Today I’m chatting with Nina of Shalom Mama about her experiences with parenting and living with intention. Nina and I met through another blogger and found that we had a lot in common – intentional living, loose attachment parenting, natural living and (of course) blogging about it all.
Check out our conversation!
How do you define intentional living and parenting? How do you make it happen on a daily basis?
I define intentional living as identifying the values and actions most important to me and making a daily effort to live by them. Wellness (body, mind, soul), building meaningful relationships, generosity, gratefulness, simplicity, creativity and flexibility are incredibly important to me. These values apply to the way I interact with my husband, kids, family and friends.
I try to grow in those areas every day by: Eating nourishing whole foods. Spending focused time with my kids, husband and friends. Giving thanks throughout the day. Taking time to exercise. Creating something every day - be it writing or crafts. Having the flexibility to throw plans aside and pursue an exciting opportunity. And having grace with myself when I fail miserably. I'm really working on that last one.
How is your parenting style informed by your values?
My style is attached-ish. Being a loving, gracious mom is important. However, I often come up short when I'm stressed and I am grateful for the forgiveness my kids willingly extend to me. I want to build meaningful relationships with my kids as much as with anyone else and I do that by including them my daily actions when I can.
My aim as a mom is to model to my kids the values that I want them to embrace - generosity, creativity, simplicity, curiosity, living passionately. Right now I'm struggling with giving them each quality time (there are 4 of them). They seem happiest when I'm reading to them or snuggling or pushing them in a swing. But I feel like I should be doing more. It seems that they understand simplicity better than I do. :)
Does living and parenting with intention make it hard to connect with other moms?
Yes and no. The Internet makes it so easy to find like-minded moms. The communities available online make unconventional living much easier. However, I find it more difficult locally. I don't know if it's the small town I live in or my tendency to be shy, but this has been a challenge for me.
I'm overcoming this, though, by sticking to my mission to build relationships and approaching women that I'd like to get to know better. Like the other day at the park when I saw a very pregnant mom with 5 other little kids. She just looked like someone I wanted to get to know. I approached her and found that I had actually heard about her from several people and that my midwife was her midwife as well.
Sometimes my efforts go well, sometimes I just don't connect with other women. It's a risk that I'm getting more comfortable with taking.
Did anything surprise you about parenting? How was the adjustment for you, in the early days, to becoming a mom? What is the adjustment like now as your kids grow?
What surprised me most about parenting was my reaction to it. I thought I'd be an uptight germaphobe. Instead, it made me really mellow, which is good after the things I've seen my kids put in their mouths. :) My husband has helped me to be less fearful and I let my kids explore more than I would have before I had kids. I can trust them more than I thought because they really are careful with themselves.
As they grow older, I'm really enjoying their independence. Having 4 kids in 5 years means a lot of the baby stage. That is really challenging! The youngest one is
walking running now and they're mostly able to buckle and unbuckle themselves in the van. (I'm SO glad about this).
We're able to do more together and we're slowly breaking the kids into festivals and other outings. This is helping my husband and I let go of unrealistic expectations of our kids and enjoy as much as we can before the meltdowns begin. Everyone I know that had kids close together keeps telling me it gets easier. That's proving to be true.
Nina Nelson is a student midwife, mama to four and wife to one. She writes regularly at Shalom Mama, providing health and herbal resources and inspiring others to live intentionally. She loves reading, snuggling and giggling at miniature horses.