After school activities can exhaust parents and children alike but being rather than doing is key to contentment, says a Wellington mother who blogs about bringing up two young children.
Two years ago Julie Louisson began Nurturing Little Souls to share the lessons in parenting she had learned.
It is knowing who we are without our schedules, our achievements, our things and, even, our relationships; that is our source of peace.” she says.
“Parents need to show by example how to live a well-paced life in which we put our sense of who we are at the centre of our lives rather than other people’s expectations.”
Julie says children need to see their parents aren’t frantic 24/7.
“The message that our children have to be working all the time (to achieve a goal, improve a skill, appear positively to others, and generally keep up) is setting them up not for the happiness we expect, but a sense of constantly having to prove themselves.
How to avoid the treadmill
“Being overscheduled during the primary years is a step onto the treadmill of always doing and never being. Being themselves. I’d rather my boys were happily themselves than unhappily keeping up.”
The most important lesson she has learned is to let go of her expectations for her children and her expectations for herself as a parent.
Thoughts like “I really should be doing this” get in the way of just being present with each child, Julie says.
Julie was a primary school teacher when she noticed anxiety and emotional struggles among some of her students.
She wanted to put them at ease.
Believing parents to be the people to make a difference she wondered;
When I have my own children, what could I do to make them more confident and resilient?”
Growing up as a people-pleaser herself she concluded a strong sense of self was the key.
A sensitive child, the expectations she felt from her family, teachers, and society in general to succeed in certain ways resulted in perfectionism and a feeling that she was never good enough.
When younger son Thomas was about two years old Julie started writing and decided to put it into a blog in case it could help other parents and their children.
Her first post was about a child’s worth.
“If kids know their worth it changes the game.”
Blog ideas keep growing
Ideas for blog posts just seemed to keep coming to her and she feels that each one has taught her something to help her be a better parent.
She was also pleased that Thomas, now four, and Jake, seven, are growing up confident and co-operative boys.
Julie says her blogs are a bit over her boys’ heads but she writes mindful that they might read them when they are older.
When Julie talks about ‘soulful’ and ‘spiritual’ it is about her spiritual belief that all people are worthy, that all are equal and are part of something bigger.
Equal but more experienced
Parents are equal to their children but have more experience, she says.
Julie says it is important to take into consideration the child’s voice.
I felt a much deeper capacity to take people as they are once I had children,” she says.
She realised that was how she should treat everyone and felt “something shift in me” when she became a parent.
It brought greater compassion for others, but at the same time she wanted to teach her boys they were part of the whole of humanity and had their part in wider society.
“If you think only of yourself you see yourself as competing against others.”
Know your own worth
She says it is important to know your own worth and what you can contribute.
For Julie, spirituality is about experiencing life rather than being about what a person thinks or believes.
It is also important to have rest and space for oneself as that can be where creative ideas flow.
And the reaction to her blogs?
She has a few ’hardcore supporters’ but generally is only starting to get known.
Recently she was asked to co-facilitate two well-attended evening workshops in the Wellington suburb of Khandallah on respectful strategies for getting more co-operation from your children.
She says the feedback was positive and believes they achieved their goal to give attendees an approach to parenting “that fosters connection and co-operation between them and their children”.
“We showed them how to use discipline not to control their children, but to teach their children life skills that help them to make increasingly better decisions for themselves.”
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To go to Julie’s website click here