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Excerpt from "A Guru in the Nursery: 50 Ways to Remember Your Spirit While Changing Diapers"

The Dirty Dozen – Top 12 Tips for Recharging Mom

by Dawn M. Staszak


Once upon a time, I had an excellent spiritual practice … and then I became a mom! Suddenly, my world spun out of control and I needed to find a way to restore harmony – for my sake and my baby’s. I managed, and then two years later, became a mom for a second time. Again, my world spun out of control, except this time I was exponentially overwhelmed, and I knew I needed to get especially creative in order to stabilize. There was never a time in my entire life where I needed to center myself and connect with Spirit more than being home alone with a two-year-old and a newborn. The following are a few practices I discovered that helped to replenish my spiritual bank account during this amazing yet challenging experience. Friends have commented, “I don’t know how you do it!” – this is how.

Prayer

Honestly, sometimes the only thing that got me through the day in the first few months after my second child was born was to just stop for a minute and pray. I recall once when they both happened to be sleeping at the same time, I got down on my knees out of pure gratitude for even just a moment’s peace.

I prayed for strength, I prayed to get through the day, and I prayed to be present for my child(ren) and spouse. It wasn’t long, just a few seconds to speak aloud or simply think the thoughts that were in my head. I found that whispering them aloud was helpful to get them out so I could hear them for myself. It made me feel better and snapped me back into a clearer frame of mind.

I like the idea of using prayer to get my children in the habit of focusing on their good and where it comes from – the Source of all good. I do my best to remember to say a simple prayer of gratitude with the kids before eating a meal (usually dinner), and especially when I find good parking spots.

Also, instead of saying the old “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” at bedtime, I basically run down a simple “gratitude list” of their own. After lights are out, and I’m either lying or sitting beside my toddler in bed, I take a few moments to review his day with him to teach him gratitude for everything good that happened that day and all the good things he has in his life (Mommy, Daddy, Sister, pets, food, bed, etc.) This is to try and ensure he has good thoughts in his head while entering sleep.

Then, I do the same for myself. When I can, before I go to bed, I do my best to journal, or at least review in my mind all the good that happened during the day and everything I have to be grateful for in my life. Every night I read a Daily Guide from my Science of Mind magazine, and either one or more of the following: a passage from Awakenings by Shakti Gawain, affirmation cards (either ones that I’ve made or from Louise Hay), “Angel Cards,” inspirational cards from Wayne Dyer or the Dalai Lama, or my intentions. Any and all of this is to impress good thoughts into my subconscious before entering sleep, which I find helps me sleep better (for as long as that may be).

Cleansing Visualization

Showering is something we all must do (even as hard as it is with having a newborn!), so I use it as another opportunity to practice one of my favorite secret tricks because it takes up no extra time. It is simply all visualization.

When I take a shower, I use it as an opportunity to cleanse my energy and thoughts as well. I imagine the water as a magical shimmering liquid that is penetrating my body and washing away all the dark negativity down the drain. Therefore, I end the shower feeling cleansed both inside and out.

Inspiration in Commute

While driving the kids to playdates, classes, or to the store, you can use this time to infuse your consciousness with positive thoughts that will stay with you throughout the day. When driving, try listening to relaxing music (as long as it doesn’t make you sleepy, of course!), inspirational audio programs, or even church service recordings (my church provides CD recordings of their services for sale).

I especially enjoy my church’s recordings because in the beginning it was very difficult for me to get to church as often as I liked. However, I purchased the past recordings to listen to whenever I was driving (usually on the way to or home from church) and I still get the benefits from it, even if I wasn’t there that day.

However, I also really love listening to inspirational audio programs. Although it took several weeks, I was able to get through a large series, such as Paul Scheele’s “Abundance for Life” program. On the other hand, it only took a couple of days for me to finish Louise Hay’s “Embracing Change” CDs. Of course, I listen to my kids if they are talking to me and we hold conversations, so lots of times I repeat the CDs until I feel I’ve heard everything, but that’s okay, because I know I am still getting something out of it. I enjoy it and it helps me, and that’s what matters.

