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What Do We Put on Our Skin?

Street Art, Cosmetics and Pregnancy; All topics I have experienced and talked about, but never at the same time… usually.

In 2013 there was a great deal of discussion in the media about the use of skin care products whilst pregnant. The RCOG released guidance on this suggesting that although they did not have any clear research as to what the risks are they felt it wise to recommend that pregnant women limited use of skin care products during pregnancy.

This raised many questions. Whether the recommendation was necessary, if it was underplayed or overplayed and what is actually known/reported about the ingredients of cosmetics. For me personally it raised the issue that regardless of pregnancy, I should be aware of what am I putting on my skin everyday!

I’m a life long user of skin care products, from baby lotion as an infant, moisturisers and bath products through childhood and then makeup and other skin care products as a teenager and adult.  I realised that with or without clear research, perhaps we should be paying more attention to what chemicals we are exposing ourselves to.

I decided that I wanted to raise this question ‘ what are we putting on our skin?’ through my art. And the way I chose to do this? By using these products as my paint, and creating an image from these as a piece of filmed street art.

This short film captures my art in progress, the finished piece, and the interest that the concept gained whilst I painted on the street.

The music I chose was really important. The striking female voice of Charlotte Eriksson and her beautiful song “Letdown” worked wonderfully in my opinion. The lyrics capturing other messages about how we look and what we do to attain that.

Since doing this street Art  I continued to question and change what I put on my skin, but it’s a work in progress! I’ve changed my shower gel to a homemade scrub of olive oil, sea salt and essential oil, which feels amazing on my skin and smells great.

I’ve changed my deodorant to a salt stick which works just as well as any roll on I’ve used previously.

– When buying my shampoo and conditioner I now pay close attention to and try to buy products without SLS or similar foaming agents which always dried my hands and scalp.

– My children use a lovely bath range from a nationwide chain which only include essential oils and other gentle ingredients that don’t irritate their skin.

– I no longer use self tanning products – so as a redhead I will try to embrace my natural paleness come the summer! But don’t hold me to that!

As far as cosmetics go I have until recently still using these. But since March 20th I decided to go Makeup free for a month. I am blogging about it on my website to see how my skin feels, but also to see how I feel psychologically without wearing it. I’ve read other blogs where women have done this, and I’ve read many views on makeup. From discussions on the chemical components, the oppression of women, the capitalisation of beauty but also the power, confidence and artistic elements that so many women use cosmetics for.

To see how I am doing at being makeup free for the first time in my adult life, check out my blog

painting and video © Susan Merrick


Susan grew up with a passion for drawing and painting, a passion that was reignited during her first pregnancy in 2008. Inspired by strong women in her art and self taught, Susan has continued to develop her style using a wide range of materials and canvas. Susan has created art for gifts, political humour, commissioned wall art, belly painting, and more recently illustration. Her art has been exhibited in Putney, Aldershot, and Cranleigh and she has had illustrations published in the form of children’s books, What A Lovely Sound! By Starr Meneely and Blue Jeans by Veronika Sophia Robinson. Currently Susan is working as a Sign Language Interpreter 2 days a week, and balancing being a Birth Doula and Artist around her role as a mother of two. She lives with her husband and children in Hampshire, UK and always learning from her children, she endeavours to improve her patience and skills in gentle parenting! For more information about Susan or to see more of her gallery visit her website or check out her posts and albums on and twitter@smdoula


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Caring for Newborn Skin – Naturally

My second son was born just a few weeks ago, and I was immediately struck by how incredibly beautiful, soft, and delicate newborn skin is. Is there any better ‘drug’ than the musky scent and the satin feel of your infant’s new skin?

Skin is our largest organ. It amounts to around 16% of our body weight. Newborn skin is particularly delicate, being around 30% thinner than adult skin, and therefore more vulnerable to irritants and the absorption of toxins.

Newborn skin is constantly changing and growing, and can be susceptible to dryness. Adult cosmetics products are generally too harsh to use on baby skin – and as such, it is important to use only products that have been designed specifically for babies. However, there’s a lot we can do to care for our baby’s skin without spending a great lot on special products. A lot of benefit can be gained from just ‘simplifying’ your baby’s hygiene routine.

