Thursday, April 14, 2016

Are you a PLAYFUL Parent?

If you are a parent and a parkour practitioner, it's likely you have come across some of the literature that has been published about playful parenting.  If you are a parent, and haven't heard about it, you might want to consider looking into it, and see if you can apply some of these useful philosophies into your own parenting style, if you haven't already.

To give you a brief recap, playful parenting is about connecting with your children by joining them in their world of play, while focusing on the laughter, connection, giggling, rough housing, and building confidence, while following your child's lead.  The point is by doing so, you can build strong bonds that can lead to solving behavioral problems, encourage confidence and success, and nurture connections.  A common complaint I get from clients, friends, and colleagues, is that they don't have the energy to play with their kids, or do much of anything outside of work, or taking care of the kids.  I'm often met with generous compliments of how I'm a "Super mom".  Or sometimes I'm met with more rude and sarcastic comments like, "I'd hate to see how your house looks," or diminishing comments like, "Wow you must be stressed all the time, I couldn't live like that."  But on the flip side, I'm usually met with wide eyes, and matter of fact questions like, "You seem so calm?!  How is that even possible?!"  I'm considerably grateful for people's enthusiasm, but I also feel that I need to set the record straight.  I'm in no shape or form "Super" in my energy levels and capacity to do "more" than the average person.  I'm also not considerably stressed.  I think there is a misconception that in order to be "Super" you have to be a multi-tasking All-Star, and sacrifice what little sanity you have for productivity.   Which none of the above paints an accurate picture at all.  So I figured now is the time I share some of the things that have worked for me, and give an explanation of how my life rolls, and how I have incorporated "playful parenting" philosophies into my everyday, and what that looks like.

One question I get all the time is, "How do you have the energy to do all that you do..."  I'm a mother of 4 boys and I homeschool all of them, own a business with 30 employees, and am a working artist/athlete.  Since I get this question often, I figured I'd share my "trade secrets", which are anything but secret.  The next thing I would like to say is that I don't seem to have any more energy than anyone else.  I wake up at 7:00am and I go to bed at 10:30pm (give or take).  I have roughly, the same waking hours as any other average individual, and I do not feel like I have any super hero caliber energy pulsing through my veins.  I wake up, and I'm sloooowwww to get up, and I don't rush through my day going from here to there.  If anything it's just the opposite.  My days are calm, relaxed, and there's not a lot of push comes to shove.

Here is this video my twins and I are on a 1 mile cartwheel challenge.  My kids often ask to recreate fun and special moments that we had.  This one in particular.  But I can't say I have this kind of energy everyday.  This was a special and unique moment that we had (I also felt that magical moment in my knees for about two days thereafter).  

The first thing I'd like to share is that every morning I have a ritual.  The first thing I do when I wake up is focus on something I'm grateful for.  This puts my mind at ease and puts me in a "beautiful" state.  Then I have a little white board in my bathroom, and I decide what my "musts" are for the day. At this time I write down what I want my outcomes to be for the day.  I'm a believer that if you do not have a plan to create beautiful moments during your day, then it's likely you won't have them.  And that is a waste.  So my musts always include either a walk with my kids, or spending some quality time helping them develop a skill.  Beautiful moments are sure to come about organically, if I prioritize within my "Lifestyle Design" that I connect with my kids and husband.

Nature Walks are a part of our life - here is where we have some of our most important conversations, while being inspired by the beauty that surrounds us.  It's almost impossible to not feel gratitude when you are in this state of mind, doing this kind of activity.
The next thing to consider is that connecting takes energy.  Playing and connecting can be absolutely exhausting, which is why it's good to pre-plan time to connect, and stay balanced.  I'm a big believer in taking time and energy to create beautiful memories with the ones you love, but I'm also a believer in conserving energy, so that you can last all throughout the day, without having to crawl into bed feeling completely beat up.  One reason energy conservation is important, is that tiredness causes grumpiness, and puts you in a "numb" mindset, where you don't feel present.  The day sort of blurs by.  I don't think that's a good way to live.  I think mental awareness during your waking hours should be a priority.

Consuming Food and Movement that keeps my cognitive and immune function optimized is the next priority.  I love to work out, and I love to spend copius amounts of time preparing a delicious meal, but if I spend a lot of time or energy taxing my body, or my mind, then that is energy lost on work projects, or connecting with family members.  So everything must be balanced.  I try to keep everything simple, and not worry if I didn't have a chance to prepare a completely organic meal.  I don't stress if I didn't get 45 minutes of cardio in my day.  In fact, my movement nutrition involves lots and lots of diversity, and moving abstractly.
Juice making and smoothie making is a regular thing.  It's fast, easy, and extremely nutritious.

This happens alot, only I'm usually doing this off my couch, or off the wall.  The kids immediately get in on the action when they see Mom moving in a fun and interesting way.  There is no reason to get all "Adulting" on movement.  Keep it fun for yourself and skies the limit.
I avoid daily "Musts" that are too time consuming, or physically or mentally exhausting.  If it is, it needs to be broken up into multiple days, weeks, and/or months.  When you are a parent, and/or business owner, sometimes you have to make crucial decisions under heavy amounts of stress.  And a lot of times, that stress can be unexpected.  So don't plan on having a taxing day.  You may already have that come at you, on any unexpected turn.  So keep it simple.

I try not to engage too much time in grooming and primping.  Sometimes just keeping yourself clean and tidy is all you can do, so when I have days where makeup didn't make the cut, I try to remember to smile a lot more.  I keep my hair style simple, my makeup simple, my clothing, you guessed it! SIMPLE.

Make folding and putting away laundry, a game.  I have been known to ignore laundry.  There are times where I'll have laundry piled 5' high.  We're an active family, and we camp a lot, so we have A LOT of clothes, linens, and sleeping bags to tend.  We've employed laundry put away relay races, timed races, find the hidden toy in the pile of laundry with stipulations of folding action... you get the picture.  The kids are required to help out on the cleaning side, BUT I don't have any problem employing help for the deep cleaning.  I know deep cleaning is not ever going to be a priority, so I set aside a budget for that task to be handled by the professionals every once in a while.

Lastly, don't take yourself too seriously.  If you want to be able to connect with your child regularly, you need to be able to step away from the vacuum of "Adulting".  Try to stay close to how they see the world. In other words...

How about replace some of your "Recharge" activities with "Rechild" activities.  Maybe a steam room or a massage isn't the only way to unwind.  Perhaps, climbing a tree, or taking a Parkour class with your child would be great way to connect and see the world as they see it.  A playground.
Along the lines of not taking yourself too seriously, creating beautiful memories can involve capturing hilarious moments that took some coordination, maybe even some work!

We take hysterical family pictures that make us laugh and be awesome all at the same time.  This one is going to be printed on a large canvas and hang in our front room.  That way when guests enter the first thing they will see is our "Ninja Bunch" family photo.  It's sure to be a hilarious introduction to our unique homestead, and be a very playful conversation piece.  The point is, just be creative.  There are all types of ways you can be the playful parent.

#playfulparenting #parkour #rechildyourself #juicing #naturewalks #funfamilyportraits #supermom #cartwheelchallenge