Parenting is an extremely rewarding but daunting enterprise, as any seasoned parent can tell you, and the beginning of the school year brings its own great challenges. Thus, it is vitally important that we organize our lives so we do not fall into that all-too-familiar trap: using our kids and busy schedules as an excuse for not cultivating the most life-generating space possible for ourselves.
Parents will often say, "I just don't have the time" or "I really wish I could--if only I had a team of helpers!" What is it that separates someone who lives a healthier lifestyle from someone who reads about it, agrees with it, and yet continues to do the very things that keep him/her stuck in a state of toxic lethargy? It is a commitment to integrating physical activity, a high-vibration diet, meditation, and other cleansing practices seamlessly into one's day as priorities.
Ironically, when we parents care for ourselves first, we become less self-centered, more openhearted, and more generous. From here, we can't help but to conduct love and light. This enables us to become better leaders in our families and communities.
By contrast, typically the parents who say they don't have the time to shop for fresh produce or exercise regularly are the same ones who will stop for fast food or sign their kids up for school cafeteria meals and then spend hours on the phone or flipping through the tabloids. To these parents, I say there is always time, energy, and yes, even money for living well. If you keep choosing instant gratification and temporary distraction, you will remain in a purgatory of uninspired life experience. Moreover, you will seal the doom of your children's physical, mental, and emotional well-being!
Here's what parents need to know: diseases will manifest in the modern paradigm of "childcare." That's a given. How the illness will manifest will vary from child to child, but discerning health experts can usually predict the category of disease simply by knowing exactly what the child has been exposed to and how the body reacts to those onslaughts. Will the illness be an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto's, endometriosis, lupus, lymphoma, cancer, or multiple sclerosis? Will it be a neurological imbalance that will make the child grow into a socially handicapped teen and adult? (Don't think for a second that those food and drug chemicals and flashing screens don't affect the central nervous system--they do.) Or will it manifest as inner distress that leads to substance abuse and/or eating disorders?
Our children will not love us more because we buy them the Wii or keep a storehouse of candy at home--no more than we love ourselves when we overeat or drink too much! Let's stop trying to assuage the guilt of being in an office all day or being otherwise distracted. The child's soul knows the difference between junk food and junk entertainment and the real stuff of life, love, and truth. But as our children's addictions to these things grow, their relationships with their "suppliers" grow more complicated too. As the suppliers, we only become poorer--in our wallets, in our creativity, in our children's priceless personalities.
But it's never too late for parents to create a new blueprint for living. Our kids can go to school to learn arithmetic, but at home they need to get an education in life. We must teach them what supports life, what doesn't, and most importantly, WHY. Lids love to know why--they eat it up! This is the surest way to cultivating a beautiful, fruitful life for them and a healthy planet for them to live on.
Some people might reply, "Well, Natalia, some of us are single working moms and dads, juggling several jobs." To them, I say that living with a clear mind, body, and heart is not a luxury for the rich and idle. It is a necessity for a healthy life. To say that there are no resources for life-affirming action, only for the rat race and the cheap consumption of dead food and media, is the ultimate in impoverished thinking!
I know it's not easy. I live in Manhattan with two school-aged children and a household to maintain. I have more e-mails, phone calls, and projects than I can ever keep up with; I often work late into the night after I've tucked everyone into bed. But I do not compromise on those things that keep my cells ringing with health, my heart open to love my family, and my mind uncluttered and peaceful. These choices are the seeds for the entire garden of my life. Sure, I miss my cues now and then, but I've learned as a result that some practices are simply sacred to my day. I have finally learned to make my other obligations work around these activities--NOT vice versa.
Sometimes it means saying no others. I rarely socialize with other parents or make lunch dates. Instead, I enjoy a bike ride around Central Park or go for a run, and spend precious time developing projects or cultivating other aspects of my "garden." Nor do I spend a lot of time e-mailing and chatting on the phone. Modern communication is a major time zap, and most of it is unnecessary and unsatisfying. I communicate as necessary with periphery acquaintances, while I indulge in the love and connection of my immediate family and closest friends.
In short, to create the life I want, I protect my world from those things that will dilute my power. I am not perfect at this--it's a delicate balance, and there are no hard and fast rules. It's just a general setup that serves me well. Flexibility is a key ingredient! Each of you has your own joy, your own dream. If you love to socialize, great, enjoy yourself! Just don't set up all the dominos to fall, so that by the end of the day, when it's time to pick up the kids, you've done little to care for yourself.
As your kids get back into their new routines as school, I encourage all of you parents out there--and this goes for non-parents, too--to enroll yourselves in the School of Life. Commit yourself to integrating more life-generating activities into your day, even if it's just taking a brisk walk in the park, creating a scrumptious salad for lunch, or doing a guided meditation. What better time than now to begin?
Ah, school days!