Here are some tips for caring simply for your baby’s precious new skin:

Delay the first bath – When your baby is born, he/she may be covered in a white waxy substance. This is known as ‘Vernix’ and acts as a temporary barrier, to protect baby from infection and environmental stress. Delaying your baby’s first bath, means that he/she maximises the benefit of this coating.

Bathe baby infrequently – babies don’t really get dirty do they? I remember I bathed my first child every night as a baby. I had read that giving baby a bath each evening was part of establishing a bedtime routine. However, bathing can tend to have a drying effect on the skin, and really isn’t necessary daily. My son’s dry skin issues improved dramatically once I reduced the frequency of his baths.

Use cotton wool and water instead of baby wipes – I have seen advertising for baby wipes which states “cleansing as gentle as cotton wool and water”. In that case, why use anything else? Even ‘gentle’ wipes can irritate very new skin.

Only use a ‘cleanser’ for hair initially – a baby’s body doesn’t get dirty enough to ‘cleanse’. Cleansers (unless extremely gentle) can strip the skin of its natural oils. However, hair will need a wash now and then.

Moisturise with an oil – choose something light and easily absorbed such as sunflower. It doesn’t need to be expensive. ‘Creams’ and ‘butters’ are great as a denser, heavier and more protective emollient, but unless your baby has especially dry skin problems, a light oil should be sufficient.

Always choose unscented products for your baby. Unless you are a qualified Aromatherapist, you can’t be sure of the effects of essential oils. Furthermore a ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ is generally a synthetic ingredient. Besides, babies smell gorgeous naturally right?

Always use natural ingredients/products, and check your labels. INCI names are confusing but can be easily ‘translated’ via Google. Be sure and confident about what you are applying to your baby’s skin.

Remember issues of dermal absorption and how much more vulnerable to this newborn skin is. What you put on, goes in, to a certain extent. Try to minimise the exposure your baby gets to ‘products’.

Don’t change baby’s clothes unnecessarily. As with bathing, babies don’t tend to get ‘dirty’ often and frequent changes can ‘disturb’ and ‘irritate’ sensitive skin.

Stay on top of dampness and soreness in the nappy area. I swear by Baltic amber for teething and avoiding nappy rash. You can also easily make your own natural talcum powder to keep the delicate nappy area dry (see below). Caring for your newborn’s skin doesn’t need to be complex, or expensive. Less is really very much more.


(thanks to The Holistic Beauty Book by Star Khechara)

50g arrowroot powder

30g orris-root powder

20g powdered lavender flowers

All ingredients available to buy from

©photo by Kreatively Kristin is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


Bare Bodycare III19 copy

Cath Mather is a mother to 2 boys, and an experienced Occupational Therapist, Hydrotherapist, and Reiki practitioner. She also finds time to run her own small children’s natural skincarebusiness. You can contact her here

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Whatever it Takes – 4 steps to stay connected to your partner through parenthood

Let’s face it, romance and intimacy can quickly take a back seat when we become parents. We give lovingly and endlessly to our children, but if little energy is saved for ourselves or our partners, a large wedge can unknowingly sneak in between the relationship.

Here are 4 steps to help ensure your relationship not only endures, but strengthens in the journey of parenthood.


First rule, you cannot give what you do not have. Take time out for yourself first and do something you love. Nurture that part of you that remains to be all you, then you must allow your partner to do the same. When we reconnect with ourselves, we ground ourselves and create space for others. If it means taking turns with your partner, finding a sitter, calling the in-laws, going to the gym and using their childcare center, finding a mom’s morning out program, finding other mom’s in your local networks to take turns watching the kids, whatever it takes, go for it.


By honoring our time and our partner’s time, we naturally tend to be more thoughtful, patient, and willing to give to each other. We have more energy to put forth into the relationship. Little notes, unexpected hugs, instant messages, simple, tiny acts that show how much we care. In our house, it’s making each other’s coffee, planning a dinner out together, cleaning the litter box, helping with workrelated tasks, filling the gas tank. Everything counts because it means somehow we’ve made life easier for each other. It means that we have taken the time, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential, to think and do something for our partner.


