Getting Ready for Starting School - 12 Great Tips to Make the Transition an Easeful Nourishing One for Your Kids and You

Summer is far from over and I hope you’re savouring it and getting chance to nourish yourself as well. Yoga nidra is one great way to replenish energy stores if you find your patience decreasing and your sugar cravings increasing!

One favourite memory last week for me was sitting around the fire at North Beach Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge (amazing campsite by the way!) reading a book I’m loving, smelling the fresh cedar air and listening to my brother Chris (the kids crazy uncle), his boys and my kids laughing and playing cards and chatting together. It was one of those, “wouldn’t change a thing moments'“ …

Dr. Laura Markham is a parenting educator that I like and this is her countdown to gently ease you and your family toward an enjoyable first day of school. Most are more for younger kids but I’ll be using a bunch with my 12 year old who is going to a new school this year.

* Note: I have added some naturopathic tips from my experience.

12. Start moving bedtime a tiny bit earlier every night. It's impossible to impose an early bedtime cold turkey on a child who slept in that morning and has the "school starts tomorrow" jitters.  One way to shift the schedule is to start having kids read in bed for half an hour or more before lights out, which is also good for their reading skills. (For younger kids, read with or to them.) Wake late sleepers a bit earlier each day. If your child is having a hard time falling asleep, be sure they're getting plenty of daily roughhousing that results in laughter, as well as outside physical activity.

*Chamomile tea is one simple child friendly way to help get into an earlier-to-bed rhythm that you could use the week or so before school begins. If your child is older melatonin can be used short term as well. I carry a mint flavoured low dose melatonin spray bottle in our health kit that our family uses as needed for jetlag/resetting sleep rhythms.

11. Tour the school, or at least the playground, with your child. If allowed, let your little one use the school bathroom. If your child will be walking alone, practice the walk several times.

10. Introduce your child to the teacher if at all possible. If you can, take a picture of your child with the teacher, put it on your fridge at your child's eye level, and talk to her like she's part of the family. "I know you'll love having Joseph in your class, Ms. Brown."

9. Set up playdates with a couple of other kids in the class so she feels more connected when she walks in that first day. If possible, arrange to walk with one of them (and their parent) the first morning.

8. Prepare your child emotionally.  Read books about the grade he'll be entering.  Describe to him what that first day will be like, how the drop-off will go, who will pick him up, etc. Listen to his worries. Reassure and brainstorm with him how he could handle those issues. Make up a "goodbye" rhyme or ritual and practice it.  Give him a laminated family photo for his backpack.

7. Decide any changes in family routines such as extracurriculars, chores or no screen time on weekdays, and talk with your child about the new routine.

6. Let your child choose her own school supplieswhether from around your house or from the store, and ready them in her backpack or bag.

5. Organize a place for each child to keep school books, supplies, backpacks, lunchbox etc. Set up a homework spot for your child to work (always in close proximity to the rest of the family rather than off in her own room.)

4. Organize paperwork with a different colored folder for each child to hold school forms and papers to be signed. If you don't have a family calendar that kids can read, set one up on a whiteboard.

3. Have kids pick out their outfits and backpacks the day before school starts, and make lunches for the next day. Don't wait until evening when kids are tired and need your attention to soothe their last-minute jitters.

* I like the Flower Essence Rescue Remedy to put in their water.

2. Have an end of summer family celebration the evening before school starts with an early dinner, and toast the highlights of the summer. Then go around the table and share appreciations:  "I appreciate that Michael helped in the garden this summer" ... "I appreciate that Sara worked so hard to learn to ride a bike."  Finish with "Looking Forwards,"  such as "I'm looking forward to when you come home from your first day of first grade and I get to hear all about it!"

1. Go to bed early yourself  the night before school starts so you'll be up early, rested and ready in the morning to deal patiently with any last-minute jitters or minor crises. Plan to leave the house 15 minutes before you need to -- at the worst, they'll have time to play at the school playground. And don't forget that "first day of school" photo!

* My kids are older now and love looking back at the first day photos where they pose with a piece of paper that says, “ First day of grade . When I grow up I want to be a ________.”