Afternoon Tea

I got into the habit of having tea with my lunch, and it is a very nice treat. Having “tea time” makes me feel nice, like I’m pampering myself a little bit. It doesn’t take any extra time out of my day either, since I still need to eat.

I enjoy either “Tazo” or “Yogi” brands. Tazo has great flavors, but I especially enjoy Yogi because it has special inspirational messages on the tea bag tags such as “Strength does not lie in what you have. It lies in what you can give.” It’s refreshing to receive an inspiring notion like that in the middle of a hectic day with the kids!

Dances of Universal Peace

I discovered these Dances from the same friend who introduced me to the seasonal celebrations, because she took her daughter. She taught me that I could easily take my baby to these dances by holding her in a front-baby carrier. It’s great exercise, too! So, I took both children by holding my daughter in the carrier and having my son dancing with us.

I would describe these dances as “prayers in motion,” so although fun for the kids, it needs to have a certain amount of respect as well, just like church. My toddler really did enjoy the dances for the first hour, and got better at keeping up as I continued to take him, but after a while, he’d want to go home after the break.

Furthermore, after my daughter outgrew the carrier and my son became restless, it was no longer respectful to take them to the adult group, because they broke the circle often and ran around on their own, which was understandably too distracting for the other participants.

Fortunately, my friend is studying to be a facilitator herself, so she is creating a Dances class especially for kids. That way, we will be able to bring our kids and continue to teach them the prayers and steps. Then, if (when) they break free and run around, it would be okay, because it would be a class solely for kids, which is a different energy and purpose than the one for adults.

Visit www.dancesofuniversalpeace.org for more information.

Drumming Circles

I never would have considered bringing my children to a drumming circle if it had not been for a wonderful lady I met in my church congregation named Darlene Palese (www.awithheartinhandpetcare.com). She loves kids and insisted I bring mine. I am so glad I did! My son loved the drumming and he even got into the rhythm by running around the outside of the circle, which (fortunately!) the participants did not mind.

Of course, this would not work with all groups, so be sure to check with the group leader before you attempt this. Unfortunately, there is a small “window” of time between the baby and toddler ages where this will work. In months after, when he was nearing four, he seemed to get bored of it and didn’t want to do it anymore. Yet, my one-year-old still enjoyed it and would pick up some instruments to participate. Perhaps she’ll continue to want to go. However, one time when my son saw us going without him, he changed his mind and wanted to go again as well. It’s hit-or-miss, sometimes, with toddlers.

I love the idea of getting the kids to experience the feeling of group drumming – the intensity of it, the sound of the different drums and other instruments harmonizing, and being able to participate. If anything, it’s a foundation for them to accompany me in the future and to learn about other cultures that do this. I encourage them to play their instruments at home for their own enjoyment, so they can learn about music and hopefully foster their love of it. In addition, it’s very therapeutic to get all your frustrations out in the drumming, if needed.

Spiritual Children’s Books

I was so pleased to discover that my favorite spiritual authors also wrote books for children! It is important to me to pass along my New Thought beliefs which portray a benevolent, positive, and all-inclusive God whom I learned about through many of these wonderful authors. I am thrilled to share with you that they have adapted their messages for the little ones.

Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Byron Katie, Doreen Virtue, and others have several children’s books available at www.hayhouse.com. I particularly enjoy reading my children Louise Hay’s I Think I Am about the power of affirmations.

Neale Donald Walsch has written The Little Soul and the Sun, The Little Soul and the Earth, and Santa’s God. His message is to teach children about their inherent value and connection to God. The books can be found at www.conversationswithgod.org.

Another source is the book club OneSpirit, www.onespirit.com. Under “Children’s Fiction” you will find inspirational books such as One Love and Every Little Thing based on the songs by Bob Marley, written by his daughter Cedella Marley. However, since this is a book club, the titles change regularly.

