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The Lazy Clean Freak Part 2

As I’ve said before I’m a lazy neat freak. I try to work efficiently so I don’t do any more than I absolutely have to.  Last post we talked about the living room and just a few general tips to break down your Green Clean and Lazy Clean schedule.  Today I want to hit up at least two rooms that are really important to clean, the bathroom and kitchen.

They are some of the dirtiest rooms in our house and they need to be some of the cleanest. Now, no one has time to clean their entire bathroom every week. A few have time to clean it weekly and some do it as I do, split up over the course of the month.

So let’s get started.

Kitchen

It’s often the heart of the home. Family gathers round for food and snacks while they talk about their day. Or not depending on your family. Still, it is an important place as it holds a key to survival….food. Not to mention that we should keep it clean for another reason. There are studies that indicate there’s more E.coli in your kitchen then there is in your bathroom, which is shocking as it’s a fecal bacterium.

Here are a few tips to keep your kitchen clean and green.

A note on toxic cleaners: a lot of them have pesticides in them. You may ask what’s so bad about that, they’re used on our food right? Well first, they aren’t tested for very long. Second, cleaning and killing are two very different things. There are plenty of beneficial bacteria that these cleaners destroy along with the bad.  We don’t want to kill the ones that help with digestion, the ones that help make vitamins in our body, or the ones who help fight off various diseases. (Yes there are good bacteria.) Not to mention that the more bacteria we kill, the more resistant some of these bacteria become, which could lead to super bugs.

1 Choose less porous surfaces for your countertops if you’re redecorating. The same thing goes for cutting boards. It will help you cut down on the bacteria.

2 Talking about porous….ditch the sponge. It holds onto more bacteria than anything else. Particularly that E.coli I was just talking about. Or you can clean it by nuking it in the microwave or putting it through the dishwasher. Well, supposedly. I’m not sure I trust that.

3 Don’t microwave plastic unless it is Tupperware. They’re one of the few companies who have actually tested the safety of their products in a microwave. Pyrex is another good company. There are some plastics that are fine in a microwave, but a lot of the plastic we use isn’t tested or safe for use in the microwave. Some have additives that can be released when heated. It’s much better to invest over time and get rid of your old stuff than to risk your health.

4 Ditch the non-stick pans. While it’s easier to clean there are better alternatives. However, there’s some question as to whether or not they are safe. Alton Brown cautions the use of them in his Kitchen Gear book. Not only does it easily break off (so you have to put extra care into its maintenance), but you have to be careful what tools you use with it.  Not to mention that you lose any chance of deglazing your pans, which makes for a tasty sauce to go with your meal.

Also, in my opinion….one of the best nonstick pans is a wok. You can cook most things in it and I’ve never had anything stick. I got mine and all the tools for 10 bucks with a coupon (originally 20.) Otherwise avoid the nonstick pans. Studies have shown that a chemical used in their production has been found in the blood of the general population.

For baking I suggest silicone and aside from my wok just about everything else I use is cast iron….which your children’s children will be able to use so long as you take care of it.

5 Get all natural cleaners or make your own. Phosphates in the normal cleaning supply are not good for you. Many of the chemicals in some of our cleaners have endocrine or hormone disrupters, which can mimic estrogen in the body. Such imbalances have been linked to breast cancer, allergies, asthma, ADHD, and learning disabilities.

6 Avoid most antibacterials. Apple Cider vinegar is a great alternative. It is all natural and doesn’t involve spraying pesticides around your home….yes you read correctly pesticides. The EPA has it posted on their site and even worse…they may not be working.

7 Avoid bleach. Not only is it super toxic, but it contains pesticides. Not to mention that you have to wash the item before you disinfect it and then you are supposed to leave the bleach on for thirty minutes for it to be effective in the first place. That link also has some other scary information on bleach.

8 Return to tap or filtered water. Don’t waste your money on bottled. While your tap is required by law to be cleaned, disinfected, tested for bacteria and parasites, and must be filtered (if you can call it that in most places), none of those things are required of bottled water. Not to mention that there are heavy metals in the plastic that break down over time no matter what temperature you keep them at. (http://santevia.com/why-single-use-plastic-bottles-are-killing-you-and-the-environment/)

9 Get more microfiber to break the old dirty mop, bucket, and water routine. One, a mop holds dirt to the point that eventually it is just moving it around. Second, dealing with all that water is nasty. Third, who wants to even touch that bucket again after it has been used so many times?

The solution….well what we did was buy the cheap Swiffer, but we don’t buy the wipes. We bought microfiber that can be washed and cut it into little squares that fit the Swiffer. We just wash them with rags and stuff at the end of the month. A half a yard should make you at least ten if you measure. Other than that just use the vinegar, water, and oil solution I mentioned in the first post.

10 When you do dispose of your toxic cleaning supplies look up how to properly dispose of them. Most of them aren’t safe to just be thrown in the trash. The EPA even lists most of these items as household hazardous waste.

11 Save the planet by not using plastic bags. Or at least reuse them until they are dead. We used to keep them every year for cookie season in Girl Scouts, but now we give them to a family that uses them to seal up dirty diapers. Beyond that, when I have my own place, I try to use reusable grocery bags to cut down on waste.

Bathroom

  1. Ditch the toxic cleaning supplies and personal care products. Look for more natural products or make your own. There are more chemicals in your bathroom than just about anywhere else in the house. There are just too many problems associated with them.
  2. Ditch antibacterial soaps. The AMA doesn’t even recommend them anymore.
  3. Look for natural shower curtains. Many of the plastic ones contain toxins. I know this isn’t something everyone can do. I know I can’t afford it right now. But it is something to think about.

The biggest problems in our bathrooms are the products we use to clean us and the products used to clean it…so please read the labels carefully and do your own research on these harmful chemicals. It really is easy to find a way to eliminate most of these products if you just look for recipes online.

Bedroom

This one is pretty basic.

