It was a simple sentence uttered on the playground by a neighbourhood mom. As we watched our boys playing, our talk turned to how hard it has been to get my kids out the door in the mornings. Recently, my five year-old son has decided that every step of the morning routine is unnecessary. The chart that was so effective at keeping us on track no longer holds any weight. And that particular morning had been, let’s just say, plain difficult.
In the quest to find the Zen in motherhood, I encounter obstacles every day. They range from the mind-numbing monotony of tidying up toys, to unfinished to-do lists, to managing the household and my own business. And then there’s temper tantrums, being woken up numerous times a night, unexpected trips to the garage to get the car fixed, and my husband having to stay late at the office when we have a family dinner planned.
I’m frequently asked how I fit my own yoga practice back into my life after having kids. Frankly, for me, it was a struggle. I’ve always joked that it’s lucky I teach yoga, or I would never have had time on the mat. And that my downward dog often involves a child crawling under me. I don’t think there is one way of getting back to the mat that will work for everyone; there is no single “answer.” But I do have a couple of suggestions for how to come back to your yoga practice after having kids.
There are many moments in parenting when I wonder if I’m doing it right. I question how my choices will turn out in the long term, and whether each decision I’ve made will have minor or major implications on the lives of our kids. And then there are times when I can take a pause, breathe into the moment at hand, and feel content that things are going okay.
School had just let out, and my six year-old son and I are headed back inside against the flow of student traffic because we forgot something in his cubby. Kids are zooming down the stairs, teachers are urging the slackers to stop dawdling and put on their backpacks. As I head up the stairs, there’s a small space that kids are walking around and, when I get to the landing, I see why. A grade one boy is sitting on the floor, with tears streaming down his face, gripping a Tupperware container.
I don’t know any parent who hasn’t experienced some kind of struggle with their kids at bedtime. There’s a reason for the extreme popularity of the book Go the F&@k to Sleep. Reading stories is always an important part of our night-time ritual but I also use a few other tools that have saved my sanity and helped my little ones slip into slumber with greater ease. Some worked for a few months, some a few weeks, some are used on rotation, and some have become a standard part of our bedtime routine.
There is this myth of motherhood that has been perpetuated over the years about moms who do it all and how does she do it and oh-my-god-how-do-you-manage? I admit, I’m guilty of it. I look at other moms and wonder how they can look like they just came from the salon when I know full well they were wrangling four kids through breakfast and the get-to-school routine. We all have our struggles so why do we think that everyone else is handling things with seeming ease?
Who doesn’t want to be happy? Or want their kids to be happy?
According to Richard Davidson, a professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it’s simple. Just as we can acquire a skill like learning to play the violin, we can learn to be happy through mindfulness.
With my kids now ages eight and five, our family came out of the holidays this year in a completely different way than we did a few short years ago. We actually started the year off relaxed and energized for the coming weeks and months. Before the back-to-school rush, my husband and I were reminiscing about the early years of our children's lives, and memories started to surface of the first Christmas we were new parents. Lizzie was three months old, and despite living six hours away from our closest family members, we had decided to do a whole bunch of traveling to see everyone.
With the dawn of each New Year, there’s the typical buzz about resolutions, reflections, intentions, or goals for the days and months to come. Regardless of whether you balk at the idea of New Year's resolutions, or whether you’re a keen goal-setter come January 1st, it’s pretty natural to approach a New Year as a bit of a fresh start. A clean slate. And one thing I’m sure we all have in common: the desire to make the year ahead a good one. I’m pretty certain that no-one rings in a New Year with the hopes that it will be shittier than the year before.
Oh, Christmas. Here it is again. It's crept up quickly, and—if you’re like me—there are a few last-minute gifts left to buy. If you’re time-crunched and scrambling to get something special for the favourite yogi or wannabe yogi in your life, rest assured, it’s not too late to get the perfect gift! Here are my top picks for last-minute yoga presents that are easy to get, but sure to please. Because, really, who couldn’t use a little more Zen in their life?
The holiday train has left the station. The countdown to Christmas is on and for many, the calendar for the next month is already full. There are lots of ways to stave off stress this holiday season, but one sure-fire way to stay happy over the holidays is to make sure you fit in some self-care.
It’s early autumn. My daughter and I are in a small dance wear shop, looking for a new gymnastics outfit for her. We’ve picked out a couple of outfits and Lizzie is in the change room trying them on as I wander the racks reminiscing about the dance recitals of my youth. I’m clear across the store when I hear singing from the change room: “Pretty pretty please, don’t you ever ever feel like you’re less than, less than perfect.” It’s my daughter, singing loudly and with abandon, repeating the same verse over and over.
My husband and I were out for dinner a few weeks ago. Just like old times. Except it wasn’t like old times. When Tim excused himself to go to the bathroom, my first instinct was to reach into my purse and check my iPhone. As I was scrolling through my inbox, I stopped myself. "Why am I checking email?" I thought. I had absolutely no good reason, so I put the phone down. Looking around, most people who weren’t engrossed in conversation, (and some who were still having a conversation) were on their smartphones. Heads down.
We all want a stress-free holiday season, but let’s face it: it's often a tricky time. We long to enjoy vacation days, spend quality time with family and friends, and celebrate whichever rituals we honour during the festive season.
As I traverse the path of motherhood, I am constantly reminded of the ways in which yoga has saved my sanity. There have been days when yogic breathing has pulled me back from the brink, and nights when I have relied upon the power of relaxation to get me through the bedtime shenanigans. For every posture I’ve practiced I could tell a thousand stories. Instead of boring you with tales of which poses helped me through which milestones, I’ve compiled a list of five yoga poses every mother of young children should have in her arsenal, and why.
We all want our kids to feel comfortable and confident with themselves, and to know they are valued. I try to build confidence in my daughter and son on a daily basis. I talk about the strengths I see in them, how much I love watching them do activities that make them happy, and I recognize when they have made good choices. But, like most people, amidst all the other noise (and, ahem, some nagging) they don't always hear what I’m saying. Or they may hear me, but are not truly listening.
It’s back-to-school time. You might know this from the countless retail ads reminding you that your kids “need this,” or can’t go to school “without that.” You might know because one of your kids has become fixated on the calendar and you’re starting to mentally prepare him for what his days are going to look like.
There are many types of yoga. Not only are there different styles, there are different flavours. You can find classes that pair your favourite tastes with yoga (think chocolate yoga, yoga in the vineyard), and you can find classes geared towards specific groups (think yoga for runners or bro-yoga).