Fortunately, I have also been privy to some good books for young kids on new thought teachings, being a facilitator in my church for the 0-4 age group. I was given 10 Big Ideas of New Thought Teaching for Kids 3-8 by Reverend Nancy Zala, which has simple lessons and coloring pages. There is also an upcoming series of four books titled, How to Remember Who You Are available at www.howtorememberwhoyouare.com. The characters are four animated puppies named Dusty, Snuggles, Bouncer, and Spot who each have a different lesson to teach with lesson plans, coloring pages, activities, and a song. The first book is available to download as a free trial.

More inspirational books on affirmations and new thought concepts for children can be found through the publisher DeVorss & Company at www.devorss.com.

Yoga for Toddlers

As most of us are aware, the health benefits of yoga are far-ranging, including body awareness, relaxation, exercise, and centering. However, I never considered Yoga for toddlers until we had a presenter at one of my monthly Holistic Mom’s Network meetings who did a session with us and the kids. It was a big hit!

There are specific Yoga classes designed especially for young children. I took my 2½ year-old son to “Yoga Camp” for a week. Each class was 1½ hours for one week, Monday through Friday, and it was a drop-off class, so I was able to spend time alone with my 7-month-old daughter. My son really enjoyed the class. I got a list of the poses so I could practice doing them with him at home. I decided to incorporate some of the poses into his bedtime routine to help him wind down. Eventually, he created his own “poses” and we have a lot of fun with them!

If you look up “Yoga for toddlers” online, you will find a multitude of resources. However, unless you are skilled in Yoga yourself, I would not recommend doing the poses with your toddler unless you take him or her to a class taught by a professional, just to be safe. It is best to make sure you are doing the poses correctly to prevent any type of injury or strain. Once mastered, however, it is great fun for your child and offers many benefits, such as teaching body awareness, managing stress, increasing focus, and sharpening concentration skills. I am always open to anything that enhances my child’s physical and mental well-being, and this was a great discovery I share with other parents.

Inspirational Reading

I find inspirational reading a must to help train my brain to focus on positive, uplifting thoughts. However, I could not always find time to sit down and just read – that was a luxury. Therefore, I had to get creative on this front as well.

Although feeding time is bonding time, after a while I discovered I could also use this time to read. I put a laptop on a table next to me and was able to read e-books and newsletters on it. When reading books and magazines, I could position myself to turn the page with the free hand.

At night, at the very least, I made sure to simply read an inspirational passage before bed. The “Daily Guides” from my Science of Mind magazine worked well for this. It also helped me to have some kind of nightly routine that signaled it was bedtime, even if I was getting up in another couple of hours.

If anything, you always have to go to the bathroom, so keep a self-help or inspirational book in the bathroom to read just a page or two while nature calls. I have read many books this way – sometimes it’s the only time I get!

Affirmations

Affirmations are positive one-line statements you repeat to yourself over and over. This is slightly different from simply using positive self-talk, because these are short, present-tense phrases used to evoke a feeling of conviction in the moment. It is “re-programming” your brain to think differently, but also to use the power of emotion to manifest your chosen desire.

I created my own affirmation cards by first writing a list of healing statements. I carried this list with me to read to myself over and over for several days, modifying anything that didn’t sound or feel right until it was. It is important to use only positive words, rather than “not,” “no,” “won’t,” and the like. For example, instead of saying “I will not lose my temper with the children” you can say, “I will practice patience and speak to my children in a calm, gentle tone.” See the Appendix for some affirmations just for parents.

A friend of mine shared an excellent idea with me on how she does her affirmations: she keeps them in list form (versus cards) and reads them while she’s blow drying her hair and/or brushing her teeth. This is an ideal time because you’re either doing those activities in the morning before you start your day or at night before bed. In fact, doing them at both times would be highly effective.

Whenever or however you choose to do them, the main focus is the feeling behind them. If you just read through them without conceptualizing them, it most likely won’t do you any good, unless perhaps pure repetition is what works for you. However, most people find that truly focusing on the words and feelings 100% brings about true and lasting results.

