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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Food For Thoughtful Parenting--Guest Post

I am thrilled to have a guest post from my dear friend, Tara Keppler.  Tara and I met 13 years ago at a breastfeeding support group in San Francisco.   I was immediately drawn to her.  Despite being a first time mother she was so calm and cool.   Throughout the years I have admired her relaxed and creative parenting style.  It is no surprise to me to see that she has co-authored a book, food for thoughtful parenting  which provides creative strategies and useful tactics to help busy parents make the most of the time they spend with their kids.

Beginning ‘round about March, I start a list in the back of my At-A-Glance calendar (yup, I still use the
one with paper pages) of gift ideas for the holidays. For me working on a gift list (and making some purchases) throughout the year means I’m less keyed up as we round the Thanksgiving bend and head down the Holiday homestretch.  And of course I have many other lists that see me through: cards, meals, party guests, etc. etc. Pretty simple idea – lists let me be better prepared, and better prep always yields better outcomes.

In our new book, food for thoughtful parenting, my co-author, Nina and I took this idea and applied it to parenting.  We collected our best parenting moves and “mantras” and organized them into lists believing that having these ideas at the ready allows us to be a bit more prepared in the often very reactive space of parenting young children.

As the season ramps up, here are a few of our favorite holiday-flavored ideas from our book to help keep the chaos and stress at bay during this “most wonderful time of the year.”

1. Back Off
2. Share Real Work
3. Say Yes When You Can

Back Off – By this we mean let your kids experience their own relationships with others sans your (over) involvement. In this season, it means consider letting Grampa gift a crazy-pricey princess dress to your little one. Yes, we all want to manage the things that come into our homes, but embracing even the slightest bit of flexibility could allow your kids a special connection to someone.

Share real work. We love this simple idea that often yields surprisingly gratifying results. Kids really feel valuable and connected when they share in the activities that support a household, whether it’s cooking or cleaning, gardening or laundry. When better to “share real work” than when there is oh-so-much to do? During this time try thinking of doing less for your kids and more with them.

Say Yes When You Can – It can be dismaying how frequently the knee-jerk response to children’s desires is “no.”  If you find yourself spending too much time in the “no” place, try filtering kids’ requests with “can I say yes here?” Sure, we’re all nagged by the fear that this kind of general indulgence might lead to bad habits and spoiled kids, but we’ve found that in this frame our kids actually hear the “nos” better, since they are less frequent and more meaningful.

During these chaotic days often filled with errands and crowds and waiting, it’s astonishing how a little “yes” in an unexpected place (“wow … Mom usually doesn’t let me take a lollipop…”) can help get through a rough spot or bank some good will for later. “

So this holiday season, why not try it? Back Off, Share Real Work, and Say Yes When You Can. Sending wishes for a holiday season filled with many joyful moments with your family.

If you'd like to get more information on Tara & Nina's book and see a few examples of their must-have lists, visit food for thoughtful parenting.

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