How to move slowly with your toddler 

Did I mention that we will move in barely two weeks?! This is also why I share my thoughts a little less often with you at the moment.

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Today I want to share some thoughts and feelings about this tough situation of moving with small children. But I think these ideas also fit to all situations, in which change happens in a family, like the soon birth of a new child, the start of a new job or any period in which your children react sensitive. Always be aware that children are our mirrors – Whenever you have problems with your little ones, ask yourself what problems YOU currently have in your life.

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It is the second time that we move to another town since J was born. Last time he was five months old and we thought he wouldn’t realise much. How wrong we were… He might not have known that he would soon sleep in a different room, be carried through a different park, but he felt all the trouble around him. All his world falling into pieces and his parents racing through this world with barely time for him with all the packing and organising. This was also when he started crying and yelling through the night for almost 4 months. I didn’t know Emmi Pikler then, I hadn’t really developed an intuitive parenting feeling and I just tried everything to calm him.

This time mostly nothing is different. We are packing and organising, J is crying a lot and I feel again how scared he is that everything and everyone will leave him, especially me. I decided right at the beginning of all the preparations that I wanted everything different this time. So we decided to reorganise our priorities. We can’t avoid the moving part of the situation, we can just work with the HOW.

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1. The Core Matters

When you move into another apartment or even to another town, a lot changes around you. But research has shown that the event of moving also counts to the major life events that shape your inner and thus psychological history. For children this is accompanied by feelings of excitement, but also of loss and desperation. Children, especially young ones, are barely familiar with consistency. They trust us blindly to lead them through the world and they need repetition to slowly learn to adapt to life. So we need to find consistency in the only thing that stays consistent when we move: our family core. Spend as much time together as a core as possible. 

We do that in our weekly nature trips every Sunday. This day is always safe and it is always the same: We stay in bed to snuggle, we prepare a slow sunday breakfast like a smoothie bowl or an ayurvedic porridge. And then we prepare a big backpack full of nice snacks like egg sandwiches, potato salad, banana bread, or the like. Then we are off till sunset, exploring nature and hugging trees.Stabilising and empowering our core. 

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2. The JUST YOU NOW Moments

This is what Emmi Pikler taught us: Stay mindful or at least make these mindful moments part of your daily routine. Whenever you feel that your child starts being “difficult” (Children are never difficult, only situations are), hold on for a second and breathe 5 deep breaths. Did you spend at least 10 minutes of the last two hours as a whole ONLY with your child? If not, let everything be and sit down at your child’s height and just watch him. Ask yourself why he is just wonderful. And tell him. Stay. 

3. Be open for PLAN B 

I feel it is very difficult to leave for work at the moment, because J needs me so much. But some things just have to be done. Though not all. In these last weeks before moving I often ask myself, if certain things really need to be done or if I can just cancel them for some more family time. So go through your weekly calendar and strike out all things that are not absolutely necessary now. 

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4. The ME Minutes

Your children need you more now. Yes Yes Yes. But unfortunately there is not more YOU than before. And the balancing act between moving, working and satisfying your child’s needs will absorb you at some point. So ask for help where you can. Ask your parents, neighbours, friends and whomever you like, love and trust with your little ones to help you. Maybe they can help you clean, pack and unpack or they might just watch your children. Even 30 minutes, in which someone cares for your little ones are a relief where you can take a relaxing pine bath, have a yin yoga session or just lay down in your bed and watch the ceiling. 

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Change is a constant part of our life circle. We will always be touched by it from in and outside. No matter if we try to ignore or deny it. No matter if we try to race through difficult periods. If we consciously perceive and embrace change, then we have a chance to deal with it and to adapt slowly. That doesn’t mean there won’t be pain. But this way there will be time for the pain. Time to feel it and time to heal.

I am very curious how you deal with change in your lives?! Tell my in the comments 🙂

Susann

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Stop Smiling.

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Whenever you see a baby, there is this reflex around your mouth that makes it twist. Research has shown that it is hard to look angry at babies in general even when they look angry themselves. But to look angry at a smiling baby is just impossible. I also examine this phenomenon in my PhD thesis by the way 😉

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It obviously starts earlier somewhere in the emotional and cognitive parts of our brain. Emotions such as affection and warmth are driven by the most rudimentary regions of our body, where hormones like oxytocin and endorphines are secreted. We also have expectations towards ourselves about how we want to treat children. We have believes of what society expects us to treat our children. And we see a lot of movies and advertisments where people smile all the time.