There is nothing more damaging to self and to a relationship than unresolved resentments. Hint #1: If you are snapping or nagging at your partner, and feeling angry when they are around, you have resentment. Figure out clearly why you are upset first, and understand that you may have a part in the problem (I usually do). Take time to talk openly, and if you don’t have time, write a note or email saying you must talk face to face. Make a lunch date, wait until the kids are sleeping, whatever it takes to talk your resentments over. The longer you wait, the harder this will become. Resentments do not disappear, they only get saved for the next blowout. Hint #2: An attack approach won’t resolve anything. If the rift between you and your partner feels too big to deal with, maybe it’s time to get some help. Consider how far you are willing to go to fix your relationship.


It’s crucial to have quality alone time with your partner. A 30minute walk, a short night or weekend away, a 2hour dinner date, whatever it takes. This one-on-one time helps remind couples of who they are outside of their roles as parents and partners in home/life management. It helps you reflect back to what you’ve created, and remember that you chose to be on this amazing journey together. Life moves fast, gets busy, the kids take our attention away, yes all of these things are true, but without the foundation of being a strong, intimate couple, things only get harder, not easier. By giving ourselves the time, giving our partner the time, and taking time together, we are showing our children how to respect ourselves and each other.


©photo by Dr. Wendy Longo is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0


MJ writes at Wander Wonder Discover where she continues to unwrap the joys and heartaches of living, learning, relationships and parenting. A soul seeker to the core, when MJ isn’t volunteering at the kids’ school, she is dancing, reading, bird-watching, playing the banjo and recording her human observations and wanderings in one too many journals. She lives in Boulder, CO with her energetic, fun-loving boy, dragon riding, fairy girl, her best friend and husband of 16 years, and Alfie the cat.

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6 Tips for Supporting a Woman in Labour

Your partner is pregnant! Congratulations! It may be many months or just a few days away, but eventually the two of you are going to go through the birth process together and I’m here to help you make it as smooth as possible. You can’t go wrong with the following six birth doula secrets.

Time Contractions (but just a few)

It’s so easy to get obsessed with timing contractions once they finally start. You’re excited! This is it! However, you cannot be a good support while glued to your phone nor can you get any better sense of what is happening with the labour by timing every single one. Time 3 and then wait an hour. Whatever pattern those 3 fall into is the pattern. No need to time more until it changes.

Remember Food and Water (and bathroom breaks – but not in a frantic way)

Labour burns lots of calories and women need food to keep their strength up plus a dehydrated uterus won’t contract efficiently. Even if she says she feels nauseous, offer suggestions of food and drink regularly. Don’t ask what she wants, offer specific options. Toast with peanut butter? A banana? Water? Coconut water? A straw is always a good idea.

You both need bathroom breaks. You need them because you’ll get fidgety and weird if you hold it for hours on end and she needs them because her bladder and baby’s head will compete for space in her pelvis. Not emptying it regularly can hold the baby up so put that on your checklist of things to remind her.

Be A Calming Physical Presence (but not in a frantic way)

The best advice I can give here is to slow down. I have seen countless partners let their nervousness show through agitated, light-speed petting. Slow down. A steady hand on the back or a firm shoulder massage are plenty. When in doubt ask quietly but clearly if she would like a cool washcloth for her forehead.

Don’t Rush To The Hospital (as long as possible)

Ina May Gaskin has a wonderful chapter in her book, Guide To Childbirth about what she calls “sphincter law”. Long chapter short: the cervix is a sphincter that opens (or doesn’t) involuntarily. The change of venue from your house to the hospital (or birth centre) means a car ride, bright lights, strangers, and poking and prodding. Once labor is really on it’s way, all those things won’t make a difference but at the beginning, the cervix can be skittish. Stay at home where mom can be comfortable until her contraction pattern is strong and regular.

Above All Else, Between Contractions

One of the most annoying and distracting things when a woman is trying to focus in labor is having someone – anyone – talk around her, or worse, asking her to answer questions, in the middle of a contraction. As soon as she begins to grow quiet during contractions (this may start at the beginning of labor or it may only happen as she gets into active labor), you should too. Bonus points if you remind other people to hush up so she can concentrate.

Follow Your Gut, Not The Book

You know your partner better than anyone – what she likes, what she thinks smells bad, what makes her cranky, what helps her relax. Definitely do some reading ahead of time to help familiarise yourself with labour but when the big day comes, don’t worry about finding the right page. Just breathe, remind her to breathe and trust yourself. Remember that while you may not be an expert in labour, you are an expert in her.

