Creating a Family Values Crest

Cronin Family Crest

Cronin Family Crest

One of the things that has drawn me to coaching is my desire to find and express our unique family values, and now to share that process with other mamas. Every family has values, whether they are conscious of them or not. But families who are aware of their values and actively find ways to to express them through work and play are the families who are going to just survive, but truly thrive.

That’s why I LOVE that Values is the “third pillar” of Mama Bliss Coaching.

Values are light a beacon in the fog. They get you through the sibling squabbles, going the wrong way down a one-way street, or somehow missing a new child on your tax return (all of which happened for us yesterday, thankfully our accountant was still able to make the fix and the policemen was busy pulling over a cab!). Values help steer you back on course and remind you of what really matters.

One way to symbolize your family values is by creating a family crest, as I did for my website banner. Aside from paying homage to our Irish/Welsh/Scottish/British ancestry, our self-created coat of arms gives a visual representation our family values.

  • The blossoms on the top left hand show how we are all blooming in our own time. Sometimes its hard to keep in mind that we each have our own stages of growth. Teagan is just learning to crawl, while I am discovering what it takes to be a successful work-at-home mom. Our family’s job is to create the right conditions to help us each grow and develop. I.e. it’s time to baby proof!

  • The waves with sun and moon are symbolic of both our love of the ocean and the need to remain flexible as we ebb and flow toward our higher goals and values. Going with the flow is the most efficient path. Plus, we are real water lovers!

  • The five outstretched hands was my best way representing teamwork. Like all families, we are learning to be a team. We need to work together in order to play together.

  • The tree with shovel reminds me of our desire to give back to our community through volunteer service. Giving back is really important to Kevin and I, and one of the values that brought us together. Kevin served two terms as in Americorps and I’m an active Rotary International member. The kids often attend Portland Pearl Rotary meetings with me, and know way more about local/international causes than your average 8 and 5 year old (I just stopped taking Teagan with me, but she had near perfect attendance for the past eight months!). We did a Village Building Convergence street painting in our neighborhood last year, and are planning for one again next month. They love learning about causes and connecting as a community in the process.

The nice thing about a basic family crest is that it’s simple by design. I’m learning some great coaching methods to find your family values, but the gist is to whittle what you care about down to just four areas and find a way to symbolize each area. You could do it in a crayon drawing, crafty collage or even a purple pen like I did for my first design (My talented friend and former co-worker is due full credit for my lovely and playfully designed family crest…thanks Sarah!). Ideally it would be great to get your partner and kids involved in the process, but in my case I ended up doing it solo. Hubby and I may be aligned in values, but he finds my creative side far too left-brained. Plus, I was a little afraid that it might include lipgloss and Legos if I included the kids in the process. 😉

Have you created a family crest?

I’d love to see more examples on my new Pinterest Board on Creating Family Crests

Darcy

@DarcysUtopia – Coaching to create your ideal family life.

My Top 3 Parenting Tips

In my new “career” as a so-called stay-at-home-mom and Simplicity Parenting Coach, a lot of people have asked me for my best parenting tips (including, The Oregonian’s OMamas). I’m always reluctant to answer. It’s not because I don’t have a wealth of personal experience after eight years of trial by fire. I just don’t think that the bulk of my “tips” apply to anyone but myself and how I manage my own unique family. Even my upcoming workshops are geared to be a community discussion and personal inquiry rather than me lecturing anyone.

That said, I want to reflect and share the 3 parenting tips that truly matter to me:

1) Be Present.

Whether you are savoring snuggles with a newborn or in the midst of a toddler tantrum, the key is being present. While I tried to practice mindfulness as often as possible before becoming a mother, being a mom catalyzed my need and desire for mindfulness. I’m reminded practically every moment of the higher purpose I’m here to serve…or the nose I need to wipe.

Being present has been my approach to helping my children learn how to sleep. Even when I’ve been exhausted and sleep deprived, focusing on my breath when put my babes/kiddos to bed has made all the difference. I start off our bedtime reading rhythm by taking several deep breaths to slow us down and transition from getting ready for bed to actually sleeping. It depends on the book, but I often try to take a long breath between each page, taking the time to articulate each word. And when I sing them to sleep, I take more long breaths between verses. The road to a full night’s sleep has been a long one (still ongoing with my newborn getting the swing of things), but I am certain that my presence and patience has given them the space to find the peace to rest.

