Putting the Joy Back Into Parenting – Exhaustion & Depletion Aren’t Par for the Mothering Course

Remember when you used to play solitaire? Would you see a bad line up of cards, and play anyway? If you are like me, you probably reshuffled the cards, gave yourself a new deal, and only played if it was good enough this time around.

Joy is similar. If you are OK with a difficult situation, or even worse, if you feel that you don’t deserve anything better, finding joy will be so much harder. It’s true that our happiness level depends a lot on our state of mind (being satisfied with what we have), but human beings have needs and limitations, and believe it or not, mothers are human beings too.

The 2 Sides of Modern Parenting

It is not unusual for a mother to run around non stop to keep her family clean, fed, happy, entertained, etc. It’s also not unusual for said mom to be tired, depleted, morally broken down — and to assume that it’s all par for the course.

Articles on mothering written by mothers often have 2 themes running. We have the:
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Chia Seeds Recipe: Chocolate Mousse Chia Pudding Recipe (Raw, Vegan, Paleo)

I have a deep love for chia seeds. These nutritionally miraculous little seeds are chock-full of omega 3 fatty acids, in which I believe the general population to be deficient. Add to this the fact that many people don’t eat fish, or don’t eat the right kinds of fish, and it’s easy to see how many of us may not get enough of this vital nutrient, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and more.

A 2004 Canadian study (among many other studies) reported that:

“Omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role in the development and function of the central nervous system. Emerging research is establishing an association between omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic, eicosapentaenoic, docosahexaenoic) and major depressive disorder.”

To ensure I get enough DHA (the type of Omega 3 the body needs and does not manufacture), I take 2 capsules of O-mega-zen 3 daily, and often eat chia seeds in the form of puddings and stirred into drinks. Lately, I have taken things further by also adding chia oil to my puddings as well as non-GM soy lecithin powder, and was rewarded by a wonderful, mousse like texture (from the oil/lecithin blend). Just in case you think I’m kidding, know that my husband remarked on it himself without me saying anything!

Chocolate Mousse Chia Pudding

The lecithin and oils emulsify to give this chia pudding a chocolate mousse consistency!

Ingredients (serves 4)

- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- ½ cup raw cacao powder
- 1/3 cup Coconut Secret coconut nectar, raw honey, or your favorite sweetener
- 1 cup raw hazelnuts, or use toasted
- 1 inch vanilla bean or a little vanilla bean powder
- 1 T coconut oil
- 1 T non-GM lecithin powder,
- 1 T chia seed oil
- 2 drops Medicine Flower coffee extract (optional)
- Celtic sea salt, pinch

Directions

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Chia Seed Milk Recipes: Mango Chia Milk and Strawberry Chia Milk

Here are a couple of recipes I’m sharing with you as part of my giveaway for 2 lbs of chia seeds (you can enter below, but hurry, it ends soon!)

Sometimes, you have no time for nut milk and puddings. The solution? Chia seed milk! These 2 chia seed milk recipes are ready in under 5 minutes, and give you all the benefits of chia seeds, including calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, and more.

Mango Chia Milk

Mango smoothies are always so delightful, and chia seeds take them to the next level by adding healthy omega 3 fatty acids and calcium. The recipe calls for frozen fruits, so that the liquid does not heat up during the relatively lengthy blending time.

Ingredients (serves 2)

- 2 T chia seeds
- 2 cups water
- 3 T raw honey
- 2 cups frozen mango chunks
- 1/2 t lucuma powder

Directions

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Chia Seeds Recipe: Calcium-Rich Chia Pudding Recipe

Chia seeds are an amazing source of calcium, a mineral which can be a little hard to get in sufficient quantities on many diets. Add sesame seeds to your puddings, and you’ve got a calcium powerhouse of a breakfast or snack. Check out my other chia seed posts below for more information, and delicious recipes to try!

Calcium Rich Chia Pudding

Ingredients

1/2 cup sesame seeds, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
2-4 T raw honey, or your favorite liquid sweetener
1-inch vanilla bean, or vanilla bean powder
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 t cinnamon

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Chia Seed Recipes: Chia Coconut Berry Parfait (+ 2 lbs of chia seeds giveaway!)

Modern diets are often deficient in omega 3 fatty acids, that’s a fact. And yet, our brain needs them to function optimally. Did you know that simple omega 3 supplementation can reverse mild depression and anxiety? And did you know that fish consumption does not necessarily guarantee proper intake of omega 3 fatty acids?