The first time your partner goes into labor, you won’t feel like an experienced birth doula. I know that. But I think, in general, partners are flooded with too much information about how to do everything perfectly while being constantly reminded, via not-so-funny cultural anecdotes, about all the times partners have screwed up during the birth process. Try not to worry too much. As long as you keep the above in mind, you’ll be fine. I promise.


©photo by Imkemper is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Emma Summer photo

Emma is a birth and postpartum doula and blogs about babies, birth, parenting, and food at Your Fonder Heart. She would love to hear your birth story.

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Celebrating the Spring Equinox

The time of the Spring Equinox (20th March this year)  means and marks many things for us but primarily it is about a time of balance, a brief time of equal dark and light, and Spring really showing her face.

We keep a nature/season table in our front room. It has little things on it that signify the time of year, items crafted over the last few years, things found on walks in the woods or on the beach. There are also some beautiful gifted items from craft swaps we have been involved in. We also have season cards depicting the seasonal festivals which are beautifully painted by an artist called Wendy Andrew.  Having the table as a focus keeps us connected with the time of year and grounds us.

For Spring Equinox we have the Eostre card, a crocheted bowl for bits and bobs, a wooden chick balanced on a mushroom (I know they aren’t spring like but they seem to have become a year round feature!), a green piece of felt underneath to signify the re-greening of the land. Some needle felted root babies, felted eggs, a found birds nest from a couple of years ago, and some felt blossom fairies. The resident gnome changes from white to green and there is a wild and wonderful collection of other ‘stuff’ the boys pick up (including the odd lego figure!).

Ritually we have an egg hunt to mark the season of fertility.  I hide the eggs about the place and then the children go off with little baskets and bags hunting for them. They know how many we start off with so they occasionally come back for clues if they are missing a few.  We have also learned not to let the chickens out before the hunt has completed as they are partial to joining in and stealing the eggs!

Planting seeds is another activity perfect for this time of year. Beans or tomato plants are perfect. As well as planting ones in seed trays try the bean seed and kitchen roll (paper towel) in a jam jar. Young children can be endlessly fascinated by watching the roots and stalk grow out of the same bean.

Eggs of the non chocolate variety feature heavily, either in foodstuffs or again making decorations. You can do all sorts of techniques dip dying, wax resist, using paint, food colouring or natural plant material to give colour. The only limit is your imagination. Display the eggs, offer them to the Goddess of spring, or make a decorative mobile.

Another project perfect for this time of year is an outside altar which can easily be constructed using a large flat piece of wood or slate, a place for quiet contemplation and a place to leave offerings for the fae or your Gods and Goddesses. I have a tea light (fire) on mine with a feather (air), sea water in a sea shell (water) and a bird skull (ancestors of the land) with the actual altar space made with 4 local stones (earth) from the field to create a cave shape, echoing the ancient Quoits in my local landscape.

What will you do this Spring Equinox?

Suggested Books:

Celebrating The Great Mother by Johnson and Shaw,

Circle Round by Starhawk, Baker and Hill.

©photo by Imkemper is licensed under CC BY 2.0

bio picLiz Williams, home educating mother of 2 wild boys. Living in Cornwall being creative with fabulous fabric and trying to balance the many sides of home-ed, mother, partner and business owner at Dark Star Designs.

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10 Ways to Help Your Daughter Honour Her Body

We are with our bodies from the moment of our miraculous conception to the moment of our final breath.  How we treat them influences how we feel about ourselves, and thus, how we experience the world.  What more impactful gift could we offer our beloved daughters than to guide them into a loving and respectful lifelong relationship with their bodies?  Every day, through our words, actions, and example we can do just that.