  1. If you have respiratory issues or wake up with itchy eyes you might want to consider putting a cover over your mattress because they are a likely culprit. Or you can vacuum your mattress once a month if that’s a little too expensive for you.
  2. This is the biggest room to ditch the carpet because the mites are just all the more hiding in there.
  3. Ditch the toxic cleaning supplies, they may be getting rid of the dust bunnies, but what are those toxins doing to those you love?
  4. Be careful on your sheets; cotton is treated with many pesticides. If nothing else you need to wash all your linens often to kill those pesky mites.
  5. In some countries they do not make their bed every morning. The idea is that it lets the moisture dry out which makes your bed a more hostile environment for those mites.
  6. Air out your bedroom, this will also keep it dry and hinder those pesky bed mites.

Conclusion

I could go on to share more tips for the laundry room, kids rooms, and for pets, but from here on out it’s just going to get more repetitive. A lot of it is just removing toxic chemicals from your house. The second is working smarter instead of harder.

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How to be the Laziest Cleaner (By Being the Smartest Cleaner)

So, I seem to be running a bit behind this week. So this post is late. I know and I’m sorry. Things happen unfortunately. Sometimes the baby has to come before the blog. I mean that’s why I’m here right?

But enough about me, let’s get started.

Since I finally finished reading the first part of Positive Pushing, I wanted to take a moment and touch on something else. I’m always trying to make sure that there’s a little bit here for everyone. To that end I want to talk about keeping a clean house.

We know it’s hard to do with a baby, much harder if you live in a home where no one else wants to clean. But no matter your situation, we all have to clean at some point. Now me, I’m a clean freak. I love for everything to have a place and a place for everything. So I’ll sit and reorganize until everything has a place. (I finally did it by the way it just won’t last long lol) But there’s another thing, I’m also cheap and lazy.

I can totally get behind reorganizing, but I really hate cleaning, even though I love things to be clean. Not to mention the time. If I cleaned everything, every week, the way I wanted to, I would drive myself mad. So here’s what I do….or try to do when I can/have my own place. I have a schedule. Each day is a separate room (or a few smaller rooms) and I have two task lists. The first are things that have to be done weekly. The second are things that have to be done monthly.

Let’s take a bathroom for instance. When I can follow my schedule I take out the trash, pick up anything Freya has strewn in our Master bath, and make sure that all of our laundry is off the floor and in the bin. Then for each room there are generally at least four things that have to be done each month.  So I split them up by how many weeks are in the month. Sometimes I have to double up and other months I get a week off. So in the bathroom each month I clean the sink/counter, the tub, the toilet, and the shower. Vacuuming usually gets done in one day about once or twice a week.

But I can get lazier while still keeping the house clean. Wanna know how? It’s simple. Each and every day I’m trying to implement “Protocols” or “Rules” that bring less dirt into the house.  I do the best I can with my parents between their memory and just lack of interest in cleaning, but any progress is better than no progress when it comes to keeping a clean house.

While I eventually want to get to non-toxic solutions for cleaning your house, today I want to focus on how to eliminate as many of the toxins and as much of the dirt as possible. I know it takes time, heck I’m still working on it, but it’s worth it if it means we can all be a little lazier (and less toxic) in our cleaning.

Family Room

It’s where we spend our time together. It may be a separate space or it may be our living room, but it is a room we spend a lot of time in. So how do we prevent it from getting quite as dirty?

  1. Ditch the carpet wherever you can. Wood holds less dirt and carpet holds in allergens, mites, dust, and all those nasty things. I really hate carpet. I wish I could get rid of all the carpet in this house. Also, if you get a hardwood floor consider something economical. FSC approved items can help you here. And just as a warning, if you get bamboo, it nicks easily. Cork tiles are another good option.
  2. Take off your shoes. All you do when you keep your shoes on is track more dirt in. Take a note from the Japanese. If you absolutely have to have shoes on have a pair of slippers or something that you put on when you walk in the door.
  3. Avoid synthetic rugs. They often have a lot of chemicals in them that are toxic.
  4. Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner. They don’t have as much blow back as other vacuums and they will catch even smaller particulates than a normal vacuum. This is one of those instances where you do your research and spend a bit more money now to save down the line.
  5. Avoid toxic carpet cleaners. When I finish putting everything together for my organic cleaning post I’ll have something listed for this.
  6. If you want to cut down on toxins, try to buy furniture that is FSC approved or go retro. You can always be crafty and make something out of a decent set at goodwill.
  7. If you keep the carpet get it deep steamed once a year if you can. It sterilizes the carpet and kills anything nasty in it. Personally, I’d just ditch the carpet….this sounds expensive to me.
  8. Ditch the duster. Work smarter and get microfiber. Not only will it not nick your precious family antiques, but it actually traps dirt instead of just moving it around.
  9. Ditch the aerosol lemon spray cleaners. Anything aerosol is going to end up coating your nose and often only hides a smell. Not to mention that many of the chemicals in them have been linked to the Big C….Cancer.
  10. Ditch the Ammonia. Not only is it toxic, but there’s a simpler solution. Why pay the price of your health for getting something clean? Instead break the addiction. Get some vinegar (I like apple cider) and some water. If you need to hide the smell you can get some lemon or orange essential oil. It only takes three to five drops to cover most of the smell and you still get that fresh scent…..and the oil will last you a good long time. Then just get that microfiber and trap all that dirt away.
  11. If you want to learn about the dangerous toxins, check out Squeaky Green (insert amazon link) by Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry for more info. I’m unfortunately too cheap for that. Not to mention I buy just about everything second hand at this point.
  12. I can’t afford this right now, but eventually one day I will get an ionizer (sigh). While opening windows will help keep your air clean (well depending on where you live) an ionizer goes a long way to pushing it along. If you can’t afford that and have a green thumb, plants are another great natural ionizer.  But as side note cacti don’t count….they don’t create that much oxygen.
  13. Keep an eye on that furnace and change the filter as often as you can. It can blow around all those little airborne nasties too.

Energy Around the House

This is one of those categories that are good for the whole house.

  1. Unless you have a charger that turns itself off like the IGo Green chargers, they still siphon energy and cost you money. So unplug anything you aren’t using. Not to mention that by unplugging it you prevent some carbon from going back into the atmosphere. I’m personally working on getting better at this.
  2. If you don’t want to unplug everything in your life, put it on a power strip and just turn the strip off at the end of the night.
  3. Buy energy star products. They are a bit more expensive, but that little extra now will save you A LOT later.

