Archive for Happy Mom Education

Each Child is Different, meet them where they are…

Each Child is Different, meet them where they are

Photo Credit: Victor Cristian Mitroi, Flickr.com

The oldest of my five children, Nick, who is twenty-seven, and my second son, Allen-Michael, twenty-one, could not be more different from one another. Because they were raised by the same mother I just assumed the boys would be more alike. Though it makes no sense to expect this since I now understand each child arrives in the world with his own temperament, sets of challenges, and lessons for us, and a unique destiny to pursue as well.

Over the past few years, having made the shift from thinking and “do-ing” my parenting from a place where I was in charge of the teaching of my children, to the daily practice of the concept of their teaching me has been the wildest, yet most enlightening/rewarding journey of my life.

When I let go of my expectations (even those I would not have verbally acknowledged) and simply met my sons where they were, my world opened up.

For instance, Nick has been challenged with addiction to alcohol. He has battled this disease (some days more so than others) since he was fifteen years old. Almost five years sober at this point, he doesn’t attribute his recovery to faith in God or any other Higher Power. If you ask Nick he will say his fear of going back to jail is what keeps him away from any bottle. Nick does believe in God, but doesn’t actively pursue a relationship through church attendance or in his everyday life. He was raised Catholic (I will admit, inconsistently), but doesn’t care to make time for spirituality or religion today.

Allen-Michael, on the other hand, who was also raised “inconsistently Catholic” has had an increasingly close relationship with God since his teen years. Calm and easy-going from the day he arrived in the world, he avidly pursues daily mass, mission work, feeding the homeless, and even contemplating the priesthood. Allen-Michael feels very strongly about the gospel and looks to the lives of Catholic saints as inspiration for his own.

It appears to be too early to tell what role faith and religion will play the lives of my youngest three children, but they continue to be raised in the same way by a mother who often verbally and through her actions places more value in the intuition of a higher calling and a purpose greater then oneself than on the structure of any denomination or book.

What I love most about the different ways in which my children approach life is their ability to show respect for, and tolerance of one another choices to take a path different from their own. Knowing, above all else, I have helped create an environment for that to happen in is very gratifying.

What do you say and do to foster a sense of individuality in your children?

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When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

Photo Credit: Uncalno Tekno, Flickr.com

It’s been said when the student is ready, the teacher will arrive. At forty-six I have enough life experience to comprehend the truth in this statement. I also understand the teacher can come in many different forms and show up in both our most challenging and our most triumphant moments. Upon reflection, I can say with conviction my most valuable lessons have come through twenty-two years of marriage and in parenting five children.

The role of wife and mother have taught me what it means to be part of a committed relationship and, even more important, how little control I have over anyone but myself. While there are myraid ways I have witnessed this throughout marriage and motherhood, the most pivotal lesson came several years ago during a crisis with my eldest son (at the time in his early twenties), and his addiction to alcohol.

It was that particular journey which truly opened my eyes and heart to the essence of what it means to be a parent who loves unconditionally. Prior to this walk I believed I understood the importance of limitless acceptance, in hindsight I know it was (at times) merely lip service and not a thorough understanding or true appreciation for the gifts our children can be in helping us develop into our best selves.

Obviously how we parent our children on a daily basis is very important. But, in the end, we must take care to remember we do not have the authority to direct the outcome of the life they have been given to live. In other words, children come into the world through us, we are chosen to guide them and assist their efforts to work towards their life’s purpose by creating an atmosphere conducive to their growth.

This, in and of itself, is a wonderful gift. We [as parents and grandparents] can choose to take the gift to the next level and remain open to the continuous learning we receive through our children’s journey. For example, once I understood the magnitude of my son’s alcohol abuse I could have spent a lot of time blaming myself or someone else for the challenge. Or, I could have recoiled in shame or guilt for considering myself a horrible mother. Instead, I chose to pray for my own guidance in assisting, supporting, encouraging, loving and learning from my son through the process of his recovery.

There were times when even that was not enough. The epiphany came when I woke up one morning and understood I was not in a position to control the outcome of his battle with alcohol, I was only in control of how I responded to the situation that presented itself to me.

Each day provides opportunities to learn, and people to teach. The question is…are you teachable? If so, look no further than the children in your life to show you exactly where you need to grow.