And smiling at a baby is the most natural reaction there is! It protects the child. With round cheeks, great eyes and a small nose, nature has produced a little human that everyone wants to protect and support.

But then there is your every day life. And if you watch yourself closely, you might notice, that you smile at your baby or even at your older child, whenever you see it. Even if you don’t feel like smiling. Even when your child does something that you disliked. But you don’t want to hurt his feelings so you smile. You are bored and exhausted and look out of the window. But whenever your child looks at you, you suddenly give him a smile.

Please: Stop doing that.

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You wonder why our western world becomes more and more superficial and why everyone is showing a teethy grin on photos? You wonder why the first answer that slips you, whenever someone asks you how you are is: great? People all in the world must be so happy, if we believed all of them. And if you smile all day long in the presence of your child, your child will think just the same about our world.

What your child will think:

Everyone is always happy. My mom always smiles. She is always happy- even when I do something stupid. I am not always happy, so I am not normal. I have to smile on pictures, even if I’m sad. I have to smile at aunt Kathrin, even if I am scared of her. I will try harder to smile.

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You are the center of your child’s world, of your child’s believe system and reality. So just relax a little more often. Be mindful whenever you spend time together and try to remind yourself as often as possible that you can show your feelings. If you feel exhausted because you had a hard day then why not frown? If you are mad or sad why not sit there with your mouth corners looking in the wrong direction? That won’t traumatize your child. It will encourage him to be authentic and to show his feelings.

Children don’t need HAPPY parents- children need REAL parents

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I’m not saying you should NEVER smile. Whenever you feel like it and you are filled with joy, then please smile! It is one of the most wonderful body reactions to smile and laugh and it is so healing! But try to be aware a little more often of how you feel and what you are displaying in your face.

You seek for a little more authenticity in our world? More real people? Start with your child and show him how real people are. Start in your little world.

Susann

 

Our Waldorf Homeschooling Calendar

Several of you have asked on Instagram, whether I could write some more details about our waldorf routines. I already shared some thoughts about Emmi Pikler and she really has a great influence on how we see children and our relationship with them. But all in all we have many other influences like Maria Montessori and Jean Liedloff. And one big influence that mostly shapes our days and routines and also the atmosphere we live in is by Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Waldorf pedagogy in Germany.

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Me and my 3 years younger brother actually visited a normal school and thus didn’t experience the waldorf pedagogy  personally. But if I could have chosen, I would have wanted to visit a waldorf kindergarten and school. Kindergarten and school times are periods of my life I would rather forget and that are constant memories of cold, envy, pressure and loneliness.

I have watched my 4 younger siblings visit the waldorf kindergarten/school and always admired the magical and warm atmosphere in there. There is no pressure and a lot of freedom to develop and still (or maybe just because of that) they grow into independent, joyful, confident and curious beings, who learned how to learn and who found their place in this world.

With Rhythms we feel save, supported and alive. We move with rhythms as we dance through the seasons with all other beings like plants and animals, who adapt to the eternal repetition of nature. We use pranayam exercises to heal and to gain back energy during yoga sessions with the rhythm of our breathing. Our body  follows a biorhythm in food intake, digestion, hormonal cycles and activation levels.

The waldorf pedagogy has shown how precious these rhythms and repetitions are for small children.  The natural rhythm is given by the shift of the seasons and weeks and thus the daily routine just adapts with certain activities.

Since we still live at home with J, we chose to integrate these rhythms into our daily life. We always have a nature table that we create together with our little one, by collecting nature goods and crafting. We choose seasonal colors to decorate this table with silk clothes and kind, friendly things. We always integrate candles to give it the power of an altar. We don’t believe in god as in christian religion, rather than a universal energy that we welcome with nature’s givings.

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Since J was 18 months old, we created a weekly calendar based on what we know about the waldorf routines. These calendars are freely created and differ from kindergarten to kindergarten. But there are some characteristics that repeat everywhere. The anthroposophic pedagogy assumes that very young children have no imagination of yesterday and tomorrow, but live in the very day.  How mindfully spoken! Thus children need something special and magical in every single day to be able to recognise it. This is easily reached with daily food and activity routines.

I really like the image of Wednesday as potato day or Thursday as soup day.  But we weren’t yet able to accomplish that in our daily life but are constantly trying.

We rather have a fixed routine for every day, which I want to outline shortly. Of course the calendar changes a bit through the seasons, but that makes it even livelier.