Here are 10 suggestions to get us started:

  1. Respect her body cues around food. When she says she is hungry or full, respect the cues of her body, regardless of how much has or has not been eaten.  Offer her yummy, healthy foods, and model how eating is both pleasurable and nourishing.
  2. Support her Boundaries. Like us, children have their own intuition about what feels good and safe. When our daughters set a physical boundary, whether we understand their decision or not, offering our support communicates that her instincts are important, and that her body is her own.
  3. Accept her Feelings. Forcing her to smile for pictures when she is in a bad mood, banishing her to her room for displays of anger, or telling her to ‘stop crying’ when she is upset, sends the message that happiness is the only acceptable emotion.  We allow her to honor her body by giving space to all of her emotions, and guiding her in their healthy expression.
  4.  Protect her from the Media.  It is difficult to accept your body just as it is while flipping through fashion magazines offering “495 Ways to Get Pretty By Summer.”  Make a choice to not subject your daughter to ideals and images that will likely make her feel worse about herself, and ban fashion magazines from the home.
  5. Move Together.  Exercise is a celebration of the body.  While engaging in physical activity with your girl, focus on how great it feels to move and stretch, how invigorating it feels to breathe with fervor, and the calming affect exercise offers the mind.
  6. Dress for comfort.  Many girls today are restricted by their clothing and footwear.  Apparel that fits well and offers her body full range of movement with ease will allow her to honor her desires for activity.
  7. Teach her about her body.  It is empowering to know the anatomical names for all of your body parts, how they work, and how to care for them.  Let us offer this factual knowledge to our daughters without taboo.
  8. Embrace Female Body Functions. Menstruation and lactation are unique to women, and we honor our feminine temples by embracing and celebrating these distinctive experiences.  Share with your girl the magic of being a woman.
  9. Value Her Genetic Blueprint.  Our bodies are designed to survive and thrive. Our ancestors needed their unique body structure to complete the tasks of their time, and now, many generations later, she bares the proof.  Researching her ancestors together could be a powerful step in honoring the body she inherited.
  10. Honor Your Body.  Our daughters absorb how we regard our bodies, listen with vigor to comments made about others’ bodies, and dissect our behavior to determine what we value.  It is wise to take any body issues we may have seriously and address them, getting support if necessary.
©photo by AdrianaAkrap is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0


Melia Keeton-Digby, M.Ed is a 30-something writer, speech-language pathologist, and founder of The Mother-Daughter Nest.  A native Arkansan, she and her husband and their three fantastic children now call Athens, Georgia home.  Her life is dedicated to children- understanding them, loving them, guiding them, and most of all- learning from them.


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9 Simple Ways to Boost Your Breast Milk Supply

If you’re a breastfeeding mama, you’re probably all-too-familiar with the fear of a dwindling supply. There are numerous factors that can play into a reduction in breast milk, such as stress, illness, smoking, or birth control drugs. While there are many things you can’t control, let’s talk about the things you can- the easiest place to start is with your dinner plate! Including these tasty lactogenic food & drinks into your diet can make for happy boobies and happy babies.

Water– It doesn’t get any simpler! If you are dehydrated, your milk is dehydrated. Aim for ½ an ounce per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you need approximately 70 oz of water per day.

Cumin– Cumin is an essential part of any Indian cuisine, and is probably already in your spice rack. Not only does is stimulate milk supply but it also regulates blood sugar levels, which can help you lose some baby weight. Use this aromatic herb in chili, enchiladas, curries, guacamole, or vegetable stews. It’s also a great addition to meat rubs or marinades.

Chamomile– Chamomile’s delicate apple flavor is one of my favorites. Drink this as a tea at night as a calming bedtime ritual to help you drift off into a restful sleep while increasing your milk flow. It also helps with stress and anxiety, so keep it on hand for when you need a breather.

*Beware of teas that have any kind of mint added, as it can lower your supply.

*If you have a ragweed allergy, avoid this herb.

Flax seeds– Flax supplies important fatty acids necessary for breast milk production. The hulls are indigestible when whole, so always use the ground seeds. You can easily sprinkle it on yogurt or granola, and mix it in with homemade pancakes, muffins, breads, or cookies. There is also flax milk available in stores as a tasty dairy alternative.

Fennel seeds– This sweet, licorice-flavored plant is popular in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Not only does it boost supply, but it passes through your milk, providing baby relief from tummy upset and colic. You can drink it as a flavorful tea, or use it as a spice in salads, meats, potatoes, or desserts.

Dandelion– Ok, so I know you don’t have dandelions in your kitchen. But walk outside- they are EVERYWHERE! And no, I don’t consider them a weed- they are indeed an excellent food and medicine. Drink the tea or add the fresh greens to your salads for lactation and breast inflammation. When harvesting dandelion greens, however, be careful to avoid areas that could potentially have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.

