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The Key to Conscious Parenting: Nurturing Yourself

by Jesseca Camacho

“The pressures of being a parent are equal to any pressure on earth. To be a conscious parent, and really look to that little being's mental and physical health, is a responsibility which most of us, including me, avoid most of the time because it's too hard.”
 ~John Lennon

Parenting children is a difficult and challenging mission. Sacrifice is a word often times synonymous with the role of parenting and certainly that is true. Many sacrifices and compromises are made in the best interest of the little being you have been chosen to guide but how much is too much? When we take sacrifice too far, we martyr ourselves in doing so and put our own well being at risk, which ultimately has negative impact on our children.

How then can we consciously parent in a world that seems to be in fast-forward gear and still take care of ourselves? First let’s look at the meaning of each word according to Webster:

CONSCIOUS: having knowledge of something, aware, deliberate, intentional, concerned with, worried about a particular matter.

PARENTING: be or act like a mother or father – ex. The warmth and attention that are hallmarks of good parenting.

Thus, you could say that conscious parenting is being a nurturing, comforting parent with deliberate intention and awareness about parenting your child and the world in which they reside. In order to do this effectively we must be giving from a full cup which contrary to an antiquated belief that sacrificing your own wants and needs for your child’s is the noblest way to parent. I’m certainly not saying to go off and do whatever you want, whenever you want, leaving children to fend for themselves or leaving them with an alternate caregiver. I am saying that in order to be the best parent you can be, you must acknowledge your own wants, needs and boundaries in order to parent honestly and lovingly without guilting yourself into thinking you are being selfish.

This is in many ways a partnership and we do our children a favor to teach them about the give and take of relationships while we are guiding them and teaching them about themselves and the world. To do so, here are ten suggestions on how to nurture you in order to be a more conscious parent.

1) Identify your personal parenting triggers

We all have things that trigger irritation, annoyance and anger. Identifying how your child triggers you can help you prepare for an appropriate response or help you mitigate the situation all together. For example, I do not like conflicts in public places with my children. Chances are no one does, but I get extremely flustered and embarrassed, so much so that I cannot think clearly or rationally and all my parenting tools are in some locked drawer that I can’t access. Therefore, I make it a point to communicate my expectations before we enter a store, supermarket or restaurant. I engage their participation. “Who can tell me what we can and can’t do in _________? My girls, forever in competition, try to see who can name all the right things. Then, when something comes up, I can gently remind them of our conversation.

2) Recognize your family’s pattern

Take note of family dynamics without judgment and ask yourself if you are repeating this pattern unconsciously. It’s okay if you are; it’s part of your path. This is something that is extremely common because of how embedded it is in our entire makeup. Once we start to notice it then we have the power to change it. My family is family of yellers. Everyone yells in fights, we even talk loudly. In my early twenties, my boyfriend was trying to explain to me that this is not how everyone is. When we realize our experience is a subjective truth, not THE truth, we can shift it and choose whatever behavior we want. And in the interest of our children’s well being, it would be of a higher vibration to assist them with calm conflict resolution instead of a volatile one.

3) Ask for Help

Asking others for help when you are overwhelmed with your parenting duties or any other things on your “to do” list is a sign of strength. This was a difficult lesson for me, especially in the beginning stages of parenting when I was dedicated to Attachment Parenting. However, it certainly wasn’t in the best interest of my children to have an “I can do everything myself” mother who ended up being moody, frazzled and impatient because “she had to do everything”. Let someone take them to the park for an hour. Ask a friend or relative to pick up some items at the grocery store. Get a babysitter so you and your spouse can have a date night. The children will be more than okay.

4) Nurture yourself

Whatever calms and comforts you, take the time to indulge yourself. Perhaps you want to meditate, take a nap, read, get a massage, take a walk, exercise, take a yoga class or go shopping for a new outfit. Down time helps us rejuvenate so we have more to give.

5) Slow Down

Don’t over schedule yourself or your children. Prioritize and leave plenty of time in between to get there without stress. We may not be able to do this at all times, but cut back where you can so you can alleviate some stress. As you know, stress can wreak havoc on your body and cause you to have a short fuse with those closest to us.

6) Forgive Yourself

We all make mistakes as parents. Don’t beat yourself up. Recognize you acted in a way you’d prefer not to, forgive yourself and only then do you have a real chance at changing. By not forgiving ourselves, we run a higher risk of repeating undesirable behavior.

7) Know your personality (and that of your child’s)

Knowing yourself is vital to making healthy choices in any relationship and even more important in the incredibly complex parent-child relationship. This distinction can help prevent you from projecting your own “inner child” onto your children. Your child is not you but sometimes they do things that remind us of our mistakes or ourselves and we overreact as a result. In addition, having a strong difference in personalities can create tension and judgment when there need not be. My oldest child is an extrovert and I am an introvert. Sometimes her need for constant connection with people is hard for me to understand. I used to think, “she is so needy” since I love to have alone time. By understanding that different personality types need different things made me realize there is nothing wrong with either of us, we are just being who we are.

8) Breathe

Remember to breathe deeply throughout the day. Shallow breathing causes your body to contract and it perceives this as a stressful or threatening situation. Remembering to breathe conveys a message of peace to our body and we can make choices throughout the day from a calm place.

9) Play

Don’t forget to play, be playful, and have fun. Both on your own and with your child. The tasks of running a household, raising children, combined with any other priorities you are engaged in can leave you feeling like “who has time to play”. By taking some time to play, laugh and be goofy with your child, your spouse or friends and family, lightens the energy and makes everything else look brighter and less daunting.

10) Pray

Invoking our spirituality in any way through prayer, meditation, conscious eating, or other modalities to help raise our vibration helps us and heals us in miraculous ways, opening the door to receive more love from the universe and therefore give more love to our children.

The realm of parenting theories has made vast leaps and bounds in the last thirty years or so, swinging from an authoritative and punitive approach to a permissive democratic one. We are currently in an important process of finding balance between the two while incorporating a more conscious, intuitive approach.

Often times our quest to be good parents turns into an obsession to be perfect parents leading to confusion and overwhelm making decision making difficult. Since this is impossible due to your human fallibility, the best we can do is to learn and grow on a daily basis along with our children. In essence, our parenting serves as a daily spiritual practice and the relationship we co-create with the Universe will be a model for our children made easier with the use of some of the above suggestions.

Nurturing ourselves makes us better parents and models self-care and there is certainly nothing selfish about that!

Jesseca Camacho is a writer, teacher, intuitive counselor, wife and wother to Serena, 8 and Arianna, 6. She is a graduate of the Clearsight Clairvoyant Program, completed a 2-year channelling program with world renowned channelling teacher, Shawn Randall and received her Massage, Reflexology, Energetic Medicine and Reiki I & II Certification through the Institute of Psycho-Structural Balancing. Jesseca is certified in Early Childhood Education and completed the Parenting from the Heart Program. She is also the co-author of The Children’s Spirit Animal Cards with Dr. Steven Farmer. In addition, she incorporates the ancient systems of numerology and enneagram into her spiritual counseling sessions to facilitate awareness and healing on a soul level.

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