Our Waldorf Homeschooling Calendar

Monday: Sweet day

This is where we bake cake, prepare raw truffles, energy balls or hot vegan chocolate. It is a wonderful welcome to start the week satisfied and joyfully.

Tuesday: Crafting and Coloring

Here we prepare treasures for our nature altar, craft christmas stars or just use brushs and colors on Aquarell paper.

Wednesday: Stocking day

The middle of the week is my favourite day.  Here we prepare Ghee, broths, wild herbal salt or ferment sauerkraut. There are endless possibilities. Sometimes we just fill up our refrigerator with self cooked beans, quinoa or veggie patties to use for the rest of the week in salads or sides. J loves everything that goes on in our kitchen. He has a foot stool since he was 12 months old to reach everything on the counter.

Thursday:  Magical Stories 

This day we visit the children’s library or just stay at home to build us a palace of our books on the sofa that we read while drinking tea and eating cookies.

Friday: Cleaning day

The flat is brought into a glittering and gleaming castle… no that is actually not what it looks like.  Before the weekend we like to do the laundry, vacuum (J helps with his broom) or change the sheets. In waldorf tradition Friday is the day to prepare the weekend and to slow down. And since we have visitors nearly every week, this is how we spend that day.

Saturday and Sunday 

Of course we are not a kindergarten and thus we also enjoy the weekend together. We always have one slow, unplanned day. And as you might know if you followed me for a while, we also have our weekly nature trip. This is where we stand up very early to fill our backpack with egg sandwiches and hot tea and drive to an unplanned nature spot. We always explore something new and this is the perfect day to regain all energy after a long week. 

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Don’t get caught by your calendar!

This might sound like it were the best thing to vanish in an uncountable number of dates and routines, but this is definitely not what it means. To develop freely children absolutely need a mixture of routines and free play. This free play is a core quality of the waldorf pedagogy and can of course also be found in many other modern pedagogies.I have already written some lines about that the other day when I told you about our Pikler Play Time and I will soon write some more about that. Try to have your days mixed and always “plan” some free time for all of you, where you can enjoy mindful minutes with each other.

Healing Forgiveness 

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Thanksgiving just passed. We spent the eighth year in a row with our friends in an old farm house. We always come together for a weekend to spend time, share love and have a lot of intensely enjoyable  meals. This year we visited a farm house in a very rural countryside. There was no heating and  every room had an ancient oven and fire wood to use. It couldn’t have been more cosy and intimate.

With thanksgiving I always share thoughts of gratitude. I think back to what worked out this year and what didn’t. Who was by my side to support me and with whom I had a time full of struggles. How my loved ones felt this year and whether I managed to see all of them and to share their joys and fears?

And once again I notice how inseparable the two parts are. We are thankful for the good things and our heart glows at the thought of them. But we feel helpless, sad, and angry about the bad things. And I think we should spend the same amount of time to think of them as they are part of our life. We call that day thanksgiving for all that has been given to us by god, the universal energy or just destiny. But the bad things are given to us as well. Of course it doesn’t seem logic to be thankful for all the pain and hard times we have. But we can at least appreciate them as part of our life and evolving personality.

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We experience nasty people, fights with loved ones, disappointments, desillusions, accidents or even death throughout our life. It makes it quite hard to breathe and even harder to fall asleep from time to time. But its the difficult times that let us grow. It is an important part of mindfulness to accept abs even welcome every thought abs feeling. This might work after some experience, but how do we handle really tough situations especially when we are alone and feel helpless ?

Since I was quite young, maybe around the age of fifteen, my mother taught me a small forgiveness meditation. I already introduced you into my every evening gratitude meditation. And I add this second part every now and then.                                                             I frequently talk to my mom on the phone and tell her about the moving things in my life like fights I had or when I felt unjustly treated . What she would say would mostly be: How about you forgive this person now? And I sit there full of fury and I tell her that I don’t WANT to forgive them as they don’t deserve this and that I am just so angry at the moment. So she would go on in her calm voice and tell me that forgiveness is nothing you do for some other person, but you do it for yourself. By forgiving you let go and free your soul. You take of that heavy burden that you feel when being angry at someone or even disliking them. I’ve since tried it many times and felt a lot better later.