Oats– This one is easy. Oatmeal for breakfast, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, granola, breads, apple crisp with a crispy oat topping, oatmeal muffins. The possibilities are endless.

Dark beer– You can get brewer’s yeast from any nutrition store, but I find this option to be easier and way more fun. The yeast and b-vitamins in beer, particularly the darker varieties, will give you a nice little boost in your milk production. For bonus points, look for an oatmeal stout.

*Remember- if you are tipsy, your breast milk is tipsy. One alcoholic beverage per hour is generally considered safe while breastfeeding and will not affect the baby. As little as half a beer per day may be enough to give you the boost you’re looking for, so no need to overdo it!

Kombucha tea– Fermented foods are an excellent source of beneficial bacteria and yeast which boost your milk supply, and kombucha is one of my favorites. If you’re adventurous you can track down a “mother mushroom” and brew your own, or look for it in the health food section of your grocery store.

*This beverage does contain some caffeine as it is typically made with black tea, so don’t over-do it or drink it close to bedtime.

*Kombucha does naturally contain trace amounts of alcohol. It’s typically nothing to worry about, but due to variations in brewing techniques some may contain higher amounts. If it has a slight alcohol flavor to it, limit your intake as you would with the beer.

©photo by Aurimas Mikalauskas is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


meganpicMegan M. Kerkhoff, CHC, AADP is a Certified Health Counselor helping people to permanently achieve vibrant health and overcome chronic health issues with step-by-step nutrition & lifestyle counseling. She is a proud mommy to 2 month old Eliana Iris, and has a passion for natural pregnancy & motherhood. Visit her at &

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Helpful Tips for Frazzled Mothers

Spilled milk, a clinging toddler, one missing shoe, and a clock that seems to mock you as it ticks past the absolute last point when you needed to leave the house. Sometimes motherhood seems to pull at every single one of our frayed ends. Sometimes the joys of mothering are lost deep beneath our heavy exhaustion and weariness.

How can we nurture our mothering heart when we feel utterly frazzled?

Sleep: When it comes to motherhood, getting enough sleep is easier said than done. Sometimes, we have no choice but to function on our last reserves. I heard somewhere that when we feel at our absolute physical limits, we have actually only used up about a third of our body’s reserves. I try to remember this when I am sleep challenged. Surprisingly, this simple change of focus is a wonderfully effective method of energising my day.

Healthy Food: Good fats, whole foods and fresh produce are all necessary for keeping our energy up. I try to limit sugar and processed food when I start to feel drained and ‘try’ to increase healthy food in my diet.

Iron and Magnesium: I take a natural iron supplement and use a natural magnesium spray. It always amazes me how quickly my body responds to this little bit of attention. Mothers are easily drained of important vitamins and minerals. A simple boost can make a world of difference.

Flower Remedies: I keep the Bach Flower Remedies: Rescue Remedy, Olive, and Impatiens in the house and use them often. I use Rescue Remedy for those moments of complete madness or for days when everything is topsy-turvy. I use Olive for exhaustion following a demanding day and Impatiens for days when I feel especially irritable.

Herbal Teas: Drinking a cup of herbal tea can definitely calm a hectic mind and sooth a restless spirit. Simply taking the time to make and drink a cup of tea is medicinal all on its own. I love a cup of Rosemary tea (crush a fresh rosemary sprig and infuse in hot water) it is refreshing and brightening. I also love Limeflower, Chamomile, or Fennel.

Hot Bath: A hot bath is of course always a frazzle diffuser. I love to use a few drops of Neroli, Geranium, Chamomile and Lavender essential oils in my bath. These oils are also lovely in an oil diffuser. I also love herbal baths. Sometimes, I infuse herbs into hot water then pour that water into the bath or alternatively I place my herbs in an empty tea bag and drop it directly into my bath water. Dried Chamomile, Lavender, and Rose are wonderful in a hot bath.

Prayerful Meditation: I find meditation to be somewhat of a paradox. I rarely seem to find time to meditate and grow frustrated with myself for my lack of discipline. Some time ago it occurred to me that prayerful meditation can happen anytime and anywhere. We can meditate when we do housework or when we nurse our babies. Even the busiest day is filled with quiet little moments, sometimes simply taking notice of such a moment can ease our stress and relax our minds.