I supplement every day, and I would recommend that every woman of childbearing age supplement as well. My favorite omega 3 supplement is O-mega-zen 3 and O-Mega-Zen³ + EPA, but there are also fabulous food sources of this amazing nutrient you can enjoy on a daily basis. Like chia seeds!

Back when I was analyzing raw vegan diets on a regular basis, I noticed that calcium was a fairly hard mineral to get in adequate amounts. Now, I know that with dairy based diets, you actually assimilate less calcium than the label says for many reasons, but the amount of excreted calcium is nowhere near the amount of calcium the average raw foodists might be missing. Enter chia seeds

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High Needs Babies – My Experience Raising a High Needs Toddler (10-18 months)

This is the last High Needs Baby Grows Up post in the series. At the time of this writing, Franklin is a strong, almost-4-year-old boy. At 18 months, he definitely was not a baby anymore. He’s was a 30+ lbs toddler who climbed rock walls, went down slides (“weeee!), ran after the cat (“caaaaaat!”), pointed to his ear saying “This is ear!”, would run toward me smiling with open arms to give me a big hug, gave kisses, ate kale straight off the plant (which he still does), and was a total delight — but not as much as when he turned 2 and 3. It kept getting better and better.

I can’t even tell you how in love with him I am, and what a joy it is to be around him! He’s smart, industrious, funny, and I am so blessed that he chose me to be his mother. We have an incredibly tight bond, and I know that it will remain strong for ever.

Still, there are a few things I’d like to discuss regarding high needs baby, and what I have learned through raising one.

Sleep Issues?

Ah, parents of high needs babies. I hear you. I, too, would wake up every 30 minutes to get Franklin back to sleep. I, too, could not nap, since he would wake up after 20-30 minutes, and if I was not right there, awake, to get him back to sleep, we would start a new cycle of overtiredness/crankiness until the next nap. I, too, would lie awake in my bed while Franklin slept because my mind knew I would need to wake up soon, and so my body would not fall asleep unless I was dead exhausted.

People think that by month 5, most babies sleep through the night. Who perpetuated this myth, I do not know. But let me tell you something. By the time Franklin was 18 months old, he was not sleeping through the night. Was it due to him being high needs? Partly, but not totally.

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Nourishing Chia Buckwheat Breakfast Cereal Recipes

When Franklin was little, he would wake up a lot at night, and needed to sleep with us in our small queen size bed, which wasn’t always comfortable for us. As a result, he and I would wake up at 5-6 am, but I generally wasn’t in the mood to make something elaborate for breakfast. Besides, since my husband Matthew went to bed later to catch up on work, he required a little more sleep in the morning. This meant I couldn’t use the blender or juicer and risk waking him up. Still, as a breastfeeding mama, I still needed my nutrition!

I came up with these delicious and filling little bowls of energy to fill that need. They fit the bill perfectly.

Carob + Strawberry Chia Buckwheat Breakfast

Ingredients

2 T Organic Raw Chia Seeds
1/3 c. almond milk
1/2 t Carob Powder
1/4 t Fruits of the Earth (optional)
Small handful of buckwheat, soaked, well rinsed and dehydrated overnight
3-4 strawberries, sliced

Directions

Soak the chia seeds in almond milk and carob (whisked in), along with some Fruits of the Earth if you are using it. After about 10 minutes, stir in some buckwheat groats and top with strawberry. Add a dusting of carob for color and added flavor.

Apple Cinnamon Chia Buckwheat Breakfast

Ingredients

2 T Organic Raw Chia Seeds
1/3 c. Brazil nut milk
1/4 t cinnamon
1 grated apple
Small handful buckwheat, soaked and dehydrated

Directions

Soak the chia seeds in Brazil nut milk and cinnamon (whisked in). After about 10 minutes, stir in some buckwheat groats and most of the grated apple. Top with the rest of the apple and dust with added cinnamon for color and added flavor.

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High Needs Children – Challenges and Growth Opportunities of Raising a High Needs Child

This blog post is dedicated to all the mothers of high needs children, a label which will be discussed below. This topic also relates to healthy diets, in that moms may get an added incentive to eating well just so they can keep up with their little bundles of energy! Please note that I am not criticizing any parenting method – we should all do what works for us and makes our children as happy as possible regardless of what society thinks.

Raising children is hard – some might say it’s the toughest job in the world. But, high needs infants and children bring additional challenges, and fortunately, additional rewards as well. High needs infants usually stay high needs throughout their childhood. I looked forward to interacting with high needs toddler Franklin when he was smaller, and watching him blossom into a passionate person. Seeing him today as a strong, confident almost 4 year old child has been one of the most rewarding things ever. However, things were not always easy.