I’ll continue this in part 2 where I’m planning on talking about the kitchen and the bathroom.

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The True Self and Self Esteem

So we’ve talked a lot about self-esteem and this is the final post in this series on the topic. Today is all about how self-esteem fits into our children knowing who they are and accepting that person.  It really is amazing to watch our children grow and develop their personalities. Even at nine months it amazes me how much moxie and attitude my little Freya exhibits.  She has a mile long stare when she’s mad that reminds me of my own grandmother and what is (to us) the most infectious laugh ever.

Still, personality and having a grip on who we are is something that starts in childhood and something that can easily be derailed. Think of it as a construction process. Imagine that your child’s development of self is like building a house. We have the brick and mortar, our genetics and societal influences, which include, school, parents, family, peers, community and the society projected through social media.  Ideally, we would like to think that every project uses the highest quality of supplies and that all the supplies should complement each other.  We want things to happen on schedule and, in the end, have a well constructed house that is strong and able to weather the world.

However, we know that life isn’t that clear cut or simple.  A child’s development of self can be derailed by our intense focus on any of the building blocks of self-esteem.  From carrot dangling to creating competency and security, there are a lot of mistakes that either we or our child can make to derail the development of the true self.

This is why our child’s development must start with the creation and understanding of their true self. This returns to the pagan concept of to know, that we talked about in the last post.  When we or our child recognize our true selves, we are truly happy.  We accept ourselves and have confidence that we are loved.  We accept our strengths and weaknesses.  Our own love for ourselves is the only TRUE form of unconditional love.

By being our true self we are liberated to be who we need to be and we are less hindered by our failures and insecurities.  Unfortunately, there are a ton of things in our society that can derail us from having faith in our true selves.  And this creates the false self, or a mask that we wear that may be a bit too big, or a bit small. The point is that it doesn’t fit who we are as individuals.

When we give into this false self we run the risk of internalizing bad habits.  It’s like using cheap building materials or covering up a gaping hole in the structure with something pretty. The mask allows us to move on without dealing with the issues in the structure.  This can be caused by placing results over effort, demanding perfection, a narrowly defined version of success or failure, abuse of any kind, among other things.

Ultimately, when we give into these false expectations we come into conflict with ourselves and create this mask to meet the unrealistic demands we perceive are expected of us.  And sometimes we can pass that along to our children or loved ones.

The false self is greedy. It expects way too much of us and always wants more and more, until we collapse.  Right now our society pushes us towards a false ideal of what we should be and this often harms us.  We think we have to be a certain way to be happy.  This internalizes powerful negative messages.  It doesn’t help that society’s unhealthy expectations are the hardest to overcome.

Red Flags of the False Self

1. Self-Hate. When we self-hate we say that we don’t like (insert trait here) about ourselves or that we are too stupid. We tell ourselves that we cannot do anything right. It’s very depressing and often feels hopeless. It’s a battle I’ve had with myself every day due to the bullying I faced in elementary.

2. Self-Punishment. To reconcile self-hate the mind tells us that we deserve it. It’s yet another vicious cycle. Your child may not participate in something they once loved because they feel they don’t deserve the reward. They become increasingly self-critical of themselves. Your child may put less energy into things they once enjoyed or their friendships.  They may be more combative and argumentative with siblings.  They are generally depressed when they blame the failure on themselves and angry when they perceive that it is someone else’s fault.

When a child self-punishes in this way, they may be preempting a punishment that they feel or are afraid is going to come down the line.  I know I was guilty of this in my own childhood and I’m sure, if you look back, you’ll find a moment when you felt the same way and punished yourself for it. Even if it really wasn’t something you should have felt guilty about.

3. Self-destruction. When punishing yourself and hating yourself doesn’t work, humans often seek a way to escape themselves. This may come in the form of cutting, substance abuse, or eating disorders. Once again they give a semblance of control over the issue. All of these are issues that should cause you to seek help before you seriously harm yourself. Remember as a pagan that we seek to harm none, including ourselves, and that our body is our temple.

Remember that your children may not be seeking to harm themselves. It is about having control over something.  Just look out for warning signs of self-destruction as they can lead to suicidal tendencies.

Developing the True Self

Now, I’m just a mama with a BA is Psych. I’m working towards that Masters as soon as I get the money, but I’m no expert. I can’t tell you how to fix your problems. I can only share what I believe is valid advice based on what I know and what I’ve learned in my short time as a parent and my seven years of college.

If you come to a point where you don’t think you can fix a problem in your child’s life (or your own), remember that it is okay to ask for help. Even I have needed help on occasion to fight the demons of my past that created my false self. It’s a battle that some days I win and others I loose. This is all the more reason why we need to help our children develop these healthy habits and ideas while they are young.

That is why I feel the need to share what I learn with everyone out there.  Part of the reason I put myself out there is because I don’t want to make the same mistakes others have. It’s also because I’ve been in some of these places and I don’t want to see anyone make my mistakes again.  Many of the concepts from this book deeply resonate with me and my own experiences during childhood and I don’t want Freya to face the same thing.

So, let’s take a look at ways to build our children’s true selves.

1. Know the True Self. This goes back to the concept of to know, to dare, to will, and to be silent. For our purposes here, think of to know as knowing yourself. Or in this case, your child knowing themselves. One way to help your child learn this is to expose them to essential life affirming values such as honesty, love, compassion, integrity, etc. The more firmly rooted in these ideals, the less society can detract from those core values.

2. Second, we have to help them understand what the true self is. You have to help them figure out (without telling them) what their strengths, weaknesses, and values are. You have to help them determine what they find important in their lives without imposing your thoughts onto theirs. It’s hard and it doesn’t happen overnight.

3. Place an emphasis on knowing themselves. This keeps it at the front of their minds, which can help them resist the negative messages of the world around them. It also means teaching our children to critically analyze the messages that they are receiving from all forms of media and their social outlets. Teach them that negativity only brings more negativity. Teach them to kick the habit of searching for the negative in the world around them early.

