Updated: Jan 6, 2022
As a teacher, I used to relish the break. I would work like crazy up until the last day, hug the kids adieu and run off to lift my feet up and drink a celebratory margarita. It was so fun and exciting! Us teachers counted down the days more than the kids, I think.
But as a mom? Ever since leaving the classroom and shifting fully into parenthood as winter "break" neared the word that has most resounded for me is dread. Dread of all of the responsibility that would be heaped on ME. All of the time sucked up helping my children and being there for my husband. Gone is the time for self care and quiet. Gone is the time to get anything done. But there's supposed to be all the time in the world!
And then we return from the break with sequins in our frazzled hair, bags under our sleepy eyes. and with a pile of to do's so high they could crack our glass ceiling... all the while wondering where all the time for rest and relaxation went?
But this year was different.
As a consolation prize for this ongoing pandemic we had nowhere to go.
We had no obligations. No plans. No one to see.
So the end of 2021 in our home this year suddenly became something very different:
a place to rest for real!
Instead of the usual apprehension and stressers I usually came upon from traveling and holidays and all of the rush, I suddenly found myself carving my own schedule in my own way, seeing only the people I wanted to see, flowing with my definition of time and living life in the way I actually wanted.
And do you know what this NYer discovered? I like things slow. :)
I love the cozy, lazy mornings of cuddles and sleepy reading.
The waking up to the sunrise...or not.
The making of plans and then deciding to stay nestled instead.
The many hours walking through the woods.
Instead of rushing around and being exhausted from my vacation, this time I feel very nourished upon my return to the daily flow.
It also has to do greatly with one theme: release.
In order to be courageous and go with my true flow, I had to release perfection and fear of my family resenting me.
Release guilt for asking for what I wanted.
I released and shed so many things: expectations, work that didn't actually have to be done, to do's that were on the list because I thought I had to do them, not because they were actually necessary.
I also released responsibility and self sacrifice. I discerned my needs and what I needed. I said what I wanted and took my time.
And with that release I got brave and asked for what I really wanted.
I found myself entering a space of great reflection, cocooning, and... courage.
I went on a day long retreat where I ate a luxurious lunch alone with my journal, got a pedicure, wrote a song by a lake...
I also gave my husband a two day retreat for himself (and did EXACTLY what I wanted with my daughter without answering to anyone).
I released regret and not enoughness and took stock.
I slept a lot! I sang a lot too. I cried some. I laughed more.
I connected with friends or didn't.
I became inspired and created an elaborate winter solstice altar and celebration. We even woke up to greet the sun!
The time to create truly delicious and delectable experiences for myself and for my family - the meals we had were beautiful. The things we created were intricate and made with love. and great mindfulness.
I am sad for the break to be over and yearning for a way to keep the beat of our family s-l-o-o-o-w even with the return to work and school and all of it.
And so, I decided to lean on an old friend: the end of year reflection.
This year, I opened up my new journal and did two things: I rinsed out 2021 and greeted 2022 with intention. And I adapted it to my parenthood because I want to do it better - for her.
After doing this ritual, I don't know about you, but to me, 2022 feels energetically sparked!
While all around us so much seems to be unfurling, I take comfort in the knowing that this next generation - they are going to be something ELSE! - because we are learning to model a different truth for them every day.
2022 is going to be beautiful. I can feel it! It already is.
So may our next parenthood year begin with some exquisitly loving reflection.
I would like to invite you in...
Before you do the ritual..
I know that it might feel hard or even scary to reflect back and be honest with our parenthoods. Because to do so, we must get vulnerable and admit to lies we may have been holding as truth.
To get real with ourselves is perhaps the most difficult work we will ever do - but it is essential for leading a balanced and peaceful existence. In order to model for our children the people that they deserve to be, we must embody this in ourselves first. And that is why I believe this yearly reflection work to be essential.
So, lovely one, I invite you into my favorite yearly parenthood ritual now to connect with your experience with honesty, great self compassion and love.
Come along and rinse!
And if you want a partner in this journey, I am here for that too - if this is for you, click below to get started.
