Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Parenting Today ~ Finding Joy in Today's Families

Chrissy was recently interviewed by Emily, editor extraordinaire of Newburyport Macaroni Kidin preparation for an upcoming free parenting workshop hosted by the Greater Newburyport Mothers & Families Club and sponsored by Newburyport Macaroni Kid.  We wanted to be sure to share this interview here on our blog and invite those of you that are local to come and join us for this free public event. 
“It's happened to all of us. Despite giving your toddler plenty of warning about an impending departure, the child has a tantrum in front of everyone when it's time to leave. That's totally normal from a developmental standpoint, but you feel anxious and embarrassed. You bear the weight of your child’s misbehavior as a direct reflection on your inadequate parenting. We all feel this crazy unspoken pressure to have it all together - it’s no wonder we’re all feeling isolated and exhausted.” (Early-education specialist Chrissy Rupp, owner of Harmony Natural Learning Center in Newbury)

Announcing "Parenting Today: Finding Joy in Today's Families," a new parenting workshop hosted by the Greater Newburyport Mothers & Families Club and moderated by Chrissy Rupp. This free public event will take place on March 4 from 9:30-11:45 AM at the Newburyport Public Library. We caught up with Chrissy to find out more about the workshop and how it might help parents feel a little less judged and a little more joy in their day-to-day lives.

We caught up with Chrissy to find out more about the workshop and how it might help parents feel a little less judged and a little more joy in their day-to-day lives.

Newburyport Macaroni Kid: Based on your description of that mom, it sounds like you've been there, too.

Chrissy Rupp:
 Oh, absolutely. My own girls (ages 3 and 8) remind me daily that raising small human beings is no walk in the park - and I have a Master’s Degree in child development and parent education! In fact, I was absolutely steamrolled by my first child and our whole family suffered for it. It wasn’t until I finally got my head around the trickiest aspect of parenting - the dreaded "D-word" - that our family finally came back into a place of better balance.

MK: The "D-word"?
Chrissy: "Discipline." Research shows that there is a real lack of joy in parenting today. What I've learned both from personal experience and professional observation is that there's a direct correlation between lack of joy and lack of a sense of control. 
That mom with the non-compliant child doesn't want to make a scene. Setting a reasonable limit is absolutely going to lead to conflict. I speak from personal experience when I say that if she’s uncomfortable with that conflict, she’s going to hesitate. It's in that pause – "how am I going to handle this?" – that the child feels just a little more power then they should. ("Oh, I’ve got some control here.") That misplaced sense of power, repeated over and over again can grow into bigger problems with self-regulation.

MK: What are you hoping to accomplish with this workshop?
Chrissy: I am now certain that as we learn to be a confident leader for our child, we will begin to restore a natural order in our homes. This order leads to peace and peace offers more room for the joy that we all desire. Effective discipline is so much less about what tactic you use and so much more about a healthy mindset. I hope this workshop will help parents begin to deconstruct some of the confusing and misguided aspects of our current parenting culture and begin to empower them in their role as a leader for their child. 

In future workshops we’ll tackle the nuances of individual temperament and how the emergence of will requires us to shift our role are parents. We even have a great session in the works on how we can simply our schedules and our home environments to create a more natural and joyful family rhythm.

Hosted by the Greater Newburyport Mothers & Families Club, the free workshop "Parenting Today: Finding Joy in Today's Families" will be held Saturday, March 4, from 9:30-11:45 AM at the Newburyport Public Library. Newburyport Macaroni Kid is a proud sponsor!
Parenting Today ~ Finding Joy in Today's Families is now a three part series!
                             Part I     Joy & Discipline
                             Part II    Building on Temperament & Will
                             Part III   Becoming the Architects of our Families

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Monday, February 13, 2017

On Parenting

A year ago this month, I was interviewed by Elizabeth Brown, the blogger extraordinaire who shares about her life in New England on her lifestyle blog titled Newburyport Daytripper.  Elizabeth was curious about simplifying her family life and wondering how to navigate parenting when social media seems to be bombarding families with what they should or should not be doing.  I was thrilled that she reached out to me for a Q & A and thought that I would share it here on our blog!