4. Wage war against the false self. Have discussions about the negative messages in the world as your child discovers them. Help them and support them fight this unhealthy mask that skews who they are as an individual.  I’m not saying that we don’t already try to do this. All I’m saying is that we have to be persistent and consistent in our actions and message. Part of this is being a role model to your child. Show them how you fight it. If you need help with this see Building You in my other blog Lessons from the Goddess.

Show that you are not seduced by society’s destructive messages about how we should live.  Reframe negative messages into positive ones by altering them to reflect your fundamental values.

Some Final Tips

  1. Negativity only begets negativity.
  2. Don’t throw stones from a glass house. Essentially don’t disparage others when you are struggling with the same or similar issues. This only breeds distrust. We also have to teach our children to act as we should.
  3. Be careful who, when and how you criticize. You want to get help and help others. Being too critical only breeds defensiveness. This relates both to being a role model and to building your child’s self-esteem.
  4. Lectures breed resistance. I know when someone lectured me as a child and as an adult I made me less likely to want to do what they were asking me to. The same goes for sermons.
  5. Low expectations breed low performance.
  6. Lack of faith creates insecurity.
  7. In a way Yoda was at least partially right when he said the following: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” See this blog for the full article   Anger can lead to fear and fear can lead people down a dark path.

On the other side of the coin:

  1. Positive thinking brings more positivity to our lives.
  2. Positive expectations lead to fruitful achievement.
  3. Love breeds trust.
  4. Affirmation of the true self motivates us to continue growing.
  5. Success breeds confidence.
  6. Being involved leads to learning something.
  7. Faith breeds security.
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Unconditional Love?

Today is all about self-esteem in relation to love and expectation.  Everyone knows how important love is in our lives and if you don’t, you’re missing out on something great. However, not many evaluate how love plays into their self-esteem, or the esteem of their children.  This can cause a lot of misperceptions and problems if we aren’t careful.

But before we delve too far into this topic, I want to ask you two seemingly simple questions.

One, is there really such a thing as unconditional love?

Two, is there a right or good way to practice conditional love?

The answers may seem simple, but I think you’ll find after reading this post, that they are far more complicated than we would like to believe.

So love is the word of the day.  Every religion says something about love and its importance.  Christianity has love thy neighbor, which is a form of the Golden rule. AKA. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Even paganism has its own equivalent, do no harm. That is but another form of respect for both us and others.

Let’s start with unconditional love. What is it? In simple terms it is the idea that we love someone or something no matter what they do.

So does it exist?

The answer? Yes and No. Now hear me out before you possibly get mad.

Theoretically and long term, yes it does exist for most people.  At the end of the day most rational human beings love their child no matter what they have done. In reality however, love is somewhat conditional by personal perception, even if it is conditional only momentarily.

So what does that mean? Well, all of us have gotten angry at our child at some point or another, no matter how old they are. And we have had to take moments away from our child before speaking to them. Or maybe you sent them to their room, withdrawing affection for an hour or two.  While we may still love them, their perception of the situation is that we don’t love them in that moment. It may or may not be true (usually not), but the perception still exists in the child’s mind.

We do the same thing as adults. When we get angry, that emotion can momentarily, affect our love for someone else, or even cause us to question it. If you have ever withheld relations from your significant other you have practiced conditional love. If you have avoided speaking to someone, you have participated in conditional love.  It’s true because you have created a perception that the love that you share with this other person is in question or danger.

To quote Psychology Today The phrase unconditional love is usually mentioned in other contexts where love is never unconditional.

As a side note I really want to stress that conditional love does not mean that we ever stop loving our child or anyone else. It is the perception that one is in danger of losing love due to the consequences of an action.

We’ve all done it some point. It’s a harsh truth I know, but most love is, in some form, conditional.  I hate to admit it, but conditional love is one way that we as parents control our children.  When we display displeasure in the actions of our children, they perceive it as a danger to our approval and many children equate approval to love.

However, we have to be careful what “conditions” we place on love.  Some conditions are damaging and others are serious enough to be considered abuse.  The ever popular flavor since the eighties has been achievement, which has led to self-esteem being related to what we accomplish instead of who we are.

This is a real problem as it causes us to disconnect from who we are as an individual. That’s not good for a pagan, or anyone for that matter.  One of the, for lack of a better term, “doctrines” of our faith is to know, to will, to dare, and to be silent.  To know is not only knowing information, but knowing ourselves.  We don’t want our children to associate their worth with achievement over their personality.

In all reality, the problem isn’t unconditional love, as we have already established that all love has at least perceived conditions.   The problem is the conditions people place on love.

Conditions on Love

1. Love should never be conditional on the success of a child in their endeavors and failure should never be punished. Instead we should help our children dust themselves off, get back up, and try again. Outcome love produces children who live in a state of fear. They believe that if they are not successful that they will not be loved by their parents or others. They work so hard to maintain their grades or do good in a task that it stresses them out.

2. Never dangle the carrot. You are dangling the carrot if your child’s success is never enough. Relish what your child achieves and help them brush off the failures.  We need to encourage them and find tools to help them succeed instead of withdrawing support, communication or physical contact.

3.The human doing vs the human being. When we dangle love or promote outcome love, we cause children to think that they can only be loved if they meet their parents’ expectations. I’ve been here before. It was a big part of the reason I was afraid to come out of the broom closet. I was afraid to lose the love of everyone important to me because of the expectations of the community I lived in; when in reality the people who loved me most didn’t care or at least, didn’t hold it against me.

Human doings are often list people who don’t feel good until all the tasks on their list are accomplished. Due to some forces outside of my house, I faced this form of conditional love as a child and it can take a toll on you.  It makes it hard to accept failure and it makes you feel like you don’t deserve love. It’s also very hard to overcome.

4. Unhealthy expectations. A goal is something that we aspire to while an expectation is an assumption that something will be achieved. Goals may not be reached, but expectations should almost always be met in our minds. With a goal the mantra is that it is fine to reach for the star, but realize that you may not reach it. When we fail at an expectation, we feel that we lose something that is already had, even if you never had it in the first place.

Let me give you an example of a healthy vs unhealthy expectation.  Healthy expectations would include expecting yourself or your child to be kind, respectful, responsible, hard working, etc. On the other hand, it is unhealthy for us to expect that our children will never get a bad grade, will automatically go to (insert College name here), or do exactly everything we wish they would do.