On a side note, my nearly five-year old daughter fell asleep on her own for years, but since we transitioned to bunk beds two years ago, she has struggled on and off. She became used to sleeping with her brother and now that he wants his own top bunk on most nights, she’s become a high maintenance get-to-sleeper. For the last while I’ve been reading a book of my own with a flashlight next to her while she falls asleep snugged up next to me. It’s become my way of being present to what she needs in the moment…sometimes compromise is part of being present.

2) Be Yourself.

It may be obvious, but being yourself is the best thing you can do. Yet as apparent as this advice may be, it can be easier said than done, especially for new moms. It’s easy to get caught up in what other parents are doing or what your in-laws think, or even some idealized version of yourself as “super mom.”

You suddenly get a new identity as a mom…you’re ______’s Mom. Truly forming this new identity can take years. It’s fine to find new ways to play and express yourself, but not so fine  to get caught up in trying to be someone you are not. We don’t all bake bakery-beautiful cupcakes…I learned the hard way that mine are the reason sprinkles were invented. The good news is that as your confidence as a mother builds, so does your new knowing of who you truly are.

Most of all, don’t beat yourself up over doing things the best you know how in the moment (review tip #1 and #3).

3) Be Positive.

I’m a naturally positive person, but becoming a mom really made me more aware of my own negative self-talk. While first pregnant I really started to double-check my thoughts, questioning myself when I would project any type of negative outcome in the form of worrying. I would gently remind myself that I don’t know how things will turn out (who my yet-to-be-born child would become), so there is no benefit in speculating. Even simple things like assuming “if I lay down the baby, they’ll wake right up” or “I can’t leave for an hour or two to take care of myself…what if?” I remember needing to share my positive lens with those trying to “help us” learn how to be parents. And I still need to remind myself that phases pass quickly, and everything is a learning experience for all of us.

Now that our kids are getting older, I can see how my rose colored glasses are shaping their outlook too. They very rarely come to me with a genuine worry, although some selfish concerns still come with the territory of finding independence. Instead our conversations are often filled with gratitude for being able to create our future instead of just worry about what might happen that appears out of our control.

Discovering these “tips” for myself has brought me joy in motherhood, despite the unpredictable and demanding line of work.

For real life practical tips from fellow parents, Parent Hacks is my favorite resource.

What advice do you share with others and remind yourself of?

Darcy

@Darcy’s Utopia – Creating Utopia Together

Counter-Culture Roots

"Food Farm" cabin in the Umpqua Forest.

Darcy and Kieran on steps of the Food Farm cabin.

Sometimes I wish I could opt out of this consumer culture, where we are all beckoned to buy, buy, buy.

I grew up in the sticks, quite literally. My back-to-the-land parents built a cabin in the Umpqua Forest with trees they felled themselves. Their so-called hippie commune was dubbed the “Food Farm.”  They had migrated to Southern Oregon with the belief that they didn’t need what the main stream culture was selling. They wanted to raise their family off the grid. They believed there was a better way of living, closer to the earth. My father planted trees with a cooperative. Our adopted Dad fixed cars and hunted venison. Our mother sewed our clothes and washed cloth diapers by hand…that’s truly a job in itself, especially with three adopted children, plus twins!

There was no mall in walking distance where I grew up. The abundance of the grocery store was found in the garden, with the exception of wheat berries that my parents ground for flour, popcorn kernels and a few other staples. There were no “devices” to speak of, and even getting snail mail required a hike.

I’m an urban girl now, and even though I love camping, I couldn’t imagine living in the woods. Even country living would mean too much driving for my taste, but I still get nostalgic when we visit my parents with our kids. It feels like I’m able to give them a little of both worlds.

Emulating my parents version of simplicity is just not possible for me though. But I do question the main stream culture, and feel like Simplicity Parenting gives us the tools to parent in a better way.

The Simplicity Parenting workshops delve into four keys area of family life:

  • Home Environment – Creating space in your child/family’s life for creativity, peace and joy.
  • Rhythms – Family “routines” created with intention…over time creating your family values.
  • Scheduling – Doing what you value, making time for what matters, living this one life.
  • Filtering the Adult World – Finding your family’s comfort level for mass media and screen time.

So, if you’ve ever fantasized about escaping from modern day life, the Simplicity Parenting workshops may what you’ve been craving.

Together, we can create a contemporary counter-culture.

Darcy