I am pleased to introduce Zanni from Heart Mama today. Zanni lives across the world from me but, like so many mothers I’ve met this year, she feels like a friend who should live down the street in our tiny Awake Village. I’m amazed by her sweet little, peaceful life and I’m sure you will be as well. Enjoy!
1. What are some of your family’s favorite family rituals, celebrations or traditions?
Our day is a fabric woven of little rituals. From the moment we wake in the morning until when we all sleep together in the family bed, rituals bind us together and give our day character and meaning. The morning ritual involves snuggles and books in bed, a tender little hand placed on my face as I read to my daughter, followed by breakfast, always together. We generally try and go for coffee and a little smackeral of something during work days, and spend days off walking around local markets or spending time with friends. My daughter’s favourite ritual is to lie on our lap and have “Dew Tea” which is a bottle of milk. She looks into our eyes and touches our face. This is her down time. Her re-connection with us. We try and eat together in the evenings … and sleep, side-by-side cuddled up.
Celebrations, like birthdays and Christmas, are much like every other day, although we will endeavour to sneak in a little cake, or an extra special breakfast. My husband ends up working most of these ‘special’ days, so we make what celebration we can.
2. How do you take care of yourself so you can take great care of your family?
I pace myself. In two and a half years of being a mother, I haven’t once needed a “me” day. Or even a “me” hour. My relationship with my daughter and husband is relaxed, spontaneous and balanced. Although both my husband and I do a lot of work, we balance busyness by spending as much time as possible together. I spend most time with my daughter, as much time as I can with my loving and supportive husband, some time doing work, very little time doing housework and most evenings writing and blogging.
I am a social person, so connections to other people, particularly other mothers, sustain me. I debrief almost daily, and find offering other mothers support nourishing. I am very good at asking for help when I need it. There are many people from my support network who I can contact if I need to. I write to nourish my soul. Blogging about my life and my experiences is not only a creative outlet, it helps me to reflect and gather my thoughts. If I have a lousy day, writing about it and sharing my experiences somehow heals the pain. When life is good, reflecting on it helps me enjoy it even more. My husband and I joke a lot and make up silly songs for our daughter and for each other. Life generally is fun and relaxed and this is how I take care of me.
3. What do you love to create and how in the world do you find the time to do it?
I love to write. In the past, I painted and sewed, but each of these things fell by the wayside to make room for writing, which was my original passion and creative outlet. My Heart Mama blog is the perfect place to explore my creativity, because I have a captive and responsive audience, my stories flow naturally and are easy to write, and my reflections feed back into my “real” life, which helps me to be a better mother. Since I started Heart Mama over a year ago, my writing has improved. My blog has also organically grown into a celebration of positive parenting, which I feel is a relevant and important contribution to make to society. I write at night, almost every night. Usually we have eaten dinner and washed up by the time my daughter goes to bed at seven, so then I have the rest of the evening to create. My husband is very supportive of my writing, and he too is creative – making music and writing songs or painting. This is how we spend our nights together.
4. Your blog, Heart Mama, is about nourishing little hearts with love, kindness, tenderness and sunshine. Can you give us several tips on how to shower our children with this kind of love and kindness?
- Nurture yourself. As parents, we need to feel whole in ourselves to be able to give our children the love and nourishment they need to grow. Find what works for you, whether it is good food, more sleep, connections to other people, getting a massage or going out to watch a movie. It’s not selfish to love and nourish yourself. It is essential.
- Nourish your root system – your connection to others. Whoever your support system is, and wherever they are, reaches out when you need them and even when you don’t. Raising children is a social experience. No matter how hard we try, we can’t parent in isolation. We are raising children to be part of the social world, so we as parents need to connect with it as well. Sometimes as mothers we can feel isolated. If social communities are difficult to access, there are many online support networks available.
- Find fun in your life. Feeling light in your world and light in yourself helps you enjoy parenting more. Fun can be had racing around the backyard, singing silly songs, dancing to your favourite music, going for a beautiful walk, reading stories in silly voices, pretending to be a character or an animal…Fun can be simple. You just need to find what is fun for you and your family. Parenting doesn’t need to be a serious business.
- Celebrate your children. In any way you can, celebrate those precious spirits you have created. Their antics can be testing at times, and we can be stretched and pulled in every direction as a parent, but if we stop for a moment to look into their little faces we can connect to their beauty. We need to listen to their little laughs and hear their joy. We need to feel their trust in us and share their love for the world.
- Give children room to grow. When we plant our little seeds, it is tempting to hover over them, directing their growth, their behaviour, their spirits. Giving children the opportunity to learn for themselves inspires creativity, common sense, trust in their own abilities and confidence. If we hear ourselves giving repetitious instruction and making constant demands of our children, we need to take a step back. Learning to trust that they can work it out helps strengthen your bond to your child.
- Trust and respect your children. Our children are born trusting us. It is only through our own doing that we lose their trust. If we trust their capability to learn and we in turn model positive behaviour, we engage their trust in us. And those we trust we respect. Children will trust and respect us, as adults, and we in turn will trust and respect them.
5. What is something that you surprised yourself with by saying YES in your life.
I generally say yes, so it’s usually not a surprise! I suppose if there has been any instance when saying yes was a surprise it would have to been when the man I had only known for two months and been in the physical presence of for three weeks asked me to marry him over the phone, from the other side of the world. I said yes! It was more of a surprise to other people than to me. And it was the best decision I ever made.
Zanni lives in Northern NSW, Australia and has one daughter, Elka, and is expecting another child in October. She believes in love, kindness and being completely silly as much as possible. She tries to be ethical – using only recycled toilet paper, and loves (clean) modern cloth nappies. Her parenting style is relaxed and nurturing. Her home is a mess, but she’s trying hard to be tidy. She lives healthily, and on a shoe-string. She writes educational material, studies psychology, is a LifeLine telephone counsellor, an avid blogger, and a lover of life and of people. She writes for Mumgo and hosts a website called Mother Ink. She also co-facilitates a mothers’ group in her local village and offers online and telephone counselling support for parents who need it. Heart Mama is her exploration, revelations, and experiences.