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My Conscious Parenting Journey

Photo May 18, 7 20 07 PM

My Parenting Journey:

From 2001-2009 I was that parent I swore I would never be.  I was a yeller.  I was frustrated.  I was overwhelmed.  I wanted to be better but frankly I didn’t know how.  I’d look at my kids as they were sleeping with those peaceful angelic faces and say, “Tomorrow…yes tomorrow…I will enjoy each moment.  Tomorrow, I won’t rush so much.  Tomorrow I won’t lose my patience.”

Then tomorrow came and you know the story.

So after I ended up running myself into such a rut, I finally got help.  First for myself.  Then, well, for myself again.  It went something like this, if I could simplify it to such a degree.

STAGE 1- The Misery:

1) I was a tired SAHM of 3 girls under the age of 5.

2) I was overwhelmed and frequently took it out on my girls.

3) I felt lost in my life, had an affair and almost ended up divorced.

This led to some awesome stuff.

STAGE 2- The Awakening:

1) I learned that it’s okay to take care of myself, first.

2) I learned how to let go of guilt and stop focusing on perfection.

3) I learned how to stop being a people-pleaser and a victim and started focusing on creating a life I wanted to live.

This led to some more awesome stuff:

STAGE 3- The Application

1) I realized that change was up to me, not anyone else.

2) I decided that I wanted to be a better woman, wife and mother and that I wanted others to join this journey with me, so I became a life coach.

3) I started working with others to help them through the Awakening stage and also found The Conscious Parent in 2010.

Now I’ll be the first to tell you I am NOT a parenting expert.  I am a parent and educator.  

I am always open to learning and growing.  One day as I was dreaming about publishing companies, I came across Namaste Publishing.  By a matter of chance (if you believe in that…I don’t) I found this book, The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary and was so intrigued by it, I pre-ordered it.

Once I received it, I devoured it, and devoured it again.  I started practicing the principles in my home and watched in awe as the environment changed.

My home was more peaceful.  My girls were more communicative. I was more patient and relaxed.  I stop focusing on perfectionism and instead focused on building healthy relationships based on mutual respect.  I learned how to set boundaries with love and also to allow for natural consequence.

You see, this was all a result of Conscious Parenting, and it was the healing balm my family needed.

I reached out to Dr. Shefali and introduced myself.  I asked her question after question.  I was using her book to coach clients in my office.  I was so passionate about her work that I wrote a workbook as a companion to her book, which Constance, the founder of Namaste, approved for use in the courses I began teaching in my area.

I did this to help others see what I saw.  

So if this sounds like something you’d like to learn, if this sounds like an approach to parenting that might just trump a traditional top down parenting-style you might like to explore Conscious Parenting and see if it can do for you what I did for me, and my family.

I am forever grateful for the work of Dr. Shefali Tsabary.  I am grateful that she was able to verbalize this in a way that we can use.  I am grateful that she is willing to be a pioneer in the very opinionated and rocky world of parenting experts.  Her work is a huge part of the shift we all are making on this road to greater self-awareness.

Join us for this 4-week Conscious Parenting Course.

Take it one step at a time.  Go at your own pace.  The course starts when you’re ready and will be delivered to you by email once a week for 4 weeks.  You will need your own copy of The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali.  You will receive a complimentary workbook, which you can only receive by joining this course.

Plus we are over on Facebook in a group that is open for discussion of the Conscious Parent approach.  We are a warm and welcoming group of parents who want to do what is best for our children and for ourselves too.  We want to transform ourselves through our parenting and we are supportive of you as you transform too.  No judgment here.

It all starts with you making a choice to do something different and be the parent you really, deep down, know you can be.  

We love you and hope to see you in the group!  Once you join make sure you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about you and your child and we’ll be happy to help you.

Register Now Ticket

 

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Dr. Shefali Tsabary on Oprah’s Lifeclass

Less than two weeks ago we crashed Hodges University in Naples, FL for the day to celebrate motherhood, re-energize after a long summer and enjoy speakers like Dr. Shefali who made a virtual appearance on Conscious Parenting, Dr. Scott Haltzman on The Secrets of Happy Families, Cherie Rodriguez and me on Making Money with Meaning and Twitter Basics for Moms, at the 2nd Annual Happy Mom Conference.  

If you weren’t able to join stay tuned the digital pass will be coming out soon and you’ll be able to watch from the comfort of your home.  Make sure you sign up here on this site so you’re notified when it’s available.

