Here we go with another fantastic Abundant Mama interview. Please say hi to the amazingly wonderful Mama Danielle from 52 Brand New. Last year, Danielle took her children on a journey to try something new each week. And, they’re doing it again this year!
How do you seek out meaningful moments in your everyday family life?
My project of trying one new experience with my children every week was designed to create meaningful moments as a family. Every week, we try something new together. Sometimes the experience only takes a few minutes. Other times, it takes up an entire day. But, all of our experiences are quality time spent together.
When I started the blog, I knew that each individual experience would help us bond as a family. I did not realize that the project as a whole would also provide a bonding experience. Besides the blog, I have a handwritten list in our kitchen. The kids like to read the list and recall some of our experiences. They have also been coming up with their own ideas for experiences. When we look over the list or blog together, I think they feel like we are in our own little club. They feel like an important part of the 52 Brand New project as well as a part of our family.
It is so hard to choose just one moment because I think there is a little magic in our lives every day, but here is one that comes to mind: I took my children to Arizona earlier this month. We went hiking in Saguaro National Park. We were about a mile from the trailhead, and I just had this realization that we were literally the only people around for miles. I looked ahead and saw my son shuffling his feet to kick up the dust for the fun of it. I looked down at my daughter, who was busy watching leafcutter ants march by. At that moment, I realized I needed nothing more in life than what I had right there.
What does living fully in this world mean to you?
Living fully is more than just being in the moment. It is creating the moments you want to be in. We all have obligations and responsibilities that take up much of our time, so free time should be treated as though it is the most valuable thing we own. I try to spend my free time with my family doing things we enjoy. This takes some planning, but my time is so precious that I think it is worth the effort.
What do you love to create and how in the world do you find the time to do it?
I am a writer. I keep two journals. One is my personal journal in which I write about the day’s events and how I am feeling. The other is a journal I keep about my children. I write down anecdotes about their childhood that I just want to preserve forever. I also update my blog once or twice a week. I generally write after my children are in bed. I sit down with a cup of tea and write for anywhere from half an hour to two hours every night. It is my way of relaxing. I don’t watch much TV, so it is my way of unwinding every night.
What is something that you are so happy you said YES to in your life?
I am glad I chose to co-parent peacefully with my ex-husband. When I went through my divorce, I was so angry and hurt. Getting divorced was not my choice, and the last thing I wanted was to give up time with my children so that my ex-husband could have parenting time. But, I chose to put my children’s feelings before mine. They love their father and enjoy spending time with him every week.
When my ex-husband comes inside my house to pick up the children, he frequently plays with them in my basement before they go to his house, and he typically reads the kids a bedtime story in their rooms before he leaves. I know that this arrangement is not typical, but it works for our family. The kids have an easy transition between my house and their father’s house. They are happy, and that is what matters most to me.
How is your family living authentically?
When my children were younger, I really worried about what other parents were doing. I so got caught up in trying to make sure my children had every opportunity to succeed that I wound up overscheduling my preschooler and toddler. We went to music class, Gymboree, and piano lessons regularly. I had also tried swim classes, preschool book clubs, and Spanish classes. My children enjoyed all of these classes (except the piano lessons!), but we were running around all the time and didn’t have enough time for free play.
Over a year ago, I cut way back on their activities and find that we are now having more fun as a family. I made the decision to parent the way I think is best for our family. We have fewer structured activities now, so the kids have time to go to the playground, relax with good books, and play with their toys. I no longer worry that my kids will be at a disadvantage because they are not taking foreign language classes or playing two sports. They are creative, active, and most of all, happy kids.
Danielle Greco is the author of the blog 52 Brand New, where you can follow her weekly adventures and learn to start your own.