Dr. Monika Herwig ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, Acupuncturist, Yoga Nidra and Yoga Therapy Facilitator, mother of 2, and a Trailblazer with Happy Healthy Women in Canmore, Alberta. She practices Mind-Body Medicine especially around Adrenal, Gut, Hormonal and Mental Health in her clinic and leads Wellness Workshops and Retreats locally and internationally. Dr. Monika supports heart centered women shine their light and share their gifts with the world without burning out through whole life health and a functional medicine approach to wellness. She is especially passionate about supporting moms and moms-to-be and runs yearly Fairy Nature Camps for her clients’ children (and herself!). To book an appointment call (403) 609-8385 or go to www.opentowellness.ca.

Sweet Breakfast Ideas

Pear Crisp
A delicious and easy recipe that can be served as a breakfast dish or even dessert.

Ingredients:

1 cup flour (rice, amaranth, millet) 
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ cup oil
¼ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup chopped cashews
2 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. maple syrup or brown rice syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
5 cups bite size sliced pears
 

Preparation:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
-Mix flour and salt together in a bowl. Add oil and sweetener; mix well. Stir in nuts and set aside. 
-In a small bowl combine water, syrup and vanilla; set aside. 
-Slice fruit and place in a lightly oiled pie pan or an 8 by 8 inch baking dish. 
-Pour the liquid mixture over the fruit and toss gently. 
-Spoon the flour nut mixture evenly over the top of the fruit. 
-Cover and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more to crisp the topping.
 

Immune Support Breakfast
 

 Ingredients:
(makes a big batch)
4 cups rolled grain*
2 cups oat bran
½ cup dried fruit*
1 cup raw nuts*
1 cup sunflower seeds*
1 cup milk thistle seeds
1 cup lecithin

 Preparation:

Grind nuts and seeds. Mix all ingredients. Soak serving in rice milk, soy milk, nut milk, cow’s milk or water for at least 30 minutes before serving. Store unused portion in the refrigerator.

For additional protein, add yogurt or tofu.

*Vary the types of seeds, nuts, dried fruit and rolled grains you use till you create a mix you absolutely love!

 

Oatmeal Waffles

Ingredients:

7 c. quick oats
7 c. soy or nut milk (see recipe below)
1/3 c. good quality oil
2 tsp. salt

Preparation:

Combine in a large bowl, Mix and let stand 8 hours or until thick.  Bake 6-9 minutes in hot waffle iron.

 

Nut Crust Berry Pie for Breakfast! 

Gratitude to the Folks at The Green Door Restaurant for the base recipe and to Dorise for introducing me.

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 350

Nut Crust
1 cup large flake rolled oats
½ cup almonds
1 cup barley/millet flour – you can use less flour and add more ground almonds too – experiment! (-:
¼ tsp cinnamon
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/6 - 1/3 cup maple syrup

Preparation:
Oil and flour one 10 inch pie plate. Grind oats, almonds, salt and cinnamon and put in a bowl. Add the oil and maple syrup and mix it into a soft dough. Press into pie plate. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool while preparing filling.

Filling

4 cups berries, fresh or frozen
¼ cup agar flakes (high in calcium – in seaweed section at stores)
2 cups juice (I usually add a little water to the frozen blueberries/strawberries and then use that liquid)
1/3 cup arrowroot
¼ cup maple syrup – I’ve used half this and it’s still super yum.

Preparation:

Mix the arrowroot and maple syrup in a small bowl and set aside. Heat the liquid and add agar and stir. When the agar dissolves fully, add arrowroot and maple syrup mix.  Stir until slightly thick and then add the blueberries and mix well. Pour into baked crust and refrigerate until set: about 2 hours.

Enjoy !

 

 

 

Creative Discipline: Tips for Parents of Children 2 - 7 years old

Here's an article that some moms were curious about that I wrote when my kids were younger that I thought I'd repost.

Sometimes it is hard to maintain a sense of connection and warmth with our children when they are not doing what we want them to be doing. It is plain frustrating for us. Young children are by nature imaginative, messy, immature, unreasonable, in the moment, energetic and emotionally unregulated - their brain doesn’t have the capacities of an adult brain and won’t for some time …

Understanding where children are at developmentally and how they learn can help the loving AND guiding (disciplining) of your child to come from the SAME gentle place in your heart.