Photo Sep 17, 9 35 42 PMDuring the talk I gave on Twitter Basics for Moms, we covered the 3 ways you can use Twitter to make your life easier.  One of them is for Connection.  Guess what I just saw on Facebook?  

A Twitter opportunity for you to talk with Dr. Shefali and Oprah on Sunday Sept 20th at 9pm EST/ 6pm PST.  Use the hashtag #Lifeclass and join in on the conversation that is happening around the world.  If you can’t watch it then make sure to DVR it.

Here’s a snipped of what she’s going to talk about.  Remember Conscious Parenting is about transforming yourself through your parenting.  Want to go deeper?  Take our online Conscious Parenting Course.  Delivered straight to your inbox with a downloadable workbook, 4-weekly lessons and a private FB group to support you along the way.

Revolutionary!  

To watch live online go to Oprah’s Lifeclass.  I’ll be tweeting.  Will you?

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Moms Conference in Naples Florida

Happy Mom Conference in Naples FloridaIn just one week, moms from all over southwest Florida will be meeting up at Hodges University to hear speakers, have lunch together, browse the vendors together and have a fun day off!

Check out our ===> Happy Mom Conference 2014 Brochure.  It’s at the printer’s right now.

This year is going to be even bigger and better and I want you to come.  Will you grab a friend too?  

Dress for Success will be hosting a raffle with a ton of prizes and we have amazing vendors.  Dr. Shefali Tsabary will be speaking on Conscious Parenting (virtual) and Dr. Scott Haltzman will be speaking on the Secrets of Happy Families.  They are both nationally recognized experts and you won’t want to miss them.  

I am going to teach you about Twitter, what you need to know and why you need to know it, and how to make money with meaning.  That means you are good at lots of stuff…so let’s figure out how to make money doing that!  

Register Now Ticket

Watch this video below and register today while there are still seats available.  Much love!

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The SAHM Mom Debate

I'm to the left of the sign. We had over 100 moms attend, 37 vendors and 12 speakers.

This was taken a few weeks ago at the Happy Mom Conference I put on at the Hyatt in Bonita Springs, FL.  I’m to the left of the sign. We had over 100 moms attend, 37 vendors and 12 speakers.

This post is written with special thanks to my amazing friend Diana who has this incredible way of finding the most stellar content on the web and then shares it with me…you should all be so lucky to have a friend like her.

Matt Walsh.  Have you heard of him?  How about his radio show?   Well soon enough you will.  He wrote a blog just a few days ago called “You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?” that is getting a lot of attention.  In fact I just saw on his FB page that the Today Show called and invited him on. 

His blog addressed the age-old question of the value of a SAHM.  With humor and candor he sticks up for his wife, their twins and her contribution to the world.

Being a former SAHM I had people, on more than a few occasions, remind me how lucky I was that I ‘didn’t work’.  Then the questions would fly, “Do you plan to go back to work?  Aren’t you bored? I could never do that!” and on and on they cycled.  The same questions.  The same eye of judgment strikes yet again.

These harmless (or are they?) questions can leave a mom feeling a little less than valuable.  When our worth is measured in dollars and cents it’s no wonder a mom who has chosen to stay home and raise her children feels pressure to enter back into the ‘real world’.

Bring home a paycheck.  But also…have a clean house, make a healthy dinner, keep up with the laundry oh and by the way, don’t forget to volunteer at your child’s school, hand-make crafts and do it with a smile on your face.

Something has to give. 

Thanks to Matt Walsh, a man who validates the job of a SAHM, and stands up to the criticism.  He should be given an award.   Good for you Matt! I know there are many men out there that support your opinions, but there are so many more men (and women) who still don’t get it.

I was a SAHM for 7 years.  In that time I gave birth 3 times, nursed three babies, changed countless diapers, cleaned, cooked, baked, was the president of my local moms club, volunteered, raised money for the relay for life and more.  All while managing kids under 5. 

It was, as he described, a job with no break room, no quiet time and no pat on the back or promotion….and yes, no paycheck.  It was the hardest job I had ever done in my life.

It’s no wonder that I spiraled down into a hole of resentment, frustration, overwhelm and anger.  My marriage almost ended in divorce after I had an emotional affair and it wasn’t because I was at home eating bon-bons and doing nothing as the stereotype assumes.