Q.  If a parent was to make one change today, to make their life (in regards to parenting) simpler, what change would you suggest?
A.  Do less and observe more. Spend time just watching your child. Find out what he is truly interested in and passionate about. Have real conversations with him about these things where you spend most of the time listening. Spend time out in nature with your child, where you are just being in nature.  Stay away from the idea that you have to be your child’s entertainment. Show your child what your interests and passions are. Don’t think that you can’t take your child to the art museum because he won’t be interested. Show him how interested you are, and watch him relish in your delight.
Q. Can you tell me a bit about the concept of Simplicity Parenting? 
A. Simplicity Parenting is just that, parenting simply. It is a way of creating a family life that allows space for connection, creativity, and relaxation. The idea is to really slow things down and create a less-is-more environment. It focuses on four realms: environment, rhythm, schedule, and technology. To keep it simple, here are four statements followed by quotes from Kim John Payne the author of the book Simplicity Parenting.
1. Get rid of stuff.  “If you simplify the environment, it brings immediate calm.”
2. Set priorities. “When you do the same thing in the same way, warmly and kindly, everything becomes easier.”
3. Release the pressure. “Think back on moments in your childhood that you cherish. It’s never the endless amounts of soccer practice, or the trips to Disney World. Instead, it’s sitting on a rock, watching a river flow. It’s making a connection to nature, a connection to friends, and a connection to oneself.”
4. Unplug “Parents are in a hurry to introduce kids to be world citizens, but we need to start them off believing it’s a beautiful world.”
Q. What would you say to the mother or father who is reading this and thinking, oh no, I’ve been doing it all wrong! 
A. I would say, “NO, YOU ARE NOT!” I’m going to quote Mr. Rogers here, “Some days, doing ‘the best we can' may fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn’t perfect on any front and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else.” We must stop creating this self-doubt in ourselves. Take a moment at the end of each day and reflect on what happened. Think about what felt great to you and celebrate it. Then think about what felt lousy and what the circumstances were surrounding that feeling. Take a deep breath and know that you did the best that you could in that moment. Think through what you will do the next time to help alleviate this situation. Maybe it will be leaving a bit earlier for your doctor’s appointment so that your child will have a moment to chase that butterfly. Or perhaps it’s deciding on the school outfit the night before with no negotiations in the morning. Two words that hold a lot of meaning on this parenting journey: be consistent.
Q. How about the mother or father who is feeling down on themselves for having a bad day and maybe lost their “cool”? 
A. No matter what anybody tells you, we all lose our cool sometimes. Give yourself grace! When things quiet down, talk with your child about what happened and apologize for your misstep. Tell your child what you are going to do to help make sure that doesn’t happen again. This “repair” work is so important as it helps your child see that you make mistakes also, and shows her the process you go through to fix it.
Q. I have a theory that many parents in my generation doubt their parenting skills because of the constant stream of information, in regards to raising children, on social media. Do you agree?  
A. I completely agree that parents can feel easily lost amidst the bombardment of media telling them what a good parent should or should not do. I believe that parents should always trust their own instincts. You know what is best for your child and your family better than anyone else. Take some time to sit down with your partner and talk about what you want your family life to look and feel like. A conversation about what you cherished in your own childhood may help to guide you in creating this family life.  From there, think about your daily routine, the tasks and errands that you have to accomplish. Create a daily rhythm that allows for you and your children to accomplish these tasks comfortably. Think about this rhythm as a time for you and your children to breathe in and breathe out.  Breathe in times are when you come together as a family, like sitting down for breakfast or reading books at bedtime.  Breathe out times are for individual pursuits, like quiet reading alone or block building with a sibling while mom tidies up the kitchen or makes a phone call.  A quote that I have posted on my refrigerator to remind myself to be confident in my parenting is by Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting.  He says, “As parents, we’re the architects of our family’s daily lives. We build a structure for those we love by what we choose to do together, and how we do it. You can see what a family holds dear from the pattern of their everyday lives.” So to sum it up, turn off the talk shows, stop reading parenting books and listening to podcasts and hunker down with your own family, for it is only you that knows what your best family life looks like.
Q. One thought I have had is that we are making parenting harder than it needs to be?  For example, mothers, even those who work, spend more time interacting with their children than mothers who stayed home with their children in 1965.
A. Well, according to research, parenting is very different from parenting many years ago because we are expected to do more with our kids than our parents did with us.  Many parents today are striving to become parenting experts, where they do everything better than their parents did. With Pinterest just a click away, our birthday parties are becoming hollywood productions and Facebook has become this glossy place where family lives are picture perfect. What we need to do is take it down a notch! There are many things that we are doing better say, for example, our desire to create an emotional connection with our children where they feel respected for who they are as a person. This doesn’t mean that we have to spend every waking moment with them. Children need time to just be, to explore and create without guidance, to think and discover on their own. We, as parents, do not need to guide our children through every single thing.  The best times for interaction are during caregiving times – getting dressed in the morning, eating dinner, and bedtime to name a few. In between those times, parents and children should pursue their own interests and tasks like creating art, tinkering with legos, writing in a journal, completing homework, reading emails or doing the laundry. Creating space during the week for special family times, like Board Game Night or Movie Night, will allow parents to feel OK with the time spent on their own pursuits, knowing that during these special times there will be no distractions.
Q. How do you encourage parents to find time for themselves, when the majority of their day revolves around the care of small children?
A. It is important that your cup remains full so that you have the emotional energy to give to your children from day to day. It may not be possible to get away for hours, but think about the moments in your day when you may carve out a few moments to yourself. It may be as simple as washing your hands as you gaze out the window or going into the bathroom, splashing cool water on your face and then applying some lovely smelling facial moisturizer while your little one is arranging her dolls. Maybe it’s waking up a half an hour before your children so that you can actually finish a cup of coffee while it’s still hot. Think about what you can do for yourself during nap times that doesn’t involve chores. Take twenty minutes to read that book that is sitting on your nightstand or listening to the music you want to listen to.  As your children get older, you will be able to get back to the things that you once enjoyed. Don’t think of your life before children as your long lost friend, you will be found again and you will be even better.
Q. Any recommended books or authors that might be interesting to parents?
A.  Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More       Secure Kids by Kim John Payne
      Baby Knows Best: Raising a Confident and Resourceful Child, The RIE Way by Deborah Carlisle       Solomon
      Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie           Kohn
      Slow Family Living: 75 Ways to Slow Down, Connect, and Create More Joy by Bernadette Noll
*Want to know more?  Join the Harmony Community and 
take part in our Parenting Workshop Series.  
For more information, click HERE!