Here are some principles that take into account how they best learn to support you in this:

And remember it's about connection not perfection!

# 1. Use movement and redirection at the same time.  Since children are in an imitative stage of learning adding movement to a request helps them do what needs to be done. For example, instead of standing still and saying “let’s go”, walking a little as you reach your hand out and say “we’re heading out now” can work better. Kids like things that look fun so make it look inviting and engaging. I found sometimes that singing what we needed to do worked well to make it seem inviting and have them want to join along without so much resistance. (Using the tune "Here we go 'round the mulberry bush" to whatever we were doing seemed to work like magic in the younger years!)

# 2. Talk less. Try to get in the habit of stopping yourself with your speech when you are getting into a lot of explaining. Slow down and ask yourself, "Is it necessary?" and when you do speak to say what your child needs to do keep it simple with only one request at a time. In general, remember that your child lives in their imagination and so speak in this picture language really meets your child. They live in the dreamy theta brainwave state and think in pictures and story consciousness. “Let’s put the toys to bed now” and go around together cleaning up/”putting toys to bed’. Again, remember that they learn by imitation (copying) so work with this by simply modelling what you want them to do rather than a lot of explaining.

# 3. Stay close - "2 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet". This was a mantra from one of my teachers reminding us of the importance of staying close when making requests. Their attention span isn’t like ours - again, they are in the theta brain wave state - so be ‘2 feet in front of them’, ‘2 feet high’ (basically a reminder to crouch down to their level) and lastly, with you ‘feeling your 2 feet on the ground’ to ground you and bring you fully here. (They feel this.) Get down to eye level and give simple guidance/directions from your heart from that place. Simple. Clear. Move. Follow through.

Staying close and sticking with requests is so key in the younger ages. I have found myself feeling quite ridiculous picking up half of a boot or toothbrush with my 4 year old at the other end in an effort to help her join in and learn how to put things away but sometimes this is what it takes to get the job done. When you emit the energy, “This is what is happening.” lovingly but with certainty (and make it kinda fun) our kids pick up on this. Use imagination to connect, stay close and help them follow through. 

# 4. Consider Nixing time-outs - Young children don't have the capacity yet to "reflect on their poor choices". The more I learn about child development - that they live in the theta brain wave state and their prefrontal cortex is not online yet - the less time-outs make any real sense. They do come in handy sometimes for me to give to myself though when I feel stretched to my max and need a moment or ten to breathe and regroup! (-:

# 5. Rhythm. This is a topic unto its own. It is an absolute game changer. When I work with moms with low energy/overwhelm to create rhythm in their days and weeks good things happen. Everyone can breathe easier and balls don’t get dropped as easily when what has to get done is on a schedule. Less stress for adults translates to less stress for kids, better health overall and more connection and joy.

When things are done in a certain way with regularity and children (whose relationship to time is very different than ours) know what is coming next they are also less resistant to doing what needs to be done as the rhythm (and repetition that is wired in the brain) eventually just carries them ... “it’s just the way things are done.” It builds a sense of trust in them as well.

Rhythms in Waldorf Schools are based on a concept called ‘breathing in and breathing out’ and in the lower grades especially this concept is woven into the day where activities are put in an order that alternates a ‘breathing in’ activity with a ‘breathing out’ activity. One example of this is: Circle time followed by Free play. In the homes of families I have worked with even being aware of this ‘in breath’- ‘out breath’ and the different nature of activities has helped. They would play with creating a flow that felt balanced - such as getting kids outside after sitting for a craft and then coming back in for lunch and out for a walk after.You get a feel for this wants you are tuned into it. This helps us adults too for example when we balance focus time with movement, inside with out, doing with free time, quiet time with social … it teaches balance and is a pretty cool non-burnout way to flow through our days.

#6. Have realistic expectations. They are learning so much during this time! From social engagement to talking to moving their body with coordination to being safe, etc . The way they learn and create new neural pathways for the things we’d like them to do is in part through good ol’ repetition. We have to repeatedly model what we’re trying to teach them.

