The Sling Diaries, Volume VII. A photo-documentary chronicling the art of baby wearing in the lives of families around the world. Over the course of six months, Sling Diarists will create their own Sling Diary though a series of diary entries interpreting a unique theme given to them each month.
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"The way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice." - Peggy O'Mara
At 35 weeks pregnant with two other wildlings in tow, this has undoubtedly become my daily mantra. The sink is constantly full, the fridge is eternally empty, and the laundry piles are endless. The boys are perpetually running, jumping, singing in circles around me and my big belly. It seems that as she grows, my patience shrinks. But there's always somewhere to go and something to do--both time itself and my sanity fly by with little signs of slowing. Can y'all feel me?
Cue in my mantra here, and by that I mean every hour or so throughout our day. Upon reflection, and considering the obsessive list-maker that I am, I've collected a few ideas to help put this mantra into action. As my pregnancy carries on, these are the practices that allow me to speak to my children with intention and the spirit of aloha. Whether you're pregnant, toilet learning with your toddler, or simply powering through this adventure of motherhood I hope that you will join me in this endeavor of love.
1. Plan ahead and slow down.
Feeling calm and being respectful go hand in hand. A rushed morning leaves little opportunity for meaningful interactions and can set a frantic tone for the day. Our goal is to eat breakfast together every morning and to accomplish this we ask the boys to plan (and sometimes help prepare) their lunch the night before. They also plan their breakfast, as do we.
We even try to have everything everyone needs for the following day by the door, or even in the car ready to go. Outfits for school are laid out at the edge of each boy's bed. When I wake up knowing that we are all ready for the day, I am free to find joy in every aspect of our morning routine from easygoing breakfast conversations to dance parties en route to brushing teeth.
2. Disconnect to connect.
I'm fairly certain this is on every list I've ever made since becoming a mama. While my husband and I had always envisioned a basket for phones by the door, the fact that we own a business on top of our revolving door of houseguests has rendered this idea impossible. Instead, we've been trying to focus on "no phone zones" such as mealtimes, the boys' room, our bedroom, and even in the car.
Stashing our phones allows us to remain engaged in the present moment. When we remove the distraction of our screens the conversations we share with our children go from brief (even impersonal at times) to meaningful. We have even reached a point where the boys expect and kindly demand eye contact while speaking or being spoken to.
3. Take time-ins.
The Calming Corner has easily become a favorite nook in our home. Inspired by the Time-In Toolkit from Generation Mindful, we created a cozy corner for anyone to use while processing their feelings. The goals of a time-in include: identifying how we are feeling and why, followed by identifying how we want to feel and how to achieve this.
It's a simple space that the boys helped us design--a child-friendly visual of calming strategies looks over a colorful woven rug and a giant pillow. There are a few quiet activities within arms reach--we rotate books, puzzles, photos, play silks and more.
My husband and I deliberately talk aloud about our moods and problem solving around our feelings within the Calming Corner--we explicitly model the process and value of taking a time-in. It's during the most challenging of times that I can show the boys how my own inner voice can guide me back to a happy place. We've slowly been integrating time-ins over the last week or so and I already see the positive impact it's having on everyone's ability to interact with respect.
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