I didn’t know who I was anymore.  I felt I had no value in the eyes of society and therefore I didn’t value myself.  I kept pushing and doing more and I was in a consistent state of exhaustion.  Why? Maybe because I felt that nagging pressure to be more, to do more, to bring home a paycheck, to not be a dependent.  After all, isn’t that what I was? A liability?

So I enrolled in some counseling where I learned that it was okay to take care of myself.  I wasn’t selfish if I needed a break.  I learned how to let go of mommy guilt.  And NOW it was my turn to teach this to the moms of the world. 

Here’s my business plan: I would sweep in with my Wonder Woman cape and save the day.  Moms would learn to appreciate their job.  Moms would learn how to take better care of them…guilt-free.  Yes, moms would once again realize their value and so would others.

So I went back to school.  Got certified as a life coach and opened my practice in Bonita Springs, FL.  I coached everyone from 24 year old college grads to 73 year old retired doctors.  I wrote two books, 100 blog posts, 30+ published articles and 3 virtual courses.  I launched the University of Moms.  I created the Happy Mom Conference and had over 100 moms attend.  I built my subscribership in less than a year to over 1000 moms strong and more.  And guess what….these same feelings of proving myself resurfaced.

Shouldn’t I be making more money? Shouldn’t I be helping more people? Shouldn’t I know exactly what I’m doing and where I’m going? Again…I was looking for outside validation to prove that I was worth it.  How did I fall in this trap?  I am just starting to see it now.

I was still looking for the outside approval of others.  I was still tying my value with the money I did (or did not) bring in.  And if I am still tying my worth to anything on the outside I have missed the mark.  Guess what? I HAVE missed the mark.

I want to be honest and admit something to you right now.  I have been pushing myself to the bone for the past 3 years.  I have done more while being a mom of 3 girls (ages now 12, 10 and 6) than most people without kids.  Yet I still feel like I’m waiting for something.

Questions swirl around in my head daily like, “Why does it seem like others are having more success?  Why does it feel like I should be doing more? How will I know if I’m doing the right thing? Does anyone care about my work? Am I really making a difference?”

And that is precisely the problem.  How can I serve moms and tell them they are valuable if I don’t feel valuable?  How can I value the work of a SAHM who doesn’t bring home a paycheck when I’m basing my value on how much money I think I should make in my business?  When times are good I feel valuable.  When business is slow, I question my worth.

So if all this is true it’s no wonder it’s been an exhausting, frustrating, overwhelming journey.  It’s no wonder I’ve gotten a bit resentful too.  Gee…does that sound like what I experienced as a SAHM? EXACTLY!

What is a SAHM turned WAHM entrepreneur to do?  And what advice would I give to all moms everywhere? Realize YOU ARE VALUABLE. 

Not because of what you do.  Not because of how much money you make.  Not because your house is clean.  And you don’t need to pander to the expectations of others.

Be who you want to be.

If your true desire is to work outside the home, do it. Without guilt.  Without pressure that you are trying to prove something.  But WITH the idea that you are pursuing your life based on your choices and you can own that. 

If your true desire is to be a work at-home mom, do it.  Without guilt.  Without pressure that you are trying to prove something.  But WITH the idea that you are pursuing your life based on your choices and you can own that. 

If your true desire is to be a stay-at-home mom, do it.  Without guilt.  Without pressure that you are trying to prove something.  But WITH the idea that you are pursuing your life based on your choices and you can own that. 

But please don’t look down on the choices other moms have made that are different than yours.

Live the life you want to live and let others do the same.  Don’t judge them.  Don’t belittle their choices.  Support them.  Encourage them.  Honor them.

Know that your choices don’t increase or diminish your inherent value and neither do theirs.  You can be a SAHM today, a WAHM tomorrow and have a full-time career in a year and neither today, tomorrow or next year will YOU be any more or less because of what you are doing on the outside.  That’s just a load of crap.

You are a gift to the world.  Believe it.  Sure, others will have their opinions.  They always will.  That doesn’t matter to me anymore.  Take this journey with me and let this be your mantra.

I am valuable as I am today.  My choices as a mom are mine and I own them.  It doesn’t matter what others think and they don’t have to understand me.  I know that what I am doing is important, incredible and irreplaceable.  My worth comes from within and I choose to be happy.