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A forgiveness meditation

  1. Lay flat on your back or in a comfortable cross-legged position
  2. Start by connecting to the universal energy, god or just yourself at that very moment. You may talk aloud or just in your head to welcome them. You can feel your back and every other body part touching the ground. And now try to focus on the rest of your body being up in the air to connect these two parts.
  3. Now think of the person you intend to forgive. Forgive him in your own chosen words and bless him  i.e. I forgive Sarah for being such a selfish person and for hurting me so today. I forgive her for making me feel so unbelievably bad. I send her love, inner growth and satisfaction.
  4. End the meditation with 5-10 minutes of mindfulness. Try to stay awake and focused. Relaxation always comes, when the body is still and lifeless, while the mind is clear and keen.

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Sometimes it is me that I have to forgive, which is especially important. We are disappointed with ourselves for our reactions, our weakness, our immaturity. It is thus immensely important to live and celebrate self love. You already do that by forgiving others, because you clean yourself of hate and bad energy. But who is clearly good and innocent without any wrath?!  So tell yourself often enough that you will love and accept yourself no matter what happens. And let that inner self grow and evolve in warmth and honesty. We evolve our personality like an onion. We lose shell by shell in a row of desillusions, which can be painful or even unbearable. But forgiving will always be truly healing.

Susann

Applesauce and a sugarfree life

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I already told you some months ago that my own childhood was on the whole sugarfree. The funny thing is, whenever I tell anyone, people ask me whether I now eat more sugar to recompense. Well, I don’t.

My childhood didn’t feel restricted. And I guess that is what made it feel so good and easy not to eat sugar. Our mother didn’t forbid us to eat sugar, but explained quite a deal about how sugar works in the body and how natural sweeteners are so much better for you. Also my mother and brother almost always reacted to refined sugar with severe stomach ache, that didn’t appear with honey. Our mother always trusted our understanding, no matter what age we were and that gave us a lot of self reliance. She would say I’d rather you don’t eat that for its not good for you, but it’s your own choice. Or: I will buy you one ice-cream these vacations and you can decide when you want it. You have to buy the others yourself. We also baked a lot at home and very early. I watched mum and my brother bake buns when he was 1,5 years old. So we had a deep connection to food and its value.

I thought it would be so hard to establish these routines with J in our new family.  I thought the world is filled with sugar so how could I ever protect him from it? Of course I didn’t have to. You shouldn’t protect your child from sugar. You just have to model a healthy relationship to sugar. Show him alternatives and get him used to natural sweeteners. This way he will have an early knowledge about food and health.

I talked to a friend about that topic and she was surprised to hear about agave syrup being so unhealthy. She asked me why honey was any better than sugar when it also contains these high fructose parts. And why we don’t become sick of eating too many fruits? And why this is suddenly a problem when 50 years ago everyone ate sugar and no one became sick?

I will try to answer these questions shortly and please feel free to tell your experiences and knowledge in the comment section  😊

1. Why is honey better than white sugar?

White crystallised sugar is a refined, isolated and highly unnatural product. Honey on the other side is complex and whole as mother nature produced it. This makes a tremendous digestive difference. To digest your body needs enzymes that break down the parts of food. Since sugar is isolated and incomplete, it extracts these enzymes and also many minerals from the cells of your body (blood, bones, skin). So this process weakens you and over the years it can lead to massive disorders. 

Honey on the other side brings all the products that are needed for digestion with it in its complex form. It already contains the digestive enzymes and additionally numerous valuable minerals and vitamins to support you. 

An important remark should be made here: honey is sometimes produced with the help of sugar. Beekeepers tend to feed it to their bees in the winter months. It normally doesn’t reach the honey we consume later,  but scientists have found that it weakens the bee’s immune system and makes them more vulnerable to be harmed from pesticides. 

2. Why don’t we become sick of eating too many fruits?

Digesting fruits works similar as with honey. They are complete  and natural and contain high amounts of vitamins. We still shouldn’t eat fruits all day since their high fructose part can be straining for the liver. A rule of thumb is that you should drink one smoothie per day to have the necessary and maximum amount of fruits. By the way fruits are not the first choice if you want to boost up your vitamin stores. While we often think we have to consume lemons and oranges for vitamin C or carrots for vitamin A, there is a much easier alternative. Wild herbs contain much higher doses of vitamins than fruits. You would have to eat kilos of lemons to have the vitamin C amount in stingy nettle or ashweed. Just pick wildherbs that are local and fresh and consume them  right away.  

