How to Share a Passion with Your Kids

Summer is quickly approaching! Do you have a summer reading list? I’m adding Little Women to mine — because as you’ll see in this video, family reading time has been a big hit in our family! We just finished Call of the Wild! My daughter was rapt! It’s been especially rewarding for me because books are so important to me. I can measure periods of my life by the books that dominated them: Little Women, Call of the Wild, Pride and Prejudice, A Wrinkle In Time, Grapes of Wrath, Dune — all the way to Mutant Message Down Under, Eat Pray Love, and Committed (thank you, Jen Hibbits!)


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How to Get Bound with a Book

My dad died a long time ago,  long before I had children. Yet, among other things, we are still bound by a book. It’s a hardcover edition of Mark Twain’s short stories. My dad bought it when I was a toddler and gave it to me the night before I got married, telling me that Twain’s humor and wisdom would come in handy in the years ahead. It did, and it still does.

book_boundWhen you share a book with someone it’s as if you’re saying “I value what’s in this book enough to want to share it with you because I value you too.” Simple sentiments become more powerful when accompanied by a book.

Parents of small children know how important “book/cuddle time” is to raising a reader and making essential connections. Parents of preteens and teens can continue to build a special closeness through books: [Read more…]

Zen Mommy Minute: “Book Cuddling”

This week I am spending four amazing days soaking up the best of the best when it comes to the latest in early childhood development at the Parents As Teachers 25th National Conference. Yep, it’s all happening this week in my hometown of St. Louis (how lucky can a girl GET?!?!) and My Mommy Manual is there with Media Passes to cover the full event. You can expect a number of posts in the days and weeks to come inspired by the darn-knowledgeable, topical and FUN presenters we’re seeing.

How are Practical Mommy and I enjoying the conference thus far? Just think “kid in a candy store” and you’ve got the idea. Yesterday at a workshop entitled “Read With Me” I was reminded of the importance of reading with kids. I know you hear a lot about this topic from doctors, magazines, etc… but let me tell you about the message I got from this session that had a refreshing twist! Learn more in this one minute video and/or by reading on!

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How to Open Up Your Life

If you are feeling claustrophobic in your life, perhaps what you need is a way to open it up! (video 4:53) How can you make connections between the different realms of your life? [Read more…]

How to Design a Nursery

baby room ideasThe Peaceful Nursery: Preparing a Home for Your Baby with Feng Shui

Discover the joys of nesting as you prepare the perfect, peaceful space for the newest love of your life! As an expecting parent, designing this special room is a wonderful opportunity to prepare, mentally and physically, for the changes to come.

The Peaceful Nursery shows you how to apply the best principles of home decorating, Feng Shui, and healthy living to create a warm and welcoming environment for your new baby.

  • Dozens of color photographs and helpful diagrams will inspire and guide you
  • The Quick Tips section at the end of each chapter will save you time and money
  • The 12 Steps to Clearing Clutter and great storage and organization tips will save your post-partum sanity

Additional sections on colors that soothe and arranging parent bedrooms make The Peaceful Nursery: Preparing a Home for Your Baby with Feng Shui the ultimate guide to creating beautiful and nurturing spaces for you and your baby.

Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.

How to Raise Your Child to be HAPPY

Childhood Roots of Adult HappinessAs much as we’d like to wrap happiness up and give it as a gift to our kids this holiday season, alas, we cannot. Happiness comes from within. It can only come from within. No amount of telling our children they “should” be happy for this or that can actually make it so. So how can we raise our children to be happy if we cannot give them happiness? (This is starting to sound like a Zen riddle!) Well, there’s hope…and it is not complicated. Research shows we can give our children happiness in the way we parent and in the way we live our lives.

One of my all time favorite books on the subject details this out very plainly, giving real world examples and strategies that help kids tap into their own internal wellspring of happiness. The book is The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness by Edward M. Hallowell.

In it, Dr. Hallowell examines the research on how kids learn to create and sustain lifelong joy…regardless of the circumstances of their lives. Profound. He offers a simple explanation and five easy steps parents can take.

If you are like me you are thinking, “What ARE the 5 steps??! Give me the formula!” Well, the book is worth a full read, but here they are in a nutshell:

1. Connection

2. Play

3. Practice

4. Mastery

5. Recognition

Through his personal experiences and as a child psychiatrist, Dr. Hallowell reminds us of the significance of CONNECTEDNESS (my favorite theme of all time), playfulness, optimism, and joy in our daily lives. One major take away is to avoid over scheduling your child’s life. They need lots of time to just BE, to play and create and imagine…you know…like you and I got to do when we were kids? Not dance, soccer, gymnastics, music and karate classes…just your child/ren and chunks of time with nothing to do but be a kid. This book really helped me off the hook of feeling I somehow needed to entertain my kids24/7 if I was to be a “good mom”.

Now the words “Mom, I’m bored” are music to my ears. It means I’m doing my job and my kids are being given ample down time to just be; to practice figuring out how to create their own happiness. And they do. Minutes after “I’m bored” our girls move head on into some of the most creative and magical games you could ever imagine…making fairy clothes out of leaves…dressing the cat to look like a rock star…the list goes on.

This enlightening book is thought provoking and a must read for anyone hoping to inspire happiness in the lives of children. I am encouraged to know that as parents, we can make a profound difference in our children’s abilities to create and sustain happiness no matter what challenges life may bring their way. I hope you will read this book and that it brings joy and ease…to your children and to your parenting.

I’d love to hear about your favorite parenting reads and what you got from them!!!

Suzanne, aka Zen Mommy
In addition to mommying to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003, Suzanne owns a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Infant Massage Instructor and health education teacher. She is also the co-creator of the Yoga Parenting course.

How to Overcome Fear

Overcome FearI picked up The Alchemist this evening, looking for an “easy” read in the tub. Did I mention that Paulo Coelho is my idol?! :) In the preface, he tries to explain the secret behind the success of this book, having sold over 20 million copies and having been translated into 56 languages! Interestingly enough, his honest response is, “I don’t know. All I know is that like Santiago, the shepherd boy, we all need to be aware of our personal calling. What is a personal calling? It is God’s blessing, it is the path that God chose for you here on Earth. Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend. However, we don’t all have the courage to confront our own dream.”

Coelho goes on to say that there are four obstacles to living our personal calling: 1) we are told from childhood that our dream is impossible, 2) we are afraid to hurt the people around us by abandoning everything to pursue our dream, 3) fear of the defeats we will encounter along the way and finally… 4) the fear of realizing the dream itself for which we fought all our lives! Wow! Essentially, what keeps us from our dreams… our calling… our bliss? FEAR.

I recently separated from my husband of eleven years. [Read more…]