It is important to have expectations, but we have to evaluate them and make sure that they are rational or feasible.  We cannot expect our children to meet expectations over which they have no control or only partial control either. For example, winning the big game.  If we hold unrealistic expectations we can cause our children to believe that they are incapable of being successful in the future.

Eventually they can even internalize these unrealistic expectations and their discomfort will follow them forward into their adult lives.  If our children place too much value on being perfectionist we have done them a great disservice. Perfectionism has been linked to eating disorders, social phobia, procrastination, fear of failure, depression, performance anxiety, and poor stress coping.

5. Unhealthy praise and punishment. Too much praise can put pressure on a child to maintain that level and too little praise can discourage them. The same thing goes for punishment. And that line depends on your child, your family dynamic, and the punishment. It’s a line that no one can define for you.

Positive Conditions for Love

1. Values love. This is the idea that we promote love that is perceived conditional on adopting good values and acting in socially appropriate ways. It goes back to the disapproval of an action that causes the perception of the withdrawal of love. You are trying to internalize good behavior and values in those moments of anger or frustration that you express when your child has disappointed you. As pagan parents, we should be focused on teaching good morals anyway.

2. Create a human being. Your child’s success has to come from within them. Foster individuality and don’t expect perfection. I know it sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised how many parents I hear say exactly this and then do the exact opposite.

3. Create healthy expectations. Look at your expectations and help your child evaluate theirs (which are most likely based on some role model in their lives). Make sure to explain why an expectation is unrealistic and help them to set a more realistic expectation for themselves. Ask them what they expect of themselves and why they expect that.

4. Also make sure that you are walking the walk yourself. Model healthy expectations for yourself.

5. Make sure your child has control over the expectations you set for them. A child has no control over whether or not they make this team or get into that school. All they can do is go out and give it their all. In the end it’s up to the people in charge of the programs.

6. Set expectations on determination, hard work, and persistence in their efforts. My parents always encouraged me to try my best. As long as I was working as hard as I could to improve that math grade, I was meeting their expectations. After I had tried my hardest we sought out tools to help me like tutors or after school study groups at the local church. It’s fine to expect your child to do chores or to participate in family activities. These promote values and morals that you want your child to possess.

7. Clearly communicate expectations and enforce them. Be consistent. Make sure your children know that there are consequences

8. And when your child messes up, which we know they inevitably will, talk it through with them. Discuss why it was wrong and what you can do as a family to prevent a similar problem in the future.

Conclusion

Just remember that conditional love doesn’t mean that you only love your child when they do x, y, or z. It is about the perception the child has of our supposed conditions and how that affects their emotional well-being. We want them to learn from their mistakes, but we don’t want them to attribute their happiness in life to the wrong facets of life.

Healthy expectations are key in this and it can be really hard to accurately and impartially assess your own expectations for yourself or your child, so find a sounding board, someone you trust as a wise sage to help you if you need to.  You’re never alone in parenting. It takes a village. I know I take advice from all my friends and elders who are parents. I ask my own parents for advice.  They are my sounding board.

And finally, always cherish your child for who he or she is and not just what they do.  We all want what’s best for our kids and we can all get a little crazy trying to do that. So just stop, take a breath, and take a moment to make sure that your expectations and goals are all in the best interests of your child’s well-being.

Blessed Be.

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Self Esteem and my Weekly Reading

Self Esteem

Self-esteem….it’s a word I hate to hear. It is tossed around way too often. It is a combination of several factors in our lives from people to events to our parents. While there are many components, this book is teaching me that its way more complicated than I ever thought, which makes sense.  Usually something that is easy to break down is far harder to fix.

Still, we don’t want our children to struggle in the real world. And to do that we have to give them the keys to succeed, which can even mean we have to do nothing.  So let’s take a look at what all goes into self-esteem.

  1. Security & competence

Part of self-esteem is the feeling that we are loved, valued, and important to the world around us, particularly our families. This forms a sense of security which anchors our children during times of trouble.  Our children should always feel like they can come to us without it affecting how we feel for them. It’s easy for us to feel and far harder for a parent to convey.

I know personally what it feels like to be close to your parents and in the one moment you need them to be that anchor they fail. Nearly all of us have had those moments, experiences may vary, and some are worse than others, but just about all of us have been there.

Second, our children need to feel some sort of mastery over their lives. Another hard task when we want to protect them from every hurt.  That’s one of the reasons I love Montessori. There is a focus on being an observer before intervening in a child’s exploration of the world. We have to let them try and see where they struggle before we can really help them.

It can be hard to put aside this urge and let our children explore the world. However, we must resist the urge to be overprotective.  If we do, we take away chances for our children to gain competency.  When we become too overprotective we run the risk of leaving them incapable of dealing with everyday emotional issues causing anxiety, stress, and distress.

While we would love for our kids to always win, this also means that we have to let them fail, so that they can understand that it is just another learning experience. It isn’t forever and it doesn’t define them or their place in our hearts.

So how do we develop these two important traits? First we have to show unconditional love no matter what we show frustration at. It doesn’t matter if its grades or an action. No matter how frustrated or angry we become at our children failing to meet our expectations, at the end of the day, they still have to feel that unconditional love.  If we can’t manage this, they may end up feeling that our love is contingent on their success and that’s a big burden for any child.  For example it’s better to say that you have to do better if you want to reach your goals than it is to say that we’re disappointed that you didn’t do well on your test today.

Secondly, children need to know that they can take risks and make mistakes. They need to know that they can explore the world within boundaries set by you. Without boundaries the world can be a scary place and without a chance to make mistakes, take risks, or adventure, the world can seem very small and limited.

And how do we develop competence? Well the first thing we all need to understand is that our children have to believe that they can succeed and achieve if they are going to be able to achieve. Any pagan knows that belief is powerful. We believe in magick, spells, and in the rituals that we do.  We believe in spirits and powers that we cannot see, but sometimes we forget to believe in our own, or our children’s dreams/ability to achieve amazing feats.

Henry Ford said it best “If you do or don’t think you can do something….you’re right.”