Dried fruits are a little different than fresh fruits. They are dehydrated, which means they need more water to be digested. Ultimately they soak the cell water out of your skin and bones, but as long as you don’t consume them all day you should be perfectly fine.  And it is always recommendable to soak them before consuming. But hey, our little one eats raisins a lot and they are complex vitamin rich sweets. There is nothing wrong about that.

A short remark: please never brush your teeth directly after consuming fruits as your tooth enamel is very vulnerable then to be hurt and opened.

3. Why is this suddenly a problem when 50 years ago everyone ate sugar and no one became sick? 

Yes your grandma probably doesn’t understand all the fuss you are making to live that sugar reduced life. How could she? Nowadays everything contains sugar (fruit sugar,  fructose, syrups etc). From ketchup, crisps,  cream cheese, sausages over nut milk. We consume the 10- 50 fold amount of fructose that our grandma generation did. When your grandma ate her morning bread with jam and that piece of custard pie at the afternoon tea, it were probably the only times she consumed sugar over the day. Today we consume sugar if we want it or not. Mostly we don’t even know it. That is why we should open our eyes for hidden sugars and to what sugar we want to consume. 

And now let’s talk applesauce.

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Sugarfree Apple Compote

You will need:

3 kg ripe apples (A mix of sweet and sour works best)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
200 ml filtered water
1 handful raisins
2 mason jars (400 ml)

Wash the apples, cut them into quarters and remove 
the core. Don't remove the skin as it will be 
much tastier and healthier if you let it on. 
Put them in a pot together with the cinnamon 
and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low 
simmering and let sit for about 10 minutes. 
Maybe you will have to add more water in the mean time. Add the 
raisins and let sit for another 5 minutes or until the apples 
are soft and done. Blend it roughly or to your liking.
Immediately fill into the prepared washed out mason jars and 
turn them around to produce a vacuum.

Enjoy :)

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In the end sugar will never be a health pastille. But health always embodies our physical and our psychological wellbeing. Eating sweets enables our sense of happiness and raises the mood. It thus supports our psychological health. We just have to see that we minimise it’s harm on the physical health and everything will be in balance.

What are you waiting for?

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I sit at the train station. Waiting for my train home. Home to my two beloved persons in this world. It’s a cold and rainy afternoon and I remember I want to buy rain trousers for J, which is done ten minutes later with the help of online shopping. At that time I already sit inside the train. I notice that my feet are quite cold and I long for a hot bath and a steaming vegetable soup.  I write to my man and kindly ask him to prepare something nice and send him several recipe ideas… I look forward to dinner and imagine this amazing soup in my mouth… 30 minutes later I arrive home. We sit down at the table and eat that wonderful soup. But in my head I already plan tomorrow’s schedule…

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Do you know these kind of days? Time flows by and you ask yourself where the last week or even the last month have gone to? We spend at least 50 percent of our lifetime waiting for something. Waiting to become a schoolchild, waiting to become of age, waiting to get married and waiting for that little bump to rise and gift us with the beautiful treasure of tiny life. These waiting periods give us the strength to keep up in our every day struggles and raise our hopes and design our dreams and fantasies. But not all of our waiting is helpful. Most waiting time feels like waisted time. Waiting in front of that train, then waiting to arrive for 13 minutes.  Waiting for the lasagne to be done in the oven.  Waiting for Friday.  Waiting for our date. Waiting for your child to speak or walk. Waiting, waiting, waiting. And to optimally use every second of our life we use every waiting minute to pull out our mobile phone and check our mails, what’s app or insta (of course some of us still pull out their books). If you sit inside the metro or tube you see at least 50% of travellers having their mobiles in their hand. We are all trying so hard not to have any unused excess time. 

Wait. Stop!

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Excess time? How can life time be a waste? How can any minute that you’re able to breathe, feel, see and hear be less than highly precious? We treat time like an old wife we had for 50 years and that always seems the same to us, until we miss her when she is suddenly gone. Time is with you since you were born and will never leave you until you end your journey in that earthly body. Indeed we just borrow time for a limited period of life.  Time itself is infinite in the flow of the universe.

So next time you are waiting for something, try to catch yourself at it. And treasure that moment with some questions (You might want to close your eyes):

  1. Can I feel the ground under me? What does it feel like? How many parts of my body actually touch the ground?
  2. Do I feel the cold air stream in through my nostrils? Do I feel how my lungs are filled and my rips are widening? Do I feel the warm used air leave my body through my nose? 