Then everybody, take out your journal and read below!
Celebrate and Rinse 2021.
Manifest 2022 with Intention!
Step 1: Set the Stage
Before you begin doing anything, get cozy! These types of reflections can be hard sometimes and many people even avoid thinking about their parenting actions at all.
So many of us are so busy just pushing through the muck and winging it that we forget how much power and ability we have to change simply by shifting our perspectives and setting new intentions!
You are incredibly brave for doing so!
So let’s make sure you’re all ready for the most lovely, enriching rinse and release experience. Look through this checklist below - let’s make sure you’re being pampered first in this process.
You deserve it!
Set up a loving, compassionate environment?
Choose some supportive materials to make this experience feel extra special. Light yourself some amazing smelling candles or brew some delicious coffee (or pour a glass of wine!), wrap yourself up in cozy blankets or play some inspiring and supportive music in the background that will either relax or invigorate you. Decide: do you want to be inside or outside? Alone or with a group of special people? Cozy on a cushion or all set up at a desk? How do you want your space to feel as you set intention to shower yourself with this gift of reflective time? There is no wrong way to do this. Just make it your own.
Set up the materials that will most support and make me smile?
Is it easiest for you to reflect by journaling with beautiful new pens or by speaking into a voice memo app? Would you rather have a conversation and ask your friend or partner to take notes? Would you want chocolate for some sweet breaks or pillows to prop you up as you go?
Invited anyone into the ritual who might support me in this process and/or explicitly stated that you are taking this time for yourself?
Who do you want to be there with you? Do you want to do this by yourself or would you rather do this together with those you love and invite them into the process? Maybe you want to invite your co-parenting partner to do the same work separately and then come together for some reflective sharing? Maybe you want this time to yourself - if so, set those expectations clearly.
Carved out enough uninterrupted time for proper reflection?
How will you ensure that you are being supported in this process by any partners or members of your parenting love village so that it feels expansive and complete? Do you need someone to watch the kids or put them to bed as you enjoy your time? What supports do you need in order to keep this time sacred? Identify them and then make it happen!
Chosen a gateway into this ritual?
Every reflective experience is tenfold more nourishing if you set yourself up with intentionality. So don’t rush or force through this, dear one. Instead, set the stage with a ritual. It might be a five minute meditation followed by a mantra and the lighting of a candle to open your ceremony. Or maybe you would like to share your gratitude for your coparenting partners out loud during this time, acknowledging everyone’s passion, dedication, and sacrifice. Perhaps you want to begin with stream of consciousness journaling. Or maybe for you it’s some crazy dancing around the room and letting it loose! You might want to build a fire or set a candle with a tray so that you can literally burn and release what no longer serves as well as ignite and uplift your most current intentions and manifestations. Whatever you do, make it your own and make it sweet! I hope that you enjoy the delightful environment you have created!
Step 2: Reflect On Your Values
Now that your environment is all set up, it’s time to do some leaning into your parenting framework. We do this by settling into our values.
Take a moment to think through how you would want your parenthood to look and feel like, in the ideal.
If you have done values work with me and already identified your top 3 current values, write them down here now. If not, take a moment to truly reflect on what matters most to you. What puts you into flow? How would you live your life if there were no boundaries? What central beliefs would you most want to instill in your children? Take time to reflect on this and when you are ready, write down what you most value here below. *If you are interested in doing some deep values-based parenting work, I am here for you!
Look at each of your top 3 values. How are they already showing up in your day to day life?
Look at your values again. How would you like them to show up more?
Step 3: Celebrate Your Parenthood!
That was beautiful! Now that you looked at the big picture, it’s time to look at and celebrate the small stuff of life that bring in the magic. Last year as a parent you made a lot of mistakes, it’s true. But you also probably did many, many more wondrous, beautiful, magical things than you realize! Now is the time to acknowledge and uplift it all! Here are some questions to begin with:
What are your strongest memories of joy in parenting this year?
What are you most proud of?
What really worked for you this year? Why do think it worked for you?