Our children in these ages are ‘in learning’. The centers of the brain responsible for impulse control, empathy and decision making are not even close to maturity (25 years of age and upwards is the latest neuroscience update on this!). This ‘upstairs brain’ as Dr. Daniel Siegel calls it is just being constructed so it will be messy being in relationship with children as they find their way to these upper brain functions. And for now they are learning their upper brain functions/capabilities through watching you and through stories!

It takes time for them to learn all these things we want them to learn. This is where the next point comes in. It helps keep our patience more or less replenished …

#7. Self-care. Prioritizing it. Children pick up all the non-verbals. As we know they are watching us more than listening as as I’ve been sharing that is the way they are set up to learn in the younger years. Imitation.

Who we are being and how we are being as we are doing things is what our children are taking in the most. Self-care is not selfish. It is essential. When we are resourced we are more patient, creative, clear, calm, playful, kind and have energy.

We may not have grown up seeing self-care modelled so it may not come natural but we can model it for our children and give them the gift of its importance so they have it and can then model it to their children … (-:

Lastly, here’s a little mantra that came to me this year that might help you. “You’re not in trouble, you’re in learning.” I use it with my kids and other kids and actually I’ve used it with myself too! Many of us grew up in the paradigm of punishing and shaming and control over and this mantra helps rewire our brains to the new understanding that we are all actually ‘in learning’ and growing and doing the best we can.

The growth and learning we desire for our children or ourselves can come with kindness.

Hope you found something in there to help you enjoy parenting more and to help you be a loving nourished leader for your bambinos!

Warmly, Dr. Monika xo (-:

If you are interested in some self-care and supportive learning, Dr. Monika has Yoga & Learn weekly classes, series and retreats around Conscious Parenting, Simplicity Parenting and Mothering from Your Centre. Email courses@opentowellness.ca to get the next class times and/or join Mindful Mama Connection FB to see updates there.

PS - Kim John Payne - author of Simplicity Parenting and The Soul of Discipline has some great insight on this topic of Creative Discipline..
 

Winter Crafts for Conscious Mamas: Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Painting for the Whole Family

Wet-on-Wet Watercolors 101 - beautiful activity for children to do with parent/s 4 years and up
 

1. Soak watercolor paper in cold water in your sink or a basin for 5-10 minutes (longer for heavier paper and the heavier the paper the better is what we prefer).


2. Gently sponge off the excess water. 


3. Mix watercolor and water about 1:1 in a little baby jar --- if you buy the bigger stockmar paints I recommend getting crimson, cobalt blue and lemon yellow or golden yellow and putting each in a mason jar with water and then keep it in the fridge. This way you can  just stir and pour what you need in a little jar as you need it - this makes it easy to get painting when you are inspired to - otherwise the thought of a big set up makes it just not happen


4. Have clear water to clean brush so you don't muddy the colors going from one to the other. A cloth/sponge to wipe brush on helps.  


5. Enjoy!  The creations can be used for cards, wrapping paper, to hang … the cool thing is that the young child is able with this medium to produce something that is truly beautiful (not just to mom and dad’s eyes!) (-:


Helpful to know: Watercolor painting for kids is not a long activity - prep is longer than painting but it's worth it ... meditative and connecting (-: 

FYI - Dr. Monika has mini-classes on how to do this - if you and 3 - 4 friends would like a hands-on experience text Monika at 403 678-7901 to set something up.

2 Simple Tasty Healing Drinks For Hormonal Health

Starting the day the night before is one of the hacks that help my day flow smoother (when I do it! lol). So, I'm starting the drink list with an evening fave.

1. GOLDEN MOON MILK TEA

Warming, anti-inflammatory and hormone balancing - great evening tea for women. (-:

Here's how to be most efficient in making this ...

First step is to make a paste by combining 5 tablespoons coconut oil, 1/2 cup turmeric powder, 1 cup water, and 1.5 teaspoons black pepper in a pot and simmer for about 10 minutes.

This paste will keep fresh for 2 weeks in the fridge and makes it easy peasy for you to make a couple cups of Golden Milk in no time at all by warming 2 cups of milk (coconut/almond milk/raw organic milk (pick one) ) with 1 tsp of the paste and mixing. Add cinnamon and honey to taste, Stevia isn't great for hormonal balance so stick to these to sweeten.