First, we have to make sure that our children learn that there are consequences for their actions. This is the easy part. With Freya we’ve been letting her practice drinking with a shot glass. I’m not worried about her breaking it. If she tosses it and it breaks, it just offers an opportunity for her to learn that if she throws it, it breaks.

It also ties into the rule of three in its own way.  Part of understanding the consequences of their actions is realizing that you get back what you put into your efforts.  It’s the idea that when you are a good person and do good things, good things come back to you in your life. The same is true of bad things. And as simple a concept as it is, it can be hard depending on what the problem is.

If we instead protect our children from consequences and their actions, we get one of three things, a spoiled child who has always gotten their way, a neglected child who gets what he wants no matter what they do, or a frustrated child who doesn’t understand why they never get what they want.  These children don’t try as hard because they don’t think that their actions matter.

In the end our children need to understand the importance of their actions in the midst of their natural talents and hard work. It takes a wide variety of experiences to build a firm foundation and understanding of this. More importantly you have to let your children know that they can do it. If you put positivity into their upbringing they are more likely to exhibit those same tendencies.

Once our children learn global competence, they can then translate this to specific activities on their own. Yes, I said it, on their own.  You can support them and guide them, but ultimately, they have to start doing their work and activities on their own. One is important to the other. A specific belief doesn’t help the child in the broader picture and a broad belief doesn’t matter if they can’t apply it to their passions

Self Reflection

Just as our children have to feel confident and competent they have to be able to reflect on who they are. Many of us don’t learn this until we are much older.  It’s hard to accept the dark along with the light, but it’s important to each of us as we grown in life and in faith.  I know I still struggle to see my own faults some days.  Ignoring our faults only causes us to falter even more.  We have to remember that the big picture is more important than immediate success and that improving ourselves, in the long run, will make us more successful as any of us pursue our own endeavors.

If you struggle with your own self-reflection, now is a good time to work on it. Your children are going to pick up on you comfort or discomfort when it comes to inward reflection.  This means being able to admit our own mistakes to our children and significant others when they arise. Not only is it the mature thing to do, but it is a very pagan thing to do. The Goddess wants us and our children to be our best selves and to not hurt those around us. Lying about our own imperfections doesn’t help the family and often ends in someone’s feelings hurt. Bad karma.

We cannot use our imperfections as excuses, but we can use them to display that no one is perfect.  That is simply a part of the human condition. We make mistakes. These mistakes can include inaccurate perceptions of our inward reflections as well. That is why we have to honestly act as a reality check for our children sometimes. We have to be honest, not brutal, nor overestimate their talent, which also means being realistic in our perception of their ability.  It’s a fine line and one that I feel I will often be asking the Goddess for assistance with.

So a few hints and tips for all of us parents….

  1. Let your attitude determine your achievement. Not the other way around.
  2. Never be afraid to be a kid….have fun (This goes for adults too).
  3. Don’t let self-esteem get mixed up in achievements. Achievements aren’t your life in a nutshell.
  4. Don’t run away from yourself, embrace the good, the bad, and the quirky.
  5. Don’t ignore obstacles, overcome them.
  6. Confidence is born of patience and experience
  7. Learn to forgive yourself for your mistakes (easier said than done).
  8. Get into the process, not the result.
  9. Doubt is the number one cause of poor achievement. (If you don’t believe me listen to the Ford quote above).
  10. Follow your dreams and enjoy the trip.

If you’d like to read this from a more adult perspective….as in how you, as a parent, can work on your own competency and security….see my other blog post in Lessons from the Goddess on the same topic.

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Green Pediatrics: A World Full of Natural Treatments

In the first part we discussed what a green pediatrician is and talked about some of the hallmarks of their profession. We also discussed vaccines and their problems in relation to green pediatrics.  If you did not read the post there is a link to it here (insert blog link).

Today I want to talk about a few other things that relate to green pediatrics and our children’s overall health.

Childhood Allergies

Childhood allergies seem to be on the rise, just like childhood disease.  Whether it be seasonal, food, skin rashes, asthma, or respiratory problems, more children are acquiring these problems than ever before. As of 2007, as a nation, these disorders were affecting 35 million people in this country and we spend an estimated 6 billion a year in treatment. That’s not including productivity time lost due to appointments and such.

What is causing this rise? Well, the obvious culprits are pollutants in our environment and over stimulation to our immune system, due to these environmental factors. Unlike our ancestors, we are exposed to more allergens than ever before. Our immune systems were never intended to handle all of the toxins we meet in our daily lives.  It has caused us to become more sensitive to allergens, says Dr. Michael Rosenbaum in Growing Up Green.

Tips to combat allergies

  1. Limit your family’s exposure to controllable allergens like pet dander and tobacco smoke. I know I’ve had to work on this in my parents’ house. My father is not allowed to smoke anywhere but their bathroom due to my allergies and my mother’s health issues.
  2. If you can afford them, get high efficiency particulate air filters in every room of your house. This is something I want to work on once I get my own place.
  3. In humid areas use dehumidifiers to limit mold growth. We have to do this due to my allergies.
  4. You can purchase allergy proof bedding to reduce symptoms if you have consistent problems. If not, then regularly wash your linens in hot water.
  5. Wash stuffed animals as they can hold onto dander and allergens.
  6. Carpet is an enemy to anyone with allergies. Either vaccum regularly or try to get rid of them.
  7. Use non-toxic house hold cleaners.
  8. Talk to you pediatrician about natural supplements that can help with preventing allergies. Some of these include: probiotics and essential fatty acids.
  9. Neti pots are your friend….and if that won’t clear it…try this recipe to clear your sinuses with one: 1 drop peroxide, 1 drop apple cider vinegar, a pinch sea salt and baking soda, and boiled water that has been cooled to room temp. It hurts but it’s the only thing that clears my sinuses.

The Dirty Theory

The dirty theory proposes that the rise in all these health conditions has to do with not allowing our children’s immune systems to develop naturally.  This includes protecting them from everything dirty and overexposing them to antibiotics instead of allowing the immune system to do its job. Some of these toxic chemicals we use to clean our homes also destroy too many bacteria. We have become so germ phobic, with little to no need, that our immune systems don’t get their proper exercise.