There are so many resources for affirmations. It is good to discover many to find the ones that resonate best with you. Ultimately, however, the most effective exercise would be for you to create your own. That way, they will be especially meaningful and powerful for you.

Yoga for Mom

I found it wonderfully helpful to sneak my yoga time in during “down time” moments. One example is when you are waiting for baby to fall asleep before going into your own bed. I would go all the way back to my bedroom, watch on the monitor, then if baby started crying, I’d wait the recommended five minutes, then go back. Eventually, I “graduated” to just waiting in the hallway. Realizing I actually had a few moments to do nothing but wait, I decided to be productive. So, instead of simply playing the back-and-forth game with baby, I used this time to do a simple yoga routine. (As stated in the previous “Meditation” chapter, I would meditate as well.)

In as little as five minutes, you can perform the sun salutation, butterfly, child's pose, snake, and several others. I did all those and even made up some of my own stretches that felt good to me as well.

Other times I find to sneak in yoga are when my toddler is doing “quiet time” activities, and when I am about to go to bed myself. I especially enjoy doing a simple routine at night before bed, because the stretching helps to alleviate and release the tensions from the day, as well as being an excellent precursor to meditation.

Journal

This one can be very tough, but it was essential to me. I had to really be creative on this one, because to actually set aside time to journal was out of the question most days. Some tricks I did are as follows.

If I had an idea, I would type it into my phone, which I kept with me at all times for checking the weather, e-mail, Facebook, and most importantly for security reasons (to make sure I could reach someone at a moment’s notice). I am blessed to have a phone with an application that I could type notes into. I dated it, so I could track my progress and, if needed, to copy it into my “real” (handwritten) journal notebook at a later date.

At one point, I found that I was using Facebook as my journal. Of course, not for anything too private, but for funny thoughts or anecdotes I wanted to share. I didn’t intend to make Facebook my journal, but it was convenient, because I could do it from my phone anywhere anytime. If I wanted to save these posts, I could just go back at a later date to copy and paste them into a Word document or handwrite them into one of my other journals. Fortunately, Facebook saves posts for a pretty long time – I was able to retrieve a post from six months prior, just before my daughter was born!

I also kept a notepad in the pocket of the diaper bag. This way, I would just jot down anything that came to mind. Examples are some random thoughts, things to put on the grocery list, errands I needed to run – whatever came to mind that I knew I needed to write down, otherwise I would forget.

These ideas are not the typical definition of journaling, but you learn to adjust your concept of how you need to achieve your goals when you become a new Mom. If and when I needed to “really” journal, I did it when the kids were sleeping, if I wasn’t too exhausted myself. Eventually I got to the point where I could stay up through their naps and do it. I would begin by journaling about what an achievement it was to be able to stay awake through their naps!

If and when there was a time they both napped, I’d be sure to start journaling right away to get the most time out of it before one of them woke up. I’d journal what I felt I needed to and then try to nap myself, even if it was for only ten minutes, which actually did happen once, but at least I was able to journal and then rest for just a bit.

Making this time for yourself is essential because it is like “talking to your Higher Self.” You can gain clarity, vent, or just organize your thoughts in the midst of the chaos. It is like your own personal “conversation with God.”

Now that the weather is starting to warm up, give yourself the gift of some peaceful, quiet time to recharge your batteries, because you are important and you deserve it! Namaste, Mama!

Dawn M. Staszak has worked in commercial and non-profit, large and small companies, both as a permanent and temporary employee for over twenty years. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration (Sales and Marketing) and two Associate degrees. She was most recently a Senior Administrative Assistant in a Fortune 500 company.

Ideas excerpted from her most recent book, A Guru in the Nursery: 50 Ways to Remember Your Spirit While Changing Diapers, published by Balboa Press, 2013, available via her website, www.guruinthenursery.com or www.balboapress.com Her two previous books are “A Guru In The Office,” and “A Fish Out Of Water,” both published by RealityIs Books available via www.guruintheoffice.com or www.realityisbooks.com.


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