She recognizes that we all have talents and interests we can use to impact our worlds and the world at large. She began coaching in 2002 and has loved every minute of it! She's trained and certified through The Coaches Training Institute and has an additional certification through The International Coach Federation, the professional association of personal and business coaches. She lives in Seattle with my family. Learn more about Erin at