Now open your eyes:

  1. Now think of your parents. No matter where they are. No matter how well your relationship is and even if they are not alive anymore. Think of them and treasure them. Feel your heart beat and realise that this is only possible because these two persons have made you. 
  2. Is there anything in your view that is beautiful and precious? Find the smallest hints of life, joy and love around you. Now treasure them,too.
  3. Thank for all the blessings you have in your life: Living in a peaceful country, having enough food, having a family and friends, being healthy. 

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Silently be thankful for these minutes that you spent with yourself. That you actually see yourself as a friend and a person with whom it is wonderful to spend time with. Give yourself an inner smile and carry that smile through the rest of that day.

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Try to find these mindful moments throughout your day. They will make more of your 24 hours worth and precious. Don’t waste your time away by scheduling date after date and filling those gaps in between with mails on your phone. Try to actually live as much as possible. Remember: it’s not the quantity of time that you use that matters, but the quality in which you spend that time.

Susann

Let them play

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J was about 10 months old, when we started visiting a Pikler Play Room and it felt like being finally born into a whole new world of understanding. These Play rooms are led Persons who are qualified to mindfully and confidently accompany children with the philosophy of the Hungarian pediatrician Emmi Pikler. It is a rather great contrast to baby groups where there is lots of singing, colorful toys and where the mothers play for their children rather than letting their children play.

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At first it was quite awkward. We arrived and were told to sit on a mat like the other mothers and just to watch the children play for 60 minutes. After that there would be 30 minutes time to have a conversation together and to share our thoughts and feelings. The babies were all about the same age. It was a calm, nearly intimate atmosphere without talking. The room was filled with beautiful wooden waldorf toys and different wooden units that were developed by Emmi Pikler and her successors. At first I felt a little uncomfortable, thinking that J would surely be falling down if I don’t stand behind him and that it would surely be boring for him, if we don’t play with him. Oh I was so wrong.

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Children are great at playing on their own. Indeed they are born to play on their own at least for the first three years. They love to explore and touch everything around them and are fascinated by things like empty flower pots, wooden spoons or any nature objects. They don’t need help 90% of the time!

  1. They DON’T need to be told how toys work as it is much more satisfying for them to find out themselves. And even if they use things in a different way than you would- be tolerant and patient and don’t push them. Who says that a pencil is made for drawing, when a 10 month old would rather stick it through that hole in the flower pot? Who says wooden bricks are made for building, when your 6 months old rather likes to lick or throw them? Be open-minded to see the world with your child’s eyes.

2. You DON’T have to stand behind them, to prevent them from falling. This way they will only stand up, when they are really ready for it. And if it really happens that they do fall down, then it is no drama. My grandma always said, children have a head like a tennis ball: As long as they fall from their own height it’s no problem.

3. You DON’T even have to be careful with small objects. As long as you stay relaxed, your child will be focused on his actions. He actually won’t be able to swallow them, because of his gag reflex. Children do have a much stronger gag reflex than we do. It already starts at the middle of their mouth. Meaning that when your child is gagging, he is NOT choking, but just gagging because a small object has reached the middle of his mouth. It is a simple reflex that mother earth has invented for them that enables us parents to stay relaxed while they play. You can give them any small object to explore. Trust your child- you will be astonished about the abilities and knowledge about the world he already has. (Our Pikler teacher even said:” In my 20 years of experience not a single baby  swallowed a glass marble.”)

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We continued letting him play since that age and at the playground or at family festivities people often mention how autonomous he is and that it is unbelievable that he busies himself for 1-2 hours at a time. The only thing you have to do is being present. Hold his eye contact, so he knows you are there.

Now that he is nearing the age of 2 we suddenly realized how much our play times changed. J is still playing a lot on his own. But during that time I sometimes write Emails, read a magazine, run household errands or cook in the kitchen. I don’t take that time anymore to actually sit down and watch him.

So several weeks ago I had to remind myself to reestablish that wonderful routine in our family life: To prepare a smoothie (or now rather a hot mug of tea) and to sit down at his eye level on the floor, snuggled under some blankets. And then to watch him for at least 30 minutes.

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It changed a lot between us. J really enjoys his mindful playtime. He smiles a lot, reassures himself, that I’m still watching and comes to me once in a while to touch me or kiss me. He also shows me his toys or paintings and we talk about them. I don’t praise him (that is another topic ;-)), but just enjoy that time with him and soak it up deeply into my heart.

Children grow up so quickly and it is worth to really get to know them at that age.

Susann

Are you at eye level with your child?