Franklin’s Early Months

After Franklin was born, I often felt completely inadequate. Everyone I talked to, even parents of previously colicky infants, said that at least they had naps to relax. 2-3 hour naps, every afternoon. While other kids, regardless of usual temperament, slept for at least a couple of hours every day, Franklin did not. He detested sleep, or rather, he loved being awake so much that as soon as he has had a little bit of rest, he would wake up and within seconds would be upright, playing. Parents come to me for nutrition advice for their little ones, and that’s an area where I am very knowledgeable. Franklin is growing strong, happy and healthy, and it is not an accident. But when it came to keeping him asleep, everything I had learned was useless for the first few months.

I was told many things.

- He is not tired enough, let him exhaust himself (but the more exhausted he was, the more he would wake up)

- He does not need to sleep because he eats so well (but tired signs such as rubbing eyes, yawning, excessive fussing and clingliness indicated he was indeed tired)

- He should cry it out (I don’t think that punishing my child for society’s shortcomings is the answer – more on that below. Note that my position on Cry It Out is an opinion, not a criticism. He who has never sinned…).

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Are We Raising Spoiled Children Through Attachment Parenting?

I am often asked to blog more about my parenting style, and so today, I would like to discuss something dear to my heart: raising children on love, love, and more love. I am often told that I am raising a spoiled child (not always in such a direct way of course), that Franklin will never learn to play on his own, that he will be clingy, whiny and will not learn to be independent.

Many years ago, I decided to pursue studies in psychology. One of the reasons for it was to learn as much as I could about child psychology to see what the biggest findings in the field were, and potentially use them for my child’s benefits. One of the most important principles in psychology is the concept of reinforcement. If you do something, and get rewarded for it, you are more likely to do it again. If you get punished, you are less likely to repeat it. Pretty simple, right?

People often use this principle in child rearing. If a child whines and is indulged, the child will whine again. Do not encourage whining, and the child will find different ways to get what he wants without relying on you. For instance, if your child wants to play, he will want to play with you first, but if you are not available, he will whine. You can indulge this behavior by giving in and playing, or you can ignore the behavior until the child understands you are not available to play, and he will play alone.

Does it seem pretty simple and straightforward? Not so fast.

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Gluten Free Lemon Blueberry Scones

“Mom, can I have some scones?”
“No, we’re having dinner soon”
“Pleeeeaase, can I have some?”

My son Franklin is not even 4 yet, but he eats scones like a champion. Actually, he eats anything like a champion — and gluten free baked goods are no exception! And since he loves blueberries and lemon, I figured I’d make him a nice treat, which would also keep him busy in the morning while I get dressed and all that. If you’re the mom of a small child, you know how nice it is to have a few minutes in the morning to yourself!

Well, Franklin ate 2 scones, my husband nibbled another one, and next thing you know, I had one scone left to take a photo of. And no more lemons or blueberries as props. But since my Facebook followers enthusiastically asked for the recipe, I couldn’t exactly forgo sharing it just because I didn’t have a nice picture!

So, here’s the much requested recipe. A super fast, all gluten free lemon blueberry scone. Someone asked if they could add a flax “egg” instead of a regular egg, and I bet you can. I haven’t tried, though.

Lemon Blueberry Scones (Gluten Free, Paleo)

Lemon-Blueberry-Scones-GF

Dry ingredients

2 cups almond flour (I used this one)
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t aluminum free baking powder
1/4 t sea salt
3 T super cold butter (or place coconut oil in the fridge and use that for a dairy free scone), cubed

Wet ingredients
1 egg
1 T honey (or your favorite liquid sweetener)
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t lemon extract, or zest of one lemon
2 T fresh lemon juice, about 1/2 a large lemon
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, add the dry ingredients minus the butter. Pulse until combined.
Add the butter, and pulse slightly. You want big chunks to remain.

Mix the wet ingredients together minus the blueberries. Add to the dry ingredients, still holding your horses on the blueberries and pulse a few times until combined. Now add the blueberries and pulse a few times to incorporate them.

On a pan covered with parchment paper, dump the scones dough. Rub a little coconut oil on your hands. It will make forming the scones easier as the dough will be wet. Gently pat the dough to form a circle, about the diameter of your hand. Cut the dough into 6 equal portions. Separate them gently, and pop the pan in the oven. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. I use a convection oven, so it only takes 20 minutes.

While the scones are baking, put all the ingredients away and rinse the food processor. Enjoy warm scones with a cup of tea in your clean kitchen!