There are tons of bacteria that are beneficial to our health. Our intestines would not work without some of the bacteria that live there and our body has to learn to tell the difference. That becomes harder when we don’t allow our bodies that opportunity.

If you would like to learn more about hygiene hypothesis or the dirty theory, there are tons of articles out there.

And if you would like to learn about helpful bacteria in the body, here is a link from Scientific American

Antibiotic Overload

We touched on this in the last article, but antibiotics are used way too often in modern society. A kid gets sick, the school wants them to immediately go to the doctor, get on meds, and come back to school. I know it’s inconvenient when your kid misses school, but pumping them full of meds that prevent their immune system from getting its workout isn’t the answer. Nor is sending them to school where they can infect more students.

This is not to say that antibiotics are bad. They are a great tool and they aren’t dangerous, but we do pay a price for using them too often.  The more we use antibiotics the more resistant our bodies become to them. If we overuse them, they won’t work as well when we really need them to.  Continuing this trend will most likely create superbugs that we can no longer treat.

It doesn’t help that they are encountering it in other items they eat and drink either. Milk and meat are pumped full of antibiotic due to our horrible farming practices.

Growing Up Green presents a few alternative options. I’ve posted a few of them on my Herbal Remedies page. The one I did not include was for colic as it was fairly intensive and meant looking at your diet and mental health. So, if you are struggling with colic in your baby you might look up colic in Growing up Green on Google Books if you just need to read that section.

I would also recommend looking up homeopathic and natural remedies whenever you can. I’m not saying to use them for serious conditions. Only that a cold or cough doesn’t need cough syrup when chamomile tea and honey will work just as well.  There are natural remedies made with organic, non-toxic products that you can make at home for cheap (and most of the time they work better than the overpriced stuff you buy at the store).  For example, burns can be treated with aloe vera plants, poison ivy can be treated with a tincture made of different plants. Or on a slightly less organic track, toothpaste can be used to make zits shrink.

Or if you’re not into making your own remedies I suggest looking up Boiron products. They are all natural holistic alternatives.

The Happy Pill

Just as antibiotics are over prescribed, so are meds for other mental health issues.  From ADHD to depression, the doctors these days just want to throw meds at the problem without diagnosing the underlying issue. As a college graduate with a Bachelor’s in psychology this really disgusts me and is a disservice to the profession, as well as those they serve.

If we just look for the underlying causes we won’t have to use medication.  Some problems like ADHD can be related to diet, while others may be rooted in past events and experiences in life.  Giving a child, or adult, a pill and hoping the problem goes away is like putting a band aide on a gaping wound.

Not to mention the side effects that these meds may have.  Unfortunately green medicine is fairly rare in psychology and mental disorders.  I really do wish that we would stop trending toward self-gratification and the quick fix.  Instead we’re putting children on meds that could damage their long term development because their minds and bodies are not fully developed.

I realize that some parents do not see an alternative, but there are solutions, you just have to look for them and find holistic doctors. It really is a choice and a lifestyle.  The problem can be vitamins, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, or hormonal imbalances.  These are complex issues that simply cannot be cured or treated with a pill and there not be consequences.

Head Lice

We know it runs rampant through the school system at times. Or you might catch it from your child’s friend. I know I often had to treat myself for it. But very few people know that lice are actually attracted to clean hair, so don’t take the infestation as an insult. However, please don’t insult your body by using toxic chemicals to remove the pests when there are much better alternatives. Using agricultural pesticides on our scalp or those of our children does not sound like a good idea.

Some oils can be used to prevent lice, such as tea tree, rosemary, lemon and ylang-ylang.  If you already have it before you can work on prevention there are a couple of simple household products that work just as well if not better. You still need the lice comb though. Slathering your head with mayo , vegetable oil, or olive oil works great. I recommend vegetable oil as it is the easiest to get out of the hair. Just soak your child’s scalp and hair in the oil and cover it for about forty five minutes. The dense oil suffocates the pests and then you wash it out and nitpick just like you would otherwise.  Another preventative tool is to rinse your hair in apple cider vinegar at the end of a shower. It just takes about a fourth of a cup poured over the scalp. It makes it harder for the little buggers to latch on.

Growing Up Green recommends an oil mixture of tea tree, ylang-ylang, anise, rosemary, marjoram, sage and eucalyptus in a coconut oil base.  Mix it with a small amount of shampoo and leave it on for fifteen to thirty minutes then wash and repeat daily for a week.

These are just a few of the ways you can go green with your medical routine.

Blessed Be.

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Green Pediatrics For A Healthier Child

Dr. Lawrence Rosen created a philosophy of whole child care. Some people have named this philosophy Green Pediatrics.  In his model children are more than just physical beings, which is true. Just like the rest of us they have a mind, a body, and a spirit. All of which are important to the whole. Just as someone who suffers mentally have issues in other spectrums, so do our children.

Green pediatricians believe that a child’s health is not just dependent on their physical state, but also how they interact with their parents, family and community.  And all those systems have an impact on the child’s health. To me this makes a lot of sense.  Environment is just as important, if not more important than genetics in many cases.  There is a reason for the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” A child is raised by all the elements in their lives from schools, to doctors, the parents, and all the way down to the social groups they end up participating in.

While the philosophy behind the practice is important, what impresses me the most about this method is the how a green pediatrician handles the child’s health.  The focus is on preventative and natural treatment. There is a large focus on letting the body create its own defense and only incorporating outside chemicals (medications) when absolutely necessary.  Rosen tells it like it is when he says that there are no magic pills or quick fixes in medicine. And that’s a lie that we’ve been fed by big pharma and Western medicine for years.

These integrative pediatricians are searching for healthier ways to treat the symptoms of childhood illnesses. And while it is great to have the newest tech, they are realizing that they have to have a gentler touch. These doctors are now realizing that sometimes it takes a simpler touch. Yes, it’s great to have the high tech tools and medicines if you need them, but they are not always needed.