What behaviors, practices, rituals did you most enjoy?
What ideas, practices and insights do you most want to take with you into the next year?
Celebrate all the rest!!!
That is right - I want you to get bold and unabashed and name your AWESOMENESS!
Some people might need a little nudge and to hear some celebrations reflected back at them by a loved one. Or it might feel strange to boast about yourself. If so, remember how you would talk to your best friend. Then remember something important: you ARE your first and very best friend! So please treat yourself this way!
One invitation that is really sweet is to begin this part of the ritual by first washing your co-parenting partners with love and gratitude. Whoever is part of your love village of support has done a lot for you this year. It is time to acknowledge them. Think of all of the people in your life who have informed or supported your parenthood this past year. Write down what they did for you. Then celebrate them! Call them on the phone, gather them close, and love on them.
After you do that, I want you to do something very brave: invite them to do the same for you. Listen with an open mind and heart. Soak it all in. And allow yourself to revel in the beauty of your boundless dedication to your children and your parenting life!
Finally, once you have done that, it’s time to celebrate yourself with some self love and acknowledgement! To do so, I encourage you to list every one of your celebrations from your parenting this year one by one.
Take some time with this, and let it flow. If this is hard for you a great way to begin is by looking through pictures from this past year and reminiscing over all of the things that brought you and your family joy this year.
Every small triumph.
Every big insight.
And everything in between.
Don’t be bashful now!
If you are gathered around a fire or near a candle that has a tray to catch embers, once you have collected all of your celebrations, I invite you to read them each out loud one at a time, burn, and elevate their beauty.
Or you can make this into an art project: do some free painting or writing, or maybe create a collage of your celebrations to hang up as a reminder. Whatever feels triumphant and joyous!
Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the power of celebrating yourself and taking time to reflect and take stock. Make it your own, but please promise me that you won’t skip this step!
You deserve the acknowledgement!
Yes! YOU did that! YOU made those things happen!
And you are ENOUGH!
Step 4: Rinse and Release
Ok dear one. Now is the time to acknowledge the rough spots too. To essentially cherish all of the MUCK. And then, to release it!
Because as parents even with the best of intentions, we are all going to make the mistakes.
I believe that the work is less about the mistakes and more about how we repair them and then how we let them go.
There are three ways that I believe people most make themselves suffer:
Regret of the past
Comparison in the present
Fear of the future
So be loving to yourself, my friend, and allow yourself to let go of all that no longer serves. When we acknowledge our mistakes, do the work to repair them, and then move on, we break the cycle of trauma and suffering for the next generation.
Give yourself and your children this greatest gift: the gift of feeling through all of the emotions of all you wish you hadn’t done, all you wish you had done, and everything in between.
Once again, I invite you to reflect on this past year of your parenthood with these questions.
This part can be hard. Really hard.
So I invite you to create a ritual around this, maybe even play a beautiful song, sway, dance, light a fire, eat some chocolate, drink some wine.
Go easy on yourself and move slowly. Check in with your body compass throughout.
If it feels nourishing to you, invite other parents to participate with you and share what you want to release from your parenthood this year together. Laugh and cry together! Or complete this ritual by yourself with a loving candle, glass of wine or chocolate and celebrate your enoughness as you also let go and rinse away all that no longer serves.
Forgive yourself even with the acknowledgement that we will continue to make mistakes again but this coming year, perhaps with more of a sense of grace, self compassion and a constant hum of love as a reminder to yourself that you ARE enough!
What do you wish you had known that you know now? What parenting DKDKs (things you didn't know that you didn't know...until you did!) did you unearth?
Either in retrospect or intentionally, did you have a big picture plan for parenting your children this past year? If so, how aligned was your hope with the reality of what was? If it was, celebrate that! And if it wasn't aligned, then how can you begin to forgive yourself?
Are there any lessons that you learned?
Now you are invited into the big part of the ritual by answering the following question:
What are you ready to let go of from your parenting? What do you want to rinse away?
Think of all of your mistakes, regrets, overwhelm, fears and let them all go!