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If it is anyhow possible for you at this very moment,  then try out the following thing:

Go down on the floor and lay on your belly. Lift your head slightly and use your hands to stabilise your upper body. Stay there for some minutes. Imagine now that you are your child. Try to see your surroundings with his eyes. Do you see the dust under your sofa? Do you smell the wooden floor right beneath you? Look what is on your perception level: A toy lying on the floor, daddys socks under the sofa? Try to see now what is lying on your desk or imagine what other people would look like from down here. Try to soak in this perspective. 

There is one reason for this maybe awkward introduction. We can’t easily imagine what it is like to be small. Even though we have been there once. Our children are different from us in height and their perception is thus immensely different from ours.  Can you accept your child’s height?

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It all starts at playing again. Whenever your child plays, he does it at his level of perception and development. He doesn’t long for another height, as he just doesn’t know it exists and as it just doesn’t belong to his world yet. You don’t have to lift your child up the climbing frame at the playground if he can’t climb the latter by himself. Don’t sit him up the slide just because you want him to slide down. There will be the moment when he will do it all by himself. Mostly even sooner than later. And when he does, he will have determined the moment. He was the one who decided. He will also be content with himself, if he has done it all alone. It will help his self-reliance and self-esteem much more than when you just sit him up there. He needs this moment of achievement. Do you want other people to sit your exams?! Help your child being grounded and accept that up the latter might not be his play level at the moment. Don’t disroot him.

This is even more important for small children of course as it not only disroots them but stresses and endangers their body! Don’t put your child in any sitting position if he can’t do it himself (Sitting also includes, if he is leaned against you). Beside physical reasons think of his perspective again. He has a certain time of his life (some months only) when he is supposed to be lying on his back or belly and to explore everything from that perspective. For us it might be awkward to lay on our back and look at the ceiling all day, but for children at that age it is the most natural and pleasant thing. Who are we to say: ok sweety, time to get ready and go to the next level! Accept that it is an important developmental stage for him and that it is highly important for his whole life.

Another point is conversation. If you have something to say to your child and most of all, if it is something emotional like explaining your feelings or a certain boundary  (“I can’t let you hit me again, because it hurts me, so next time you do that I will have to protect myself” ) try to stay on your child’s eye level. Yes, go down as low as possible to speak to him. Only if your child is at eye level, he can properly see your face and perceive what it displays. Are you severe, sad or understanding? You will see, it is much easier to communicate with him that way and your child will be much more responsive. You may also treat your child as you would treat any friend or other adult at the situation. Tell him everything you feel and think as detailed as possible. No matter how old he is, he will comprehend you much better and he will get used to open emotional communication at this sensitive age.

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My last point on height is the one I already mentioned some weeks ago in here. It’s emotional and physical pain. If your child experiences stress, because of growth spurts, shock or injuries, leave him at his developmental height level. For your child our world is full of stimuli and surprises. And especially in a situation where he can’t handle it anymore he seeks for love, support and understanding. Don’t lift your child up to your level. This might feel good and normal for you, but it totally disrupts the situation for your little one. Go down to listen to his pain and most of all: take him close to you if he wants that.

It all comes down to acceptance and respect. Be aware that your child is smaller than you much more often. Your child is much nearer to the ground. He is much more grounded even. All children are,  thank god. He will grow anyway. But let him leave the ground in his pace. Let him grow as slowly  as he needs it.

Susann

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You haven’t failed yet.

Take a minute and remember the last hours of last year. The plans you made for the following year. The projects you were keen to take on: learning to knit those lopi socks, attending qi gong lessons or flying to iceland? Or the small things like spending more time with your husband, practicing more yoga or going to bed at early hours?

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In Europe it is now metereologically seen the middle of the year, Indian summer. About 200 years ago, the year wasn’t yet divided into four seasons, but only in a winter and a summer half, divided by the Indian summer. This time of the year the dry air and hot temperature invite millions of spiders to spin their webs around the trees. After cold nights those webs are glittering with early autumn dew pearls in the morning. The word Indian summer normally refers to the American phenomenon of the beginning of autumn and the leafs being colored red and golden. Here in Germany we call it the “Altweibersommer” (Old webbing summer) and the old sagas say that old women combed their hair and lost their silver hair strands in the trees. And by act of the goddess of fate old people who walk through the forest and are touched by these webs are blessed with luck and health.