With gratitude,

Sunday, January 15, 2017

And now the walls go up...

Please forgive the long span of time between posts here on the blog!  The last post shared the Little White House tumbling down!  Now we are ready to share that the walls are going up on our brand new classroom space!
*This will be the front entrance to the classroom!  A staircase, leading down from the parking lot,
will be added along the side of the building.

*This shows the windows that will overlook our beautiful backyard and the back door.
Our classroom space for our Barefoot Creators Preschoolers is coming to life and all of us here at Harmony are so very excited!  As we can now walk through the space, we are having fun thinking about paint colors, light fixtures and furniture placement!  We are imagining all of the learning that will be happening through play and letting our creative juices flow as we think carefully about every square inch of this beautiful classroom.  

*The view through the front door.
It was very important to us to have as much natural light as possible flow into the space and these windows along the back of the building will do just that. 

With this view, the children will be able to keep close eye on our garden and our chickens and we will be able to observe the changing beauty of the outdoors.  With easy access to the outdoors, the children and teachers will be able to take advantage of our beautiful outdoor spaces throughout their mornings together.  

We are all excited for what the 2017-18 school year has in store!  Enrollment for our Willows Transitional Toddler Program and our Barefoot Creators Preschool Program is now open to the community.  If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find information on our website HERE and HERE.  For those of you in our local community, we would like to invite you to our Preschool Open House on Saturday, January 21st 9:30-11:00.  If you are unable to attend the Open House, we are happy to schedule individual tours.  You can contact us HERE.  

To our Harmony Community, THANK YOU for your ongoing love and support.  

With gratitude,