Did you hear it this morning? The little voice in the back of your head that told you that you were doing it wrong? Or the whispering in your ear that you weren’t good enough? Is it still there, nagging you to make organic-flax seed pancakes from scratch instead of reading the paper and having a cup of coffee?
I’m pretty sure that we can make it stop. We can reinvent the dialogue and change the conversation about good parenting.
I recently had the privilege of getting a sneak peak at a new movement and the opportunity to chat with the one of the co-authors of "Minimalist Parenting: Enjoying Modern Family Life More By Doing Less" by Christine Koh. Christine and I went to college together, and this former brain scientist turned graphic designer, blogger, and author has some sage advice for parents.
I’m using my little bit of Destin Log real estate this week to encourage you to give this woman some love. She is smart, funny, honest, and kind, and her new book is a reflection on raising kids, balancing work and life, and taking some time for self-care and preservation.
I was so excited to chat with Christine by phone last week, and after some catch-up conversation, we got down to business and she told me the story of how her book came to be.
After attending the Blissdom Conference in 2010, Christine, who had been blogging for a number of years at her Boston Mama’s site, drafted an outline for a book, focused on helping parents learn not to feel overwhelmed by the “shoulds.”
As soon as she arrived home in Boston, Christine bought the minimalist parenting domain name online, a move she described as “typical Christine Koh.” Although 2010 wasn’t the right time for Christine to settle in and write the book, the idea and the proposal simmered until 2011, when Christine and Asha Dornfest, founder of the blog Parent Hacks, decided they could team up and write the book together.
Minimalist parenting is based on some healthy principles, which in my mind are “game changers” when it comes to battling “mommy guilt," anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed by both the big stuff and the little details.
Christine and Asha prompt readers: “Instead of asking how do I fit everything in, ask what’s most important to fit in?”
By changing the questions and the conversations, we as parents have an opportunity to reshape how we feel about what can and can’t get accomplished in a day, a week, or a month.
During the course of our conversation, Christine made it clear that what’s right for her family isn’t right for everyone. As both an author and a mother, Christine tells me that she has faith that people are doing the best they can, and we should celebrate those accomplishments.
Everyone, she says, has a different level of “baseline crazy,” and once you identify what that standard is for you, you can start carving out bits of time to be present and do things that you and your family enjoy. As parents, it’s OK not to be perfect and every day we get to start all over again.
“Course correction, not perfection,” Christine so eloquently told me, is a more reasonable and healthy goal. “We need to start letting go of the guilt that comes with feeling that we’re not doing it right.”
The book also devotes some time to prioritizing self-care.
“Self-care is not selfish; it models a behavior for your kids that you are important,” she says. Once you start letting go of some of the deadweight in your life and on your to-do list, you’ll be able carve out a little space for you. "Minimalist Parenting" encourages parents, wherever they are in their parenting journey, to simplify and realize that they already have everything they need to be great parents.
In preparation for the book launch, Christine and Asha created a two week “mini-camp” for parents to set aside some time to de-clutter and streamline. I’m participating and already feel more organized, less stressed, and more focused. I know I have a long way to go on this journey, so I’m encouraging you to come with me.
It’s not too late to sign up online at http://www.minimalistparenting.com and help start a new dialogue about “doing it all.” "Minimalist Parenting" will be available in areas book stores March 19 and is also available in ebook format.
Back in the day, I would have described Christine as thoughtful, generous, and kind. I’ll do the same today and encourage those of you who might not get a chance to meet her "in real life” to get to know her and her work online. You’ll be glad you did.
Follow Susan Moody on Twitter @susanjmoody and visit her blog, The Emerald Coast Insider, at www.emeraldcoasttreasurebox.com.