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For our little family the Indian summer has most of all a contemplation meaning. We appreciate the projects we accomplished in the first half of the year. We think of the seeds we sowed in spring and are grateful for the fruits we are harvesting now. Since now is the middle rather than the end of the year, there is no evaluation needed. We don’t have to be disappointed in ourselves or others. It is a wonderful opportunity to be mindful and stop our pacing mind. Have we rushed through the last months? Have we taken time for ourselves? Have we lived within our circle of values? We can contemplate once again and sort our priorities and matters of heart. Which projects have we accomplished? Which projects are worth to be kept on?

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Depending on your values you might ask yourself now:

  • Do I spend enough time with my loved ones?
  • Do I spend enough time with myself?
  • Do I spend enough time in nature?
  • Do I take enough time to rest?
  • Do I take enough time in movement?
  • Do I tell my loved ones what I feel for them?
  • Do I tell myself that I love me?
  • Do I support my body and soul with fresh green meals?
  • Am I fulfilled in my life?

If you answer any of these questions with no, it is no reason to despair. It is wonderful you asked them and now it is time to rearrange your daily time. 5 minutes are also time. And 5 minutes spent in the range of your own values are the most precious time. So take small steps rather than none.

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In the end of November it will be time for us to celebrate our traditional thanksgiving feast with friends and family. The time to officially thank people, nature and the universal energy for everything.  Until then you might want to go out in the woods and take a look at these beautiful webs. And who knows, maybe one of them will touch and bless you.

Susann

Why your toddler hits you

Last week my brother visited us. We see each other much too seldomly to be appropriate for our deep relationship. Clearly we wanted to do something special, so we visited a very nice vegan family eating spot to hang out and give J the opportunity to run around wildly and play with wooden toys. I am not a big follower of fixed times throughout the day, but I know, that J normally gets tired around 12:00 and that he has to sleep somewhere at around 12:30. So we sat there and waited for our food at 12:30 and it was delicious and J was playing wildly. I know he prefers to sleep in his bed instead of the stroller, but I thought today he could just do with the stroller and that we would just manage it, if we stay relaxed. You know how days get planned and how it really works in the end…

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When we left the restaurant he was so groggy, he yelled and screamed. I tried to put him into the ergo carrier and held him close. He stopped screaming and started scratching and biting me. He is quite good at scratching- and faster than I can protect myself. As soon as we reached the next meadow, I lay down and nursed him to sleep. All was well. Except for my décolleté that was covered in red welts (I am not exaggerating here).

I think you know where I am getting at. Your toddler always has a reason to hit, scratch or bite you. He never wants to hurt you on purpose. For him it is the only way to release tension. It is a catalyst for stress and pain.

So if your toddler hits you right in the face or pokes you in the middle of your eye, don’t say:  “What is wrong with you?!” “Are you kidding me?!” “You can’t just hit me!” “What was that supposed to be?” “Are you nuts?” “Don’t do that again!”

First: He won’t understand the content of your words. All he will understand is: I should suppress my feelings and I shall not show it, when I feel bad.

Reasons why your toddler hits you:

  • he wants attention and love
  • he wants to release tension
  • he is hungry or tired
  • he needs to move and play
  • he is curious about the effect

Instead: calm him down and breathe for a second. Take a step back and give yourself time for the right reaction. “I have a feeling that you are aggressive?” ” You have tensions in you, don’t you” “Please don’t hit me, I don’t like that” “How about you hit right on that pillow?” “You are really tired honey?” “I understand you want to say something?” “You feel uncomfortable?” “You need some running, let’s go outside?”

Protect yourself as good as you can, but understand that the little soul in front of you just wants to give you a portion of his bad feelings. And that he feels incredibly relieved when he is done with you.

Sometimes it is us who produce the whole situation. We stayed inside all day to relax, although the little ones want to run and move outside. We decide for a long exhausting day in the city, because we want to go shopping. Or like myself: We just want to do something special and delay expected rituals. And please don’t stop doing the things you like and that fulfill you, not even that long shopping tour with your toddler.

But afterwards don’t be mad at him, if he has bad feelings and if he doesn’t know where to go with them. Your toddler vents his anger on you because he knows he can trust you. Be thankful for that.

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When my brother was gone in the evening that day, J and I were quite exhausted of the long long day. So I just lay close beside him in our family bed after I nursed him to sleep. I lay with my hand on his quickly moving belly and with my face close to his. I felt his breath on my forehead. I lay there and I thanked him silently for spending the day in my way.