HERE'S A ONE-SERVING-SIZE RECIPE OF ANOTHER VERSION OF GOLDEN MILK
Combine and warm up (on low heat) 2 cups almond/other milk, 1 tsp ghee or coconut oil, 1 tsp honey (as needed), 1 tsp tumeric powder, 1 tsp ginger powder, 1 tsp cardamon, sprinkle of black pepper, 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Stir so it doesn't stick to the pot and enjoy! (ps - a hand-blender can give it some frothy yumminess ... I throw it in in vitamix when I'm craving this ...)

2. FRESH LEMON MORNING TEA

Pretty straight forward mama. First thing in the a.m. squeeze 1/2 lemon in a cup of warm water and that is it! Your liver loves lemons and your bowels love warm water. A healthy digestive system and happy liver are key to the foundation of a healthy hormonal balance. The little things we do every day add up ...

 

 

4 Favourite, Healthful Breakfast Ideas - great for Blood Type A

1. Immune Support Breakfast - great for Blood Type As

This recipe has given me so many referrals over the years - I can't count the amount of times when folks would come with a stained photocopy of this and say that their friend recommended this and they feel great on it and  … what else do I have?

 Ingredients:
(makes a big batch)
4 cups rolled grain*
2 cups oat bran
½ cup dried fruit*
1 cup raw nuts*
1 cup sunflower seeds*
1 cup milk thistle seeds
1 cup lecithin

 Preparation:

Grind nuts and seeds. Mix all ingredients. Soak serving in rice milk, soy milk, nut milk, cow’s milk or water for at least 30 minutes before serving. Store unused portion in the refrigerator.

For additional protein, add yogurt or tofu.

*Vary the types of seeds, nuts, dried fruit and rolled grains you use till you create a mix you absolutely love!

2. Oatmeal Waffles

Ingredients:

7 c. quick oats
7 c. nut milk 
1/3 c. good quality oil
2 tsp. salt

Preparation:

Combine in a large bowl, Mix and let stand 8 hours or until thick.  Bake 6-9 minutes in hot waffle iron. Serve with ghee and berries - sprinkle hemp seeds on … be creative!

3. Nut Crust Berry Pie for Breakfast! 

Gratitude to the Folks at The Green Door Restaurant for the base recipe and to Dorise for introducing me to it!

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 350

Nut Crust
1 cup large flake rolled oats
½ cup almonds
1 cup barley/millet flour – you can use less flour and add more ground almonds too – experiment! (-:
¼ tsp cinnamon
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/6 - 1/3 cup maple syrup (modify as needed)

Preparation:
Oil and flour one 10 inch pie plate. Grind oats, almonds, salt and cinnamon and put in a bowl. Add the oil and maple syrup and mix it into a soft dough. Press into pie plate. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool while preparing filling.

Filling

4 cups berries, fresh or frozen
¼ cup agar flakes (high in calcium – in seaweed section at stores)
2 cups juice (I usually add a little water to the frozen blueberries/strawberries and then use that liquid)
1/3 cup arrowroot
¼ cup maple syrup – I’ve used half this and it’s still super yum.

Preparation:

Mix the arrowroot and maple syrup in a small bowl and set aside. Heat the liquid and add agar and stir. When the agar dissolves fully, add arrowroot and maple syrup mix.  Stir until slightly thick and then add the blueberries and mix well. Pour into baked crust and refrigerate until set: about 2 hours.

Enjoy !

4. Pear Crisp
A delicious and easy recipe that can be served as a breakfast dish or even dessert.

Ingredients:

1 cup flour (rice, amaranth, millet) 
½ tsp. sea salt 
¼ cup oil 
¼ cup maple syrup 
1/3 cup chopped cashews 
2 Tbs. water 
2 Tbs. maple syrup or brown rice syrup 
2 tsp. vanilla 
5 cups bite size sliced pears 

Preparation:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
-Mix flour and salt together in a bowl. Add oil and sweetener; mix well. Stir in nuts and set aside. 
-In a small bowl combine water, syrup and vanilla; set aside. 
-Slice fruit and place in a lightly oiled pie pan or an 8 by 8 inch baking dish. 
-Pour the liquid mixture over the fruit and toss gently. 
-Spoon the flour nut mixture evenly over the top of the fruit. 
-Cover and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more to crisp the topping.