Diet and Holistic Treatment

The emphasis is on more holistic therapies where possible. This is where occupational therapy, horse therapy, water therapy, psychology, and even reiki are being used by some of these doctors. All of this is in an attempt to keep the body from being harmed by unnecessary toxic contamination in the form of pills or other interventions.  They are putting greater emphasis on nutrition and diet as well. And it all makes sense. How can we treat a sick body when we keep feeding it foods that will only make it sicker?

Let me give you an example. I have two cousins who have a number of developmental issues. At one point both of them were really sick.  Their mom eventually started going for more natural foods for her children. It started with driving two hours to Louisville just to find a health food store (Indiana isn’t known for its health and they live in the boonies). Eventually she bought them chickens and a goat to keep as pets and they harvested their own eggs and milk. They don’t feed the goats or chickens antibiotics or chemicals unless absolutely necessary.

And you know what happened? The girls became healthier as their body managed to eject the toxins. They weren’t allergic to the processed foods per se, but their bodies simply couldn’t function optimally on sub par nutrition. Now it’s great that she had the money to do that, but where does that leave the rest of us? The answer is doing the best we can with what we have and making as many adjustments or investments as we can afford to.  It’s a process, but one that is well worth it.

And those are just two hallmarks of green pediatrics. First, a turn away from using medication for every single cough or sniffle and, second, an emphasis on nutrition as a means of preventing chronic illness.

I love this for Freya. We go to a green nurse practitioner and she’s actually better than just about any doctor I’ve ever met….and I’ve met a lot of doctors over the years due to my mother’s health issues. She listens to our concerns. She is willing to work with us. Best of all, she wants Freya’s immune system to do the work, rather than a medicine, whenever possible.

Vaccines

This is a topic of debate even for green pediatricians. Some believe that you should and some believe that you shouldn’t. In the end you have to weigh your options, do the research, and determine what is best for your family.

I personally believe that vaccines are not evil in and of themselves. I think that mumps, measles, rubella, are all necessary. I don’t necessarily think that the flu or chickenpox vaccines are a good idea however. Those are constantly changing bugs that we are only making stronger through continuous intervention. Not to mention, I’ve had horrible luck with the flu vaccine. Every time I’ve had it I’ve gotten the flu and it always seems worse than the years I haven’t gotten the vaccine.

My personal issue with vaccines is the lack of research on how multiple vaccinations interact with one another. There are some states that schedule three or four vaccines for one visit. Not only are our bodies not designed to fend off so many problems at once, but the interactions between most of these vaccines have never been tested. We know they are safe by themselves, but we have no clue what they do in our bodies when combined. Worse yet, there is enough anecdotal evidence concerning vaccine injuries that we should be worried about these un-researched interactions. That is why we do our best to split up Freya’s shots, even if that means an extra appointment.

Still, I want to highlight a potential drawback of vaccines, if for no other reason than to make you aware that they exist.

1.The rise in vaccines. Vaccines are sometimes considered medicine’s greatest lifesaver. And while they have been used to eradicate or control many contagious diseases, we’ve added lesser diseases to the list. Some of this is in an attempt to see what we can quick fix and some of it is to keep kids from missing school quite as often.  However did you know that when most of us parents were little we were given no more than ten to fifteen vaccines? Or did you know that in the last twenty years that number has risen to, on average, forty nine doses of vaccines before the age of six? It’s a big jump and often an unnecessary one.

The chart below is an image from Growing Up Green. It shows the differences between a child vaccinated in 1983 and one vaccinated in 2007.

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It’s a big jump. You can see the current schedule on the CDC website.

2. There are some advocates that are worried that too many vaccines can cause even more health problems. If you look at the list above, you might assume that we have the healthiest children in the world, but the sad truth is that the opposite is true. Even more so, in other countries doctors have proven, even in a court of law, that vaccines are not necessary, just useful tools. And one of my favorite health websites, Mercola, posted this article, which also shares the potential dangers of vaccine.

3.While rare vaccine injuries and adverse reactions do exist. Very few parents seem to realize this and even less do research on the topic. Unfortunately our current system fails to realize that each child is different and doesn’t take into account other health concerns related to their past or current issues. Just as we don’t expect our children to fit in a one size fits all mold for anything else, we shouldn’t expect that to work here. Dr. Rosen has been advocating for prescreening children (not sure how) to make sure that the vaccine schedule meets their individual needs and concerns.

Normal vaccine side effects include fever and irritation. More extreme reactions to watch out for are anaphylactic reaction, rashes and swelling, extreme sleepiness, vomiting, diarrhea, behavior change, convulsions and shock. In the most extreme cases children with vaccine injuries have gone from normally functioning toddlers to being unable to walk or speak, but this is VERY rare.

If your child ever experiences any of these more extreme reactions, the CDC recommends that you call the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System by phone 800-822-7967 or online at www.haers.hhs.gov And for more information on contradictions to vaccines, see the CDC”s contradictions to vaccines chart on their website.

4. Some vaccines contain additives and preservatives that should raise concern. While they are used to stabilize, prevent germ growth, and prevent spoilage, some of these ingredients greatly concern me as they have been linked to other health issues. Aluminum is used to help stimulate the growth of antibodies. However, it has been suggested that it may toxic to the neurological, respiratory, reproductive, and cardiovascular system. It’s also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Antibiotics are used, which we all know that overuse of antibiotics can lead to resistance later in life when our bodies have greater need of them. Egg protein, which little children can be allergic to is found in vaccines as is formaldehyde, which kills unwanted bacteria. Some vaccines even have MSG, which has been linked to several health issues. Vaccines can even contain mercury, to which it has been determined there are no safe levels of mercury contamination.

All of these issues make me very cautious to use some vaccinations. It makes me want to do a lot more research into the recommended vaccinations my child is going to be receiving in the future. We all need to be careful and ask to read the insert in those vaccine boxes. You may meet resistance, but that may mean you don’t have a green doctor or a doctor willing to listen to your concerns. Never forget that you are a consumer buying a product. If you aren’t happy with the practice, find another one. Until we know the full effect of these vaccination cocktails on our children’s delicate and immature immune systems, we should all use caution.  Don’t be intimidated and stand your ground if you have any concerns about your child’s health. That’s our job as parents.

There are too many doctors who are more concerned with protecting themselves than the potential hazards some interventions may pose to our children.