The Colour Green: I Love this! The colour green is immensely relaxing and calming. It is always worth looking for a reason to bring a little bit of green in-doors. A lovely sage coloured pillow or handmade throw make lovely additions to most rooms. Houseplants, artwork, bottles of coloured water sitting in a window sill can each reflect peaceful green thoughout our homes.

Nature: Time spent in nature calms and relieves even the most agitated nerves. If I feel the day starting to fall apart I drag all of us out the door for a walk. We all feel better in minutes. Fresh air, bright light, life all around us, lifts our spirits and helps tame those wild frayed ends.

Please consult with your chosen health care professional before choosing to use herbs, oils or foods, or taking part in any activities you find unfamiliar or questionable. 

©photo by Kara Harms is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 


starr pic black and white

Starr Meneely is the owner and editor of The Mother Magazine and the author of the children’s picture book “What A Lovely Sound!” (illustrated by Susan Merrick). She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from the University of Alaska where she studied under Dr. Timothy Smith. She has been a regular writer for The Mother Magazine for several years. Starr edits and writes in a little village in Surrey, UK where she lives with her husband and four children.


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Teaching Children Gratitude

In our busy lives it is so easy to forget to be thankful. It is certainly easy to forget to demonstrate thankfulness. As we come out of a heavy winter and welcome each and every sign of sunshine and warmth, springtime is an excellent time to reconnect with this value and remind ourselves and our children how important it is to be grateful.

Send ‘Thank You’ Cards

This is the most obvious way to teach children gratitude despite it being slightly out of fashion. It is much more convenient to drop someone a text or a Facebook message to say ‘thank you’ instead of sitting down with our children to create and post a ‘thank you’ note. It is for this very reason though, that ‘thank you’ notes are so valuable and that going through the process of creating (and mailing) them helps to teach our children to be consciously grateful. Take time to write ‘thank you’ notes for gifts or when someone has been thoughtful. Such notes can also be a simple follow up after friends have come to visit; “…it was so lovely to spend the day with you and your family, thank you for coming around!”

Say ‘Thank You’ at Home

Do we really need to say ‘Thank You’ at home? Is it necessary to thank each other when we just meander through each day together ~ behaving normally? Of course it is. Expressing thankfulness is, in many ways, just a habit – a good habit – and like any habit it needs repetition to stick. Thank each other for simple things. Practice naturally tacking the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ on to all questions and requests;

“Can someone please turn on the hall light? Thank you!”

“Will you please pass the salt? Thank you!”

“Thank you for putting your shoes in the basket”

If gratitude comes easily at home it will come easier in all of life.

 Model Gratitude

As in all things, children learn through observation and role play. If they see us modelling gratitude they will learn to be grateful also. We can model gratitude by thanking each other and demonstrating kindness. Let our children believe that gratitude is an important element in all of our relationships

Bless Each Meal

If we were thankful for nothing else, being thankful for food and the fact we are able to share meal times together must be the most important thing on our gratitude lists. Taking time to eat together and can be celebrated with a simple blessing such as this Waldorf blessing:

Blessings on the blossoms

Blessings on the roots

Blessings on the leaves and stems and blessings on the fruits

And blessings on the meal.

Care and Respect Belongings

We learn to be thankful when we begin to realise the value of things. We can encourage our children to treat things with care – not because they cost a certain amount but because we are thankful for the things we own. We can do this by taking time to tidy and care for even our smallest belongings

Encourage Children to Say ‘Thank You’

Words are powerful. When something is said out loud it takes on meaning, it effects change. This is true for negative language but it also true for positive language. Just as words can hurt, they can also heal. Positive words strengthen relationships, they build confidence, and they create joy. Saying ‘thank you’ is one of the simplest ways to use words positively. ‘Thank you’ represents humility, respect and gratitude; even if it is said just out of habit. Quietly and gently remind children  to say ‘thank you’. Practice it together until it comes easily and automatically.

©photo by D. Sharon Pruitt is licensed under CC BY 2.0 


starr pic black and whiteStarr Meneely is the owner and editor of The Mother Magazine and the author of the children’s picture book “What A Lovely Sound!” (illustrated by Susan Merrick). She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from the University of Alaska where she studied under Dr. Timothy Smith. She has been a regular writer for The Mother Magazine for several years. Starr edits and writes in a little village in Surrey, UK where she lives with her husband and four children

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