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Great Summer Parenting Resources

Have you ever found a great deal and had to share it with your friends?  My mom once found a great denim-ish skirt at Dillard’s for me, which honestly looked really ugly on the hanger, but she convinced me to try it on because it was only $7.  So I bought it and to this day I still have it in my closet.  Someday if you see me in it, you’ll know my secret!So what’s the point of telling you all this?  Today I want to do that for you.  Below I have compiled a list of some great freebies and deals from friends of mine who I respect and who also have a lot to offer that I thought you should know about.  I have put them in numbered format and by category so you can quickly see what they are about.  Each has a link, and I encourage you to take some time to click through and visit!

====>PARENTING

1) Lori Petro, is a great friend and has a wonderful parenting site called Teach-Through-Love.  She teaches parents how to connect with their child in a meaningful way rather than focusing on punitive discipline.  I have learned so much from her and she has just launched a Family Peace Project which opens registration on 6/7. Click here for more details.

2) Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent is another great parenting resource.  Her book was a hugely transformational part of my own journey as parent and opened me up to a brand new way of thinking.  PLUS she was the one who introduced me to Lori.  She has 2 new 30-minute videos talks on conscious parenting that she gave at the Dali Lama center for Peace and Education.  I highly recommend you take the time to watch them.  To watch the videos Click Here.

====>HEALTHY LIVING

3)  If you want to boost your health this summer you have to jump on board with Casey Sollock.  She offers an amazing 10-day Eat Clean Challenge, which I took last summer.  It helped me to weed out much of the junk and curb my addiction to caffeine.  It’s just $19 for the whole challenge and it’s virtual with a very interactive Facebook group for support and daily emails with her warm encouragement and teaching for the day.  The next one starts July 8th.  Click here for more info.

4)  Pilates from the comfort of your home? Yes!  Via Skype or Google+ you can work with Denise who will give you a workout you’ll never forget…mainly because your abs will be so sore in places you never knew you had muscles….in a good way I mean!  She is offering a free 20-minute trial.  Grab yours today.  Click here and scroll down to register.  I just did mine last week and Denise is such a gem!

====>INSPIRATIONAL RESOURCES

5)  My mentor David Essel has an amazing XM radio show on Channel 246 that airs live every Saturday night from 6-9pm EST/ 3-6pm PST.  I know for many of us moms listening in live at that time is not really possible, but the great news is you can listen to the David Essel Alive show archives where you’ll have access to the best self-help experts in the world today free.  I listen in through my phone connected to my bluetooth during the week when I have longer drives.  It’s great brain food and I’ve learned a lot.  To access the show archives online Click Here and to listen to the podcasts on iTunes Click Here.

6)  We have just launched the University of Moms Finishing School. It’s a page full of free downloadable talks, interviews and workbooks done by me on everything from noticing triggers, to managing frustration, to creating peace at-home and more.  There is no restriction, just free and shareable resources.  To see our Finishing School page Click Here.

I will make sure to always keep you in the loop and share the people I feel you need to know…no strings attached.  I do not get any sort of referral fee, I just believe in them and want to personally introduce you to the best there is out there on the web in addition to sharing my knowledge with you too.  If you have a resource you want to share with me, I’d love to check it out.  Please reply to this email and give me the link.

Have a super day and may these resources help you to welcome summer with a smile!

 April O’Leary, Life Coach
Founder of the University of Moms
Creator of the Happy Mom Conference

Author of Ride the Wave and Focus on You
Proud mother of 3 girls

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Free Happy Mom Resources

Finishing School

I am happy to share the new University of Moms Finishing School: Free Download page with you!  In it you’ll find lots of audio lessons, workbooks I’ve created over time, interviews and articles to help you on your journey towards greater peace and happiness as a mom.  There is no better place to be than when you are content with where you are at in life, you are in control of your emotions and you have enough time for you.  Trust me!

All of this material was learned the hard way, in the trenches being an at-home mother of 3 kids under the age of 5…by doing what didn’t work first.  As I got some outside help in the form of 8 weeks of therapy back in 2008 I learned that it is not selfish to take care of yourself.  Why hadn’t anyone taught me that before?!

So use these lessons as a lighthouse shining you towards the bay of peace.  You may be experiencing some rough waters now, but if you put what you learn into practice the waters will slowly calm down, your ride will become easier and the sun will start shining.  Enjoy the ride!

To get the whole library of goodies Click Here.  No email required, just my gift to you!

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